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What's Keeping You Here

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The duffel slammed into your stomach, causing you to gasp and wince. Ouch. The books at the bottom dug into your chest. You huffed and grabbed the strap, slinging it over your shoulder. You were starting to get a bit bogged down, now with a duffel as well as your guitar - something you had had the foresight to grab before your crazed ‘friend’ threw that too. “You didn’t need to toss it at me, you douchebag!”

Your roommate scowled at you from the door to the apartment, his arms crossed. He was red in the face, obviously still embarrassed from earlier, but also red from anger. “Yeah, yeah, whatever. You won’t have to deal with me anymore anyways. Get the fuck out of my house.” Ugh, motherfucker. Make that ex-roommate.

“It’s OUR place,” you said, gritting your teeth, “and it’s my money! You’re not going to be able to pay the rent on this place by yourself.” Seeing as you were the one working your ass off on the streets racking in the dough, you were pretty damn certain on that regard. What did that fucker do but leech off his friends?

“I’ll do fine on my own, you fag!” Your eyes narrowed at the term as you fought to swallow your comment. Despite your anger, you REALLY didn't want to fight right now. Wouldn't be worth it. “Go find some other homo to oogle at.” He flicked you off and turned on his heel, slamming the door behind him.

Yeah, no, fuck swallowing your comments. “Alright, fuck you too then! ‘Least now I don’t have to deal with your sleazy ass girlfriends! Good luck buying Viagra for that shriveled up dick of yours, Brian!” You stood out in the cold, your duffel bag digging into your shoulder, panting a tiny bit from shouting. This really wasn’t how you saw your day going when you woke up this morning. You glance at the bag. At least he had had enough decency to let you pack up just a bit. Just as thankfully, you didn’t have much to your name.

Still… You were fucked. That was the third apartment you’d been kicked out of. It was starting to become a sore subject with you. The worst part is, it's always for the same god damn reason. You sometimes really hated being gay.

 

But then you always remember how great dicks are.

 

Sigh.

Frowning, you looked around. People were peeking out their windows to see what all the commotion was. It was around 9 o’clock at night on a Saturday. You had already eaten (and now Brian had less food, so there’s a bonus) and spending money at a diner was a bad idea anyways. You needed to save for rent at a new place. Guess that meant it was time to go to the park to check out the ol’ bench.

Grumbling under your breath, you shoved your hands into your jacket pockets and started the long, cold walk. Fuck winter for coming at the end of November for some reason. Fuck your ex-roommate Brian. Just… fuck today. You were so done with people kicking you out just because you had a preference for men. Why was that so wrong? Hell, loads of girls had a preference for men, and that wasn’t wrong. The only difference is that you have a dick.

You made your way to the park, trying to fight back the shivers. The hoodie you were wearing was actually the only thing you had on. Again, at least he had let you put on some more clothing after… You just shook your head. Not the time to think about earlier.

You tried to think up some sort of plan. Trying to find actual shelter right now just sounded… annoying. It was cold, but not THAT cold out. You could scour for places to rent later. The bench would do for now. You made your way past the few couples in the park or the children playing under the watchful eyes of their parents. They watched you cautiously, as always. You just hightailed it to your old familiar bench. This is where you usually went to when your roommates kicked you out. Next to a tree, where people walked past fairly regularly.

You sat down and opened your duffel, rooting through it. Toothbrush, a few pants and shirts. Books you had packed for education and entertainment alike. You winced as your ribs ached - that duffel had hit hard. You kept shuffling around the items in your bag till you found it; you smiled and pulled out a thin and somewhat tattered blue blanket. Score.

You wrapped yourself in the blanket as tightly as you dared, being sure not to strain the already frayed and worn material. It just managed to cover most of your body. It did little to combat the cold, but at least it did something, right?

You yawned, relaxing as best you could on the cold bench. Which… didn't work at all, but whatever. You cracked open the guitar case and pulled out your instrument. Better start saving up - the wallet in your duffel might have some cash, but you’d need to work hard to get enough for renting a place. You had no hopes of doing it yourself, either, so you’d have to figure out which friends you still had from high school who might let you room with them. If there were any left.

Ugh. Fuck, this was depressing.

“Time to snap outta this.” You strummed out a chord on the guitar and started to play, feeling the strings vibrate under your fingertips. The friction warmed your fingers a tiny bit. Thank God for small miracles. You cleared your throat and started to sing, pushing your open guitar case out a tiny bit so people would take notice.

People were walking past you, every so often smiling and listening to your songs. Apparently, people really liked your voice. You really didn't care either way what you sounded like, so long as you got the added bonus of charity. Very rarely, someone would throw a buck or two into the open case you had out. You were surprised when a monster stopped to listen too. There weren’t many in this city - or, if there were, you were just never outside when they were. This one looked to be a rabbit. She smiled and tossed 5 bucks into the case after you finished a song. Nice chick.

You didn’t want to waste your phone battery by checking the time constantly, so you don’t know how long you played. A few hours, it felt like. Your hands grew numb and raw from all the playing, and your voice got hoarse from the cold. Glancing at the case, you judged your income for the night to be about 40 bucks. That’s better than usual, though you passed that off as it being a Saturday night. People were more happy to spend on weekends.

You yawned, strumming out a final chord before looking around. The lamps were all out and no one else was around. It was pretty silent out, save for the spare car or three driving past on the nearby road. You squinted; the lights were all turning bright and fractally. Was that from exhaustion, or were you also going blind now? You felt a drop of moisture on your nose and looked up. Looks like it was snowing.

You curled up tighter with your guitar. You didn’t feel cold anymore. Must’ve gotten used to it. You just watched the snow fall. You’d have to move here soon and find a place to sleep out of the snow, but for now, you were content to just watch. The snow was so beautiful.

You were reminded of a time you had been outside with your mother and it had started to snow. A tiny snowflake had landed in your hot cocoa. Being the little kid you were, you freaked out, thinking something imaginative. You dimly remember something about fairy poison. Sometime during your freak out, you'd managed to spill cocoa all over yourself. Your mom had cleaned you up with a soft reminder that nothing was quite as it seemed, and even if we make a mistake, it could be fixed - usually with a damp paper towel.

Wow. Blast from the past.

An easy smile took to your face.

 

You’re not sure when you fell asleep.

 

Next thing you knew, you were being shaken. Hard. “Guuh…” You curled up tighter, your senses coming back to you slowly. Fuck, that’s cold… You groaned, feeling kinda sick. You felt like everything was tight. Your lips felt chapped. You wanted to lick them but your tongue felt fuzzy.

You tried to open your eyes and found quickly that your eyelashes were frozen together. You managed to pry both open, staring up at a blurry white and red shape. Everything was shattered like last night and the lights...“HUMAN?” Gg… the voice was really loud. It sounded like it came from really far away. You must’ve had a headache. Fuck, why did everything feel so weird?

You felt REALLY cold. You weren’t shivering for some reason, though. You felt too… too damn cold to shiver. Did that make sense? Fuck, your head hurt… You couldn’t think straight. You tried to look around, but it hurt to move. It hurt to look. Everything was fucking white. Too bright… “HUMAN, PLEASE, ARE YOU AWAKE?? IT IS VERY COLD OUT, AND YOU LOOK VERY BAD!”

You tried to tell him to stop shouting, you could hear fine. All that came out was “S-sss…” The blurry face frowned at that. He looked really weird… You took a deep, slow breath. It didn’t help. It felt like ice. Your throat burned.

 

God damn, you were tired. Everything ached. You leaned into him a bit, thinking. Cold, white...

 

Where the fuck were you again?

 

Everything started going black. You heard the voice say, “SANS! OVER HERE!”

Chapter Text

……

 

Ugh…

 

Fuck, man. You opened your eyes, groaning.

 

You felt like shit.

 

You were lying in a bed. It didn’t feel like your own. It was lumpy in places yours wasn't normally lumpy in. Where the fuck… You sat up as much as you dared, groaning as you shifted. You felt like you were going to puke. Or maybe like your head was going to burst. Or maybe both?

You looked around a bit without moving your head to keep the sensations down. There was clothing all over the floor, and a lamp that had… a flashlight in place of the bulb. You reached over to flick the light on with a hiss of pain, but it seemed the flashlight was out of batteries. Talk about lazy. There was a treadmill in the corner, from which were hung countless shirts. The room smelled weird, kinda like sweat and chalk. Uh. Ew. You were covered up with more blankets than you could count.

Actually, you just realized, you were… pretty warm. You gently looked down.

… Whose shirt was this? It was grey, and it just said… “bad to the bone” on it, with a skull and crossbones. It was a bit short on you, while being a bit too wide at the same time. Definitely not Brian's, then, he was bigger than you. You shook your head, glancing around. More importantly, where was your hoodie? Or your blue blanket?

You contemplated getting up to search for them, but before you knew it, you had fallen asleep again.

 

You had strange dreams. Not really dreams but… more memories.

 

You and Jayden playing in the snow. You were both young, and this was just another adventure for you both. Your mother was watching from the porch.

You fell and you remembered your teeth hurting because you had slipped on ice. Jayden had laughed at first, but then had walked over, concerned. You remember mom helping you both inside and cleaning you up. She held up a tooth, the reason your mouth hurt.

You’d been woozy at the sight. Blood wasn’t good.

Just part of life. That was all it was, she said.

Just like today.

 

Your body was exhausted. You slipped in and out of dozing for God knows how long. Each time you woke up, you got a little bit of a clearer head about you. You were definitely in someone else’s house, wearing someone else’s clothing. Oh yeah, and you’ve been thinking about home a lot. Maybe you should call home…

Beyond that, you weren’t really positive about anything. You seem to remember being very cold, and your roommate…

Fuck, that’s right. You’d been kicked out.

The door eventually opened a crack. You jolted awake at the sound, opening your eyes. You rose your hand a bit to block the light - wow, okay, that burned, both the light and the movement. Someone stuck their head in. “OH GOODIE! YOU’RE AWAKE!”

That voice. That’s right, you had… Fuck. You fell asleep on the bench, that’s right! This dude must’ve brought you to his house. You glanced out the window. There was a good few inches of snow on the ground. You were probably… wow. You… had probably been freezing to death.

 

This dude saved your life. You could’ve died.

Yeah, you should definitely call home soon.

 

You turned back to him, smiling very thinly. It was a bit forced - you’d had a shitty day, after all - but it was still a smile. “H-Huh… Thanks, man. I didn’t… Uh…”

You suddenly were at a loss for words when he walked into the room. You looked up at him, a bit surprised. Okay, a lot surprised.

The skeleton smiled back at you, clapping together his… uh... boxing gloves? “YOU DO NOT NEED TO THANK ME, HUMAN! I AM JUST HAPPY YOU ARE ALRIGHT!”

Huh.

Well.

This was new.

“Uh… Y-Yeah.”

“OH, ARE YOU… ACTUALLY ALRIGHT? YOU LOOK VERY DISORIENTED.” The skeleton suddenly seemed very concerned. “PERHAPS I SHOULD GO GET THE THERMOMETER!”

“eh,” a voice said from the doorway. You both turned. A short skeleton stood there, decked out in a blue hoodie and slippers. He was grinning, his eye(sockets?)s crinkled up a tiny bit as he... analyzed you, for lack of a better term. “i think anyone would be disoriented in this situation, bro.”

“HMM… WELL, HE WAS NEARLY FROZEN, NOT TO MENTION HAVING ONLY JUST WOKEN UP. YOU MIGHT BE RIGHT, SANS!”

“me? right about somethin’? heh.”

The tall skeleton rolled his… pupils? Did he even have eyes?? “SANS, EVERY SO OFTEN, YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT SOMETHING. I KNOW, IT’S SHOCKING, BUT IT IS NONETHELESS TRUE!”

The two skeletons seemed… comfortable? Happy? This was weird. People didn’t usually just joke around in front of complete strangers. Maybe it was a monster thing? You shifted around a bit, rubbing your neck. Your joints were starting to work themselves out again. “Um… Not to interrupt the banter,” you said hesitantly, “but uh… where am I?”

The tall one looked back at you, smiling brightly. “YOU ARE AT OUR APARTMENT! WE SAW YOU DURING OUR MORNING WALK IN THE PARK.”

“well, paps saw you. he got me to help you get to our place to warm up some. you were pretty much k.o’d out there.”

“... Oh.” You smiled gratefully, feeling… well, warmer. This… was certainly better than the events of earlier tonight. Er, yesterday? Whatever. “Man… Thanks, you two. Not a lotta people will do this sorta thing for a stranger.” You offered up your hand, telling them both your name. You still felt kind of awkward around them. Was there any sort of etiquette about monsters that you’d forgotten or missed out on? You sure hoped not.

The taller one shook your hand vigorously - you almost regretted offering it up in the first place. Almost. “IT IS NICE TO MEET YOU, HUMAN! I AM THE GREAT PAPYRUS!”

“and i’m sans. sans the skeleton.”

What, like the two most hated fonts known to man? You chuckled. “Uh, yeah, I can um… see the whole skeleton part. It’s nice to meet you both.” You felt nice and warm and happy. That is, until you remembered something with a jolt. “W-Wait, my bag and guitar!”

“heh. don’t worry, buddy.” Sans winked, walking over, hands still in his pockets. He seemed a bit more relaxed after you shook Papyrus’s hand. “i made sure t’grab all that. i even cleaned out the case of all the snow.”

“And uh…” You felt a slight sinking feeling. “Was there any money left?”

Sans’ smile wavered ever so slightly. He looked a bit sympathetic. “sorry, kid. it was empty when we got there.”

Welp. Goodbye, good mood. “Ugh, fuck…”

“HMPH! HUMAN!” You glanced up at Papyrus, who was frowning. He looked very stern. “THAT IS NOT A VERY NICE WORD!”

“Uh…”

“heheh… paps, it’s fine. i think, after the day he’s had, he’s allowed to let loose a little language.”

Papyrus scowled, crossing his arms as he looked at Sans. “BUT YOU NEVER LET ME CURSE! WHEN I DO, YOU MAKE ME PUT MONEY IN THE SWEAR JAR.”

“Yeah, cause letting you get away with it… never made any cents.”

There was a moment of silence as all of you processed the pun.

“Ha… HA!” You started to laugh. You couldn’t help yourself. It was just so… SO fucking unexpected. “Pffft! Ha, oh my god-” You held your ribs and just laughed, ignoring the pain it brought. Sans laughed along with you, seemingly delighted that you enjoyed the joke.

Papyrus just groaned. “NOW LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE, SANS! YOU’VE INFECTED THE HUMAN WITH YOUR HIDEOUS JOKES.”

“you’re right, paps - i think it’s time i make myself change.”

“SANS!”

You couldn’t stop laughing. The grin just wouldn’t leave your face. The jokes weren’t even FUNNY! They were just so damn unexpected. And hey, after the day you’d been having, you needed a good laugh. You glanced over at Sans. He seemed happy that you were laughing. “heh. it worked. look at him - he looks pretty good now.”

You were a bit surprised by that, the laughter slowly dying down. He’d said those just to cheer you up? “HMM. I SUPPOSE HE DOES. BUT THAT’S JUST BECAUSE I AM A VERY GOOD HEALER! NYEH HEH!” God, even his laughter was loud.

“totally, bro.”

You just smiled at them both, feeling… good, for once. The laughter definitely helped. “I am feeling a lot better. Thanks, you guys…” You sighed, rubbing your face. “Guess I should probably grab my shiii… ‘stuff’ and check for places to go to now.” The brothers looked at each other once before glancing back at you. You watched them back. “Uh… what?”

“WELL…” Papyrus put his hands together. “WE WERE WONDERING IF YOU HAD A PLACE TO STAY. WE KNOW YOU WERE SLEEPING ON THE PARK BENCH, BUT THAT DOES NOT SEEM LIKE A VERY NICE HOME.”

“Uh…” You weren’t really sure what to say. These two were complete strangers, after all. You don't just tell someone flat out that you're a homeless broke guy. These were just two guys - they didn't need to know all that.

But, they were also two guys who had dragged your sorry ass into their house out of the goodness of their hearts, saved your life, and now were making you as comfortable as possible. They deserved to know.

“I don’t really have a place to stay, no. My roommate kinda threw me out.”

Papyrus gasped. “THREW YOU OUT?! YOUR ROOMMATE MUST HAVE BEEN VERY STRONG! THOUGH, WHY WOULD THEY THROW YOU? YOU SEEM LIKE A PERFECTLY NICE HUMAN!”

Again, you were mostly speechless. Papyrus seemed to be a little… naive. Sans shook his head. “nah, bro. he means thrown out as in kicked out of his house.” Sans glanced at you. “i am kinda curious as to the why on that one though.”

“Um…” You felt a blush creep up your face. These two would probably feel really awkward if you told them. I mean, they had obviously changed you out of your wet clothing. That’s already kinda awkward, and other guys tended to feel… weird about you being gay. Being homeless was one thing, but you weren't about to spill all of life’s problems on them. “It’s… a bit personal.”

“YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TELL US IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO, HUMAN!” Papyrus smiled brightly. “I DON’T WANT TO MAKE ANYBODY UNCOMFORTABLE!”

You rubbed your neck, smiling at Papyrus, a bit bemused. “You… really don't care?”

“WELL...” Papyrus shut his eyes, thinking. “I MUST ADMIT, I AM CURIOUS AS WELL. BUT, JUST BECAUSE I AM CURIOUS DOES NOT MEAN YOU MUST TELL ME! I TRUST THAT YOU WILL TELL US IN DUE TIME, IF YOU SO CHOOSE!”

“Huh…” You glanced between the two of them, a bit surprised. Maybe confused? It was obvious they wanted to know the story, but it was also obvious that they would let the matter just drop. Honestly, you weren't sure you wanted to tell them. Not yet, anyways - you just met these guys. No sense scaring them off yet. “Thank you, both of you. That's… kind.”

“heh.” Sans shut his eyes, smiling. “whatever, kid. if paps trusts yah, i trust yah.”

“ANYWAYS,” Papyrus continued, twiddling with his fingers nervously, “THE REASON I WAS ASKING ABOUT IF YOU HAD A PLACE TO STAY… WELL, HUMAN, YOU OBVIOUSLY CANNOT GO ANYWHERE YET!”

“What do you mean? I’m fine, look!” You moved to get up, but was instantly seized by an awful tightness in your muscles. You gasped in pain, eye twitching as you froze. “G-G…”

“THAT’S WHAT I MEAN. YOU MUST CONTINUE TO REST!” Papyrus helped you lay back, scowling. “NO BIG MOVEMENTS. AND, WELL… WE HAVE PLENTY OF ROOM HERE! YOU CAN SAY WITH US, UNTIL YOU RECOVER.”

You glanced at him, not quite comprehending. “Um… What?”

Sans chuckled at your expression. “we’ve got enough room, kid. we don’t mind the company, and we’d all feel a bit better if you hit the streets when you weren’t so, uh, chilled to the bone?”

You glanced at them both. They just… trusted you. No questions, no interviewing. They just wanted you to be safe. This was new. “Not that I’m complaining, but aren’t I a complete stranger? You know literally nothing about me. I could be an axe murderer for all you know!”

“...ARE YOU AN AXE MURDERER?” Papyrus asked hesitantly.

“What? No!”

“ALRIGHT THEN!” He smiled brightly. “I BELIEVE YOU!”

You shook your head, confused. He just… right away, not knowing anything about you? Sans chuckled, shrugging. “don’t think too hard about it, kid. just don’t do wrong by us, and we won’t do wrong by you, capiche?”

You thought about it a bit. Shelter, food, and company that obviously cares about you. You really weren’t in any condition to leave… “Yeah. Alright then. ‘Capiche’.”

Papyrus clapped his hands together happily. “VERY WELL, HUMAN! IT IS VERY NEARLY LUNCH TIME. DO YOU WANT SOME SPAGHETTI?” He seemed excited by the prospect.

“Uh… Sure? I love Italian.”

Papyrus’s eyes lit up. Sans shook his head with a great big grin. “likes puns and spaghetti. i get the feeling we’re all gonna be great friends.”

Chapter Text

You slept through most of the day, just enjoying the warmth. They checked up on you fairly often - Papyrus more than Sans. Paps seemed constantly concerned about you, wishing you to get better just about every other sentence. Judging from how he spoke, he already considered you a close friend. Sans was a bit more wary of you, but it seemed like he would go along with his brother no matter what.

You were seriously thankful these two had found you. They helped you out, letting you lean on them when you walked to the bathroom and stuff. Sans gave you back your hoodie when you asked for it - apparently it had been dried out for you. They also kept you really well fed with ice cream and this weird smoky cider (which all, thankfully, tasted better than Papyrus’s spaghetti). You were feeling incredibly better incredibly fast - so much so that your started to get suspicious. This couldn't be natural.

You had read somewhere that monsters had magic. Had these two been using magic on you? You raised the question to Sans when he came to check up on you. He grinned and shut his eyes. “heh. you’re a pretty quick human. yeah, we haven’t been using magic, at least directly. the food is what’s helpin’ you. it’s special monster food.”

You glanced at the cider sitting on the nightstand next to you. “This is monster stuff?”

“yep. that cider’s made by a good friend. she’s got this great bakery down the street.” You didn’t know of it. You… sorta didn’t get out in actual public much, unless you counted the park. “the food helps heal you up. it probably helped you recover so fast. i’d say by tomorrow, you might be able to walk around on your own.”

“Hey, maybe.” You chuckled and looked down at your shirt. “Maybe I could dress myself too. I guess this is yours?”

“gee, how’d you guess?” He smirked. “paps nearly threw a fit when he saw i still have that old thing.”

“Is it from your punk rock days?” you asked, teasing him just a bit. You wanted to know more about your temporary roommates anyways, and Sans seemed like the type of guy to open up to jokes.

He laughed a tiny bit at your comment. “nah, i uh… picked that one out from the dump. washed it all up, it was good as new.”

“Huh.” You grinned - certainly wasn't the first time you’d worn trashy shirts, literally. “It's pretty funny. I bet you know some of the best skeleton puns.”

“yup.” You expected him to start giving you some examples, but he just put his hands in his pockets, sitting on the floor and crossing his legs. You couldn't help but look at them; they didn't look like normal human bones. Er… You supposed they weren't human bones, so yeah. He grinned and snapped, calling your attention back to his face. “go on, take a gander. i’m used to humans eyeballin’ me. must be pretty weird, huh?” His voice made it sound like a bit of a joke, but part of it sounded more curious.

You blush a tiny bit, embarrassed to be caught staring at him. Hopefully that wasn’t rude? You weren’t great with other humans, and monsters were even worse. “Heheh… Sorry, dude. You’re just not really what someone expects to wake up to after freezing nearly to death.”

“yeah, me and paps aren’t really something anyone expects.” Sans shrugged, glancing at the open door. In the distance, you could hear Papyrus whistling. Sounded like he was making dinner. “papyrus… tries real hard to be friends with everyone. i guess i can appreciate that. i just want you to know how happy he is that he finally found a human who doesn’t constantly bring up the fact that he’s a skeleton. i get the feelin’ you’re gonna be great friends.”

You blinked. Sans had suddenly taken a huge shift. He was still smiling, still grinning, but somehow he seemed… You weren’t sure. More genuine, you guess. More genuine, but less jovial. “so, uh… thanks, i guess. you’re really makin’ his day.”

“Um… No prob.” You rubbed your neck - ow, okay, still sore as shit - and cleared your throat. “Honestly, he’s sorta making mine? It’s been a shitty day.”

“yeah. been wonderin’ ‘bout that.” Oh. Yep. He had gotten serious. Sans shut his eyes, head down a bit. “i know we said you don’t gotta say anything, and i’ll stick to that. no questions asked, you gotta stay here anyways, right? heh, besides, paps trusts you already. he trusts everyone - and it’s gotten him hurt in the past.” People tried to hurt that innocent fluffball of a skeleton? Bastards. “i love papyrus more than anything in this life, y’know? so, uh… if you hurt him? heh.”

“you’re gonna regret that one, kid.” He opened his eyes and the room was 20 degrees cooler. You jumped slightly before freezing, staring into those empty sockets. He still had that grin on his face, but now it seemed sinister. “y’get me?”

Holy… “I-I gotcha,” you said, your voice shaking. Fuck, this dude was actually seriously freaking scary! You suppressed a shudder and licked your lips. “Yeah, man, no worries. Like I’d ever hurt anyone as sweet as him.”

Sans blinked, the lights in his eyes returning. He looked almost curious. Pleased that you complimented Papyrus. Finally, after a moment of tense silence, he shrugged with an easy grin on his face. “eh, yeah, kinda figured you wouldn't hurt him. i just had’t’be sure. course, heh, doubt you could beat him after nearly freezing to death. he’d bring you down, snow problem.”

Oh my fucking god, did he just do that? Seriously? You looked down at the shirt you were still wearing, reading the bad pun again. Yeaaaah, he did. Buuuut… You smirked. “I kinda doubt that Papyrus would hurt me, though - he seems like such an ice guy.”

Sans looked back at you, surprised and delighted. He laughed, shutting his eyes and shaking his head. You grinned, taking in that laugh. It was a big belly laugh, hiccuping every now and then. Something about it was just… great. Sans’s laughter was definitely contagious. “aw, fuck,” Sans said, still laughing, “that one was just bad, kid.”

You nod, crossing your arms with a self-satisfied smirk. “Yep. I know. I’m proud of it.” You filed away the fact that while Papyrus couldn’t cuss, Sans obviously had no problems doing it himself, so long as Paps couldn’t hear.

Sans stood back up, shaking his head softly. “heh. well, you seem like one too, pal.” Hell yeah, you’d gotten the seal of approval! You might not get killed in your sleep by an overprotective skeleton! “come on, i’ll help you get out to the living room. we’ll eat some dinner together, and then you can get some more sleep.”

You smiled, waiting for him to walk over before you stood. You rested your arm on his shoulder, leaning against him for stability. Man, for once in your life, you felt tall. Sans was over 4 feet tall, but you’re certain he’s not over 5. You were around 5’6” and had always felt short until now.

Sans led you out to the living room. They had a surprisingly good place, complete with flat screen and a comfy couch. Right as you were about to sit down, Papyrus walked in, carrying two plates of spaghetti. Welp. There goes feeling tall. Papyrus had to be at least 6’. Maybe a few inches taller, but you also weren't a good judge of height. “GOOD TO SEE YOU UP AND ABOUT, HUMAN!”

“Yeah, Sans told me it was just about dinner time.” You grabbed the plate of spaghetti from him and sat down. “Er… Spaghetti again?”

“SPAGHETTI IS WHAT I DO BEST,” Papyrus declared, smiling brightly. He shut his eyes happily, quite obviously starting to daydream. “ONE DAY, I JUST KNOW I’LL BE A FAMOUS CHEF! PEOPLE AND MONSTERS EVERYWHERE WILL UTTER MY NAME AND PRAISE MY PASTA!”

“gee, paps, that sounds pasta-tively fantastic.”

“SANS! STOP INTERRUPTING MY HOPES AND DREAMS WITH PUNS!” You laughed, smiling and enjoying the show. You unconsciously took a bite.

Oh. Oh, you’d forgotten that he couldn't cook. Ew. Your face scrunched up on reflex. This tasted awful…

Papyrus glanced at you as he handed the second plate to Sans. “YOU SEE, SANS? EVEN THE HUMAN IS DISGUSTED!”

Sans was smirking. “is that right?”

Somehow, from that smirk, you knew Sans knew just how much you wanted to spit out the abomination in your mouth. But you saw Papyrus’s face… Urgh… You swallowed, trying to ignore the taste. “Uugh…”

“SANS! YOUR JOKE MADE HIM EVEN SICKER!” You couldn't help but smile a tiny bit at Papyrus’s comment. What a big goofball. “APOLOGIZE!”

“sorry, not sorry,” Sans muttered. Sans, you meme loving fuck.

Papyrus glared at him. “... I SUPPOSE YOU DID SAY THE WORD ‘SORRY’…”

“It's fine, Paps,” you said, licking your lips. “Though, do you think you could grab me something to drink? I'm really thirsty.”

“CERTAINLY, HUMAN!” Papyrus quickly spun on his heel, walking back into the kitchen with gusto in his step.

You groaned as soon as he was out of earshot, looking at your still very full plate of pasta. “I’m not even all that hungry,” you muttered, though your stomach betrayed you by grumbling loudly in protest.

“heh. here, kid.” Sans pulled something out of his pocket. You glanced at it. It looked like a spice shaker, filled with… a lot of things. The label just said ‘get good’ in a goofy font. Was that Comic San- oh yeah. You forgot. Again. Goddamn, was that his fucking handwriting too? “take this, sprinkle some on top and mix it in.”

You frowned, but did so. Part of you wondered if this was some weird prank - maybe there were pepper flakes or something in the seasoning? You handed the bottle back to Sans and mixed it in before taking another hesitant bite.

“Holy shit.” Sans laughed, crossing his arms behind his head. “No seriously, Sans, holy shit. What’s in that thing?”

“a lotta seasoning. paps likes his noodles mostly plain, and uh… his teacher's not the best chef either. so i took it upon myself to make his recipe a bit better by combining some stuff together. red pepper flakes, parm, a tiny bit of garlic…”

You kept eating as Sans listed off some more things from his magic bottle. The seasoning didn’t make the spaghetti perfect by a long shot - the noodles were overdone, and the sauce left a lot to be desired. But the seasoning helped to mask the odd taste of the spaghetti, leaving it to be a decent meal. Edible, at the VERY least. “i uh, got tired of paps spaghetti, but i’m a bit too lazy to make it myself.” He looked at you seriously. “don't tell him i said that, alright?”

“Deal.” Just then, Papyrus walked back in, a glass of water in one hand and his own plate of spaghetti in the other. You grabbed it gratefully. “Thanks, Paps.”

“YOU’RE VERY WELCOME, HUMAN. NOW, IT IS TIME FOR MY SHOW!” Papyrus sat on the floor cross legged, grabbing the remote and turning on the TV. Almost immediately, the room was filled with upbeat dance music. A tall robot was… posing to different tracks, dressed in leg warmers and a sweatband. Somehow, you doubted the robot could actually sweat. “OOO! LOOKS LIKE METTATON IS DOING A WORKOUT SHOW TONIGHT!”

“Mettaton? Who’s that?”

Papyrus gasped, turning to look at you, nearly sending his spaghetti flying as he did so. “YOU DON'T KNOW WHO METTATON IS?!”

You gulped, eyes wide. “Er… I don't watch much TV.”

Sans smiled, shifting so that his legs crossed over each other on the couch. “mettaton was the biggest star in the underground. he was sort of one of the only idols us monsters had.”

“HE’S INCREDIBLE,” Papyrus declared. “WHEN WE ALL CAME TO THE SURFACE, METTATON IMMEDIATELY BECAME A STAR AMONG THE HUMANS. EVERYONE LOVES HIS SHOW!”

“almost everyone,” Sans corrected with a shrug.

Papyrus turned again, enraptured by the show. You half-watched it, not particularly interested in a workout show. Mettaton looked pretty cool - handsome, even - but eh. He seemed a bit gaudy. If you had to guess, he was probably a dick in real life. You focused more on the two brothers you were with.

These two were bizarre. Their whole dynamic was new. Papyrus was constantly optimistic, and he seemed almost like an overgrown child. Sans felt more down to earth, like a shrunken adult. But, you could tell there was a lot you didn't know. Things… they didn't let on through their schtick. One thing was obvious, though; they obviously cared deeply for each other. You were pretty sure Sans was only watching this Mettaton guy because Papyrus wanted to.

You glanced at Sans as you came close to finishing your spaghetti. While you hadn't actually seen him eat anything, the plate was mysteriously empty. You searched his face, trying to discern where it went. Wouldn't it just go right through him? Sans caught your eye and smirked, winking. “y’might never know, kid.”

You scowled, turning to Papyrus, unwilling to let the matter drop so easily. You watched as the tall skeleton opened his mouth, bit down on the fork full of spaghetti, and swallowed.

How? It just… disappeared.

“mmmagic,” Sans whispered in your ear. You pushed him away, laughing and calling him an ass. Papyrus was too absorbed in the workout show to notice.

Chapter Text

When you woke up the next day, you were feeling much better.

You sat up, surprising yourself at how easy it was. That monster stuff really worked! You smiled and flexed your fingers, hearing a few satisfying pops. Cracking your knuckles relieved some of the pent up tension in your hands.

You spent the next few minutes just cracking different joints, sighing in relief as you did. This was like your drug right now. Tension snaked out of your body. You felt yourself relax. Damn, that felt good.

When you were done, you glanced around. Your room was still dark, but with how snowy it’d been lately, you wouldn't be surprised if the sun was just covered up at the moment. You reached over to the nightstand for your phone, feeling a twinge of pain in your shoulder as you stretched it too far. Not fully healed, then.

You grabbed your phone and checked the time. Just about 8 o’clock. You had always been a bit of a morning person. You shrugged and flipped the covers off of your body before sliding your legs off of the bed. You stood up hesitantly. Yeah, there was still a dull ache in your bones, but you were still far improved from yesterday.

You paced around your room for a few minutes, getting your balance. This was nice. Nice, independent movement. A single day cooped up in bed and you had already been going a bit stir crazy.

When your need to walk around had been sated, you sat on the bed and thought about what to do. Maybe you could surprise the skeleton brothers with breakfast? Heh. You could make Sans some eggs or something. You’re great at omelets. That would be awesome, and be a good way to try and repay them for their kindness.

Feeling fantastic, you stood and walked out of your room and into the kitchen.

 

Only to find Papyrus happily flipping pancakes.

 

There goes that idea.

“OH! HUMAN! I DID NOT EXPECT YOU TO BE UP AND ABOUT QUITE SO SOON!” You smiled at Papyrus and sat down at the kitchen table. This was a decently sized kitchen. In fact, everything in their apartment was great. How did they even afford this place? Papyrus smiled back at you. “I HOPE YOU LIKE PANCAKES, HUMAN! I KNOW IT’S NOT SPAGHETTI, BUT IT IS HEALTHY TO CHANGE YOUR DIET EVERY SO OFTEN.”

You felt your stomach grumble as Papyrus laid a plate of pancakes in front of you. “Wow… It looks great, Paps. Thanks.”

“NO NEED TO THANK ME, HUMAN!” Papyrus smiled, sitting down with his own plate. You dug into your pancakes with relish, happy and pleasantly surprised to find they actually tasted good. Papyrus chuckled, watching you. “WOWWIE! I SHOULD REMEMBER THAT YOU LIKE THESE! I SHALL MAKE YOU PANCAKES EVERY DAY!”

You gulp down the pancake in your mouth. “Oh man, I love pancakes. It’s been awhile since I actually ate a decent breakfast. Usually, a breakfast bar tides me over ‘til lunch.”

Papyrus looked aghast. “YOU DO NOT EAT BREAKFAST!? BUT THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY!” You just shrugged. It's not that you never had time before - you just… never really had the spare cash. Ugh. Papyrus scowled. “WELL, I WILL NOT ALOW LAZINESS TO DEPRIVE YOU OF SUCH AN IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR LIFE! YOU WILL EAT BREAKFAST EVERY SINGLE DAY!”

“Aw, gee, Paps, you really don’t -”

“OF COURSE I DO! THE GREAT PAPYRUS NEVER ALLOWS LAZINESS TO WIN! I MEAN, EVEN SANS EATS BREAKFAST. I CANNOT ALLOW YOU TO BE EVEN LAZIER THAN SANS!”

You ran your pancakes through a bit of syrup, raising an eyebrow. “Uh… where is Sans, anyways? Is he still asleep?”

Papyrus shook his head. “OH, NO. HE’S ON HIS WAY HOME FROM WORK.”

What?

“On his way home? What time did he LEAVE for work?”

“OH, AROUND 11 LAST NIGHT! HE HAS THE NIGHT SHIFT.” Papyrus frowned softly. “HE USES THAT AS AN EXCUSE TO SLEEP THROUGH THE DAY WHEN HE GETS HOME. I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW HE SLEEPS SO MUCH. NOBODY SLEEPS THAT MUCH!”

You frowned. Somehow, it was hard to imagine Sans working very hard. Sure, he’d helped you yesterday, but just by looking at him you could tell he was a couch potato. He was lackadaisical and he seemed constantly in a state of exhaustion. “Where does he work?” The mattress store?

“OH! HE’S A LATE NIGHT SECURITY GUARD AT THE NEARBY OFFICES. HE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA, SEEING AS HE HAD BEEN A DECENT ENOUGH SENTRY.” Sentry? Eh, that was a question for later. Papyrus dug into his pancakes at this point, eating almost an entire one in a single bite. Once again, you couldn't help but watch. He was a skeleton - where did it all go? He gulped down the pancake and stared back at you. “SO, HUMAN, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO TODAY?”

Oh.

“I… have no idea.” You rubbed your neck, your shoulder aching just a bit. “Usually I just pass the time on my laptop, or go out and get money to pay for rent.” Oh yeah. That. “Speaking of… Um. If I am staying here, how much should I pay yo-”

“NOT A CENT, HUMAN!”

“... What?”

Papyrus nodded adamantly. “I MEAN IT! YOU ARE INJURED. I COULD NOT EXPECT YOU TO PAY ME ANYTHING! I MEAN IT!"

You frowned. Somehow, you doubted that Papyrus would make you pay at all, injured or not. You made a mental note to ask Sans about the rent later. “Alright, Paps.”

Papyrus smiled brightly back at you, standing and putting the dishes in the sink, taking off his boxing gloves. “WELL, AS YOU OBVIOUSLY CANNOT GO OUT AND PLAY RIGHT NOW, I WILL ALLOW YOU TO LAZE ABOUT TODAY.”

“Gee, thanks.” You allowed yourself a small smile, standing as well. “I’m just gonna grab my laptop and veg on the couch.”

“AND I WILL BEGIN WASHING THE DISHES!” He looked so serious about the task that you had to restrain a chuckle.

“Have fun.” You walked back to Sans’s room, checking the time again. 8:30ish. Alright. Time to chill. You grabbed your laptop and flopped on the couch in the living room.

After asking Papyrus for the wifi code (b4rri3r), you checked tumblr. Nothing special - although it seemed justbadpuns was in your recommended blogs list. You smirked and followed them; you needed them if you would be living with the pun master in the house. You checked a few news sites and frowned at some of them.

Man… Monsters had it rough.

You hadn't given much thought to it all yesterday, but you actually could think now, and it wasn't pretty, what these reports were saying. The monsters had only been on the surface for… about 8 months now. Man, it felt like it should’ve much longer than that by then, but it’d really only been 8 months. Maybe a bit more? You didn't even know for sure; you were always pretty out of the loop.

And these news reports didn't seem to be helping much. All this talk about racism and population counts… There were reports about violence against them. You guessed that after so many years of games and stories about how to defeat scary monsters, it was hard to make the shift for some…

It would be a long time, you thought with a sigh, before that sort of thing would be gone. 8 months isn't enough to change someone’s mind. That shit takes time. You just hoped it wouldn't take as long as it has for everyone else that “deviates”.

 

“heya.”

“FUCKING HELL!” You jumped about 10 feet out of your skin, nearly falling off of the couch. You flipped your head to the side, glaring at Sans. “What the fuck!?”

“HUMAN!” You groaned. Papyrus stuck his head out from the kitchen area, scowling, his chef’s hat crooked on his skull. “LANGUAGE!”

“Sorry, Papyrus. I just got seriously freaked out by your brother appearing beside me!”

Papyrus nodded in understanding. “AH, I SEE. MY BROTHER IS PRANKING YOU THROUGH SPACE-TIME. CARRY ON!” He ducked back into the kitchen, humming as he washed up more dishes.

You slowly turned your head to face Sans again, glaring with very thinly veiled curiosity. You had expected him to be dressed for whatever his security job was for, but he was in his normal jacket and shorts. He was also looking at you, expecting you to say something. You sighed, shutting your eyes. “Pranking me through space-time?”

“heh. just one of my many talents, kid.” Sans smirked - you could see a faint glimmer of compassion in his eyes. At least he wasn't a complete dick. “didn't mean t’scare yah. i'm just used to taking a shortcut home.”

“A shortcut… through space and time?”

He winked. “mostly space, but yeah. i suppose humans prefer to call it teleporting.”

You took a deep breath. You reviewed your life. You were a semi-homeless gay man who was recovering from hypothermia, living with two skeletons - whose names were well hated fonts, you reminded yourself - with a fondness for puns and spaghetti (both of which, neither was spectacular at), one of whom can now apparently fucking teleport.

“Is there anything else I need to know before I jump out of my fu-” A muffled shout from the kitchen “-FREAKING skin?”

Sans shrugged, having enough decency to look sympathetic. “sorry, bud. you just gotta roll with the punches. you’ll figure it out.”

He yawned and suddenly you caught just how fucking tired he looked. He didn't sleep much yesterday, you realized, cause he was busy looking out for you. Gosh, did he actually have dark circles under his sockets? “Hey,” you said, growing more serious. “We left you some pancakes. Grab something to eat and head to bed.”

Sans flashed you a somewhat confused smile. “er, thanks? i’ll get right on that, mom.” He snickered softly before failing to stifle another yawn.

You sat up a tiny bit more. “Eh, what can I say, I’m a bit of a mom friend. But seriously, don't make me feel guilty about you taking care of me all day. Take care of yourself too.”

Sans shrugged, putting his hands in his pockets. “whatever, kid. was planning on eatin’ anyways. i need more meat on my bones, right?” You chuckled. “thanks for bein’ concerned and all, but i don’t need a mom friend when i’ve got paps.”

“SAAAANS!” Speak of the devil. “IF YOU ARE DONE PRANKING OUR NEW ROOMMATE, YOU SHOULD HURRY AND EAT YOUR BREAKFAST BEFORE IT GETS COLD!” Sans gave you a pointed look. You nodded, smirking - guess he really didn’t need a mom friend when he had such a loving brother.

You thought about it as Sans walked away. How would your family react to this? To you living with monsters? Your mom would probably be absolutely fine with it. She had been the first of your family to accept you as gay, after all. You rolled your eyes. “As long as you give me grandkids one day, I’m happy,” had been her response to it. Yeesh.

Not that you didn’t want to have a kid. Maybe even 2. But that would have to be adoption, cause it’s not like there’s another way for -

There was a crash in the kitchen that tore you from your derailed thoughts. It hadn’t been too loud, but still… You shifted your laptop off of your lap, standing quickly - too quickly, your body shrieked - and walked to the kitchen.

 

You held back a snort.

 

Sans had faceplanted into his pancakes, fast asleep. Papyrus was trying to look as understanding as possible, but was struggling to hold back a smile as much as you were. He sighed softly, failing, a bright smile on his face. You guessed it was hard for skeletons not to smile, after all.

Papyrus hoisted his brother up, wiping his face with a paper towel and carrying him. His arm supported Sans under him and - oh gosh, Sans’s hands automatically curled up against Papyrus’s sweater as he clung to it. Ugh. Cuuuute. He nodded to you in passing before taking Sans to the room you’d been in last night. That must be his bedroom. You smiled, shaking your head. Guess he really was tired. Well, at least he could get some rest now.

Chapter Text

Sans slept for most of the day after that. You felt a little bad for him - he was pretty worn out. The mom friend in you wanted to make sure he was fine, but you bit that back. You didn't need to do all that.

It was around 10 that you realized you hadn't showered in like 3 days. It was around 11 that you started to give a shit. At noon, you finally closed your laptop and got up, stretching. You frowned, walking to the kitchen. Papyrus was preparing lunch - did he ever stop cooking? The kitchen must be his favorite place. “Hey, Papyrus?”

He looked up from what he was making, a bright smile rising to his face as he saw you. Man, he just lights up the room with happiness. “OH, HELLO HUMAN! DO NOT WORRY, LUNCH WILL BE READY WITHIN THE HOUR!”

You cracked a smile. “Sweet. Think I could borrow your shower?”

“FEEL FREE, HUMAN! YOU MAY HAVE TO USE UNDYNE’S SHOWER THINGS, BUT I AM CERTAIN SHE WOULD BE OKAY WITH THAT!” Undyne? The name sounded vaguely familiar, but you had no idea where you had heard it before. “IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE WITH ANYTHING, I WILL BE RIGHT HERE.”

“Thanks, Paps.”

“ALSO, YOU MAY USE THE SHOWER AT ANY TIME, HUMAN. YOU ARE LIVING HERE NOW, SO YOU DO NOT NEED TO ASK FOR PERMISSION!”

“Yeah, uh… Still getting used to that, I guess.” You rubbed your shoulder, walking first to the bedroom. After all, you needed to change your outfit, and all your clothing was in Sans’s room. You peeked into the room cautiously.

Sans was still fast asleep, tossed in the blankets at odd angles. It looked like he was a pretty heavy sleeper, or at least that he was fast asleep at the moment. You smiled; he must’ve been really tired if he could stay asleep like that. Slowly, you crept over to your bag, fishing out (thankfully dry) jeans and a shirt. You probably should’ve checked out the inside of your bag to make sure the snow hadn’t seeped in, but thankfully it was all good.

You walked to the bathroom, shutting the door behind you and setting your clothing on the floor as you looked around. Pretty standard bathroom, toilet sink and shower included. There were hardly any products anywhere other than the shower. You glanced at the stuff there.

Crisp Sea Breeze shampoo and matching conditioner. Maybe that wa- yep, that was Undyne’s. Her name was scribbled on the bottles in permanent marker. You glanced at the other stuff. A bottle of generic body soap, and…

Toothbrushes?

And a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

Oh right.

Skeletons, you reminded yourself.

You shook your head, wrapping your mind around the idea again. Of course they wouldn’t shower like humans do. Shampoo and stuff would probably be bad for their bones. They would probably use that peroxide and the toothbrushes to get between the bones-

Ugh, why were you thinking about all of this?

You turned on the water and started to get undressed, ignoring that feeling of unease you always felt when undressing in someone else's house. You mean, you would be living here for some time. It was basically your house now too.

Er. Apartment.

Gosh, that was hard to remember. After your shower, you were going to explore this place. Figure out how big it was. That thought in mind, you stepped into the shower.

 

*~*~*~

 

That didn't happen as you planned though. You dried off in the bathroom, making sure to dry your hair a tiny bit in a towel. It smelled really good, too, that shampoo was the bomb. You made your way back to Sans’s room to grab your comb (after you’d gotten dressed, of course). But when you walked in-

Sans perked up where he sat on the bed, a book in his hand and reading glasses taped to his head. He was in boxing shorts and a t-shirt only, so you could see a lot more of him now. Damn, he… all of him was a skeleton, man. That still took a bit of getting used to to look at and all.

Shit, you were just staring at him, fuck! “Oh, uh, sorry-”

“nah, you’re good buddy. this is basically your room too right now.” Sans dog eared his page and set it aside with a small smile. “how’s the day goin’?”

“Dunno, I haven't asked it.” You smirked. Quick comebacks and witty joking would help alleviate any awkwardness. Sometimes. Usually? You didn’t know, you just wanted to smooth over the fact that you keep getting caught staring at the skele-man like he’s a goddamn museum exhibit.

Sans laughed, taking off his glasses. “well, uh, how’re you doin’ then? bones feelin’ any better?”

You rubbed your neck out of force of habit. “Mostly. Monster food’s pretty great, honestly. Never thought I’d heal up so fast!” You walked over to the laundry basket, raising a brow questioningly to Sans. He simply nodded and you tossed the dirty clothing in. “What’cha reading?”

“methods in theoretical quantum optics,” he said without even a hint of a joke in his voice.

You stood up straight, looking at him, surprised. “Uh… what?”

Sans shrugged. “i’m kinda a huge sci-fi nerd. that, uh, mainly pertains to the science part of that equation. though, guess i’ll read just ‘bout anything i can get my hands on.” He crossed his arms behind his head (why couldn’t you stop staring at his… what? Ulna?) and relaxed against the pillows. “back underground, i sorta helped out a bit on powering the generator that kept the place lit up.”

“Woah. That’s- wait, generator? As in, only one?”

You sat at the edge of the bed as he nodded, sitting a bit straighter. “yeah. we called it the CORE at the time. stood for ‘Center of Reusable Energy’. yeah, i know, pretty basic acronym. our king sucks at naming stuff. that’s honestly one of his best names yet.”

“Really?”

Sans sighed, deadpan. “it was built in hotland. aka, the place surrounded by lava pits.”

You held back a snort. Sounds like that would’ve been a bit silly. “Better than whoever names places up here. Did you know there’s a place called Middlesex?” Sans couldn’t hold back a soft snort, grinning. “And, like, multiple places are called Hell.”

“guess our king’s not the only one bad with names.”

“Guess not.” You run a hand through your still wet hair. You really didn’t need to comb it yet. It could wait. “So seriously, you guys managed to get the ENTIRE underground running on just one generator?”

“heh. honestly, wasn’t too hard. not like there was a lotta room down there, after all.” Sans didn’t try at all to hide the bitterness from his voice.

You wince, sighing softly. There was a brief silence between you two.

 

You’re not really sure how the idea came to you, but… what the hell. You had like another 40 minutes or so until Paps was done lunch, and you needed to work your fingers again. Later, when you rationalized it, you realized you just wanted to show Sans that not all humans are like the ones who put them all underground.

How silly.

You stood up and walked over to your stuff, grabbing your guitar. He watched you curiously. You just smiled and walked out to the living room - more room, and that way, Paps could hear too.

You cracked your knuckles, tuning your guitar on instinct. As you did, you tried to think of a song you knew how to play that might prove the point you were apparently trying to make. For some reason, a song you’d heard years ago, way back in like 9th grade, came to mind. You couldn’t even remember if you knew the notes.

But as your fingers pinched the pick and you strummed out the first chord, it all came flooding back.

 

I’ve lost a lot in this game
Another everyday face with no name
I’m not selling misery
So won’t you stay awhile with me?

 

Sans walked out, listening, his brows raised. Papyrus had quieted down in the kitchen.

 

I know that you are afraid
The traces of war linger on my face
But I’m not selling misery
Maybe one day, I’ll feel home again

Hold on, you sang, hold on, with me. You glanced at them both with a grin. What if we could change this world today? It felt good to be playing again.

Hold on, hold on, with me
What if we could change this world today?

 

Sans was nodding along to the beat, eyes closed. Papyrus’s eyes were practically sparkling. Your hands were apparently already fully healed, you felt great, you felt…

Happy.

 

Don't let me forget what it is to belong
I hope the dream like the words of this song
Whatever your harmony
Oh please just sing with me

 

This felt so good. Almost like when you used to play for your family. You hadn’t felt like this in a really long time.

 

You don't have to turn a blind eye
If you really look I'm a regular guy
But I'm not selling misery
Maybe some day I'll feel home again

Hold on, hold on with me
What if we could change this world today
Hold on, hold on with me
What if we could change this world today

 

You repeated the end bit once more, sighing happily when you finished. You finally relaxed a tiny bit in your seat, the groove of the guitar easing onto your leg. “Ha… Man, been a long time since I did that son-”

You were cut off from that sentence as Papyrus picked you up, crushing you in a hug. “HUMAN! I HAD NO IDEA YOUR VOICE WAS THAT GOOD! YOU ARE AN EXCEPTIONAL MUSICIAN!”

“P-Pap, c-can’t breathe,” you said, just thanking whatever God was up there that your guitar had slipped onto the couch before Papyrus started hugging you. He was a hell of a lot stronger than those bony arms suggested. He sat you back on the couch and you took a soft breath. “Heh… Thanks.”

“seriously, pal, that was some good singing.” Sans lifted his head up, looking a bit curious. “say, do you know how to play…”

 

So started the rest of the day, with you taking requests from both Sans and Papyrus. You played all the way up until lunch - which was a relief when it came. Your fingers ached, but it also felt good to use them again. Even though it had been… like 2 days since you last played. Man, why did it feel like so much longer already?

You watched more Mettaton during lunch (chicken and noodles this time, which tasted much more edible than Papyrus’s pasta, though was still a bit bland). This time it was a bit more interesting. A romance between two star crossed lovers, separated by fate. You felt silly sometimes, but you absolutely loved these cheesy chick flicks. Mettaton’s performance was honestly better than you expected, and the plot line was seriously cute.

You noticed these were older tapes from underground, but you decided not to question it. Makes sense that they would bring their old movies up, right?

You finished your meal and walked into the kitchen, telling Papyrus that, no, you would clean up this time, he’d done enough today. It took some convincing, but he finally let you wash the dishes after you mentioned the fact that the chores in the house were your responsibility too, now that you lived here. He left after that - you could hear him charging down the hall all the way to his room.

As you started washing dishes, you thought about how you’d felt earlier. Playing music for those two… It felt nice. It reminded you a bit of home, back when you used to play for Mom, Eric, and your siblings.

 

Your fingers clenched unconsciously at the thought of Eric. You had been thinking about home a lot, after all, and he was… part of that. You paused a second in your cleaning and sighed.

 

Welp. There’s your depressing moment of the day. Now it was done.

Besides. The memory of Papyrus’s hug when you played that song was enough to bring a smile to your face again. You quickly shrugged off your mood.

Not today.

Chapter Text

Your day was largely uneventful after that. You cleaned the dishes, and that didn't take long at all. After that, you decided to ignore your earlier idea to explore the house, because right now you just felt lazy. Instead, you grabbed your laptop and flopped on the couch next to Sans.

You absentmindedly watched some YouTube videos, glancing Sans’s way now and then. He was reading again. You smirked at his stupid glasses again. You’d let him off the hook before, but… “Why did the skeleton need reading glasses?”

Sans glanced your way, a brow raised. His smile slowly grew. “‘cause his eye sockets were going bad,” he drawled, closing his book lightly.

“How can eye sockets go bad?”

Sans shrugged. “beats me. bad eyes run in the family though; papyrus has a lotta trouble reading.”

You raised a brow, sitting up a bit more. News to you. “But… How does that even work? You don't even have real eyes?”

Sans leaned back into the couch a bit more. “well, it’s gotta do with our magic. papyrus’s magic isn't really well suited for eyes. besides, he looks kinda silly if he summons irises. and, uh, these lil’ pinpricks i’ve got take a lotta latent magic.” He grinned. “i’m too lazy t’hone it to the right vision, so glasses do the job for me.”

You… guessed that made sense? You had no idea how monster magic worked. How would you? “Alright then. And the tape?”

He flashed a bemused smile. “do y’see ears on this skull?”

Oh. You chuckled. “Guess not.” You relaxed, sighing. You thought about it for a minute. “Who’d have ever guessed I would be living with 2 skeletons, and the thing I question is their eyesight.”

Sans chuckled. “yeah. no offense, kid, but you uh… don’t really seem like much of a normal human. most people are kinda freaked out by me an’ paps.”

You shrugged, glancing at him. “I mean, why would I be freaked out? You both seem like great guys. You might be monsters, sure, but I’ve known enough people in this life who deserved that title long before we knew you all were real.”

Sans watched you curiously, a glimmer of… something in his eyes. You couldn’t really tell. “is that really how you look at it?”

“Well… Yeah.” You glanced up at the ceiling, trying to find the words. “I know what it’s like to be a bit different from the crowd. Being treated differently just because you look different or act different shouldn’t be the standard. I think everyone in life should be judged by their actions, not who they are or where they come from, y’know?”

When you glanced back at Sans, he seemed… almost uncomfortable. Uneasy, to say the least. “You alright?”

“yeah. just, uh… you’re a pretty decent human. not many people would share the same point of view.”

You got the feeling he wasn’t being entirely honest about why he seemed so shifty suddenly, but… Well, you couldn’t really harp on anyone about being ‘honest’ when you were so far in the closet, you could see Narnia. Only your family-

 

Oh wait.

 

“Ugh.” You let your head fall back on the couch, groaning. “Shoot.”

“what’s up?”

You sighed, shaking your head. “Ugh, nothing. I just should really call my Mom, tell her everything that happened, y’know? She at least needs to know my new billing address and everything.” You stood, setting your laptop down next to you. “I guess I’ll be back in a bit, then.”

Sans waved, looking a bit curious again. “have fun.”

You walked to his room, going to the nightstand and grabbing your phone. Fully charged, hell yeah. You felt a tiny bit guilty for stealing their electricity (and, uh, Sans’s room) but you also supposed you were going to be here for awhile while you healed up. You made a mental reminder (again) to ask Sans about the rent situation. But right now, you had more important things to do. You went to your contacts and called your mom.

 

She picked up after three rings, as always. “Hi honey!” You couldn’t help but smile. She sounded tired, but always happy. “What’s up?”

“Heya, mom.” You sat on the edge of the bed, running a hand through your hair. “So, uh, I know it’s been awhile since I last called-”

“Sweetie, it’s alright. You’re a grown man, you don’t have to call me every week anymore.” You grinned; yeaaah, back when you first moved out, maybe you’d been a tad bit clingy. “Why are you calling? Just wanted to hear from your mom, or did something happen?” You could hear the soft twinge of concern in her voice.

“Er, kinda the latter one.”

There was a brief pause over the phone. “Hold on honey, putting down the laundry.” You waited, hearing the soft rustling on the other side. “Alright. Tell me what happened.”

“It’s, uh, Brian. He kicked me out.”

“He did?” She paused again. “... That dick.”

You grinned. You loved your mom. “I know, right?”

“Why did he do that? Oh dear, and how is he going to pay for his apartment now, he doesn’t have that job at Pets’Mart anymore…”

You laid back on the bed, smiling. “I don’t really care how he pays for the place, he can become a prostitute for all I care.” You heard your mom snicker softly. “I know, the idea is laughable. Oh, and uh…” You glanced through the crack in the door. Yeah, Sans definitely couldn’t hear you - he had dozed off on the couch again. “He kicked me out because he found out I was gay, finally.”

“Oh, honey…” Ugh, sometimes you hated the fact about how used to that kind of ‘oh honey’ you were. “Well, I’m sure he’s going to be regretting his decision when rent payments come around.” You nodded your head to agree, forgetting you were on the phone and not right there in her bedroom (she always did laundry in her room). “Who are you staying with now, sweetie? Do you need to come home?”

This conversation again. “You know I don’t wanna come home, Mom. You and Jayden have enough on your plates without me freeloading-”

“Don’t say that, sweetheart, you wouldn’t be a bother at all. Jayden would love to see you again, and you know it. Oh, and Curtis is even here, you know how much he loves to see you.”

“Curtis?” You raised a brow. “When did he get back from L.A?”

“Just this past week. Didn’t he tell you?” Of course he didn’t. Curtis had never been the best about remembering that sort of thing. Your mom didn’t pause for you to answer though - she probably knew what you would’ve said anyways. “You should come and visit sometime, and that sometime means now if you’re staying in a homeless shelter.”

You shook your head, sighing softly with a smile. “Don’t worry, I’m staying with two really great guys. You see, I uh… I sorta fell asleep outside in the middle of a little snow storm? These two guys found me and brought me home. They said I’m not allowed to leave until I’m all healed up, and honestly, I don’t mind staying with them.”

“Two strangers?”

“Yeah. But they’re cool, they’re good people.”

“If you’re sure, honey, then that’s what matters!” You could hear the soft bubble of concern in your mother’s voice still, but there she was, still treating you as your own person. You were lucky to have a mom like her. You should really call her more often. “So… Are either of them cute?”

 

Oh god, why.

 

“Mom!”

“I’m just wondering! You still have yet to date anyone of your prefered gender. I’m just looking out for my future grandchildren!”

You rolled your eyes, grinning. “You should get back to laundry, Mom. I won’t keep you.”

“Alright, alright…”

You shared a few more pleasantries (making sure you told her the new address and everything) and shared your goodbyes. You smiled softly to yourself as you hung up, holding your phone to your chest. Talking to your mom always gave you this bittersweet feeling. Maybe you should visit her soon.

You plugged your phone back in and stretched. So far, today had been a pretty good day. You could only pray that the next few that followed stayed that way. After all, your mom was right.

These guys were strangers.

 

You yawned, smiling. Damn it, why was this bed so comfy? Was it because you had been reminded of home all day? You shut your eyes and could practically see your mom’s bedroom. Green curtains and a sandy paint job with blues everywhere. Jayden running around and getting underfoot. Curtis causing trouble and testing out his pickup lines on you. It was a comfortable memory.

Or was it just because the bed was warm? And for some reason, you felt really cold…

You fought back a shiver, opening your eyes again. Why the fuck were you so cold suddenly? You glanced at your bag and stood, walking over and pulling out your blue blanket. You breathed in the smell of snow and flopped back on the bed, wrapping up in it. It helped relax you (though you were still fucking freezing).

You found your eyelids slowly drooping. Hadn't you gotten enough sleep the other night?...

 

Whatever. Sleep sounded… Awesome.

Really awesome…

 

You dozed off with a slight shiver.

 

*~*~*~

 

When he woke up, he almost managed to forget where he was.

Tv. Couch. 4 walls, a kitchen, some bedrooms. His soul skipped a pulse as he sat up straighter, the tingle of magic already forming at his fingertips. Was this?...

No. No, that carpet was different. The couch wasn't the old lumpy one. There was no upstairs, and Papyrus was home, Papyrus was right in front of him, whistling and working on a word scramble in an orange sweater and jeans.

Junior jumble.

 

Sans eased a smile into his face, letting out a well timed yawn. Papyrus jumped, glancing back at him. “OH! SANS! NICE TO SEE YOU AWAKE, LAZYBONES. YOU TOOK A NAP RIGHT AFTER LUNCH!”

“sorry, paps,” he said with a soft smile, relaxing. “guess your food was so tasty, i needed to dream of it some more.” His brother beamed, flattered. “where’s our buddy at?”

“HE’S ASLEEP IN YOUR ROOM. DO YOU THINK HE’S DREAMING OF MY COOKING TOO?”

“heh. who wouldn't be, bro?” Sans stretched, glancing at the door to his bedroom. Hmm… He stood, scratching his skull softly. You had just almost frozen to death; probably best not to leave humans alone for too long after that, right? Right. “i’ll go check up on ‘im.”

Papyrus sat up, surprised. “YOU? DO SOMETHING? AFTER JUST WAKING UP?” He grinned. “WHO ARE YOU AND WHERE IS MY BROTHER, FIEND?”

Sans laughed. “c’mon, i’m not that lazy, paps!”

“NONSENSE! I WILL BELIEVE NO MORE OF THESE OUTRAGEOUS LIES!” Papyrus lunged, grabbing the still laughing Sans and pulling him into a hug. “NYEH HEH!”

“gah, paps!” Sans struggled his way out of the hug with a smile, chuckling. God. This was… This was nice. He felt like he could actually enjoy this for once. This wasn't one of those dreams again, this wasn't whatever those nightmares he still occasionally had were about. This was home. On the surface. This was… freedom.

“VERY WELL, YOU MAY GO CHECK UP ON THE HUMAN. MAKE SURE HE IS VERY WELL RESTED - I WANT HIM TO POSSIBLY GO OUTSIDE WITH US TODAY!”

“heh. great idea, paps. you’re so smart.” Sans smiled at his brother and walked into his room.

He raised a brow. You were curled up in a blanket, fast asleep. Where’d that blue blanket come from?

He walked up, gently shaking your shoulder. “out like a light…” He touched your forehead with the back of his hand, just on a whim.

 

His eyes widened.

You were burning up.

 

“human?”

You didn’t stir at all.

 

“human, buddy, c’mon.” He shook you gently.

You didn’t wake.

 

His soul pounded harder. Had you… No. Nono, had they left you alone for too long? What if humans needed something after a situation like this? Fuck, were you… Were you gone?

“paps! get a washcloth and get it cold and wet, alright?”

“HMM? OKAY, SANS!” He didn't ask any questions. Sans sat next to you, frowning, unsure what to do. You were breathing still, that was good, but maybe humans just kept breathing when this happened? He took a deep breath.

 

“i hope you're okay.”

Chapter Text

When you woke up, there was a washcloth on your head and a skeleton asleep in the chair next to you. “Mm…”

You sat up a bit, rubbing your eyes with a sniffle. Ugh, ew, your nose was all stuffy. You glanced to the side; why was Sans here? And why was there a washcloth on your forehead?...

 

Wait.

Your nose was stuffy.

 

“Oh, gosh darn it.” You made a fast mental note that you’d refrained from cussing. Another thing these living arrangements would do to you, you guessed. You laid back, sighing. “I got sick on top of freezing to death.”

Next to you, Sans started to stir. “mm… human?”

“Heya, Sans.” You grabbed a nearby tissue from the box and blew your nose. It didn't do shit, but eh, that was worth a try.

You weren't quite ready for him to jump up, jolting from his seat when he saw you awake. “human! oh my god, you’re awake!”

You looked him over; you’d never seen him look so relieved. Uh… What had happened? He looked like you just came back from the dead or something. “Uh… How long was I out?”

“fuck, you were out the entire afternoon! it's like 10 at night right now, we thought…” He took a deep breath and started to relax, but jolted again, eyes shooting open just as wide. “shit. papyrus!!”

You heard a crash from the living room, followed by Papyrus running into the room. “YOU’RE ALIVE,” he screamed almost immediately, grabbing you and hugging you so tight, you swore your ribs shifted. You winced, noticing tears in his eyes.

What the absolute hell had happened?!

“P-Papyrus, too tight!”

“WOOPSIES.” His grip on you lessened just slightly - enough for you to breathe, at the very least. He still hugged you, however. “MY APOLOGIES, HUMAN. I AM JUST EXCITED TO SEE YOU ARE AWAKE AND NOT DEAD!”

“What?” You glanced between him and Sans as he finally sat you down on the bed. “Why would I have died??”

Sans shifted to the chair that they’d moved next to his bed. “well… y’were passed out and feverish. you wouldn't wake up and uh… well, you know.”

“Er… No?”

“WE THOUGHT YOU FELL DOWN,” Papyrus added hesitantly, wiping away his tears.

“Fell down? What are you talking about, I didn't fall, it's not like I've got any bruises or anything. It's just probably a cold, my immune system is trashed from having hypothermia. That’s not worth the tears or the freakout, guys, chill.”

Both Sans and Papyrus glanced at each other, bewildered. Sans looked back at you, clearing his throat. “do… humans not fall down?”

You opened your mouth to make a smart-ass reply about tripping, but stopped short. You thought for a second.

Okay. They were talking super seriously. This was the most serious you'd seen Sans. And Papyrus had been crying, for pete’s sake, he’d been ridiculously worried about you ‘falling down’. “What does falling down mean to you guys? Cause, I mean, I trip and I’ve fallen on my face before-”

“no, no, that’s not what we’re talking about.” Sans looked like he was blushing now, a light blue starting to stain his cheekbones. “when... when a monster ‘falls down’, it’s because the magic in their bodies is starting to fade. they’re either injured, sick, or just too old to keep going. so, they fall down. it’s like they’re asleep, but instead of waking up later, they just… don’t.”

Your eyes widened. Oh. “And you guys thought, since I’d gotten sick, that I was-”

“FALLING DOWN.”

Oh, god.

“Shi-” You ran a hand across your mouth, moving to your hair a second later. “Shoot. I, uh… No, I just have a fever. Er, probably had, it might’ve broken while I was asleep. Humans… I don’t think we do quite what you’re describing.”

“but you do fall down sometimes?”

“Only in the ‘tripped over my shoelaces’ kind of falling down. For humans, we… can sometimes go into this thing we call a coma. Not sure why we call it that, actually, probably Latin or Greek or… Sorry, not the topic.” You cleared your throat. “Sometimes, humans can go into a coma, but that usually only happens from like head injuries or getting too drunk or something. It’s like a long sleep that people only sometimes wake up from, but it probably won’t happen to me.”

 

Sans and Papyrus glanced at each other and both sighed deeply, looking relieved to say the least. “well,” Sans said, his grin slowly returning to an easy smile, “that’s a relief.”

“Yeah.” Now you were blushing, great. “I’m really sorry, I was just suddenly so tired, it happens when I get sick-”

“nono, i’m sorry for freaking out, i just sorta assumed that’s what happened-” Sans was blushing too. It was definitely a blush. Why wouldn’t you stop registering his blushing?

“It’s fine, seriously. In your position, I would’ve freaked out as well.” You take a deep breath, sniffing. “Alright. Alright, let’s uh… Why don’t we all just chill, eh? Near-death scare for the both of you, crummy week for me.” Your stomach picked right then to remind you that you had yet to eat dinner and it was 10 o’clock at night. “Er…”

“shoot. me an’ paps sorta forgot to make dinner.”

“I WAS BUSY TRYING TO FIND CURES FOR HUMAN FALLING DOWNS!” Papyrus frowned. “I DO NOT BELIEVE BAND-AIDS WAS THE CORRECT ANSWER.”

You couldn’t help but laugh, starting to smile. Sans joined in. “yeah, uh, that doesn’t sound quite right to me either, bro.”

“Food sounds like a good idea. It’s too late to make something. Order out?”

“sounds good to me. paps, you good with pizza?”

If he had one, you’re certain Papyrus’s nose would’ve been scrunched up, given the face he made at Sans’s question. “ANYTHING OTHER THAN DOMINOS. THEY ARE VERY GREASY, AND I DO NOT BELIEVE THEY HAVE EVEN PLAYED THAT GAME BEFORE!”

You laughed more, standing. “Alright, alright, no dominos.” You glanced at Papyrus, stopping your movements after a moment. He was shifting from foot to foot slowly, his hands drawn up to his chest, his boxing gloves off. He was wearing normal gloves today. He also looked to be sweating a tiny bit. “Paps? Are you hot or something?”

“NO?? WHY WOULD YOU ASK?”

“You’re sweating a bit.” You put your hands on your hips, tilting your head slightly. He looked… nervous? “Paps. What’s wrong?” Sans was watching him too, curious and frowning.

“ERM. WELL. I MAY HAVE BEEN VERY CONCERNED ABOUT YOU, HUMAN.”

“Uhhuh?”

“AND. WELL. I HAVE A FRIEND WHO IS VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT HUMANS WHOM I TOLD ABOUT YOU AND NOW SHE MAY BE COMING OVER WITH MEDICINE TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER?”

 

Oh lordie.

“Let’s get enough pizza for her too, then.”

 

*~*~*~

You quickly determined that it had been way too long since you last had pizza. When it arrived (which it did so ridiculously fast, you noticed, you must be near the pizza joint), you dig in as soon as you could. It was fairly cheap, too. The delivery guy flashed Sans and Papyrus a startled look at first, but he seemed to relax a bit when he saw you. Huh.

Papyrus had wanted just a cheese pizza. You got one for him and his rather large appetite, and then one smaller, personalized one with the works on it. All your favorites. Peppers, olives, and some sausage too. Papyrus looked hesitant, but he did take a bite of your pizza after some convincing by you. He looked thrilled and suggested that next time he might like peppers.

Sans smiled at you like you were a God or something. Seemed Papyrus could be a somewhat picky eater.

Sans, on the other hand, only had one slice of Papyrus’s pizza before he just straight up drank the garlic dipping sauce that came with it. You choked on your pizza when you saw that. He just laughed and said that he liked how it tasted. Figures.

Man, these guys were so weird.

It wasn't too long before there was a knock at the door. “I’LL GET IT,” Papyrus shouted right away, springing to his feet and charging to the door.

You had to admit, you were uneasy about meeting this friend of his. Obviously, they were going to be a monster; Papyrus had already rambled on and on about some sort of ‘Royal Scientist’ back underground. Apparently her name was Alphys? What would she be like? Probably had some sort of holier-than-thou mentality if she was THE Royal Scientist, right? You hoped you were wrong.

Papyrus opened the door.

“NGAH! WHERE IS HE?”

You watched as he was tackled by a blue fish.

 

Oh.

Um.

Okay then.

“UNDYNE! I DID NOT EXPECT YOU TO COME TOO!” He sounded overjoyed by the prospect.

“S-She insisted on coming with me,” a timid voice said from behind the door. “Undyne, p-please, could you scoot just over s-so I can come inside?”

“Woops. Sorry, Alphys!”

She did move, allowing a much smaller (if a tiny bit overweight) monster to walk in. She reminded you of that one dinosaur from Barney. She caught your eyes and smiled, pushing up her glasses. “O-Oh! Y-You’re up and about. W-Well, that's a good sign. Are you s-still feeling sick?”

You stood, setting your now empty pizza box aside. You walked up to them with a smile. “I mean, I’ve got a case of the sniffles and my throat’s a bit scratchy, but other than that I feel fine.” You offered up your hand and introduced yourself.

Alphys jumped. “O-Oh, I’m sorry, I-I never-” She quickly shook your hand, smiling nervously. “I’m Alphys! D-Doctor Alphys, that is. B-But you should just call me Alphys.”

She looked so nervous. You smiled easily back to her, relaxing. Definitely not what you were expecting. “Nice to meet you, Alphys.”

“Y-You too-”

“And I’m UNDYNE!” The blue fish (Undyne, as she said) grabbed your hand after Alphys let it go and promptly shook it. You stood up straighter, wincing; she had quite the grip. “What’d you say your name was again?”

You repeated your name, massaging your hand after she let it go. “Sorry, Undyne, we weren't expecting you. We got some pizza, but I didn't get one for you.”

“that’s alright,” Sans chimed in. “alph and undyne’ll be happy to share, i’m sure.” He pointed to the unopened pizza box on the floor.

Alphys walked over and opened it up, immediately squealing. “U-Undyne, it has tiny fish on it!”

“WHAT? Oh my god, human food is so rad!”

You watched as Undyne ran over, sitting on the floor and eating a slice of pizza in almost one bite. You couldn't get the idea that this was cannibalism out of your head. But, wait, those fangs might mean she's a shark.

A shark monster. Not an actual fish. You really had to stop thinking of them in terms of animals you knew. Monsters weren't like what you had known all your life. They were something new.

You sat and Alphys turned to you, pulling a pill bottle out of her bag. “T-These might help keep your fever down.”

You licked your lips. Oh. “I, uh… I think the fever’s already gone. No need for pills.”

Alphys looked at you curiously. “W-Well, if you take some, it might keep the fever from coming back.”

You waved a hand dismissively, forcing yourself to relax on the couch. “I'm sure I'll be fine. It's just a slight cold. Why not just have some pizza, Alphys?”

She frowned softly. “I-I’ll leave the pills just in case.” You shrugged in response. She sat the pill bottle on the table beside you and pulled something else out of her bag. It looked like a golden powder? “T-This’ll also help too w-with the cold.”

You nodded, smiling easier. “Is that a drink or something?”

She nodded, smiling easier as well. “I-I can mix it up for you, i-if you want?”

“That sounds great, thanks.” She walked out and you grabbed the pills, shoving them in your hoodie pocket. You’d put those someplace safe later. She returned shortly with a steaming mug of what looked like... orange juice? You sniffed it; it smelled like flowers and citrus. “What's in this?”

“I-It’s golden flower tea. D-Don't worry, i-it doesn't use real golden flowers. J-Just the flavor and some oranges a-and I think some vitamin extracts?” Alphys giggled nervously. “J-Just try it.”

You took a hesitant sip as she sat down next to Undyne on the floor. You were pleasantly surprised. “This… actually tastes really good.” You weren't lying; it warmed you up and relaxed you at the same time.

“It's supposed to, punk!” Undyne took another bite of pizza (slower this time). “Alphys mixed up that tea ‘specially for Asgore. It’s their favorite!”

“A-Although, I-I usually prefer soda,” Alphys added sheepishly.

“So, wait, Asgore drinks this stuff?” Even with how little you knew about monsters and just about everything outside of your immediate life, you knew about King Asgore, Queen Toriel, and the royal ambassador. That stuff was big news. You chuckled. “I’m drinking tea fit for a king.”

“Pfft! You make that sound like it's something special!” Undyne grinned. “Asgore’s a big weenie!”

“back underground, everyone just called him fluffybuns.” That comment led to an outbreak of laughter.

The chatter about Asgore continued. You relaxed and listened. Everyone seemed to be pretty happy to be here. They were obviously all pretty familiar with each other. You couldn't help but wonder a bit about what their lives underground were like.

 

The rest of the night was uneventful, but somehow, you felt busier than you had in years. You all are pizza together, sharing jokes and laughing and carrying on. Undyne seemed pretty cool (if a bit rambunctious), and you really clicked with Alphys (though she was nervous as anything). You had the feeling you all were going to be good friends.

So imagine your surprise when Alphys and Undyne proved they are very much more than friends when they kissed right in front of you during the Mettaton movie of the night.

 

Oooooh.

They’re gay.

 

Well. Now you felt embarrassed.

This entire time, you’d been worried about them - them being an umbrella term for just about everybody - finding out you're gay. Maybe that didn't matter? Maybe they would accept you as you are?...

You focused your eyes on the TV, trying not to look obvious as you scanned the room. Papyrus seemed oblivious to their kiss. Innocent little fluffball. And Sans…

Shit.

Sans was staring you down like a hawk. He was doing the same exact thing you were doing. Gauging reactions, seeing how it all works out. You two were more alike than you first imagined, you guessed.

You locked eyes with him. Well, no sense giving him the wrong impression. You flashed a smile, pointing to Alphys and Undyne (who were now cuddling). He seemed to relax ever so slightly, seeing you appeared to be okay with it. He glanced at them himself and chuckled. “get a room, y’two lovebirds.”

Undyne lifted her hand and flicked him off, earning a laugh. You relaxed into your chair as Sans did as well. Now you knew, you guessed. These guys were accepting of gay people. They would accept you for who you were.

 

… So why did you still feel so awkward about it?

Around midnight, Alphys reminded Undyne that they had to get back home eventually. “W-We live over at the university,” Alphys explained. “I-I’m a professor there.”

“Yeah! And I’m an assistant gym leader at Toriel’s school for monsters! Human, did you know I can bench press 8 kids?!”

“WOWWIE! THAT’S MORE THAN LAST TIME!” You were not gonna ask about ‘last time’.

Alphys stood and glanced at you, twiddling her claws. “J-Just don't forget about those pills. I also left some of that tea for you.”

“Don't worry, I’ve got it.” You patted your side pocket to remind you both that the pills were inside. She nodded and made her way to the door. Undyne followed, groaning about the cold weather. You guessed she was cold-blooded?

It wasn't very long until they left. The apartment seemed somehow smaller and emptier with them gone. Weird.

Papyrus cleared his throat (a completely unnecessary action from a skeleton). “PERHAPS WE SHOULD GO TO BED SOON!”

“yeah, i’m pretty beat.”

You chuckled. “Yeah, you’re always beat, Sans.”

“true.” He yawned, standing. “i’ve got dibs on the couch.”

You watched him. You were… forgetting something.

Suddenly, it dawned on you. “Wait, don't you work night shifts?”

“only on sunday, tuesday, and friday. they could only afford to hire a monster for half a week. the other nights, i get to sleep and enjoy some time at home.”

That made sense. Racist bosses, less hours. You glanced around the apartment, wondering silently how they could afford this place, and the food they were paying for. How they could afford you. You’re some random guy they picked up off the street. They were wasting money on you.

But… They did have a point. You were still sick. No sense leaving if you were still sick, right?

Besides. It would break Papyrus’s heart if you just up and left with no warning. You couldn't do that to him.

 

You all started working out sleeping arrangements. You had tried to convince Sans to take his own bed - the couch was the guest spot, after all. Sans just shrugged, flopped on the couch, and fell asleep. You frowned and tried to shake him awake, but he was being an asshole. Finally, you gave up and let him sleep there. If he really wanted to sleep there, he could.

Papyrus frowned at this. “YOU COULD ALWAYS SHARE A BED! THE COUCH IS NOT VERY COMFORTABLE.”

You felt a blush rising to your cheeks. Oh, come on, it was just sharing a bed with a guy. Not embarrassing at all.

What the fuck was wrong with you today?

“i move in my sleep, papyrus. wouldn't wanna disturb our guests sleep, right?” Sans was officially a life saver.

Papyrus gasped. “OH MY GOD. YOU’RE RIGHT. THAT SETTLES IT, HUMAN! YOU MUST TAKE SANS’S BED.”

You sighed with a soft smile. “Alright, alright.”

 

Goodnights were said. Beds flopped in. Blankets pulled up close. You watched the ceiling, a single question on your mind that night.

How to come out to your roommates when you couldn't just 2 days ago.

Chapter Text

You woke up at 6:15 the next morning (an ungodly hour for normal people, but kinda nice to you). You went ahead and got dressed. No sense just sitting around, right?

You went ahead to the kitchen, surprised to see no one there. Papyrus must still be asleep. You patted your stomach, thinking; you weren't very hungry yet. What to do until breakfast?

A quick glance towards the window gave you the answer.

You grabbed your hoodie from the bedroom and slipped it on, going to the door. You glanced at Sans; still fast asleep on the couch. You opened the door, happy to see he was still asleep, and walked outside.

 

There's nothing quite like a sunrise. The sunset likes to imitate it, but really, there is nothing as sweet as a sunrise. The air is all fresh and dew filled, and the sun isn't bright enough to be annoying, and (as an added bonus) the moon is still out across the sky. You breathed in slowly, taking in the morning with a small smile.

What was it like, you had to wonder, for them? For monsters? What was it like to come out of the underground and see this sight for the first time? Were they still and silent in awe? Or excited, celebrating their freedom?

You tried to remember how you felt when you heard gay people could get married. That might be close.

 

“HUMAN, WHERE DID YOU GO?!”

Oh god.

You quickly stood and walked back in. “Outside, I was outside Paps!” Sans jolted (again, it seemed) when you walked in. “Sorry, Papyrus, didn't mean to scare you.”

Sans seemed to relax a bit, rubbing his skull the same way you would run a hand through your hair. Papyrus walked in from your room, a pair of boxers on his head and around his pelvis, and a “JOY BOI” shirt. You weren't yet fully awake but… You’re not sure you would’ve been able to comprehend that imagine even when fully awake. “THERE YOU ARE HUMAN! YOU ARE VERY SNEAKY, WAKING UP BEFORE ME! BUT NO ONE CAN EVADE THE GREAT PAPYRUS!”

“Heh, yep!” You smiled sympathetically at Sans, who just nodded in defeat. You got the feeling this was a regular kind of thing. “I just wanted to watch the sunrise. It's something I try and do every once and awhile.” Reminds you there's still a lot of beauty in this world.

“AHHA! SPEAKING OF SUNRISE AND BEING OUTSIDE, HUMAN, I WISHED TO INVITE YOU TO JOIN OUR MORNING WALK!” You smiled and nodded, much to Papyrus’s delight. “SANS, HE SAID YES!”

“i know, paps,” he murmured. “saw it with my own two eye sockets.” Said eye sockets were currently closed.

“ALRIGHTY! AS SOON AS I GET DRESSED, I CAN PREPARE BREAKFAST FOR US, HUMAN.”

“Actually, Papyrus, if you wanted, I could cook today.”

He looked absolutely astounded - his jaw nearly dropped. You silently hoped it didn't actually literally do that. “DO YOU ENJOY COOKING?”

“Well, uh… Occasionally? I might be a bit rusty, though.”

“THAT IS FINE, HUMAN! I WOULD HATE TO DEPRIVE YOU OF YOUR COOKING ABILITY!” He clapped together his hands (still gloved, you noticed, why was that?) and smiled brightly. “I SHALL GO GET READY! HAVE FUN, HUMAN.” He darted off.

You sat next to Sans, grinning. “So uh… Sorry?”

He shook his head, eyes still closed. “nah. don't be. he wakes me up around this time every day i have off anyways.” He paused to yawn, rubbing his eyes. “i don't mind it, honestly. it's a change of pace from underground.”

You supposed that much was probably true. No sunlight streaming through the windows. Maybe after you got closer to these guys, you could ask them about the underground; it seemed like too touchy a subject to touch just yet. “Well, while you're up, how about an omelette?”

He smiled lazily, throwing off the blanket he had. “sounds good, bud.”

You smiled back, feeling pretty content as you walked into the kitchen. Sans followed behind you, walking to the coffee machine and starting a pot. You started pulling out what you needed for omelettes from the fridge (who in their right mind needs that many Tupperware’s of spaghetti). “y’wanna mug of this when it's done?”

“Sure, thanks.” Sans leaned against the counter, watching you and still looking half asleep on his feet. “You alright man? You never seem to be fully rested.”

He just shrugged. “who is nowadays?”

“Guess you’re right on that one. Toast?”

“mm?”

“Toast,” you repeated louder. “You want any?”

“oh. heh, sure.” You grabbed the bread and started that up while you waited for the pan to heat up. “y’know you don't gotta make breakfast to win us over, right?” A quick glance told you enough about what he meant; Sans had a playful smirk on his face. “after all, you seem like an eggcellent guy.”

Two could play at this game. “Don't lie to me - you’d be bacon my heart if you did.”

He didn't even bat an eye (though his smile grew a bit). “s’not a lie. i never lie about muffin.”

Butter work on your grammar, buddy, that sentence marmalmade me sick.”

Sans laughed, delighted. “never heard that last one. omelette you make the puns if you’re gonna try and show me up.”

You cracked a few eggs, grabbing the toast as it popped up. “I could Tabas-go to town on you if you let me get into a pun battle.” You grabbed some Tabasco from the fridge and set it aside for when your omelettes were done.

Sans slid a mug of coffee over to you, along with some creamer. “i’d relish the chance to see you mustard up the courage to ketchup to my punning prowess.”

You struggled not to break down in laughs - that had been a good one. “Alright, alright, I give - let’s stop before Paps throws a fit.”

Sans shrugged, sipping his coffee with a soft smile still. You watched curiously; the only time you could catch him with his mouth open was when he was drinking or talking. You never saw him eat. He had normal looking teeth, though his canines seemed to be defined a bit more than most skulls you’d seen. Weird.

You focused on the omelettes. Bit of cheddar, bit of parm. Did the boys like ham? A quick glance in the fridge showed they had some deli-sliced stuff for sandwiches, so you presumed yes. In it went (not before you fried it though). You went this way and that, alternating between shots of coffee and cooking like it was a dance.

Sans watched what you were doing, slightly bemused. “enjoyin’ yourself?”

“Hey, a single mom and 3 siblings leads to a lot of creative omelettes. I actually liked cooking, so I took the mantel at my house.”

“explains the mom friending.”

You guessed it did. Looking after your siblings had always been an adventure, especially since Jayden could be a picky eater. Justin and Curtis always seemed easy to cook for, though (although they were a bit overly fond of pizza).

You shrugged and glanced at the omelettes. Almost done (this stove was kickass, you noted mentally). You grabbed one pan and opened the oven, sticking it in on broil. “what’cha doin’?”

“It cooks the top so I don't have to flip it.” Sans watched as you did the others. You took a sip of coffee as you waited for the last one to be done, glancing at the fridge.

You’d never explicitly taken notice before, but there were all sorts of pictures on the surface of the fridge. A macaroni drawing of Papyrus’s head (signed by himself). A picture of Sans and Papyrus standing with a bunch of other monsters, and one human. And the one that kept drawing your eye was one of Sans and this one furry monster laughing. It looked like Sans had just told a joke. The girl was laughing a lot. You looked at photo-Sans’s smile.

He looked happy.

 

You pulled the pans out of the oven one by one, finishing the omelettes. “So, who’s the girl on the fridge?”

“hmm? oh, that's uh… tori. as in queen toriel.”

Oh.

 

“You’re friends with royalty, huh?”

Sans shrugged, still looking at the photo. “guess you could say that. i’m not super close to asgore… actually, i’m not close to him at all. i don't really like him much.” You wanted to ask why, but Sans didn't give you a chance before he continued. “tori and frisk, on the other hand, those two are great. frisk’s the human ambassador and tori’s kid. they’re sweet. and tori…”

Oh goodness.

Was he blushing again?

“tori’s real smart, and funny too. she’s kind and just sorta like my best friend? yeah, she rocks.” Oh god, does he even realize what his voice just did? You fought off the urge to groan. He seemed to sense you were in secondhand-embarrassment land and tilted his head. “what?”

“Dude. You’ve got it baaaad.

“... was that a pu-”

“Unimportant.” You sat down your coffee, grabbing plates. “You’ve got a crush on Toriel.”

“what??” Sans frowned - actually fully frowned. “no i don't!”

“You SO do.”

“ARE YOU DISCUSSING MY BROTHER’S CRUSH, HUMAN?”

You smirked victoriously at Sans as Papyrus walked in. Sans was blushing bad now, disgruntled. “Why, yes Papyrus, I was.”

“okay, so maybe i sorta kinda really like tori a lot, okay?” Sans grabbed his own plate, an omelette, and the entire bottle of ketchup. “but she's way outta my league, bud. s’not gonna happen.”

“Aw, c’mon!”

“no means no, human.” Sans sat, sighing and flashing a smile. “there’s plenty of monsters out there for these old bones, though. just gotta wait for it.”

 

You laughed it off and grabbed an omelette yourself.

But you felt kinda weird after he said that. That feeling didn't go away any for some reason.

 

You all sat and dug into your omelettes. Papyrus gasped after the first bite. “HUMAN…”

You swallowed your mouthful of egg, ham, and cheesy, spicy, peppery goodness. “Yeah?”

“ARE YOU SECRETLY A MASTER CHEF? BECAUSE THIS IS UTTERLY DELICIOUS!!”

You grinned. “Really?”

“yeah, bud, this tastes great.” You glanced at Sans. Half the ketchup bottle was drained, and half the omelette eaten. You could see the Tabasco you’d thrown into his inside. He was smirking. “kinda hot. was that a prank attempt?”

“Nah. Just a good condiment.” You grabbed some more Tabasco and drizzled some onto your own. Papyrus eyes it curiously. “Do you wanna try, Paps?”

“HMM… YOU AND SANS DO SEEM TO BE ENJOYING IT. IS IT TASTY?”

Sans shrugged. “it tastes pretty good to me.”

“Here.” You handed the bottle over to Papyrus, letting him examine it.

He looked amazed. “THERE ARE LITTLE FLAMES ON THIS BOTTLE! UNDYNE WOULD APPROVE. I MUST TRY IT THEN, TO TELL HER ABOUT THIS NEW FLAMING CONDIMENT!”

“Just be careful, Papyrus, it’s-”

He started to drink it.

“... spicy.”

 

His eyes widened.

There was an orange tint to his cheeks.

You quickly stood to get some milk.

“W… WOWWIE!” His eyes were watering, but he looked absolutely amazed. “SANS! THIS SAUCE IS VERY TASTY. SHOULD I ADD IT TO MY SPAGHETTI?”

“just not too much, okay papyrus? not everyone has your tolerance for pain.”

“NYEH HEH! I WOULDN’T BE CALLED THE GREAT PAPYRUS IF I COULDN’T DRINK SOMETHING AS GREAT AS THIS!”

He was still teary-eyed when he chugged down a glass of milk.

 

As you washed up the plates, Papyrus ran amuck through the apartment, shouting about how he had overcome the hot sauce, and also urging Sans to get ready faster. You smiled.

You could get used to this, your mind supplied in the moment. You couldn't help but agree.

Chapter Text

Walking with Papyrus and Sans was a whole new adventure.

Papyrus greeted the day like he greets everything: enthusiastically. “SANS, LOOK! IT SNOWED EVEN MORE! IT LOOKS JUST LIKE HOME!”

Sans’s smile became strained. “heh. not quite, bro. we’ve got clouds out here.”

You glanced at Sans; he seemed uncomfortable anytime someone mentioned the underground. Granted, it probably wasn’t the best time for anyone down there, but you still felt bad about that. You smiled a bit sympathetically, looking back towards Papyrus. “Besides, you guys live up here now. This is your home now, right?”

“CORRECT, HUMAN! THIS IS OUR HOME! YOU LIVE WITH US, REMEMBER?”

You laughed, grinning. “Sure thing, Paps.”

He charged off to go play in the snow a bit and Sans glanced your way. “you sure you’re up for this walk? you had a fever, right? you feelin’ alright?”

And he called you the mom friend. “I’m good, Sans.” You yawned, smiling and shutting your eyes as you walked. “My fever already broke last night, remember? Besides, the fresh air is pretty nice.”

Sans chuckled. “yeah, it is pretty cool out here.”

You snickered. “God damn it, is there any time you won’t make a pun?”

“nope. it’s too pun-resistable.” You groaned, laughing a tiny bit. Sans sighed, watching the sky. “... you don't gotta correct him, y’know.”

So he caught onto that. You shrugged, opening your eyes again so you didn't trip or something. “It's not really correcting him. Just… reminding him that there’s better stuff out there than just what he knew.” You rubbed your neck. “Guess I’m just used to reminding people of that.”

Sans glanced at you. “what do y’mean?”

What do you mean? Now… wouldn't be a good time to mention your family. You would just be over sharing at that point. Even if it would give you two a common ground or something, you weren't up for that. But, maybe this would be a good time… “A lotta people come out to me, y’know? Being an ally and all. And they gotta learn it’s a better world out there than what most of them experience.”

“An ally?”

You grinned, the action feeling unnatural for some reason. Why’d this always feel so weird? “Y’know, LGBTQ and all that.” You didn’t glance his direction. Refused to. Didn’t want to see his face. “I’m sorta gay.”

There was a pause. You swore you heard birds chirping (although that didn’t make sense with all this snow). Uuuugh, you hated when you made shit awkward like this-

“only sorta?”

“Well, I mean, no, I’m all the way gay, but-”

“alright.” You glanced over right as Sans shrugged. “y’still don’t need t’correct him. he’ll learn soon enough that this place is way better than down there.” Sans chuckled. “least he seems to have almost no bad memories of the underground.”

You smiled in relief. Not even a comment about what you’d said. You glanced ahead at Papyrus (who was still jumping around in the snow banks). “There’s that at least.” There was a brief pause as you both watched him. Should you say more? “... That’s uh… sorta why I got thrown out of my old apartment.”

You could feel the tension around Sans suddenly. “is that right?”

You nodded. “Sorta why I got kicked out of the last three apartments, actually.”

You heard Sans huff out a sigh. You finally looked his way, taking in his black eyes with slight shock. “fuckin’ assholes.” He rubbed his face, glancing your way, eyes back to normal in an instant. He was pretty good at swapping out faces, it seemed. “i’m sorry y’had to deal with that shit, kid.”

“I’m not a kid,” you said with a small smile. This settled it - they cared. This wasn’t some awkward addition to your character. This was just you, and he actually felt sympathetic for you. You chuckled. “My old roommate was a dick, and that's the end of it. The last two were a bit better, Alicia didn’t even want to kick me out.” You sighed, shaking your head and laughing a bit. “Honestly, I’m just relieved you’re taking it well.”

“guess i just get being shunned for somethin’ you are that you can’t change.” You glanced his way and he winked at you. Was this bonding? You’re almost positive you were bonding. “glad you felt comfy enough to tell me. can’t imagine how much that sucks.”

“No more than I do when I meet the right guy.” The words slipped out of your mouth before you could stop them. You covered your mouth, partially because you were embarrassed, partially to hide your smile as Sans bursts out laughing. At least he seemed to enjoy it.

 

You were both torn from the conversation when you heard a crash in front of you. Sans and you both immediately went on the defensive, only to relax a moment later.

Papyrus poked his head out of the snow pile that had fallen on him from one of the tree branches above. The snow on his head had to be at least 3 inches. He frowned. “... THE SNOW ATTACKED.”

“gee, paps, i think you oughta look out. what would undyne think about a snow pile gettin’ the best of you?” Oh, that’s just mean.

Papyrus looked utterly mortified. “DO YOU REALLY THINK SHE WOULD BE DISAPPOINTED?”

Sans laughed, shaking his head. “nah. she would probably just punch the snow for attacking someone as great as you.” Nice save there.

Papyrus burst out of the snow pile, shaking snow off of his jeans. “NYEH HEH HEH! OF COURSE! IT SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER THAN TO TUSSLE WITH THE GREAT PAPYRUS!” He gently patted the snow pile. “A VERY DECENT FOE.”

Sans snorted softly. You ran a hand through your hair, smiling. Papyrus was definitely… new. A good kind of new. “Now that the snow pile is vanquished, where are we headed?”

“THE PARK! THAT IS WHERE WE ALWAYS GO TO ON OUR MORNING WALKS!”

“papyrus really likes training on the playground,” Sans explained.

“THE SMALL DOME TRAINING STRUCTURE IS EXTREMELY CONFUSING, YET VERY FUN!” Papyrus bounded ahead, charging in the direction of the park.

“c’mon. we should catch him before he scares anyone in the park.”

“No one in their right mind will be out there,” you muttered as you both started running up. “It’s fucking freezing.”

“says the one who fell asleep in the middle of a snow storm?”

“Oh hush, numbskull.”

 

*~*~*~

 

The park, as you predicted, was empty. That didn’t phase Papyrus at all, though. He went over to the jungle gym and started climbing it. You were panting by the time that you caught up with him and Sans (how that lazy bastard got so much further ahead of you, you’ll never know).

You cleared off a bench of snow and sat, watching Papyrus climb. Sans sat next to you, smiling at his brother. “He really seems to enjoy it up here,” you said after a short silence.

Sans nodded, seeming to curl into himself a tiny bit - for warmth, you supposed. “the underground… wasn’t really big enough for a guy like paps.” You could see how that would be the case. “he’s got dreams bigger than this place’ll ever allow for, y’know?”

You glanced at Sans curiously. “Does it run in the family?”

He seemed surprised by the question. “me? big dreams?” He laughed, keeping his eyes on his brother. “nah. i mighta had those once, but…” He sighed, curling in a tiny bit more - you don’t think it was for warmth - and his eyesockets seemed just a little darker under the edges. “yeah. guess i’m livin’ the dream now.”

 

In an instant, he was back to normal, eyes on his brother. You glanced at Papyrus (he was hanging backwards off of the bars). “... How long have you two been alone?”

“w-what?” Sans sounded absolutely startled.

You smiled softly. “I know what it’s like, living only for your brother. Well, for your entire family. I know it’s different, I’ve still got my mom at least, but I know you don’t have anyone else, and I know what it’s like to feel like that.” Why the fuck were you saying this? You mind screamed to abort, but… “After awhile, those people that are left become your only goal. Just… keep them safe. Keep them happy in the only way you can. For me, it was music, cooking, any way I could make things that would brighten their life… And when that’s not good enough?” You shrugged. “Try harder.”

 

You’re not sure what caused you to say all that. You were pretty obviously overstepping your bounds. But goddamn it, you could see what life for these two was like clear as day, or at least you could see it pretty well. You certainly didn’t know everything about these two, how could you?

But you knew enough.

 

Sans hated the underground. Like, he really hated the underground, more than Papyrus, and you think Undyne and Alphys, and really all the other monsters too. Something caused that. Something more than just being underground. You didn’t know what, but it was still there and it was still affecting him. Beyond that, you knew that Papyrus and Sans didn’t have any family up here. No photos on the walls or fridge of them. Sans practically lived for his brother.

You had the feeling sometimes that you could get rid of the ‘practically’.

 

The birdsong was louder.

“... too long,” Sans muttered.

“Huh?”

“y’asked how long me and paps’ve been alone. i was answering your question. too long.”

You sighed and nodded. “Figured as much.”

Sans and you both went quiet. You took a deep breath, letting the cold air chill your sore throat. Papyrus, ever oblivious, kept up his climbing, working himself to untangle from the bars. Sans just watched him, as always.

“how did you-”

“Like I said, I know what it's like. I know what taking care of your family looks like. We all lose people.” Sans let his eyes dart back to Papyrus. “... With how much you watch him, I don't think he’s gonna be lost too.”

Sans shut his eyes tightly. “you know just as well as i do that it’s not safe up here, kid-”

“Not a kid-”

“whatever. fact stands. it’s plain not safe here, for anyone. this world… god, it really is kill or be killed sometimes.”

“It's not.”

He groaned angrily. “show me one case where this fuckin’ place showed you the slightest bit of kindness or worth, human. just one.”

You glanced at him and smiled. “Well. You two saved me, right?” His eye sockets widened. “That's good enough for me,” you mutter. “There's so many more things I can say, so many little things that keep me going between the big, bad stuff. But for right now?”

Papyrus laughed as he got to the top of the jungle gym, hooting in triumph. You grinned. “Right now, this is good enough.”

 

“SANS! HUMAN! STOP BEING SO LAZY! THIS OBSTACLE COURSE WILL BE NO FUN IF DONE WITHOUT FRIENDS!”

Sans looked at Papyrus, face softening. He glanced back at you. “... yeah, alright paps!”

“GOODIE!”

You smiled back at him. “C’mon, let's not leave him waiting. I feel like you’re a swing kinda g-”

“thanks.”

You stopped, halfway stood, watching him. “... Don't mention it,” you say before walking to the swings.

 

So that happened. You aren't really surprised, to be honest. You always had this tendency to weedle yourself into the lives of everyone else. If you could help you would (not that you ever could do much). You loved to help any way you could, even though most of the time it didn't work. Not much worked right in this world.

But then, who else would fix it, if not you?

You and Sans took to the swings for a bit, leaving the conversation in the past. You went ahead and enjoyed yourself, swinging high and feeling the wind rush through your hair, just relishing the feeling. Sans stayed closer to the ground, but honestly you’d expected that. He didn’t really seem like much of a flier anyways. You breathed in the rush of air as it stung your face.

It felt fantastic.

Papyrus ran amok through the small playground, charging through small snowbanks to get to his goals. How he wasn’t frozen, you had no idea. Maybe skeletons didn’t feel cold? He didn’t seem to be cold; he took to the monkey bars and kept showing off with handstands. Then he started to climb the side of the swings (you promptly told him to get off, before he managed to tilt it over).

After an hour or so, you and Sans were already exhausted. “NYEH HEH! YOU TWO ARE SO LAZY SOMETIMES! I AM STILL READY TO TAKE ON ANYTHING THIS OBSTACLE COURSE THROWS AT ME!”

“eh, paps, i think our roommate might want to get on home. he’s still sick after all, and too long in this cold and he might get even sicker. we wouldn’t want that, would we?”

Papyrus gasped. “OH NO! HUMAN, PLEASE DO NOT CATCH MORE SICKNESS!” You weren’t ready for it - not that you were ready for anything Papyrus did - but Papyrus grabbed you and lifted you up, setting you on his shoulders. Oh, holy shit, had you ever been up this high before? Obviously, yes, but holy shit he was tall. You clung to his neck with your thighs. He didn’t even seem to notice - vertebrae, you guessed. “ONWARDS!”

You held on tightly as he walked home. Thankfully, he seemed to know better than to go too fast. On the way back, you went ahead and filled him in on a bit of what you and Sans talked about. Only the parts where you came out - no need to go into all that deep conversation the two of you had gotten into. Papyrus just… didn’t seem like the right person to do that with. Sans needed someone who didn’t talk about serious stuff.

Papyrus, of course, was a sweet innocent little cinnamon bun about it. “WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOUR FRIEND MAKE YOU LEAVE SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU LIKE MEN? WHY, I LIKE EVERYONE AND NO ONE SEEMS TO HATE ME FOR IT!”

Oh, Papyrus. Not what you had meant, but okay. “My old roommate just thought I would want to date him, and that made him uncomfortable.”

Papyrus frowned. “WELL, HE COULD HAVE BEEN NICER ABOUT IT.” You neglected to mention the whole ‘viagra for your shrivelled up dick’ part.

 

You got back home in a jiffy.

And then promptly passed out on the couch.

Hey - sick people need sleep, right?

Chapter Text

This wasn't what he wanted.

That's all he could think, the entire way back home as he watched you ride on Papyrus’s shoulders. He watched as Papyrus laughed alongside you. You both seemed so happy, even despite the conversation you and he had just had. Despite everything, you were still there, keeping things happy.

 

That wasn't your job.

 

That was his.

 

When he brought you home, he knew Paps would want you to stay. Papyrus just got attached like that, to everyone. Heh, just look at Frisk. And, y’know, he'd been okay with it. One or two days, maybe a week with some hobo living in his house. Maybe less if the hobo hated monsters. They would part ways and that would be the end of it, and life would just keep going as it always had. A smile here or there and a pun or two to keep things light.

 

Three days.

That's all it had been, just three days. Hell, you’d been asleep or sick for half of that! Three days… and, somehow, you could read him like a book.

Yeah, so what if he and Paps had been alone for so long? Hell, Sans couldn’t even remember his dad anymore. The “event” had been a long time ago, after all. He knew his dad had died that day. A lot of people did. And with their mom dying when Paps was born… Sans shook his head, eyes straight on you and Papyrus.

So what if they had been alone? Papyrus had him, and Sans… Sans had himself. And for a very, very long time, that had been good enough. So long as Papyrus was happy, then… Heh. Sans didn’t really matter.

But then… The nightmares… The charts and readings… And that fucking machine that he still had in that hidden lab, all of it just… compounded. Like all these different things across his lifespan just compressed into a few years. And he felt himself compress with it.

Then Frisk, god…

What was the sense of reliving it all again, if just in his mind this time around? Ha.

And now. He was watching you.

You, just some dumbass who was half frozen to death, just some dumbass who was too damn kind for this fucked up world, just some dumbass who could see through his bullshit. And for some reason, for some reason you wanted to sort that shit out? You wanted to… To what?

Make him happy?

 

That wasn't what he wanted.

He never wanted someone to see through his bullshit. That was his to deal with, not yours. Beyond that, he didn’t dare let himself get attached to you. You would be gone, rightfully, as soon as you healed up. Nothing was going to change that. Life would keep going for a little while just like it always did, nothing changing, everything staying exactly the same, after you left.

All he had to do was wait for it.

 

That’s not what he wanted.

But it was what he would do.

It’s all he ever did, after all.

 

*~*~*~

 

The nap was nice. You never really slept often when you were at home, but after you left, you found yourself sleeping often. After all, there was never much to stay awake for.

You found yourself waking up after about an hour though; Papyrus was running around the house, excited. “Wassit,” you said in a shining example of your mastery over the English language as you slowly sat up on the couch.

Papyrus looked at you, eyes wide with wonder. He had a phone next to his skull, held against his shoulder. In his hands were a pen and pencil -it looked like he’d been writing furiously. “AH! HUMAN! IT IS VERY GOOD THAT YOU ARE AWAKE! DID YOU KNOW IT IS ALMOST A VERY IMPORTANT HUMAN HOLIDAY?”

What?

“A holi-” Your voice cut out as you remembered.

It’s November. You did a bit of mental searching - November 22. Tuesday.

Two days until Thanksgiving.

“Oh.”

“FRISK CALLED ME AND TOLD ME ALL ABOUT IT! THEY HAVE TOLD TORIEL AND THEY WANT TO INVITE US ALL TO THANKSGIVING DINNER, AND I MENTIONED YOU AND TORIEL IS ONLY HAPPY TO HAVE YOU FOR THANKSGIVING!”

Oh, shit, wow, this was a lot to process right after waking up. Fuck. You blinked your thoughts a bit clearer, frowning softly. “Uh, well, I… I mean, I should probably talk with my family. I should spent Thanksgiving with them…”

“HOLD ON, HUMAN!” He turned his head very slightly. “FRISK, WHAT IF MY HUMAN FRIEND BROUGHT HIS FAMILY?!”

“Wait, Paps-”

“FRISK SAYS IT IS ABSOLUTELY FINE! TORIEL LOVES COMPANY!”

“But I-”

“PLEASE, HUMAN? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE?” Oh no, he was giving you the puppy dog eyesockets.

… That thought was way creepier than intended.

You grinned shakily. “I’ll… I’ll ask if they want to come over. You can tell Frisk if Toriel will have more company than planned.”

“GOODIE! FRISK, DID YOU HEAR THAT???” Papyrus kept running around, chatting absentmindedly into the phone about you. You took a deep breath, rubbing your face and reviewing what you just agreed to while you were still half asleep.

Another call home was apparently due. And, being so close to Thanksgiving, everyone might be home… Curtis, Mom, Jayden… Maybe even Justin. You took a deep breath. Papyrus wanted you to invite all of them?...

You grabbed your phone, determined to do this now. No sense waiting. You glanced up as Papyrus charged through the living room again toward his bedroom, rambling about his action figures. “Hey, Paps, I’m gonna go outside and take a call!”

“OKAY, HUMAN!”

You stepped outside, breathing in the cold abomination-of-an-autumn air. Your throat prickled at the cold; still felt sick. You sighed, sitting on the (thankfully snow free) front step. You glanced at your phone once before going to your contacts and tapping the big, capital lettered HOME button.

 

It always rang three times.

“Sweetie? Is that you?” You relaxed as you heard your mom’s voice. She sounded concerned that you were calling, bless her heart, she cared so much. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, I just uh… Hey, is everyone there?”

“Every- Oh, well, Jayden is upstairs and Curtis is on the couch.”

“And Justin?”

She only paused maybe a millisecond, but it was long enough for you to notice. When did you get so good at noticing all those little details? “Oh, well, you know how busy he is on Mt. Ebott! He called last night, actually, he might be down for Thanksgiving this year!”

You bit back a comment. No sense bringing that up. “Well, mind getting everyone and putting me on speaker? This involves you all. I can text Justin later.”

“Alright, sweetie.” You waited as you heard shuffling and your mom shouting for Jayden. You could even hear Curtis waking up, God, he sounded different. Older. Ridiculous, he wasn’t that much older than you were. Jayden came charging down the stairs, shouting as always. You allowed yourself a smile. Seeing them all would be… really, really nice.

You didn’t have to wait long. The phone beeped as she shifted to speaker. “Alright, everyone’s here, Sweetie.”

“HEY, NERD!”

You grinned. “Hey, Jay.”

“What brings your gorgeous voice to our ears?” You heard your brother say. You could hear the condescending, if exhausted, smirk. He’d never been a morning person, u like the rest of the family.

“Well, Curtis, glad you asked. As you probably maybe know, Thanksgiving is coming up?”

“... Shit. That is.”

You snorted. Curtis, you dumbass. “Yeah. In, like, two days.”

“Oh, goodness,” your mother muttered. “I haven’t gotten anything yet, and everyone might be home-”

“Abooout that.” That silenced the other side of the phone. “I, uh… As you know, I’m living with these two guys now-”

“Two guys? Score-”

“Gettin kinky, bro-”

“Both of you, hush,” your mother chastised. “Go on.”

“Well, these guys got invited to spend Thanksgiving with a bunch of their friends, and they really want me to join. And, well, I would really like to, but… I want to spend time with you guys too. So, one of them suggested I invite you guys to join - the more, the merrier!”

You licked your lips, waiting for the silence to be broken. They were just thinking it over, you knew, and that made perfect sense; this was kinda an important deal for your family. It wasn’t often all of you were home, even for Thanksgiving. Hell, it was kinda telling that Curtis completely forgot it was even close to the holiday.

Finally, your mom spoke. “Well, I would love to! We don’t have anything here at the house for Thanksgiving, so it would probably be best to go somewhere else.”

“I mean, we could always just get some italian or something.”

“Curtis, Hush!”

You smiled. “Paps and his friends will be happy to meet you all. I can text you guys the address when I figure it out?”

“That sounds like a plan, Hun!”

“What sorta name is Paps?” you heard Curtis mutter.

“Just don’t get so busy you forget to text us,” Jayden shouted. You huffed. Yeaaah, you did tend to do stuff like that. Point taken. “How many people should be there?”

Uhh… “Let’s see… There’s gonna be at least…” Sans, Papyrus, Toriel, Frisk… Would Undyne and Alphys be part of it? Maybe. And then, if Toriel was there, Asgore might be too. That was… “Maybe like 6 or 7, not including us.”

“Yikes. Hope they got a house big enough for all that.”

You thought about Asgore and Toriel and what that house might look like. “I’m sure it’ll be big enough,” you muttered with a wry smile.

The conversation drifted to simpler things after that. Curtis explained he got back from his shoot in L.A (as well as apologized for not telling you he got back). Jayden mentioned a possible girlfriend, something Curtis had teased relentlessly about. It probably wouldn’t get far, knowing Jayden, but you could always hope.

You eventually got off the call, shutting your eyes and just taking a breath. So. You’d be seeing your family in two days time. They would be meeting your roommates. Your roommates friends, too.

Your monster roommates.

 

Time to text Justin.

 

You knew better to call. He would never pick up if he was on Ebott. It wasn’t like he was ignoring you on purpose, he just… got distracted too easily. You sighed, tapping his contact and typing fast.

8:29: Hey, bro, I know you’re pretty busy, but change of plans for Thanksgiving. My roommates and their friends invited my family to come for Thanksgiving dinner, so all of us are going to be with them. They’re monsters, so if you show up, I’m expecting good behavior. You got that, kid? If you’re gonna be down, I can text you the address. Just respond before Thursday?

You smiled to yourself. That was about the best you could do.

 

The day passed faster than usual. Papyrus was a flurry of excitement the entire day, God, he never rested, did he? He seemed excited to celebrate another human holiday. It was kinda startling to think that these guys just went through Halloween. That’ll be a fun story to hear.

You went ahead and texted the address to everyone as Papyrus called Frisk (again) to tell them you all were coming. Frisk didn't seem to mind all the calls. And Sans…

Where the hell was Sans?

You posed the question to Papyrus. “HMM? OH! HE’S OFF SHOVELLING SNOW! THERE IS A VERY NICE WOMAN DOWN THE ROAD WHO OFFERED TO PAY HIM IF HE WOULD CLEAR HER DRIVEWAY FOR HIM! HE’S ASKING PEOPLE FOR THE JOB.” Papyrus beamed, eyes sparkling. “I’M SO PROUD OF HIM.”

You shook your head. Didn't he have a paid job? You supposed more money could never hurt but… Man, how short on cash were these guys? “I think I might go help.”

“DON’T STAY OUT TOO LONG! YOU ARE STILL SICK!”

He had a point… Still, monster food helped with that. Hadn't Sans mentioned a bakery nearby that had monster food? And by the time you found him, Sans might be hungry…

You grabbed your hoodie and your wallet fast, smiling. “I’ll be back soon, Paps!”

“ALRIGHT!”

You stepped outside and closed the door.

Time for an adventure.

Chapter Text

The driveway was completely clear. Sans must’ve cleared it out himself - judging from the fact that it was completely clear, he had to have had help. No way one (lazy) skeleton monster could clear that in one hour, alone. You shook your head with a smile and started down the block.

Your legs grumbled and ached, explaining quite plainly that you had already walked plenty today. You ignored them. You always did like being outdoors, and the last apartment you’d stayed at wasn't really the best place to just wander around in. Here, there was at least grassy spots beneath all the snow. There were snow-laden trees. Cute little street lamps marked the path at night, it looked like. All in all, this place was a lot better than Brian’s. Your legs would just have to suffer from being toned as fuck.

You kept walking, watching as the houses slowly shifted to newer looking establishments. You spotted a jazzy looking, old fashioned diner named Grillby’s; you’d have to check it out sometime. It looked like it was closed for some odd reason. You shrugged and kept going, seeing mostly boarded up stores. You were pretty sure those used to be human stores, but…

Sigh. Man, fuck this world sometimes.

You just kept going, ignoring the fact that humans would have moved out just because of having monster neighbors. You guessed one reason you never saw monsters around was because you lived further away from where most of them grouped up. You passed by a blue bunny selling ice cream at one point; you kindly denied a popsicle. He seemed put out by that. You just weren’t much in the mood for something cold right now.

 

After a bit more walking, you finally spotted what you… hoped was a bakery? Or maybe you hoped it was a Halloween store.

It was a smallish purple building, evidently a cafe. It looked like it was still decorated for Halloween (hence the Halloween store thought). The windows had weird frames, black webbing clinging to the glass. The tables outside all had 8 legs, as well as a tablecloth that mirrored the windows. You hesitantly touched one of the cloths. It felt silky. You glanced at the sign. “Spider Bakery”. Maybe it was spider themed?

You took a deep breath and walked in. Your eyes widened instantly as the door shut behind you, the little bell above your head jingling lightly.

Spiders hung down from the ceiling. Webbing created an intricate decal on the walls. A warm feeling blasted you as you walked in, a fire blazing in a nearby fireplace. Numerous spiders were by the fire. In the corner, some sort of spider muffin sat, leashed and asleep, cozy looking. And, currently crawling down the wall to meet you, was a spider monster licking her lips.

Definitely spider themed.

Your smile slowly started to split into a grin.

 

You had to bring Curtis here.

 

“Welcome, dearie! My, what brings you here so early?” The spider stood, hands on her hips. Another set of hands held up a teapot, and another hand held a tray of delicious looking croissants. Her last free hand pulled a pencil from her hair, hovering over a seating chart at the hostess station. “Are you here for a table?”

You shook your head quickly. “Oh, no, sorry, I was going to get something to go, if that's okay?”

She giggled, a cute little “fu-hu-hu” sound. “Of course it’s okay, dearie.” She leaned against the stand with her two free lower elbows, eyeing you curiously. “It's not often a human wanders into my shop. Without leaving, that is,” she added.

“I’ve actually had some cider from here before. It tasted great, Sans got it for me-”

“Ohhoho! You’re Sans’s roommate?” You nodded and she daintily raised a hand to shake yours. “It’s so nice to meet you. I’m glad to see you’re doing better - it means our healing brew worked like a charm!” She giggled once more, her free hand covering her mouth. She was very giggly it seemed. “My name is Muffet, dearie, and yours?”

You told her your name with a smile, shaking her hand. She seemed pleased that you were so comfortable already. “I was hoping to try one of those croissants,” you said, smiling. They did smell fantastic.

“Oh?” She smirked. “And some cider, too, I hope?”

“Definitely. Two croissants and some cider sounds perfect.”

She nodded, clapping her hands. All at once, the walls were a flurry of action as spiders started to shift towards the kitchens. “You can go ahead and sit down,” she said with a smile. “The spiders will make a fresh batch for you. These croissants are just for display.”

You nodded and moved to let her aside, only realizing a second later that she much preferred just crawling up the webbing on the walls. You laughed, grinning. God, that was cool.

As you sat in a nearby seat, you were surprised to hear the doorbell jingle again. You glanced at the couple who walked in, a man and woman. The woman blanched as soon as she set foot in the building.

“Be with you in a moment, dearie,” Muffet said from the window frame (from which she was hanging).

The woman gasped softly. The man’s face contorted with disgust. “Oh. The webbing wasn't just decoration.”

Oh.

Joy.

“Well, of course it’s not,” Muffet practically purred. “After all, this is a spider bakery. You read the sign, didn't you?”

The man’s face flushed red, probably from both embarrassment and anger. “C’mon, honey - let's get out of here, there’s a human bakery down the street.”

You cleared your throat. The man whipped around to look at you (the woman was just frozen in place, looking at the walls in horror), angry still. “You don't know what you’re missing,” you said, smile warm and friendly. “From what I’ve seen, everything here is fantastic.” Muffet giggled a bit, watching you curiously. Okay, so maybe you hadn't seen much, but they didn't know that!

Still, the man scowled. “Well, perhaps you are fine eating in this… ‘Establishment’. But I will be escorting my wife down the street.” His hands still pressed gently but firmly on her shoulders, the man slowly guided her around to the door. “You would do well to keep your nose out of other people’s business.”

You shrugged, smiling as some spiders started crawling your way with a tray of food and drink. “I just wanted to show you what you were missing.” You gently took the tray, leaning down a bit and smiling at the spiders. “Thank you.”

The woman gasped in shock once more, looking sick and appalled. The man just shook his head and led his wife out.

 

You sighed. Well, you’d tried. You put the croissant for Sans in the provided bag and took your own. It felt so light. “How much should I pay?”

You glanced up to see Muffet off the walls and standing next to you. “For you, dearie, first meal is on the house.”

You raised a brow. Had you ever heard those words before? Maybe in a movie or something. “You sure?”

“Just the first,” Muffet said with a smirk.

You laughed at that; understandable. “Thanks, Muffet.” You glanced at the time, smiling. “I should go find Sans, before the food gets cold.” You stood, holding out a free hand. “It was nice meeting you. Maybe I’ll visit again soon!”

Muffet offered her hand. You lifted it and kissed her hand softly, much to her surprise. Alright, so you liked to charm people. “Fu-hu… Maybe next time, I can introduce you to my pet?”

“Er…” Said pet woke at that comment, jumping up and tugging hard at the leash keeping it restrained. It seemed to be drooling. “Maybe,” you said.

“I look forward to it.”

 

You left with Muffet waving you goodbye. Sweet girl. A bit on the creepy side, but you supposed most spiders were. On the way out, you happened to catch your eye on a sign on display in one window. “First meal on us,” it said. Your smile grew. So that's why it’d been free.

As you walked back towards the apartments, you enjoyed your croissant. It was probably the best baked good you’d ever had (you said a fast apology to your mom as you had that thought). Light, fluffy… That was probably because of all those little spider legs. So delicate.

You’d never really been a huge ‘fan’ of spiders, but you’d never been scared of them like Justin or Mom. Curtis, well, he thought they were fantastic. You couldn't wait to show your family around. They would all love it.

You kept an eye out for Sans and spotted him fairly quickly. You were glad you’d finished your croissant moments before. You might've choked on it, otherwise.

Above Sans’s head was a levitating pile of snow, shrouded in a blue aura. His hand was raised, similarly colored. Almost all of the driveway (and roof, you noticed) was completely cleared.

 

Holy shit.

He was using magic.

You knew monsters had magic, of course. That was one of the biggest bombshells from the first peace talks. At the very start, it had actually been illegal for monsters to use their magic. The humans were terrified. But, well, as soon as the healing magic was seen… Now monsters had a sort of law against using it in certain ways. It couldn't be used maliciously, other than in self defense.

You had hoped to see magic. It sounded mysterious, unique, intricate. But, well, seeing it being used for something as common as clearing snow sorta made it just seem more practical than anything.

You watched as he moved the snow to the growing bank by the cleared roads. Looked like he was almost finished. As good a time as any to interrupt, you supposed. “Heya!”

Sans jumped, looking your way, startled. For an instant, you could see a spark of blue in his eyes, a terrifyingly crystal cold looking blue - but it disappeared after a single moment. Was that a sign of his magic?... Sans breathed out, smiling and waving you over. As you drew closer, he grinned, asking in a relaxed tone, “what brings a human ‘round these parts?”

“A croissant and some cider to share, if you wanted it.” You smiled easily at him, disregarding the magic. It’d been freaky, but that was just cause it was so sudden. You kinda wanted to see it again, to be honest. You held up the bag. “Care for some?”

Sans sighed, looking relieved. “kid, i ever mention that you’re a lifesaver?”

“Not a kid, and you sorta saved my life once already. Just repaying the favor.” You glanced around. “Got a place to sit?”

He waved me towards the house, walking along. “we can rest on the porch.”

“Lead on, then.”

You both walked over to the porch, sitting when you got to it. Sans took the croissant from you and you both shared some of the cider. It was just as good as you remembered. How had it stayed warm this entire time? Magic, you guessed. As usual, Sans ate the croissant before you even knew it was gone. You never saw him open his mouth, still.

You both relaxed for a bit. “How long’ve you been working?” You asked, breathing in the cold.

“not too long. what time is it?”

“Just about 9.”

“yeah, so i’ve been working for about an hour or so. got a decent amount of money so far, too.” Sans yawned, mouth still closed, looking… exhausted. Man, this guy needed sleep. “that’ll be nice for christmas.”

“Oh yeah, that’ll be comin’ up soon.” You’d need to make more money and get something for these two. You rubbed your neck. “Speaking of money… I never really got the chance to ask you about it, but what’s the rent situation?”

“what’d’y’ mean?”

“Well, I’m not gonna freeload forever. I wanna be able to help provide if I’m going to be stealing your guys’s house for awhile.”

Sans tilted his head softly, eying you for a moment. His smile seemed to grow. “well, i think your cooking is enough payment.” What? Not the answer you expected. He shrugged at your bewildered look. “i’m not gonna let you work with how sick you’ve been. wouldn’t be right. if you aren’t making money, i don’t expect you to pay money. but if you want to help out around the house by cookin’ and stuff, that’ll be enough.”

… Huh. That was new. You smiled. “... Thanks.”

“dont mention it.”

Together, you enjoyed some spider goods.

It was a nice break before Thanksgiving.

Chapter Text

Sadly, the break couldn’t last forever. The days seemed to pass in a flurry of action (particularly Papyrus’s actions) as everyone got ready for Thanksgiving. It was only two days, after all. Papyrus insisted on bringing spaghetti with him to the dinner - “IN CASE HER MAJESTY FORGETS,” he explained patiently. You hoped she wouldn’t be offended. Judging from what you’d heard so far, though, she would be completely understanding of Papyrus’s peculiarities.

The night before the Thanksgiving dinner, you found yourself lying awake in bed. You couldn't stop thinking about what might happen. How would your family react to the monsters? You hadn't quite mentioned it, for good reason. Curtis, God, he would have never ending comments. Jayden probably wouldn't even give a shit, but your mom might be concerned with your safety. And, well, you did tell Justin, but… if you hadn't, he would’ve been blindsided, and then he would never be able to compose himself. Your family has always been a bit… excitable.

And they were all going to meet the monsters tomorrow.

This was going to be interesting, you knew. Still, though, you didn't want to tell any of others. You wanted to know just how they would react, good or bad. Raw reactions…

You hoped for the best.

 

You thought about Sans next, given that you were just thinking about the past two days by person now. That night that Sans had “shoveled” snow all day ended uneventfully. He left for work without even saying goodbye. Kinda rude, but you supposed he wasn't that social a guy all the time. Judging from the mess of his room, he didn't really invite many people back here.

Maybe when you had free time, you would tidy up a tiny bit.

The day before Thanksgiving, Sans had slept. When he wasn't working or entertaining Paps, he was sleeping. Part of you wondered (a bit hypocritically, you admitted to yourself) whether that was entirely healthy. Still, you guessed he needed sleep. Sans overworked himself, that much was obvious,

 

And before you knew it, it was Thursday.

 

You hoped this would go well.

 

*~*~*~

 

The walk to Toriel’s wasn't too long. You had to admit, you were a bit nervous about meeting the Queen of all monsters. When you voiced that to the brothers, they just laughed. “NO NEED TO FEAR, HUMAN!” Papyrus shut his eyes, scarf glowing behind him regally. “THE GREAT PAPYRUS WOULD NOT STAND FOR ASGORE’S CLONE MISTREATING YOU!”

You raised a brow and glanced at Sans. He looked like he was trying not to laugh more at Papyrus’s comment. “don’t ask,” he said softly. You decided not to ask.

You supposed while you were with these guys, nothing too bad would happen. Worst case scenario, they kicked you out. You were used to that anyways.

By the time you got to Toriel's, your anxiety about everything was spiking - and was then promptly silenced by the literal fucking mansion. “Holy…”

“tori and frisk got pretty good digs. they’re considered diplomats, after all. asgore technically lives here too, but he spends more time underground.”

You guessed that did explain the building. It wasn't really a mansion, but damn if you weren't impressed. This place was definitely big enough to be able to house your family for dinner. Probably big enough to house your family three times over.

Papyrus jumped up the front steps, knocking on the knocker (had you ever seen one of those in real life?). It was only a moment before the door opened. Papyrus beamed. “HELLO, YOUR MAJESTY!”

Toriel laughed as she stepped into view. You raised a brow; she was a lot… gentler than you were expecting. That was really the only word for it. She had big, chocolatey eyes and a purple dress tunic kinda deal - one that was covered with a flour stained apron. “Hello, Papyrus. Sans.”

“heya tori.” Sans’s smile seemed to grow.

Toriel’s eyes rested on you and she smiled more. “And you must be-”

You cut her off quickly, walking forward and saying your name before shaking her hand. Was it rude to cut off a queen? You weren’t sure, but you wanted to make a good impression, and that meant a firm handshake and a smile. That’s how you’d been raised, after all. “It’s nice to meet you, your majesty.”

She seemed surprised by your forwardness, but laughed. She shook your hand (thaaaat was a strong grip) and shook her head. “Please, just call me Toriel or Tori. I am no longer really a queen.”

“Alright, Toriel.” That would take some time. You’d only known her as Queen Toriel up until now. Judging from Papyrus’s introduction, it thankfully wasn’t a rule she seemed to enforce too strongly.

“Come; Frisk is excited to meet you,” she said warmly, leading you inside. You followed, smiling.

The house felt warm. Somehow, despite it being a huge house that would normally make you feel lonely, it felt warm and cozy, almost like you had just walked into a fairy tale cottage. You walked through a main room where a roaring fire took up the space in a fireplace. It felt warm, but not dangerously hot.

She led you to this room, glancing back. “I still have some cooking to prepare with, if you all would like to stay in here?”

“sounds good to me,” Sans said with a smile. He crossed over straight to the fire, lying on the ground in front of it. He shut his eyes, basking in the warmth contently. “hey paps, just re-ember to give tori the spaghetti.”

“OH YES, THE SPA-” His face began to contort as he realized the pun. “... SAAAAAANS-” Toriel began to laugh as Papyrus stomped his foot, beginning his tangent about being in the presence of royalty and how to behave in that situation. You couldn’t help but chuckle along. Toriel seemed to appreciate that someone was joining her in the laughter.

She made her way into the kitchen. You followed her on instinct; you’d spent plenty of time in a kitchen yourself. You knew Thanksgiving was hell, and an extra pair of hands was welcome.

 

Or, at least, it was when the kitchen didn’t already have Tori, Frisk, Undyne, and soon, Papyrus.

“Fuhuhu, Frisk! That’s not how you make salsa dip! You’ve gotta PULVERIZE those veggies, you freaking SHRIMP!” Undyne was mid noogie as Toriel walked in, causing Frisk to break down in a fit of giggles. Frisk looked up when you walked in, bangs covering up most of their face. Undyne looked up too, a sharp grin (literally, with those teeth) taking to her face. “Glad to see you could make it, human!”

Was it just a thing with these monsters not calling you your name? All of them seemed to find nicknames. Or, uh, ‘human’ worked just fine. Whatever, you could look past that. “Didn’t know you guys would be here,” you said after seeing Alphys sitting at the island in the middle of the (frankly huge) kitchen. She waved hesitantly, a small smile on her face.

“DUH! We wouldn’t miss our first Thanksgiving as a family for ANYTHING! Isn’t that right, shrimp!?” Shouting, she lifted Frisk up high, placing them on her shoulders. They smiled brightly, taking on a heroic pose. “YEAH! C’mon, let’s go say hi to Papyrus!” She ran through the doorway with Frisk on her shoulders.

Toriel frowned. “No running in the kitchen, please!” Undyne didn’t slow down in the slightest. Toriel sighed, but she did allow herself a small smile. She turned to you, seemingly surprised. “Oh? You would prefer to stay in here?”

“If you’d like the help, I’d be happy to. It’s sorta my thing lately.” Did the last 10 something years count as ‘lately’? You supposed it could. “I make some mean mashed potatoes.”

She smiled and nodded, waving her arm towards the kitchen. “Then, by all means, I would appreciate the help. It can get rather hectic in here at times.”

You laughed, smiling. Something about Toriel just… set you at ease. Maybe it was because she already reminded you of your mother so much. She just had that type of presence about her. “I know the feeling.” You moved to the fridge and started gathering what you needed. You only wasted a few seconds bumbling around and getting your bearings; the kitchen was your place, after all, and you could adapt to it easily. Clearly, you weren’t a master chef, but you knew how to get your job done with pretty tasty results.

Toriel worked around you easily, though she was in and out. She cleared up the mess Undyne and Frisk had made, leaving behind perfected homemade salsa dip (that was promptly brought to the living room for snacking). Frisk ran back in, signing enthusiastically (you guessed they were mute?) and watching you get started on the potatoes. They didn’t stay still long, but Alphys held a small conversation with them. You supposed she knew sign.

The kitchen was quickly becoming familiar to you. Cozy, in a sense. However, it was hot in here. You shrugged off your signature jacket and, for good measure, stripped down to a tank top. While you’d been cold this winter, the kitchen was significantly warmer, and there was no way you were going to give yourself heat stroke after almost freezing to death. You felt kind of silly as you draped your t-shirt and jacket over one of the chairs, but at the same time, you felt at ease. This place felt…

Well. Not at all like home. But it was still nice.

You were hard at work skinning potatoes as the kitchen was freely entered and promptly emptied again. Toriel worked hard to clear some of the mess away, almost seemingly magically, while darting back into the living room to make sure everyone was okay - particularly with how loud Undyne and Papyrus were being. It seemed the two of them had their fair share of energy.

Papyrus walked in frequently to watch your progress, as well as to learn cooking tips; Undyne, on the other hand, seemed disgusted by your technique. “What are you DOING?!”

“Stirring in some sour cream,” you said with a smile, doing exactly that with the potatoes. “It makes them taste fantastic.”

“But THOSE look… soft!” She peered into the bowl with a raised eyebrow, sneering as her lip curled awkwardly. “Cooking is all about PASSION and POWER! You're being so gentle and using gentle ingredients!” Alphys looked like she was trying hard not to laugh.

It was your turn to raise a brow, pulling away from her a bit. “Gentle ingredients?”

“YEAH! All of this is soft food! You need to spice this up a bit!”

You smirked. “Undyne, why don't you give this a shot?” You grabbed a tasting spoon and some potatoes, handing it to her. She looked at it dubiously before shoving it into her mouth. After a moment, her eye widened. You couldn't help but enjoy that look on her face. “Well?”

She took the spoon out of her mouth, surprised. “Human…” Her grip tightened and the spoon bent in her hand. You suddenly felt very uncertain about your strength. You weren't a weakling, but damn. Note to self, don't piss off Undyne. Thankfully, her face broke with a huge grin. “This tastes AWESOME! Were you taught by an incredible old master chef to make food that defeated evil through the power of tastiness?!”

What?

Alphys snorted. “S-Sweetie, t-that's one of the things that only happens in anime.”

Undone seemed to deflate a tiny bit. “Oh.” You were about to say something to cheer her up, but she raised her fists, eye filled with just as much excitement as before. “Well, you’re a seriously good chef, Human, and while I could probably teach you loads of important cooking stuff, I’m gonna trust you to make this the BEST Thanksgiving dinner ever. Got that?!”

You managed a grin full of confidence you didn't really have. “Would you expect anything less?”

“FUHU! I LIKE this guy!” She punched your shoulder and ran back out to the living room, leaving you (slightly tearing up from the impact) and Alphys alone. You managed to let yourself deflate again, surprised. She definitely had a presence.

Alphys sighed, blushing a tiny bit. “I-I’m sorry about that! She still hasn't q-quite realized h-how much weaker human bodies are compared to ours. Or, u-uh, at least hers.”

“Nah, I'm used to roughhousing. 3 siblings will do that to you.”

Alphys smiled at that, taking a sip of her tea. She was far more relaxing company than Undyne. You really liked her. “S-So is your entire family coming?”

You nodded, working your shoulder lightly to make sure you could stir properly before returning to the potatoes. “Yep. Mom, Jayden, Justin, and Curtis.”

You expected her to mention something about them being human, but she didn't. Non-confrontational, you supposed. She just smiled more and nodded. “I-I can't wait to-” Her eyes widened suddenly as she pushed up her glasses in surprise. “W-Wait, did you say Just-”

 

You were glad that you had finished skinning the potatoes earlier, because when Sans teleported onto the counter next to you, you jumped pretty bad. And possibly screamed. “oops.” He grinned as he sat. “sorry buddy.”

You took a deep breath, frowning as your heart rate slowly went back to normal. At least he had good timing. His appearance had probably just fielded questioning from Alphys. “What's up, Sans?”

“i just thought you would like to know that your family is comin’ up the driveway.” He looked at your outfit, raising a brow. “maybe put on a jacket before freezing when the door opens?”

“Hey, you’re all bones, you don't get as hot as I do.”

“heh, maybe that's why i have no luck with the ladies.”

You rolled your eyes and grabbed your jacket. Alphys looked like she wanted to keep the conversation from earlier going, but the wind was out of her sails now. Good. You didn't want to have to answer awkward questions that would be answered in a few minutes anyways. Speaking of… you did need to ask just one stupid “this’ll be answered in a few minutes anyways” question. “How many people were coming up?”

“four.”

You nodded and allowed yourself a small smile as you made your way to the door, slipping on your jacket. You took a breath as you reached it, hand pausing on the knob.

 

Time to take the big plunge. Your family and… well, Sans and Papyrus’s “family”. And it was hitting you now, why this place felt so warm and comfortable and nice. Why this place felt like home, even though it was so so different from your own experience.

These people reminded you of your family.

You were part of their family.

You shut your eyes tightly, taking another breath.

 

No wonder you felt so uncomfortable.

 

You opened your eyes, summoning courage you didn't feel, but pretended you had, and opened the door. A blast of cool air hit you as you stepped out, letting the door shut. On your face was a smile you knew how to make, one that would come more naturally the longer you spent time with your real family. The ones you had to care about.

Who else would?

“BIG BRO!”

You laughed as Jayden darted up, past your mother and brothers, straight into you, tackling you with a hug. For a 19 year old, she was getting pretty strong. You were sure she was going to get stronger. You held on tight, not even losing your balance; you were so used to this by now. Not that you minded.

You took her in. Her hair was an actually a nice looking dark brown, almost black shade. You wondered about what had happened to the bright blonde she’d used to love until she ran a hand through it, revealing a rainbow under-dye. Sigh. She always had to be different. She had dressed in her usual, dark jeans and a red sweater. You frowned; it clung to her in all the wrong places for your little sister to be showing off. Still, her body, her choice.

She had a dorky grin on her face. “What? Impressed that your lil’ sis is rocking her bod?”

“Jay, whatever you do, never do that again,” you say, patting her on her shoulder. You glanced at the others as they came closer.

Mom had put effort into her outfit, a blue blouse and khakis under her puffy winter jacket. Her nose was stained red from the cold. She looked just like she always did, never changing in your eyes. If you were judging correctly, the dish she had in her hands contained mac and cheese. Hell fucking yes.

Curtis, in contrast, had put no effort into his outfit, per usual. Black boots, shredded up and faded grey (those used to be black) jeans, and a mid-sleeve, similarly faded green shirt. Also per usual, he looked fantastic. He’d recently re-dyed the green tips of his hair too, which added to the effect he had. One of his hands was firmly in his pocket, whereas the other seemed to be toying with one of his ear-cuffs. God, you thought he’d finally just stopped wearing those things. Guess not.

Lastly, there was Justin, who looked…

Sigh.

Perfect blonde hair, perfect blue eyes, perfectly big smile as he took in the entirety of the house (the address of which he had already known). He was in a white, button down shirt and brown corduroys, his cell clipped to the edge of one of the pant loops. He was wearing dress shoes of all things in the middle of snow. And he was walking right towards you with sheer giddiness in his eyes.

You braced yourself as Jayden shifted aside, offering you no mercy.

“Little brother!” You physically winced as he hugged you. Jayden wouldn’t stop smirking. You sighed, patting him on the back as gently as you could. Sensitive little baby that he was, you couldn’t hit him too hard. “How are you doing, kid?”

You pulled away slightly, still managing that grin despite Jayden (and Curtis, fuck him so hard, he knew your thing with that) offering no aid. “I’m not a kid,” you said, the familiar phrase slipping out of your mouth.

“You definitely aren’t anymore! How long has it been, brother?” God, he never stopped smiling, the peppy little moron.

“About 2 years, I think. Remember? That’s when you got your ‘accounting’ job.” As always, when you mentioned the accounting thing, that slight flicker of shame entered his face, but it disappeared in a heartbeat as he realized you were joking it off. “We’ve come a long way from there, huh?”

Justin’s smile eased a tiny bit. “We sure have.” You looked past him to your mom as she walked up. She looked proud. Justin clasped his hand on your shoulder, jarring you slightly, but mainly just at the touch. “Well now, I think it’s time you introduce us to your friends?”

“Yeah, bro, time to see the roommates you’re gettin’ it on with,” Curtis said as he walked up. You glared at him. He just shrugged, an easy smile on his face.

“Curtis, must we discuss this again?” Justin crossed his arms, frowning. “Just because our dear brother is staying with two strangers doesn’t mean he is soliciting himself for room and boar-”

What?

Curtis laughed. “Take a joke, Chip,” he said with a wink. You tensed at the nickname, staring him down. He kept that languid smile of his on his face, and you knew no one else would notice the tell in his yellow-green eyes of just why he had just called you that. Jackass. You gave in first, sighing and relaxing a bit.

You turned to everyone, glancing behind you at the door. “So. Uh… Before we go in, I should probably… yeah, I’m gonna explain a bit.”

“Explain?” Jayden gasped. “Wait, are you a prosti-”

“NO. I’m not.” You sighed. Not like you hadn’t thought about it before… Wait. Nope. Not the train of thought for in front of your mother. You shook your head. “No, uh, just… thought I should go ahead and let you know…”

You grinned a tiny bit. “These guys aren’t just party animals. They’re also monsters.”

 

Your family stared you down.

“... Bro.” Curtis shut his eyes, sighing in disappointment. “That was fucking weak.”

“Shut up, I had two days to prepare.”

Curtis shook his head, looking up at the sky. “Two days of which Justine here-” Justin scowled at the nickname -”was kind enough to rant about how we were going to the king and queen’s house for thanksgiving. With, like, other monsters there. You’re an idiot if you thought he wasn’t going to fucking rant about it.”

“Curtis, please, keep the swearing down,” your mother said, frowning at him. He nodded; he always listened to her. She looked back at you, face easing. “We already know, sweetie. Now, go on, let’s get out of this cold. I want to thank the boys that saved my son.”

“Yeah, let’s meet your sugar daddies already!”

“Jayden, please, attempt to behave yourself!”

“Make me, Justine.”

You sighed, turning around and grabbing the doorknob to step back inside. It was already getting easier to smile.

Time to see if you could make it through one Thanksgiving as a family without throwing punches.

“Mooom, Curtis just flicked off Justin.”

“Nuh uh-” “Thank you-” “Boys!”

Your smile grew easier.

 

Like that Thanksgiving would ever happen.

 

You turned the knob and led them inside.

Chapter Text

This had been either the best idea ever, or the worst.

 

Toriel was waiting to greet you all. Her eyes widened as soon as she saw your mother’s plate. She smiled. “It is so nice to meet you. Did you want to put that in the kitchen?”

“Oh, thank you,” your mother said, a bit in awe as she looked up to catch Tori’s eyes. “You must be the Queen I’ve heard so much about from my son, Justin.” Justin looked immediately uncomfortable with being called out. He always did. “It’s nice to meet you too.”

“Oh, please, just call me Toriel.” She glanced at everyone else as your mom nodded. “Please, come in. We have plenty of food to snack on until dinner is ready.” She glanced at your mother and walked off to the kitchen, leading your mother further in.

“Well. Time to meet the sugar daddies.” You sighed. Curtis led the way into the living room behind your mother and quickly stopped, eyes widening. “Holy-”

“YIELD!” Undyne was cackling, her body pinning Papyrus to the floor as she had his arm in a hold behind his back. Frisk was riding on Undyne’s back, silently cheering Undyne on.

“NYEH HEH! A TRUE WARRIOR NEVER YIELDS!” He rolled, making her land beside him before he scrambled to his feet. Frisk clung to Undyne as she landed firmly on her toes. They all took a fighting stance.

Sans didn't even open his eyes from his spot by the fire, lifting a hand and waving softly. “don't roughhouse too much, bro. don’t you wanna make a good impression on our roommates family?”

“OF COURSE I DO, SANS! THAT IS WHY I WILL WIN THIS BATTLE!” He glanced over at you, waving happily. “HELLO, ROOMMATE AND HIS FAMILY. IT IS SO NICE TO-”

“Surprise attack!”

“NYEH!”

 

Your entire family looked at you, eyebrows up. You sighed again, shaking your head with a smile. “Welp. There you go; Sans and Papyrus, my two roommates who are skeletons, and their friend Undyne, a fish warrior.”

“HELL YEAH!” Frisk mirrored Undyne’s cheer, pumping their fists in the air.

Toriel frowned. “Frisk, I do hope you are keeping out of this sparring?” Frisk shook their head very happily. Toriel’s frown grew. “Well, just tell me if it goes too far, alright, my child?” Frisk gave a thumbs up. Satisfied, Toriel continued into the kitchen, your still-shell-shocked mother following close behind.

It was quiet as Undyne prepared to attack again, Papyrus putting up his defenses. You glanced at your siblings. Who would speak first?

Always, always Curtis.

He nudged you with a shit eating grin plastered on his face. “Guess they’re sugar skulls instead, huh?” You groaned as Sans glanced over, confused. Curtis snorted, shoving his hands in his tight pockets. “And that was with like… 2 seconds of planning.”

“Shut up, Curtis.”

“HOLD UP!” Jayden stepped towards Undyne and Papyrus, her arms crossed. Both monsters turned to her; she didn’t seemed deterred at all by Undyne’s sneer. “What kind of fighting style is that?”

“Huh?”

“IS IT UNDYNE’S SIGNATURE HAND-TO-HAND STYLE, SMALLER HUMAN!”

Jayden’s face scrunched up at the ‘smaller human’ comment. She was a bit shorter than you, but she didn’t really like people mentioning it. “My name is Jayden, and that style looks a little bit like wrestling, but it looks like aikido could really benefit your balance, Papyrus.”

“Aikido?” Undyne raised a brow. “That sounds like something from an anime.”

“It’s a type of martial art made in Japan. I could show if you want,” she added with a grin. You sighed. Only Jayden would do this sort of thing. The worst thing was, she would obviously succeed in her goal of fighting anything that moved.

Undyne looked excited. More than you’d seen out of her yet. Fighting was kind of her thing, so you guessed it made sense. But she deflated a tiny bit, frowning to herself. “Ugh. I can’t.”

“Huh?”

“tori’s got rules in her house,” Sans said quickly. Undyne glanced at him when he said that. “no roughhousing too much with humans.”

“But the entire point of aikido is avoiding injury!”

“sorry, human. gotta obey the rules, right undyne?”

Undyne sighed, nodding. “Yeah. ‘The rules’.” You thought you heard her mutter something under her breath about the rules being bullshit, but maybe you imagined it. She looked uncomfortable.

But Papyrus didn’t.

“I NEVER KNEW TORIEL HAD THAT RULE!”

Sans winced - he looked guilty, even if you didn’t see any real outward signs. You had already spent enough time with him to catch the small little flickers of emotion he let flash across his face. “yeah, bro. tori’s worried about breaking the humans. wouldn’t wanna hurt them.”

“BUT THIS HUMAN WISHES TO SHOW US A NEW DEFENSE SKILL! THAT COULD HELP GREATLY FOR MY NIGHT WATCH!” Night watch? This was the first time you were hearing about that. “YOUR MAJESTY?”

“wait, paps, don’t bother her while she’s cook-”

“Yes, Papyrus?” Toriel walked into the living room, washing her hands with a washcloth. She took in the scene, Undyne deflated and tense at the same time, and Sans attempting (very well, actually) to hide his tension. It was like he was almost scared.

“THE HUMAN, JAYDEN, WANTS TO SHOW US A NEW FIGHTING STYLE THAT DOESN’T LET PEOPLE GET HURT, BUT APPARENTLY THAT IS AGAINST THE RULES? I WANTED TO ASK YOU IF WE COULD JUST SEE THE AIKIDO MOVES IF NO ONE GETS HURT?”

Toriel glanced at everyone, frowning. Sans sighed, looking her dead in the eyes. When you asked him about it later, he admitted that the reason he seemed to resigned is because he had the peculiar ability to perceive the future almost effortlessly. He called it experience. You thought it might be more than that. Just maybe, Sans could see the future for real. If that was the case, you were pissed he didn't try harder.

“Of course you can, Papyrus. So long as no one gets hurt.”

 

*~*~*~

 

You all moved outside. It was far less likely for someone to break something important to Toriel if they were outside, after all. It was cold as balls out, but Jayden didn’t seem to mind. She stood out in the snow, readying herself. Sans was next to you on the porch, taking a breath and sighing. He seemed messed up about something, but he was good at dodging questions right now. Either way, you were more focused on your little sis not getting the living shit kicked out of her.

“And you’re sure this doesn’t go against the ‘rules’, Toriel?” Undyne was asking again, shouting to Tori from in front of Jayden. She had already asked her a few times now if it was okay. The response was still the same - a polite, happy nod. Undyne shrugged at the response before turning to Jayden, a grin taking to her face. That fire that was present before seemed to have returned.

Papyrus was watching the standoff closely, oblivious to the still present tension from his brother. “ALRIGHT! WHENEVER YOU TWO ARE READY, WE CAN SEE THE SPECIAL FIGHTING MOVES!”

You glanced at Sans. He seemed so on edge. You think you could get that it Paps was the one fighting, but not if Undyne was. “Hey.” He jumped slightly, glancing at you. You frowned. “What's got you so freaked out?”

He glanced back towards Jayden and Undyne. “i uh… welp. it's sorta hard to explain.”

Liar, liar, pants on fucking frigid fire. You drew your arms closer to yourself, shivering lightly. “Why not try anyway?”

He frowned slightly, not glancing your way. “... when monsters fight humans, it can sometimes make certain things happen. and those things can sometimes be construed as illegal.”

Illegal? Legalities mostly became a concern when magic…

Oh.

You glanced at Undyne. She seemed pumped. Really pumped.

“... Ooooh.”

“your sis’ll be fine, i’m sure. ‘sides, tori gave up permission. i guess i’m just worried about nothin’.”

“Wait, Toriel gave us permission to break the la-”

There was no more time for conversation. Jayden had given the call for Undyne to start. Undyne shouted, readying herself. “HERE I COME!” And there she went, charging towards Jayden. You tensed up slightly, forcing yourself to stay calm as someone charged at her with full intent to hurt her. Maybe you were too protective, but damn if you would let someone hurt your sis.

But she didn't need the protection.

She sidestepped in a trained motion, grabbing Undyne and practically throwing her onto her back. Undyne flipped over herself in the action, her back slamming into the snow. She gasped in slight pain, taking some deep breaths to catch her lost breath.

“U-Undyne!” Alphys, up until now, had just been quietly chatting with Frisk in the corner. Now she was fiddling with her shirt between her claws, frowning. “A-Are you okay?”

Undyne paused for a second before punching the air above her, hollering. “That was SO COOL!” Alphys breathed a sigh of relief. Undyne quickly scrambled to her feet, grinning like a mad woman. “Human, you’ve gotta show me how to do that!”

And so it began. Jayden started showing Undyne the basics. A wrist turn here, a shifting step there; Undyne really seemed to be enjoying it. Alphys seemed to enjoy it too, judging from the avid way she watched Undyne punch. You smirked to yourself when you noticed. Good for her, enjoying her girlfriend.

Curtis came outside soon enough, curious to see how it was going. He looked mildly disappointed that Jayden hadn't gotten her ass kicked, but only mildly. “Justin’s helping Mom cook,” he explained with a shrug when you asked about the location of your other brother.

“Darn, the meals gonna be poisoned then,” you said with a smile. Curtis snorted softly, shaking his head. You glanced over to Undyne and Jayden. “I get it, though. Justin’s never been a fan of fighting.”

“Pacifistic mindset,” Curtis agreed.

“ey, nothin’ wrong with a pacifist,” Sans said.

“Not always.” You frowned at Curtis as he glanced your way. He shrugged at the lack of a rise out of you and nodded back towards Undyne. “Look, it's getting good.”

It really was, you quickly realized. Jayden was getting pretty cold by now, and you suspected Undyne was as well, being cold blooded. Wait, did monsters have blood? They were made up of magic, after all… either way, they were getting fatigued, but both of them were too stubborn to stop. Based on the conversation, they were planning to stop whenever Undyne could throw Jayden. So far, she's been unsuccessful. “Again!”

“You sure about that, Undies?” Jayden was grinning, probably at the stupid nickname. Undyne barked out a laugh. “You’ve been pretty weak so far!”

“Just charge me, doofus! I’ll show you weak!”

Jayden shrugged. “If you're sure!”

Jayden darted forward, lightning on her feet. Now, had you been a bit smarter, you would've saw this coming a mile away. But you weren't the brightest guy around. No, you were an idiot and let your sister run around at breakneck speed in the snow.

You idiot.

Right as she lunged at Undyne, her footing slipped. This gave Undyne the perfect opening, letting her grab Jay’s side and flip her over herself. Jayden hit the ground hard, Undyne cheering triumphantly for a second.

Then it all went silent as something magical happened.

Legitimately magical.

 

Jayden stared in absolute confusion, breathless, at the little cartoon heart floating just above her chest. It was an odd shade of magenta, closer to pink than purple, with odd spots that looked almost like bruises. It floated gently above her, bobbing happily up and down.

Undyne breathed in sharply. “Fuck,” she muttered.

Sans rubbed his head, sighing. “fuckin’ knew she would go too hard.”

“What is that?” You asked, concerned. This seemed like a pretty big deal. Had Undyne done something to Jayden? Would she be okay?

“that, human…”

 

“that's your sister’s soul.”

Chapter Text

“Her what?”

“soul. it’s literally the essence of her being.”

 

You blinked.

“That’s… supposed to be inside of her. Not outside.”

“no shit, sherlock.”

“Fuck off, Watson, now put it back.”

Sans laughed, looking at you oddly. You weren’t really focused on that, though. Jayden was just lying in the snow, staring, bewildered, at the floating pink heart. Undyne knelt down next to her, rubbing her neck. “Shit, I didn’t mean- fighting just DOES that sometimes, I’m sorry!”

“N-No, it’s fine…” Jayden sat up slowly, reaching out in front of her to touch the heart. Undyne quickly grabbed her hand, shaking her head. “Why shouldn’t I touch it?”

Undyne cleared her throat, grimacing a tiny bit. Was that a blush? “Souls aren’t really… They’re sorta private. You might hurt yourself, too, and we promised Toriel!” She put her hand above the soul, pushing it into her chest without touching it; it just floated back down naturally. She breathed a sigh of relief.

Jayden touched her chest. “So that was… that was my soul?”

Frisk nodded enthusiastically and started signing. Alphys nodded as well. “F-Frisk says you have a pretty soul. T-They saw their soul d-down underground a lot.” They did? Your frown just kept growing. If it popped out when they were fighting, did that mean the monsters had attacked a little kid that often?

But, while you were disappointed in that, you could understand. Monsters who hadn’t seen humans in year, growing up on war stories… You would likely do the same in their position. You really couldn’t blame them.

“IT IS A VERY NICE SOUL, HUMAN! I LIKE IT VERY MUCH!”

“Why is it pink?” Jayden glanced around at all the monsters as Undyne offered a hand to help her up. Jayden took it, standing. “Is that what every soul looks like?”

“each soul has a different color. frisk’s is a really bright red.” Sans shrugged. “as to why yours is pink, that’s just your personality. that tends to determine the color.”

“So what does pink mean?”

“O-Oh! I-I know that one. M-Mettaton has pink magic.” Jayden tilted her head, raising a brow. “I-It’s the color of confidence!”

Jayden looked surprised, and just a bit pleased after a second or two. “Confidence, huh? Yeah, I think that could be accurate.” She looked at Frisk. “What does red mean?”

“D-Determination!”

“WAIT!” Undyne held up her fists, almost in a fighting stance - her near constant state of being, you were starting to think. “So this is okay?”

Jayden licked her lips, nibbling the skin on her lip. That was a habit she had never been able to break. Slowly, she nodded. “I think so. I mean, I should definitely be sorta used to magic if I’m gonna be friends with monsters, right?”

Undyne breathed a sigh of relief. “Great.”

“maybe we should head inside. it’s cold out, and i don’t particularly want my roommate to catch hypothermia again.”

“YES! WE MUST NOT BREAK OUR HUMAN!” Papyrus charged towards the inside, leaping towards the door.

“Again?” Curtis frowned at you. You just shrugged with a shaky grin, earning a sigh. Curtis rolled his eyes, glancing back to the others as they made their way to the porch. “Whatever. So, when do I get to see mine?”

 

*~*~*~

 

You all migrated inside. The living room with the giant fireplace was definitely more comfortable than the snowy outdoors. You all relaxed a bit, you staying a cozy distance from the fire and Sans nearly in the fire. He stuck his hand inside at one point, scaring you half to death - but it didn’t do anything. Apparently, Toriel used harmless fire magic to light the fire.

Papyrus was still going on about Jayden’s soul. “I AM SO IMPRESSED THAT YOU SHARE METTATON’S SOUL MAGIC! PINK IS A VERY RARE SOUL, ACCORDING TO HIM!”

“E-Everything is rare, if it c-concerns him,” Alphys muttered.

“Sounds like a fun guy,” Jayden said, though you couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or not.

You watched as Curtis got ready to look at his soul. Apparently, it was fairly easy to draw out. Undyne still seemed a bit embarrassed by it all, but she was willing to help the souls pop out if only out of curiosity. You were a bit curious, you had to admit, but you also didn’t want anyone to be uncomfortable.

Frisk seemed to notice, walking over and sitting in your lap. You raised a brow, watching them. They just smiled and nodded. They would make sure nothing bad happened. You couldn’t help but smile. “Thanks, kiddo.” They pouted and signed something that needed no translation. You laughed, tousling their hair. “Alright, not a kiddo.”

You didn’t notice, but Sans was watching you closely, curious. Frisk smirked at him and stuck out their tongue. He grinned and looked back into the fire.

“Alright, human! Ready to see it?” Despite her slight embarrassment, she seemed excited to see it. Did she ever not seem excited? You had no idea.

Curtis shrugged, standing with slightly better posture than usual. “Let’s get this soul show on the road.”

Undyne reached forward before tugging her hand back, as though gripping a string. Curtis gasped slightly, eyes widening as he felt it; you watched as a deep purple soul bobbed in front of him. You raised a brow. “The fuck?”

“LANGUAGE!” His heart wasn’t really in the admonishment, however; he was enthralled with Curtis’s soul.

Curtis looked at it curiously. “Are those… webs?” That’s definitely what it looked like. Criss crossing the soul were smaller, darker vein like parts of the heart, almost like webbing across the soul. His grin widened. “Holy shit, this is just like my tattoo, that’s probably why-” He quickly started taking off his shirt.

“C’mon, Curtis, don’t-”

Too late, he had off his shirt. You sighed; if there was a chance for him to be half naked, he would always take it. Moron. Still, Undyne looked absolutely enthralled by the tattoo that took up your brother’s entire top half. Webs spilled down from his neck, down to his navel, and right in the middle of his sternum was a bare spot in the shape of a heart. He’d never colored it until now. You figured it was safe enough to assume that would be purple here soon. Predictable mother fucker.

Undyne leaned in close, gaping at the tattoo. “Woah… Do ALL humans get these?!” She turned to Frisk, beaming. “FRISK! YOU GOTTA SHOW ME YOURS!” Frisk laughed.

“Not every human has these,” you said, shaking your head with a soft smile. “You have to go to a tattoo parlor and get it done. Curtis has two of them.”

“Pfft, three, actually.” You glanced at him, raising an eyebrow. “Unless you want me to strip in front of your friends, you won’t see it.” He glanced at Undyne, winking. “Which, I mean, if you wanted I would gladly strip.”

You burst out laughing alongside Jayden as Undyne looked absolutely disgusted, pulling away. “Dude, I’m gay,” she said, scowling.

He sighed, putting a hand on his hip. “Figures. All of the ones that could kick my ass are either gay or taken.”

“And you managed to hit on the one who is both. Dumbass,” you muttered, rubbing your face. “Didn’t you see how concerned Alphys was with Undyne being hurt?”

“Oooh, you two are dating?” Undyne nodded, scowl easing to a smile as she thought about Alphys. Cuuuute. “That’s… yeah, that’s actually super cute.” He glanced at Alphys. “You’re a lucky asshole, by the way.”

(Papyrus sighed, giving up on the language rule. It was too hard to keep up with this.)

Alphys flushed bright red, eyes widening. “I-I, uh- I-I mean-” She squeaked lightly and hid behind her hands. Undyne laughed, rolling her eyes and pushing Curtis’s soul back in before going over to Alphys and picking her up with both hands. Alphys squealed softly, uncovering her face just in time for Undyne to kiss her. Ugh, fuck, would these two gay nerds ever stop being so adorable?

Meanwhile, Papyrus was getting a closer look at Curtis’s chest. “WOWWIE! SANS, CAN I GET A TATTOO?”

Sans shrugged, grinning wide. “sure, bro, but you’ve gotta find someone to do it. it’ll be hard, though, you don’t really have skin.”

“I WILL LOOK MY HARDEST FOR A TATTOO FOR BONES THEN!”

You couldn’t help but laugh at all the antics going on. All of these guys were huge goofballs. Curtis glanced at you, smirking. Oh, god, he had that look on his face when he was going to fuck with your fun. “So, what color is your soul, brother of mine?”

You raised a brow. Oh. You hadn’t really considered that. You supposed that, by now, it could be questioned. You had been living with the brothers for a little bit now. You shrugged. “I don’t know yet.”

“Well, stand up, let’s go!” Curtis slipped back on his shirt, fluffing back up his hair when it was straightened out. “I wanna know what all of our colors mean! Speaking of which, what does purple mean?”

“perseverance.” You glanced over at Sans as he stood up, stretching. “it’s a bit like determination, but different in a lot of ways too.”

“Is it anything like stamina?” You rolled your eyes at Curtis’s question.

Sans shook his head with a smile. “not quite. basically, in a tough spot, you’re gonna make it through it, not because you have the willpower to, but because you have to try, willpower or not.”

Curtis paused before nodding softly. “Sounds about right. Alright, bro, your turn.”

You opened your mouth to object, but Frisk looked up at you, looking ridiculously excited. They bounced up and down in your lap, obviously wanting to see your soul. Papyrus was also watching you, attempting to hide his own excitement very poorly. You sighed with a smile and stood, setting them down. “Alright, alright, you guys win. Time to do some soul-searching.”

Sans burst out with a laugh as Curtis and Papyrus groaned. Undyne couldn’t help but smirk at the joke, but more at Alphys hiding a snicker. “ready for it, human?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose.”

“here goes nothin’.” You watched as he reached out his hand, feeling something wash over you. It was vaguely cold, but warm at the same time. His hand closed to fist and he twisted it before tugging it back towards himself. You gasped as you felt your heart skip a beat; everything seemed to go hazy for a minute, like you had just walked through a cloud of smoke. You blinked and your eyes widened.

 

You took in your soul.

The very culmination of your being.

It was quiet.

You gently reached out, not touching it, but holding your hand under the little floating heart, the orange-red light seeming to glow on your hand. You licked your lips, taking a slightly faltering breath.

No one had said anything yet, but you could definitely feel the somberness in the room. It was, you almost had to laugh, soul crushing. You shut your eyes, somehow smiling. Somehow, you felt… at peace, even despite…

“It’s not supposed to be like this, is it?”

“souls are all unique-”
“IT IS VERY NICE-”
“I mean, it looks cool and-”
“I-It all depends-”

“Answer me truthfully, guys. What made it… what made it look like this?”

You opened your eyes, watching Sans instead of the soul in front of you. Sans rubbed his neck, watching the soul closely. This was the most emotion you’d seen on his face; for once, he looked sad. Sympathetic. “a soul is quite literally the entirety of who you are. every action, reaction, consequence, memory… everything you are, everything you were, and everything you could be. and with that comes… a lot of past things. what your soul looks like is a visual representation of everything.”

“So this… This is because of my past?”

“it’s a little bit of everything.”

 

You sighed, looking at it again. It was honestly kind of cool. The orange color reminded you of a flickering flame, just starting up. There were hints of red there, determination. It was bright, too, and the glow felt slightly warm.

 

It would be perfect if it wasn’t being held together by a handful of soul threads.

 

Curtis walked over, putting a hand on your shoulder. “Hey. You good?”

You realized you were tearing up. You quickly wiped those away - that was some bullshit that didn’t need to be happening right now. “Yeah, yeah, I’m good. Guess it’s just kinda intense, seeing who I am just… out there like that.”

Undyne snarled, punching her fist into her palm. “Whoever did that to you is gonna PAY, human! I’ll make sure of it!”

“Wha-”

“DO NOT FEAR, ROOMMATE OF MINE! WE WILL HELP YOUR SOUL SHINE EVEN BRIGHTER AND FIND WHOEVER DID THIS! THEY SHOULD APOLOGIZE!”

“A-And I-I’m sure I have s-something in t-the lab that can help research your soul a-and how to heal it!”

You glanced around, confused. “Guys, it’s fine, really!” You looked at the soul still in your hands, feeling slightly sick when looking at it. It was… just wrong.

“Yeah, bro,” Jayden chimed in. “We can totally ask Justin for his help too! He’s done loads of science stuff with magic, he could probably think of something!”

“H-His information could probably help-”

 

“hey,” a familiar voice said in your ear. You jumped as Sans put his hand on your shoulder, turning you towards him. He gently lifted your hands upwards, pushing your soul back into your chest. “there you go.” He looked you in the eyes, an easy smile on his face. “take a deep breath for me, alright?”

Fuck, was he mothering you? You were fine, you were…

Freaking the fuck out.

You took a slow, deep breath, holding it for a second and letting it out just as slowly. You felt yourself slowly calm down as you kept your breathing steady. You shivered, the world feeling more vibrant, more… more everything. Was it because your soul - your fucked up, messed up soul - was back?

You licked your lips, nodding to Sans. “Thanks.”

“no problem.” He backed over to the fire again, watching you carefully. Curtis was watching you too, looking serious for once in his life. Everyone else seemed to notice you had calmed down a bit, but they hadn’t paid much attention; all of them were rallying up to help your soul get healed.

You sighed, relieved slightly. “You sure you’re good, bro?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m good. Thanks, Curtis.” You smiled at him, sharing a moment. He smiled at you, patting you on the back, taking you back to some fateful days when you had shared things with him. Sometimes it was easy to forget how close you two used to be.

How close you used to be to all of your family.

You kind of missed it.

Papyrus cleared his throat, taking over the conversation. “WELL, WE HAVE NOW SEEN EVERYONE’S SOULS! AND MIGHT I JUST SAY, I AM VERY IMPRESSED THAT MY ROOMMATE SHARES MAGIC WITH THE KING!”

“Um. What?”

Sans beamed at Papyrus, chuckling. “monster souls might be white, but they can use magic that is the same color as some human souls. the king has an orange aura, just like your orange soul.”

“And… what does orange mean?”

Sans looked at you seriously, still smiling softly. “bravery.”

 

*~*~*~

 

You had all somehow agreed not to mention the soul to your mom. You supposed everyone had that in common; you don’t worry your mom unless you can help it. You mentioned the color, but that was it; she seemed so proud of you, having an orange soul, even before she even knew it stood for bravery. That’s probably one reason why it didn’t surprise you when her soul, gently bruised like Jayden’s, is a bright, shining green. Kindness, according to Sans.

Justin, as always, was excited. “You say your soul is purple, Curtis?” He nodded, not waiting for a response. “I suppose that makes sense, I could hardly imagine you as anything else. And, oh, Jayden, pink is so fitting for you!”

“Oh, Justin, let’s see yours,” your mother said, smiling. “Everyone else has shown theirs.”

Justin blushed lightly, pressing his hand gently to his chest. “O-Oh, mine? I suppose-”

“Just do it, bro, let’s see what color that thing is.” Curtis sat at the counter, grabbing some of the little pizza bites that Toriel had made from scratch. He hummed in delight as he ate one. “‘S ith delithiouth-”

“Please, brother, eat with your mouth closed.” Curtis shrugged, grabbing some more of the pizza bites, watching Justin. He sighed, turning to the monsters. “Oh, very well.”

Sans shrugged, doing the motions again. He seemed much more comfortable with it than Undyne did, almost like it was a practiced motion. Justin shivered as his soul exited his body. You raised a brow.

Justin gently put his hand under the yellow heart, cradling it carefully without touching it. He apparently knew what he was doing. He looked at it curiously; it wasn’t damaged in any way, but it looked… solid and flimsy, all at the same time. It was like there was a transparent layer overtop the bright, shining yellow under it. “Intriguing…”

“... Ew.”

Justin looked up at you, brows furrowing. “Ew? Why ew?”

You shrugged. “I just don’t like the color yellow that much, and yours is like… more yellow than a banana.”

Justin shut his eyes, turning up his nose lightly. “I’ll have you know that yellow means Justice and is a very good color for a soul.” Somehow, the defence for his soul color made you start laughing, causing others to join in.

“It’s a very nice soul, sweetie,” your mom said happily. “Oh, my, I still need to do so much-”

“What do you need, mom?” You walked over, rolling up your sleeves in prep.

Your mom smiled gratefully. “Thank you, sweetheart, the potatoes if you could…”

 

You poured yourself into the cooking, finding yourself relaxing as you did. The thoughts of broken souls faded, leaving you with a still warm feeling on your body from where your soul’s light had touched you and a few memories of the past resurfacing.

Already, this was one of the most interesting Thanksgivings you’d ever had.

Chapter Text

Sans wasn’t normally one to judge.

 

Well. Heh. That was a lie. His flair for the dramatic had landed him straight in the Judgement Hall, after all. So it wasn’t really that he didn’t judge people.

It’s that he really fucking hated it.

Your soul had been a kick to the gut, for you and everyone else. But while Undyne, Papyrus, Alphys, and even your sister seemed able to rally together and think about it optimistically, Sans had only taken it as a grim reminder that nothing, absolutely nothing is certain. Your soul was barely being held together. One false move, one awful tragedy, and you were dead.

Or worse.

So, yeah, he would try to help you fix it, sure. Why wouldn't he? You were a nice enough guy. But if it had spent this long broken, falling apart at the seams, then why would it be fixed quickly? By the time anyone even thought how to fix you, you would probably be dead. Or, maybe Frisk would decide if you died to reset. To start over. They were getting attached to you already, after all, and knowing the kid, they would reset if things got too bad.

Then you would get to relive through all the shit that had made your soul like that in the first place.

Sans sighed, sitting by the fire, watching it. That familiar orange color, the same as your soul, a blazing inferno just about to burst, but never quite reaching that point before dying…

The fire wasn’t nearly as comfortable anymore.

 

He would help you. He wouldn’t like it. He didn’t think it was even possible. In the end, it was a waste of his time, the only time he might have on the surface, to help someone who was essentially on hospice care already. Your soul was going to split apart, he fucking knew it, but he was still going to try to save you.

Despite how much he had told himself not to get attached to this place, to the people here…

He had anyways.

You made Papyrus happy. Undyne had found someone to spar with, which made Alphys happy. You were a good cook, you were kind, insightful, intelligent. You cared.

The least he could do was care back, and just hope to god you left before his own fragile soul took a hit for you.

 

“Ah…” Sans looked next to him as Curtis sat down, stretching out his legs as he did. Sans huffed softly, shaking his head with a small smile. He’d known this was coming. “How you doing there, Sansy buddy?”

“as good as anyone else,” he replied, an easygoing smile plastered on his face.

“Good, good. I need you in a good place to chat.” Sans sighed softly. Inevitable, he supposed. Though, he’d expected Jayden to come to him with questions first. “So. My bro.”

“what about him?”

“Is he safe?” Sans raised a brow, scrutinizing your brother. For the first time today, Curtis looked serious, a part of him that he’d only shown for a brief instant earlier. Still a bit lazy and still a bit aloof, but definitely with a serious edge to him. “You saw his soul. That wasn’t natural.”

“each soul is differe-”

“Yeah, but not every soul is falling apart. If his soul is that bad, then he’s not nearly as good as he’s leading everyone to believe. That’s his very being. If that’s falling apart...” Curtis smiled, just staring at the fire. “So answer the question. Is he safe, or is my bro gonna fall apart?”

Sans sighed, actually giving it some thought. He wanted to answer this honestly. “... he’s definitely not in good shape. i’ve never heard of a soul that far gone.” He’d never seen a soul that far gone either, but it’d been close, a few times. Part of him wondered if his dreams counted. “he must’ve been through some serious shit in his life.”

Curtis laughed, running a hand through his hair. “Yeah, you have no idea.”

He huffed. “figured. to answer your question, it’s all up in the air. i guess we just gotta have hope that he’s gonna have the willpower to get through this. and you heard everyone - they’re gonna try and fix him.”

“I know. That’s one reason I think he’s gonna fall apart.” Again, Sans was surprised; all he had seen of Curtis so far was a lackadaisical kind of jerk of a brother. This Curtis was different. He was serious, smart. He seemed to understand much more than Sans assumed. Curtis sighed, shaking his head, as though resigned. “Guess we just gotta wait and see.”

Sans looked back towards the fire. “yep.” There was a brief silence before Sans glanced back at him ever so slightly. “so what are your thoughts on your soul?”

Curtis grinned wide. “It's cool. Webs everywhere. Spiders are a thing with me, so that's probs why it's like that.”

“heh.” Sans shut his eyes. He knew that smile on the human’s face. It was scary how familiar it was. “liar.”

“Heh. Yep.”

They sat together in mutual silence, watching the fire, appreciating the bond that only older brothers could understand. The bond of everlasting sacrifice, and a million untold secrets.

It was better that way.

 

*~*~*~

 

The talk of souls came to a close, mashed potatoes were finished alongside other bits of the final meal, and you were finally relaxed again. No sense letting your soul bring you down. After all, if everything Sans had said was true, your soul had been like that for a long time. You would survive with a soul like that. Not only that, but everyone seemed intent on helping you.

Alphys had already been fielded by Jayden. Alphys seemed a little intimidated of her at first (you can sort of understand why), but then Jayden compared Papyrus to Black Star in a conversation and the anime talk began. You didn’t feel one way or the other about anime; it was kinda cool. You were more of a book kinda guy.

Still, Alphys and Jayden (and Undyne and Frisk) all went off into the living room to set up some of their shows, and that left you with your mom, Toriel, and Justin - the latter of which cleared his throat, tapping you gently on the shoulder. “Could you spare a minute, brother?” He whispered in your ear, so as not to let your mother hear.

You bit back a sigh and smiled. “Sure thing, just let me wash up a bit. Maybe in a side room?” Justin looked mildly surprised at how willing you were to chat, but nodded promptly. He moved aside, walking through the living room to another side room that you had yet to enter. You washed your hands, relishing the warm water for a moment or two before you had to face your fate. “I’ll be right back, mom, Tori.”

“Oh, sweetie, that’s alright, go have fun with your friends.”

“Take as long as you want,” Toriel said, a smile on her face. You wondered if anyone had mentioned your soul to her when you weren’t looking. She didn’t seem perturbed…

You walked through the living room, seeing everyone settle down for anime. It looked like that one about charming boys and a maybe boy girl person - fuck genders, man - masquerading as a boy because of some vase. Yeah, you didn’t really get anime sometimes. You waved to them. Papyrus waved back as enthusiastically as ever, causing Jayden to wave as well. She was almost in his lap from where she was sitting. Oh god, was she already… Naaah, there was no way she was flirting with him already. She had some patience.

You walked past the living room, back into the main foyer area. Beyond that spot, you made your way to a hallway, and from there you could see your brother waiting in the doorway to another room. This was definitely far enough away. You walked in behind him, taking in the piano that took the centerpiece of this side room. It looked to be in good condition. It wasn’t dusty at all, meaning it was either brand new or someone had played it recently.

Justin stood near the curtained window, looking outside into the snow. He was frowning, mumbling softly, “strange…”

You were fairly used to this anytime you saw your older brother. You cleared your throat, breaking him from his semi-familiar daze. He looked at you, smiling at the sight. “What's it you want, Justin?”

He closed the curtains, clasping his hands softly. “Well… Jayden felt compelled to share the full details of your soul’s… condition. I wished to discuss it with you, if you wouldn't mind?”

You sighed and leaned against the wall opposite him, beside the door. You made sure to close it; no telling where the conversation might lead. It was always a little unpredictable between you two. “I figured as much. Let's get this show rolling.”

Justin, again, seemed surprised. He shook his head briefly, as though clearing it of his thoughts, before smiling once more. You had never liked your brother's smile. “Firstly, she didn't describe it all very well. Just that it was broken and needed fixing. Care to elaborate?”

You nodded. “It's orange-reddish - kinda like a fire, you know? Mostly orange. And, right down the middle, it's just… severed. It looks like it's being held together by little strands of soul. The outsides seem fuzzy too, like all the inner soul bits could just start spilling out of you shook it hard enough.”

Justin didn't interrupt for that whole time, but you could see the curious gleam in his eyes. “Severed? Goodness… Did someone explain-”

“Yes.”

If he was angry about being interrupted, he didn't show it. “Excellent. So, it more than likely has something to do with G-”

Don’t..” Justin faltered, his voice cutting off at your tone. Your eyes had hardened into a glare in an instant. “Don't even say his fucking name. My soul is obviously fucked up because of him, so let's not waste time with the obvious.”

Justin opened and closed his mouth once or twice, no sound coming out. Deep down, beneath all the roiling hatred that had bubbled up to the surface the instant he was mentioned, you could feel a slight shred of pride at making Justin speechless. It wasn't a state he was in often. Finally, he cleared his throat, the pink tint of a blush taking to his cheeks. “Well then. Not wasting time, then… There are some theories I have to fix you.”

So now you were just something to be fixed. You bit back a sigh, knowing that this was inevitable. Your ‘dark past’, back to haunt you, and the few people in your group of friends and family (that had suddenly seemingly tripled overnight) all playing therapist. “Go ahead.”

Justin finally began to frown. Joy fucking joy. “Whatever has you with such a foul tone?”

“Oh, gee, should I be happy to see that that bastard left a mark on me?” Justin’s eyes widened slightly at the venom in your voice. Had you not been familiar with it already, you would have been surprised too. It sounded almost unnatural, coming from your mouth, when you were normally so calm and flexible. You shut your eyes, not really taking in Justin’s presence, but still feeling him standing there. “And what are you playing at, saying you have “theories” to fix me with?”

“What do you-”

“We all know you worked on the Barrier, Justin!” His face soured. He hated when you brought up his ‘accounting’ job. “You're still working on shit and you won't tell us what it is because ‘it's confidential’. But then you turn around and see my soul, and you think to yourself, ‘look at this wonderful experiment’.”

Justin, for once, was losing that veneer of perfection, anger flickering in his face. “I offered to help because I care about you!”

“If you really gave a damn about us, you wouldn't constantly lie to us, Justin!”

To your surprise, Justin walked up - he had never been so forward in your little confrontations. He walked up close, shoving a finger against your chest, right above your soul. You could practically feel it beating. His eyes narrowed. “Look. I lie because I have to. There's reasons bigger than us. Frankly, brother, I don't really care if you like it.”

“Wha-”

“Not finished.” Your eyes widened in anger. “Now, I know you've got problems, particularly with… him and how the past has affected your soul. But just because you feel a little self conscious about it doesn't reserve you the right to act like a fool about it. Judging from how worried Jayden seemed, you're in very poor shape, and as much as you seem to think I hate you, I truly don't.”

He paused for his breath. You looked him in the eye. “I don't think you hate me,” you quickly said, just to get it in.

Justin sighed, pulling away and straightening up. “Then I do wish you would put whatever dislike you've had of me all this time aside. These past 3 years-”

“Whatever dislike? Justin, you know exactly why I act like this!”

“Then please, explain.”

You opened your mouth to, but… the words didn't come. There was just too much, and at the same time, too little to really say. You knew it had to do with Eric - how could it not? But there was more than that, something you just couldn't put your finger on.

“Well?”

You looked away. “We both know it has to do with dad, at the very least.” You didn't have to see it to know the pain that flickered briefly over your brother's face. It wasn't often you said ‘dad’ after all - he had always been Eric to you. Almost always. “There's more, but… hell, Justin, you didn't even stay for Mom.”

“Neither did you, if you’ll recall.” His voice was far more subdued. He started to relax a bit. “I knew you were still upset about that. When you joked off my job earlier, I had hoped…” He chuckled a bit ruefully, a smile that wasn't quite a smile on his face. You hated when he looked like that, but at the same time, deep down, some sick part of you felt happy.

What the fuck was wrong with you?

And why did this always happen when you two saw each other?

 

Justin cleared his throat, that peppy little smile taking to his face again as he clapped together his hands, jolting you from your thoughts. “Well then! You know my thoughts on the matter. If you do decide to ask for help, my cell is always on, as you well know. Not to mention, you can always reach me through Alphys. She spends just as much time on Ebott as I do.”

You forced yourself not to grit your teeth. Already, he was getting on your nerves. He was just caring about you, so why did you still feel so… wrong? “Yeah. Thanks, Justin.”

“No problem, brother.” Justin opened the door once more, pausing to look at you. “And, for the record… I don't think you hate me either.”

Without another word, he walked out, leaving you alone with your warring thoughts and emotions, along with memories of the past.

 

Justin had first been a “business temp”. He left the house from 8:30 to 6 each day, collapsing tiredly, but happily. Everyone had been happy for him at the time, but then the checks started coming in. That was a lot of money for a temp. He said at first that they just had the money to spend. No one in your family really believed him - by that point, they knew how to tell a lie from the truth. But it took another year, the accident, and Justin’s new “accounting job” for you guys to learn the truth.

Justin wasn't a ‘temp’. He didn't work in accounting. He was a scientist. He had been working for the past three years on the Barrier, working with a group who was determined to either learn about it or break it down. He moved out right after Eric… He moved out, leaving your mom and siblings alone. Curtis, he came back after what happened, he had been about to go on tour. You came back for a brief time, but Justin was right, you left too.

But god dammit, Justin hadn't even stayed for the fucking funeral.

You rubbed your face. You didn't want to think about any of this right now. It had been 3 years ago. 3 years, 3 apartments… You were getting tired of it all. You just wanted to be able to move on.

But now it was all back in your life.

All because of your stupid soul.

 

You took a deep breath, standing a bit straighter. You didn't want to think about any of this right now; it was Thanksgiving. Heck, it was the monster’s first Thanksgiving. And while the entire holiday was based on the slaughter of a race of people, followed by countless years of systemic oppression of those descendants that remained, there was still a feeling of family!

… okay so that train of thought was inherently flawed.

But still. You were with family. Everyone was happy to meet everyone else. Toriel’s house was cozy and Sans actually seemed relaxed, or at least he had until your soul came into play. He should be back to relaxed again soon - meaning there was no point in being so surly now.

You ran a hand through your hair, looking around. It was a pretty piano room. After mentioning Eric, you didn't feel much for music, though. You stepped out into the main lobby, looking up. There was a second floor you could see directly to, as well as a glass skylight with an interesting pattern. You smiled, seeing the dim rays of sun from behind the winter cloud layer.

It was… pretty peaceful. That was nice.

You looked down the hallway. There was a lot of this house unexplored as of yet… Dinner wouldn't be for a little bit yet. You’re sure Toriel wouldn't mind you checking things out, right? They had told you to enjoy yourself and take your leave for as long as you wanted.

Besides. It would be a good way to blow off steam.

With a smile, you made your way down the hallway.

Chapter Text

“Alright! Next episode?” Jayden stretched, standing up and going over to her laptop. Thank God Tori had Bluetooth.

“HELL yeah, human!” Undyne pumped her fists outward in excitement, careful not to jostle the lizard monster beside her. “I wanna watch more epic fight scenes! That last one was so cool with that infinite sword move!”

“Pfft, this is nothing so far, Undyne. Wait till you meet my bae.” Alphys snorted at your terminology. Jayden crossed her arms. “What? I’m allowed to like men with crazy ideas and incredible soul strength!”

“You would fall for literal Frankenstein, wouldn't you?” Curtis chuckled, leaning back a bit further in his chair.

“Shush! They haven't met him yet! And technically he’s both Frankenstein and his own monster!” Jayden cleared her throat, setting up the next episode. “Besides, they get Death the Kid next, remember?”

“D-Didn't we already meet Death?”

“You’ll see.” Jayden bit her lip softly, glancing at Frisk. They seemed pumped for another episode. But, well, recalling what came next… What, with those ropes and Anubis and Patty and Liz’s kind of revealing outfits… “Uh… hey, kid, fair warning, this next episode is a little... sexual?”

Undyne’s eyes widened before she started to cackle. Frisk looked surprised, but nodded, firm in their decision to watch it. “Don't worry, human! Frisk here’s seen worse, probably. Like, hey Alphys, remember when we watched that one episode of Host Club, where Kyoya takes off his shirt and pushes Haruhi on the bed and-”

“U-Undyne, that's enough!!!” Alphys covered her face, turning a bright shade of red. Seems her scales allowed for a lot of color from heat. Undyne grinned at her reaction, wrapping an arm around her.

Jayden beamed. “Oh gosh, I remember that episode.” She also remembered the countless fanfictions. She chuckled, letting the next episode buffer some. “Yeah, this one is just a bit silly. Had to hook all the perverts in the first three episodes, you know?”

“Hooked you pretty good,” Curtis muttered.

“Hey, hooked you too!” Jayden glanced over to Papyrus, who seemed very contemplative. He was quieter than usual. “Hey, Paps, what’d’y’ think so far?”

Papyrus looked up, smiling. “OH! WELL. I WAS JUST THINKING ABOUT THIS ‘BLACK STAR’ CHARACTER. HE SEEMS MUCH MORE LIKE UNDYNE THAN I DO!”

“Whaaaat?! No way, Papyrus! I’m nowhere NEAR as peppy and cheery as that guy is!”

“BUT HE IS A TRAINED ASSASSIN WITH A SENSE OF HONOR OVER BATTLE! HE IS DETERMINED AND KIND, JUST LIKE YOU!”

“But he's got YOUR never ending aspiration to be the VERY BEST AT YOUR JOB EVER! He's the kind of guy that I can imagine standing outside my house until I give him a job!”

“HMM. THIS IS A PICKLE…” Papyrus turned to Jayden. “HUMAN! SETTLE THIS DISPUTE! WHO IS MORE LIKE BLACK STAR? ME, OR UNDYNE, THE CLEARLY CORRECT CHOICE?”

“HEY! No leading the judge!”

Jayden rubbed her chin. “Hmm… Actually, Papyrus, I think Undyne is a bit more like Mifune mixed with… I dunno, passion? Black Star is just too hyped to be her.” Undyne nodded. Papyrus looked disappointed. Jayden glanced at Curtis. “Does that seem fair?”

Curtis raised a brow. “Why you askin’ me?” He said, sitting up a bit and digging in his pocket for something.

“Cause you’re the only other one who’s seen it all, dingus. And don't get a lollipop right now, dinner’ll be ready soon, and it's annoying to ignore you tonguing it like one of your one-night stands while I watch anime.”

“Then dont ignore it,” he said, a sharp smile taking to his face as he pulled a lollipop out of his pocket, unwrapping it with a practiced motion. “Just watch and relish the intense tonguing.” To mark his point, he stuck it firmly in his mouth, swirling it with his tongue. Jayden’s face scrunched up. “What’s wrong? Too much for you to handle?” He asked this with a wink.

(By this point, the entire company comprised was mostly just confused or weirded out without any context for these emotions. Papyrus looked unfazed.)

“Ugh, you’re the grossest step-brother ever,” Jayden said with a smirk, shaking her head in defeat.

“OH?” Jayden and Curtis both glanced at Papyrus. “HUMAN, WHAT IS THIS… STEP-BROTHER YOU SPEAK OF? IS IT SOME SORT OF ULTRA-BROTHER?”

Jayden laughed along with Curtis.

“No, of course no-”
“Yeah, of course Pa-”

 

They both looked at each other, one with a scowl and one with a shit eating, lollipop filled grin.

“A-A step-brother is a human concept, Papyrus,” Alphys quickly said to recover from the sibling rivalry. “I-It's when two people aren't directly related, b-but are still siblings.”

“Yep. Curtis here isn't actually of any relation to me. He’s just Eric’s kid.” Jayden grinned, eyes shining for an instant - Curtis settled in more, swirling his lollipop around and just watching her. He seemed more distant suddenly. Jayden sighed with a contentedness about her. “Eric married Mom after Mom had her divorce. All of us just kinda formed a family.”

“Doesn't stop you from callin’ me step bro, though.”

“Oh hush, you.”

“I’d say make me, but you totally would.”

“Wait,” Undyne interrupted, raising a brow. “So… You two aren't brother and sister?”

“We aren't,” Jayden confirmed.

“But, at the same time, we are,” Curtis said with a shrug.

Undyne’s eye narrowed, her frown growing. “Grrr… so which is it?!”

“Both,” the two responded happily. Undyne facepalmed. Curtis chuckled. “It ain’t hard. Think of it this way. Say that your mom and dad-”

“Moms.”

“Oh, bein’ gay runs in the family.” Undyne only responded with a soft glare. Curtis shook his head, muttering “tough crowd” under his breath. “So say that Mom #1 had you with someone. Then Mom #1 left that someone, and hooked up with Mom #2 - but it turned out that Mom #2 had been with some person you never heard of and had a kid too. What would that kid be to you?”

“My brother or sister,” Undyne said without skipping a beat.

Curtis shut his eyes, leaning against the sofa. “Well, for humans, it's sometimes harder to accept a stranger as your new bro or sis, especially when you were happy with how things were before everything started changing. I know it was hard for me, at least.”

“Yeah, but what isn't hard for you?” Jayden asked under her breath.

“Only the straightest of all ace guys,” he shot back immediately through a smile. That earned some laughter from most in the room. Curtis glanced behind him as he heard footsteps. Justin appeared from the side hallway, his usual smile on his face. “What's up, bro?”

“Oh, nothing much. I've just shared a conversation with our little brother about his soul is all. We’ll be working out the details of how to help him later.”

Curtis kept his face neutral as he looked at Justin, glancing down at him and back up to his face without comment. Jayden sighed in relief. “Good. I'm happy we know he's in trouble now.”

“Actually,” Justin said, “he’s really not in any danger.”

“Huh?”

“Well, from what I can tell, this division derived from his past - far past. He’s spent the past three years like this, at the very least. Thus, if his soul hasn't shattered yet, then he could, in theory, live an entire lifetime on that soul.”

Curtis allowed himself a soft frown with a firm gaze. “Still. We’re gonna help him.”

“I never said we wouldn't,” Justin said gingerly. He looked at the screen. “Hmm? Oh yes, I remember this show. You forced me to watch it as you said I reminded you of Death the Kid.”

“Huh?” Jayden glanced back at the screen. “Oh yeah! Sweet, it's just about fully loaded.” She glanced back at Justin. “Yeah, you’re definitely Kid. You even sound like him sometimes!”

“What? Of course I don't, don't be silly.”

“Yeah, you do bro.”

“W-Who do I seem like?” Alphys interjected hesitantly.

“Tsubaki,” everyone said unanimously. Alphys squeaked and hid her face in her hands. Undyne grinned, rubbing her back soothingly. Jayden glanced at Curtis. “Toriel is kind of hard to place, though. What do you think?”

“Death.” He grinned. “Easy one there, to me. He's protective, but with a ridiculous, silly side.”

“That does sound accurate,” Justin said. “And you’re obviously Blair.” Curtis gasped in mock offense.

“A-Actually, I think my friend Mettaton is more like her,” Alphys said. “C-Curtis doesn't seem quite as… flamboyant?”

“BLAIR IS THE VERY NICE CAT LADY FROM EPISODE ONE, CORRECT?” Papyrus looked back at the screen with an oblivious smile. No one commented, other than embarrassed nods. “I THINK METTATON WOULD BE HAPPY TO BE COMPARED WITH SOMEONE SO POWERFUL. SHE BEAT MAKA VERY NICELY.”

“And Maka is obviously Frisk!” Undyne shouted this while reaching over to grab them. Frisk dodged expertly, proceeding to taunt Undyne by sticking out their tongue. “HEY! Lemmie noogie you! C’mere!”

As they wrestled for control, Jayden looked around, definitely on a roll now. “And Sans would be… uh…” She paused. “Hey, where did Sans go?”

“He left awhile back,” Curtis said, waving his hand dismissively. “I think to help in the kitchen?”

 

*~*~*~

 

“knock knock.”

Toriel and your mom were taking a break. The turkey needed longer anyways. Both were beaming with anticipation. “Who's there?” Toriel asked.

“dishes,” Sans replied as he worked on washing the dishes, his magic levitating numerous plates and various bowls.

“Dishes who?” Continued your mom.

“dishes a very bad joke,” he said with a wink.

They laughed like it was the best joke they’d heard in years. The spare dishes were all almost clean.

 

*~*~*~

 

“To finish the trains of thought, I’d be Spirit. Duh. And Sans, well, I think he’d like to be thought of as Excalibur.”

Jayden snorted, breaking down giggling. “Oh fuck, I just imagined him using a bone as that stupid cane, Curtis, why would you mention that guy?”

“Just sayin’ it like it is.” Curtis crossed an arm across the back of his head, looking towards the monsters on the couch. “Course, I think he’s actually more like Soul.”

“SANS? LIKE SOUL? PREPOSTEROUS. SANS WOULD NEVER WORK THAT HARD!”

“Well, Soul is one of the most lazy students in the DWMA. I think it's actually a good fit, Curtis.”

“Indeed,” Justin said, glancing towards the kitchen (where laughter could be heard). “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go see if mother needs anymore assistance.” Without another word, he walked to the kitchen.

“Alright guys, the show’s about loaded. Ready to go?”

“W-Wait! W-What about your brother? Which c-character is he most like?”

“Wait, we never said?” Curtis sat up a bit taller. “Hmm… What is Chipper like?”

“You know he hates it when you call him that, Curtis.” Curtis waved away Jayden’s complaint. Jayden rubbed her neck, thinking. “He’s not really Soul or Maka… Not any of the main Meisters…”

“There’s really only one character I can think of, honestly,” Curtis said. “Though it would have to be like… in combination with Maka. He’s too determined to be who I’m thinking off by themselves…”

“I think you’re thinking what I’m thinking.”

Curtis allowed himself another cocky grin, bringing the total for today to at least infinity plus one. “You really think so?”

“UGH! Just say who it is!”

Jayden laughed at Undyne’s impatience. “Well… I really think he’s a lot like this one character named Crona… Crona’s a really shy kid, worried about a lot and really self-conscious and anxious, despite being so strong. They’ve also got some stuff going on with their soul that reminds me of my bro.”

“What sorta stuff?”

Jayden smirked. “You’ll figure out when we get there. Get ready, I’m gonna start the next episode!” Everyone hunkered down to get ready. She hit the button to start it and sat next to Papyrus, getting close without really encroaching on his personal space. She was an expert at that. Curtis sighed contentedly, leaning back against the sofa, eyes on the screen as the beginning animation played.

His mind wasn’t on the anime, however. His mind was wandering back to Justin’s entrance. You and he had disappeared right when they were starting the first episode. That meant around 45 minutes of time for you both.

He knows very well that you two didn’t talk for 45 minutes. And it didn’t take a genius. For one thing, you two never talked long. Patterns repeat, after all. For another thing, had you talked that long, no doubt the argument would’ve reached their ears. Since it didn’t, it was safe to assume that you hadn’t been talking for all of the time that Justin was away. And, lastly, well…

Despite Justin’s intense love for organization and sameness, he’d still managed to reconnect his phone to a different belt loop. Meaning he’d been on the phone with someone.

Curtis made a mental note to talk to his brother later. Or not. He bit down hard on the lollipop, shattering it in his mouth before sucking on the stick. He contemplated his lack of decision for a minute.

Eh.

Up to fate, he supposed, what would happen next.

 

*~*~*~

 

You ran your finger over another interesting spine, the golden lettering of the book on the shelf having caught you eye. “Historiography of the Underworld,” you muttered aloud, “by A.D… I wonder just who A.D. is.” You’d found a few older books with the same abbreviation. There was no author page for them, however, so you were left in the dark.

Er, literally. It was really dark in this part of the house. You’d walked down the hallway, glancing into a few rooms. The piano room took a prominent place, as well as a closet and a back exit in that hallway. That exit led to what looked like a giant garden - but, well, with how cold it was outside, you didn’t much feel like checking it out. You passed a bathroom as well, before finally stumbling across this room.

You’d never been in a library this big.

It was almost magical, despite the lack of natural light. Most of the rooms you’d been in so far had plenty of windows to let in the light - but this room was almost devoid of them. There was enough torch light to see, thankfully, though the change had been mildly jarring after the main skylight in the first room.

Other than that, this place was a dream spot for a book-worm like you. There were so many books here! You’d already seen so many titles, from fiction to romance to non-fiction and even economics or business. Many of these were human books, but the majority seemed to be monster novels. You had no idea just how many of them there were, but it was a large amount.

Glancing around, you could also see banners hanging from the nearby wall. You walked over, glancing at it. It was a deep, royal purple with a white design on the front. It looked like 3 triangles with a golden snitch on top. You felt like you’d seen it somewhere before, but you weren’t quite sure as to from where.

You glanced at another title, this written in a sheer white. “A Study in Determination and Soul-Color Theory…” No author was provided. You shifted it off of the shelve, trying to find a name, but you couldn’t see one readily. Opening it, you found many pages were blank or faded. Obviously an old book then. You put it back where you found it, disappointed.

You walked around a little more, finding that there was just too much for one human to look at. You’d seen Sans using levitation before - was that a gift every monster had? These shelves were fairly high, after all, and you only saw one ladder. Of course, this was Toriel’s house, meaning she could probably reach the higher shelves.

You considered your options. You could always rejoin the group, but… You kind of wanted to keep exploring instead. Talking with Justin had put you in a sour mood, and you knew there was more down the way you were going. So, instead of taking one of the doors that led back to the living room, you instead went to right wall and opened the door there.

Walking through, you found yourself in another dim hallway. You glanced down it; 3 doors, one with light coming in from the small windows on it. Obviously, another back exit. You looked at the first door on your right.

Might as well, right? You had nothing to lose just by wandering.

You walked over and opened the door, finding yourself in a study of sorts. The first thing you noticed were smaller windows, and once again, dim lighting. It was almost like the person using this section of the house didn’t need natural light, or else didn’t care for it. You walked past more shelves, the floor creaking under you as you found yourself at a larger than life desk littered with papers. In the middle of it all was a journal. It was opened to a page marked with today’s date. Unable to resist temptation, you leaned down and checked what it said.

Not a bad day today. I might go outside for a bit before dinner.

You poked the period on the page, checking your finger afterwards; it had ink on it, though just a slight hint. Looks like this was fairly recent.

You looked behind you. It was an open floorplan, leaving an exposed bedroom behind you. You suddenly realized that this was a very private study. Maybe… maybe you shouldn’t be in here. But you were drawn into the bedroom for some reason.

In the corner of the room was stand made to hold armor; it was doing it’s job, holding a chestplate and leg armor, shoulder pads, and topping it was a golden, marvelous crown. This room had a bigger window, yet all of the curtains were drawn. The bed was enormous. There were dusty pictures on the walls.

You were in King Asgore’s room. You’d known that when you saw the desk.

You walked back out the way you came, walking over to the door to the outside. You opened it, finding a meager garden, snowed in early in the winter. And standing outside, in the middle of it, in a red sweater and hair tied back in a bun, was the King of all Monsters.

 

He looked so much… sadder than you’d expected.

He noticed you right away, turning at the sound of the door. “Hmm? Oh! Well, howdy,” he said with a soft smile.

“U-Uh… Heya.” Oh god, there was your anxiety. “I uh… I was just wandering around, I hope that’s alright? You’ve got an amazing house.”

He chuckled softly, a deep, rumbly sound deep in his chest. “It’s more Tori’s house than mine, I’m afraid,” he said, smile growing as he began to walk your way. You realized quickly just how huge he was. He towered over you, definitely as tall (if not taller) than Papyrus. He offered up his hand. “It is very nice to meet you. I would… introduce myself, but…” He laughed again as you hesitantly took his hand. “I feel that might be unnecessary.”

“Y-Yeah…” You shot back a smile, beginning to relax slowly. “Maybe.”

You introduced yourself instead, letting him back inside. He had to duck to fit into the hallway. He dusted himself off - he had just a bit of snow on his outfit - and looked back at you. “Please, there is no need to be nervous around me,” he says. So he caught onto your nervousness. Woops. He smiled warmly at you. “I might retain my title “King”, but today, I am merely Frisk’s adoptive father. I feel it might be best if it remains as such.”

Asgore considered Frisk his kid? Hmm… You wondered how that worked out with Toriel. You knew enough from news and media to know that Toriel and Asgore used to be an item, with emphasis on the words ‘used to be’. Toriel and Asgore were both still Queen and King though, so… You supposed you would learn here soon enough. You just nodded with a much warmer smile. “Sorry about that. I just haven’t really been the most sociable person until recently.”

“Well, I am glad to see that has changed.” He straightened up a bit (he was slouching?!) and nodded towards the living room. “We should head to the dining area. I am sure my wi- er… I am sure Toriel will have dinner ready shortly.” You caught the slip up, but rather than remark upon it, you just followed him out of the hallway.

Maybe you’d had enough of dim hallways and searching the King’s bedroom for the day.

Chapter Text

The dinner was enormous.

There was turkey, of course, and mashed potatoes, obviously. There was some delicious looking stuffing and green beans on the side (it looked like there was sun dried tomato mixed with it and that just made your heart race). But there was also fish - Undyne licked her lips hungrily - and spaghetti - Papyrus was beaming - and more snails than you could count. That last one was mostly because they kept disappearing. Toriel and Asgore both seemed to adore snails.

You all sat at the table, which was thankfully big enough to fit you all. You supposed it would have to be, given the diplomatic status of the family; dinners with officials were hard to have in the living room. You settled down with Undyne on your right and Papyrus on your left. Sans planted himself right next to Toriel (you couldn’t help but notice, for some reason). Toriel and Asgore sat on opposite sides of the table, as if on instinct.

You all ate and talked, and you felt the mood just… lighten. You had been in a funk all night, but this… This was good. Your mom had taken a rather large liking to Toriel - they were so alike in so many ways, it was so incredible. Sans cracked so many jokes and puns you thought Papyrus might explode, but even he seemed to be enjoying his brother so happy. Undyne kept playing with her food. Asgore scolded her once, and she actually stopped; she seemed to be really close with the king.

Frisk was the icing on the cake, though. They seemed so excited to be having thanksgiving dinner. They were signing enthusiastically, pointing at all the different bits of food. Papyrus caught your confused gaze. “FRISK IS SAYING HOW NICE IT IS TO HAVE A FAMILY MEAL OF THIS KIND! THIS IS THEIR FIRST REAL THANKSGIVING, AFTER ALL.”

First Thanksgiving? You hadn’t known that fact. You looked at them, smiling. “Well, buddy, I’m glad we made food that makes you this happy.”

They began to sign again. You looked helplessly at Sans, across from you. He smiled sympathetically. “they’re actually happiest about the company, they said. the food is just a nice bone-us.”

You rolled your eyes at the pun, glancing back at Frisk. They were eying the snails with hesitation. “Heh. You wanna try one?” They nodded before shaking their head quickly. “Aww, why not?” Realizing you didn’t understand their signing, they just stuck a finger in their mouth, gagging with disgust. You laughed. “They aren’t that gross! C’mon, I’ll try one with you if you want.” They still looked unsure. “If you don’t wanna, go ahead. I’m gonna help myself before your parents snag them all for themselves, though.” Asgore and Toriel both blushed, much to the amusement of those gathered.

You grabbed one with one of those fancy snail-forks, letting the juice drip into your hand. Frisk, not to be challenged and beaten, grabbed one too, looking uncertain. “On three?” They nodded. “One… two… three!”

You quickly ate it, eyes widening. Oh god, that was… that was actually delicious. Trust the two people who loved escargot to make perfect escargot. Frisk’s eyes widened and they quickly grabbed another.

You glanced over at Toriel as you heard a surprised sound from her. She looked like she was tearing up. “Oh, my child…” She giggled, wiping her face with the back of her hand. What…

“Is it too much, Tori?” You were surprised to hear Asgore ask.

“No, no… It is just… I had not expected so much nostalgia to well up. It has been so long since…” She cleared her throat, smiling and shaking her head. “It is of no matter. I am just being a sentimental old woman.”

“Not that old,” Asgore said, smiling.

You all enjoyed more dinner, the feeling still remaining light. Justin somehow didn’t bother you as much, even sitting near you. Curtis calling you ‘Chip’ didn’t irk you the same way it always had. You were finally able to relax.

You weren’t sure what you had been waiting for, today. Maybe it was for the other shoe to drop? But that had happened, what with your soul and all. After that, you just… hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that everything was wrong, even though… it wasn’t.

Your soul had been like that for a long time. Justin had always been a prick. Curtis’s nickname had bothered you from the day it originated, and for good reason. But today… today wasn’t the day that all needed to be sorted out. You… You could wait.

You had never been good at that before, and you weren’t sure why you were so okay with that now. In the past, you would’ve been at their throats by now about it, but now… You just wanted to enjoy this dinner. Enjoy the company. All these monsters… they were nice. They were good, friendly.

You were finally happy.

And nothing was going to change that today.

 

You were all exhausted when dinner was done. Toriel and your mother worked on cleaning up the kitchen, insisting that everyone else go out into the living room and relax. Sans instantly flopped on the couch, relaxing easily. Frisk crawled up to, startling him slightly as they curled up in his lap. He laughed softly, patting them on the head as they both settled in for a nap. You smiled. The kid was seriously cute.

Everyone was milling about, working out what would happen next. You were seriously heating up due to the sheer amount of people here. You had never had a Thanksgiving with so many people before. You tapped Curtis on the shoulder to get his attention. “I’m gonna step outside and cool off.”

“Alright. Want any company?”

“Nah. Just telling you in case kidnappers show up and snatch me to hold for ransom,” you said, an easy smile taking to your face.

Curtis laughed, a lopsided grin taking to his face. He looked relieved. “What would we even give them?” You shook your head, chuckling. He punched your shoulder lightly. “Glad t’see you’re feeling better, bro.”

“Thanks, Curt.” You walked to the front door, sighing. You were feeling better. Today… today had been a much better day. You stepped outside, bracing yourself for the cold, feeling relieved as you instantly felt cooler. The warmth was nice, but so was the break.

You shut the door behind you, sitting down on the cleared off porch. The sun had already set (dinner took much longer than the ones at home did) and the lamps outside had already flickered on. It was also snowing now. Your mind flashed back to that day about… 5 days ago. God, had it really been just 5 days? 5 days, and you were already so happy.

Your mind flashed back to that memory, that night you had fallen asleep on the bench in the park. You chuckled under your breath. “Yeah… ‘Fairy poison’...” Jayden had loved that little story when you told her about it. She hadn’t been old enough to play outside when that had happened. No, she had still been in the nursery…

How long that had been…

You felt surprised, suddenly, because you realized that these past 5 days… They felt like just as much as these past 22 years. You had been alive 22 years, and while a lot had happened in those years… a lot had happened these past 5 days, too. Your life was changing, and… you thought it was for the better.

You had met people who made you happy. You had formed… a family, really, of friends who cared about you. Undyne, Alphys, Papyrus, Frisk, Tori, Asgore… Sans. All of them cared so much about everyone else. Your hand strayed up to your chest.

… Maybe Justin was right. They… they all just wanted to help you. You had spent years with your soul, no one could really say for how long, but you had also spent years being miserable.

Maybe it was time to let yourself be happy.

 

You heard something. You glanced over to your left, where the window to the living room was. It was like a rustle in the snow. You stood and walked to a better vantage point, just in time to see something yellow dart into the ground.

What…

You walked over, seeing nothing but disturbed snow.

You tilted your head.

Probably… just a groundhog or something. You frowned. You hoped the poor guy wasn’t alone for the holidays.

 

*~*~*~

 

Once everyone who had dozed off from the turkey induced comas woke up, you all settled down for a board game. It was some of the most fun you had ever had. Somehow, Toriel had gotten her hands on Taboo, and it was just fitting to form a team of Humans VS Monsters, seeing as you had even numbers. You got lucky that Justin knew some sign language from his job; he had learned it, just in case some of his associates spoke in ASL.

But, even with how well your family could communicate with each other, it wasn’t enough against the monsters. “Bed” from Papyrus became the word “Car” from over half of the monster team. Sans had said “hypothermia” with a direct glance to you before Papyrus shouted “bench”. Most terrifying was probably Asgore and Toriel, however. “Golden” became “Tea”, “Delta” was connected to “Angel” in a heartbeat, and “Wish” was guessed to be “Star” faster than you blinked. You couldn’t understand how they did it.

After the monster team thrashed you in Taboo, they wanted to learn what card games you knew. Apparently, they had never played many card games before; you introduced them to Rummy, a favorite in your household. Undyne took to the game poorly, as it wasn't aggressive enough. Alphys (who took to the organization aspect of the game very well) attempted to explain to her that it was hard for card games to be aggressive. Undyne disagreed and insisted you play Slap-Jack. Like an idiot, you agreed.

One broken hand later, you stopped playing Slap-Jack.

“Ow ow ow, wow, okay,” you said, cradling the broken hand. You weren't even sure what was broken, but by the way it felt, all of it was a good assumption.

“I'm sorry!” That had to be the fifth time Undyne had apologized since it happened. “Damn it! I keep injuring humans tonight!”

“Seriously, Undyne, it's fine,” you said as Toriel began to look at your hand. “Toriel already explained that she would heal me. You just don't know your own strength sometimes.”

“Ugh! Just you wait, human! I’m gonna work hard and make sure I never lose control of my strength again!”

“Y-Yeah!” Cheered on Alphys. Undyne pumped her fists into action, punching the air a few times.

Toriel rolled her eyes, clasping your hand with both of hers. “It is a simple fix,” she said gently. Your eyes widened as you felt the bones begin to shift and settle with none of the pain you would normally feel. On the contrary, if felt… well, almost like you had just ran your hand over a piece of silk. You saw green light drifting around your hand and instantly put two and two together. Healing magic. “There we are,” she said, releasing your hand.

You flexed it once or twice with a smile. “All better.”

After that, it was starting to get pretty late. Toriel brought out the pumpkin pie and dear lord you wanted to melt when you tasted it. You had no idea how it tasted so good. When voicing the question, Sans just shrugged and said “magic”. Smartass.

But after desert and some coffee, your mom finally stood up from her spot on the couch, stretching. “Alright, everyone. I think it's time my family got back home.”

“Already?!” Undyne pouted a tiny bit next to Jayden. They’d been discussing different forms of martial arts. “It's so early!”

“Well, I still have to work tomorrow, and I'm driving, so I'm afraid we’ll have to get going sooner rather than later.” Your mom smiled sympathetically. “You’re all always free to visit, though!”

“Yeah!” Jayden grabbed her phone, pulling up her contacts. “I need all of your numbers, stat. I can text you guys the address if you ever wanna come over!”

Undyne grinned. “HELL yeah!” She started punching in her phone number - more literally than you’d think at first - as the others gathered around to do the same.

Curtis walked over to you, opening up his arms. “Don't think I’m leaving without a hug.” You rolled your eyes, hugging him and patting him on the back. He mirrored your action, leaning a bit closer to your ear. “You, me, Skype next weekend. I wanna chat.” He pulled away after those whispered words, tousling your hair. “See you, Chip.”

“I've told you not to call me that,” you said with a resigned sigh.

“Yeah, but it's less boring than your real name, so Chipper it’ll be for now.” You just shrugged in defeat. You somehow doubted you would ever be able to convince Curtis to stop being such a prick, but honestly, you weren’t sure you totally wanted to. That was just… him.

Justin walked up, clearing his throat somewhat awkwardly. You rubbed your neck as he nodded softly. “I… Er…”

“Call me sometime, alright?” His eyes widened. “Go ahead, do some research into my soul and stuff. See if you can… er… ‘fix’ me.” You tried to smile after saying that, but it just felt wrong.

He looked down slightly, more abashed than you had ever seen him. “I… I apologize. Your soul is the culmination of your being, as I well know.” He looked up, eyes hard set. “You are not something in my life to be ‘fixed’, and I should not have assumed that that was the case. You are a spectacular brother to me, no matter the past we have.”

 

You blinked, mouth open to say something, but brain completely blank. He reached out, grabbing you and hugging you tightly. “I’m going to help you shine even brighter, brother,” he said softly. And suddenly, you got it. He wasn’t just trying to ‘fix’ you. Sure, your soul was interesting to him, but… he was just like that. He got so absorbed into his interests. But the reason he wanted to see if he could change it, fix it for lack of better terms, was to make you stronger than you were.

How could you be angry about that?

You hugged him back, sighing. “Thanks, Justin. Just don’t overwork yourself, alright?”

You pulled away, smiling. He watched you, his normal smile taking place on his face. You still hated it, but some things never changed, right? He nodded and cleared his throat once more. “Indeed. You as well.”

You were promptly ambushed by Jayden leaping onto your back. “GAH! Yuck, my younger sister loves me, this is too much to handle!” You were laughing as you grabbed under her legs, hoisting her up higher.

“Females conquer all! We live above the rest!” She pumped her fist in the air, clinging onto your neck for dear life. “Viva la revolution!”

“HELL YEAH! REBEL!” Undyne laughed uproariously, picking up Alphys and hoisting her above her head. Alphys covered her face, curling up a bit. You laughed - that poor girl seemed to be hoisted up a lot.

You pulled Jayden off of you, hugging her and messing up her rainbow hair with a grin. She glared at the action, a bittersweet smile on her face. “You better visit more, jackass,” she said.

“Christmas is coming pretty soon. You’ll see me then, for sure.”

“Good! Maybe by then I’ll have a special someone for you to be overprotective of me about.”

You gagged playfully. “Gross.”

“Shut up! Just cause you’re taking your time doesn’t mean I should!”

Curtis leaned in closer to the group you’d formed, muttering quietly, “maybe you shouldn’t hold off much longer. I see a certain skele-sin over there that sounds fun. If you don’t claim him, I just might.”

Your face began to heat up almost instantly. “W-What?”

Curtis pulled back laughing alongside Jayden. “Hell yeah, we got him to blush! Score!” Jayden and him high-fived, much to your embarrassment. “Knew it was a thing!”

“Me and Sans?” You were whispering again. “Nah, he’s got his eyes on someone else anyways.” Besides. You and Sans? How ridiculous. He was a slob and a prankster and… it was a ridiculous thought. Totally ridiculous.

So why couldn’t you stop blushing?

“If you say so, bro.” Curtis put his hands behind his head, glancing back at your mom. “So mi-madre, when are we leaving? I am gonna pass out when we get home.”

Your mom walked up, hugging you extra tightly. “Oh, honey, tell me you’ll be seeing us again soon! It was so nice to meet all your new friends, we would all love to hang out again.”

“Christmas is soon,” you repeated, chuckling. “We’ll meet up then. Just worry about work tomorrow, alright Mom?”

“Oh, work, shmurk, I’m just gonna keep worrying about my little boy.” Little boy who was taller than her. She sighed, tilting her head slightly with a smile. “Stay out of trouble, okay? No more hypothermia!”

“I promise.”

She smiled, patted your cheek, and turned. “Alright, gang, let’s get into the car. I want to be home in time to start the laundry.” Everyone gathered by the door, saying their last minute goodbyes. Papyrus was outright shouting about how much he was going to miss them all. Justin shared a nod with a nervous looking Alphys. Jayden shared a fist bump with Frisk.

 

And before you knew it, they were gone.

Toriel looked between you, Sans, and Papyrus. You realized that, being part of the coffeeless crowd, you were starting to feel the first twinges of sleepiness. “Were you planning on returning home tonight? Or perhaps staying here? I can prepare breakfast in the morning if you would like.”

“WE WOULD LOVE TO STAY,” Papyrus quickly said, “THOUGH YOU DO NOT HAVE TO COOK BREAKFAST IF YOU WOULD NOT LIKE TO! OUR ROOMMATE IS A VERY SKILLED OMELETTE MAKER!”

Toriel smiled, giggling softly. “I do not doubt it.” She turned slightly, looking to where Asgore was gathering himself. “Asgore? Are you leaving?” Her voice was a bit colder.

He sighed. “I’ve a meeting in the morning, I’m afraid. I managed to postpone it to tomorrow after learning of this human holiday, but only just.”

“Wait, they tried to make you work on Thanksgiving?” You were really taken aback by that one. “But… That makes no sense! They would just be missing their own families then too.”

“humans don’t always make sense, buddy. like, why would anyone fall asleep outside in a snow storm?” You glared at the smiling skeleton. He shrugged in response.

“Sadly, Sans is right. Their actions will likely never make full sense. But, be that as it may, I must stay true to my word. I’ll be returning to the palace tonight to gather my documents for tomorrow.”

“Very well,” Toriel said stiffly. God, you were fairly certain that her voice was colder than the temperature outside. “Goodnight, Asgore.”

Asgore looked away, nodding. “Goodnight, Toriel.” He smiled a bit bittersweetly to Frisk, kneeling down and giving them a hug. They looked sad that he had to go, but quite pleased with the hug. “Goodnight, my child.” As he put down Frisk, Undyne grabbed him and gave him a one-armed hug. “Oh! Haha… Goodnight to you as well, Undyne.”

“Don’t let those humans push you around too much, weenie,” she said with a fond smile. It was probably the most relaxed you had seen her. Yeah, there were definitely parts of Undyne you still had yet to see, particularly with her relationship to Asgore.

“Do not worry, Undyne. I shall be fine.” He patted her on the shoulder before shifting away. With that, he headed out, decked in just his red sweater and pants. You supposed being a big furry monster meant he was less bothered by the cold.

Toriel turned back to everyone else. “Well then… Sleeping arrangements.”

 

The logistics were a bit silly at first, but you managed to work it out together. You would have been willing to sleep on the couch, but Toriel had insisted that everyone sleep in a bed. Undyne apparently stayed over frequently, so she and Alphys were going to be sleeping together in her room. Papyrus would take Asgore’s bedroom on the first floor, seeing as he was probably the only one who would really fit the bed well - Sans or you would’ve been buried in the covers by morning. Sans would take the guest room, and Frisk would sleep in Toriel’s bed so you could take theirs. They slept in a big kid bed, they explained (with Sans translating through stifled laughter).

Frisk led you to their room personally, explaining that they had to solve the puzzle first. You were confused until you walked in. The floor was all different colors. Frisk began to walk across them in a pattern that you couldn’t comprehend, dodging certain tiles. It looked like the floor was wired to do that?

They walked all the way over to the bathroom door, hitting a small switch there. A little computer came up. “Disable security protocols for one day?” Frisk made a small murmur for the affirmative. The computer dinged, and all the tiles turned pink. They bowed towards you.

“Security protocols?” They pointed to a picture on their wardrobe. You walked over and looked at it. It was a picture of everyone who had been here, except with Mettaton in the background as well. They pointed to Alphys specifically. “Alphys set this up? But why?” The pointed to themselves, hugging themselves tightly. You thought about it for a minute before it clicked. “It’s here to protect you?”

They nodded before pausing and teetering their hand. They signed out three letters. You bit your lip, working out mentally what each one meant. It took you a few seconds and some cues from Frisk, but you managed to guess it. “It’s… fun?” They nodded happily. You shook your head with a smile. Leave it to the kid.

They led you over to their bed, hugging you tightly, to your surprise. “Kiddo?”

They looked up at you, smiling. “... You’re nice,” they said in a very quiet voice, surprising you further. They could talk?! “Thank you for being so nice.”

You blinked your surprise away, patting their head lightly. “I… Yeah, Frisk… Why wouldn’t I be?” They looked down slightly, shrugging. Apparently, they didn’t want to go into it. “Hmm… Well… Alright. Mind telling me why you’ve been so quiet up until now, then?” They scuffed their shoe on the floor, looking uncertain. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

They rubbed their arm. “... Sometimes mute,” they muttered, even quieter than before. “Not all the time…”

You nodded. You… You were pretty sure you had heard of that at some point. Selective mutism, you think it was called. You smiled. “I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to talk to me, Frisk. It’s nice to hear you. Don’t force yourself on my account, though, okay squirt?” They pouted at the nickname. You chuckled, hugging them back. They seemed to enjoy that.

 

And then they left you for the night. You were… probably just going to sleep in your clothing, then. You slipped off your jacket, leaving you in just your tank-top. You never had put back on that t-shirt, had you? Woops. You got into the surprisingly comfortable bed, ignoring the slight discomfort from your jeans. You could deal with that if it meant sleep now and a nice home-cooked breakfast from that goddess of baking.

You shut your eyes, taking slow, even breaths. Despite everything… Despite your soul and your moodiness, and Justin, and just everything that had made you a little sadder than usual...

Today had been a good day.

Chapter Text

You slept well, waking to the smell of fresh pancakes and bacon. Apparently, Toriel was a morning person as well. Either that, or she woke up early especially to make breakfast for you all. You would have to thank her profusely either way.

Asgore wasn't there that morning, as he’d mentioned. You honestly kinda missed his presence - he was a sweet guy. He had this warm aura about him, along with this edge of brokenness that you could sympathize with, now.

On that note, you made sure to check your phone now. No messages from Justin yet, but that was to be expected - it was too soon after the problems with your soul had been discovered to expect him to be able to scrounge up testing materials and tools.

You made your way on downstairs, unsurprised to see Frisk and Papyrus were already awake. You ran a hand through your hair to fix it, grinning at them. Frisk was signing enthusiastically to Papyrus, who was nodding along, just as enthused. Though, as you walked up, Papyrus glanced your way. “OH! HUMAN! GOOD MORNING!”

You nodded. “Morning, Paps. Morning, Frisk.” They waved to you happily. You looked over at the stove where Toriel was making the pancakes. “Morning, Tori.”

You were still groggy enough that you didn’t realize you’d called her Tori like you were old friends until a few seconds afterward. Shit, was that just a Sans thing? But no, she giggled at the nickname. “Good morning! I do hope you slept well in Frisk’s room.”

“Yeah, I slept fine,” you said, relieved to have avoided any awkwardness. “Careful, kiddo. If you keep making your room seem so cool, I might have to steal it.” Frisk jumped at that slightly, signing quickly at you something that you could read on their face, even if you couldn’t read the signs - they wanted their room for themselves. You laughed, grinning. “Just kidding, Frisk.” They pouted.

“Human, would you like chocolate, banana or plain pancakes? I can prepare anything you would like.”

“I APOLOGIZE HUMAN - I HAVE ALREADY USED UP ALL OF THE SPAGHETTI FROM LAST NIGHT IN MY SPAGHETTI PANCAKES.” Dear lord what the hell was wrong with this skeleton’s taste bud- ohp, answered your own question. Skeletons don’t have those. “ALTHOUGH, I CAN ATTEST THAT THE BANANA PANCAKES TASTE VERY GOOD. AND SO DO ALL OF THE OTHERS.”

Frisk nodded, pointing to their own chocolate chip pancakes. You grinned at them and looked back to Toriel. “The banana ones sound great, according to Paps. If I’m still hungry later, I’ll be happy with some chocolate chip ones too.”

“Banana, coming up!” Toriel hummed lightly, making more pancakes. You noticed that her tail (that’s right, she had one of those) wagged slightly when she was happy. Monsters were weird, man, but you guessed it made sense. She was a goat monster, after all.

While she was making your pancakes, Undyne and Alphys came downstairs. Both looked exhausted - Alphys more so - but they were holding hands and looked adorable. Undyne leaned down to kiss her forehead before moving to where the coffee maker was. Alphys flushed and sat next to you, yawning. “Morning, g-guys,” she said through her yawn.

Everyone said morning back. You looked towards Undyne. “Hey, mind getting me a mug of that, Undyne?” She grumbled a confirmation. You chuckled - not a morning person then.

Toriel gave you your pancakes with a side of bacon, asking Undyne and Alphys their preferences. You ate your breakfast happily. Yeah, okay, her cooking skills were too damn good, this was just unfair. Undyne sat down across from you, sending coffee your way. You drank it straight without any creamer or sugar. Black coffee was a little shudder worthy, but you had honestly gotten used to the taste - bitter was cheap. Undyne nodded approvingly, grinning a bit as she drank from her own mug.

You all had some idle chit chat over the table, everyone slowly waking up. The pancakes kept coming - you switched to chocolate soon enough, much to Frisk’s delight. Alphys rubbed her eyes, smiling softly as she looked at Toriel. “S-So when does school start up again for you?”

That’s right, they’re both teachers, you’d forgotten. Though, you guessed Alphys was more of a doctor or professor, being at the university. “On Monday,” Toriel said. “I hope you will be ready, Undyne. The students will likely be bursting with energy after the break.”

Undyne grinned sharply. “Hell yeah! I’m gonna show those little wimps who’s boss. I’m gonna be WAY more energetic!” With sleep still tugging at he words, she really didn’t sound too energetic as of yet.

“Y-You’ll do great, sweetie,” Alphys said with a smile. Alphys sipped her tea lightly.

You looked at her, still thinking about how she was a professor. But, wait… “Wait. You know Justin from work. I thought you worked at the university?”

Alphys choked on her tea lightly, looking at you. “O-Oh! U-Um. Actually. M-Me and Justin, he um, well, h-he needs help sometimes up on Ebott, a-and I don’t really work full time a-at the university, and well-”

“Slow down, Alphy.” Undyne patted Alphys’s shoulder softly, rolling her eye before looking towards you. “Alphys here goes up to Ebott from time to time to help the humans re-wire things from the CORE to get energy. That’s how she met Justin for the first time.”

You nodded, pushing your empty plate aside to show Toriel that you’d had enough - anymore pancakes and you’d probably burst at this point. “So, wait, Justin’s been working on the CORE?”

“Y-Yes,” Alphys said, now that she had had some time to calm down. “He’s b-been working with humans and monsters to work out how t-to get the CORE’s energy up to the surface. W-We combine electrical e-energy and magical energy to run it, s-so they need monster help to figure out how it works. W-When we’re allowed to, anyways.”

“When you’re allowed to?”

Toriel sighed, sitting down with a cup of her own tea. “That would be due to Asgore. He has banned humans from the underground, at least for now. It makes it very difficult for the humans, as they can only receive help through pictures, videos, and word of mouth.”

You raised a brow. That was the first you’d heard about that. Granted, you were pretty fucking out of the loop on this sorta thing, but humans being banned from a mountain seemed like it would be something you would hear about. “Why are they banned?”

“‘Cause some monsters see the underground as the only safe haven from humans,” Undyne said, the bitterness creeping into her voice less than subtly. “There’s so many monsters that are still stuck underground because they’re too scared of the monsters up here.”

“Undyne,” Toriel began to reprimand. You could hear the distaste in her voice.

“Nono, it’s fine,” you said, smiling. Undyne suddenly seemed self conscious about her company. You sighed. “I get what you mean. Some of the people up here… They can be awful, even to other humans, just because we’re different.” You glanced around as their faces got a bit confused by the use of that ‘we’re’. You rubbed your neck, grinning nervously. “Er… Yeah. I get hatred pretty damn well.”

“BUT WHY?” Papyrus tilted his head. “YOU ARE A VERY NICE HUMAN!”

“Paps, remember when I mentioned that I like men?” Papyrus nodded. “A lot of people hate me for that reason. And a few others, but… I think I’d rather not discuss all the reasons my own species hates me, specifically.”

Undyne relaxed a tiny bit - she had tensed up when you had asked Papyrus that question - and sighed. “I get it, human. Me and Alphys were so confused when we came up here. People seemed to hate me and her being together more than me and her being monsters. Alphys figured it out before I did, though - she’s always been better at human stuff.”

“T-That’s just cause I watch a lot of anime,” Alphys said quickly. “I-I studied humans for s-so long, i-it’s just easier to understand their t-thinking.”

You nodded before seeing the last member of your party wander in, slippers shuffling against the floor. “Hey there, sleepybone-”

 

Oh shit.

 

“mornin’ all.” Sans rubbed his face as he yawned before stretching with his eyes closed. A black tank top was hanging loosely on him. The cut of it showed off his collarbones, and his ribs were easy to see. It stretched up, just a bit too small on him and obviously worn out, and you could see the tip of his pelvis. And he was yawning, and you could see the inside of his mouth, sharpened canines and all. You could see so much more of him now.

You were staring.

You cleared your throat, taking a sip of your coffee without so much as a shiver, hoping no one noticed your stricken expression. But, looking up from your cup, you saw you were out of luck.

Undyne’s eye was sparkling with excitement and her grin was wider than you’d ever seen it. Alphys was blushing just a bit and you could see a smile behind her hands.

 

Shit.

 

Sans walked over to the coffee pot, pouring himself a mug and getting out the creamer. “hope i didn’t miss much.”

“OH, not much Sans,” Undyne said, suddenly sounding much more awake. “We were just talking about Alphys’s job and how it’s almost time to go back to school.” She still hadn’t looked away from you. “I love working with those kids.”

… Was.

Was that a pun.

 

“heh, and here i thought you considered them all little brats?”

“DUH! I’m gonna crush those little wimps!”

“hope you’re just kidding about that. those little ones are fragile.” He sipped his coffee as Papyrus groaned and Toriel laughed a bit. Sans grinned at the reactions.

But, beyond the normal puns, Alphys was trying desperately not to giggle and Undyne looked victorious. How did no one understand what was going on? Papyrus, you could understand, but et tu Toriel? Frisk wasn’t commenting on anything. You were a lone man against two shippers who had noticed a brief second of weakness. You needed to combat this somehow. You had to act, fast.

“I’ll be right back,” you said quickly, standing and walking off to the bathroom.

Undyne and Alphys watched you the entire way out of the room.

 

*~*~*~

 

You slid against the door, blinking, comprehending what the fuck just happened. Undyne and Alphys had practically shipped you out of the room just with puns and that look. God, that look had been ridiculous, but goddamn it, you still saw it.

And you still saw Sans, too.

You rubbed your face, groaning softly. Okay, what the hell was wrong with your mind? You were pretty sure you hadn’t had a crush on Sans the other night. That wasn’t a thing, was it? He was- for pete’s sake, he was a skeleton! He was a fucking skeleton, and last you checked, you weren’t ready to bang the skeleton stands in Biology in high school.

… But.

You thought about Sans’s smile. About his strange vibrato that sounded deep but also like he was a tenor and it was just addicting to hear. About the way he laughed when you matched up to his puns. About, dear lord, how you had been ogling him since day one because he was just bones and somehow, some way…

You were attracted to a skeleton.

You had a crush on Sans.

“This is obviously just one of those ‘he saved you and now you like him’ kind of things,” you muttered to yourself. For some reason, your own voice wasn’t very reassuring. “That was an episode of ICarly, right? That’s a legit thing?”

You took a deep breath, trying to rationalize. Okay. So. You… currently had a crush on Sans. But that was just currently. Honestly, it was probably because he had cared for you so much these past 5 days - which, by the way, was way too soon to be crushing on this guy - and also because of how much your family had insinuated you were fucking your roommates. Damn you, Curtis.

And besides. Sans… Sans was straight, right? You thought he was, at least. Though, you’d never heard him say outright what his orientation was… So he might not be-

No. No getting your hopes up. Even if he was… He had his eyes on Toriel. You knew that much. You and Sans? It would never work. So you could just stop looking at him and thinking about him right fucking now and nip that in the bud.

You took a deep breath. Okay. Time to go back out and face the music. You could do this. Totally.

You. did. not. have. a. crush.

 

*~*~*~

 

It would be way easier to believe that if Sans would put something over his tank top.

“Aren’t you cold,” you asked as you sat in the living room, lacing up your shoes. Sans looked your way, raising a brow. Undyne snorted slightly from where she sat. You shot her a glare before looking back towards Sans. “I mean. It’s still absolutely freezing outside, but you’re sitting here in a tanktop.”

Sans shrugged, smiling lackadaisically. “nah, i’m good. skeletons don’t usually feel the cold, unless it’s really bad out.” He eyed you curiously. “‘sides, you’re one to speak. you wore a tanktop all last night.”

“It was way hotter in the kitchen than it is now, in my defense.” You straightened up, looking towards Papyrus as he walked in, carrying Sans’s jacket. He was definitely wearing a different outfit than yesterday, a green sweater this time around, his red scarf wrapped around his neck as always. He looked so Christmasy already. Your brows furrowed. “Did you guys pack overnight or something?”

“OH, NO! SANS JUST POPPED HOME LAST NIGHT AND GOT ME CLOTHING FOR TODAY.”

You pouted, glancing Sans’s way. “You didn't grab anything for me?”

“nah. unless you really want me diggin’ through your personals?”

You rubbed your neck. “Eh, we’re roommates. Privacy doesn't exist anymore.” You stood, stretching. “It's about that time, huh?”

“IF WHAT YOU ARE REFERING TO IS THE TIME TO GO HOME, THEN YES!” Papyrus glanced over to where Undyne and Alphys were snuggling. “COME ON YOU TWO! THE GREAT PAPYRUS REQUIRES HUGS BEFORE WE PART!”

“One hug, comin’ your way! NGYAH!” Papyrus shouted (you assumed in joy, but also possibly in pain) as Undyne tackled him to the ground. You shook your head at the display as they grappled with each other.

Alphys walked over to you and Sans, looking at him nervously. “I-I just wanted to let you know t-that the offer still stands, Sans.” Oh? What was this all about?

“i know it does, alph. still not interested.”

She sighed, fidgeting with her fingers. “A-Are you really positive? Y-You know so much a-about the CORE already a-and-”

“answer’s still no. sorry.” Sans shrugged, looking at you both, pulling you into the conversation. “i used to be sciencey. now i’m just happy to be security.”

Alphys nodded, pushing up her glasses. “I-If you’re sure, then. Just k-know there's always a place for you on Ebott.”

“thanks, alph.” Sans looked over at the two tussling warriors on the ground as Toriel walked into the room. You definitely noted that his eyes flickered over to Tori. “c’mon, you two. we should get goating.”

Toriel snickered lightly. Both Papyrus and Undyne stopped their fight to groan. “SANS. WHY MUST YOU ALWAYS DISAPPOINT ME IN FRONT OF THE QUEEN.”

“It is fine, Papyrus. I very much enjoy these puns.” She giggled softly, causing Sans to beam. God, his cheeks were starting to turn blue again. He was absolutely (adorable) ridiculous. Toriel looked towards you. “I do hope you will visit us here. Frisk is so very excited to meet another human who is friends with monsters.”

You stood, smiling. “I would love to hang out anytime! You guys know how to contact me, and I'm literally always free. Maybe we could get together for Christmas?”

“Christmas?” Toriel tilted her head softly, obviously confused. “What is that?”

 

You blinked.

… “You’re kidding.”

“I am afraid not,” she said, looking somewhat embarrassed. She sighed, straightening slightly. “Is this another one of the human holidays?” You nodded. She shut her eyes, obviously holding back on some frustration. “I believe I know what I will be doing today.”

“Oh?”

She opened them again and you could see the very thinly veiled anger behind her eyes. “I will be going to the school board and asking them to kindly inform me of all of the human holidays they have neglected to explain to me.” You suppressed a shiver at her voice. She shook her head. “I have only had my school for 2 months now and they are still keeping me out of the loop.”

You frowned, sighing. “We’ll get there one day. One day, we’ll be able to live without… this.”

Toriel smiled warmly at you, the icy anger in her disappearing. “You are kind to say so, child.” For some reason, you couldn’t correct her on calling you a child - it just felt… natural. “Until that day, I will simply continue to learn all I can. Lord knows, there is more to learn!” She giggled softly.

Papyrus stood abruptly, causing Undyne to stand as well. “WE REALLY SHOULD GET GOING! SANS HAS WORK TONIGHT, AND I WAS GOING TO GO TO THE STORE TODAY!” You smiled - only Papyrus would be so enthusiastic about grocery shopping. “ARE YOU BOTH READY TO GO?”

“sure thing, paps.” Sans walked over to him, holding up his arms. Papyrus looked deadpan before dropping the jacket on Sans’s head. You couldn’t help but snort as Sans just put down his arms, standing with a jacket over his face. Goddamn it, these two were absolute dorks.

 

You said goodbye to everyone, walking back with Sans and Papyrus. You got the feeling that Sans would normally have just popped home with that teleporting of his, but Papyrus was so excited about Thanksgiving and “THIS NEW HOLIDAY CALLED CHRISTMAS” that he still knew nothing about. He wouldn’t stop talking about it. The admiration on Sans’s face was easy to read. You guessed a short walk in the cold was worth it for Papyrus’s enthusiasm.

It really was a short walk. You arrived home - and, well, it really was ‘home’ now, wasn’t it - and Papyrus fumbled with the keys lightly before unlocking the door. You all wandered in easily.

You took a deep breath as Sans went to his bedroom and Papyrus ran over to his own room. You sat on the couch, relaxing for a minute. It had been a busy day yesterday.

The silence began to kick in a few seconds later. This place was… way more empty than Toriel’s had been. Tori’s place had been filled with this overwhelming sense of family. You’d felt it from everyone, your own family and everyone else all wrapped together in the feeling. It was weird to be away from that feeling now.

But then Papyrus ran back into the room, a piece of paper in his hands. “HUMAN! WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO TO THE STORE WITH ME? I KNOW YOU ENJOY COOKING AND IT WILL BE NICE TO HAVE SOME NEW MEALS IF YOU KNOW ANY. YOU CAN HELP ME FIND NEW INGREDIENTS!”

You smiled.

“I’d be happy to.”

 

Yep. Home sweet home.

Chapter Text

Grocery shopping with Papyrus was an adventure. You honestly had no idea that there were so many different types of pasta noodles. You didn’t buy much - despite the boys having more money than you did, they still didn’t have much, and wasting money on frivolous shit wasn’t going to get anyone anywhere. It seemed Papyrus adhered to the shopping rule of buying for the week. You knew how much money you saved from doing that and you definitely supported that idea, chatting about dinner and lunch ideas for the week. Papyrus seemed thrilled with the amount of pasta you mentioned.

You definitely caught some looks from other shoppers at the store. And employees. Literally, every human seemed to look at you guys - you had to admit, you were quite the pair. Some of the sideways glances were definitely those of disgust; you noted a suburban white mom with a toddler in her cart muttering about ‘filthy creatures’. Rude.

You had half a mind to walk over to her and rip her a new one - but, one, you were in public with kids around, and, two, you were with Paps. Not that he wasn't an adult or anything, but you didn't want to make a bad impression on him when you felt like family already. No sense letting her hate infect you. You moved on, just regretting her fucked up view of reality.

Besides - there were also other types of stares. A little girl watched you both in awe. You were fairly certain that if she wasn’t clinging to her father’s leg, she would’ve ran over to talk to Papyrus. You glanced up at him; he didn't seem to notice the secret admirer. You tapped his arm. “Hey, Paps?”

“YES, HUMAN?”

“Why don't we go say hi to that little girl over there?” Papyrus looked around and his eyes fell on the girl. She hid a bit behind her father’s leg, but she kept her eyes on Papyrus. “She's been watching you while we walked around.”

Papyrus’s face lit up. “MAYBE SHE WANTS AN AUTOGRAPH!” You chuckled, both at the idea and at the volume he said it. Clearly, Paps had never learned about inside voices. “LET’S GO!” He quickly made his way over to the girl and her father, leaving you to follow with the cart.

The father definitely seemed wary when you walked over. You passed that off as him being worried about strangers coming to talk to him. No sense assuming the worst. The girl, on the other hand, came out from behind her father, looking straight up to to see Papyrus. Her jaw had dropped and her eyes were wide. “Woah…”

“HELLO THERE, SMALL HUMAN!” His voice was just a hair quieter, but not by much. “MY FRIEND SAW YOU WATCHING ME AND WE WANTED TO SAY HI!”

The man seemed surprised. “Oh, she was staring at you? I-I’m sorry, she's just a kid-”

“DO NOT BE SORRY!” Papyrus stood tall, looking somewhat elegant… somehow. You had never described someone in a sweater and skinny jeans as ‘elegant’ before, but somehow, Paps fit the bill. Maybe it was the scarf. “AFTER ALL, IT IS HARD NOT TO STARE AT THE GREAT PAPYRUS!”

You knelt down to the girl, smiling softly. “Hey there.” You held out a hand and introduced yourself. She stared at your hand before looking up at her father questioningly. Her father hesitated, but smiled and nodded. Evidently, he trusted you now, or at least enough to shake his daughter's hand. She smiled brightly and shook your hand vigorously. “What's your name?”

“My name’s Sydney,” she said. Her voice was a bit soft, but she was definitely getting more confident.

“It's nice to meet you, Sydney.” You pointed up at Papyrus. “This guy is The Great Papyrus. He used to work for the Royal Guard underground.” You’d heard the details from Undyne at dinner the other night - the sentries were subsects of the Royal Guard.

“A royal guard?” She gaped at Papyrus, who was getting a light blush on his cheeks - orange, you noted. Different from Sans’s. Maybe because of their magic? Did Papyrus have different magic? “That’s so cool!”

“NYEH HEH! WHY, THANK YOU, HUMAN. WOULD YOU LIKE AN AUTOGRAPH?”

She gasped, bouncing up and down, her hair buns bouncing with her. “Yes! Yesyesyes!” Papyrus beamed and pulled a piece of paper out of his notebook - he’d insisted on bringing it because it had the grocery list on it. He immediately began scribbling down his name.

You stood up again, glancing at the father. He definitely seemed more relaxed. He held out his hand towards you with a small smile. “I’m Derek. Derek Washington. Sorry for the cold reception, just… It’s been a rough month.”

You laughed, shaking his hand. “I get that. Holiday season takes a lot out of everyone, and it’s not over yet.”

Derek’s smile grew as he took his hand back. “Syd has always loved skeletons. Her favorite movie is Nightmare before Christmas. I should've known when I saw your friend that she would want to chat.” You nodded, glancing back at Papyrus and the girl. She was bouncing up and down, talking a mile a minute now that she was confident. Papyrus seemed thrilled. “Thanks for indulging her.”

“It's our pleasure, really. It's… sorta nice to find someone who admires him instead of hates him.”

Derek winced lightly, rubbing his neck. “Yeah… I have to admit, when monsters first arrived, I wasn't in the right mindset. I was scared, just like everyone else. Syd made me realize how wrong it was to treat them differently based on how they look.” He grinned ruefully, a touch of shame still in his features. “Seems obvious, in hindsight. Something I never thought I would struggle with, given… y’know.” He gestured to himself, obviously referring to his skin tone.

You nodded, smiling a bit warmly, reassuringly, as you watched Sydney chatter at Papyrus. He hung on every word. “Hey, at least you can recognize it and fix it. Better than most people.”

“Definitely better than most.”

“HUMAN!” You jumped a bit as Papyrus turned to address you. "APPARENTLY THIS SMALLER HUMAN HAS BEEN TO OUR TRAINING GROUND OFTEN!” You and Derek shared an equally confused look. Papyrus pressed on, not noticing, as Sydney giggled behind a hand over her mouth. “SHE SAYS SHE HAS YET TO CONQUER THE METAL TRAINING DOME. PERHAPS ONE DAY WE CAN GO TOGETHER AND I CAN ASSIST HER EDUCATION!”

You blinked, slowly putting two and two together. “... Oooh, the park!” You shook your head with a smile, glancing at Derek, who still looked confused. “Papyrus- The park is an obstacle course for him. A way to train his body and brain.”

“What brain?” Sydney asked, very innocently.

“Sydney!” Derek looked absolutely scandalized, though he still couldn’t hold back a small, uneasy smile. You, on the other hand, couldn't help but start laughing. God, you loved kids sometimes.

“THE YOUNGER HUMAN IS RIGHT, HUMAN! I DO NOT HAVE A BRAIN. I HAVE A SKULL.” He looked at Sydney with a beaming smile. “YOU ARE VERY INTELLIGENT, SYDNEY!”

She giggled more, covering her face. “Thank you, mister Papyrus.”

Derek shook his head, looking a bit winded. You understood - that’s how you felt when you first met Papyrus. He looked between you two, a small, tired smile taking to his face. “Well.. If we end up at the park at the same time, I’m sure Syd would love to hang out.”

“HERE!” Papyrus reached out to him with a note in his hand, separate from the autograph that Sydney had stuffed in the pocket of her overalls. “THIS IS MY PHONE NUMBER! MAYBE IF YOU ARE GOING TO THE PARK YOU CAN CALL ME AND I WILL BE RIGHT OVER! I DO NOT WORK OFTEN AND AM ALWAYS READY TO ASSIST THE FURTHERING OF SOMEONE’S EDUCATION!”

Derek looked surprised and glanced at the number. “Er… Thanks.” He folded the paper and stuck it in his pocket, looking back up. “It's… nice to meet you, uh… Papyrus?” He offered up his hand. “I hope we can be friends?”

Papyrus looked suddenly a bit bashful, surprised. He shook Derek’s hand. “I WOULD BE HONORED TO BE YOUR FRIEND, HUMAN. THANK YOU.” He looked almost ready to cry.

Derek smiled warmly, taking his hand back. “We should get on our way. I’ll be sure to give you a call sometime. Maybe tonight so you can save my contact information, alright?”

“GOODIE! OTHERWISE I MIGHT HAVE TO CALL EVERY NUMBER SEQUENTIALLY UNTIL I FIND YOURS, AND TRUST ME, THAT TAKES A LONG TIME.” You can never tell when Paps is being serious or not. Sadly, you get the impression he really had tried.

Derek smiled. “Alright. Me and Sydney gotta go get cereal next. Have a good day, alright you two?”

“OF COURSE!”

“You too,” you said with a smile. “It was nice to meet you, Sydney.”

“It was a pleasure meeting you too,” she said in a practiced manner, rocking on her heels as she does. “Daddy, can we go now? I wanna get my puffy puffs!”

He laughed, smiling. “Alright, alright, puffy puffs, here we come.” He nodded one last time to you before heading away.

Sydney followed at his heels. You could hear her as you headed towards the register area: “Daddy, that was a real skeleman! Do you think there's more? Daddy, do you think my movie is real?”

 

You couldn't help but chuckle. “We just made that girl’s day, Paps.” You glanced up at him, but he didn't respond. He looked like he was in his own little happy world, judging from the dazed smile. “Paps?”

“HE IS MY FRIEND.”

“Yeah?”

“... I’M NOT USED TO THOSE.”

You raised your brows. Papyrus of all people wasn't used to friends? “Why not? Didn't you have friends underground?”

He looked a bit embarrassed. “ER… NO. MONSTERS… THEY WERE NOT ADVANCED ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND MY SPLENDOR,” he said confidently. “UNDERGROUND, THEY COULD NOT UNDERSTAND HOW SPECIAL I WAS. I DID NOT HAVE THE SPACE TO BE PROPERLY INCREDIBLE.”

Suddenly, you understood. You were keenly aware of what Papyrus was talking about. You'd heard it from your mom enough when you were just a little kid. “They're just not smart enough to understand how special you are,” and "you're just unique". Stuff like that. But you knew what it really meant.

They don't like you because you're different.

Papyrus was definitely different. He was kind to a fault, innocent, naive. He thought through things very literally, and he clearly was an optimist, more so than anyone you'd ever known. You guess that would take getting used to. You'd just always been someone who could make friends with anyone if they were willing to do the same.

You patted Papyrus on the back, smiling sympathetically. “Well, now you've got another friend. And you've got me too, Paps. And I’m not going anywhere.” He sniffed lightly, looking ridiculously happy. Did skeletons cry? You’d seen his eyes get watery over hot sauce before, but… you didn't know. But you didn't really wanna find out, happy tears or not. “C’mon. Let's go check out.”

“YES! WE SHALL BUY OUR ITEMS AND HAVE A GRAND FEAST OF SANDWICHES WHEN WE GET HOME!” Papyrus shouted happily, then began to race to the checkout lines. You beamed and followed.

 

The poor cashier wasn't really ready for someone like Papyrus. His hands straight up trembled when ringing up your items. You smiled as sympathetically as you could; Papyrus, a tall skeleton with a loud voice, did sometimes scare people, you supposed, at least until they got to know him. Then, it was impossible in your eyes not to adore the man.

Even if he was a bit special.

You got the shopping done without further incident, much to your relief. You might be a bit paranoid, but you had it in your head that you had to protect Papyrus - and Sans, but Sans could protect himself. You already knew that Sans would protect himself, but Papyrus couldn’t hurt a fly, you had no doubt. If anyone tried to hurt him, you would take the brunt of it. They deserved it.

You got back home and helped unpack the groceries. You ate sandwiches. You helped clean the house, joking around with Papyrus, enjoying yourself immensely. Sans got out of the bedroom, not really to help much, but to embrace the feeling. You cooked dinner (simple pasta and chicken that made Papyrus squeal in delight) and ate. Sans cracked jokes, Papyrus groaned, and you… You felt pretty good, laughing and just… enjoying this. You didn’t often enjoy cleaning with your roommates or hanging out or socializing - it had been fun sometimes, hanging out with Alicia, but that had fallen to the wayside by the end.

But with Papyrus and Sans, there was just this feeling of… of home. You knew you couldn’t shake it, and you didn’t want to anymore. You were enjoying yourself and damn it, you were… going to enjoy it? You laughed about the thought. You couldn't stop using that word.

You guess it had just been a long time since it was applicable.

 

That night, Sans had to work again - you actually remembered, much to your surprise. You looked up from the sink where you were washing dinner dishes as he stepped in, seeing him dressed in a… Oh that was definitely a security guard’s outfit.

That should not be attractive. Fuck.

A black sweater over a white collar shirt, a black tie and belt, and long pants over dress shoes. He shifted his tie uncomfortably. Something about the suit and tie look didn’t suit (heh) him, but something about it definitely suited you.

Yikes.

You cleared your throat, tugging your headphones out of your ear, letting the music you were listening to fade to the background. “Going to work?”

“yeah. damn, do these things ever feel comfortable?”

“Not in my experience.”

“wear many ties?” He said it with a bit of a smirk.

“More than you’d think.” You chuckled. Yeesh. Too many church services. You could practically feel the fabric around your throat as you thought about it. Ties were not great.

“yeah, well, it would be tie-riffic if I could take this thing off my neck.”

You rolled your eyes. “Sans. That was awful.”

knot like you could do better,” he said with a smirk. You groaned, but couldn't resist a smile. Sans glanced back into the living room. “paps!”

Papyrus walked in from the living room, picking Sans up in a hug immediately. “HAVE A GOOD TIME AT WORK TONIGHT, SANS!” Papyrus had already changed into his pajamas, which was of course a giant onesie, because of course Papyrus would wear that. It had little sheep in nightcaps on it. He also had a nightcap on himself - you’d only ever seen those on rich people’s heads in movies. It looked pretty ratty, though. “DO NOT FALL ASLEEP AT YOUR DESK!”

“no worries, paps. the only thing i’ll be catching tonight is bad guys, not z’s.” He winks.

“GOOD! NYEH HEH, I AM GLAD YOU ARE GETTING A WORK ETHIC!” He set Sans down, beaming at you both. “I WILL NOW GO TO MY ROOM TO SLEEP. TOMORROW IS SATURDAY, MEANING WE ARE ALL FREE! WE SHOULD CALL MY NEW FRIEND FROM THE STORE AND SEE IF SHE WANTS TO TRAIN!”

“we’ll see, paps.” Sans had already been filled in by Papyrus about Derek and Sydney over the course of the day. He’d been shouting about it the instant he’d walked in. “syd might be a bit busy tomorrow.”

“ALL TOO TRUE, SANS!” He hummed thoughtfully. “WELL. THAT IS WHY I GAVE THE TALL HUMAN MY NUMBER! WHEN THEY ARE READY TO HANG OUT WITH THE GREAT PAPYRUS, THEY WILL CALL!”

“Course they will, Papyrus,” you said, smiling a bit. Personally, you had a little less hope about that, but who knew - Derek had been hesitant, but seemed to realize the error of his ways fairly quickly. Maybe he would actually try reaching out, at least for his daughter. “Now come on, we don’t want Sans to be late.”

“not like it’s a long walk.” He grins and steps into the living room. “see you boys tomorrow.”

“GOODNIGHT SANS!”

“See you, Sans!” He stepped out of view. You glanced at Papyrus. “Shortcut?”

“SHORTCUT!” Papyrus beamed. “NOW, THAT IS ENOUGH CLEANING HUMAN! IT IS LATE! YOU SHOULD GO TO BED!”

You laughed and let Papyrus convince you to sleep. You really didn’t need to wash anymore dishes tonight. You dried off your hands, changed into your pajamas (ah, yes, the infamous sweatpants/ratty t-shirt combo), hugged Papyrus goodnight, and went to Sans’s room.

 

These 6 days had been odd, you thought to yourself as you got into a bed that was slowly becoming yours. It hadn’t even been a full week… But wow. You really liked this guys. Like liked one of them, your brain reminded you. Like an ass.

But that was besides the point. You liked them both as friends too. Sans was hilarious, vaguely depressed at times (that much was getting more and more obvious to you, a veteran of depressing times), and overall a great guy. Papyrus was a kind, brave soul that you just wanted to be around, for both of your sakes. You didn’t want to leave.

… You’d been feeling better since Tori healed your hand. You hadn’t mentioned anything, but… It didn’t take someone too long to recover from hypothermia. You’d been doing research - 2 days at most. Sure, you’d had a fever on top of everything, that made it seem worse, but…

You were better.

And you were still here.

You stared at the ceiling in the dark, sighing. You hated imposing on these guys, especially since Sans was sleeping on the couch instead of his own bed. But where else would you go? It was an unseasonable November. Snow was everywhere. It was only going to get worse as you went into December and January.

Maybe when Winter ended. When the snow melted…

Maybe you would leave then.

You yawned. It they let you stay that long… then maybe. Maybe you would stay there. You would stay right where you were… You smiled a bit as you shut your eyes, thinking back to the look on Papyrus’s face as you told him that you weren’t going anywhere.

You slept well.

Chapter Text

Time moved quickly, suddenly. It was like the universe had heard your declaration that you were staying and decided to start being normal again. Nights and days slipped by as you and the brothers spent more time together. Movie nights with Mettaton reruns, board games, card games, and hilarious stories for the whole family.

Another week passed, letting you see for sure what the brother’s schedules were. As Sans had said, he worked late - exceptionally late, you didn’t envy him - on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. You also learned that Papyrus was indeed part of a neighborhood watch… of which he was the only member. Every Thursday, he tried to walk around the neighborhood to make sure nothing was wrong. “I DIDN’T DO IT LAST THURSDAY, AS WE WERE ENJOYING A HOLIDAY AT TORIEL’S,” Papyrus explained as he got ready for his night. You weren’t sure what getting ready entailed, but it apparently involved putting on his… battle body.

You’d never seen quite an… outfit? It was more like a costume. A bulky piece of armor that looked like it was made of styrofoam, bright red boots and gloves, and his tattered red scarf. You wondered briefly why he still wore that thing when it was falling apart, but you didn’t ask. After all, how could you say anything about it when you still had your blanket from childhood?

Papyrus went out for the neighborhood watch without incident, much to your ease. You had to admit, you weren’t totally cozy with the idea of that big teddy bear walking alone at night. Sans seemed to notice immediately that night how uncomfortable and worried you were. “you alright, bud?”

“Just worried about Paps,” you said as you watched out the window. “Has he ever had trouble during the watch?”

Sans snickered lightly. “nothing more than a lost cat in a garbage can. paps wanted to keep it, but we found the owner the same night. other than that, he never found anything - this area is surprisingly void of bad guys.” You could hear the sarcasm on his voice.

“Alright, alright. I guess I’m just a bit of a worrywart.”

“you gotta learn to relax, buddy.”

“You’re one to talk,” you said with a raised brow and smirk.

Sans shrugged, shutting his eyes and lounging on the couch. He propped his legs up on your lap, fuzzy slippers directly in front of you. “i am a master at relaxing.”

“Is that right?”

There came no response from the sleeping form. You couldn’t help but laugh about that.

 

Derek called that Saturday, though sadly it wasn’t an invite to go to the park that day. Him and Sydney were out of state, and they wouldn’t be back for awhile. Less sad was Papyrus’s enthusiastic response to receiving a call from his new friends - your eardrums wouldn’t be recovering anytime soon from his shouting. Together, the two of them set up a playdate, or as Papyrus called it, a ‘training day’. It wasn’t for another week, but Paps was definitely excited for the next Saturday coming up. Sans seemed happier that night thanks to Papyrus being so happy.

 

And that night… well. You remembered what Curtis has said.

You sat up in the bed, the lamp beside you lit as you pulled up Skype. You rarely had messages anymore. Alicia had always been your main contact on there, and ever since you’d been removed from her life, she hadn’t made any efforts to reach out to you. You regretted the loss of her friendship, but you guessed that happened with high school friendships.

You saw Curtis log on a few minutes after you did and immediately went to hit the call button. A message popped up immediately. Don’t call, don’t wanna wake up blondie next to me.

Blondie? You frowned, typing back. Let me guess. One night stand?

Latest conquest.

You scrunched up your nose at that. Your brother had always had his tastes… You never really agreed with him on that one. Relationships were more than sex, which was probably why your brother had never managed to have a meaningful one. You shot back a reply. How about you go outside then so we can talk? I don’t feel like having an important talk over messages while you’re sleeping next to a hot chick.

Who said he’s a chick? Haha, I’ll be calling in a minute.

Ugh. Curtis. You looked up at the ceiling, wondering what God there was that had forced you to have a horndog brother. At least you had known from the get go that you could come out to him, what with his particular tastes - which was to say, anything that moves.

You got the call a few minutes later. Hitting ‘answer’ led you to a sight you weren’t ready for. “Jesus christ, Curtis, put on some clothing!” You kept your voice at a slightly loud whisper. No sense waking up your roommates to this horrific sight.

“I did.” He gestured to his boxers, pack of cigarettes and a lighter in hand - which you would have addressed if he weren't naked. You were definitely exaggerating about the horrible sight thing - you could only really see the top of his underwear band. Everything below that was hidden. “This is good enough for how late it is. Not like anyone around here cares about how much they have hanging out anyways.”

You rubbed your face. Welp. You were gonna have nightmares. You looked back at him and found at least something small to smile about. “I see you colored in your tat.”

He glanced down. Sure enough, the heart in the middle of his web was a deep purple, perfectly matching the soul you’d seen previously. You couldn’t see it perfectly due to Skype honestly being shit, but you’re fairly certain his chest was red from the scarring still. Or maybe his friend inside had been a little rough.

… You didn’t wanna think about that.

“Haha, yep! I thought it would be fitting.”

“You’re so fucking predictable.”

“Always.”

He put a cigarette in his mouth with practiced ease and lit it. You frowned as your attention went back to that. “Hey, I thought you were trying to quit.”

“If you wanna see your bro go cold turkey on anything, go to sleep and dream it up. I’m down to 2 a day, and 3 on the bad ones.”

“So how many is it today?”

He blew a puff of smoke into the air. You could hardly see it from the light of the fire escape he was sitting at. “I doubt you would listen if I said it was none of your business. Only two today.”

You nodded. “Fine, alright. Let’s just get talking, I’m sure you wanna return to your hunk in bed.”

You could make out Curtis’s grin, even through the faded view of the Skype video. “He passed out afterwards. Some men can’t handle me as well as others, and being a dom would wear anyone out.”

“Okay, too much information about your sex life.”

“You’re the one who commented.” He took another puff of his cig, watching the camera. “So, about what I wanted to talk about.” He eyed you seriously. “Your soul.” You winced visibly. He sighed. “I know, touchy subject. How’re you feeling?”

You paused to really think about it, watching the headlights of a car pass over your brother on the screen. Part of you wanted to hesitate to tell him how you really felt, just because that’s how you’d always been - but this was Curtis. He was sort of the biggest part of your life, of your real life, the one you didn’t like to talk about. He was your confidant.

You owed him the truth, after all these years.

“To be honest? I’m… completely normal.”

“Seriously?” He didn’t seem to believe you. That was understandable, you guessed. Most people who realized their entire existence was hanging by a literal thread probably wouldn’t be as chill.

“Seriously,” you responded. It felt odd to admit that, but it was the truth. “I mean. We both know what caused that divide in my soul. Eric, my…” You hesitated. You still didn’t like talking about that out loud.

Curtis held up a hand, nodding. “I gotcha, bro.”

“Yeah,” you said gratefully. “But… That was all awhile ago. I’ve clearly been living for awhile with my soul like that. So… So it makes sense that I feel normal.” You couldn’t prevent the slight sinking feeling as you said the next words. “My normal just happens to be falling apart.”

“Hey.” Curtis frowned - a look you rarely got to see on him, at least around others. When it was just you two, his truer self came to light. “If you’re falling apart, guess I am too. You’re just more honest about it.”

“C’mon, Curt, your past-”

“My past and your past are nothing alike. Doesn’t stop me from being a depressed asshole with a penchant for distracting myself with sex.” He shrugged and you couldn’t help but sigh, at least softly. “Look. Just cause we’re different brands of fucked up doesn’t mean we aren’t both fucked up.”

“True.”

“So don’t go beating yourself up for not being totally perfect on the mental or… I dunno, magical health scale, Chip. I’m not perfect either.”

You couldn’t resist a small smile. “You know I hate that name.”

“Good. I can’t have you loving me too much.” The video stuttered a bit with lag, but you were almost positive he’d just winked. “But bro, seriously, don’t hesitate to call me if your soul shit gets too much to handle. It’s one thing for it to be normal to you, but it’s another to remember that you’re fucked up.”

He did have a point. “I’ll be sure to.”

“That’s good.” He pulled the cig out of his mouth and held it between his fingers before grinning. “So the other thing. How’s it going with the bone brothers?”

You could hear the sly question in his voice already. You rolled your eyes. “It’s going well. They’re both really great friends.”

“Aww, c’mon bro, Sans isn’t gonna be single forever-”

“Curtis, shhh!” You did not want Sans to wake up hearing that shit. That would make your life a living hell. “I like Sans as a friend. That’s all.” You hoped you sounded more convincing than you felt.

“Suuure you do.” Evidently not.

“Besides, he has his eyes on Tori, remember?” Nice attempt at a subject change there, you praised. You accepted the praise.

“Toriel?” Shit. You hadn’t shared that part. Not that it was much of a secret, what with how he joked around with the Queen. “I guess I could see that. Still, she’s not really a MILF.”

“Oh god. Curtis. I didn’t need that mental image.” Curtis shrugged unapologetically. You shook your head. “I’ll find a boyfriend in my own time. Stop trying to set me up with my roommates. You’re worse than mom.”

“Fine, fine,” he said, throwing up his hands. “I’ll let you fuck men in peace. I just hope you eventually get to actually fuck one. You sure take your sweet old time, bro.”

“Dude, I’m 22. I have plenty of time. I’m not an old bastard like you.”

“I’m only 5 years older, dipshit. Respect your elders.”

You both shared a laugh about that. God, it had been a long time since you both got to sit down and chat like this. Curtis was almost always busy with his music.

Speaking of which…

“So where are you at now?”

Another puff and a small smile. “Chicago.”

“Seriously?” You raised a brow. “Isn't that place kinda…” You grasped for a word. “... dirty?”

Curtis snorted. “Dude, Chicago is great. The music scene here is good, the hotel rooms are good-”

“And expensive,” you said with a frown.

“Yeah, well, blondie helps chip in.”

“Your ‘latest conquest’ pays for the room?”

“Mm, he does when he pays me to fuck him.”

You blinked, processing this. Curtis took another puff of his cigarette, watching your reaction with a grin. “You… wait. You're selling sex?”

“I don't advertise, but hell yeah.”

“... dude, what the fuck?”

Curtis shrugged. “I like having sex. I would've done it for free. But then I realized I could get more money if I just slutted myself out.”

“Is that legal?”

“It's not like I have a pimp or anything, I'm sure it's fine.” God, your brother was going to get arrested for prostitution. You couldn't handle that. Hadn't he just been teasing you about the same thing? About the possibility of the same thing, because you weren't a prostitute. “Seriously, Chip, I'm good.”

“Just be careful, alright?”

“Don't worry bro, I always use protection.”

You rolled your eyes, resisting a groan. “Not what I meant. Don't get in a situation there. If you get arrested, I am so telling mom that you've been selling your body on the streets. She’ll have to bail you out.”

“She'd be completely understanding and you know it.”

“I'll tell Jayden.”

His eyes narrowed slightly. “You wouldn't.”

“I can hear her teasing now. It's relentless, Curtis.”

“Fine, fine.” Curtis smiled a bit, watching you through the screen. You both fall into a short silence. Thankfully, it's a comfortable one. You let your head fall back against your pillow, relaxing a bit.

 

You and your brother - step-brother, that small voice inside you still insists, however arbitrary the term is - chatter for awhile longer. Mostly about the daily routine you have or a funny story here or there. You resist a yawn or two, whereas Curtis seems more awake the later it gets. He's never kept decent sleep schedules.

Finally, Curtis glanced at his wrist, sighing. “Well, my bare wrist is saying it's ‘bout time for me to let my bro sleep.”

“Shit, it is getting pretty late.” Nearly midnight already. You might sleep in a little… “Thanks for the call, Curt. I… forgot how nice these chats are.”

“Aww, gross, it's like you love me or some shit.” He grinned, picking up his cigarette pack and lighter. The cigarette had long since been put out.

“Yeah, yeah, bite me.”

“Is that a request?”

“Ew! Curtis, fuck, we’re brothers!” Both of you couldn't help but start laughing, especially as Curtis attempted to explain that the phrase was just habit at this point. You sighed with a smile. “Night, Curt. Sleep well, alright? And maybe consider not selling your body for room and board money? If you need anything, I swear, just fucking call me.”

“Chipper, I’m gonna be fi-”

“Mom doesn’t have the money to bail you out,” you said seriously. Curtis stopped, surprised. “That sort of shit is expensive. I’d rather spend my money keeping you out of jail than trying to spend money we don’t have to get you out after the fact. Does that make sense?”

Curtis hesitated. He sighed. “I… Sorry, Chip. I’ll stop, alright? I’ll get plenty of money from my next gig. I’ll be on the move again soon anyways, and that’s cheap for me.”

“Alright. If you’re sure.” You shook your head, rubbing your face. You were definitely getting tired. “I’m gonna head to bed now.”

“Alright. Love you, nerd.”

“You too, slut.”

You turned off Skype and shut your laptop, shifting it to the floor, under Sans’s bed. You turned off the light and settled in for sleep.

 

Curtis stared at his phone and the pack of cigs in front of him. He sighed, sorely tempted to pull another out of the pack to relax. But, no, he’d told you that he was quitting. He should hold true to that, instead of being a self-destructive asshole like always.

That’s why he pulled another out then and there and lit it. Third of the day - at least he hadn’t lied about that. He took a deep drag of it, breathing in the smoke and feeling the warmth fill his lungs; then it all came loose as he breathed out, letting the smoke billow from his nose almost before the cigarette left his lips. The warmth lingered, which was nice, given that he was starting to shiver. He should’ve worn more, but at the same time, that required effort that he couldn’t afford to use up.

He kept the routine up, letting the cycle of smoke just keep going, relaxing in the monotony. Past the building, late night cars drove past, the lights blinding him for a second each time. He blinked the spots from his eyes, sighing.

Absently, his hand strayed where it always did when he felt like this. Right to his forearm, tracing the underside softly with his fingertips. Fuck. It always happened late at night, and especially after serious talks with you. He hadn’t expected you to be so worried about him. You really didn’t have the right, with everything going on with your soul. Your life had been hell. Compared to you, he really shouldn’t be pretending his fingertips were a knife. That was just idiotic.

Made sense, given who he was.

 

“Ugh, fuck yourself, brain.” Curtis rubbed his face, taking a quick drag of his cigarette to try to get that familiar rush of nicotine. It didn’t give him that buzz anymore, unfortunately. He would need to smoke a lot more in one day to get that rush. Chain smoking for so long will do that to you.

Why was he like this? He didn’t need to be like this. Suicidal, angry at existing. He was living big, he was living his dream. Hell, the fucking he’d gotten just a few hours ago had made him damn near euphoric.

But now all he really wanted was to take a knife to his skin and bleed out on the floor.

 

But he still couldn’t do it. He’d wanted to do it since before Dad died, and his death didn’t help any. But Mom. Jayden.

You.

He had to stay around, happy, not dead, just to make sure you stayed around too.

He wasn’t gonna fucking risk it. Not after what happened between you and your dad.

 

He burnt the cigarette down to the butt, just focusing on you. Days spent with you, Jayden, Justin, Mom, and Dad. It was better to listen to happy memories than sick thoughts that made him feel suicidal. He shook his head and rubbed the embers into the step beneath him before flinging the remains into the road.

He turned and went back inside, stripping the boxers off as he did. He wanted to be comfortable for once. Never knew when happiness would come again, so might as well be comfortable until then. He got into the bed and wrapped his arms around blondie, who was still very softly sawing logs with his snores. Curtis closed his eyes, sighing.

At least he had someone to hold tonight. That always made it better.

Chapter Text

Life here finally felt normal. You’d been waiting for that to happen, and quite honestly, you hadn’t hoped it would ever happen. But, well, trying to beat Papyrus up to cook breakfast became a game for every morning. You got used to seeing Sans’s sleepy face at the breakfast table. More often than not, you went with Paps to the playground to train, playing tag in the relentless cold that was still plaguing the air as you moved into December.

Papyrus already started the decorating process for Christmas. You still remember coming back from your morning walk on Sunday, after the late night call from Curtis, only for Papyrus to immediately start darting around to gather supplies. It seemed he was fully intent on making this the, quote, “BEST FIRST EVER MONSTER CHRISTMAS”. You just shook your head and went with it, making sure to at least stay out of his way.

It really didn’t take long at all for you to join in the prep.

 

The tiny apartment really didn’t have room for the humongous tree you were used to, but the next day you went out and got a smaller one to put next to the TV. Papyrus was definitely confused as you looked at the various pines for sale. “HUMAN? WHY DO YOU PUT THESE TREES IN THE HOUSE? IS IT TO HONOR THE GYFTROTS?”

You were honestly a little scared to ask what a Gyftrot was. “No, no, not that. It’s so you have a place to put the presents.”

“OH. WE DID THE SAME IN SNOWDIN.” He paused, looking curious as you examined one tree for praying mantis. You weren’t making that mistake again. “WE USED THE TREE IN SNOWDIN TO PUT PRESENTS UNDER, AS AN APOLOGY TO THE GYFTROT FAMILY WHO WAS CONSTANTLY BEING BULLIED BY MEAN TEENAGERS. WHY DID HUMANS START USING TREES?”

You hesitated. Fuck, why were trees a thing? You knew it was originally a magical pagan thing. That’s what He always said, although you didn’t really put much faith into what he believed. “I think it started as a religious thing? It’s a very religious holiday.”

“OH? THEN… SHOULD WE NOT BE BUYING A TREE? I DO NOT WANT TO STEAL A RELIGION.”

You shrugged. “It’s all in good fun, Paps. At this point, it’s not really a religion thing anymore. Christmas is just a good time to hang out with friends, buy each other gifts, and realize that the year is almost over. It’s like… it’s like a big build up to new years.”

“NEW YEARS?”

“Jesus, you really don’t know much about human culture.” Papyrus immediately deflated a little at that. “Nono, don’t be sad about that. Just means I have that much more to teach you!” That definitely lifted his spirits back up again - you didn’t think Papyrus could be sad for long, no matter what happened. You grinned. “New Years is the end of the year. After that day, we start a new year.”

“OH! WE HAD A DAY LIKE THAT IN THE UNDERGROUND TOO, ALTHOUGH IT WAS MUCH LESS HAPPY THAT WHAT YOUR NEW YEARS SEEMS TO BE FROM HOW HAPPY YOU LOOK.” He paused. “OUR YEAR CHANGED ON THE DAY WHEN THE BARRIER WENT UP. IT WAS A REMINDER OF WHAT HAPPENED.”

“Oh.” You frowned. That… God, that sounded miserable. No wonder the underground had taken someone like Sans and spat him out as the depressed mess you saw now. Part of you wondered if he had ever been as happy as Papyrus seemed. You shook your head and forced a smile to your face, more for your benefit than anyone elses. “Well. You’re above ground now. You’re here. With me, and Derek, and Sydney, and also all of the other monsters who are freed now.”

Papyrus’s eyes widened ever so slightly and he beamed. “YES HUMAN! YOU ARE CORRECT! AND NOW THAT WE ARE FREE, I AM HAPPY TO PARTAKE OF EVERY SINGLE HUMAN TRADITION, INCLUDING BUYING A MAGIC TREE TO PUT PRESENTS UNDER!”

You laughed a bit, mostly just because of his enthusiasm. “Alright, big guy. I think this one works.” You tried to pick it up and failed, miserably. Papyrus smiled and picked it up effortlessly.

For a guy with no muscles, he sure could lift.

 

And so you had a tree in your house. It had taken some effort to get it home, but that was mostly because Papyrus was so enthusiastic and wouldn’t stop chattering away about how happy he was to take part in Christmas. You had a hard time getting the tree in while still paying attention to what he said.

In the end, you turned to Sans, who was lounging on the couch after his long night at work. “Little help, magic guy?”

Sans smirked. “lemmie lend a hand.” He lifted his hand very slowly. You half expected him to pop it off, but you were instead both relieved and surprised when the tree began to glow a soft blue color and moved over to where you had a stand set up already. You grinned and helped get the tree where it needed to go. “no thanks needed.”

“Guess I won't thank you then. Just did that for fun?”

“it was my tree-t.”

Both you and Papyrus groaned.

 

After that, the decorating began. Papyrus insisted on making the little paper chains for the ceiling that he has heard about from Frisk. You looked online to find cheap DIY things you could do for not a lot of money. You already bought a tree - no sense in buying more than you needed.

One day, though, Sans came home with a string of tree lights, tangled up and clearly used in the past. You raised a brow when you saw that. He shrugged. “work is generous. i had the cash to get them used.” You didn't trust it much, but you shrugged it off. It was Sans’s money, not yours. You just hoped Christmas wouldn't totally blow their savings. Still, he had worked hard on getting those roofs and driveways cleared.

You stood, shifting your laptop to the seat beside you and going to Sans, who was currently struggling to untangle the lights. “Here, let me. I'm an expert at untangling these.”

Sans handed them to you with a raised brow. You got to work immediately. “experience from home?”

“Mom never put the lights away properly. She just bunched them up and tossed them in the box of Christmas supplies.” Judging from the tangles, that's exactly what the previous owner of these did too. You flung a long untangled part over your shoulder, looping it around your arm to keep it out of the way.

“seems like a hassle. knot that i would try much harder in putting them away.”

“Was that a pun? It wasn't very good.”

“what can i say, i’m stringing these along as i go.” You groaned. He literally never stopped. You got another knot untangled and looped it around out of the way. “c’mon, i’m just tying to get a laugh.”

“How about you hold this and be helpful instead?” You handed him a clump. Jesus, how long was this string of lights? You kept untangling, slowly but surely getting through it.

“huh. these are lighter than I expected.”

“Oh my god that was just hideous.” Sans chuckled and you focused more on the lights than on how much you liked how that chuckle sounded. He started working on untangling too.

It was inevitable, you supposed, that Sans would pull on an end that was currently looped around you. Just as inevitable that you, being the graceful dipshit you are, would lose your balance immediately and stumble into him.

He caught you and pulled you back up straight. You glanced at him and smiled sheepishly. He grinned.

And the lights came on.

You both looked at them as they started to flash on and off lightly like twinkling stars. Papyrus beamed from the outlet where he had plugged them in with the other loose end you had freed. “LOOKIE! THEY LOOK SO PRETTY!”

Oh god. You and Sans were currently tied up in ridiculously pretty Christmas lights. You urged yourself not to blush. Fuck. Were you? Or was that just the heat of the red light next to your cheek? You couldn’t tell. Fuck. Could he feel your heart trying to hammer its way out of your chest?

Fuck.

 

Sans looked at you and smirked, his eyes shutting ever so slightly. “hey buddy?”

“Yeah?” You licked your lips, hearing the gospel choir sing hallelujah in your mind as you managed not to stammer.

“i think i’m really taking a shine to this whole christmas thing.”

You blinked and started laughing. Papyrus groaned. Sans beamed.

Well. At least your heart stopped pounding, you thought with a smile.

 

Untangling yourselves didn't take long. Untangling the rest of the lights didn't take very long either. On the whole, the longest part of the process was the puns Sans kept cracking, which made everything feel longer and more painful. You had to admit, you didn't mind them as much as you let on. You got the feeling Papyrus didn't either.

Still, it's hell to listen to only puns all day. You turned on the TV, searching through the meager amount of channels - it wasn't like they could afford a high-end cable company with 1000 channels after all.

Lo and behold, though, your tradition held true. You laughed when you found it. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“what is it?” Sans asked, obscured by the tree as he worked on wrapping the lights around.

“They're actually playing it! Every single year, without fail, why is it every year when I decorate-” You turned it on, of course. It was tradition. You managed to catch it right near the start. You mouthed along the words as the supervisor said them - “If this isn't an insanely beautiful woman, I’m hanging up.”

You beamed as it continued. Sans moved to glance at the TV. “what movie is this? christmas one?”

“To me it is.” You glances at him. “To everyone else, it's just a little thing called Independance Day.”

It was a weird and stupid tradition, you knew, and explained when you saw Sans’s confused face. Way back when you were just a little kid, right around age 8, Mom had needed to put on some background noise while she and your Father… well.

You needed background noise. And so she turned on the TV, the kind with 1000 channels but with nothing to watch. It was Christmas time, and you were just trying to decorate the tree in front of the enormous window, filling it with lights and ornaments that probably cost more than his outfit at the time. But none of the movies appealed and Mom needed to deal with your Father, and so she left the first movie she saw on the screen.

Independence Day. Will Smith, kicking some serious alien ass with a nerdy yet oddly attractive Jeff Goldblum. Granted, little kid you didn't think that, but you were still thrilled seeing alien ships getting destroyed. When Mom came back about an hour later to help you decorate, she laughed about the movie and fixed the mistakes you made on the tree. And that should have been the end of the story.

But the next year, when everything started to get worse, when you were 9 and Jayden was only a little 6 year old, God… When everything started going downhill, Mom saw Independence Day on the TV again and turned it on. Independence Day became your security blanket. You could turn the TV all the way up and decorate with your little sister while Mom dealt with Father. And Mom would come back, always, right before the movie ended, or at least in time to hear the president’s speech.

Every year it was the same. Even when you were 15 and living with Dad and Mom instead, that first year… God, he was still Eric to you then. But you all lived with him: you, Jayden, Mom, Curtis, and Justin. And your Mom had gone straight to the TV and turned on that movie, because every year, it was inevitably on the day you chose to decorate. It was like the universe made it so you had that safety blanket. No matter what happened, you had that tradition. Justin had been confused, but Eric and Curtis both loved it. And so it had stayed, all these years.

You didn't say all of that to Sans, of course. “It’s tradition,” you said. “We watch this every year, me and my family, every year when we decorate.”

That was enough for Sans. And so you decorated, the awkwardness from the lights having faded as you just let the nostalgia of home fill you. You were in much higher spirits. Sans definitely noticed. Far from questioning it, he actually played along and kept cracking jokes and puns, now with more energy and with worse wordplay. To his delight, you actually joined in with some of your own.

Papyrus dashed about, occasionally groaning at your jokes and puns, but more often than not remarking on facts about Christmas that he and Frisk had discussed. “I CANNOT WAIT FOR SANTA TO COME,” he said as he hung the paper chains.

That one caught your attention as you tussled with the tinsel. “Wait, Monsters know about Santa?”

Sans immediately beamed. “heh. big guy’s been getting gifts from ‘santa’ every year.”

Papyrus nodded, shutting his eyes and holding up a finger. “SANTA IS VERY BUSY, BUT HE VISITS EVERYONE AT CHRISTMAS TIME! THAT INCLUDES EVERYONE UNDERGROUND. SANTA CLAUS IS A VERY GOOD AND MAGICAL MAN.”

Sans winked to you behind Papyrus’s back. You smiled. Was this a thing with all monsters? Or just Papyrus? “That’s incredible, Paps. Did you get gifts from Santa every year?”

He laughed. “AS THOUGH THE GREAT PAPYRUS WOULD BE BAD ENOUGH THAT SANTA DID NOT GIVE ME PRESENTS! I AM ALWAYS A GOOD PERSON YEAR ROUND!” His eyes lit up with sparkles. You still had no idea why his magic did that - or at least, what you assumed was his magic. Maybe that was just Papyrus’s special flair. “I REMEMBER THE YEAR THAT SANTA GAVE ME ALL OF MY ACTION FIGURES! I DID NOT EVEN HAVE TO ASK HIM TO GET THEM!”

“Oh?” You glanced at Sans again with a knowing smile. “Well, did you tell Sans about wanting them?”

“YES, HUMAN! I DID IN FACT TELL SANS HOW I VERY MUCH HOPED THAT SANTA WOULD BRING ME ACTION FIGURES!”

“Well, Santa has eyes and ears everywhere. Maybe he heard you tell Sans.” You made sure to say that quickly, before Sans got the idea that you were going to shatter the illusion of Santa for Papyrus. Like you would do that to the innocent skeleton. If you could, you were going to make sure Papyrus knew with 100% certainty that Santa was very much so real until either you or he died.

… Okay that suddenly got a little bit depressing.

But nonetheless. Papyrus beamed. “YOU MUST BE RIGHT, HUMAN! HMM. I MUST BE QUIETER ABOUT WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS THEN IF I AM TO POSE ANY CHALLENGE TO SANTA!”

“Challenge?”

“WHY, OF COURSE, HUMAN! I AM TOLD SANTA VERY MUCH ENJOYS PUZZLES. I WILL PUZZLE HIM YET! NYEH HEH HEH!” Humming a Christmas carol, Papyrus went back to hanging up the chains. You shook your head with a smile. What a lovable goofball.

 

Eventually, you all took a break, sitting and watching the end of Independence Day. You quoted the president’s speech silently, mouthing the words along with him. You heard Sans snicker next to you but you didn’t care. It was a good speech.

You watched as the aliens shot up Earth. Papyrus seemed very invested in Smith and Goldblum surviving, practically bouncing in his seat when the ship got stuck. He seemed even more concerned when the missiles were gone. “HOW WILL THEY STOP THE EVIL ALIENS FROM HURTING THE HUMANS?”

Sorry I’m late, Mr. President!” You watched as Russell, good old Russell, flew onto the screen to save the day. You bit your lip, not sure how Papyrus was gonna handle this. Sans seemed to recognize your sudden tension.

You watched as the missile jammed. Papyrus seemed nervous.

Do me a favor. Tell my children… I love them very much.

Papyrus gasped, holding his mouth in surprise.

Alright you alien assholes! In the words of my generation… Up yours!

“WHY IS HE FLYING INTO THE DEATH MACHINE?!”

You patted Pap’s leg as you watched Russell fly into the ship. “Hello boys! I’m back!

You all watched in silence as the movie continued. The aliens were defeated. Will and Jeff made it out safe. Miguel was proud of his absent father for saving the day. Will Smith got the girl. “Didn’t I promise you fireworks?” You couldn’t help but smile, albeit a little sadly, at the screen.

And the credits began to roll. You glanced at Papyrus, who was very very quiet and very still. God. You’d… Well, you never forgot Russell in that movie, but you hadn’t considered how Papyrus would take a suicide mission in a movie. Seeing as you all usually watched Mettaton family-specials, you guessed he didn’t watch many serious movies. “You okay, big guy?”

“MR. RUSSELL WAS A VERY BRAVE MAN!” Papyrus frowned. “BUT I WISH THAT HE DID NOT HAVE TO DIE TO SAVE THE WORLD.”

You nodded, patting his back. “Me too, big guy. But it was just a movie. Russell is actually a big-shot movie star who has a lot of money because of this movie.”

Papyrus smiled at that. “I KNOW! AFTER ALL, AS WONDERFUL AS METTATON IS, I DO NOT THINK HE SAVED AN ENTIRE SHIP OF ORPHANS THAT WERE HIM FROM PIRATES THAT WERE ALSO HIM. THERE IS ONLY ONE METTATON, AFTER ALL! IT IS ALL JUST FANTASY!”

You laughed. You weren’t going to ask what movie that was. You didn’t want to be subjected to that. “Yeah, Paps. That’s true.”

You all went back to decorating as best you could, as well as tidying up the rest. Glancing at the time, you realized late in the day just how, well, late it was. And how little you’d had to eat. You all had grabbed snacks during the movie, but it was around 5 now and you were starving. “I’m gonna go ahead and get dinner started, guys!”

“CAN WE HAVE SPAGHETTI?”

You laughed. Ah, what the hell? “Sure thing, Papyrus!”

“GOODIE!”

You grinned and walked to the kitchen, grabbing the things to make your spaghetti. This would blow Papyrus out of the water with how good it tasted. As you started getting out ingredients and pots and pans, your mind strayed to Independence Day.

It was a weird movie to always be on at Christmas time. You weren’t sure why it was your Mom stumbled onto the tradition that still held true today. Surely, some other Mom somewhere had been looking for a movie to sit her kid in front of for an hour or so near Christmas? But you’d never heard of anyone else with that tradition.

Maybe it was just part of what made you special.

Your mind went to Papyrus. He was special. It was obvious that he took the character’s death a little hard. Looking back, you wondered why it was that little 8 year old you hadn’t given another thought to him sacrificing himself to save the world. To little 8 year old you… That just made sense.

What your father did was very brave,” the man on TV had said.

You smiled to yourself. “Bravery.”

Maybe that’s where you got it from, then. Will Smith shooting aliens.

With a shake of your head and a small, nostalgic smile - and a few faded memories of opening gifts and sipping cocoa - you got to work making dinner.

Chapter Text

“Papyrus, who made your outfit?”

Papyrus was busy trying to put on his battle body. Apparently it could be somewhat difficult to put on and off. You got the idea that it was meant to be worn as a one-time costume. Papyrus clearly thought otherwise. He looked at you once he got his head through the bulk of the outfit. “WHAT WAS THAT, HUMAN?”

“Who made your outfit?” You smiled. “I mean, you said you wore this all the time underground. It’s seen some wear, but it’s clearly well made if it’s not falling apart by now. I was just wondering who made it.”

“OH!” Papyrus beamed. “SANS MADE IT, ACTUALLY! I WANTED TO BE A REAL SENTRY.”

Sans made that? You didn’t even know if he could tie his shoes, much less sew. He usually wore slippers around the house and his old, beat up converses were usually untied. “Did he have any help making it?”

Papyrus paused, thinking as he pulled on his red boots. “HMM. I DO NOT THINK HE DID. HE MADE IT VERY QUICKLY, AND SAID HE EVEN HAD A PATTERN MADE FOR IT BEFORE I EVEN KNEW WHAT I WANTED TO BE FOR THE COSTUME PARTY!”

“Huh. That’s convenient.” You smiled. Knowing Sans and his love for Papyrus, he had probably been preparing for the eventuality when Paps would want an outfit for sentry duty. He was a decent brother. “It looks really cool,” you added.

“I KNOW! IT IS VERY COOL. IT NEEDS TO BE FOR A COOL GUY LIKE ME! NYEH HEH HEH!” Papyrus stood up quickly, bouncing in place a little. “WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO ON MY NIGHT WATCH WALK TONIGHT? IT IS VERY COLD AND SNOWING, BUT I KNOW YOU ARE FEELING A LITTLE BETTER, AND THE COLD AIR IS VERY BRISK AND CHILLY.”

He said that like it is a fun thing that is enjoyable. You grinned and shook your head. “Nah, Paps, I think I’m good chilling with Sans tonight.” Your brain briefly registered that you’d made a pun. Papyrus hasn't caught it, though, so you didn't feel the need to call it to attention. No need to ruin his night with bad puns. “You better stay safe out there, okay big guy?”

“WHY, OF COURSE, HUMAN! THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS ALWAYS CAREFUL.”

“Well,” you said teasingly, “I didn’t say to be careful. I said to be safe.”

Papyrus gasped and grabbed you into a tight hug. “WHY, YOU ARE CORRECT HUMAN. HOW AWFUL A ROOMMATE I AM FOR NOT REASSURING YOU PROPERLY.” You were already laughing, hugging the big goofball through the outfit. It was surprisingly sturdy for cloth. “WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING? THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS OVERSIGHT ON MY PART!”

You snickered. “Paps, I was joking.”

“OH.”

Both of you shared some laughs. “But seriously, big guy, stay safe out there. It’s dark out and you’re the only one out there right now keeping the streets safe.” Him and the local police force, but you weren’t about to dash his hopes of being a big-shot hero.

“OF COURSE, HUMAN. I PROMISE, THE GREAT PAPYRUS WILL BE BOTH CAREFUL AND SAFE ON HIS JOURNEY AROUND THE DEVELOPMENT! I WILL RETURN HOME AND WE WILL ALL HAVE A GOOD NIGHT!”

You nodded as he set you down. “Of course.”

You both walked out into the main area where Sans was dozing - or pretending to doze maybe - on the couch. Papyrus walked over and shook him slightly. “whazup?” the sleepy voice of Sans replied.

“I AM BEGINNING MY NIGHT WATCH FOR THE NIGHT SANS!”

“the wha?”

“MY NIGHT WATCH!”

“oh wow. that’s cool bro. when’d you start doin’ that?”

“SAAANS!” He tapped his foot on the ground. It’s odd, watching a skeleton pout. “YOU ASK ME THAT EVERY SINGLE TIME I GO OUT ON MY NIGHT WATCH!!!!”

“huh. guess i need to watch out next time and make sure i don’t say it again.”

Papyrus took a deep breath and just screamed behind his teeth softly. You snickered at the pun. “SANS. PLEAAASE. STOP WITH THESE HORRIBLE JOKES. YOU DO THIS EVERY TIME. WHY?”

His response was just a shrug. You smiled. Guess he’d used up his pun energy while decorating.

You’d used up all of your normal energy at the same task. There was a tree next to the television, all done up in lights, paper chains, ornaments you had made from trinkets (was there a sock on there???), and even some popcorn strings. You’d been disappointed when you had nothing to put on top of the tree, so Papyrus had worked hard with Sans to make a little paper star with glitter. It had been the pride and joy of all of the decorating craze.

More than that, there were more paper chains across the ceiling and little snowflakes that you and Papyrus had made together. Everything looked downright festive now. You were also planning on making cookies with Paps at some point - and by that you meant doing most of the baking yourself and teaching him. You didn't like the sounds of his “unrivaled spaghetti cookies”.

Papyrus sighed and picked Sans up in a goodbye hug. Sans chuckled softly, patting his brother on the back. “be careful, alright?”

“AND SAFE!” You resisted a snort at that.

“yeah, and safe bro.”

Papyrus set him down gently on the sofa before heading out. You sat next to Sans. Another night alone with him. “So, what now?” You asked, already feeling the creeping worry you’d felt the last time Paps went on night watch. You couldn’t help but worry. He was out there all alone… You hoped.

Oh gosh that thought did not help you in the slightest.

“now, we’re gonna watch a movie or play a game or somethin’ to get your mind off the night.”

“Huh?”

Sans chuckled. “buddy. pal. it’s obvious you’re worried about paps. you’re practically vibrating with worry right now.”

You sighed, pouting. It’s not like he was wrong, after all. Maybe vibrating was a bit of an exaggeration but like. Okay you were allowed to worry! “I doubt you were any better when he first started doing these night watch walks. Knowing you, you probably followed him around the neighborhood.”

“what? nah. i trust paps.”

Looking at that face, you knew he had done exactly as you thought. You smirked a little. “Sure thing, Mr. Space-Time Prankster. You probably blipped along the block with your magic.”

“alright, you got me,” he said with a bigger smile than before. He seemed to take a bit of pride in how much he cared about his brother. “but i don’t do it anymore. he can take care of himself, and following him exhausted me way too much.”

“But are you still worried?”

“nah. papyrus knows how to take care of himself. he’s a fantastic fighter.”

“Seriously?” I mean, he was certainly big enough, and you supposed if you were afraid of skeletons he might seem a bit intimidating - until he spoke that is. “He’s a teddy bear. I doubt he would hurt a fly.”

“he actually fought frisk pretty well. kid struggled with his blue attack a little.” He sees the frown on your face and winces slightly. “yeah... paps fought the kid down underground. almost everyone did.”

“Could you… tell me about it?”

“about... the fights?”

“Well, I mean.” You took a deep breath, sitting up more. “I really am mostly oblivious to everything around me. I knew monsters came to the surface, that Asgore was the King and Toriel was the queen. I know that monsters haven’t been on the surface for too long, and that you guys are pretty incredible with tech stuff. But beyond stuff like that? I know next to nothing about the underground. Why did you fight Frisk? How were you trapped underground?”

Sans blinked, rubbing his neck. “man, you really don’t know much about monsters, huh?”

“I tend to live under a rock,” you said, unoffended. You really didn’t know much at all.

“alright. run-down summary of life underground.” Sans cracked his knuckles. You leaned in a little, clearly interested; you’d been doing some research, but it was hard after years and years of media about monsters. “you sure you wanna hear? this is some heavy shit, and you’re already jumpy.”

Hmm… That was a pretty good question… You didn’t want the mood to come down, but you also really wanted to know. Besides - story time would help. You nodded. “If the mood drops, it’s my own fault. And hey, if you don’t wanna share, it’s fine.”

“nah. alright. first off, you gotta know the history, i guess. uuuh... asgore and tori hooked up before getting trapped underground. guess that’s where to start out.”

“What? How fucking old are they?”

Sans laughed a little. “old enough that the history books don’t remember.” Holy shit. Monsters can be that old??? “boss monsters - the type of monster those two are - don’t age until they have kids. they’ve got the strongest soul of any kinda monster.”

“Wow… So they’re basically immortal?”

“unless they have a kid.” Sans hesitated, thinking back. “that’s where the story starts, kinda. humans above ground got worried about the monsters, war started, war ended when mages - humans with magic,” Sans quickly said, cutting off your next question, “who sealed us underground by making the barrier. no one knew what the barrier was made of, but we couldn’t get through it. we figured out quick that the magic of the barrier, being made of human magic could only be crossed by human magic. meaning monsters were trapped.”

“so everyone got used to the underground, asgore and tori had a kid-”

“WHAT?”

“-and eventually a human kid fell underground and they adopted that kid.”

“Wait hold up. What? They. What?”

Sans looked back at you. “tori and asgore had a kid a long time ago. asriel, that’s the kids name. but the human kid got sick and died, and asriel… sorta… absorbed the kid’s soul.” He held up a hand at your shocked expression. “that’s a thing that monsters can do, particularly boss monsters. other monsters, like me and paps, would be able to absorb a soul for a short time, but it would be pretty messy. boss monsters have souls that last much longer. plus, uh, it’s pretty forbidden magic.”

“So… You can… just. Take my soul?” Was that why Undyne had been so uncomfortable about pulling out the souls? Was she worried about accidentally absorbing your soul?

“not easily, so no worries on that one. if you’re still alive, it’s almost impossible to absorb your soul. you would have to agree to it. but... well, if you’re dead, there’s not much to agree with.”

“Yikes. Yeah…” You thought for a few moments. You were kind of grateful Sans was taking this so casually. This was heavy. You had been warned, you supposed. “So, the kids… Did they both die?” That only made sense. Asgore and Toriel weren’t aging, after all, so that had to mean…

“yep. asriel, using the human kid’s soul, crossed the barrier in order to put them to rest above ground, like they deserved. but humans saw the monster and killed it, just like they always did.” The venom in his voice wasn’t hidden at all; you winced a bit. God, you really wished life would’ve been better for him. “that led to asgore declaring humans a threat. toriel got pissed at him for wanting to kill humans now. the line got crossed when a new human fell and asgore… asgore killed the kid.”

“Oh.” Fuck.

 

…. Fuck… You rubbed your neck.

“yeah... tori left after that - she didn’t wanna live with a guy who killed innocent children, and… he didn’t stop there.” Sans saw the shock in your face. “yeah... he ended up killin’ 6 kids. see, for a monster to cross the barrier, you needed one human soul. but if the barrier was made with seven human souls… only seven could break it down.”

Sans yawned, stretching. You shook your head, trying to comprehend that the same bun-haired softie you’d met had… done that. You were reeling. “anyways. asgore declared war, killed some kids, and frisk was the seventh kid to fall. instead of getting killed, they befriended every single monster they met even when we tried to kill them, and then somehow, someway, this kid broke down the barrier. we’ve got no idea how. the six souls were all gone afterwards, though.”

“....... Wow.” You needed to collect your thoughts. Holy shit that was a lot. Asgore was a murderer of children, Toriel used to have a kid, and the ambassador had single-handedly taken down the barrier. “How… How the fuck is the government dealing with Asgore?”

“huh?”

“I know humans. They’re going to be hung up on his body count for years.” Jesus he killed 6 kids what the absolute fuck?

He sighs. “yeah... it’s definitely been making things harder. frisk helped out a lot by reminding them just how many people are dying every day in wars between humans. it’s… excusable to the humans if there’s a good enough reason.”

“Ugh.” You felt a little sick, now at humans as well as at Asgore.

“it helped that asgore brought the bodies back for the humans. a few of their families even spoke out and accepted monsters openly. in the end, the humans will sometimes mention it as a barb and as a way to argue against an idea for peace, but it’s gotten better in recent months.”

“That’s… good.” Ish. Jesus… “I never really consider… Or at least, I don’t consider enough just what all monsters go through. God. Sometimes, I really fucking hate humans.” They were making everything horrible. Asgore never would have killed those kids if humans hadn’t killed his first. You definitely didn’t agree with what he did, or forgive it, but you also didn’t agree with what your species had done.

“hey. don’t diss my roommate like that.” You looked back at him. He smiled softly back at you. “you’re a pretty great human, buddy. you make paps feel great, you treat monsters better than you even treat yourself, and you care pretty damn hard. don’t beat yourself up.”

You sighed and nodded. “Yeah. Yeah. Just… Other people can be huge dicks.”

“eh. lots of people can be that way.” Sans rubbed his neck softly, looking thoughtful. He did that sometimes. “i mean. i’m not real proud of some of the things that i’ve done. i’m kinda not the best guy out there.”

“You?” You found it hard to believe that Sans did anything bad. Not washed his socks in months, maybe, but that would be the worst he could do.

“yeah. i mean, what kinda guy doesn’t pay his tab and then claims that he doesn’t have one when he gets aboveground because ‘this isn’t the same establishment’?” He winked.

“Oh my god. Sans. You did not.”

“mmmmmmmmaybe.”

You snickered and just started laughing. Holy shit. Holy shit did he really what the fuck. God, what was this emotional rollercoaster tonight? “Sans, what the fuck that’s so rude?”

“yeah. but grillbz was way too kind and just let it slide.” Sans shrugged. “he’s a real great guy.”

You ran a hand through your hair, nodding. Jesus. Okay. You needed to get your head on straight. First you had been worried about Pap, then the shit with Asgore, now Sans was making you laugh… “Fuck. My head hurts.”

Sans smiled sympathetically. “guess i’m really not great at distracting people.”

“Oh no, you’re way too good at it. You just did it so much that I feel a few too many emotions at once.” You stood up, sighing. “You know what. It’s an ice cream night. Too much serious shit tonight, gotta drown that out.”

“sorry, again. here.” He leaned over the armrest and you could see the blue light of his eye as he arched his back. He reached out his hand and you heard the freezer open, as well as the silverware drawer.

“Sans.” You bit your lip, trying not to laugh. “Sans are you seriously getting me the ice cream using magic?”

“what can i say? i mastered this technique a long time ago.” You saw the tub of ice cream float over along with a spoon. “no worries, there's not much left. you can eat straight from the container.”

You shook your head with a smile, grabbing the ice cream as it reached you. Sure enough, just enough for one more bowl. Fuck yeah. You happily dug in while Sans eyed you. “you know, you took that whole thing real well.”

You swallowed a bite of ice cream and licked your lips, thinking. “Well…. yeah. I mean.” You squirmed a little. “I'm not super okay with it. I'm still processing. But it helps having lived with you guys for awhile.”

“i guess that would help.”

“The stuff about Monster history… I get it. I've lived in this world for quite a few years and. I mean. All honesty, no filter? Human beings can be absolute shit. History is absolute shit. We’ve done horrible things… Asgore was backed into a corner, and while that doesn't make it fucking okay, I can still comprehend it.” You grabbed another bite of ice cream, humming thoughtfully. “I mean,” you mumbled through a full mouthful, “I comprehended slave trade in middle school, I think I can comprehend killing 6 kids.”

“woah what? slave trade?”

You winced. “Like I said. Humans are shit.”

Sans shook his head. “no kiddin’.”

You swallowed and looked thoughtfully at your ice cream. “As for the magic stuff and like… soul. Taking? Morphing?”

“go go power rangers,” Sans said blandly, earning a laugh from you. He seemed pleased by that.

“Yeah. Stuff like that is just the norm now. I mean… Monsters exist.” He shook his head. “In my experiences in my life? Monsters only existed in fantasy novels. Monsters and magic were an escape from this world. Now, suddenly, the world has magic. You could tell me shit like ‘oh I can travel through time so long as I eat a ham sandwich at exactly 5:05 on a wednesday’ and I'd probably believe you.”

“why a ham sandwich?”

You shrugged. “Why 5:05?” He laughed and you grinned. “It's not even that I'm gullible. I just… All my life, I’ve sort of had this idea. That maybe I could be a hero or something.”

Sans snorted. You rolled your eyes. “Alright, yeah, laugh it up. I was a kid when the idea came and I'm still a kid at heart.”

“nothin’ wrong with wantin’ to be a hero,” Sans said after a few warm chuckles. “it's a nice goal.”

“But as a kid, I wanted to have magic powers. I wanted to be able to fly and shoot energy beams and punch the bad guys into being good again.” You ate another bite, swallowing this time before speaking again. “As time went on though, I realized I wasn't going to get magic powers. No Energy Lad Signal in the sky-”

“energy lad????”

“Oh hush I was like nine. But no signals in the sky, no talking to animals, no Force, no letter from Hogwarts-”

“what's hogwarts?”

“Oh my god I need to culture you.” You shook your head. What a travesty. How did he not know Harry Potter? “You know Power Rangers but not Harry Potter?”

“hey, what we know about humans and pop culture, it all came from what you all threw away. i guess the most popular stuff didn't get tossed.”

“Oh. That actually makes sense.”

“mmmhm. though it's probably easiest to just say that i’ve been livin’ under a rock for a few years.”

You choked on your ice cream. Holy shit he never made jokes about being underground. You laughed, trying to cough the ice out of your throat. Sans laughed along.

It was a nice way to break the ice from the serious conversation.

“did you wanna hear more about the underground? fun stuff. promise.”

You smiled a little, relaxing. You weren't quite as worried about Papyrus anymore. You were still scared but… You also did want to relax. Paps could take care of himself, he’d been doing this since monsters came above ground. “Yeah. I think I'd like that.”

He beams. “good, cause i get the feeling you’d love to hear how i had 3 different sentry stations and an illegal hot dog stand that i kept running simultaneously.”

You snorted. “Tell me everything.”

 

And he did. You laughed so much at his stories of Undyne’s fury about his ability to run all of the stands. Apparently she had only let him run the hot dog stand so long as he could man 3 full-time stations. It had been a bet and she had been shocked to see he could do all of them - he never told her about his magic.

He also told you about how Papyrus fought for his right to be in the Royal Guard, staying outside of Undyne’s house all night just to speak with her. How he trained Papyrus himself (that was surprising) and how Papyrus was a natural born protector with his magic, but not as good at fighting given his kindness (not at all surprising). He told you all about Christmas and how Asgore dressed as Santa (hence why Papyrus still believed in Santa Claus) and how ‘Sansta’ (you snorted) had given Papyrus plenty of action figures.

“what about you? christmas with curtis sounds like hell.”

Your smile fell, just ever so slightly. “Actually? Christmas with Curtis - everyone really - has always been good.”

“really?” Sans rose a brow - how, you’re still not sure, since skeletons didn’t have eyebrows, but hey whatever, magic just worked like that. “i’d figure he would make a habit of gifting you sex toys.”

“He did. Still does, actually, though it’s mostly gag gi-” You stopped and turned a little red as Sans clearly tried not to laugh at the slip. “Oh my god that was the worst pun.”

“the worst ones are always the best ones,” he said, finally breaking down with laughs after saying that. You couldn’t help but laugh along. Sans shook his head with a wide smile. “so uh. he has a habit of gifting gag gifts huh?”

“Y. Yeah.” You licked your lips to try and calm your smile down. “He at least waiting to give them to me in private. I regifted them and gave them to him for his birthdays. Not like I had much use for them.”

Sans chuckles warmly and looked away from you. “but other than that, you’ve had good christmases?”

You thought about it briefly.

……….. It had gotten a lot better after everything was settled and Mom was married to Eric. That wasn’t right, it wasn’t pretty, but somehow it was better. Presents wrapped in newspaper, a dinner that consisted of Chinese food that was on sale because they were low on business. Eric playing his guitar, clearly not Mariah Carey singing what she wanted for Christmas or whatever.

But it was so, so much better than it was before Eric came into your life.

“Yeah. I’ve had some good Christmases.”

Sans smiled warmly at you and yawned. “i’m glad t’hear it. life underground may’ve been tough, but… i dunno. i’ve always thought christmas time was real nice. it always made paps happy anyways.”

You smiled and yawned too. Shit, you were getting tired. You rubbed your face. “Speaking of the big guy, just how late does he normally stay out on these watches?”

“eh, not too late. he’s usually back by nine thirty, ten at-”

His voice cut off, breath catching as his eyes widened. You were already scrambling for your phone at the word ‘nine’. You covered your mouth as you saw what time it was.

11:16.

“papyrus.”

Chapter Text

You’d never seen Sans stand up so fast, and you were fairly certain he didn’t even bother standing. One second he was still half-reclined, albeit a little more upright than before, and then the next he was standing in the middle of the room, eye blazing a bright, frantic, crystal blue.

“stay here.”

And then he was gone.

 

You blinked, breathing out a heavy breath that had been resting in your lungs. You hadn’t realized you were holding it in the first place. You looked at where he had been laying and where he stood just a second ago before teleporting away and leaving you alone.

“... That mother-”

You didn’t finish the phrase as you stood, darting to the kitchen to grab your worn jacket from off the floor. Shit. Shit Papyrus, what had happened? “I swear to god, if he got attacked the one night I managed to convince myself he would be fine, I’m going to sue someone. I’m going to sue Jesus. Or Paul or whoever the fuck is in charge of magic skeletons getting fucking hurt on their fucking night watches.”

You tugged on the jacket, almost hurting yourself from bending your arm the wrong way in your haste. You cursed quietly and charged out the door.

 

Fuck, it was cold as Satan’s asscrack! You quickly rubbed your arms, trying to create some warmth through friction. Papyrus had mentioned it was snowing and a bit chilly, but he hadn’t mentioned just how cold it was. You blew into your hands, wishing desperately that you had gloves. It was December Fucking Seventh, why was it this cold out? You used to be lucky if it snowed on Christmas. It felt like it had been snowing since October and would snow until next October at this rate.

You huffed, seeing a little cloud puff in front of you. No time to bitch about the weather, you had two skelemen to find. You made to take a step when you paused.

… Shit the door was unlocked.

You groaned, looking around. “C’mon spare key, c’mon…” You checked under the doormat (‘PLEASED TO MEET YOU, SHOES!’ it said in cheery embroidery. Your heart panged with a need to find Paps as you read it). Nothing. There was a potted plant but it wasn’t there.

You finally thought to check above the door. Of course it was there, that’s almost where Papyrus’s eyes were. Okay you were exaggerating but fuck you forgot sometimes how tall that guy was.

You grabbed it and quickly locked the door. You had left the lights on, but you would be back soon enough. No time now, you had already wasted enough trying to find a key. You took a deep, chilling breath, and started to run.

“PAPYRUS!!!”

 

You kept a steady pace, looking along the rows of houses and apartments alike. There were street lights along the sidewalks - not that they did too much to help. The snow was thick, and there were still alleys between some of the houses, places where people stored undesirable things. Trash, the containers for trash, sometimes racoons.

Monsters, to some people.

You walked a little faster, blocking out the bad thoughts alongside the memories.

 

*~*~*~

 

“Young man!”

 

Your heart beat too fast for your chest. It was breaking your ribs, you knew it, it had to be breaking your ribs for how fast it was beating. The cold was dragging you down, stinging your face because your face was already wet with snot and tears. Your legs burned, aching, telling you plainly that they couldn’t run anymore. You forced them too anyways, trying to cover up your sobbing. Thankfully, the snow around you was muffling the sounds of your tears.

You knew he was close though. You didn’t want him to find you. You knew what would happen if he found you. So you kept going, trying desperately to find some place to hide.

It didn’t take too long. You lived in a house, not an apartment where ‘those’ people lived, sure, but alleys were everywhere, especially here in the French Quarter. You ducked into one, right beside a really really smelly dumpster. Rotting food and who knew what else. You choked down the smell - it was worth it if it meant escape.

You hunkered down next to it, shivering, trembling. You hadn’t been able to grab your jacket before you ran. You had been too scared. He had been drinking again. He had stared you down as you stood there, shaking, in front of the door, in just your long sleeved shirt and long, comfy pajama pants. They had Superman on them.

Superman was really bad at keeping you warm, you were realizing.

You wanted Mom, you thought as you wiped your nose on your sleeve, sniffling and whimpering softly against your will. You had gotten good at being quiet, but right now, you just couldn’t. You were tired. It was a school night and definitely past your curfew - though, with this much snow, maybe school would be cancelled.

You heard snow crunching under a heavy boot nearby. Snow shoes. He had waited to follow you.

 

You covered your mouth, trying to keep your breathing quiet. Everything was blurry and your face stung. You trembled, trying not to make a sound.

Stay hidden. Stay safe.

You shut your eyes tightly.

If you couldn’t see him, maybe he wasn’t there.

 

Crunch. Crunch.

You curled into yourself more, whimpering.

There was a heavy sigh in front of you. You refused to open your eyes, knees drawn up to cover your face. You didn’t want him seeing you sobbing like this. He always told you men didn’t cry.

“Goodness. What am I supposed to do with you?”

You curled up tighter, trying not to shiver. No weakness. You had to be strong for Mom.

“Hiding next to this noxious thing.” The clicking of a familiar tongue. “You didn’t have to run away, young man. Why did you run?”

“I. I-I- don’t- I mean-” Your brain wasn’t working. Why didn’t it want to work with your mouth?? “I-I- you. I was- was scared so. I.”

He grabbed you by the collar of your shirt. You couldn’t help it, you yelped in surprise. He slapped you and you immediately shut up. He had trained you to do that by now. “I’ve told you time and time again, speak clearly when spoken to, and don’t shout in public. Now, it’s almost Christmas time. You shouldn’t be shouting, worrying poor people in their homes.”

“Y-Y-” You swallowed. Speak clearly when spoken to. “Yes sir.”

“Good man.” He set you down, grabbing ahold of your wrist in a vice like grip. To your credit, you didn’t make a sound. “Let’s get you home. If you want to hide, you can do so in the attic with your textbooks. Come on.”

As he dragged you home, you think you still would have preferred to be by the dumpster. But you didn’t voice this complaint. You knew better. You were a whole 10 years old now. You knew how to behave.

It took you a full year before you realized you had stopped crying.

 

*~*~*~

 

You kept moving, cupping your hands. “PAPYRUS!!”

There was no answer, of course. You hadn't expected one - that would be too easy. Searching for a missing person could never be as easy as shouting for them, especially when they could be purposely hiding. What if Paps was hiding from someone, someone he couldn't fight? Of course he wasn't going to speak up.

You hoped he was fine. That he just couldn't hear you and had just lost track of time. But he probably wasn't fine. Life wasn't so kind as to leave someone innocent like Paps out of the crossfire of the war it liked to wage.

You had been innocent, once. You eventually had good Christmases. You eventually had a loving dad who wasn't an absolute piece of shit wife and child beater.

But you had spent the majority of your life wishing you had been found by someone kind, someone good, someone calm and patient with the crying 10 year old kid. Instead of him. Instead of someone angry, furious really, and ready to lock a child in an attic for the next 3 years of his life.

 

All you had wanted was to be found by someone good. Someone who wasn't angry. Someone who wasn't ready to kill.

 

You had to give Papyrus the same chance.

 

And if Papyrus was hurt, and the idiot who hurt him was still there? You were dead positive that Sans would not be the person you had wanted all those years ago. You were certain Sans would be on the warpath.

 

“PAPYRUS!!!”

 

*~*~*~

 

Another flash of blue lit up the street, only to disappear again a moment later. Most that night thought it was headlights from passing cars (though one child was certain it was Santa’s elves who had started looking for late-year naughty listers). None of them guessed it was a skeleton monster on a rampage.

A million thoughts were going through his head, none of them helping the situation. What if he’d been attacked? What if he’d used magic? What if he’d been cornered by multiple people?

What if he was gone?

Sans shook his head. No. No, this wasn't his dreams. He wasn't going to find a scarf buried in snow and dust. He was going to find his brother, alive, trying futilely to coax a cat out of a tree. A brother who must've forgotten his phone, definitely, that's why he hadn't called to say he was running late.

He appeared again between to houses, gazing down the thin break between them. Unwittingly, he was doing the same thing as you, thinking the same thing as you: if someone wanted to hide, or someone was hiding something they saw as undesirable? It would end up here.

Nothing.

 

He groaned, taking a deep breath before shutting his eyes and focusing. In this dark, with the snow and lack of a decent moon thanks to the clouds, his sight would obviously betray him.

But his magic wouldn't. Not in this case.

He could see them. Not as accurately as he would in a battle, not with stats and numbers to define what he saw, but he still saw them. Little dim lights dotted the block. All rainbows of colors, all different hues. Reds, oranges, muted blues and purples, colors he didn’t even know what to call, what trait made them up. Soul research had been fairly limited. He didn’t know all of the colors, just the ones of the original kids who had fallen.

He focused. Monsters, while they had white souls, still held faint traces of a magical color, or in some cases when the soul was in a transition period, more than one color. They always had an aura. Tori was a gorgeous green, beautiful and caring. Asgore was orange nowadays, brave to his core. Undyne was closer to seafoam than green, but her kindness couldn’t be debated. Alphys was a bright yellow, trying to find justice for situations. He himself was a crystal cool blue, patience. He would always wait for the right moment to strike.

But for Papyrus, most people assumed he would have an orange aura, like Asgore. Facing impossible odds, he still strived to do what he thought was best, acting and reacting as best he could. No doubt he was brave - and Sans would never dispute that fact. But that wasn’t what color his soul was. He might be brave, but there was something everyone forgot.

He was honest. He was loyal. He was completely certain in his actions, in what was right, and he didn’t fight to be brave - he fought for what was right and sound, what was true to him. Papyrus had always had a deep, dark blue, so unlike his personality, but that dark color suited him more than anyone could comprehend.

Sans had never worked it out, never worked out why his bodies magic took on an orange aura, why it seemed like orange on the surface. While he searched for Papyrus’s soul, he knew he was looking for an odd mix of blue and orange. He never knew why it was both colors, always, but he also knew he hadn’t always been the pale blue everyone saw either. He remembered days in that judgement hall, where he had used dark blue magic just like his brother, where the lights in his eyes had burned, not blue, but yellow as well.

But it didn’t matter. He and his brother were unique, sure.

All the more reason to find him and get him home safe.

He breathed and focused, and sure enough, nearby, there was a flickering light. Blue and orange, mixed together, dim but alive, beating.

His eye blazed a frozen blue and, in another flash, he was gone.

 

*~*~*~

 

You were running as best you could with the snow. And, so, you were walking as quickly as you could. Running really didn’t work with slush. You had already fallen once. Thankfully, the snow had helped soften your fall. You had gotten back up quickly. You had a job to do and you were going to do it - Papyrus needed you.

You pulled out your phone, fumbling a bit with it but catching it in both hands. Your fingers felt numb. You breathed on your phone and hands to try and warm them up before hitting the button to check the time.

11:43.

“Fuck, Papyrus.” You looked around, trying to walk as fast as you could, safely. You glanced down another alleyway, trying to see. It was hard to see anything, but you could make out an open dumpster - smelled like shit - and the street beyond where the street light was clearly blown. You were about to pass the alley when you saw something move at the end, where it reached a different street. There was the form of something shifting on the ground, something far too big to be a racoon.

“Papyrus?”

You weren’t an idiot. Alleyways and dark forms that you can’t make out that are shifting at the end of them could be dangerous. You had your fists though, and you weren’t the helpless little kid you used to be. No, you had fists and you could fight.

You walked straight into the alley, keeping your eyes open. Imagine your surprise when you happened to see a flash of red in the dumpster.

Your eyes widened.

“Papyrus.”

The person - you could see it was a person now - shifted to sit up, groaning. You glanced down at him; his pants were pinned to the snow. By a bone. A bone that was slowly turning to dust. He spit into the snow, glaring at you. “You gonna help me up or not, kid?”

You ignored the idiot. You were more focused on Papyrus, the form that wasn’t moving, the one who was in the dumpster. Oh god. Oh god what had this man done to him?

Papyrus had a huge tear in his costume, a costume that was well built and sturdy enough to last for all these years, ages underground. His eyes were closed. His cheek had a heavy gash in it, but worst of all was his arm.

There was so much dust. So, so much dust. Everywhere, it was coating everything on him.

God his fucking arm

 

“Lemmie up, c’mon-”

“Did you do this shit?”

“What?”

You pointed at where Papyrus was still knocked out. “Did you do this to him.”

 

The man shut up. He looked between the dumpster and you before grinning, laughing softly and rubbing his neck. He seemed almost humble. “Yeah. Uh, bastard attacked me.”

“Bull. Fucking. Shit.” The man looked at you, seeming to finally understand that your tone was not one of respect. You glared down at him. That bone wouldn’t last much longer, and the snow could be moved. “You don’t have a fucking scratch on you.”

“Hey, that monster came at me-”

You felt so much rage. You picked him up by his collar, tugging up, biting back bile as you imitated exactly what He had done to you years ago. He gasped a bit, surprised. You shook your head. “He’s got a name. He’s got a family. You knifed him cause he’s a monster, didn’t you?”

He sneered. “You’re one of those monster fuckers, aren’t you? Standing up for these shits. They came up here, stole our jobs, stole our women-”

You spit in his face as he spoke. He choked, gagging on your saliva. That shut him up. He looked disgusted - good. “You piece of fucking shit. He was just trying to protect the neighborhood.” He didn’t say anything. You could see him gearing up to spit back at you. You shook your head and shoved your hand over his mouth. He could do whatever to your hand, so long as he shut the fuck up. “Now. I’m going to take this off in a second. You can spit at me or whatever you want, but I’ll tell you this.”

“I may not have magic. I may not be from underground. I may not be big, or made of bones, or able to see your soul.”

You leaned in. His eyes were widening as he slowly realized just how badly he fucked up. “But make no mistake.”

“I’m a mother fucking monster.”

 

There was a flash of blue behind you, bright and bursting, giving you a good look of the man’s face, his clothing, his currently piss soaked pants. Ugh. So that was the smell. You would’ve told him to go to a doctor or something for that, but that would’ve just ruined the mood you had just set up.

You took your hand away, holding well above his pants line. He had swallowed while you spoke. “Now. What the fuck did you do to his arm?”

“He. He- at me. With magic.”

“WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO?” You shouted in his face. The blue light was getting closer. You could just barely hear the familiar sound of crunching snow - slippers rarely made much sound on the snow.

“S-Severed it! I-I- my knife. Cut it up and I t-” He gulped. “Tore it off. S-Shit turned to dust in my hands, man, t-these freaks-”

You dropped him, turning around as the crunching stopped. You stared the grinning skeleton down, even as the fucking idiot behind you struggled to stand up in the slick snow. You understood now why that light had been so scary to you before, why you had thought of it as terrifying the first time you saw it.

The magic wasn’t the scary thing. The man was.

“Sans. Calm down.”

“i’m real calm,” he said just as calmly as he appeared. One hand was in his jacket, his stance was relaxed, his smile wide. But you could see past it all. A little under a month, and you could already start to see through the invisible cracks in that skeleton’s skull. You could see the rage he was burying under that smile, and the hatred of humans he worked hard to erase, for people like you, and Frisk. You could see how much he wanted to kill the man behind you.

You saw how he would kill the man behind you. If you let him.

You knew that look well. You still had dreams sometimes about that look.

“Sans. Papyrus needs your fucking help. Don’t waste time on this piece of shit asshole. Don’t go to jail for this… this, god, words don’t even describe how stupid you are, you piece of stinking fucking shit.” You looked back at him. “Yes, I am talking to you, you. You pimple on Satan’s teenage son.”

“what?”

“Shut up I’m tired and freezing.” The man was watching you with confusion and fear. He had managed to stand up. He glanced behind him. You rolled your eyes and stepped forward firmly, pushing him back down. He yelped and fell to the ground. “Jesus you aren’t even balanced-”

Sans looked at Papyrus and the light flared up bright. Blues mixed with yellow. “no…”

“Sans? Get him to Toriel’s. Maybe she can help.”

“that bastard-”

“I’ll handle him. I can’t go to jail as easily as you can.”

Sans watched you. You could feel the magic in the air, trembling between you. You breathed it in, shivering a little, though not from the cold this time. Actually, you felt… warm. Really warm. Warmer than you had been, at least. Normally you would be relishing this new information about his magic but…

You had bigger concerns. Your eyes flicked over to where Papyrus was lying, still completely still and eyes still closed. Arm still.

Fuck.

Arm just gone.

 

Sans cursed softly and scooped up his brother out of the trash. God, he shouldn’t have been so light, but bone. It was like that, you guessed. Sans looked back at you, grin having fallen, face showing the hatred and anger that he had kept at bay for those few moments. “... i’ll come back in 5 minutes. he’s still here? i’m kickin’ his ass.”

Without another word, Sans disappeared, taking the Papyrus, the light, and the warmth with him.

 

You swallowed and looked back at where the guy was scrambling away from you. Your eyes narrowed and you cracked your knuckles. “Fuck. You’re really an idiot, man.” You walked over and picked him up again.

He whimpered, shaking in your hands. “F-Fuck, please man, lemmie go- Got a daughter, can’t go to fuckin’ jail-”

“I’m not calling the police on you if you don’t call the police about what happened tonight. Not that I believe you have a kid. Not that I care what the fuck happens to her.” You sighed. “Now. You’re going to run. You’re going to run really fucking far away. You’re going to shape the fuck up, you’re going to see a doctor about that fucked up smell of your piss, and you’re going to stop hurting monsters. You know why?”

He looked too scared to ask. You grinned. “That’s okay. Figured you weren’t smart enough to know why already, so I had the answer prepared for you.” You set him down gently before kneeing him in the gut. He choked and you hit your head against his. He stumbled back, looking dazed. He looked you in the eyes, shivering, shaking in fear and cold combined.

“You’re going to run because there’s monsters chasing you. And you just hurt one of our own.” You leaned into him, looking him dead in the eyes, not blinking. “So, uh. What’s your name?”

“M-Mike. Michael.”

“So. Michael.” You grinned as wide as you could. Part of you felt like you were giving Sans a run for his money. The other part knew he had far more experience and practice.

Still. What you said next had the desired effect.

“Run.”

Chapter Text

True to his word, Sans showed up again in exactly 5 minutes, the light of his eye blazing that same crystal blue, brightening the entire alleyway. He seemed almost disappointed to see you alone, rubbing your arms and trying to absorb some heat from nothingness. He huffed, the light in his eyes fading in a single blink. “where’d he go?”

You breathed into your hands, sniffling. Your nose was running and your fingers had gone numb like half an hour ago. “Ran. Didn’t see which way. But he’s not gonna bother us anymore. If he does, we can get the police on him for harassment.” Maybe.

“i can find that asshole-”

“Sans.” He shut up as you glared at him – he glared right back. You sniffed again. “I’m cold. I think I have piss on my shoe. And I’m scared out of my goddamn mind about someone I think is maybe my best friend. So please, instead of caring about that shitstain with legs, can you take me to get dressed in something warm and to see Paps?”

 

During your little speech (you had been practicing it for the last 4 minutes, but 2 minutes in you mostly gave up because you were fucking freezing holy shit), Sans had softened a little. He looked away, glaring at the snow like it had personally offended him. “alright. fine. come on.”

You darted over to him, but paused before touching him. “Uuuh-”

“you don’t gotta be touching me, but it helps. it’s gonna feel weird as shit, you might throw up, you might not. i suggest shutting your eyes or you’ll definitely throw up.”

You licked your lips. Shit. You put your arms around him, hugging him tightly, feeling incredibly awkward. Normally, this would be an exciting moment, the moment you first really got to experience some cool magic for yourself. Sure, healing was neat, but this was literal teleportation, and not to mention you were wrapping your arms around the guy you had started crushing on recently. Should feel pretty sweet.

Instead, you were sick with worry, fear, and concern. Wait, were worry and concern the same thing? Well, you were worried about Papyrus and concerned about Sans so-

“hold on tight.” He grabbed you by the back of your hoodie and you felt something, this rising sensation, just like you were at the top of a rollercoaster, followed by this crackling around you, a tingling. This definitely wasn’t like silk. No, this was like an electric surge through your body, an alertness, a rush. You shut your eyes tightly on instinct, gasping a little.

You were glad you did.

 

Moments later, you were throwing up into a trash can that Alphys had thankfully provided the instant you appeared. Seems she had been warned of your arrival. “T-There there,” she said, pushing up her glasses a little as she patted your back. “S-Spatial reorganization does that to p-people sometimes.”

You groaned, hugging the trash can while plainly ignoring the contents. “Fuck… This is awful.”

She smiled sympathetically. “I-I threw up t-the first time Sans teleported me too.”

You laughed softly, followed by throwing up again. It was going to be a ridiculously long night. She shook her head. “I-It helps. Uh. I-If you don't. I mean. If- If Sans is emotionally stable.”

“S’that so?” You groaned. “Well then, I-I’ll have to try that in the future.” You shook your head and immediately regretted that. “Ugh.”

“What um. W-What happened out there?” She cleared her throat, sitting on the other side of you so she could face you. “I-I mean. We all know about P… Papyrus’s. Arm.”

You shut your eyes tightly. God, that fucking bastard. Part of you still wanted to track him down and… and do shit to him. Bad shit. But you were better than that. You had to be better than that. “The most I can work out is that the dude I found ran into him. I think he was a little tipsy, but that’s not much of an excuse. Nah, he’s just some… some bastard.”

Alphys looked down uncertainty. “And y-you just. Let him go?”

You took a deep breath, looking at her. She looked nervous to even be saying this stuff. Made sense, she was nervous about everything. But with how Undyne had been running through the house to find things for Papyrus, and how Sans still brushed everyone off without so much as a blip of concern about the fact that he still had yet to resummon his eyes and stop freaking people out, and how Frisk was still hovering nervously around the kitchen… God that dick’s actions had stirred everyone up.

“I did.” You sighed. “I let him go.”

“W-Why?? H-He. He hurt Papyrus.”

“I know, Alphys, I just. I couldn’t.” You looked away, licking your lips, trying not to get sick again as you thought about everything. “It’s. Kind of personal, but my past included. A bit of fighting. And some not fantastic times. And…” You ran a hand through your hair, shutting your eyes and trying to grab onto the words before they got away. “Beating him up would have felt really fucking good. But I’m the exact kind of person who would get tossed in jail for harassment. Gay, friend of monsters, just look at my fucking parents and family-” You cut off, wincing. God, your family. “I can’t afford to let that happen. I can’t let my desires get in the way of logic. If he ends up… I don’t know. I don’t know what to say to prove my choice was the right one. But it’s the choice I made and it’s not like I can go back and change it, so I’m gonna have to make it the right one for my own piece of mind.”

Alphys watched you as you struggled with those thoughts. You set the trash can down. “I. I think I’m good now…”

“Here.” Alphys stood and darted off into the kitchen. She started to mix something up for you.

Frisk came over, looking almost scared to come near. They held a blanket in their hands. You smiled weakly. “Hey, squirt. Thanks.” For once, they didn’t look upset about you calling them squirt. They gently put the blanket around your shoulders. They signed something to you quickly, but you shook your head. “I-I’m sorry, kid, I don’t-”

“T-They asked if Papyrus will be alright,” Alphys said from her spot in the room. Had she been watching?

You glanced at them and nodded. “I know he’s gonna be okay, physically. Your mom is a great healer, okay? You believe me on that one, right?” They nodded firmly, and you once again remembered everything Sans had told you just this night. Everything. All the war, all the fighting, all the dead kids.

Christ, Frisk could have been one of them.

“Yeah, I guess you would know just how good a healer she is…” You sighed. “Paps is gonna heal up quick. But me and you gotta be healers too.” Frisk looked confused and made a sign that you could only guess meant why or what. “See, your mom is really good at healing the physical. But I don’t think magic can really help the mental very well.”

“A-Actually, certain procedures in the magical field have been proven to assist with-” Alphys cut herself off as she glanced over, catching your stare. “W-Well. Um. H-He’s right, though, Papyrus is. Um. He’ll need help.”

“Yeah. See, losing an arm is going to make him really upset. And it was his dominant arm, so he may have some troubles doing things. And that’s going to make him feel less cool.” Frisk looked surprised and signed quickly. You glanced at Alphys.

“O-Oh! They said, but Papyrus i-is the um. C-coolest guy they know.” She stirred something into the mug she was mixing things into and came over. You glanced at it as she handed it to you. Hot chocolate.

You smiled a little. “Thanks Al.” You turned back to Frisk, who looked thoughtful. “We’re gonna need to help Papyrus feel cool, okay Frisk?”

They looked at you and nodded firmly. You could see the determination written on their face. It wasn’t much surprise to you that their soul would be a bright red that fully resonated with the meaning it symbolized. You grinned. “Yeah. We’ll make him feel real cool.”

 

As Frisk and Alphys started to talk, with Alphys signing bits and pieces to Frisk occasionally, you uneasily made your way to the king’s bedroom. You thankfully knew the way. You were still wrapped up in that warm blanket and you had the cup of cocoa in your hands. You had definitely needed it to wash the taste out of your mouth, not to mention, after being outside for so long, you really needed a warm drink. Your fingers had gone numb.

… You were gonna be so pissed if you got sick again.

The curtains were all open in Asgore’s room - and what was going to be Papyrus’s room for the night, you could only assume. It was nearly 1 in the morning by now and there was hardly any moonlight. Nonetheless, it seemed brighter in here than it had last time. It was likely from all the magic.

You glanced at Toriel, whose hands were emitting a soft green glow. Sans was right beside her, eyes trained on Papyrus. Undyne was on the other side of the bed, worriedly twisting the bedsheets in her hand from where she was sitting, not having anything else to run and grab. Papyrus was surrounded by an almost obnoxious amount of blankets and pillows – you guessed that’s what she had been grabbing.

You cleared your throat, causing Undyne and Toriel to both jump. The light faded slowly and it was a bit dimmer in the room, although you saw now the candle next to the bed was lit with a green flame. You weren't going to question it now, not when there were far more important questions to ask.

“How is he doing?” You asked softly, walking closer.

Toriel breathed out softly, crossing her arms in front of herself. “He is… He will survive, definitely. The gash in his skull will heal quickly.”

“But his fucking arm-” Undyne started to say before Toriel glared at her. She shook her head angrily, looking over at him again. She took a deep breath. God, you could tell, she was barely restraining herself from running out of this room and tracking that scumbag down. “His fucking arm won’t grow back,” Undyne said, softer this time around, but still with so much wrath and anger behind it.

“I figured,” you said softly in response. “But he’s gonna be okay-”

“No! He’s not!” Undyne turned to glare at you. Fuck. You’d been expecting this. “You had the guy who did this! You literally had him in your hands and you let him get away!”

“I wasn’t about to beat him up-”

“YOU SHOULD’VE TURNED HIM INTO THE POLICE THEN!” Undyne balled her hands into fists, standing tall and growling at you, giving you a full view of those extremely sharp teeth. “Or called one of us or let Sans-”

“Sans was going to kill him!” You shouted back, though still keeping your voice far softer than Undyne was. “I wasn’t going to let one of you take the fall for some human’s fuck up-”

“We would’ve been fine! It was self-defense!”

“Undyne, we ALL know that’s fucking BULLSHIT!” You ran a hand through your hair, taking a deep breath to try to calm down. “Whose word would they take? Mine? Yours? They would’ve looked at us all and said there wasn’t a fucking case. And if Sans had messed up with that shit? If YOU had found him? You would’ve killed that bastard.”

“No! I would’ve- I would’ve.” She groans.

“he’s right.” All of you looked over at Sans, who still wasn’t smiling, who still looked… fucking downright terrifying. “i was gonna kill that bastard.”

“Sans-”

“no, tori, i’m just bein’ honest. i’m fuckin’ pissed that he got away. i would’ve gutted that guy, he hurt my only brother. i’m terrified for what he’s gonna do after this, what innocent monster he’s gonna hurt next - if he hurt paps, of everyone, then he’s gonna hurt anyone.” Sans glanced your way and you fought down another wave of nausea, this time out of fear. Fuck. He was glaring at you, staring you down. “and you’re the one who let him go.”

You blinked and sighed. “Yeah. I am.”

Sans opened his mouth to say something (you have no idea what could follow all that), but there was a soft groan. Sans’s eyes lit up immediately and you could see the real reason there hadn’t been lights in his eyes.

He was crying. The magic from his eyes made the tears shine, bright, against his face. It had been dim enough before, but now…

“paps.”

“S-sans?” Oh fuck, his voice was… so fucking soft. That was… not great. That was really not great holy fuck. You licked your lips and tried to hold yourself together. He would be alright, you told yourself. Papyrus had to be alright.

He cleared his throat, an entirely unneeded gesture you were sure, but when he spoke, his voice still sounded soft and raspy. “W-Where am I? What happened?”

“you got hurt. don’t worry though. we found ya. we got you.”

Papyrus blinked, looking around. He smiled softly at you four, clearly exhausted, not fully there. Whatever the healing magic was, it had left him groggy, that much was clear. “Thank you...” He suddenly looked alarmed, turning to Sans and sitting up ever so slightly. “T-There was a man! I. I think he needed help-”

“He’s okay, Papyrus,” you quickly said before anyone else could chime in. “Trust me. I made sure he was okay for you.”

Papyrus beamed at you while the others stayed silent. “Thank you, human.”

“Of course.” You rubbed your neck, yawning mostly for show. “I’m gonna get some sleep, alright big guy? You should do the same. You’ve had a long night.”

“Of course, human. Sleep well…”

You turned got out of the room as fast as humanly possible. You couldn’t take the feeling in there anymore.

 

You weren’t quite sure what else to do, but you knew you needed to take a moment. You weren’t about to go outside – it was still bitterly cold out there. You made your way quickly through the dark library and into the next area. It was dark in the main entrance – the skylight was covered with snow. You sighed. “Sometimes I hate winter…”

You looked around and continued upstairs. You hadn’t spent much time at all up here. But you had seen one thing in passing. As you walked up, you saw a side room, open to the main front area. It looked like some sort of conference room, which you guessed made sense, given the fact that Toriel and Asgore probably had to have diplomatic meetings here.

But that wasn’t why you wanted to be in here. You walked forward, looking out over the snowy garden behind the house and, further back, more houses in the area. You could see Mt. Ebott in the distance, barely visible from the snowfall. The wall to wall windows gave you a perfect view.

You sank to the floor, wrapped up tightly in the blanket, the hot chocolate still in your hands, warming you as you held it. You took a deep breath, just… taking in the snow and the view and… god, just everything. Everything that had happened tonight.

Had that really been the right choice?... You didn’t know. It could easily bite you back in the ass, or fuck, some other monster. What if that guy-

No. No, it wasn’t your fault. “It was the right move,” you say softly to yourself. “It’s not what he would’ve done. So that’s the right move.” You sipped your cocoa. It… tasted really good actually. Alphys could make really good hot chocolate apparently.

God…

You weren’t ready for what came next.

You sniffed, wiping your face. Fuck, you were definitely going to cry soon. You were finally coming down from everything, all that adrenaline, and now it was all hitting you at once. Papyrus’s arm, the hatred in Undyne and Sans’s voices…

They wouldn’t get it. How could they? It’s not like you ever opened up to them, ever told them about what actually made your soul split apart like that. It’s not like you were going to tell them about the years of abuse, about the straw that finally broke Mom’s back and forced the divorce, about how that straw was you.

They couldn’t understand how much you didn’t want to be your father. How, despite the fact that you felt the need to fight, felt the need to claw your way into a spot in life, you always tried to solve things without fighting, without violence, without aggression. How you still wanted to fight, wanting to hurt people, because they did wrong things.

You had spent so long not fighting. And because of it, Jayden and Mom had taken some of that pain too, some of that violence. Jayden hid it better, or maybe she didn’t remember as much. Your mom, well, she was way too kind to fight back, she was way too kind to drop someone into that mess of her life.

And you?

You were brave. It was who you were. Who he made you be.

 

You took a deep breath.

You weren’t going to be him. You weren’t going to fight or be violent. Not if you could avoid it. You could make someone scared - even that was almost too much - but you would always, always, resolve things pacifisticly when you could, even when people didn’t understand, even when your fucking step-brother made comments about it at Thanksgiving (you were still bitter about that comment), even when… Even when you might get kicked out again. Even when you knew they were going to kick you out. Even when you knew Sans would kick you out on your ass because you didn’t do what he thought was right.

One month. Must be a new record.

 

You didn’t know when, or even if, you finished your cocoa. You didn’t remember when you fell asleep, tears still drying on your face from crying as quietly as you’d learned how.

But you did briefly remember waking up as you were moved… Fuck. Someone was carrying you?

But you felt so warm, so soft. The blanket was still wrapped around you and whoever was holding you was so warm, so so warm. You curled into them more, mumbling a soft thank you. You weren’t awake enough to ask who it was, but you worked out later that it had to be Toriel. It would make the most sense.

She carried you to Frisk’s room. The floor must’ve already changed to pink because she carried you to Frisk’s bed and tucked you in. You barely noticed. You were… ridiculously exhausted. And you just wanted this fucking day to end already.

 

You slowly drifted off to a dreamless sleep once again, some little spark in your brain reminding you that this would be the last time you got to sleep here. That, too, quieted as you fell asleep.

Chapter Text

He really didn’t want the company right now.

“I-I’m sure he’ll be fine, but I do have s-some tea-”

He really didn’t want the company right now. He wanted to be out there, stalking that bastard, hunting him down, driving a bone through his sternum slowly.

Maybe that made him wrong.

“We have to do something. Call the police-”

“Those humans would not listen to us,” Toriel said softly as she rubbed her temples. It had been a long night for her. “And there is no word but ours. The best we can do right now is help Papyrus as much as we can.”

Maybe it made him wrong to want to do that, but that man had hurt his brother. He hurt Papyrus. Sans glanced around at everyone, the edges of his vision dark without his pinpricks, the world wavering slightly. Undyne was barely holding herself together, pacing back and forth. Alphys was shaking. Toriel just looked… so tired. More tired than he was, and that was saying something.

It was all because of that guy.

The guy you let run away.

“So we MAKE them listen to us,” Undyne was shouting. “We go to the police department and-“

“it’s not worth it,” he heard himself say, before he even registered that it was his own voice. Everyone shut up immediately, looking directly at him. He sighed softly. “it’s like everyone’s sayin’, undyne. we’re monsters. he’s human. there’s no way they’d listen to our word over his. we’re shit outta luck.”

Undyne looked surprised. He supposed that made sense. He wasn’t normally the kind to back down. “But what about the human? If hewent-“

“he lives with two monsters, has no real job, and let the perp go. plus, you know just as well as i do that police wouldn’t give a shit about what he said, just cause of what he looks like, just cause who he is.” Undyne looked away, grimacing. “if we want justice, we’re gonna have to hunt that fucker down ourselves.”

“Sans.” Toriel glared at him, a firm frown in place on her face. “I cannot allow that. Tensions are high between monsters and humans.”

“higher now that paps took a hit,” he muttered darkly. “you think people are gonna just sit back once they learn that papyrus, of all monsters, got hurt? got attacked?”

“I expect them to know that is what is best for now!” Toriel shook her head, shutting her eyes tightly. “I agree with all of you, that… that man deserves to be punished for what he did! He belongs in jail, he should serve for life for attempting to kill Papyrus. I have no doubt he intended to…” She swallowed and opened her eyes, wiping away a few tears. “But we are not in a position to be able to do what we wish. There are laws-“

“who fuckin’ cares?!” Sans clenched his fists, stepping towards the table where Toriel sat. Why couldn’t she just understand? “the laws are wrong!”

“I know they are! I know better than any of you just how wrong this all is. I am in constant dealings with the humans to try to make the world a better place, and I beg you to understand that the world cannot change in one day!” She stood, walking over to Sans. He took a step back, but she grabbed him and pulled him into a hug.

He just… stood there. Accepting this.

“I know you are hurting right now, Sans. But you are letting it obscure your thinking, and with the way the world is right now, we cannot afford that.”

Alphys came over as well, Undyne close behind her. “S-She’s right,” Alphys said softly, nervously fidgeting with her claws. “W-We… We can’t just h-hunt him down. W-We can protect others as best we can, I-I already have some ideas for making P-Papyrus’s outfit more like p-proper armor-“

“And even if we can’t go to the police, I’m still the best damn captain of the royal guard,” Undyne said with a fake grin. Sans could tell she was faking it. But she was faking it for the benefit of everyone. “We’ll keep everyone safe, or I’ll die trying.”

There was a moment of silence before Sans sighed, shutting his eyes and just leaning into Toriel’s hug. “thanks.”

The tension in the room started to dissipate. Toriel breathed out in relief. “We will all do our best, Sans. Right now, our best means taking care of our own and bolstering our defenses. If you ran off to go fight, you could go to prison, or worse.” She held onto him a little bit tighter. “And that would leave Papyrus alone.”

That caused him to finally relax.

She was right.

No matter how much he wanted it, how much he needed to get that son of a fucking bitch who hurt his baby brother…

Papyrus needed him. Now, more than ever.

He couldn’t just go out on a revenge spree when his brother needed him.

Sans sighed again and looked up at Toriel with a smile on his face. Everyone relaxed almost fully – as fully as they could after the events of tonight – as they saw his eyes lit. “thanks, tor.”

“Of course, Sans. I could not have you in a bad place all night, could I? I did not want my favorite skeleton to… lose his funny bone?”

Undyne groaned immediately and Alphys sputtered out “r-really?!” even as Sans chuckled warmly. “nice one, tori.”

 

*~*~*~

 

Papyrus woke suddenly to the sound of something rustling outside the window. “H-Hello?” he said quickly, his voice wavering slightly.

No, of course he wasn’t scared. Just. Concerned. Yes, concerned, about the fact that he was not at peak performance in case it was an enemy! He was quite tired from all of that healing magic Toriel had cast on him. Not to mention…

He squirmed, using his left arm to push himself up, groaning in pain. “Who is there?” His voice was still quite soft. He found he couldn’t work up much energy to make it the great and powerful voice he had always used.

The rustling was back. He could see something moving, just barely, outside in the snow. His eyes narrowed. He had so much trouble seeing sometimes, especially in the dark.

But not even he could miss the bright yellow as it popped out of the snow, even if it didn’t have the happy smile it normally had.

He sank back into his seat, relaxing. “Oh!...” He was certain he was forgetting something, some part of him, deep down, was certain he was forgetting something. And, well, he knew that – they all didn’t remember what happened that day. But he did remember Flowey.

“Hello, friend… I hope you are not here to hurt me!”

The flower shook it’s head. It looked… sad.

“I am sorry you are sad, friend.” Papyrus smiled, yawning softly. Now that the danger had passed, he was… very tired again. He sank into his pillows again, trying to keep his eyes open. “I would like to talk about things. I have not seen you in a long time! But… I think you caught me at a bad time, nyeh heh…”

The flower struggled for a second, but it was no use – the window was locked, so it couldn’t open. It seemed to sigh, evidenced by the bit of fog on the glass when it did, alongside the frost already there.

Papyrus watched as the flower raised a leaf and drew on the window. He smiled a little.

‘Get well soon <3’.

He sighed happily and fell asleep as the flower disappeared again.

 

*~*~*~

 

Frisk had fallen asleep on the couch. “Oh my…” Toriel sighed and picked them up. “I will go ahead and take them to bed. I… I will leave Frisk’s room open, so that your roommate has a place to sleep?”

Sans nodded absentmindedly. “yeah. thanks, tori.” He had been saying that a lot tonight. He was looking over some sketches Alphys had done so far of better armor. Amazing what she could do with a sleepless night.

“Please try to sleep tonight,” Toriel said softly. “I will be heading to the school tomorrow, so I am afraid I will not be able to make breakfast…”

“we’ll be fine, tor,” Sans said, looking at her. He smiled sympathetically. “go. get some rest.”

“Very well.” She paused before walking over and giving him another soft hug, albeit an awkward one, since she had Frisk in her other arm. “Thank you for calming down. We… We were all-“

“i know.” He sighed. “i know. i just needed a bit of time.”

She smiled softly and nodded, walking upstairs, leaving him alone. Alphys and Undyne had already gone upstairs for the night, Undyne practically dragging her away. They all had work to do in the morning.

Sans, on the other hand, had all of the time in the world.

 

He ran a hand over his skull, taking a deep breath. He still wanted to go out and find the guy, but everyone was right. He just… needed to chill out.

That was really hard to do when he was still thinking about it.

 

… When they managed to get to the surface, Sans hadn’t really believed it. It had been beautiful, birds around, the smell of what they eventually learned was Spring in the air. Flowers, water in the distance, just… Everything was amazing. So of course he hadn’t really believed it.

Sans had spent the past whoever knew how long it was hearing the same exact phrase, day after day, waking up to the same day, endlessly.

Before the barrier had fallen, he didn’t have much to go on. A sense of déjà vu, nightmares that he could only sometimes remember, and the readings from his lab. He remembered working with Alphys in a few of those nightmares, or even some of the more normal seeming dreams, but nowadays she only knew him as a helper at the CORE, long ago in the past.

It had been enough, back then, to drive him mad. Remembering conversations that never happened. Helping set up a puzzle and remembering the solution from a dream. It was all just… weird. And he could never work out why, why this was happening.

And then, Frisk fell. And suddenly, the random things that happened, all good or all bad, or somewhere in between, parties that never happened --- it all stopped. And suddenly, it was just… a pattern. A set pattern of things happening.

Papyrus died, and this was the result. If Papyrus and Undyne both died, that happened. And… it happened enough that he knew what was happening, he could remember the dreams, and suddenly, all of the readings from the lab matched what was happening in his head.

It would start and stop. He would find Papyrus’s scarf, and he would wake up – and as soon as he woke up, that reading would spike, something would happen that caused a temporal anomaly.

It took him… awhile. He knew it had to be awhile, but… well, he could never really know exactly how long it had been. He was lucky enough that his father had thought to build a device that would track numerous timelines and not just reset with everything else, but unfortunately, it was still printing off the same day of things happening. He couldn’t really check the time something happened if it all happened at the same time.

But despite how long it took him, Sans still figured it out. At least, he thought he had it all figured out, before the barrier fell and Frisk told him everything. Before that, he knew it was the kid doing shit, and before that it had been that fucking flower monster that Papyrus had befriended. He knew the kid, that Frisk, was somehow resetting time, moving back and changing things, so that nobody could remember anything. He wasn’t sure why he could remember things, why he had nightmares of other timelines, but it wasn’t important. All he needed was to stop Frisk from resetting.

But he couldn’t. He saw those timelines, the ones where everything had gone wrong. He tried to befriend them, make them happy, joke around with them. It never worked.

They still hurt monsters.

 

He wasn’t sure which timelines were real at this point. Just… what that kid had done to them. But…

After the barrier fell, everything had gotten just a little bit clearer.

 

*~*~*~

 

“alright, kiddo. you wanted to talk to me. so why are we here?”

Half a month had passed.

Monsters were still confined to the Ebott area. Tents had been put up, some monsters had chosen to stay underground already, and Sans… Sans still couldn’t believe it. It would all go away soon. It always did, according to his readings.

But he would pretend. He would pretend it was all good, even if it was just because Papyrus had never been happier in his life.

He glanced at the still silent Frisk. They were in the middle of the woods surrounding Mt. Ebott, in a clearing they had found on their third day here. The perfect place for a picnic – or a private conversation. They were looking down at the grass, clearly lost in thought. “earth to frisk.” He snapped his fingers.

The sound was enough to make them jump and look at him. He filed that away – they had been jumpy ever since the barrier fell. They looked down and took a deep breath before beginning to sign.

“When I fell, I didn’t know what was happening. I was scared, but part of me just. Kept going forward. I knew I had to keep going and reach the end. I was really, really scared, and… When I first…” They paused and shook their head. “When I first went through the underground, I… I hurt Toriel.”

Sans clenched his first. How many times had he knocked to hear no response?

“She fought me,” they signed, tears starting to rise to their eyes. “And she told me that I had to prove I could survive. I was so scared and I tried to run away, but when I went back and tried to sleep, something… something happened.”

“I heard someone, while I was asleep. A voice I didn’t know. But… But it sounded so familiar. Like I had hurt it a thousand thousand times before, like… It was like a mom or dad, that’s how familiar it felt to me.” They sniffed and paused to rub their eyes. “They said I was the future of humans and monsters. That. That I had to wake up.”

“what’s this leadin’ up to, kid-“

“I’m getting there!” Sans stopped, eyeing them. They were trembling ever so slightly. “I-I had to wake up. Something made me wake up. I couldn’t sleep anymore. And so I went back downstairs and- I-I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to hurt her, she was so nice, but-“

They were crying more now. They couldn’t sign anymore because they were wiping away tears. Sans lost his smile, putting a hand on their back as they cried. “kid?... it’s okay. i. i know about the resets, about going back and redoing things.”

They shook their head and signed. The words came out haltingly, but they still came. Sans could understand them perfectly. “I hurt Mom. I killed Mom. And something in me felt proud, Sans, and I couldn’t stop it! Something felt good! But I mostly felt so so sick. And I felt like I had to go back, I had to fix this, there had to be a way to do it without fighting Mom. So…”

“I went back.”

Sans nodded. This was all stuff he knew… Not the details, sure, not how much it tore the kid up inside… But he knew this already. “so why did you keep doin’ it?”

They hiccupped a little and sniffed again. “I didn’t—I-I mean, I-I didn’t want to! But I was so scared and all of these monsters- they were all attacking me! I tried, I tried really hard, but I couldn’t figure it out on my own! But…” They sniffled. “But I kept hearing a voice.”

That was new.

“It was a different one. Not the one that spoke to me when I went to sleep. But… But they felt familiar too. They told me… things. Some stuff I couldn’t know about.”

“like what?”

They looked down. “I know things about monsters.”

“that doesn’t tell me-“

“Papyrus has 20 AT and 20 DF.” Sans’s eyes widened. How- “Mom has 80 and 80, Undyne-“

“stop there kid. how do you know stats?” As far as he knew, only Monsters could see stats. But, well, maybe… If the kid was a mage…

“I could see them, if I checked. But I didn’t know what I was seeing. I didn’t know what those numbers meant. But someone told me, someone said those numbers. Said Papyrus likes to say Nyeh Heh Heh, and I knew physical attacks would fail on a ghost even when it wasn’t combined with the body it was possessing, and-“

“slow down kid!” Sans held them as they broke down in his arms. “jeeze. what are you saying kid, that something just. spoke to you?”

“They just scared me even more!” They curled up with him, sniffling. “I-I don’t like hearing voices. I don’t like feeling crazy.”

Sans shook his head. He hadn’t known about any of this. What did it mean? Had the kid been the one resetting? Had they been possessed by something that made them able to know those things? They couldn’t have known all of that – sure, yes, about Papyrus, but humans didn’t even believe in ghosts half the time, and this kid was, well, just a kid. No way could they control magic well enough on their own to do stuff like that. The fact that they survived as long as they did was a miracle.

Or, maybe, they had a little help.

“shh. it’s okay, kiddo.” Sans gently rubbed their back, providing what little comfort her could. “i believe you, alright? i don’t think you’re crazy.”

They just stayed curled into him, trying to dry their tears quickly. “I kept hurting people out of fear. I’m bad. I hurt Papyrus and Undyne and Mom and-and-“

“it’s okay.” He hugged them tightly. “you had a lot going on. and you fixed it as best you could.”

What was he saying? Those resets had killed him, they had given him trust issues galore, he still didn’t feel safe, secure, he was going to lose this all any second! All because this fucking scared kid was the Angel of the Underground!

This fucking scared kid was sitting in his arms and sobbing. “I-I did my best. I tried so hard. T-They helped me.”

“it’s… it’s alright, Frisk,” Sans said softly, trying to process everything.

This kid wasn’t the one who did it all. Well, they had – they had hurt people. But they were young, and running away from something, only to find things that weren’t familiar. Humans… always did that. Humans always lashed out at unfamiliar things.

And, well. Monsters sort of did too, sometimes.

He had to treat this carefully, but most of all, he couldn’t lash out.

“i understand, kiddo. you were scared. but, uh, let’s keep this our little secret for now. no one else knows about the resets. wouldn’t wanna freak them out, right?”

They sniffed and nodded, wiping their face again. Sans sighed and held onto them a little less tightly. They needed a bit more space. “now… i got a few questions.”

“What?”

“do you still hear this voice? is it still here?”

They paused and shook their head. “No. T-They went away after we left the underground.” They took a deep breath. “They were there when I walked back and said goodbye to everyone, though.”

“alright. and they weren’t like a monster?”

They shrugged, sniffling. “I-I don’t know. All they said was their name, when I looked in the mirror…”

“oh?” Well. That was a lead. “what was it?”

 

“Chara.”

 

*~*~*~

 

9 months. It had been just about 9 months since the barrier fell. Almost 9 months since he learned the truth – Frisk had only learned to reset from this Chara person. They evidently still could, but they had yet to attempt something that big. There hadn’t been reason to. Lots of questioning had led to some important revelations.

For one thing, their ability to reset apparently affected the aboveground too – it was only a day that they had been underground, despite having at least weeks of knowledge in their little head. For another, Sans finally got his confirmation that Flowey, that little twerp, had been the one resetting before Frisk showed up. Which… in the end, seemed to support one general theory. Those with the soul trait of Determination, if they were determined enough, could do things that were insanely crazy – like even rewrite time.

That was terrifying.

He couldn’t ask around on leads about Chara – Frisk had asked him to keep that secret from the other monsters. He could understand that. They were scared, terrified even. He didn’t want to make things worse for them, or they might do something rash.

9 months had really settled them down. While Sans was still uncertain of his place in the world, he was a little more secure than he had been. Frisk wasn’t on the verge of doing something, and deep down, they were a really good kid. When asked why they reset, it was always for the same reason. “It wasn’t the ending we wanted.”

A monster dying, a friend dying, wasn’t what they wanted.

They only stopped when the barrier fell and when monsters were free.

 

Sans sighed, rubbing his face and leaving the plans where they were. He couldn’t stare at them anymore.

Frisk wasn’t anything like Michael. His brain was going back to those days, back underground, when the only thing he could really trust about his actions was the fact that it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, cause it would all just be reset anyways. Frisk had apologized profusely when they realized that Sans had always known about the time bullfuckery – though they worded it better. But the fact of the matter was, Frisk wasn’t like Michael, even if all he could really think about when he thought of what Frisk did was… well. Death.

He stood up, stretching. Everything would work out fine. Judging from how worked up you had been when he got there, you had really terrified the guy anyways. He hopefully wouldn’t be coming anywhere near you all. And if he did…

Well. He was gonna be there to protect Papyrus that time around. And everyone else. No one could blame him for self-defense, right? Well. They could, but…

He got away once. He wasn’t going to get away again.

 

He needed a walk. Something to stretch his mind and legs both. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoodie and looked around. Yeah, he wanted to stay away from Asgore’s rooms and that stuffy library of his. It was way too… dark. Nah, he wanted a place with a view, a place where he could see the surface and try to make himself feel like this would last.

He moved upstairs, but stopped before entering the conference room fully.

… Had you been asleep here since you left earlier? You were lying there, wrapped up tight in a blanket, an empty cup of cocoa next to you. You looked peaceful, but… well, the floor is no place to sleep.

He sighed and smiled, shaking his head with an unquestionable fondness. “dumbass. always falling asleep where you shouldn’t be asleep.”

He would’ve used magic to pick you up, but Frisk had frequently expressed concern over the electric feeling of his magic on them. That would probably just jolt you awake. Instead, he walked over and picked you up gently, groaning quietly. You certainly weren’t light, and he certainly wasn’t used to lifting things.

He carried you to Frisk’s room, which thankfully wasn’t too far. You mumbled a soft thanks, but you were definitely still asleep. He chuckled warmly and walked into Frisk’s room. Thankfully, Frisk had already turned off the security tiles, so the floor was all pink.

He carried you to the bed and tucked you in. You sighed softly and curled into the blankets. He grinned a little. He had been hoping you would be able to sleep after everything that happened today…

… God, he hadn’t helped any. He’d been pissed at you. You were the guy who let the bastard get away. He… hell, he blamed you for that, honestly, and it might be wrong, it might be fucked up, but he still did. He’d said all that shit to you back in Asgore’s room…

Man, he had fucked up big time. Sans sighed. He had to make this better. You didn’t deserve the blame. Michael did.

“sorry, bud. let’s just hope you sleep well.”

You did.

Sans certainly didn’t.

Chapter Text

You woke up at 9:30.

 

It had been a peaceful sleep. Surprising, you guessed, after everything that had happened - you had fully expected some form of nightmare or something after thinking about homelife so much, not to mention the adrenaline rush from dealing with Papyrus’s attacker.

You just laid in bed, staring at the ceiling. You didn’t really want to be awake for once. Today… Today was going to be hell. You hadn’t gotten much sleep last night anyways - 6ish hours - and you doubted anyone else had, after everything that had happened. Undyne was worked up, Sans was worked up. Alphys was… you had no idea. You couldn’t read her very well last night, but somehow, you got the feeling that she, too, had wanted you to tear the dude apart.

But Papyrus, Toriel, and Frisk were on your side. At least, Papyrus was, and you assumed Frisk and Tori. It wouldn’t have been right. You had to deal with the consequences of your actions, but you had to have faith that you had made the right move. Had you gone off on him, let your anger out, then best case scenario was getting arrested for assault. Worst case? You didn’t wanna know, shot by police on sight and monster rights being set back for years because you couldn’t control an inherited temper? That sounded right.

You sat up, groaning, holding your head. You hated waking up with a headache. You needed coffee. You got up and went to the bathroom first - the kid had one right off of their room. Nice. You got a little more freshened up (as much as you could without a toothbrush and shower, at least) and walked downstairs.

It didn’t seem that anyone else was awake. At least, it did at first glance. The living room was empty. But, then, you walked into the kitchen, only to be startled by the last person you expected to be awake at this hour.

“Sans?”

He jolted in his seat, glasses nearly falling off his skull as he did, coffee splashing his hand, though thankfully missing the papers he was holding. “shit!”

You breathed in sharply, darting over to grab a paper towel. “Shit, shit, sorry- sorry, shouldn’t’ve. Snuck up on you like that. Sorry.”

Sans took a deep breath as you walked over and started dabbing up the coffee with the towel. He rubbed under his glasses at his eyesockets. “s’okay. didn’t mean to.”

“I’m still sorry.” You cleaned it up and tossed out the paper towel, sighing. And then, the awkward air descended and you could practically choke on the tension. You nodded to his cup after a few seconds of you both avoiding the topic of last night. “Need a, uh, refill?”

“uh… yeah. thanks.” Sans looked away as you grabbed his mug, taking it to go refill. You grabbed another cup. “two sugar, one cream.”

“Uuuuh.” You glanced at him, confused.

He grinned a bit and shook his head, shutting his eyes. “just bring the sugar and creamer over.”

“Sure thing.”

You quietly got everything together, pouring yourself a cup of black and him a cup of… well it’s still black until he puts the stuff in, so two cups of black. You carried them over and set his in front of him. He poured some creamer in, and two (that’s clearly three judging from how much he scooped) spoons of sugar.

You silently sipped your coffee, sitting across from him. He looked back at the papers. You glanced at them with little interest – you were mostly trying to find something to talk about other than the elephant in the room. It looked like blueprints of some kind, but they were written in this really hard to read font. Was. Was that… wingdings? Was he reading something like it was the daily newspaper that was written in the most indecipherable font known to man?

God. Sans was even weirder than you thought. And that thought just made your heart pang a little bit because this guy was so cool and smart and interesting and just peaked your curiosity, and here you were, completely fucking it up.

You looked down. God, he was definitely going to kick you out. You were going to have to ask him to take you back and he would teleport you there and immediately leave and you would pack up all your things and never see them again. And then you would see them in, like, passing, at the grocery store, and Papyrus, sweet innocent Papyrus, would come say hi and Sans would put on that big fake smile of his and do thinly veiled threats behind a façade of happiness and—and all you wanted was to hug him right now because you had fucked up so fucking spectacularly-

“I’m sorry-“
“i’m sorry-“

You both blinked at each other.

Sans looked just as distressed as you before flushing very lightly. “i, uh… i’m… sorry.”

You shook your head. “W… Wait. You’re sorry?”

“yeah? fuck, i know i fucked up last night, taking that anger out on you when all you were doing was your best-“

“You aren’t kicking me out!?”

He looked alarmed. “what?! no!! of course not!”

You sank in your seat a little, laughing out of relief instead of humor. “Jeeesus. Fuck. Okay.” You took a deep breath, running a hand through your hair. “I… I was sorry because, well, I. I know how angry you were-“

“that was so stupid of me-“

“It was justified,” you said quickly, staring him down. He seemed surprised again. “I wanted to tear that… that jackass, racist, bigoted fucking shit-nugget-” Sans laughed and you smiled a little bit, relaxing. That was a nice sound. A normal sound. You rubbed your neck, taking a soft breath. “I… wanted to hurt him a lot. But a lot of different things held me back. I… I’m lucky I had those things to hold me back, or else I would’ve done something bad.”

“... you sure you’re not a green soul secretly?” Sans said softly.

You laughed softly, shaking your head. “No luck there. I’m brave, not kind. But don’t forget who raised me.” You looked into your coffee, remembering days with your mom. “She always tried to raise me and Jay right. To be kind souls, like her, at least metaphorically. She wouldn’t approve of me threatening him like I did.”

“you threatened him?”

“Yeah. A little.” You paused. “And his daughter, if he actually does have one. Doubt it, but you never know, sometimes pond scum reproduces.”

Sans shook his head and ran a hand over it. “i shoulda figured. i wasn’t thinking right last night, all i could think was you let him go scott free-“

“Fuck no, he needed to know he was in the wrong.”

Sans nodded softly. “he was. i just… i went off on you. i made you feel like you were the one in the wrong – not him.” You didn’t have anything to say to that, mostly because… well. It was accurate. You had been blaming yourself because you let him go, instead of focusing on the fact that he was the guy who actually hurt Paps. “i fucked up. hell, i thought you were going to ask to leave after what i did to you!”

“Seriously?”

“i wasn’t kind last night. had paps not woken up when he did, i think i would’ve made you go home to sleep, because i don’t think i wanted to be in the same house as you or anyone who defended your actions.”

Ouch. You winced. He held up a hand quickly. “let’s just be glad about the timing. that woulda been a mistake.”

“… You’re sure it would be?”

“definitely. hundred percent.” You looked at his smile. That certainly wasn’t the fake one from your daydream. “paps loves ya, for one thing. leaving now would break his heart. and… well. i can’t say i don’t like the company.”

Don’t blush don’t blush don’t blush-

“you’re good for us. i…” He rolled his eyes a bit, sighing. “i needed someone to hold me back last night, alright? and that sucks to admit but it’s true, i woulda killed that guy and not felt bad for a second.”

Jesus. No blush needed anymore. You had a crush on someone who wouldn’t hesitate to kill. Yeah, today was definitely not the day to process that. “I'm… glad I stopped you, then.”

“yeah…” Sans rubbed his neck awkwardly. “me too. i thought a lot about it last night, and… you made the right choice.”

“I'm glad you think so. I'm still not sure.” You smiled back just as awkwardly. You sipped your coffee together in silence, though now it was starting to get a bit more comfortable.

Sans didn't blame you. He thought it was the right choice. You might not be as sure about it, you were still terrified of what he might do to some other monster out there, but… you had to hold out hope. You had to believe you made the right choice.

“When do you think everyone else will be up?”

Sans paused as he took a deep drink from his coffee. He swallowed and set it down with a sigh, partly of relief. “actually, it's just us and paps. tor, undyne, and frisk are at school, and al went up to ebott for the day.”

“Oh.” You rubbed your neck. “Um… how's he doing today?”

“better. got a bit of his voice back… he's gonna heal up fine, but he's still real weak right now.”

You nodded and stood quickly. “Then I know what I've gotta do.” Sans eyed you curiously and you grinned. “Breakfast in bed.”

 

*~*~*~

 

“Alphys?”

Carry the wire to cross over the red, then loop it into connection point A, and the power should go straight to where it needs-

“Dr. Alphys?”

The green wire needs to be cut and replaced for the power in the next box to run properly-

“Alphys!!”

Alphys yelped and jumped back from the project at hand. Attempting to see if electricity could be wired up from the generator underground. It was a long shot, but they had never really tested the range before, and… well. Experiments were needed of course.

She took a deep breath, glancing at the concerned man next to her. “O-Oh. J-Justin. Nice to see you again.”

It had been awhile since Alphys had managed to come back up to the mountain. The university needed a monster professor now and then to help out, and she had just wrapped up finals. Grading had been absolute hell - and she loved it so much. And then, with Undyne working at the school, and all of the craziness of the holidays, she had just been so busy!

… Well, she had also taken a long anime break. Some days were still harder than others, and pajamas and classic shows helped.

Alphys messed with her claws, nodding to the breaker she had been working on. “I-I’ve almost got this one done, t-though I’ll need a replacement wire, one of them is frayed - t-this box wasn’t locked properly a-and the. Wires. Probably got e-exposed-”

“Alphys. There’s nothing to be nervous about.” Justin smiled warmly at her, shaking his head. “You’ve been doing a wonderful job.”

“T-Thank-”

“But.” Alphys winced, looking down. Justin’s smile began to drop. “You’re clearly a bit distracted today.”

“I-I’m doing the same amount of work-”

“That’s not what I’m talking about. You’re completely immersed in your work, but that’s the problem. You’re usually at least a little bit more social. I know you have friends here on the mountain, and almost all of them are working here too. But I haven’t seen you talk to anyone today.”

Alphys sighed, looking away. Why was this always so hard? “I-I. I-I’m going through some things right now. W-Well, I-I- I mean.”

“Alphys. It’s okay.” He walked closer, gently putting a hand on her shoulder. She felt herself beginning to tear up for what had to be the fifth time already today. “What is it? Is it Undyne?”

“I-It’s Papyrus!!” She covered her mouth immediately. It had come out much louder than she’d intended. She sniffed, taking in Justin’s surprised and immediately concerned appearance. “H-He got hurt. Really, really, impossibly bad.”

“Will… he be okay?”

“He will be, b-but. He’s. His arm- he. It’s. G-gone…” Justin’s eyes widened and he covered his mouth, clearly shocked. Alphys shook her head, already sensing the question in his eyes. “W-We. Didn’t get the man who did it. He… your brother-”

“Is he okay?!” His hands balled into fists immediately, concern in his face but a fire in his eyes. “Oh gods, if that boy ran into danger again-”

“He's fine,” Alphys quickly said, holding up her hands. “H-He was the one who found Papyrus, a-actually.” She licked her lips and gently held her tail before letting go of it quickly - she was trying to break herself of that habit. “The… The man who attacked P-Papyrus… Your brother confronted him.”

Justin nodded softly, crossing his arms slightly, holding himself. “And… He got away?”

“Y-Yes. Er. The man ran away and your brother let him go.”

Justin sighed softly, shutting his eyes. “That’s. Unfortunate. No, that’s an understatement.” He looked at her again, an overwhelming amount of compassion in his eyes. “Dr. Alphys, why are you here?”

“I-I had to get these-”

“No. You’re not well right now. You’re shook up, rightfully so, and throwing yourself into your work to avoid the emotion. And while I admit that is one type of coping mechanism - one that I disagree with as I find it to be unhealthy - I must remind you that this place isn’t for a distracted monster. I don’t want you getting hurt because you’re dwelling on some… some racist’s actions.”

Alphys flushed ever so lightly, looking down. “O-Of course. Y-You’re right, t-this w-was so stupid. I should’ve stayed home.”

Justin gently and hesitantly put his hand on her shoulder. “I’m glad you did, and I’m glad you told me what was happening. Here’s an idea. Come to the base station with me. We can stay down there and look at some paperwork together. I’ve a few things I need signed anyways, which I’m sure you can do. It’s exactly the kind of mindless work that won’t be dangerous for you.”

She smiled graciously. “Thank you, J-Justin.”

 

As they began walking, Justin pulled out his phone and began texting someone. “A replacement,” he said with a smile. “Someone else to take care of those wires. They need replaced?”

“Y-Yes. E-Exposure to the elements. A-And. I think? A few birds?” Alphys giggled a little bit.

“We can check the supplies later.”

 

They reached the base station quickly, which was thankfully void of activity. Nobody came down here unless they were leaving for the day, taking a break, or getting food or drink to bring back up - or down, depending on where they were working. Alphys was an anywhere worker, so she would work either above or underground. Some of the workers were strictly above ground. Nobody was strictly under.

Alphys sank into one of the more comfortable chairs and watched as Justin frowned at his phone. “T-Trouble?”

“Just something I’ll be taking care of. Excuse me for a moment, I need to take this.” He smiled and nodded to the papers on the desk. “Could you read through the top one? I’m having trouble comprehending it. Fresh eyes would help.”

Alphys smiled and got to work while Justin stepped outside, grateful for the opportunity to have some low-maintenance busy work. You might have some problems with Justin, but so far, Alphys hadn’t had any problems. Sure, he could be stuffy or pretentious at times - but so could Asgore. Something about Justin just clicked with her. She appreciated his company.

And his paperwork.

 

*~*~*~

 

Word spread quickly from both Mt. Ebott and from the school. People asking why Frisk looked so down. You started getting calls pretty soon. Since Sans was still not in a great place, you took over fielding questions. Lots of people who were apparently from… Snowdin? The place where Sans and Papyrus used to live, that’s right, Papyrus had mentioned it once - the residents from Snowdin called and wished the best (and to figure out what had really happened). When you told Papyrus how many people wanted to know how he was doing, he nearly cried. You were reminded again of that talk in the store you two had - he didn’t have friends. That wasn’t what he had, underground, and now… now he did.

It wasn’t too difficult to field the calls, after seeing how he reacted to them. It wore you out, but seeing him smile made your heart - or maybe your soul - feel a little lighter.

However, as you soon came to realize, you had forgotten someone in this whole mess.

 

You picked up the phone as it rang, right around 3:30. “Hello? This is Queen Toriel’s house.”

“DADDY!” You pulled away from the phone, alarmed, mostly at the volume. “Daddy!!! I found the right number!”

“... Sydney?”

“HE REMEMBERS MY NAME!”

You smiled as you heard the phone shift hands. “Hey, sorry about Syd. This is uh. Papyrus’s roommate, right?”

“Yeah.” You smiled a little more and refreshed him on your name. “How are you guys?”

“Worried. We heard about Papyrus.” How on earth- “Sydney’s got some friends at the monster school. I’m actually thinking of enrolling her soon, so long as she can behave.”

“Oh.” Yikes. Sydney heard about it first… “Is she okay? What all did she hear?”

“Well, she heard that Papyrus got into an epic fight with… what was the phrase she used. A big old doodoo head, I think.” You snorted. “Yeah. And he got really hurt and was also in a coma.”

“Almost all right. He’s not in a coma, but… yeah. He got hurt. Really, really bad.”

“Oh.”

There was a brief silence. Derek sighed. “We just got back from New York yesterday. Mind if we come down early for that playdate?”

You beamed. “I think a certain sick skeleton would really appreciate having some company.”

 

They showed up later than you expected, almost 50 minutes later. You opened the door when the bell rang to see Derek holding Sydney’s hand, while his other hand was occupied with an enormous bag of what you could only guess were toys. “Hey there, Syd!”

Sydney slunk behind her dad’s leg a little, peeking out at you. “Hi Mr. Papyrus.”

You glanced at Derek, who looked equally confused, and back at her. “I’m not Papyrus,” you said, a little bemused. “Do you not remember my name?”

She shook her head. “No! I remember it. But Daddy told me that married people take the name of the person they marry. So I thought you were Mr. Papyrus.”

 

Oh jesus you were blushing. Oh jesus. You glanced at Derek, a little stunned. He was also red. “Uh, Syd, we don’t know if Mr. Roberts here is. Married. To Papyrus.”

“I’m not.”

“Oh. Sorry, Mister.” She moved closer, bouncing on her toes a bit. “May we please come in!” She said it more like a statement she had been rehearsing rather than a question.

You answered it anyways. “Sure thing, kiddo.” She beamed a little toothy grin at you and darted in. You turned back to Derek with a soft smile. “Kids.”

He sighed. “Kids.” He smiled warmly. “Thanks for letting us come over, and sorry it took so long. She insisted that we bring all of the toys she thought he might like and some movies to watch in case he wasn’t feeling up to games.”

“He’ll love it.” You rubbed your neck. “Paps is still doing rough, though… he might not be really responsive.”

Derek frowned, taking a breath, balling his hands into fists nervously. “What… What exactly happened?...”

You'd been through this enough times today that you were starting to be numb to it. “He does a neighborhood watch to protect people. Last watch, a human pulled a knife on him. They got into a fight and… Papyrus isn't much of a fighter, really. The guy got the best of him.”

“How bad is it?”

You licked your lips. The hard part… “He got a gash on his cheek, which is healing up. But.” You shut your eyes. “He… lost his arm.”

There was silence for a little bit. You opened your eyes again to see Derek’s shocked, now significantly paler face. He looked horrified. “Some… some human actually did that?...”

“Yeah. A human did that.”

Derek shook his head. “I… wow. I can't.” He covered his mouth, taking a deep breath. “Okay. Okay. Where is he at?”

“I'll take you.” You smiled at him a little sympathetically and led him towards where you could already hear Sydney speaking loudly and cheerfully to Papyrus. How she had found her way there already, you had no idea.

 

You walked through the library and to Asgore’s room. Sydney has already dumped the few toys she had been carrying onto the bed, and Papyrus was sitting up with a wide smile on his face. Sans was nearby, watching the two with a soft grin. “Oh! Human!” Papyrus cleared his throat. He still wasn't quite up to his usual self, but… at least he seemed a little more aware today. You noted that the candle had been replaced with a new green candle, this one with a normal flame.

“Hey, Paps. I brought Derek over. He and Syd wanted to see how you were doing.”

“Hello, Derek.” Papyrus smiled, looking at Sydney. “I apologize! I am not feeling very well today. I will still try to be the best playmate, however! Nyeh heh.”

Sydney beamed. You glanced at Derek. He was focused on Papyrus’s arm completely. Or. Lack of arm. You patted his back, earning a slight jolt from him as well as a grateful smile. “I-I’m… glad you’re gonna try your best.” He smiled a little at Papyrus. “We also have some movies, if you’re not up to doing much.”

Papyrus nodded, eyes sparkling a little. Was that… There was a bit of color in his eyes, but you couldn’t quite place it. “That sounds wonderful!” Papyrus shifted slightly and reached out his hand to Sydney, who giggled and took his hand, crawling onto the enormous bed into his lap. Papyrus hugged her close, looking a little odd for a second. “Is this good?”

“Mhm! It’s a good hug.”

Papyrus beamed and hugged her a little tighter. Fuck, this was adorable. Fuck. You were grinning ear to ear. “Alright, Syd, what movie do you suggest?”

“I dunno,” she said cheerfully. “He’s prolly seen ‘em all.”

“You would be surprised. Monsters haven’t seen a lot of popular movies.” You pulled some out. Disney movies, mostly, though some dreamworks were thrown in there. All of them were animated. You grinned and held up Nightmare before Christmas. “Couldn’t resist bringing your favorite, huh?”

“Sans! This one has skeletons in it!”

“wow.”

“You aren’t even excited, are you?”

Sans snickered softly with a shrug. “not a huge fan of christmas movies.”

Sydney pouted. “It’s a halloween movie too!”

“Please, can we watch it?” A skeleton was making puppy dog eyes at you. You had no idea how he could do that, but he did that frequently, and it tore you to the core every time.

“Pleeeeeeeeeease!!!” Oh god. You were getting double teamed. Oh that was entirely unfair.

You ended up next to Papyrus. On his other side, Derek watched along. Sans came back after disappearing for a few seconds (the non-magical way) with popcorn. You shifted so he could sit in front of you. Sydney stayed in Papyrus’s lap, singing loudly and proudly along with the movie. Derek joined in now and then, and you joined in for the big This Is Halloween number. Even you knew that one, and you had rarely watched this movie as a kid.

Papyrus loved it. He was rooting for everyone, of course.

 

You glanced at Sans now and then, but things seemed better now. He seemed fine. Thoughtful, though. You would have to talk to him later and pick his skull.

Until then?

You wanted to enjoy this moment. You wanted to enjoy the fact that Papyrus was next to you. Yes, he lost his arm, but you didn’t lose him. Everyone this past day has been so… down. Depressed. But you found out a long time ago that you needed to find the silver lining.

This was your silver lining.

Nightmare before Christmas and some Barbies jabbing into your leg.

 

You were gonna take what you could get.

Chapter Text

“i’m not going.”

“Sans.” Papyrus stared him down, frowning. “You cannot skip work!”

Sans huffed, crossing his arms and… well. Pouting. You couldn’t call it anything else. Maybe skullking. Instead of sulking. Heh. “i won’t even be able to focus. i wanna be here in case you need me.”

“I am going to be here, Sans,” you chimed in, earning a glare. Yikes.

“Sans, he is right. We will be fine!”

“but what if you need healing magic-”

“We have the candles.” Oh jeeze, was THAT what those were, what the hell- “And I am sure our very helpful and strong roommate will do everything to make sure I am helped.”

“I will,” you quickly said. “And it’s not like I’m going to make him run a marathon or anything. We’ll probably eat dinner in here and then Papyrus will doze off again. He’s tired.” Papyrus nodded softly in agreement and Sans sighed. “Look, I promise, I’ll call if we need you, okay? Besides, can’t you just blip back here whenever you need?”

Sans shook his head. “i can, but that’s dangerous.”

“Why? Is it like. Your atoms could get scattered if you do it wrong or something?”

Both of the boys stared at you for a second, bewildered. “uh... no? cause if my boss happens to check in and i’m gone, i’m gonna be fired. and i kinda need the money.”

“... Oh.”

Sans shook his head, smiling a little bit begrudgingly before returning to his more serious outlook. “you’re sure you two will be fine?”

“Promise.”

“... fine. okay. just because we need christmas money.” Papyrus lit up and opened his arms for a hug. Sans held him quickly before pulling away. “i gotta get changed.” And poof. Gone.

You sighed softly and glances at Papyrus. “Alright, bud. Spaghetti?”

“Yes please!”

You smiled a little. Papyrus had started sounding better and better through the day. More himself. “I'll go make some then. You’ll be good in here?”

“Yes! Oh, but. Would you mind opening the window a bit? It is… very warm in this room.”

Hmm. Did skeletons get fevers? You didn’t think that made much sense. He was probably fine. “Sure thing, bud.” You went over and opened the window a crack. You fought back a shiver. “Sure you won't get too cold?”

“I don't have skin!”

“.... truuue.” Maybe a fever, then, because he wouldn't feel warm either. Hmm. You should ask Sans before he leaves. You smiled at Papyrus. “I’ll be back soon with dinner, alright?”

“Yes! Thank you, Human.”

You nodded and headed out. Papyrus would be fine, you had no doubt. He’d been holding together spectacularly, honestly, better than you could have ever hoped. You imagined those candles—healing magic, go figure, stored in a fucking candle, you were still so thrilled by that fact—were helping a lot. The gash on his face was a thin, tiny little scar now. It was interesting to see how bone scarred. It was just a little line, like a crack in his face, barely noticeable.

As for how he was handling the loss of his arm… Well. You couldn’t tell on that one. He hadn’t really been doing much yet. You hoped it wouldn’t hurt him too much, but you could only imagine him trying to do the things he had always loved to do… Even you had noticed his oddness with Sydney during that hug.

When had you gotten so good at noticing the little things?

 

You shook your head as you walked into the main area. You wished Asgore’s room wasn’t so isolated from everything else in the house. It made sense, though, what with the awkwardness between Toriel and Asgore… You had done a little research and evidently they had been divorced underground, but it was questionable if it carried over aboveground, as they both still retained their royal titles. Talk about seriously awkward.

You made your way to the kitchen, smiling at Toriel. She seemed to be constantly cooking or baking something. Smelled like brownies. “Hi Tori. What are the plans for dinner?”

“Oh!” She smiled at you. “Spaghetti. I assumed-“

“You assumed right.” You took a deep breath, leaning against the counter and just resting. “Thanks. Paps was asking.”

“Of course! I will have it ready soon.” She pulled the brownies out of the oven. God, you could have melted from that smell. Toriel looked back towards the table where Frisk sat, textbook open next to their worksheet. “Frisk, sweetie, how is your homework going?” They looked up and signed something back. Toriel smiled. “Very good. If you require assistance, please say, okay?” They nodded.

You couldn’t keep the smile off your face as you walked up to Sans’ bedroom. It was weird. So soon after the accident, you were already so good. Everything was normal. Domestic, even. Sure, it would take some time to get used to, but…

Tragedy usually had a bigger effect on you. You couldn’t understand why it wasn’t now.

 

You knocked on Sans’ door. “Hey, bonehead, I’ve got a question. Can I come in?”

“is that the question?” came the smartass reply.

You rolled your eyes. “Knock knock.”

“who’s there?”
“Candice.”

“candice who?”

“Candice door open or what?”

You heard a short laugh and the door opened. Sans was busy working with his tie. Again. You smiled more, beaming at him. “You’re helpless with those things.”

“mind helpin’ instead of just judging me?”

You rolled your eyes and fixed his tie, talking while you did. “I was wondering if it’s possible for skeletons to get fevers.”

“huh?”

“Paps complained about being too warm. Skeletons don’t even have skin?”

Sans frowned and nodded. “i dunno. i mean, monsters have been known t’get fevers when they’re… uh. fallin’. but paps is healthy enough that it’s not a concern.”

“So did he just… want the window open for some reason?”

Sans shrugged. “dunno. he probably was too warm. we do get cold and warm sometimes, y’know.”

“How does that even work if you don’t have skin???” Sans gave you a familiar look and you rolled your eyes. “Alright, magic, et. cetera. You don’t need to be so annoying about it.”

“i didn’t even say anythin’.”

“Oh don’t pretend you weren’t going to.”

He shrugged again, adjusting himself one last time. “how do i look?”

“Fantastic.”

He blinked and you grinned a little, internally screaming. Oh god you answered way too quickly. He chuckled a little though. “glad i got a seal of approval. i hate this stupid outfit.”

“It really suits you,” you said quickly to hide your embarrassment. It earned a laugh. Phew.

“take care of paps, alright? i’ll be back as soon as i can. call whenever, okay, if you need anythin’-“

“I’ll be fine, Sans. We both will.” Sans nodded, trying to look casual. He was failing miserably. You laughed a little. “We’ll be fine. Promise.”

“alright, alright. see yah.”

 

You blinked and he was gone.

 

*~*~*~

 

It was a very cold winter. That fact had been stuck on his mind as he shuffled home, stumbling through snowbanks that just refused to stay still. Or maybe he was just too drunk to see straight.

Ha!

He beamed, fixing his beanie a little. It was too cold not to wear it. It really completed his ragged look. Not having changed in about 5 days helped too. Eh, whatever, toss enough deodorant on and he could stave off the smell. Though the dust he’d gotten all over him the other night was getting annoying. He’d have to get a wash soon.

He grumbled as his pocket buzzed. “Fuckin’ nag.” He knew who it was. It had to be her, right? Who else ever called him, other than Joe, and Joe was at the bar he just left. He picked it up. “What is it?” he asked gruffly, looking around absently to find somewhere to piss. Toilets were too difficult for him right now, but building corners weren’t too hard.

“Daddy?”

He paused.

Ah shit, the kiddo.

“Hey sweets, Daddy’ll be home soon, okay?”

“Mommy isn’t home yet and I’m scared.”

Ugh, fuck, she must be out banging Rick or something, he thought. Bitch said she would stay with Hannah. He supposed it was lucky she forgot the cellphone at home. “Don’t worry, baby, I’ll be home real soon, okay? Just give Daddy some time to get there.”

“O-Okay.” Fuck she sounded scared. Was she still scared of the dark? He thought she got over that years ago. “I-I’m gonna hide in the bedroom. I feel really scared Daddy. It’s really dark and there’s a bunch of people shouting outside.”

Happened often. Not the greatest part of town. All they could afford on government support. Damn idiots in congress.

“I’ll be there soon sweetie. Daddy’s gonna hang up real fast so I can concentrate on getting home. Once I’m there, I’m gonna hug you tight and we can go to the bar to watch wrestling. How’s that sound?”

“Okay Daddy.” She sounded a little soothed.

He hanged up and shook his head. Piss first, then Hannah. Damn that bitch for going out, he told her to stay home. They’d have to have another talk soon. She better have used damn protection this time, they couldn’t afford an abortion.

He went into an alley and unzipped. Business needed taken care of, and this was better than nothing. He’d go home and hug his daughter. He couldn’t do much, he struggled with addiction, and no one had ever taught him that stubbornness was a bad trait. But he still gave his daughter, the little accident, the child his girlfriend had wanted to kill too late… Ugh. He gave her what he could.

He’d go home and hold her, and take her out to watch TV somewhere that had a TV. They’d leave the shouting at home to the drug addicts and gangs. He’d see if he could steal a doll for her or something from a Christmas bin. Loads of those going around these days, and what was one kid’s happiness when his own kid was hiding under a bed with how scared she was?

 

He nodded. He’d get home fast and do something right. “She’s the first right thing y’ever did,” he mumbled to himself, the words slurring. He was still too drunk to even think straight. He zipped back up and turned.

 

Hannah remained under the bed until morning, when her mother arrived. After two days, her mother, Britney, called the police. Explained her boyfriend ran out and he was supposed to be home, taking care of the little brat. Police coded it as a runaway father. Never found a body, told the lady he’d come back one day, and left a missing persons notice up in the station a week after the guy disappeared. Case closed, one of the officers said on break. The guy probably fled to a warmer place.

The other officer on break agreed. “Too fuckin’ cold this winter,” he said.

 

*~*~*~

 

“Psssssssssst.”

Papyrus hoped on the highest power he knew that his friend could hear him. “Oh please, Santa Claus, let him be there. Psssssssssssssssssssst. Flowey.” He was whispering as loudly as he dared.

Sure enough, he saw the snow budge slightly by the window. And slowly, surely, a little yellow flower slowly shifted his vines to stretch into the room.

Papyrus beamed. “Friend. I am feeling a bit better!”

Flowey looked relieved. “Thank goodness. I would’ve hated for you to get hurt, Papyrus!” He bounced a little cheerfully.

Papyrus relaxed. He was so relieved himself. He had not seen his friend in a very long time. “It is so good to see you, Flowey. I am sorry I am not in peak condition to speak with you! I…” He wasn’t sure how to finish the sentence.

Flowey glanced at Papyrus’ arm. Or, rather, where his arm used to be. “Some human did that to you,” he said softly.

Papyrus paused and nodded. “I-I was on night watch. I was not as careful as I should have been, nyeh heh…”

“I wish I could have gotten to you sooner, Papyrus. I would’ve found that human for you. He deserves to be punished.”

Papyrus squirmed a little. “Flowey? I do not want anybody to hurt that man.”

“But he got rid of your arm! He did something bad!”

Papyrus nodded a little. “But he was misguided. He thought I was evil! He even said so! He was also not alright and according to my roommate he consumed many poisons that night that intoxicated him. His brain was not alright.”

Flowey shook his head. “He still deserves to be punished. He should be a stain on the pavement-“

“Flowey-“

“Your friend made a dumb decision! We all know how humans work, Papyrus! That human find some other poor soul and hurt or kill them too! Do you want that?”

“W-Well no… But Flowey…”

Flowey frowned. “I just don’t understand… Why… Why does he get to go free when you all…” Flowey didn’t finish the sentence. Papyrus let the conversation sink into an awkward silence briefly. He gripped the sheets… The Great Papyrus was never nervous! But…

He wasn’t feeling very great just now.

“F… Flowey? May I ask you… Why you did the things you did?”

Flowey flinched a little. “What do you mean?”

“Underground. You told me many great things about how great I was. You were my only friend. But then you attacked us all. You tried to hurt Frisk very badly. And then, when the Barrier fell, you just… disappeared.” Flowey regarded this in silence. “Are… Are we not actually friends?”

“No! I mean. Yes? I mean. I am your friend Papyrus.”

Papyrus beamed. “Thank you, Flowey!”

Flowey smiled a little and gripped the bed, reaching up a little to be closer to Papyrus. “But the others just don’t understand me. You understand me. You at least talk to me. That’s all I really want, Papyrus. I just want a friend.”

“Then I am glad I can be one, Flowey.” He yawned. He hoped dinner would be done soon so he could get some rest.

“Do you think you could visit me sometime, Papyrus?”

“Of course! Just… After I have healed up some. And maybe…” He smiled sleepily. “We can talk about what happened.”

“That sounds nice. I’m living in the Ruins. You would have to go underground.”

“I don’t mind. If it means being there for my friend…”

“Our secret, okay?”

“Mm.”

Flowey watched as Papyrus shut his eyes. The poor skeleton didn’t even realize as he fell asleep. He was just too tired to keep his eyes open. He sighed, pulling the covers up more around Papyrus. “You stupid idiot…” He went back outside, shaking his head and leaving the skeleton to sleep.

He didn’t want anyone else seeing him, after all.

 

*~*~*~

 

Papyrus was up and walking the next day. The day after that, his voice was finally back to normal, though he still found himself sleeping too much for his own tastes. You didn’t hear the end of it. The day after that, finally, he was just about back to normal.

In the meantime, he got so many visits from people that you helped him to the living room so he could chat with people there. People from Snowdin dropped by a lot, but it was mostly to gossip about the watch. Papyrus didn’t seem to click much with them. Derek brought Sydney again to say hello, and to leave a few movies here that Papyrus had mentioned never seeing. You were surprised when your mom came with Jayden and Justin. “Curtis couldn’t make it, but he sends his best wishes, okay Papyrus?”

“OF COURSE!!”

He seemed thrilled to have all the attention. But…

Well, he was definitely struggling. He broke a plate one morning at breakfast when he was trying to get food for himself, then apologized profusely as someone else had to clean it because he couldn’t do it himself with only the one arm. He struggled putting on clothes, getting stuck in his shirts on the first few tries. Not only that, but the empty sleeve just… seemed awkward. He wore a lot of tank tops all of a sudden. Sans was kind enough to pop home and grab them.

You could see the hit it took on him immediately. You were a bit surprised. Sans had been an actor from day one. You had known pretty quickly that there was more to him than he showed, that his smiles hid something deeper. But Papyrus had fooled you easily. His bright demeanor never wavered, not through it all, but you could tell he was hurting despite all the optimism.

You did your best. You reminded him how great he was, kept bringing up that Christmas was right around the corner. You even made a date soon to go shopping for gifts, once he was feeling well enough. You were still at Toriel’s place, but nobody seemed to mind. Family was important right now. Alphys and Undyne were still there, too, staying in Undyne’s spare room. Nobody wanted to leave. Nobody wanted to be alone.

 

Frisk did much better than you, though. Every day, they were doing crafts with Papyrus for Christmas or asking for help on their homework. Papyrus… wasn’t the best at schoolwork, other than mathematics. He was scary smart when it came to numbers. “comes from all the puzzles,” Sans explained. “he’s one smart skeleton.”

“Seems like it runs in the family, Mr. Quantum Physics.”

He laughed a little at that. “yeah. a little.”

 

But eventually, it was time. Halfway through the month, you finally got around to asking Papyrus if he wanted to go home. He said yes, surprisingly. “BUT I WOULD LIKE TO COME TO TORIEL’S FOR CHRISTMAS DAY! AFTER WE OPEN OUR OWN PRESENTS.”

“Of course.” You smiled.

“WILL YOU BE INVITING YOUR FAMILY AGAIN?”

You paused. You wanted to… “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll invite everyone to Toriel’s. I don’t think Curtis will end up getting home, though. He’s away right now.”

“THAT IS OKAY. I HOPE HE HAS A LOVELY CHRISTMAS, HOWEVER, I WOULD HATE TO BE ALONE RIGHT NOW.”

You frowned and nodded. “Maybe I’ll video chat him or something. You’re right. Nobody deserves to be alone at Christmas.”

Well. Almost nobody.

 

You moved everything back to the house. For all of the month, you spent every waking moment with the brothers. Undyne and Alphys visited now and then for anime. You watched so many Christmas movies. You went shopping with Papyrus (you both ignored the stares as much as you could) and got gifts for everyone. You were so excited for everyone to open their gifts.

You also took a bit of a break from the brothers to go out and play music. For much less time and when it wasn’t actively snowing. You needed the money. Your gifts were… a little lackluster. Cheap shit. But you suddenly had a lot more people to buy gifts for.

Before, it was just your family. You got Brian a gift once but it was shit. That was it… Now, you had your family, the brothers, Undyne, Alphys, Frisk, Tori and the King… God, you had so many friends.

Your life had been changed so much and it was only a month. Only a single month! Like what the fuck, you had no idea that things could change that fast. But suddenly, you were living with people who cooked and cleaned alongside you. You were friends with powerful monsters. You had underwent tragedy so soon after moving in with them and just as suddenly, things were working out.

You had no idea what to think anymore.

You were just… grateful, you supposed. Grateful you had this chance. Your mind flashed briefly back to your soul… The culmination of your being. Ripped nearly in half by the tragedies of the past…

Still holding together.

You held your chest and smiled.

“Still holding together.”

 

You heard something behind you. “ready to go home, bud? it’s late and paps was wonderin’ when you’d be back.”

You smiled at Sans as he stepped out from behind a tree. Another shortcut. He’d started taking you home – you were getting better at the transport! You’d only thrown up once this past week. “Yeah. Wait. Before we go… Can I ask you something?”

“mmm. that’s already somethin’. but sure.”

You shook your head with a smile. “I was wondering… Can. Can I see my soul again?”

Sans looked a bit surprised, but only briefly. “whatcha’ wanna do that for?” He sat down next to you, looking curious.

“Well… I just. I don’t know. I guess I want to see if it’s any better? Any worse?” You looked out at the snow in the park where you sat. Everything seemed so peaceful. Nobody was around. It was just you two. “I mean, we just went through a lot with Papyrus. He got seriously hurt. But somehow I feel… good? About everything? Like not about him getting hurt but…” You trailed off, not certain where you were going with this.

Sans patted your back. “content. you’re content with what you’ve got now.”

“… Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s a good word for it.”

He smiled a little and leaned in a little more into you, his arm around your shoulder. You managed to fight off your blush, for once. It was difficult, but you managed it. “alright. here. just to satisfy your curiosity.” He put his fist in front of your chest and pulled.

A haze, the distinct feeling of losing something, however briefly, and then your soul was there.

 

Same as always.

 

You sighed. “Still broken…”

“hey.” You glanced at Sans. “you’re not gonna heal after one day.”

“It’s been almost a month, Sans.”

“you’re not gonna heal after a month either. this is damage from ages ago, right? you said it yourself.”

“From about three years ago, honestly. Well. That’s when some of the damage happened. A lot of the damage.” Nope nope nope, back up, you are NOT adding to the drama now with your Tragic Backstory™. “It doesn’t matter all that much. I guess just… with how happy I was tonight, I guess I just hoped it meant I was getting better.”

“maybe you are. sometimes, human, there’s things your eyes can’t see.” You looked at him curiously. “like. when we get into a battle with someone, as a monster, our souls interact. when that happens, monsters have the ability to check a soul.”

“Check it?”

“it’s like reading. and monsters know all these specific statistics that souls have. those statistics sort of make up a soul.”

“So… It’s sort of like a video game. But with souls.”

“yeah. like a video game with souls.” Sans grinned and nodded to your soul. “if you wanted, i can check your soul. tell you about your stats.”

You blinked and looked at your soul. “My stats… What type of stats are there?”

“well, your attack power and defense.”

“Seriously?”

“hey, you were the one who mentioned video games.” He shrugged. “it mostly refers to the strength of your soul, though. you might be able to clobber me with your fists, but your actual soul’s strength might be pretty weak. defense is the same way – it’s how much the soul can hold up.”

“Is that all?”

“there’s also HP.”

“Hit points,” you said. Sans raised a brow and you shrugged. “That one’s the same.”

“heh. that one’s more the physical ability of the soul. once it takes damage, it’s how many hits it can take.” Sans hummed. “and then… there’s LOVE.”

“…. Wait that’s a stat?”

“yep. it stands for Level of Violence.”

You blinked and shook your head. “Um. Hold up. LOVE? As in, I love you, you make my heart sing, that kind of love?”

“no. that’s not an acronym.”

“Why would you chose the word love to make an acronym that stood for Level of Violence?”

Sans shrugged, shaking his head. “we didn’t. it’s sort of always been this way, since the first monsters existed. we saw it as LV, but the real acronym is LOVE. Level. Of. Violence.”

“Where’s the E come into play?”

“EXP. execution points. see, anybody can gain LOVE or EXP from… hurting others.” You looked at your soul. Hurting people, huh?... “you gain EXP by inflicting harm on others. specifically… you gain EXP when you hurt someone so much that they die.”

“… Oh.”

“LOVE is a way of quantifying a person’s ability to inflict harm. the more EXP you have, the more harm you’ve inflicted, and the more harm you’ve inflicted, the easier it gets. the higher your LOVE, the easier it is to kill.”

“That’s…” You licked your lips. “That’s a fucked up stat.”

“yeah… but needed. see, it helps monsters understand a little about the people around us. if someone has a high about of LOVE, we know they need help. or, uh… to be avoided.”

You cradled your soul, careful not to touch it. You didn’t want to damage it, after all. “I… Wow. All that is in this?”

“mhm. did you wanna know your stats?”

You paused and thought about it. ATK, DEF. HP. EXP. LOVE.

The ability to kill someone. A measure of how often you do it.

How easy it is to do.

 

You shook your head softly. “Not tonight. Tonight, I think I’m good just… seeing it again. Knowing it’s still there.”

“it ain’t goin’ anywhere kid.” Sans gently pushed the soul back into your chest. The world came back into detail. You shivered and leaned ever so slightly into him, trying to steal some of the warmth of his jacket. He laughed a little. “here. jeeze, we gotta get you warmer clothes.”

“Wha-“ Sans was taking off his jacket. You wanted to protest, but as he put it around you, you felt yourself just engulfed in fluff. “Oh my god. This is amazing.”

“heh. keep it, for now. i want it back when we get home.”

“Of course.” You were still leaning into him. “… Should we get going now?”

“just a few more minutes. it’s a nice night.”

You smiled. “… Thanks for coming to get me, Sans.”

“it’s alright. i like coming out here. besides... i doubt it’s much fun being out here all alone.”

Chapter Text

Christmas Eve was a flurry of activity. You always left the gift wrapping to the very end of the holidays, like an idiot, so you had a lot to do. Thankfully, Frisk’s room had plenty of space to set stuff out.

You all had come over that day. Papyrus had been just like his normal self - bursting with energy and seemingly happy. You could tell his arm still bothered him immensely, that shit didn't go away in just a month, but still. He was an even better actor than Sans. Or, maybe it wasn't so much of an act as his optimism shining through. You didn't know, but you suspected the latter.

Sans, for the most part, was holding together fairly well. He was still pissed at Michael, you knew, but he didn't mention him again. Seemed he wanted Papyrus to forget it ever happened. You approved of that. There was no sense mentioning that bastard ever again. You had tried to find any info on him - recent arrests, anything on the news. No luck. Michael was just hidden. You didn't mention it to Sans, but that was mostly because you suspected he was doing the same. Still. He put on his show, and you had your suspicions that he was actually pretty happy now. Christmastime had its effects on people.

As for you? You were… existing. Honestly, with the holidays, it had been hard to focus on anything other than your family - which included the monsters, now. You were happy about that. Your family had grown quite a bit. Undyne, Alphys, Sans, Paps, Frisk, even Asgore and Tori. They were all part of your family now.

You felt a little winded.

Nonetheless, there you were, surviving and wrapping presents. Your immediate family would get there tomorrow and you would all open gifts. Papyrus had insisted on waiting until all of you were together. “IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS UNLESS WE’RE ALL TOGETHER,” he had said rather loudly when you asked if he wanted to open some of his gifts before you left. “IT FEELS BETTER TO BE WITH FAMILY.”

You had to agree. You hoped Curtis would make it in time. He had mentioned he would try to be there, but he was apparently doing a concert tonight. You hoped there would be a decent turn out despite it being basically Christmas…

You looked critically at the gift in front of you. Calling it “wrapped” was… maybe a bit of an overstatement. You had never been the best at this, and usually stuck with just handing people gift bags with their stuff inside. You figured you would try this year, though, since Papyrus seemed to like specifically unwrapping gifts. You wanted to make this the best Christmas ever for him.

It would have to do, you supposed. Maybe everyone would find your wrapping skills endearing. You shrugged and set it aside, moving to the next one.

There was a knock at the door.

“Sh- uh, hold on!!” You panicked and threw the wrapping paper over the pile of unwrapped gifts. Good enough. “Come in?”

Frisk peeked in uncertainly with one eye closed and the other just barely open. “... Is it okay?”

“Yeah, squirt, c’mon in. I've got all your gifts wrapped already.”

Their eyes opened wide and they beamed, bouncing a little at the word “all.” You smiled a little - three gifts for the kid was maybe overkill, but they were all connected anyways. “Whatcha need?”

They pointed at their dresser and started rustling around inside before pulling out a few wrapped gifts. They were all perfect. “Did Toriel help you with those?” They shook their head ‘no’ very proudly. You beamed. “Where did you learn to do that so well??”

They hesitated and pointed down. You thought for a second. Was someone downstairs?? They then turned and pointed out the window. You looked out but saw nothing. Frisk was frowning. They put down their gift and mimed a triangle, pointed out the window, then pointed down.

It took you one more second. Then it clicked. “Oh! The mountain. Mt. Ebott. You learned how to do this Underground?” They nodded enthusiastically. You were puzzled. “How long were you under there for?”

They blinked and frowned visibly. After a few seconds, they shrugged. Even weirder - wouldn't they know based on the date? “Well… I guess Papyrus could have shown you.”

They shook their head and fingerspelled a name. You smiled. You had been looking up some ASL letters recently, to try and learn. “Sans?” You could’ve sworn they spelled it Snas but you were still easily confused.

They nodded happily. You guessed Papyrus couldn't wrap, just like you. That made you feel a little better about your wrapping job. “Well, you're doing better than me, kiddo.” You showed them one of your gifts. Their nose scrunches up and they started giggling. “Hey! It's not THAT bad.” It was. It really was that bad.

They calmed down shortly and motioned to their bathroom and mimed brushing their teeth. “You gotta go? Go ahead then. I could use a break from this anyways. My fingers hurt from messing with the tape.”

They giggled again and went to the bathroom. You smiled a little as you looked around. God, Frisk was a sweet kid. The room had so many pictures all around of their family. So many memories from the underground were being put on display here, and you had never really appreciated them, the few times you’d taken the room as your own.

You stood to examine the ones on their nightstand closer. You’d already seen the one on their wardrobe with everyone, even Mettaton, so you decided to focus on different ones. You saw Sans stacking hot dogs on Frisk’s head (Jesus that was a lot of dogs). You saw Frisk with their new Mew Mew Backpack, clearly for their first day of school. They looked so happy in each of the photos. You tried to think back to when you were their age, but your memories of being that young were a little fuzzy. Yay for abuse.

You moved to look at one of the shelves when you saw something hidden among some of those photographs. It looked like a golden chain. You picked it up, entirely out of curiosity. It led to a golden heart locket. The edge of it was locked. You would need a key to see inside.

You looked on the outside of it.

“Best friends forever.”

You shivered, feeling suddenly cold, dropping the locket without realizing at first. You shook your head and picked it up off of the bed, setting it where you had gotten it. “I should really buy some warmer clothes soon…” You rubbed your arms and walked back to the presents you were wrapping. Frisk came out of the bathroom shortly. You stared at them for a second, suddenly puzzled. The confusion clearly showed on your face, because Frisk looked confused as well and signed a question at you. You got the gist of it. “Sorry, no, I just had a question, but… I don’t remember what it was.”

They hesitated before shrugging and hugging you. You smiled a little and hugged them back. “Oh well. It probably doesn’t matter, seeing as I forgot it. Stuff we forget usually wasn’t important enough to remember.”

*~*~*~

Sans relaxed next to the fireplace, a cup of hot cocoa in his hands. He definitely didn’t need to be warm - heh, not like skeletons could feel it much anyways. But the warmth was still nice. Like he was wrapped up in a blanket. He sighed and sipped his cocoa.

He looked into the fire thoughtfully. He was so relaxed right now. That was… not normal, for him. Or at least, it wouldn’t have been, underground. How long had it been now? “almost a full year,” he mumbled, blinking. “huh.” That was a wild thought.

One year ago, just about, they were trapped underground. Just about a year ago, they had met Frisk. They had been set free.

He glanced up as you entered the living room. “hey there. need any help with those?”

“I got em!” You most certainly did not have them. You were barely keeping hold of all of them. It didn't help that you were pretty exhausted, staying up so late to wrap. “I. Think!”

“might as well let me help, since i’m present.” You groaned but sighed in relief when Sans lifted some of the gifts and put them under the tree with his magic. It still felt just as tingly as you remember. And a little cold. “there. it’ll be a nice tree-t.”

“Ugh. Sans. Whyyyy???” You did laugh a little before plopping down into the recliner. “God I'm exhausted. I bought too many gifts. I hope everyone likes them.”

“no worries. everyone will love the gifts.”

“Yeah… yeah you're probably right. Frisk seemed excited about it, at least. They came in while I was wrapping.”

Sans beamed. You saw so much love in those eyes - though, you saw that in all of the monsters when Frisk was mentioned. “that's great! that kid needs some good in their life.”

“Definitely. This is their first Christmas since falling underground, right?”

“mhm. I was just thinkin’ about that, actually. did you realize it's nearly been a year?”

You blinked and did some mental math. You’d always been pretty average at math, but your issue was that you didn't keep up with events much. “Uuuhhhh….”

“we got on the surface on march 20th.”

“Oh! So like… wow. It's like 3 months until that day.”

“yeah. not long at all. and that means it's 3 months until the day when frisk first fell.”

You beamed at him, sitting up a little taller in your seat. “Oh my gosh. We’ve gotta celebrate.”

“i’ll chat with tori about it. maybe we can throw some sorta party.”

You blinked, thinking hard. It clicked after a second. “Wait. You mean to tell me that Frisk got through the entire underground in a single day?”

“uh. yeah.”

“Jesus… How small was the underground?”

Sans rubbed his neck, gesturing vaguely with his cup. “well... they didn’t go through the entire underground, i suppose. frisk went through the ruins, snowdin, waterfall, and hotland.” You resisted a snort, but just barely. “they avoided most of the capital and new home, and none of the outskirts, or the depths of waterfall, or the lava pits. but yeah, it is pretty small down there. they also didn’t stop everywhere they went. they just went straight on through as fast as they could.”

You shook your head while Sans drank. Jesus… You had known the underground was too small for the monsters, for sure, but… You never really realized it was that small. The most you thought you could hike in a day was maybe for an hour. There’s no way you could have done that as a kid. Either they could hike more than you - which was probably definitely a thing - or they hadn’t had far to hike - which seemed just as likely. “I’m… so sorry.”

“hey. no. we’ve talked about this. you weren’t the one to put us underground. you aren’t a mage or something. you’re just a human, and a kick ass one at that.” You were definitely flushed, just a little bit. Sans shut his eyes with his signature grin. “you’re so awesome, you’re even planning an entire party for frisk’s journey through the underground.”

“Yeah… Wait, I never said I’d be planning the entire thing-” Sans was laughing. You grinned. “You jerk. Setting me up to do the entire thing.”

“you were the one who suggested it.”

“Nuh-uh, mister,” you said, shaking your head. “You’re going to help me plan this thing.”

“okay.”

“At the very least, you’re gonna sew something together for me, because I’m still shit at that.”

“okay.”

“Are you taking this seriously???”

“okay.”

“Sans!!” You both ended up laughing. “Shit, shit, we should be quieter, everyone’s probably asleep!”

“ah, it’s alright. the kiddo is fast asleep by now, and papyrus isn’t gonna wake up. he’s sure santa won’t come if he’s not asleep.”

You beamed. God, just. The fact that Papyrus still believed in Santa just warmed your heart. You remembered the conversation you all had back when you were decorating. “You totally got him those action figures. You really made him happy, Sansta.”

He snickered softly. “yeah, i tried my best. asgore helps too, though. he always dresses up like santa and walks around, giving everyone in the underground gifts all day.”

“I thought Santa was supposed to visit at night?”

“well. it might be possible to go through the underground in one day at frisk’s size and going fast. but if you take it at asgore’s pace, in a full santa suit, and visit every single person in the underground? it takes you all night and day.”

You shook your head. Wow. The king… really was a big softie. You had heard Undyne calling him that numerous times, and while he was definitely a soft guy - literally - you had sort of underestimated just how much he tried to do for his subjects. Your mind flashed back to the conversation between you and Sans about monster history. That day was all a bit of a blur. But you would never forget what he’d told you about Asgore’s past. Your smile fell a little. “He’s really sacrificed a lot for his people.”

Sans raised a brow, pulling the hot cocoa away from his mouth. “yeah. the guy who killed kids is the one makin’ the sacrifice.”

You were definitely surprised. Sans had seemed really chill about this topic before. “Well. Yeah. He did. I mean, this man loved a human kid enough to grieve their death, right? And then he killed kids, not because he like… wanted to. He killed them because he felt he had to.”

Sans hesitated before sighing. “he’s still not great in my book. someone who’s killed before has the capacity to kill again.” You remembered the conversation you had recently, too, about EXP and LOVE. How much of that did Asgore have?... “i just think he doesn't make the greatest leader.”

You hesitated and end up nodding. “Yeah. Yeah I think I agree.” The air around you grows silent, other than the sound of the fire. Sans drank his cocoa, watching the flames, while you just laid back and shut your eyes. You were tired, but unfortunately, you were still buzzing with a little bit of energy. You crossed your arms and glanced at the clock on the wall. That made you smile. “Hey Sans?”

“yeah?”

“Merry Christmas.”

Sans glanced up at the clock and grinned. It was well past midnight by now - around 1:20. “heh. yeah. merry christmas, bud.”

You just relaxed and shut your eyes again. This time, you didn’t wake up when Sans ended up carrying you to bed. You stayed fast asleep.

 

*~*~*~

 

Far, far underground, a single flower watched the stars shining above through a small hole in the top of the cavern.

He shivered softly, but he didn’t feel cold. He didn’t feel sad or tired or lonely. He didn’t feel at all.

Well, that wasn’t fully true. He felt things. He had emotions. But none of them made sense anymore. It wasn’t like who he used to be. He was… different, now. And he knew a lot of the reason why now. Before, he had worked out he was soulless, which had been such a relief to realize. Not having a soul was so, so much easier than having one. Now… Now he knew he was feeling certain things he couldn’t before. Was it because of the human souls he had briefly felt? Was it because of his own soul, reanimating, however briefly?

And then… Frisk.

“I just don’t understand,” he whispered. His voice echoed around the cave. He lowered his head, shutting his eyes tightly as he recalled everything that had happened. Frisk. The barrier. The souls, just… disappearing. “It doesn’t make any sense. How did they use the human souls?”

There was silence as he thought. “Well… They’re clearly a mage. They used magic down here. They can reset. But I thought only Monsters could utilize human souls…” He shook his head, grumbling. “Or a human using monster magic. But there’s only one way that could work. There’s only… There’s only one explanation I can think of… But.” He glanced to his left and sighed. “That would mean you’d have to be alive. Kind of. And. I dreamed you would be alive. I hoped. And it ended up just being Frisk.”

Silence.

“I know you aren’t there. I know you died a long… long time ago.” He grinned sharply. “You’re just a skeleton now. Not even one like those idiots on the surface. You’re a real one, a completely dead human. You’re gone.”

The air howled above them, a few dustings of snow falling below. It melted as it sank down. The clothing rustled as the wind gusted down.

“Are you there?” Flowey shifted slightly, raising up, desperation shining through for just a second. “Chara?”

No response came from the body… well. Skeleton next to him. He wilted slightly, looking down. He glanced at where the golden flowers were disturbed behind them both. The pit left behind where they once had been peacefully growing was… entirely too shallow. Not deep enough for Chara, not really. It’s no wonder the flowers grew up so quickly. “I… I miss you, Chara. I miss you so much. And I got my hopes up when I saw Frisk. They look a lot like you, you know. And they could do magical things… So could some of those other humans, but… They could do things you knew how to do.”

“They checked in battles. I saw. They shouldn’t have been able to do that unless they had magic. But they understood those stats. They understood everything. And they went through the underground like… Like they understood so much more than somebody could. Than anybody could their first time down here!”

No response.

Flowey sniffed, shaking his head again. “Chara… Chara, I’m so alone. I called out for you. I. I don’t understand. Why did you come for them and not for me?”

 

The figure beside him was silent.

Flowey sniffed and looked back up at the sky.

“... Merry Christmas, Chara.”

He pulled himself into the ground, leaving the skeleton in child’s clothing to sit in the moonlight.

Deep underground, other monsters stirred. In Hotland, Waterfall, Snowdin, the Capital, and even in the Ruins, the Outskirts, the Depths… All throughout the underground, those few monsters who stayed behind were asleep. They rested, the children wondering just what Santa might bring, the adults hoping Santa would even show up this strange, strange year.

In New Home, a lonely king crept once more, the dark halls of his palace strikingly similar to those in his dim wing of the house on the surface. He breathed deep the scent of the earth, shutting his eyes and remembering the light that had faded from the sky that evening. The moon that had taken its place.

He walked from the barrier onward, down the deserted corridors and overlooking the sprawling, yet far too cramped Capital. He looked over his old kingdom and smiled, however pained, at how far they had come.

He reached the home he had made, once upon a time, the home he had wallowed in for longer than he can truly remember. He walked to the room he had left alone, items scattered, items… too painful to move. Thin layers of dust, the natural kind, had begun to settle. He sniffed under his breath as he looked over the pictures on the walls. His diary, still open to the final day. The final entry.

He smiled and opened his wardrobe.

“It’s going to be a long night,” he said softly to the air.

 

He was right.

 

But in the morning, when children awoke, finding presents under the trees their parents had almost neglected to put up in their fear of tomorrows, finding joy in offerings from the magical, mysterious figure who came in the night? There was joy in the underground once more. Relief. And wonder.

They marvelled at the gifts from the surface. Santa - well, as the adults knew, Asgore, had brought them a miracle once again. Once again, he had managed to give them what they had lost, once.

Hope.

And when he finally made it to the ruins, having made the trip far sooner now than he ever had before, for it was still before dawn, he paused at the door.

“Golly…”

He gently reached out, touching the entry to the ruins of the place he had once called home. He walked in with soft tread, reaching the place he had once gardened. He smiled.

It was here he would leave the gifts for those spare few who remained in the Ruins. He could not bring himself to go any further. And then, quickly, he turned back. There was one more home he had to return to. He only had one stop before he could return to his own home, to Frisk, to see their delight. He stopped only briefly, as always, aware of the nocturnal eyes on him as he paused.

 

Children marveled once again at the familiar sight some had come to spy in Waterfall. A small statue, shrouded by the body of the old man in the red suit. And then, as he left quickly, a small, golden flower on the horns of the statue. They never understood that. Very few would.

 

And then, the man disappeared, and this was the one thing they all understood. He was leaving to go bring joy elsewhere.

That’s what he strived to do.

 

*~*~*~

 

You awoke with a gasp as there was a pounding at your door. “HUMAN!! WAKE UP! IT’S CHRISTMAS!”

You held your head and smiled.

“... Yeah. It’s Christmas.” You laughed a little and went to stand.

You couldn’t. Your feet wouldn’t touch the ground.

You blinked.

The floor was all different colors.

“...... Um. Little help???!”

Chapter Text

Looking back, it was hilarious, but in the moment, it sucked that you couldn’t get out of bed.

“-THE ORANGE-TILES ARE ORANGE-SCENTED. THEY WILL MAKE YOU SMELL DELICIOUS! BLUE TILES ARE WATER TILES. SWIM THROUGH THEM IF YOU LIKE, BUT... IF YOU SMELL LIKE ORANGES! THE PIRANHAS WILL BITE YOU. ALSO, IF A BLUE TILE IS NEXT TO A, YELLOW TILE, THE WATER WILL ALSO ZAP YOU!”

“Papyrus, can you please stop shouting through the door at me? These instructions are really going over my head!”

“OH GOODNESS. I APOLOGIZE HUMAN! I SUPPOSE PUZZLES CAN BE NOT AS FUN WHEN IT IS CHRISTMAS MORNING!”

“O-Oh goodness,” another voice said. Definitely Alphys based on the stutter. “I’m sorry! I-I thought Frisk reset the puzzle last night! Um. You. Um. What does the floor look like right now???”

You opened your mouth to explain, but hesitated. There was too much. “Um… I… Wait, duh-” You grabbed your phone and snapped a picture. You’d gotten Alphys number already not long ago. You sent her the photo.

“... Oh! O-Oh that’s. Really smart thinking!” You grinned a little, despite your concerns. “O-Okay… Um. Step on the pink tile in front of you? A-And then. Um. Y-You can step on the green tiles, they… a-actually don’t do anything.”

“WHAT?! BUT GREEN TILES MEAN YOU HAVE TO FIGHT A MONSTER.”

“P-Papyrus, we’re the only monsters here. D-Do you really want to fight him?”

“IT IS PART OF THE PUZZLE!”

Alphys sighed and you laughed a little. “Thanks, I’ll avoid the green tiles if I can.”

“T-The key is really just to avoid orange and yellow spaces. O-Oh! A-And any blue spaces that are next to a yellow space. Oh, and be careful! The purple spaces are slippery!”

“How the hell did you manage to make the floor do this, Alphys??”

“O-Oh. Um. T-The floor is mostly some screens I had underground? A-And I wired them to. Um. W-Well. The pink ones are passible. I-If you step on the red ones, y-you’re affected by some gravity magic, S-Sans helped me with that. It keeps you from stepping on them, meaning you can’t pass.” That’s why the red spaces around the bed had felt so weird. It was Sans’s magic. Gravity, huh?

“Okay. And the tiles that are supposed to… electrocute me apparently? And the blue spaces are like water???”

“T-The yellow ones are Mettaton’s doing.”

“DIDN’T YOU HELP MAKE METTATON?”

“W-Well. Yes. So I guess I helped too. I-It doesn’t really electrocute you, but it does give you a shock. A-And the blue tiles, w-well. They’re not really wet. B-But they look like water, a-and if you step on one next to a yellow tile, i-it’ll shock you too because they’re all wired to do that. A-and if you stepped on an orange t-tile, I-I put s-some sensors into the screens that remember your footprints. They remember i-if you stepped on orange last, s-so it’ll make blue tiles shock you again if they see orange connected to your feet.”

“Jesus… Alphys, you’re ridiculously intelligent, have I ever mentioned??” Shit shit shit, avoid the blue one, you idiot. You dodge that and move to the next tile. You’re getting close to where Frisk’s button on the wall is.

“O-Oh goodness. I-I’ve had this test developed f-for years, a-and it was mostly just a prototype t-that Frisk liked, s-so I made s-sure to use it for the security measures in their room.”

“Security measures? Yeah, I think Frisk mentioned something like that. I didn’t really get it.”

“FRISK IS THE AMBASSADOR! WE MUST PROTECT THEM, OF COURSE.”

Alphys was suspiciously quiet. You raised a brow but didn’t say anything. You made your way over to the button in the corner and pressed it.

“Disable security protocols for one day?”

“Uh. Yes.”

That same ding occurred, and the floor turned pink. “Pink is alright. You can move through it no problem,” you mumbled with a smile. Okay. You could see why Frisk liked this so much. It was kind of fun.

 

You opened the door, only to be swept up in a hug by Papyrus. Even with only one arm, he was strong enough to lift you off the ground. “Woah!”

“I AM VERY GLAD TO SEE YOU MADE IT THROUGH THAT PUZZLE WITH MY INCREDIBLE GUIDANCE AS WELL AS DR. ALPHYS’ HELP. BUT THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE! IT IS CHRISTMAS MORNING AND SANTA WILL BE HERE ANY SECOND WITH HIS GIFTS. I AM SURE OF IT.”

Oh shit. Asgore was gonna be here? Well duh, of course he was. But as Santa. You grinned, hoping you could keep a straight face when he walked in. “Of course, big guy. C’mon. Let’s go downstairs and get breakfast.”

You all went downstairs. You were relieved to see everyone was still in their pajamas. Everyone did Christmas a little differently, you knew, but Christmas was the one day where your family believed comfy clothes all day long. Papyrus in his silly nightcap, Alphys in an old Mew Mew Kissy Cutie t-shirt and sweatpants, Undyne wearing shark themed pajamas, and Sans (fuck) wearing a tank top and boxer shorts (fuck!). You blatantly ignored him, and then proceeded to ignore the grin from Undyne, who was at least still tired enough that she didn’t tease you much.

Frisk ran up to you, bouncing, wearing what looked like a Mettaton onesie. Jesus christ that was adorable. You smiled. “Hey kiddo. Excited?”

They nodded furiously and tried to drag you over to the tree. Toriel peeked over the counter in the kitchen. “No presents yet, Frisk! We need to wait for Santa!”

Frisk pouted and you couldn’t help but laugh. Toriel, you noticed, was wearing a sweater and a long skirt. You guessed she wasn’t one to lounge all day in pajamas.

The doorbell rang. “SANTA-” Papyrus took off like a bullet to the door. You laughed and picked Frisk up. They stuck a tongue out at you, but quickly pointed to the door. They clearly wanted to follow. You walked over even as Papyrus nearly tore it off its hinges. “I HAVE BEEN A VERY GOOD BOY- OH. HELLO!”

“Hey man, how’s it hanging?” Oh fuck, how long did he drive here? Curtis waved to you, yawning, hair unbrushed and presents sticking out of his open backpack. “Made it before Mom, huh?”

“Oh my god, Curtis, get inside.” You shook your head, unable to keep the sheer joy off of your face. “How did you even manage to get here so fast?”

“I left straight at midnight. Drank way too much coffee and broke a lot of driving laws.”

“Curtis!”

“And some of my band mates drove too.” He winked. “No worries, Chip, I didn’t stay up all night. What, like I was gonna miss Christmas?” You pulled him closer to awkwardly hug him while still holding Frisk. He tussled their hair fondly. “Hey kiddo.”

Frisk just pouted more and fixed their hair. “They’re not a kiddo.” They nodded. “Right kiddo?” They looked so betrayed. You couldn’t help but laugh.

You all dragged Curtis in, whereupon he ended up chugging down more coffee. He put his (not half-badly wrapped) gifts under the tree with the others. “Sweet haul.”

“Just wait for Santa to get here.”

“Oh? Doesn’t he normally come at night?”

“Don’t you?”

Curtis broke down laughing. You beamed and got some breakfast - cinnamon rolls this morning. God. You could get used to this.

The rest of your family showed up about 15 minutes later, with your mom apologizing profusely. “Jaden wasn’t finished the wrapping yet.”

“Okay, so I tried but then the paper tore and I used waaaay too much tape and-”

“Just put the gifts under the tree, sis,” you said, rolling your eyes. She had finally resorted to bags. Sister of your own heart, right there. Justin nodded formally and politely to you as he walked in, nose in his phone as he brought in his presents. Perfectly wrapped, of course.

Not even he could bring down your spirits today, though. It was only about a half hour later, with Papyrus, Frisk, Undyne, and Jaden (and, to be real, Curtis would’ve been too if he wasn’t dozing off on the couch) all bouncing to open gifts already, when a familiar “ho ho ho!” was heard outside.

“SANTA!!! HOPEFULLY.” Papyrus jumped, quite literally, to his feet and darted to the door once more, Frisk fast on his heels.

Jaden glanced at Undyne. “So it’s Asgore, right? That’s totally Asgore?”

“SHHH. Not so loud!” Undyne whispered loudly.

“Oh. Right.”

“I think it’s a lovely tradition,” Justin said softly, having finally put away his phone. You glanced his way. He seemed… subdued, almost. Maybe you’d ask him about it later.

Papyrus shouted from the entryway. “SANTA! I HAVE BEEN A VERY GOOD BOY THIS YEAR AND WHILE I DID NOT SET UP A PUZZLE FOR YOU, IT IS ONLY BECAUSE I WAS VERY MUCH SO UNDER THE WEATHER! NYEH HEH!”

“Ho ho ho! If it isn’t Papyrus!” You resisted the urge to snicker. It was so clearly Asgore’s voice. How did the kids not realize? “Have you grown taller since I last saw you?”

“NO! I HAVE LOST MY ARM!”

FUCK. You covered your mouth with both hands and watched as Curtis choked on his coffee. Jaden snorted louder than you could imagine even as Undyne slapped a hand over her own mouth. “Oh dear,” your mother said softly, with Toriel biting her lip and looking unsure whether she should laugh or be concerned.

“O-Oh… Ho- Ho, golly! I’m. Sorry to hear that, Papyrus.”

“IT’S OKAY, SANTA. DID YOU BRING EVERYONE GIFTS?”

“Hoho! Yes! Yes I did!” The relief in his voice was so obvious it was painful. The cringe factor had upped at least 30%. Jesus christ. “Perhaps we should all head inside so I can give out all of them?”

“YES!”

A brief pause. “Hmm? Oh. Of course, child!”

You smiled as Papyrus walked in, with Asgore - sorry, Santa, walked in, holding Frisk. He certainly looked the part. Red suit, fluffy beard. Though, he didn’t look quite like the human Santa - he looked just like if Santa were a monster. “Woah. I’m actually seeing Santa right before my eyes.”

Asgore winked at you as Papyrus began to regale you with more information about how wonderful Santa is. You listened to it happily, just content to see him so full of life again. The guy really did bounce back quick.

“Santa” started to pull the gifts that were wrapped out of his bag, all of which rivaled or even surpassed Justin’s for perfection. There was one for everyone - even your family, surprisingly. You supposed Toriel had warned him, or maybe Frisk. Curtis eyed his box with suspicion, whereas Jaden nearly tore it apart before seeing your Mom’s disapproving glare. “Oh, goodness, thank you,” she said when she saw she had one too. Justin just nodded politely as he received his.

You eyed the one he handed you as well. It was fairly small… and rectangular…

It was definitely a book. You grinned.

 

“NOW THAT SANTA HAS ARRIVED, ARE WE ALLOWED TO OPEN GIFTS?”

Frisk stood up quickly and held up their hands. They started signing to Papyrus, who gasped and nodded, and Toriel made a quick nod to “Santa”. “Hoho- I think it’s time I get going to the next house! There’s lots of children in the world for me to visit, you know!”

“BUT SANTA, FRISK WAS JUST SAYING ASGORE ISN’T HERE YET! HAVE YOU GIVEN HIM HIS GIFTS ALREADY?”

“Why, no, child! That’s why I have to go quickly to give him his gift before he even shows up!” Smooth.

“WOWWIE! YOU’RE INCREDIBLE, SANTA! HURRY, BEFORE HE GETS HERE!”

“Santa” nodded his final goodbye and walked out the front door. Not long after, Asgore walked out from his wing of the house, wearing a very light and airy looking hawaiian shirt and shorts. You guessed he’d worn that under his suit. He was holding a small wrapped gift, not quite as well done as the others. “Howdy!”

Papyrus’s jaw fell. “DID SANTA REALLY GIVE YOU YOUR GIFT IN THAT MUCH TIME? HE REALLY IS MAGIC….”

Asgore chuckled warmly and yawned. “That he is, Papyrus. I see you have your gift as well. Why don’t we start opening the presents now?”

“Finally!!!” Jaden immediately started digging into her pile. You rolled your eyes. Typical little sister.

 

Santa had picked some good gifts. Jayden opened up a box set of new anime, Mob something. You didn’t really care much, but Jayden was examining it with wonder. Justin got that book from Marie Kondo - you saw him start reading it immediately. Like he had any clutter to clean! But he was still enjoying reading, you could tell. Curtis beamed as he pulled some CDs out of the wrapping paper - his own music. “Score.” Figures he’d be that narcissistic. Your mom gasped at her new silverware set.

Sans pulled out a t-shirt with “I find this humerus” written in large bone letters, causing Papyrus to groan. “WHY WOULD SANTA DO THIS.”

“guess he knows me.”

Papyrus couldn’t groan much at his own gift, though - three books on code breaking and code making. He gasped and hugged them tight to his chest. You couldn’t help but smile. Alphys got some classic anime on DVD, Ran… something something. There were numbers in that title too. You could never keep animes in your head. Undyne got some new makeup (she wore makeup???) that made her grin and immediately show Alphys. Cute. Toriel opened her gift and smiled a little softly at the cookbook she received.

Frisk tugged your wrist to show you their new puzzle. You beamed. “Look! It’s Mt. Ebott.” They nodded, ridiculously excited. “Maybe after presents are done we can make it together.”

You opened your own gift, unsurprised to find it was a book, as you’d originally expected. “A History of the Undertale” was the title. A. D. was the author once again. You flipped to the first page. Asgore Dreemurr.

Ah.

“Thanks, Santa,” you mumbled with a soft smile. He’d done well.

“WOWWIE! ASGORE, ISN'T THAT THE SAME MUG SANTA GAVE YOU LAST YEAR?”

Asgore held up a novelty mug with a hula girl printed on the side. “Why yes. You know how clumsy I am. I dropped the last one.”

“AND SANTA KNEW???”

“I suppose he did.”

Asgore was better at lying than you expected! You were a bit surprised, honestly. He seemed like just a giant fluff ball, but maybe he had a darker side. You remembered, briefly, the conversation you and Sans had, the night Papyrus got hurt… Yeah. Definitely a darker side.

But fuck that thinking, it was Christmas!

The rest of the gifts got opened while people celebrated, ate cinnamon buns (oh god, one of them is shaped like a rabbit?! Cinnamon bunny. That is adorable) and drank coffee to try to wake up. Frisk squealed in delight when they opened your gift of drawing, painting, and sculpting materials. You’d gone ridiculously cheap with what you got, but Frisk showed it immediately to Toriel with a beam on their face. Score!

It took a nudge from Sans and a pointed look before you realized just how many gifts from the pile were actually yours. You took a deep breath. Wow, this… This was a lot. So many gifts - how the fuck did all of this fit under the tree?? You reached out and grabbed the first few.

Fuck, why was everyone so incredibly nice?

Papyrus got you some new guitar picks, something your fingers certainly appreciated. “I NOTICED YOUR CARRIER DID NOT HAVE MANY INSIDE.” Undyne ended up getting you a cookbook, clearly used but well loved, with so many interesting recipes, including some handwritten ones! You flipped through them all. Er… Lots of pasta. You saw a recipe written in different handwriting, clearly Alphys’s, based on what she gifted you: a container of golden flower tea. “I-It’s not very hard to make, y-you just. Need the ingredients.”

“You guys are too sweet,” you said, unable to keep the grin off your face, working Curtis’s gift open. “How much tape did you use, jesus-”

“Hey, I wrapped those on the road, give me some credit.”

It was a new songbook, classics from some various rock stars. You grinned. Fuck yes. Jayden got you some new headphones, which was a classic gift for you two - you had the worst luck with headphones. Mom, god you loved her, she got you a sweater with gay colors on it. “I thought it might be nice to wear around the house, or even outside on these cold days.”

“Of course, Mom.” You smiled a little. Honestly, it was cute - if a little bit itchy.

Justin got you… well. He got you… lollipops? “Uh. Justin?”

And these lollipops, as it turned out, were the best gift Justin could have gotten you - not because you particularly enjoyed lollipops, but because when he saw your gift, his face turned completely, totally red with embarrassment. “Oh! Oh my- Oh goodness. How on earth- I-I’m sorry, dear brother, I’ve somehow mixed up your gift with-”

“With mine.” Curtis grinned as he handed you your now unwrapped gift from Justin. You glanced at it. It was a meditation kit?? Okay, still lost. “Gimmie those lollis, those are some of my favorites!”

You handed them over. “Justin?”

“To help you get more in touch with your soul. As you’re living with more magic recently, I thought it would be nice to try to meditate some and harness your souls natural healing abilities. Particularly as you’ve been so sick?”

Jesus, he was a good liar. You hated how good of a liar he was. You forced a smile on your face, cursing yourself for how good at lying you’d gotten too. You just didn’t want your mom to worry… “Thanks, Justin. I appreciate the thought.”

“‘s the thought that counts,” Sans said languishly, and it was all smoothed over. “mine next, bud, c’mon.”

“You too, numbskull, you’ve hardly opened any,” you shot back with a grin. He rolled his eyes and slowly levitated another box over (much to the interest of just about every human in the room). You opened his (expertly???) wrapped gift.

… A soft, fluffy, dark blue jacket.

“Oh jeeze.”

Oh fuck.

Your heart panged a little.

“you seemed to like mine so much the other night. figured i’d get you one just like it. well, similar enough.”

You slipped it on. Oh fuck this thing was comfy. You hummed and buried yourself in the fluff a little. “Oh hell yessss. This is amazing.”

Sans grinned as he pulled your now stunningly stupid gift out of his poorly wrapped box. “glad you like it. uuuh. mind tellin’ me what this thingy is?”

Fuck fuck fuck why were you such an idiot fuck- “It’s um. It’s. Sort of a really really cheap drone? It’s got a camera on it- wow, it seems really silly now that I’m talking about it. It. Flies around using the controller and you can see stuff with it.”

Sans was beaming, and you saw something new in his eyes. You would almost describe it like a cat when they saw something curious, but it wasn’t quite that. His eyes seemed to shine a bit brighter, shimmer a bit more. You determined very quickly that you liked that look. “buddy, this thing is cool. wonder how it works…”

“BROTHER, DO NOT DISMANTLE THE GIFT BEFORE WE GET TO USE IT! IT SEEMS AS THOUGH THAT WOULD BE VERY HANDY ON MY NIGHTLY WATCHES!”

“yeah. could be.” Sans seemed distracted. You smiled. Maybe it wasn’t a bad purchase after all. Reassured, you sank more into your new jacket. The smallest part of your brain commented that it wasn’t as comfortable as Sans’s. You ignored that part.

Toriel and Frisk got you a combined gift - which made sense, given that the kid was just a kid without an income - that made your heart bounce a little. “Oh jeeze.” Frisk had made you a little paper mache soul. It was orange, just like yours, but this one wasn’t broken. You felt yourself start to tear up. Toriel’s part of the gift was an obviously hand-knit blanket, warm and fuzzy, with orange hearts and music notes. You shook your head. “Guys, this is… This is so much.”

“Nonsense. You have impressed upon us your willingness to help monsterkind.” Toriel smiled at you. “You are part of the family. I refuse to treat you as anything less.”

You sniffed, definitely crying now. You rubbed your face. “HUMAN? WHAT IS WRONG?”

“Nothing, Paps. Just… Y’all, this is a great Christmas. Thank you.”

General agreement sounded. You smiled and wrapped up in your new blanket, your completed soul held in your gentle hands. You didn’t want it to break, after all.

 

You watched as other gifts were unwrapped and everyone thanked everyone else. You ate Christmas dinner early, reveling in the joy around you. Christmas’s hadn’t been like this when you were a child… No, they had been painful, and broken, and just… You couldn’t think of any other word than ‘bad’. And then, with Erik, things… Things got so much better.

And then he died.

And things went downhill fast…

But here you were, laughing as Undyne kissed Alphys under some well placed mistletoe, trying to ignore the suggestive wink in your direction. Beaming as Papyrus chased Frisk around with all their new action figures. Nearly in tears from Sans’s plethora of Christmas puns.

Part of the family, your brain supplied. That’s how you felt. You had a family again, whole and complete, better than you’d had in a very long time.

 

You weren’t going to let go of this anytime soon, you thought as you wrapped up more.

 

*~*~*~

 

“I really wish we could be home for fucking Christmas,” one of them said.

“Oh god, please, not this again,” the other said, exasperation clear in her voice.

“I’m serious, this is just ridiculous. I mean, I might not have, like, a family or anything but. I mean, I’ve got a dog!”

“Seriously, Sherman? A dog?”

“Oh, what, like you’ve got something better?”

“Unlike you, I actually have a daughter.”

“Oh yeah, and she’s what? 38?”

“... Age doesn’t matter in this circumstance.” That earned a laugh.

“Still. We might not have people to go home to, but I’d rather be home celebrating our Lord and Savior than watching over pieces of shit.”

“I thought you were an atheist?”

“Yeah, and I’d STILL prefer worshipping some fake ass catholic creation than being here. Belle, tell me you don’t agree. This shit is gonna kill me. The pay isn’t even all that good.”

“We’re not doing this for pay.” Belle glanced over as she passed another cell, one that was particularly noisy. “Hey. Shut up in there.”

“Which one is it?”

“Just the low-level perp we got a call for. He’s a nonessential.”

The muffled screaming got louder. “Jesus. He always this loud?”

“Yes. He started off by begging to see his daughter. Then he tried to fight back. That went… poorly,” she said, practically purring.

“No need to take such pleasure from it,” Sherman said, a little disquieted.

Belle shrugged. “I only appreciate him getting what’s coming to him. Honestly, if he wasn’t such a shit-dick, I would feel bad, depriving him of his daughter. Though. She might be better off without him.”

Sherman went over and knocked on the door. “Hey! Dude, shut the fuck up! Before I taze your ass!”

“Really?”

“What? It’s from a movie. Girl, I gots to culture you.”

Belle sighed. “Come on. Let’s just finish our rounds. We can go home soon.”

“Thank fuck. I’ll be able to go pet Flopsy.”

“... I’m going to ignore that.”

“Good. Hey, why’s he even here, if he’s nonessential? We don’t get many of them. Which higher up decided this one required containment?”

“Assaulted a monster. And you know I can’t share that information, even if I did know. We’re just guards. We don’t actually snatch the assholes.”

“Fine, fine. Hey, do you think there’s any good grub in the cafeteria today? I’m starving.”

“I could go for some sushi myself.”

“You always say that.”

 

Those were the last words the gagged captive heard that day.

Chapter Text

You sat somewhere (miraculously) quiet as Papyrus and Frisk chased each other and your families interacted, talking and chatting and having a great time. You loved it, but the history nerd in you said it was time for a gift to yourself.

Curled up by the windows in the main living area, you glanced at Asgore’s - well, Santa’s - gift. Asgore had gotten you a bookmark, actually, which you thought was both fitting and kind of sad. How much money did that guy spend, getting everyone in the Underground gifts, and then his family gifts on top of that?

… right. A royal treasury.

Anyways, you looked over the front and back of the book. It was leather bound, and engraved so the letters were grooves. “A History of the Undertale,” you said softly to yourself. “By Asgore Dreemurr.” Not the most creative name, but well… from what you had heard, he wasn’t the best at naming things.

You felt your heart race for a second as you flipped to the first page and began to read.

 

Long ago, two races ruled over Earth…

 

Humans, and Monsters. The two races had always been together, born from the same dust of the world, albeit evolving in different ways. This was due to the magic in the world, and the power of the soul.

Monsters, born primarily of the Earth’s magic, relied on the dust for structure. They harnessed the magic latent in the world to craft their bodies around their minimal souls, sparks of light in the darkness, crafted through HOPE.

Humans, on the other hand, evolved from the creatures, the body of the Earth - physicality. Their souls were strong, but they knew not the natural reliance on magic that Monsters had. They forged their own HOPE.

The two races met and quickly realized their differences. However, our differences are what balance us, and our unique attributes are what unite us. The Humans, weak in magic, and the Monsters, weak in form, recognized the reciprocal nature of their beings. Praising the Earth for birthing them both, the two races worked in harmony. They formed tribes and, eventually, homes. Eventually, homes became families, and families became legacies.

As time passed, it became clear that leadership was needed, for the beings were beginning to stray from what the Gods intended for them. And so, the Humans chose to elect the wisest, the one with the most knowledge of the Earth and her latent magic - indeed, the one most similar to a Monster - to be their leader. Similarly, the Monsters, unused to such power and drive, elected a leader powerful in both magic and body. These two leaders met, and together, they formed an official alliance between the two races.

Time passed, and the races continued to grow. The King of Monsters found a mate, a female Monster with a fire in her soul that he could not resist. The Human, too, found a mate - and their child, the next leader, as well. And the next, and the next. The Fifth Human leader deviated from tradition, however. Their mate was a Monster, as well, whose soul flickered and wept with Patience. The Ceremonies of Joining were done together, as the two families were both royal and both close, and the Human and Monster were wed beside the first King of Monsters and his Queen.

And time continued, beautiful and sweet, and in the year 496, the King and Queen produced an heir, a son with fire in his soul, much like his mother’s. His power was undeniable, even from birth, and held the tradition of balance well.

The Human and Monster, however… They tried for years to conceive. Both wished for a child of their own. And after years of trying, well past an age where Humans could conceive, the Monster bore child.

Celebrations were had through every Human settlement. A Monster and Human union was unheard of, despite years and years of families trying and failing. Not even the two leaders could describe how things were different for them - they just were. News spread quickly, and many came to see the Monster’s progress in her term.

By now, the King’s son was a grown child. He relished the attention he received, being royalty. The attention shifted when the heir of the Human leader was born. The child was not strong in the way Humans usually were. But this was typical; the Human leader did not require strength, but wisdom. However, as the Human child grew under the watchful eye of their friend, Prince Asgore-

 

“Wait, what??

 

*~*~*~

 

“Asgore!!”

Prince Asgore, a young boy of 38 by then, looked up from the toy gathering his focus and beamed as he saw his friend running towards him from across the fields, beyond which the sprawling Human kingdom lay booming in the busy day. He waved, setting down the puzzle he’d been trying to solve, forgotten immediately on the ground. “Attavian!”

Attavian, now 8 years old, charged directly into Prince Asgore, burying herself into the fluffy chest of her friend. She giggled endlessly and mumbled something intelligible.

“Attavian, I can’t make out a word you’re saying.”

She pulled away and looked up at him. “I wanna play!”

“Is that what you actually said?”

“No. What I actually said was how can one kid be so FLUFFY?!”

Both of them laughed and Asgore adjusted his clothes. He found it silly that he still had to wear stripes. Sure, he might not have reached the maturity of a grown Boss Monster, but his childhood friends were married and had their own children now. By Human tradition, he was already middle aged! Bizarre.

Still. He wouldn’t want to give up Attavian. Attavian was too, well, fun!

“What did you want to play? I doubt you’re very interested in my puzzle box.”

“Boooring. Come on - pirates. Oooh!! Or we could be adventurers.”

Asgore rolled his eyes. “Adventurers is much more fun than pirates. We don’t even have a ship.”

“You lack imagination, my prince.”

“And you’ve got it in spades, your highness.” They stuck their tongues out at each other. Attavian beamed and gestured for Asgore to follow, which he happily did. Asgore trusted Attavian’s judgement, usually. Her highness rarely led them into trouble. This time, however, Asgore hesitated as Attavian led them to the caverns of Mt. Ebott, the darkness seeming to seep out of the entrance of the cave. It was very dark.

“You can light the way with your fire magic!” Attavian insisted, seeming sure in Asgore’s abilities.

Asgore sighed. “If you get hurt, I’m not going to let your dad yell at me again.” He puffed out his chest, looking as regal as a child in a striped sweater could. “I’m a grown man by your standards.”

“Please, you’re like my age basically, stop bragging.”

Asgore snickered a little and slumped, raising his hands. He had already gotten very good at using his fire magic. He could even make it so it didn’t hurt people if they touched it, sometimes - though that was very hard. His father was still teaching him new things, after all. He entered the cave first, glancing around. “Where does this even lead?”

“I don’t know! That’s the whole point of being adventurers!”

Asgore rolled his eyes again, swallowing down his slight fear. “Alright, alright.” He wasn’t about to back down from this. He was far too brave to hesitate, at least, not for long. Leading the way, Asgore led his young friend onward with him. The caverns seemed to close in around them as they went deeper, and the light seemed to do less and less, but neither child seemed perturbed, their souls alight with HOPE and youthful wonder.

Attavian hummed as she walked, eyes lit with both the fire and spirit. “Isn’t this cool? I wonder what we’re gonna find.”

“You’re too hopeful. I think all we’ll find are some rocks.”

“Oh, you’re so boring, Asgore. I’ll bet it’s buried treasures. Ooo, or maybe some crystals! I wonder if they’ll be valuable.”

Asgore tread more carefully than his counterpart, eyeing the ground under them. It felt a little less stable as he walked on it, small pebbles shifting underfoot. “Careful, Attavian.”

“I am being careful you big fluffball.” Attavian, although careless at times, still gingerly made her way over the rocky ground. Asgore watched as the ground itself shifted under her feet, but still held mostly steady. She beamed as she looked at him again, a grin that stretched from ear to ear. “See?”

He chuckled softly. “Yeah, I see you. You got dirt all over your face already.”

“Perfect. Mom and Dad’ll see how awesome I was today.”

Asgore laughed with her and they continued ever deeper into the dark, chatting as young children do. Their talk echoed down the chambers. Asgore tried to get Attavian to shush, but Attavian was naturally loud.

It was inevitable, however, and Asgore realized this later, that something would go wrong and spoil their good fun. The ground was even more unstable in later chambers, and lo’ and behold-

“ASGORE-”

He grasped the edge of the ledge he now suddenly had fallen from, looking down. The ground opened up under him, leading deep into the mountain. He breathed deep, working hard to pull himself up. Attavian reached out a hand to help, but Asgore found he didn’t need it.

Panting, he skittered away from the edge, resting against the wall and shutting his eyes. “Golly… That could’ve gone poorly.”

His eyes shot open again as he heard Attavian shriek. “Attavian?!” It was now that he was realizing the light he had held was completely out.

He brought it forth quickly, bursting in his hands.

Attavian was trembling, white and wide eyed, as the giant spider above her leaned in closer. She shrieked again, now that she could see the spider, louder and panicked. Asgore knew of her fear - even of the spider monsters. This spider seemed to be a monster, but not one Asgore knew of - not one cultured as they were. This was a Beast, one who had never accepted the ways of Monsters, never developed a proper soul.

“Attavian, hold on!” He prepared himself to throw fire at the beast, but hesitated. What if his friend was caught in the blast?! He couldn’t hurt her! His magic wasn’t that strong yet!

The spider reared back. With another shriek, Attavian lifted her hands to hold off the monster. “NO!”

With that shriek, the world changed. There was a burst of purple, so bright and blinding that Asgore had to shield his eyes. The Beast screeched in pain, surprised. Attavian was whimpering. He could hear something, something new. When he opened his eyes again, his jaw dropped and his soul skipped from shock.

The spider was on the other side of the hole, having clearly hit the wall on the other side. Minimal blood (and yes, some dust, as it had been born a type of monster) marked the wall. Attavian was sitting up, her eyes still wide as she looked at the purple shield in front of her.

The magical, purple shield.

 

“Attavian… you have magic.”

 

*~*~*~

 

And so, with the realization that the Human Child had magic, the world began to move into disarray. The Human leader and his Monster wife were alarmed, to say the least, though relieved to have their child home.

Prince Asgore immediately went home to his parents and told them of what happened. A meeting was called between the leaders. An arrangement was made. Prince Asgore no longer had a playmate. Instead, he had a mentee. He would see Attavian more now, but their time together would be focused on honing the Human’s newfound magic.

Prince Asgore did not mind this change. It felt important for the world. Powerful. Attavian, however, felt this change damaged their relationship, and is well recorded for having fought against the change. Prince Asgore, being even at that age a bit of a pushover, still used some of their training time for fun and games.

Years passed. Attavian harnessed her magic for good, working to better the lives of the Humans. She built up the natural defense of fences with her shields and protected the Humans from the Beasts that still roamed at times. Attavian became a fierce warrior, and more so a keen survivor. She practically lived in the woods, fending for herself and returning with a fresh hunt for her people.

Her magic was not very strong, and she still found herself relying on brute strength and cunning rather than magic to get by. Nonetheless, she was the first human to ever wield magic. Both races were stunned, and Attavian found herself more heavily guarded than ever before - much to her distaste. No more would she be going on adventures into the caves. Instead, she was forced to stay within the settlements of Human and Monsterkind.

Time passed, as all things do. Attavian grew older and wiser, and grew to understand why she was guarded so carefully. She and Prince Asgore grew close as friends, nigh inseparable. Asgore introduced Attavian to other Monsters of budding magical talent, who knew the tricks she would need to learn to harness her gift. With these Monsters, Attavian found true friendship - truthfully, she found a place she felt she belonged better in than with her own race.

When Attavian was a young adult, budding and taking the responsibilities of a leader on her shoulders, she took one other responsibility. She fell in love again and again, desiring one as strong willed as herself, and failing repeatedly. Asgore, reaching near 50 years of age now, also began to seek love, but with the casual interest of one who had the time to wait.

It was not until after Attavian’s father passed, when she was late into her life, that she found her Soulmate. The news of their engagement shook the towns, as they had been friends for a long while, though none could have guessed their friendship would blossom into love. Moreover, she had fallen in love with a Boss Monster. Asgore and Attavian stood side by side, him at her right hand, while she married the Monster of her dreams, a persevering soul named Koda.

(You breathed a sigh of relief when you saw that Asgore hadn’t married Attavian. You honestly would’ve found that weird.)

Koda and Attavian found themselves resting peacefully together, content in the presence of one another. Asgore was pleased for his friend of so long, and happily answered her questions about Monsters. Particularly important, however, was the advice he gave when Attavian lamented her age and how childbearing was likely out of the question, now.

Most Monsters, he explained, do not breed in the way Humans do.

(Oh my god, you thought, biting your lip as you processed your many emotions about this. Asgore gave me a book on Monster Sex Ed.)

When a Monster wishes to bear children, they will discuss this with their partner. The two souls will be called upon, and in order to create a child, they must each take a part of their soul and combine it with the other’s. This combination will become the child’s soul.

Attavian listened intently. In the future, Prince Asgore would come to regret this advice, despite how joyous his friend was when she told him the news that she was pregnant. For, had he not told Attavian of how to have a child with a Monster, then the line would not have progressed, and the Mages would never have been born.

Attavian died at the birth of her child, who shared traits of both the mother and father. It was a shapeshifter, distinctly monster, but with a Human’s soul, a bright cyan. Koda ruled in the stead of his late wife while their child, Delta, was being raised to be the next leader. The turmoil began as Delta aged, for they seemed to come of age slowly. Koda was undeniably an amazing leader, but there were those few - those small few - who found it disagreeable that a Monster was leading the Humans. While Delta was not truly a Human, they still were more Human than Koda, and Mankind grew impatient with their slow growth.

Meanwhile, Prince Asgore was beginning to become less of a child. Now nearing 60, he met the love of his life, though he certainly didn’t know it at the time. Her name was Toriel. They both came from a long line of Boss Monsters, similar families even, of the same distant lineage from the dust of creation. They trained together, as Toriel and Prince Asgore both had similar fire magic. However, they both had very different Soul magic, Kindness and Bravery, which caused them to occasionally butt heads. Sometimes literally.

Nonetheless, the two found themselves growing closer. When Delta had turned 21, and finally assumed control of the leadership role, Asgore and Toriel were already set into their fate - although, it would still be 205 years before they would marry.

Delta grew older and older, their soul bursting with patience. They seemed otherworldly, constantly shifting between Human and Monster. They were the one to first devise the Delta Rune, a symbol of unification between Monster and Humankind - which, in a way, they themselves were a symbol of.

The Orb with wings symbolized the Earth, rising. The triangles, facing upward, symbolized the Humans and Monsters both. The inverted triangle symbolized division, the thing our race needed to rise above. Delta themselves spoke of what would happen should the Harmony of Humans and Monsters be shattered. “The Sky will run black with terror,” their words were, when speaking to their people, when the turmoil began to grow in certain circles. “And the land will crack with fear. Then, her heart pounding… the Earth will draw her final breath.”

These powerful words struck the creations of Earth to their souls, and peace and harmony came to settle one more on them all. Delta was a wonderful leader, giving Humans and Monsters both the knowledge of the other race, which had been neglected over time. They served as a bridge between the two races.

Years and years and years of this peace passed - far more than any anticipated. In fact, more years than a Human could possibly live passed. Murmurs spread among the Humans about Delta’s longevity, and moreover how they had yet to seek a mate to produce an heir. When Delta was 89, looking every part an old man on the edge of death’s door, they revealed their secret. In a single shift, Delta showed the Humans a youthful face, no older than they had appeared at 21. They showed the Humans a female face and a male face, a Monster face and a Human face, an old, a young, a colorful, a pale - they could shift to whatever they wanted.

The Humans were startled. They wanted to know how long this leader would live. Delta admitted that they did not know, for it was not their nature to know the end of things. Prince Asgore and his father, a King now in the height of his prime, met with Delta about this strange occurrence, but ultimately could not find fault with Delta, for, as it was said, they had proven themselves to be a true leader.

Delta announced that they would step down when their lead was no longer beneficial to Humankind. This settled the murmurs of dissent, at least briefly. Yet Humans still talked, and rumors still spread, of Delta, the half-form, the Monster is disguise.

Years continued to pass. Delta grew in age and many begged of them to find an heir, many knowing that some Monsters - Boss Monsters - only aged when they had borne a child. Still they refused, stating that it was not time yet, and asking for Humans to be patient. 50 years passed like this, where he Humans grew less and less content with their long lived Delta.

Then, when Delta was 129, they announced their engagement to a Human. The people were thrilled, albeit shocked, as they had never known Delta to have longed for companionship. Their fiancé was named Cardam, and his soul was a fierce orange. The fire in his soul seemed to leap into his fingers, his every touch and word seeming to be driven by passion. It was clear to see the two were in love - albeit in their own odd way.

The two were married before the week was out, and Humankind held their breath in anticipation. However, their breath would be held for quite some time. Another 10 years passed before Delta announced that they and Cardam would be with child. The Humans has begun to grow restless, and the announcement brought with it relief and celebration, more than had ever been recorded. It was a time of jubilee.

Delta and Cardam produced an heir, a bright starling named Angel, after the winged orb in the Rune. Delta hoped she would continue the peace, prosperity of the two races. Angel was a Human, through and through, and her bright yellow soul spoke to the people that patience was no longer required. Justice is swift, and the people rejoiced at the change of leadership - for, while Delta was a good ruler, they were indeed 139 years of age now, and sometimes a change is needed.

In this case, change brought only destruction.

When Angel turned 18, she asked her parents for her birthright, the right to lead. Delta told her she was not ready for this step. She fumed, and in her rage, went to the people. She spoke with them, and her words rang with convincing truths and compelling manipulations as she wormed her way into their souls. After all, she knew this was right. She knew she was correct. And she was determined to make everybody realize she was.

By the time she was 19, the Humans were riled up. They begged, pleaded, and some demanded that Delta allow Angel to lead, to step down and retire from their role. Delta tried to explain to them what they had explained to their daughter, but their hearts could no longer be swayed. Regretfully, Delta allowed their daughter to take leadership of the Human race.

Angel was not a bad leader. She simply wasn’t as good as Delta. Delta offered their assistance, but Angel, stubborn now that she had her way and not eager to relinquish her power, refused to give in. She made numerous bad choices, choices that began to stack. It took years, admittedly - but the choices did stack.

 

Angel married young, a strong man named Herald with a soul burning with confidence. They tried repeatedly to produce an heir, but each attempt ended in misery. Angel began to become a shell of herself, feeling drained of her power. Still, she tried to convince the people that things were fine, and her words were believed.

37 years after Angel took leadership, Prince Asgore and Toriel married at the ages of 272 and 267, remarkably young for Boss Monsters to marry. And still, with Angel now 55 years of age, she had yet to produce an heir.

It was now that the problems that had stacked while she was ruler began to fall onto her once more. The people whispered words against her, the Infertile ruler who could not produce an heir. She had failed time and time again. Perhaps she truly hadn’t been ready for the responsibility.

These words cut her like a knife. She then decided to do something no one would have thought of, but was destined. She told Herald to find another, to claim another, and they would raise that child as their own. Herald agreed.

The woman Herald chose was a mute. She was shy, quiet, and weak of Soul. Most importantly, she was a Monster whom Herald had desired for years, though he had never given into those desires until now. She resisted his advances for a time, but Herald fed her promises laced with his confidence, and she fell. She bore the crown monarch that would then spell doom for Monsterkind.

The story grows familiar from here. The child was born and raised with strong magic, and their soul was the deepest, strongest red. From a young age, they formed a council, beginning as friends and growing more as time went on to a group to seek advice and guidance from.

Tensions grew as more and more Monsters and Humans found love and bore their own children, and as the monarch grew, more of their monsterish aspects came to light. Namely, their eyes became unnatural, as piercing as the red of their soul. It was at age 11 they displayed their first magic, a golden light produced at the end of a stick they’d found. As time went on, there grew concern among the Humans as the child’s magic seemed boundless. They seemed to read minds, to know events before they could occur. They unnerved their race, and the legitimacy of the child was questioned, for, to their knowledge, Angel had never once displayed magic.

Angel was discredited, slowly, but surely, and at a young age, her child took leadership. Angel tried to fight back against this, but the words of the people had gone the opposite way. She believed their rumors and gossip, and knew her husband did not love her as he once had.

She turned to Delta, who sat by their aged, nearly gone husband, and begged them to settle the peace.

When they tried, the council of friends spoke, and the Humans picked their side. Delta tried to convince them to look beyond the forest, to see the trees, but they did not listen. In their blind ignorance, they ignored the obvious.

This circle of friends were the Mages Of Old, all children of Monsters and Humans. And this monarch, with a soul Determined, only sought power, their friends there to guide their foolish dream.

They went to the King of the Monsters and demanded hey be given their birthright. After all, they were both Human and Monster. The King of the Monsters refused, for balance was needed to keep things at peace.

It was at this time that the Monarch slayed the King, and Asgore shed his title of Prince.

The war began. The Monarch was relentless, moving steps ahead of any plan. Monsters fought fiercely, but deep down, they wished only to restore the peace they had. Some Humans, some Hybrids too, joined the Monsters, but they perished. Delta, too, perished defending the peace of Humans and Monsters, begging the Humans to remember Cardam. Their body was laid to rest by the late King’s.

The war raged on for years. Almost a century. It was bloody, gory, and dust mingled with human blood on the battlefield. The Monarch produced an heir, and so on and so forth, each raised to be more deadly than the last, and each sharing that Determined soul. It is said that some of the children did not share that soul, but what became of them, no one knows. The Mages, too, produced heirs, and so on and so forth, continuing the age old battle.

Finally, as fate decreed, the Monsters could take no more, and at the age of 360, Asgore ordered them to retreat. They fled into the mountain, and the Mages Of Old saw this as their chance. The Monarch lifted their staff high, and the light seemed to waver and the earth seemed to quiver. The last thing the Monsters saw as they looked out of the hole in the mountain were 7 souls, in unison, combining their power. And then…

The Barrier.

 

“HUMAN!!”

You screamed and dropped the book, not realizing how loud it echoed in this area. Papyrus, to his credit, didn’t even jolt. You held your heart, feeling it race against your chest. Fuck. Fucking. Fuck! “Paps. Sorry. I. Really into my book. Sorry.”

“DO NOT APOLOGIZE HUMAN! I AM VERY GLAD YOU ARE ENJOYING SANTA’S WONDERFUL GIFT! BUT IT IS TIME FOR DESSERT, AND TORIEL INSISTS THAT YOU COME TASTE PIE. IF YOU WANT TO.”

You grinned and nodded. “Okay.”

You could use something sweet after all that anyways. Jesus… You stood and picked up your book, putting Asgore’s bookmark in to keep your place. You were a startling amount of the way through, you realized - Asgore had enormous handwriting. Part of you still reeled that was handwritten. How did he publish this??

Whatever. Your mind was swimming with questions, but you wanted to put some of those pieces together yourself. After all - that’s what made history interesting. Putting it all back together again.

Chapter Text

One: Toriel’s desserts were a sin, and were you actually religious, you would think she made a pact with the devil.

Two: It seemed that Toriel’s pie was one of the things that Sans loved enough to stay awake for. Everyone was a little sleepy from the food comas, but they were still finding room for a slice of pie.

Three: Sleepy Sans is honestly one of your favorite versions of him.

“Sans, why don’t you just take a nap?” You said with a smile, grabbing another slice of pie.

He hummed and opened his eyes again, the lights in them looking mildly blurred. “already did.”

“Doesn’t seem like it was enough. You’re gonna fall face first into a slice of pie if you don’t wake up a little.”

“i’ll be fine,” he mumbled, but you did see him sit up and stretch. “you like the jacket.”

You glanced at the jacket you still had yet to take off. “I definitely like it.” It wasn’t quite the same as Sans’s. For one thing, this one had a white fluffy part, rather than Sans’s gray. For another thing, Sans’s was softer. You definitely preferred his, but this one was amazing. “I still think you only got it for me as another joke about me catching hypothermia, though.”

Sans snickered, basically confirming your suspicions. You shook your head with a smile as you dug into your next slice. Did you remember how many slices you ate? Sure. Was it more than 2? Yes. Did you care? Not in the fucking slightest. Toriel smiled as you hummed happily. “I am so glad you like the pie. It is my own recipe.”

“Can I steal it?? Tori, this is absolutely delicious.”

“you bake?”

“Not frequently, but. When I get stressed or pissed off, it’s nice to bake. Maybe I’ll even let a Mr. Sleepybones bake with me”

“huh. i’ll take a slice of that action,” he drawled. You snorted and ate another bite, feeling warm and giddy from the good food and good company. God this pie was tasty. Sorry, Mom, Tori’s got you beat.

Toriel giggled a little at Sans’s joke, looking over at you both from where she was preparing the coffee for the evening drinkers. “I will see if I cannot find the recipe somewhere. It has been a very long time since I used it last. Perhaps it might be easier to just rewrite it.”

“My mom has the same issue. She had to rewrite a lot of them once we moved, cause she just didn’t think to take them with her.”

Toriel sighed softly. “Yes, it is a similar story for me. Why, my old cinnamon butterscotch pie recipe is likely sitting in Asgore’s room in New Home.”

You smiled and finished off your slice. Why was it so good? Why were you so stuffed? You leaned back and sighed contently. God, this was the best Christmas you’d had in a long time. “I know this sounds silly, but I can’t wait for next year. I want it to be Christmas all year round.”

“Not long to wait until next year!” You glanced at Jayden as she walked in, carrying a few finished plates for people in the living room. She grinned. “It’s, what, like… 6 more days until New Years Eve?”

“Oh my god not what I meant and you know it.”

Jayden snickered but glanced at Toriel and Sans afterwards. You could see the gears turning in her head as she sat the dishes down. “Oh! Wait, do monsters know about New Years?”

Sans shrugged. “tori filled all of us in over the phone one night.”

“Yes. I did indeed have the board discuss with me all of the human holidays they so kindly neglected to mention.” There was that edge to her voice masked under a cheerful smile. God, she could be terrifying. “They informed me about New Years Eve and Day. Frisk is also quite excited.”

“first new year with monsters aboveground. we had a new years underground too.”

“Yeah, Papyrus mentioned that to me,” you said. “The day the barrier went up.”

“it’ll be nice to have something different to celebrate with. what goes on on new years up here?”

“Oh man, you guys’ll love it.” Jayden closed the dishwasher with her hip, using her hands to emphasize her points. “First off - drinking. Lots of drinking.”

“Except for my underage sister who literally just turned 19 this year?”

“Right. Totally no alcohol for me.” She grinned in a completely non-convincing way. You shook your head. She had definitely drank before. Hopefully not too much… “Anyways, for those who can drink, there’s a lot of drinking. And a lot of people set off fireworks.”

“Those are explosives that blow up in the sky and make pretty colors.”

“sounds... just as dangerous as i’d imagine humans to be.”

Jayden snorted. “Oh the dangerous part is making them. Anyways! Alcohol, fireworks - which, can I just say, is a great combination - and oh yeah people like to kiss at midnight.”

You rolled your eyes. “There’s always a kind of disco ball looking thing that drops in New York Square, and when the ball drops, it’s the start of the new year, and everyone kisses. You know, to start the year off in a happy way.”

“everybody does that? cause if it’s an activity that requires lips, i’m probably not invited.”

Jayden laughed a tiny bit. “No worries, skeleman - these lips are still new years virgins.”

“Ew.” Jayden nudged you and you eyed her. “What?”

“What about you, Mr. Totally Dated A Girl Once?”

“Oh my god Jay why?”

“I honestly just want to hear you say the word virgin.”

You rubbed your face. “No my lips are not virgins. Now please excuse me, I gotta go look up how to dispose of the body of a dead little sister.”

Jayden stuck her tongue out at you and you both shared a laugh. Sans grinned and Toriel just smiled fondly. Sibling shenanigans were the best. “Will you and your family be celebrating New Years with us, then?” Toriel asked once you and Jayden were done.

“Hell yeah!”

“Wait, Jay, we didn’t even ask mom.”

“Well where the heck you think we’re gonna be able to fit this many people?”

You smiled. “And what if Mom didn’t want to celebrate News Years with the monsters? What if she wanted it to be just family?”

Jayden blinks. “Well. I mean. I wanna be able to celebrate it with my friends. And my friends is basically Undyne. And what about you, you’ve got all your monster roommates.”

“I only have two.”

“‘s still more than her,” Sans added helpfully.

“Exactly!”

“Does anybody want coffee?” Toriel asked into the living room.

“HELL YEAH!” Undyne shouted.

“THE GREAT PAPYRUS WOULD ENJOY CAFFEINE BUT SANS HAS TOLD ME IT WILL STUNT MY GROWTH, SO I WILL NEED TO DECLINE. YOU WILL ALSO BE DECLINING, FRISK. WHAT? NO YOU MAY NOT USE PUPPY DOG EYES ON ME.”

“N-No, thank you, Toriel!”

“Some for me,” Justin said, “if you don’t mind.”

“Same here!”

“Curtis, that must be your fourth cup already.”

“And?”

“Some for me too,” your mom said sweetly.

“Same here,” you said, “and Jay doesn’t drink coffee.”

“Too much hyperactivity,” she said with a sigh and a happy shrug. “I’m gonna go grab that book on jiu jitsu Alphys got me. Later!” She fucked up your hair as she walked out, earning a groan and a fast hair fixing.

“Sans? Did you - oh.”

Sans had fallen asleep where he was sitting, leaning against his hand. You pushed his plate out of the way and took off your jacket, bunching it up and putting it where his plate had once been. Then you gently moved his arm and laid his head down on your jacket. It’s not like you planned that, you just. Did it.
Sans hummed and you couldn’t help but smile. You heard Toriel clear her throat. You glanced at her; she had a small smile on her face too. “Thank you for doing so much for him,” she said quietly as she poured coffee into various mugs.

“Of… Of course, Tori. He’s my roommate. That’s basically family.”

“I think, perhaps, maybe more than family?”

Oh dear lord. Even Toriel? “What? No. Me and Sans are just roommates.”

Toriel smiled a little more. “Roommates or not, you still clearly share a fondness for him.” You opened your mouth to deny it, but… well. Okay. You could take a ‘fondness’. “Sans and Papyrus… they have been alone for a very long time. I am happy to see them both connecting with someone.”

You thought back to the conversations you had with Sans and Papyrus. About how they’d been alone. About how Papyrus didn’t have many friends. “Yeah. Me too.”

Toriel brought the coffees into the living area while you stewed on the brothers for a few minutes. You couldn’t see much of your impact on them, you had to admit. Sans was still just as closed off as he had always been, and Papyrus. Well, you wouldn’t want him to change anyways! But you’re life had certainly changed plenty. So there was that at least.

You glanced back at where Sans was sleeping and smiled. At least one thing had changed, you realized. He had a pillow now. He nuzzled a little more into your jacket.

 

It was about an hour after coffee that your family left. Toriel offered to let them stay, as always, but Mom was starting to look a little dead on her feet, and you knew she’d always sleep better in her own bed anyways. It still took nearly an hour (okay, closer to 40 minutes) got your family to leave, though, with all the chatter and goodbyes.

During the hour after coffee, you finished reading that section of the history Asgore had provided for you. You learned all about the Barrier, and how the monsters had moved further into the underground. You were a little disappointed that there wasn’t more information on the Royal Scientist who built the CORE. You couldn’t find his name anywhere. You also did some quick math based on dates…

Monsters had been trapped underground for more than 1,000 years. No wonder nobody remembered them beyond just legends.

You also read about their children, a human and a monster. Again, Asgore’s record keeping disappointed you. He never wrote the human’s name… though. Given everything that happened…

Your heart ached. Of course humans reacted like that. Of course they killed the children. All because Asriel wanted to bring a dying child their last wish. You definitely wiped away a few tears at that part, and you had to put down the book there. You definitely couldn’t handle Asgore’s recounting the things Sans had told you.

You were starting to understand the monster’s viewpoint a lot more now. Why Undyne seemed to be fighting, all the time. Why Sans was so defeated. Why Alphys always seemed shocked by every new thing, no matter how inconsequential. How Papyrus, poor sweet Papyrus, seemed to just. Blossom now. There was space for them to grow, now.

You tucked the book away for the time being into the gift bag Jayden had given you. The book hardly fit. You tried to put it behind you, but your mind swelled on what you had read, until you finally excused yourself from the company and went outside. By now, your family would be asleep.

You breathed the December wind into your lungs, feeling it sting. It wasn't altogether unpleasant out. There were no cars on the road, everyone busy at home with their families and friends, starting to go to bed after a long day, or still partying with no plans to stop. The sky was dark, and you could hardly see any stars. A cloudy Christmas. You really didn’t mind, to your surprise. It just made the outside feel even more… still.

Maybe that’s what you needed now, and maybe that’s the change you’ve been feeling, ever since you moved in with Papyrus and Sans. All this time, all your life really, you’d been running. Running to find things. Running to get ahead. Running away. You ran away from your father. You ran away when Eric died. You ran and ran and ran from each apartment you were kicked out of, not even fighting it, not really.

And then, you had to stop running, because you got hypothermia. And you stayed in place again. Even then, you still ran a little. You wandered, you moved so fast, jumping from each holiday to the next, already crushing on a roommate you really hardly knew, already calling these people your family despite the weight that word has with you.

And now. You had finally truly stopped, on your own accord. And the world around you was still.

That’s what had changed. You didn’t need to run anymore.

 

You breathed a soft sigh of contentment as the door to the porch opened behind you. “hey.”

“Hey Sans. Look how gorgeous it is.”

Sans shut the door, cutting off the light from inside. He shook his head. “no stars.”

“No. The stars are there. We just can’t see them yet.”

Sans laughed softly. “used to tell myself the same thing. you’ve got know idea how wild it was, seeing them for the first time.”

You glanced at him, smiling. “I really don’t. Thank you.”

“huh?”

“Just… ugh, okay, maybe Christmas makes me all mushy or something, but. Thanks. Thank you for letting me into your life. I’m realizing how much I’ve changed in… Jesus. Like a month??”

“yeah. a little bit over.”

“I’m realizing how much I’ve changed since I met you guys. I just… I guess I just didn’t realize how badly I needed a change.”

Sans grinned and looked back at the sky. “yeah. i guess me and paps are a pretty big change.”

“You could say that.”

 

You watched the scenery in a comfortable silence. You had long since gotten your jacket back and you pulled it tighter around yourself to stave off the cold. You breathed out to see the cloud of your breath.

In a few more minutes, Sans shook his head. “i’m gonna head inside.”

“Alright. I’ll join you. I think my fingers are sufficiently numb.”

Sans turned to go in, and you took one last look out into the yard before you gasped. “Sans. Look.”

He turned quickly, looking confused as you pointed to seemingly nothing. Then he frowned. “oh. more snow.”

“It’s snowing on Christmas. That means it’s a white Christmas.”

“pretty sure it was already white. there’s already nearly a foot on the ground.”

“Dad believed white Christmas’s were a sign of good luck,” you said softly. Sans watched you carefully. “He said it wasn’t supposed to happen where we live, and snow at Christmas meant that someone, somewhere, was giving us good luck.”

“your dad… he sounds like he was great.”

“He taught me a bunch of Christmas songs, every holiday. Rock and roll and lullabies.”

Sans put a hand on your back. “did you bring your guitar?”

You grinned back at him. “Why would I? I’ve got an insta-ride back home with you.”

He laughed. “c’mon. let’s go hear christmas music.”

 

You both walked inside as the snow fell softly, and you felt just a little more content to stop running.

Chapter Text

Christmas came and went. You had that familiar bittersweet feeling, something that came every holiday season. It was just sad, feeling that cheer slip away every year. Now the snow outside no longer felt quite as magical and felt more like annoying white sludge. Still, with New Years right around the corner, you felt you had a lot to look forward to. Lots of booze, so. That would be fun. You never drank too much, but damn if you wouldn’t have some rum and coke on New Years. You were ready to party!

Honestly, what you were most excited for (as you told the monsters Christmas night after playing music for them all) was making a new tradition. Undyne explained a little bit more about their traditions underground, and it was honestly worse than you expected. It sounded like a straight up day of mourning. “Everyone’s usually quiet,” she said as she hugged Alphys closer in her lap. “Nobody talks much because we’re all just… remembering what we learned as kids. Everyone takes the day off, and a lot of people end up wandering the echo flower fields. People fill them with wishes.”

“Echo flowers?”

“T-they repeat the last thing said to them.”

“nature’s natural eavesdroppers.”

“People would whisper to them their wishes for the new year.” Undyne sighed. “Almost all of them were about breaking the barrier.”

“WELL! I ALWAYS WISHED THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE HAPPIER. AND SOMETIMES FOR FRIENDS.”

“I-I. Would wish for happiness too.”

“I wished a human would fall,” Undyne said, clearly still upset, but she grinned sharply at Frisk. “Guess I got my wish, right twerp?”

Frisk nodded, hardly awake any longer. Toriel pet their hair softly, clearly to their enjoyment. “I myself did not wish on echo flowers, but I wished for the opposite on my own. I had seen too many children fall already.” Asgore looked grim at that comment.

“WHAT ABOUT YOU, BROTHER?”

Sans shrugged. “I usually avoided the echo flowers. those things always gave me the creeps.” You could tell he was dodging the question, but. You had to admit, the flowers did sound creepy.

You cleared your throat. “Well. You all are free now. And at our celebration, we all make wishes too, but. We call them resolutions. Nobody ever really keeps them? But they’re goals we make for ourselves to achieve before the next New Year’s Eve.”

“OH? THAT SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD IDEA. EXCEPT FOR THE NOT DOING THEM PART.”

“Yeah.” You grinned. “Hey, why don’t we try and make a New Years resolution? Each of us. Something to try and follow.”

Papyrus beamed. “I LIKE THIS NEW TRADITION.”

“I’m down. I’m gonna kick your butt in resolution making, human!”

“O-Okay… b-but if we can’t do it it’s alright.”

Sans shrugged. “got my goal already. sleep less.” Everyone laughed at that. You couldn’t shake your smile off your face for the rest of the night, even as you crawled into bed entirely too late (early) the next morning.

New traditions. You were already getting there.

 

The day after Christmas, Sans took his drone for a spin. You followed and helped show him how to set it up. It made you very annoyed to learn that Sans was exactly the kind of idiot who refuses to look at the instructions because “oh i know i can get this” before almost fucking things up. Thank goodness you stepped in. He was grumpy, but that faded quickly when he started to fly the drone.

Thankfully, it worked like a dream. For such a cheap one, you were relieved it had come through. Even better than seeing it fly, though, was the look on Sans’s face. He watched it curiously, at first, as he let it fly while you hooked his phone to the camera. Then, god, the glow he had as he saw the camera feed on his phone while Papyrus flew the drone for a while… it made your heart skip in a not-entirely unsatisfying way.

You bit your lip when you realized just how often you kept staring at him rather than the toy, and ignored the feeling to the best of your abilities. Sans was not crush material, you reminded yourself. He was not interested in you. He had his own crush. No sense getting your hopes up. You really shouldn’t get your hopes up.

Sans laughed as he said your name, breaking you from your thoughts. “this thing is amazing! think - if we ever gotta see somethin’ we can’t reach. hell, woulda found papyrus a lot easier.” He was beaming, and it was a real smile. You had finally started taking note of some of the differences. Brighter lights in his eyes. His cheekbones shifting to a more relaxed position, rather than a classic smile pose. He was genuinely enjoying himself right now.

“what? I got somethin’ in my teeth?”

You shook your head and cleared your throat quickly, hoping desperately you weren’t being obvious. Fuck. Were you? Fuck! “Just a lot of happiness. I never see you smile like that.” Great save there, man. Happiness. A lot of happiness is in Sans’ teeth. What the fuck.

Sans looked surprised and rubbed his neck, grinning more (not fair). “uh. yeah. guess it’s easier to smile when i’ve got cool new toys to play with. thanks. you did a great job.”

Fuck. Why was he so cute? Fuck. Shit. God your heart was pounding. “Hey, I’m gonna go make some cocoa. You want some?” Escape!

“sure thing.”

“Papyrus, you want any?!” Yes! Yes get the sweet innocent cinnamon bun in between your thoughts of Sans! He would distract you.

“CERTAINLY, HUMAN! MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE MARSHMALLOWS. SANS LIKES THAT.” Oh no cute.

“bro. who doesn’t like marshmallows?”

“VULKIN SAYS THEY DON’T LIKE THEM.”

“that’s cause they’re already mellow enough.”

Papyrus groaned and carefully landed the drone before turning and shouting at Sans while you watched, amused (and mortified at how much you liked his puns). “SANS!!! THAT PUN WAS NOT EVEN ACCURATE! IT IS NOT MARSHMELLOW! IT IS MARSHMALLOW!”

“huh. guess that joke was a new mallow for me.”

“SAAAANS!!!!!”

Sans laughed and you got a glimpse of his teeth as he opened his mouth, just very lightly sharpened, and your heart ached to take a picture of this moment, to remember the happiness of his face, the joy in his laugh, the way your neck tingled as you eyed those teeth-

Woah.

Okay.

Okay back up okay.

“Be right back with the cocoa!” You went inside quickly, breathing out as you shut the door behind you.

 

… You wanted to bone the skeleton.

Fuck.

At least you couldn’t think anymore about your really really silly crush. Now you only had one question burning into your mind.

 

*~*~*~

 

“How would that even work?”

You were home again. Not with Sans and Papyrus, no. They had chosen to remain at Toriel’s along with Asgore, Alphys, and Undyne, all playing with their new toys or settling down for more napping. No, you were home, talking to Curtis while your mom was downstairs, struggling to answer the phone while doing the laundry.

“Not too loud, okay?” You would be absolutely horrified if your mom heard you two discussing this.

Curtis snickered. “No worries, she won’t hear. But. Seriously.” He grinned more, leaning against the wall of your room. “He’s a skeleton.”

“I know! I know. Just. I think I’m just all swept up with. With my crush.”

“Glad you finally admitted it, Chipper.”

You threw a small pillow at him while he laughed. “Dick.”

“I thought you liked those.”

“Usually attached to a nice guy, yeah.” You groaned, rubbing your face. God. This was a mess. “Curtis, what am I going to do?”

“Uh. Ask him out?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?” You paused. Curtis took this time to come and sit next to you on the bed, setting the pillow down. “I mean. What’s really stopping you here? You’re not usually one to hold back cause you’re scared of the response.”

“It’s. It’s not that I’m scared.” Honestly, you weren’t. Even if Sans wasn’t into Toriel and he still said no, you wouldn’t care. Probably. “It’s… Sans.” You bit your lip. “Don’t share this he’s embarrassed by it but he has a crush on someone else.”

“Ah shit.” Curtis paused and ran a hand through his hair. “It’s Toriel, isn’t it?”

You sighed and laid back on your bed, staring at the ceiling. Your little green plastic stars stared back. “Uuuugh. Yeah. It’s Toriel.”

Curtis let out a low whistle and shook his head. “... okay. I can see how that’d be a problem. Fuck. They’d honestly be kinda cute together.”

“I know.” You covered your face. “Honestly? I kind of want them to hook up!”

“Seriously?”

“I just want Sans to be happy, you know. He’s got more locked away than the two of us combined.”

“He’s a fucking safe then, cause that’s some bullshit.”

You snorted, thankful for the distraction. Curtis had a way of distracting people. “He’s wrestling with a lot, deep down, and he’s seriously fucking depressed. He hides it well, but Jesus Christ Curtis I have never wanted to make someone happier in my life.”

“You do know it’s not your job to make him happy, right?”

“I know. I just. I want to. Probably because I also want to snuggle him and kiss his face and make him breakfast.”

“Oh my god.”

“I know!” You groaned loudly and grabbed the pillow to muffle a particularly loud groan. “It’s not fair,” you mumbled.

“I know, kiddo.”

You pulled away the pillow to glare at Curtis. “I’m not a kiddo.”

“Right, right, whatever.” Curtis looked thoughtful, messing with the bottom half of his face and rubbing his cheeks. “I don’t know what to suggest. Is Sans down for casual fucking?”

“Oh my god Curtis!”

“I’m just saying, it sounds like you’re just as interested in hugging him as you are with having him bite your neck off. Which, by the way, you’ve got a vampire kink??”

“Shut up oh my god.”

Curtis snickered but did become more serious. “I’m not kidding, though. Would Sans be down? Because then you can see if this is just you wanting to fuck him.”

You thought about it seriously for a second. You already knew you wanted more than fucking - that much was just common knowledge in your brain at this point. You’d seen plenty of guys you’d lusted after before, but Sans was different. You’d never wanted to look up bigger apartments to live in just so Sans had a bed to sleep in that wasn’t the couch.

As for what Sans wanted… “I can’t do that to Sans,” you finally said. “Him and I had a conversation about family, y’know? And he mentioned how… how alone him and Papyrus were. Sans deserves more than a casual fuck. He needs someone he can go to and rely on.”

Curtis shook his head. “Damn. Chip, I gotta break the news. You’ve got it bad.”

You sighed softly and nodded. “Yeah. I know.”

“I’ve only got one other solution.”

 

*~*~*~

 

It was three days before New Years Eve before you followed Curtis’s suggestion. It was about half an hour after Sans had laughed so hard at a joke you made that he ended up crying.

You grabbed your jacket, your wallet, and told everyone you were going to go out this evening. It was after dinner now, so nobody really cared much. “want any company?”

“Nah, I think I’m just gonna go to a bar and relax for a bit,” you said, trying to keep yourself under control. Were you actually going to do this? You’d never done this before.

“you should check out grillby’s. pretty sure he’s back.”

“Oh.” You wracked your brain for a second and snapped, nodding. “I know that place! I walked past it to get to Muffet’s. It was closed, though, which was weird because bars make great business this time of year.”

Sans nodded. “yeah, he was visiting his niece underground. i think he got back just a few days ago, so it’ll be pretty busy.”

“That’s alright.”

“MAYBE OUR ROOMMATE WILL MAKE A NEW FRIEND!”

Here’s hoping, Paps. Here’s hoping.

 

You left, walking straight towards where you knew Grillby’s was. The sidewalks had thankfully been shoveled, so you didn’t have to worry about soaking your socks in snow. You walked by the lamp light. It was honestly… peaceful. It did a little to still your racing heart.

You had never done something like this. Your first girlfriend was in middle school, if you could count her. Your second had been in high school, and that had been a mistake and a half, especially the, uh. Less than of-age parts. You shivered a little and held your jacket a little tighter. At least you figured out you were gay after that.

But going out to a bar with the express purpose of finding someone to hook up with?!

“God, why did I let him talk me into this,” you mumbled. At the time, Curtis had made this seem so much easier and smarter than it felt now. Just go to a bar, have a drink or two, flirt around, and find someone you liked. Simple! Easy! And it would get your mind off of Sans. What was the classic line? Plenty of fish in the sea? Still. Maybe you weren’t much of a fisherman.

You looked up as you got close to Grillby’s. Sans hadn’t been kidding about it being busy - though, thankfully, there wasn’t a line or anything out the door. You did notice a lot of monsters, however. Made sense. You were basically in Monster Town right now, since a lot of Monsters decided to live nearby. Your old apartment had been far enough out of the way that you hadn’t seen many. Seems they mostly stayed around this area of town.

You bit your lip, trying to avoid chewing a hole through it from nervousness. “Okay. Okay, you can do this. You can go in there and…”

And get a drink. Yeah. You could go in, drink, and just go home. And not seek out a date at all. Because you could totally find a better way of getting over Sans than trying to date someone else. Yeah. Yeah, and whatever happened, happened!

Relieved that you still had options open, you walked into the bar. Well, restaurant. Diner? You weren’t quite sure what to call it. It seemed to mostly function as a restaurant, but right now, it was a bar that happened to serve food.

You saw monsters everywhere. You were startled to actually see a few humans, too! Seemed this bar was very inclusive, in both directions. People were all mixed up, drinking together and having a good time. The thing that caught your attention the most, beyond the homey feel of the inside of the restaurant and the old-fashioned juke box churning out songs in the corner, was the very blatant fire hazard that was a fire monster serving alcohol.

You blinked, taking him in as you walked up to the bar. “Uh. Hi.” The flaming man looked at you and seemed to smile, though it was hard to tell. Seeing as he was, as you had already noticed a few times, made of fire. There seemed to be a popping sound over the noise of the bar, and it seemed like it came from him? “Um, I’m sorry, I don’t-”

“Grillb’z said it’s nice to meet you.” You glanced at the red bird sitting next to an empty bar stool. “Feel free to sit.”

“Oh! Thank you.” You glanced back at Grillby - the owner, apparently - and introduced yourself. You could actually see the light spark he had. You looked back at the red bird.

“He recognizes the name. You’re Sans’s new roommate, right?”

“Yeah. I am.” You grinned. “He told me to come here, actually.”

Grillby nodded and pointed at the chalkboard menu. You relaxed a little. This felt nice. You ordered a drink you knew you would like and some fries, and Grillby went to the back. You breathed out and looked around.

There were plenty of people milling about. You noticed a group of dogs chatting and playing poker (you weren’t going to laugh, you swore to yourself). There was a group of bunnies as well, who seemed to be celebrating something. The baby seemed a little too young to be in this loud environment, but they were still fast asleep. The humans scattered around were mingling, chatting with monsters like they were close friends. They probably were. You smiled. That was good to see.

Grillby came back with the fries and drink quickly. You thanked him and idly ate a fry.

.........

“Holy shit this is the best fry I’ve ever had.”

It was absolutely delicious. The perfect amount of just geasy enough. Lightly salted, but not so much salt that you would need a drink quickly. You grabbed a bit of mustard to go with it. He had a few different types, too - dijon for the win. God you were so happy. This was so much better than you had anticipated. You thought this would suck and you would have disgusting food and bad beer, but… This felt warm. You liked it here.

Definitely a good choice.

You spent the night chatting with Grillby - or, well, chatting with the red bird. Grillby wasn’t very talkative, it seemed, or at least you didn’t really understand what he was saying. Maybe he spoke another language. The red bird beside you thankfully translated for him, though you occasionally felt as though they were making it up as they went along. Nonetheless, it was a good conversation.

Honestly, your original intention slipped your mind, especially since it wasn’t really something you would normally do. You were just going to enjoy the night, chatting with a nice bartender and saying hi to the few monsters that greeted you. However, your original intention was the intention of numerous other bargoers.

You gasped a little as someone bumped into you where you were sitting. “Oh. Hey, are you okay?”

There was a very drunk bunny who grabbed your shoulder, their legs wobbling. “W-Woah.” They giggled before hiccupping. “I’m s-s-so sorry. Fell over.”

You frowned and tried to help them settle themselves. “You okay?”

“Mmmmmmmmmmmhm!” The bunny looked almost exactly like that emoji on your phone. The one for being drunk. It was weird. “H-h-hey. Are you. Are you a human?”

Ooooh god. Yeah they were really drunk. “Yep. Yep, I am. Where were you sitting? Maybe I can help you back.”

“Mmmm is your lap taken?”

You blinked and flushed as they started laughing. Oh. Oh they. They were flirting with you. “Um. I. Um.”

“Oh my goodness gracious, Peaches!” Another bunny walked over, one that looked fairly familiar for some reason. He grabbed the drunk one - Peaches? - and pulled them away from you. “Oh, sir, I am terribly sorry for them, they do this sometimes. When they drink too much!”

“It’s alright. Will they be okay?”

The bunny smiled at you and nodded. “Yeah. They’re just a bit of a lightweight! I’m gonna get you home, okay Peaches?”

“A-Are there any-” Hic! “Any hot g-g-guys there?”

“Mhm. A lot of hot guys. Promise. More hot guys than you’ll know what to do with!”

The bunny nods. “Good. L-Lets go to hot guys.”

“Alright.” The blue bunny mouthed “thank you” to you as he led the drunk bunny over to the group of other monsters.

You shook your head, working on finishing your drink. You’d been drinking it fairly slowly, but that event needed a pick me up. You definitely were surprised by the encounter, but… It was nice to know you definitely weren’t interested in someone else right now. You just wanted a night where you could relax and drink, and you’d get over your feelings for Sans some other way.

As you finally finished the last of your drink and the last dregs of your fries, you turned to get up, but there was someone else standing by you. You blinked. It was the blue bunny from before, looking sheepish. “Um. Hi?”

“Hi. Did your friend get home alright?”

The sheepish smile brightened up, and he stood up straighter. “Yeah! Yeah, I made sure they got home. Carissa took them home, the baby was getting tired anyways. Oh, a-and Carissa and Peaches, they’re my cousins.”

“I see.” You relaxed a little but something was just… tugging at your brain. You knew you knew this guy from somewhere…

“I just wanted to thank you for not taking advantage of them. Peaches has gotten into… well. A lot of trouble up here. And you seemed just as concerned as, well, family, and I really appreciate it.”

You shook your head. “Of course not. I wouldn’t take advantage of someone like that, especially when they’re too drunk to consent. And I’m… Uh. Not. Particularly interested? In. Them?” You bit your cheek. Coming out to strangers was always a little bit awkward. “They sort of have some parts I’m not a fan of.”

The bunny looked confused for a second and hesitantly pointed to his ears.

“Oh! Oh no- I meant- I’m gay, not racist.”

“Oh! Me too.”

He smiled warmly, and you gasped. “Ice cream!! You’re the dude who was selling ice cream!”

“Oh!” The bunny smiled even brighter, his ears twitching lightly. “You’ve seen my Nice Cream stand.” He glanced at one of the empty seats next to you. “Is this taken?”

“No, feel free.”

He sat and beamed at you. “Have you ever gotten ice cream from me?”

“No, sorry. I’m… usually less interested in ice cream during winter.”

“Oh.” The bunny seemed disappointed briefly, but he brightened up immediately. “Well, I guess I’ll make back sales in the summer. That’s a thing you guys have up here, right? I read about it in a book once, it was really interesting!”

You smiled warmly. The bunny was just very optimistic, and it was rubbing off on you. It felt nice. Exactly the kind of person you wanted to be friends with. “Yeah, we have summer. I’m sorry, did. Did you call it Nice Cream?”

“Oh yeah. I uh… I called it Nick Cream at first, but that. Didn’t go over well.” You laughed at that. Oh god, and the little kids coming to get ice cream, with a place named that!! “I’m Nick, if you couldn’t tell.”

“Nice to meet you, Nick.” He smiled when you said that, incredibly sweetly. You smiled back. “I was about to leave, but would you like to have a drink with me? I think I’d like to learn more about nice cream.”

Nick giggled a little. “Okay. I think I’d like that.”

 

Maybe Curtis hadn’t been so off the mark after all.

Chapter Text

“Well, I grew up with people telling me how sweet and how nice I was. It just made sense!”

The grin on your face hadn’t left since Nick’s drink arrived. His smile hadn’t left either. He was so bright and enthusiastic, and even if it had fallen, you knew it would bounce back. Nick was an open book, it felt like.

Not at all like Sans, your brain supplied quietly. You drank that thought away. You weren’t here to think about Sans right now. That was literally exactly what you were avoiding right now. You were here to get drunk and enjoy the company of a nice guy.

“It seems like it does. I think it’s cute, you just need more advertising.” The bunny looked confused. “Do you have an email address or something?”

“Oh! Oh Carissa showed me how that worked. We had the Undernet, but I’m abysmal with technology. I tried to use the social network down there and just. Failed miserably!”

You shook your head. “Well, you should sign up for something online, social media wise. You’d get a lot more business, people love ice cream, they just need to know it exists.”

“Really? Oh goodness! Here I thought it was… well.” His ears went down slightly and, while his smile did remain, it was a little less full of joy. Seeing it made your heart ache. “Given the track record of everything I’ve heard about, I. I thought humans were avoiding me.”

“Oh gosh. Hey, Nick, humans can be dicks sometimes. Don’t let that get to you.”

“Well! Not all humans, at least! I mean, just look at you, sitting and listening to me talk all night!” He brightened up again, beaming at you. You laughed a little and raised your drink. He raised his. “To the ones who aren’t. Well. Dicks!”

“To the ones who aren’t dicks.” You drank.

 

*~*~*~

 

Nick choked on his drink, trying to avoid getting alcohol up his nose. You laughed too, holding your chest. The story was much funnier right now than it had been when it happened.

“He asked you that!?”

“Yes!! Just. Asked me if I was an axe murderer!”

“Oh my goodness. That man - he is such a sweetheart, honestly. Wait, and this all started because you fell asleep in the snow? Hon, you don’t have fur, that’s bad!”

“You think I don’t know that??? I was so sick!” You laughed more, setting your hands on the counter for stability. You took a deep breath. “God, I was sick for so long. It felt like forever.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re better now.” He reached out and held your hand comfortingly. “I’m really enjoying your company, Mr. Hypothermia.”

You grinned and felt your cheeks warming up. You always were prone to blushing more when you were buzzed (or where you tipsy?) and it was definitely happening now. “I’m enjoying yours too, Nick.”

Nick beamed at you and sipped at his drink. He still held your hand.

 

*~*~*~

 

“So…” You blinked, processing. “So your roommate-“

“Yep.” He enunciated the P clearly.

“That’s such an awful nickname.”

“Oh, gosh, he hates it. Though people have started using his real name now at least, now that his acting is starting to kick off. He has a webpage and everything! He’s always been more tech savvy than me.” Nick had a way of rambling, you’d come to realize. You certainly didn’t mind. You liked listening. He had a nice voice. “But since he’s been away with Mettaton, it’s been just me in the apartment, so. Naturally the place is trashed.”

You snorted. “You? Living in a trash heap? I don’t see it. You seem like a clean freak to me.”

Nick giggled. “You have no idea how many people say that??” You opened your mouth to say something before Nick paused, glancing at Grillby. “Huh?”

You blinked and glanced at Grillby. He was speaking. “Oh! Oh golly gosh, it is late, isn’t it?”

What? Oh, wow, how long had you guys talked? Not that you hadn’t… fucking loved every second of it though.

“I’m so sorry, I kept you here so long-“

“Nick, no. No. This was amazing.” Booze did crazy things. It gave people courage in a lot of cases, and here was no exception. Your mind flashed back to what Curtis had suggested, and well… You. Weren’t as opposed as you had been when you first walked in here. “Say, Nick?”

“Yeah?”

“I really liked talking to you.” You reached out and held his hand now. It was definitely a bit odd, with him being ever so slightly fluffy, but you found you didn’t mind. It felt nice. Nick flushed a little himself this time. “Do. Do you uh…” Your brain short circuited here. “Do you. Like. My parts?”

You both stared at each other for a second before absolutely dissolving into laughter.

“Oh my god that was the worst bury me alive-“

“Hey!! No it was cute!!” Nick beamed at you and your felt your heart beat a little harder. He bit his lip a little, and his look definitely gave you your answer. That was a Yep! “Did. You… wanna, um, go to my place?”

“I think I’d like that.”

Nick stood and grabbed his wallet. You stood as well and then just as quickly sat. “Woah.”

“Slow down there, hon! Don’t fall over.” He paused and you saw his nose twitch a little. God. That was cute??? Was that what he did when he was concerned? “You. Are you sober enough for this?”

“Nick, I walked into this bar fully intending on going home with someone tonight.” Nick flushed so red and you grinned as he cleared his throat. “I just got lucky enough that you sat next to me.”

“Oh golly!” He beamed and laughed and your heart skipped again. You… definitely wanted to hear more. “Um. Well. If you wanna stop at any time, just let me know, okay hon? You can take my roommates bed, or I can call Sans or Papyrus-“

“Nick. It’s fine. Seriously.” You stood up and put an arm around him. “Thanks for worrying.”

“Oh, well. I’m a worry wart!” He beamed. You both paid Grillby (who seemed grateful) and you left together.

Nick’s wasn’t too far, and you weren’t too drunk, you didn’t think. Delightfully tipsy maybe. You giggled a lot on the way, running your spare hand through your hair. “I don’t normally drink much.”

“I can tell. You’re a lightweight.”

“Hey!”

“Sorry, hon, but you are! Don’t worry, it’s cute, alright?”

You smiled warmly as you stumbled again. You weren’t dizzy at all - it was just like your legs wouldn’t cooperate quite right. Oh well. “Do you call everyone hon? Or is it just me?”

His ears twitched, causing you to laugh, which made him flush some. “I call just about everyone something. Though, hon is reserved for the cute ones.” Oh you loved that. “Here, up the steps-“ He helped you walk up and into the building, and you watched as he unlocked the door to his apartment. You prepared yourself.

You walked in and the first thing to hit you was that it smelled like someone had recently cleaned. Dusted, even. There were some boxes still unpacked in the corner of the room (you walked straight into the living room) and bookshelves filled with DVDs and books. They had a pretty nice flatscreen! “Niiiice.”

“I’m sorry, it’s so cluttered-” Nick was saying as he picked up a lone book from the nightstand to go put it away.

“Nick. Nick this place is fine. Is... that a person sized cat tree in the corner?”

“Oh um. That’s my roommates?”

“Whatever.” You grinned. “It’s so cool.” You held your head and took a deep breath. “Okay. So maybe I’m not actually sober enough yet but that’s just because it is really hard to be in the mood when everything is hilarious.”

Nick laughed a little. “Alright hon. Here, let’s get you to the couch, okay? I’ll get some water.” He helped you over to the couch and you sat down, sighing in relief. The couch was soft. Saggy, even, but you didn’t mind. You sank into it with a smile. Nick seemed just as relieved as he ran and got you water.

You relaxed, taking in the room around you. This place was definitely a bit smaller than Sans and Papyrus’s - something you hadn’t realized was possible. It looked like one bedroom, one bath kind of scenario. Peeking around, they definitely had lots of things that were cool, but it was still obvious these living conditions weren’t the greatest, and you personally knew this part of town wasn’t the healthiest.

“Sorry if it tastes weird, I think there’s something wrong with our ice filter,” Nick said quickly as he walked in with a glass of water for you both.

You gratefully took it and sipped it slowly so you didn’t throw off your stomach. “Thanks. Tastes fine.” You shut your eyes and laid back, taking a deep breath. “Gosh. Sorry for um. The stalling, I guess-”

“Oh hon, no!” Nick sat his glass down and held your hand. You blinked at the gesture. He beamed so sweetly and kindly at you. “Never, ever be sorry for telling me to hold off, alright? I’m. I’m really really glad you came home with me tonight, but. To be honest? I. Don’t really have many friends, and it’s nice to have just that much.”

You squeezed his hand gently, definitely finding the fur to be… different. It would take some getting used to. But you did kind of want to get used to it now. “You? Not having friends? First you tell me your place is trashed, I swear, I didn’t peg you as a liar.”

“What? No! I don’t-” He pouted and you couldn’t resist another laugh. “I’m not lying. I… honestly don’t have many friends. I’m just sort of a shop owner. All of my friends are basically family. Some of my customers like to chat sometimes, but… I don’t have anyone to just hang out with other than…” He sighed and you saw his ears droop. Oh, no, you weren’t going to allow that.

“Hey.” You lifted his chin up a little and smiled sweetly. “How’s this? You’ve got a television, and I see that old XBox down there.”

“Oh, yeah. That’s. Um. Mettaton pays well.”

“You don’t need to explain your finances to me. You do, however, need to tell me if you’ve ever used YouTube.” He brightened up, ears springing back to life.

 

You two watched random YouTube videos for at least an hour, probably longer (with bathroom breaks for you both because wow alcohol sucks). The alcohol in your system definitely had time to wear off. Your laughter was just from videos now, from compilations to cat videos. You somehow ended up watching some of Mettaton’s live performances. At one point, your eyes narrowed. “Wait. Hold up. Is that your roommate in the bush?”

“Uh… Yeah.” He sighed. “He’s… Not really been getting the best of luck.”

“No, not really. What did you say his name was again?”

“Tyler. Tyler Mathis.” He scrunched up his nose. “He doesn’t like it much more than Burgerpants, but I think that’s because he got used to everyone forgetting his name, Underground.”

You scrolled to the credits and winced. “Ouch.”

“Oh… He’s. Not even listed.”

“Yeah… Yeesh.” You paused and snapped, grinning as you pulled out your phone. “Oh this is the best idea I’ve ever had- oh.” You had more than a few messages.

 

10:30: Sans: hey just wanted to ask when you might be home. paps was wondering.
11:20: Sans: you don’t normally stay out this long. just making sure you’re alive. paps is getting worried.
11:25: Sans: sorry for the messages, he doesn’t text much and all.
11:40: Sans: i’m going over to grill zucchini
11:40: Sans: *grillbz
11:41: Sans: just so you knew in case you weren’t expecting the skeleton in your closet to appear heh
11:58: Sans: grillbz told me what happened. have fun getting tail ;););)

 

“Oooh god that’s embarrassing.”

“What is?”

“Sans um… Sort of. Got worried and visited Grillby and Grillby told him where I was and… Yeah, Sans knows why I came here originally.”

“Oh.” Nick cleared his throat, nose twitching slightly. “Are… Are you embarrassed because of me?”

“Oh god not you Nick.” You turned bright red. Oh god you hurt his feelings you couldn’t stand that. You took a deep breath. “Um. I… Sans- I mean.” This was impossible! You were currently trying to tell the person you still had kind of mixed feelings about fucking that you wanted to fuck your roommate! “Fuck. This is difficult. I. Sans means. A lot to me.”

“I’ve got that too,” Nick blurts out.

You blinked. “What??”

Nick held himself and flushed, looking away in embarrassment. “I’m absolutely, 100%, head over heels for Tyler.”

“... Oh my god. We’re both in love with our roommates.”

He sheepishly smiled. “You went to the bar-”

“- to find a cheap fuck to get over my crush. No offense.”

“Same here.” He giggled a little and you couldn’t help but smile, shaking your head. God. You should’ve seen it, from the way he’d been rambling about his roommate. It was the same exact way you’d been rambling about Sans all night. Somehow? It just made Nick seem that much more adorable. “What um. What was your idea?” he asked through giggles.

“What?”

“You grabbed your phone-”

“Oh!” You smiled sweetly. “I guess it’s kind of dumb in retrospect. I just figured, I have Alphys’s number, and she built Mettaton, so. I dunno, I just thought I could message her and ask her to tell Mettaton to include Tyler’s name in the credits of his shows.”

Nick blinked and you could see him hesitating. He smiled really gently and bit his lip lightly as he held your hand again. You watched him scoot a little closer and just smiled back a little. You didn’t really mind the closeness. “Gosh, hon. Has anyone mentioned how… how good you are?”

“Uh, yeah. You know? I think a few times.” You laughed gently, beaming. “Anyone ever mentioned how your smiles are infectious?”

He flushed and laughed too, squeezing your hand. “Um. Once or twice.”

“Hey, Nick?” He looked up as you shut off the TV. He seemed confused at first until you squeezed his hand back. “Did you. Would you mind.” You paused and cleared your throat. “So my brother suggested I go out and look for someone to have sex with, to get my mind off Sans.”

“Carrisa suggested it to me. T-Though she didn’t really say sex, exactly. Just. Meeting the right guy and taking him home and doing what bunnies do.”

You chuckled and licked your lips. “Um. My brother’s really. Ugh. Ridiculously experienced.” Nick snickered and you rolled your eyes. “I’m um… I’m really not.”

“Oh.”

“And. I just wanted to know if you…” You cleared your throat, face warm and everything feeling warm and you really wanted to kiss him for like 20 minutes now so you just took a deep breath and kissed his forehead.

He blinked and smiled, clearly surprised by the forehead kiss. “You… Want to take this to the bedroom?”

“I mean, I’m fine on the couch?”

“Oh god, hon, the bed is so much better, come on.” He laughed and helped you up off the couch (you two had started to lean back into the arm rest, you hadn’t even realized). You followed him to the bedroom. The bed wasn’t much bigger than the couch, but as you and Nick got on, it was certainly less… saggy.

And then he pulled you into a kiss and your brain short circuited.

 

You had kissed one man in your life. It had been during that time you had snuck into college classes for a short time. A teacher’s assistant caught you there, and instead of calling you out on not paying for the class, he just asked if you wanted to hang out that night with a few friends, because he needed to go with someone. And, one thing led to another at the party, he got drunk, you were tipsy, and he was shy and so were you…

This wasn’t like that kiss. First off, it was a bit fuzzy. You didn’t really mind as you reached up to pull his head in more. Second off, this was… way less sloppy. The kiss was firm, certain. You liked that. A lot. Your girlfriend in high school had kissed you like that, but this time around, it felt right. You didn’t feel yourself questioning it, this time around.

Nick gently hummed and pulled away, much to your disappointment, but you realized quickly that you hadn’t been breathing. You smiled, clearly shook up. “You okay, hon?”

“Yeah. Just. Never been kissed like that.”

“Oh.” He giggled with a bright smile. “Well. Mind if I do it again?”

“Nick, you could do that for- mm!” You gasped as he kissed you a bit harder, pushing into it and pushing you against the pillows. Oh god. Your heart was suddenly pounding against your chest. You just let Nick guide this, your heart would burst if you tried anything different.

He held the kiss, his hand going to your hair. You hummed as he ran his fingers through it, and you could tell he was just enjoying the feeling. He clung to it a little, earning a little movement from you, squirming under him. He pulled away to gently kiss your jawline. You were already panting. “Jesus.”

“My name’s Nick.”

You snorted out a loud laugh and heard him giggling too. You relaxed more, surprised to feel you were even tense in the first place. You hadn’t realized you were.

“Hon? You mind taking off your shirt?”

“No, I.” You stopped as Nick took off his. “Oh gosh.” You grinned and took your own off. It wasn’t much, but this was already getting further with a guy than you’d ever been. And suddenly, he was leaning over you, kissing you again, and that thought fled as soon as it came. Most of your thoughts were doing that now.

Then his hands were on your sides and chest, and you felt yourself working up to a pant again. You weren’t sure what to do with your hands, but you wanted to feel him too. You let one stay on the sheets and reached up, feeling the fur on his back. Nick shivered and smiled into the kiss, pulling away. “God, you’re soft,” he mumbled.

“You are too. Though, uh, I guess that was obvious.”

“I meant your… style, I guess. You’re a lover.” You laughed at that. You weren’t sure how else to respond but by kissing him again on your own terms, so you gently pulled his head back into a kiss, slowly so as not to startle him. He giggled and ran his hands over your chest.

Then he pulled away again, moving slowly, kissing your neck. You shifted a little, suddenly realizing just how tight your jeans felt. They had been much more comfortable not too long ago. “Fuck, Nick…”

“Mmm, good.” He kept kissing down your chest, down your stomach. You watched as he got to your jeans and started unbuttoning them. You tensed slightly - oh god. You were about to have sex. Gay sex. AKA, the only sex that actually mattered to you.

Nick glanced up and smiled. “I-Is this okay, hon?”

You smiled and laughed, looking up at the ceiling. “Um. Y-Yeah. Yeah. I just. God, I’m. Yeah. Thinking’s already hard enough as it is.”

“We don’t have to if you don’t want. First times are special, I know.”

“I mean, it’s.” You weren’t getting into that. Not right now. Fuck that. You shook your head and gulped. “It’s okay, Nick. I’m okay if it’s with you. I just. This is okay? Casual, good fun?”

Nick bit his lip and nodded, a big smile on his face. “I’ve been casually having good fun with men at that bar for about five months now, hon. Trust me. This is okay.” You laughed again. “Just stop me anytime if it gets uncomfortable, okay?”

“Okay. I trust you.”

Nick beamed and pushed your legs up so he could get your pants off. Then your underwear. You just laid there now, completely naked and blushing like mad, looking away. He stared at you for a few seconds and breathed. “You’re really handsome, you know that?”

“O-Oh gosh, Nic- OH G-” You jolted a little as he wrapped his hand around your dick, gently moving immediately. “Oh fuck.”

This was completely different than when you masturbated. First, his hands were soft, it was fuzzy, and it almost tickled. It just added to all those sensations, and secondly, your hands were by your head as you couldn’t imagine moving. You groaned as he moved, jacking you off slowly. “Oh my god.”

“You’re noisy, too. That’s really cute!”

God you felt. Amazing. The sensations were amazing, the fact that you were with someone else, the fact that he kept complimenting you- “Nick, fuck, this is different.”

“Usually is, hon,” he said softly before leaning into you again, kissing you while he kept his hand moving. You moaned into the kiss, and you felt that flicker of embarrassment, but then you clung to him with both hands and gasped as he rolled his thumb over the head of your dick. He kissed you harder, forcing his tongue into your mouth, and you let him in.

He explored briefly, but not for long, before moving back to suck on your lip, his hand running over your sides, feeling you everywhere. You whimpered at all of the sensations. “I-I’m not gonna last long like this,” you quickly said, panting louder, trying not to thrust into his hand.

“Good! I want to make you cum.” Oh god that didn’t help the not lasting at all. He sped up a little and kissed you again before moving to kiss your stomach again. And then he was pushing your legs apart, and then his head- and he- oh god.

You covered your mouth to muffle yourself, eyes wide as he began to suck you off, bobbing his head gently. God, the feelings. God. Your mind couldn’t think about feeling anymore, it was busy doing the feeling. You gripped into the sheets with your spare hand. The one on your mouth was doing hardly anything to muffle your moaning. Nick didn’t seem to mind. He smirked around you and sank further down on you, earning a small thrust.

It didn’t take long before he started moving faster and you started to peak. You took your hand away, gasping. “Oh god- Nick! Fuck, I-I’m. I’m gonna cum, you- god.” You couldn’t string together a proper sentence, not now, not with him.

He didn’t stop. He kept going. Further down, faster, one hand holding onto your leg and the other onto the sheets. He dug his fingers into your thigh. You gasped again, moaning louder, feeling- feeling too much- oh god, you moaned his name, thrusting up into his mouth. You felt him moan around you.

And then the too much is more too much, and you’re gripping the sheets harder, and you’re moaning louder, too loud- he doesn’t mind- you don’t mind- you tense up, you want this to last, but he obviously doesn’t-

And then you’re cumming, moaning, and he swallows around you, and your body is crying out for more from the motion, and you’re thrusting deeper into his mouth, and he handles it perfectly--

 

Your mind is mush by the time you relax, the world is blurry, and Nick is pulling away to try and get a small bit of cum off his face. It’s caught in his fur. You can’t help but giggle. “There you go, hon,” he says, and it takes you entirely too long to even process his voice. He rests on his side beside you, kissing you sweetly. You moan a little into it. Is that what you taste like? Weird. But not as bad as you were expecting.

You slowly reached out, holding his hand. He looked surprised and giggled a little. “Mind if I keep going, hon?”

“N-Not yet,” you mumbled. “And god, if you tried more, I’d pass out.” Nick laughed and you kissed him again. You were still high from that… wonderful, amazing orgasm. Holy shit. He kissed you back gently, squeezing your hand happily. You pulled away. “Thanks, Nick.”

“Thank you! Definitely one of the best people I’ve had sex with.”

You laughed. “You’re my first guy, so. Definitely the best I’ve ever had.” He laughed too. You gently sat up and got on top of him, making him gasp in surprise. “You don’t mind, right? It’s my turn.”

“Oh! Goodness, I’m a-okay with this!”

“I-I don’t think I can try anal. But I’d love to just kiss you and get you off anyway I can. Is that okay?”

“Oh, hon…” You watched him relax and soften and his hand went to your cheek. “We can do anything you want. Tonight’s for both of us.”

You laughed and kissed him. The kiss slowly deepened over time. You gently felt his body. You were used to skin, flesh, but you didn’t mind the feeling of his fur, not at all. You were actually really enjoying this. More than you anticipated. And now, you just wanted more.

You moved to kiss his cheek where your cum still stained his face. It tasted weird, but not totally bad. You could get used to that. You kissed his neck, his face, his jaw. He sighed and relaxed into the bed, pausing your kissing just long enough to take off his own pants. You were a little hesitant to look, but thankfully, the dick was fairly similar to yours. Monsters. Thank goodness.

“Anything you want, hon. I don’t really have many boundaries.”

You beamed and kissed him again, and you felt his hands on your back, pulling you in more. That made you laugh. “God, Nick, this is. Different.”

“Yeah. Is it. A good different?”

You smirked a little, feeling a little more confident now that you were on top. “You tell me.” You gently started jacking him off in return, only pausing for a second because, well, you had never touched a dick other than your own. But thankfully, judging from the soft sigh of relief and the way his eyes rolled, you were making him feel good.

He nodded, letting his head rest on the pillow. “Definitely. Definitely a good different.”

You laughed and just moved faster suddenly. He gasped a little and moaned gently, definitely quieter than you had been. You hesitated because you weren’t sure just how far he would let you go, but. He would stop you if it was too much, right? Yeah. You thought? “Hey, just stop me if I go too far, okay?”

“S-Sure thing, sweetheart,” he said with a big smile.

You grinned and moved to kiss his legs, and then you started to bite. You were definitely going to be picking fur out of your teeth, but you didn’t mind, especially not when his moan got a little louder. You bit and suck on another part of his leg, earning some squirming as you moved your hand faster. Seemed Nick was a fan of biting.

You kinda liked it too.

You went up closer to his dick, and your teeth ended up right along the joint connecting his thigh to his pelvis. You bit hard, earning a jolt and a whimper. “Oh goodness, h-hon, god. Please.”

That sent a shiver all the way down your spine. You flushed and moved to suck on the tip of him.

 

Oh this was immediately difficult.

 

You did your best, but you were definitely not experienced. You moved slow and continued jacking him off where your mouth couldn’t reach. It was bigger than you expected, and you focused more on not scraping him with your teeth. But… again. It wasn’t unpleasant. You bobbed your head lightly around him, working your tongue around his shaft and relishing every little noise he made.

His hand gripped into your hair and held you there, making you moan against your wishes. It was a cycle, making him moan and gently shift, his dick pushing deeper into your mouth. You nearly gagged, but you found it was still comfortable once you adjusted.

You were self conscious about this; you weren’t as good as him, he probably wasn’t enjoying this, he deserved better - but then he was moaning more, whispering your name under his breath, and the doubts were gone again. You smirked around him as you felt another thrust, small and barely restrained, followed by an absolutely filthy curse. You hadn’t expected that from him.

You hadn’t expected this from you.

 

You pulled off to breathe for a second, both of you panting. He beamed up at you, face flushed and soaked a little with sweat. You were a bit gross yourself, but you didn’t mind. “Fuck, Nick.”

“Y-You might not be up for anal, but I am, if you wanted.”

You blinked, thrown for a loop. “D-did you-”

“It’s just an easy way for both of us to get off.” He flushed worse, stammering a little. “If-If you didn’t, that’s okay, I mean-”

“Why not?” He stopped and you laughed, breathless. “I didn’t realize I was enjoying that so much. Why not go all the way?” Nick beamed up at you and reached over to the nightstand by his bed, grabbing lube and condoms. You’d thankfully used both in the past, but never in this situation. “Um. Fair… warning. I’ve never done anything beyond. Um. Myself. In this regard.”

“Oh.” You looked away, completely embarrassed. You were literally in the middle of having sex with this man, and you were embarrassed about admitting to masturbate. Great. “Hon, that’s okay. I can do it myself.”

“Huh?” Nick bit his lip hard and you watched as he pulled his legs up… and further up. And hooked his feet behind the headboard. You flushed much more now; you had no idea he was so flexible. And now his ass was right there, and his little tail was shifting under him.

You kept watching as he put lube on his fingers and then… Lord. You watched him masturbate in front of you, covering his mouth and pushing his fingers into himself, spreading himself for you. “Ffffuck.” You gulped hard, taking the condom and lube and getting yourself ready while he did the same. His eyes closed from the pleasure he was feeling, and you could definitely tell he was more sensitive than you in that particular area.

He took his fingers out when you were ready, uncovering his mouth and panting hard. “T-There.”

“Nick. Not gonna lie. That was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.” Nick laughed at that and adjusted his position. You bit your lip. “Are um. Is- Is this-”

“You’re fine, hon. Just ease into it.”

“Into you?” Nick giggled a little and you leaned into him to kiss him, working on lining yourself up. It took longer than you wanted, but Nick didn’t seem to mind. He just kissed you hard and fast and used his clean hand to grip into your hair again.

And then you were lined up, and you hesitated because you had never done this before, and Nick pulled away to smile. “Please,” he said softly. And then you groaned and pushed slowly, very slowly, into him.

His moan just got louder and louder the deeper you went, which of course made you go deeper. It was a very new feeling, but god, fuck, you groaned loudly at how good it felt. He pulled you in closer, kissing you again and moaning against your lips. And before you could even register it, you were moving, thrusting into him, and he was shifting under you, trying to push you in further himself.

Everything was heat, and warmth, and fire in your stomach. Your head was foggy, and all you could feel was how good this was. You bit his neck hard to muffle yourself, getting even louder as you sped up. He didn’t bother to quiet himself, moaning your name between ragged gasps and breaths.

And then he shouted, and without warning, you felt his cum cover your stomach, warm and immediately sticky. You moaned again against him, moving faster and harder while he came, earning a tug on your hair and a small shout of surprise. “Fuck! Please, god hon, hard-” And you kept moving, harder, deeper, pulling away to breathe and moan his name louder, and you felt yourself building again, feeling it all pool together-

And then you came, hilting yourself into him, kissing him as you whimpered, gasping and whispering his name. He pulled you in as much as he could, his legs moving to wrap around you instead. You stayed inside him until you were done, panting and covered in sweat and cum.

 

He panted with you, beaming and looking dazed. The world slowly cleared, at least a little, and you beamed back. “A-alright, hon… I-I think I’m good for now.”

“W-Was that alright?”

“Hon, I ain’t fragile.” He kissed your nose, earning a soft chuckle from you. “You did wonderful.”

“Good.” You bit your lip and slowly pulled out of him, earning little whimpers from him and a small gasp when your head came out of him. You wrestled with the condom with numb fingers while Nick breathed. Your head was still spinning when he stood and walked to the bathroom. You heard the shower turn on and smiled. “Room for me?”

“Sure thing, hon.” Then he laughed. “Can’t stop calling you that.”

“I don’t mind.” You finally managed to get it off and toss it into the trash by the bed. Then, you went and joined Nick in the shower, walking on slightly shaky legs. “Fuck, I’m like Bambi.”

“What’s Bambi?”

“Oh. It’s a Disney movie. Uh. A little deer who loses his mother or something? I never actually watched it.” Nick looked confused. “I’m like Bambi cause there’s this scene where he’s learning to walk, and his legs are all unsteady and shaking. I’m Bambi after sex.” You shook your head with a soft laugh. “Sorry. I am so out of it after that. That was amazing.”

Nick laughed gently and kissed your cheek. “Don’t worry about it. Come on, let’s get in.”

 

After you were dry, and Nick was practically a little warm fluff ball, you curled up into the bed with him without even questioning the sleeping arrangements. You were both still naked, and neither of you cared. “Night, Nick,” you mumbled, already half asleep next to him as he wrapped his arms around you.

“Night, Bambi.”

You laughed a little, flushing a bit, and then you rested peacefully for the rest of the night as you felt him pull you into him more.

Chapter Text

“A-Are you okay?”

Justin looked up from the paperwork on his desk, blinking. “Oh. Dr. Alphys.”

Alphys nervously twiddled with her claws, hesitating at the door to the base station of the Mt. Ebbot Research Team. The name was a work in progress. She cleared her throat, taking in a breath of the cold air outside. “U-Um. Hi.”

Justin put down his paperwork, eyeing Alphys as he stood slowly. “I’m sorry, Alphys, I didn’t hear you. I was a bit absorbed into my work.” Alphys glanced towards them. Looked like the most recent reports on Geothermal Energy deep in the lava filled ravines below Hotland. Justin frowned and crossed his arms. “Why are you here? It’s nearly New Years. Almost no one is on the mountain.”

“I-I know. But I. Well.” She snorted a little nervously, grinning sheepishly. “I sort of left some of my manga here when I last worked. I-I read it on break, don’t worry.”

Justin smiled and walked over to the cubbies, looking around. He picked up a manga, the only in the cubbies - few people had left things here since it was nearly the end of the year. They were home with their things and families. “Here it is.”

“I-I. Um. I came for that, but. I also wanted to check on you. I-I kind of figured you were still here.”

He walked over and handed the manga to her. “Check on me? Alphys, I’m fine. Just trying to catch up on some work.”

She clutched the book to her chest, looking up at him and pushing up her glasses. “I-I understand. You just. You’re here, and it’s nearly New Years, and. You’ve seemed. Distracted lately.”

Justin blinked and sighed, gesturing to the table. Alphys nodded and sat in one of the chairs as Justin closed the door, blocking out the chill. “Dr. Alphys… I will say, you’re right. I am distracted.”

“I-It’s not hard to notice, Justin. You’ve been more disorganized, a-and you even gave your brothers the wrong gifts at Christmas. You’re normally so. Cognizant!”

Justin walked over and sat on the table, looking out the window. “I was afraid it would be noticeable. I don’t want to worry anyone...” He rubbed the bridge of his nose, shutting his eyes tightly. “Alright. I’ll… I’ll tell you why. But only if you promise to keep it a secret.”

“Um…” Alphys looked much more nervous suddenly. She bit her lip and looked down. “Um. S-Secrets. Aren’t really good for my health.” She giggled without any humor in her voice, looking a little sick.

“It’s important, Alphys. I only say to keep it a secret because I know it would concern my brother. It has to do with his soul.”

Alphys sat up taller, looking startled. “What? I-If it’s about his soul, he deserves to know!”

“I know that. But. It would be a lot for him to handle right now, and he already… dislikes me. To put it mildly.” He sighs, finally tearing his eyes back to Alphys. “Can I tell you? I. I’ve come to trust you, Alphys. You’re a close friend to me, and I think it would be nice to share this burden with someone close to me.”

 

Oh god, she didn’t like this. But… But it would help Justin be less distracted, right? If. If he got it off his chest? She understood how much it helped to say your secrets! She understood better than anyone… Keeping his secret would mean helping someone. She liked doing that. And she felt this connection with Justin. They were friends. He could trust her.

She had already worked out her New Years Resolution, like you had talked about. She had resolved she would be a better friend. She hadn’t often reached out underground. Now that she was above ground… She wanted to be a fantastic friend now. She wanted to be someone people trusted again. Someone people wanted to be with.

“Yes,” she said firmly. “G-Go ahead.”

 

*~*~*~

 

You blinked awake, groaning softly as you did. Your body ached a little. The sun was shining in from outside, which was probably what woke you. Judging from that, it was later in the day than you usually woke up.

You hummed and sat up, glancing beside you.

 

Nick wasn’t there.

 

Your eyes narrowed and you licked your lips, trying to get the weird morning breath taste out of your mouth. “Nick?” You said after a second, getting a feel for your morning voice.

“In the kitchen!”

You smiled more and yawned, getting up and looking around for your clothes in a groggy state. No pajamas for you. Ah well. You didn’t mind as much as you normally would about putting on jeans right after sleep. You got on some clothes and walked to the kitchen. You couldn’t help but smile.

Nick was standing there, humming happily, his tail peeking out of his pajama shorts. He was wearing some sort of band t-shirt, but it was so faded you couldn’t tell what band. Just that it was one of the screaming ones.

“Hi hon! How’d you sleep?”

“Good.” You liked sleeping with the weight behind you, even if you had overheated in the night a bit. “You?”

“Mmm. You twitched in your sleep a little.”

“Weird.” You yawned. “How’s your ass?”

Nick flushed bright red and fumbled with the spatula he was using to flip the hashbrowns. You laughed as he pouted at you. “It’s fine. A little sore, per usual after a night like that. That was nice.”

You smiled brightly. “Good. You didn’t have to make me breakfast, y’know?”

“Oh, hush now, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” That made you laugh more. “I mean it! It’s not funny, this is serious.”

“No, you just. You sound exactly like Papyrus.”

Nick sighed and smiled a little. “He’s dreamy too.” That made you laugh much harder. The idea of them together… Your heart couldn’t take that amount of optimism. You would spontaneously combust. “But I’ve got my heart stolen by Tyler.”

“I know the feeling.” And then you flushed, because those words left your mouth.

You were in love with Sans.

 

You sat and wrestled with that thought for a second. Well, you weren’t in love with Sans. You had a crush, at best. So there was something. But you definitely did have a crush, and while last night had been. Absolutely amazing. Fuck. It really was great. But you still had the crush. Fucking someone hadn’t magically made it go away.

“You okay, Bambi?”

“Oh, is that my nickname now?”

“It’s growing on me.” Nick smiled and brought a plate of hashbrowns and eggs over to you. You smiled and ate happily. It was absolutely delicious. “So that was your first time with a man?”

A good distraction, offered on a silver platter, with eggs and hashbrowns? Perfect. Brilliant. Outstanding. “Yeah. I uh. I had like two girlfriends, and I kissed a guy once. But you’re really my first fuck I’ve ever enjoyed.”

His tail wiggles a bit and he beams. “Good. I’m glad you got to experiment with me.”

You sighed in relief and sat back, shutting your eyes. “So. Does this make us friends?”

“Oh! I certainly um. I hoped so! You’re a really swell guy, and um. I. Definitely enjoyed last night.”

“Did. Uh, did you. Want to keep doing that sometimes?”

Nick smiled and giggled a little, nodding. “Yeah. I’d be down. Only when you want to, though, okay? You call me. I’ve got plenty of folks I can experiment with.”

“Are you sure?”

“There’s a reason it’s casual, Bambi.” He kissed your cheek and you smiled. Yeah. It was growing on you too. “I’ve got work in a few hours, but did you want to stay until then?”

“Sure thing. More cat videos?”

“Obviously.”

 

As you both sat, and you both enjoyed yourself, you resolved to have more of this. More friends. Less stress. More just… happiness. This next year? You were going to be happy.

 

*~*~*~

 

Sans frowned at the documents in front of him, rubbing his eyes and adjusting his glasses. Sadly, there weren’t very many there. He had teleported back to his apartment for this so nobody else walked in on him. He would have a hard time explaining all of this.

First were his readings. Definitely bizarre. Definitely hard to explain. He knew what they meant now, the temporal anomalies they dictated, all thanks to Frisk. He had to hand it to the kid, they understood a lot more of this than he expected. Though, from what they had said, he was pretty sure they were around 10 years old in their head now, even though they’re only 8. Cheater.

He felt a little flare of anger inside him and breathed to calm it down. No sense getting angry about the situation all over again. It’s over. He didn’t need to be angry anymore.

He focused on the readings again. He understood what these readings meant, but they were only the most recent state of readings. Frisk has checked them over with him, and it seemed the short spikes were when they felt the most determined, and Frisk mentioned they had messed up and went back a few times. “Like loading a save,” they explained. Fuck the video game anology, but it helped make this all… more understandable.

But how could the machine read time - or at least determination - anyways? He knew his father had built the machine, but it should have disappeared over the course of the resets, unless his dad had built it in every single possible timeline. How would he have known to do that? How did he know how to do any of this?

“would be a lot easier to ask you if you were still around, old man,” he mumbled. But he had died years ago. He wasn’t around, having died in the lab when the CORE lost functionality and the bridge to the control panels collapsed. It was just up to Sans.

 

… Sans got the feeling he got every time, that feeling that infuriated him. He scowled. He hated feeling like he… he was missing something. He shook his head, rubbing his hands together. “c’mon. you got this sansy buddy. what are you missing?”

 

It didn’t come to him. He sighed and just moved to the next thing. In this case, it was the other machine, the one he left underground. It would’ve taken up too much space up here anyways, and explaining why he was transporting it would lead to the inevitable question of what the machine was or what it did. Which, uh. He didn’t have an answer to.

Oh he had theories, certainly. The most prevalent theory was that it was something to travel the timelines - that was his first thought when he’d seen it, and it still made the most sense to him. It was built by his father, that much was obvious from the blueprints. But the blueprints hardly made sense. It was like crucial parts of them were missing. But still, nonetheless, his father had made this too, and he already knew his father to apparently have an obsession with timelines. Only made sense this would wrap into that.

But it really didn’t matter. Because the fucking thing was busted. The only people he’d let in on the secret were Papyrus and Alphys, and even then, Papyrus hardly knew about it. Just that Sans has a lab in the back storage space behind their house in Snowdin for “SCIENCE REASONS” as Papyrus explained to anyone who asked. Which. Thankfully was no one.

Alphys had taken a look at it once or twice, but neither of them had been able to work anything out. He had shown her the blueprints, which had nearly given her a panic attack due to the fact that they were Gaster’s. She had already gotten into enough messes using Gaster’s old blueprints.

He groaned again, leaning back. “and then there’s the pictures.” He’d kept those to himself. Pictures of him and a bunch of, well, scientists he had to assume. He didn’t recognize any of them. Then a picture of him and Frisk and everyone else they’d befriended underground, but he couldn’t remember ever taking that picture. And then…

 

That drawing.

 

He pulled it out from the midst of the documents he was staring at. He couldn’t tell who had drawn it, but it was definitely a kid’s drawing. Judging from the crayon, anyways. The drawing looked vaguely like three different people, and each of them had a smile on their face. One short, one medium, one tall.

And there, on the bottom.

“don’t forget.”

 

It was his handwriting. He knew it was. He could recognize his own scribbles, for pete’s sake, so why didn’t he remember writing it?!

“it can’t be fuckin’ possible that this thing somehow survived the resets. so where the fuck did it come from? cause i definitely didn’t make it.” He tossed it on the table, frustrated. It very unsatisfyingly drifted back to where it was. “ugh. okay. clear y’head, sans.” He stood and stretched. He’d been agonizing over this stuff for too long today already.

He went for a walk, breathing in the cold air. Not that he needed to breathe. He just felt it against his bones. The walk, however, couldn’t stop his mind from churning. He was stuck, he knew, and he couldn’t shake it. He had been ignoring it for awhile because of all of the holidays - and yeah, the next few were still coming up - but he needed to start working on this shit!

9 months. They had spent nine months out on the surface. It was high time he got something done. He had new resources, he had new information…

But somehow, he couldn’t get it off his chest that it wasn’t enough. That it would never be enough. That despite his best efforts, he would never be able to solve everything.

 

He took another deep breath and shook his head. “move on. just... pick a different thing to worry about right now. forget dad and the documents and the blueprints and everything.”

 

Frisk. Chara. That whole… mystery.

 

He hummed thoughtfully. He hadn’t gotten far on that one either. At the least, he had worked out that Frisk was probably a mage. They could check HP and Defense, after all, and that wasn’t normal for people who weren’t mages. He hadn’t mentioned it to anyone yet. No need to panic. Besides - he was fairly certain that Toriel and Asgore already knew. Hard for them not to, with Frisk being their kid after all.

But Chara… Chara was the big part of this mystery. If it was a monster, it would have to be some sort of ghost. Or maybe even a monster with mind reading and talking capabilities, but that didn’t seem likely. He’d never met a monster like that. So, if it was a ghost, it was possible it had possessed them somehow. But ghosts would normally show up more… clearly. Two souls when checked. Frisk had only ever had one.

“so what can possess someone without a soul?” He paused and shook his head. “nah. i only know one guy without a soul, and i ain’t riskin that.” No sense bringing the fucking daisy into this. Was Flowey a daisy? No. No, he was a buttercup. Annoying little asshole.

He briefly thought about the idea of Chara not being a monster, but that just didn’t make much sense. Even in a world of magic, Sans had a grain of speculation. Some sort of mind possession that didn’t involve a monster would mean some sort of poltergeist or something. A real one. And that just didn’t make sense. Those types of ghosts were a human legend, of something coming back from the dead.

And that was silly. People couldn’t come back from the dead.

 

He sighed and teleported back to Toriel’s. He’d clean up the papers later. Right now? He needed to take his mind off things. And that was… best done by not isolating himself when he got absorbed into this sort of thing. That was his resolution this year, and he’d known it from the start, from the instant you mentioned it.

Less isolation. Time to finally up and work on himself.

 

*~*~*~

 

You finally wandered back to Toriel’s around noon, with Nick’s number now in your phone. You were all grins right now, too. You had slept wonderfully after great sex, and then woke up to a great breakfast and good company. And now you were heading home to people you actually felt liked you!

“Tori, everyone, I’m back!” You paused as you shut the door behind you. There came no response yet. “Huh.” You walked into the living room to see the fireplace lit, but nobody there. You did see a certain bony individual in the kitchen, however. You smiled and walked in.

Papyrus had his eyes closed as he swayed gently to the music coming from his headphones. You’re not sure how he could hear that without ears - magic, nevermind, you did know. He had a CD player that looked like it had collected eons of dust, but it still worked. He was just humming and dancing while waiting for a pot to boil. Looked like spaghetti for lunch again.

You cleared your throat, but he couldn’t hear you. You listened close. Sounded like Britney Spears. “Paps?”

Papyrus paused and glanced your way. “OH! HUMAN.” He quickly paused his music and took off his headphones. “I AM SORRY, I DID NOT HEAR YOU COME IN! I WAS LISTENING TO MISS SPEARS LOOK FOR A WOMAN NAMED AMY. IT IS A VERY THRILLING SONG.” You bit your lip and nodded. You couldn’t tell him. “IT IS NICE TO SEE YOU BACK!”

“I’m glad to be back. I had a great time last night.”

“YES, SANS MENTIONED YOU HAD MADE A NEW FRIEND! I AM PROUD OF YOU FOR BRANCHING OUT OF OUR LOCAL FRIEND GROUP. I KNOW MAKING FRIENDS IS A VERY SCARY THING TO TRY TO DO!”

You grinned sheepishly. “Um. Yeah… Yeah, Pappy, it was nice.” Change the subject change the subject- “You’re trying cooking again?”

There was always the slightest bit of hesitation when you brought up something he was struggling with. He still nodded as he moved his CD player and headphones to the counter nearby, a big smile on his face. “YES. I THOUGHT I WOULD TRY SOMETHING EASY, LIKE SPAGHETTI! I COULD MAKE SPAGHETTI IN MY SLEEP. I HAVE MANY TIMES IN MY DREAMS, SO I HAVE PLENTY OF PRACTICE!”

You laughed a bit, sitting at the table. “You know you can ask me for help, right? If you ever need anything.”

Papyrus nodded again, checking the water. It was close to boiling. “I KNOW, HUMAN. BUT I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE TO RELY ON OTHERS. I HAVE DONE THAT FOR A VERY LONG TIME. I WANT TO BE A PROTECTOR! THUS IT IS MY JOB TO LEARN HOW TO DO THINGS MYSELF.” He used his teeth to help tear open the pasta box and pour some in. Strong jaw!

“Hey, just don’t forget how strong it is to admit you need help.”

“OF COURSE, HUMAN.” You watched as he started to make spaghetti. He was honestly doing better than you thought he would be doing, so soon. It’s… not easy getting used to a change this big. It was quiet for a bit as you just relaxed, watching Paps grab a knife. He was handling the vegetables better than you expected too, using the cutting board to leverage it properly. He’d been practicing a lot.

You yawned and got up to get something to drink. Did you want water?... Naaah. You were still in a breakfasty mood. Orange juice time! You grabbed the jug from the fridge and set it on the counter. You grabbed a glass from the cupboard and set it down. Just as it left your hands, you heard a gasp, clatter, and the sound of an onion falling on the floor.

You looked over to see Papyrus with his finger in his mouth with a knife and onion on the floor. “Oh shit.” Papyrus glared. “Sorry. Language.” You walked over quickly. “Are you okay? Let me see.”

Papyrus sighed and let you see. The bone was very lightly nicked. You held his hand gently, feeling the slightest bit of dust on your fingers. You shivered. It… it wasn’t a feeling you liked. It made you feel dirty. “IT’S. IT’S ALRIGHT, HUMAN. JUST A LITTLE NICK. I WILL HEAL VERY QUICKLY!”

“I’m sorry, Paps, I should’ve helped.”

Papyrus reached down and grabbed the onion. “NO, NO. AS I SAID, IT IS ALRIGHT.”

You frowned. “But you got hurt.”

Papyrus sighed again, a little bit of a huff, setting the onion on the cutting board. You grabbed the knife, checking it. There was a bit of dust, just barely visible on the very tip of the knife. You washed it off as best you could, but it didn’t seem to be working. “MONSTER DUST IS. DIFFICULT TO WASH OUT. IT STICKS TO WHATEVER IT’S ON. IT FADES AFTER A FEW WEEKS.”

“Weeks? But you- well. The dust was gone?”

“IT’S NOT REALLY VERY VISIBLE. IT’S JUST… THERE.” Papyrus hesitated. “I STILL HAVE SOME ON ME. IT’S JUST NOT EASILY SEEN. IT HELPS WHEN YOU HAVE MAGIC.”

“Huh…” This conversation was also making you feel weird.

Papyrus cleared his throat. “HUMAN? WILL YOU HELP ME WITH LUNCH?”

“Oh! Yeah, of course.” You immediately went over to help while Papyrus went over to- oh shit right orange juice. He poured you a glass while you deftly finished cutting the vegetables (with a new knife for good measure). “Thanks, Paps.”

Papyrus didn’t respond right away, which was unusual. But he had been a little less talkative lately… You didn’t really know what to say.

Things had been different between you and Papyrus since the accident. It hadn’t been noticeable at first, but you could tell Papyrus always had something on his mind around you. You hadn’t wanted to call attention to it, mostly because… Well. You weren’t sure how to talk about it. And you hadn’t really wanted to bring down the holiday spirit. Papyrus needed joy right now, not serious thoughts. But letting him stew on it seemed to be making things worse.

“Hey, Paps? I um.” You hesitated long enough to put the onion in the spaghetti before moving on to the other veggies. “I wanted to know. Are we good? I feel like things are different between us?”

Papyrus didn’t respond immediately. You felt a sinking feeling in your stomach, one you still felt sometimes when people took their time with responding when things were tense. You forced yourself to stay calm. “I WAS WONDERING… WHAT DID YOU SAY TO SANS THAT NIGHT, HUMAN? WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE DRUNK MAN?”

Oh. Had… Had nobody told him… “Uh. How much do you know about the night you got attacked?”

Papyrus sat at the table, setting your glass of orange juice there. He frowned and looked at the table, clearly remembering that night. “WELL. I HAVEN’T TALKED ABOUT IT MUCH YET, OTHER THAN WITH FRISK. THEY MAKE AN EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD LISTENER.”

You smiled a little and set the veggies and sauce to simmer. You sat while they did their thing, holding out a hand to hold Papyrus’s. “Hey. Why don’t you tell me about it? Getting it off your chest again might help you think about it more.”

Papyrus smiled a little and sighed. “I WAS DOING MY ROUTINE PATROL WHEN I HEARD SOMEONE IN THE ALLEY. HE SOUNDED VERY ILL, SO I WALKED OVER TO SEE WHAT WAS WRONG. BUT WHEN I GOT THERE, HE STARTED SHOUTING AND SEEMED SCARED OF ME. CALLED ME NAMES. HE PULLED OUT A KNIFE.”

Papyrus frowned again and you squeezed his hand. “HE ATTACKED ME BEFORE I COULD REALLY SAY MUCH. I DEFENDED MYSELF, BUT I WAS TRYING NOT TO HURT HIM. SO HE HURT ME INSTEAD. I TRIED TO TALK TO HIM, BUT HE DIDN’T SEEM TO WANT TO LISTEN TO ME.”

“Yeah. Sometimes people don’t want to listen. Sometimes, people just want… violence.”

“I KNOW.” Papyrus shook his head. “I BLACKED OUT ONCE HE PULLED OFF MY ARM. IT WAS NOT A NICE EXPERIENCE. BUT THE NEXT THING I REMEMBER IS WAKING UP HERE. AND SANS WAS SAD, AND VERY ANGRY. AND EVERYONE SEEMED ANGRY AND CONCERNED, BUT YOU SEEMED JUST MOSTLY SAD. AND SANS REFUSES TO TALK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED. IT’S VERY OFF PUTTING.”

You bit your lip. “I uh. I let Michael go. You knew that, I already told you that part… Um.” You breathed. “He. He was happy you got hurt, Paps. I said some scary words and told him monsters were chasing him, so. So he needed to run and shape up. Be a better person, or else we would get him. And. He did. He ran away.”

Papyrus nodded. He had known most of that already. “AND WHAT ABOUT SANS?”

“He uh. Wasn’t happy that I let him go.” That’s an understatement. “His eye was doing some weird thing.”

“AH. HE WAS USING HIS MAGIC.”

“Yeah. It… Honestly? It was scary. Really scary.” Papyrus nodded. “He was so mad that you got hurt. He… He really loves you.” You licked your lips. “Uh. He got us both home. I spent awhile puking while Alphys comforted me, but. She… She seemed a little upset that I let Michael go. Not as mad as Undyne and Sans though. They wanted Michael to pay. They still do. He hurt you, Papyrus, and he got away scott free, and it’s all my fault-”

“NO.” You had never heard Papyrus sound so serious before. “YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME FOR ANY OF THIS, HUMAN. I AM SO, SO GLAD YOU LET HIM LEAVE. HE HAS A FAMILY SOMEWHERE, JUST LIKE ME. YES, HE WAS WRONG, AND YES, HE IS A BAD, BAD MAN. BUT SOMEWHERE IN THERE, HE HAS A SOUL, JUST THE SAME AS ME. IT IS BADLY DAMAGED. LIKE YOURS.” You blinked. “HE JUST NEEDS HELP. AND HE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE THE GREAT PAPYRUS TO HELP HIM! NYEH HEH.” It was a weak laugh, but a laugh nonetheless.

You licked your lips. “I’ll admit. I hadn’t thought of it like that. I just… I can’t hurt people, Papyrus, not like that. I’ve been hurt before. I don’t want anyone else being hurt like that.”

Papyrus squeezed your hand and you flushed a little. You grinned. “This was supposed to be about making you feel better.”

“THEN IT IS GOOD THAT I FEEL BETTER WHEN MY FRIENDS ARE HAPPY!”

You laughed a little and sighed, running your other hand through your hair. “As for the rest of that night. Well. Sans was mad. But the next morning, me and him talked, and we got the tension out of the air. He was mad at Michael, but… He forgave me for letting him go.”

“GOOD. MY BROTHER IS… SOMETIMES TOO AGGRESSIVE WITH WHAT HE THINKS IS RIGHT. HE IS VERY PASSIONATE SOMETIMES!”

“I’ve noticed.”

“SANS HAS NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT OUR SOULS, HAS HE?”

You were suffering a little from the whiplash of the conversation shift, but you regained yourself quickly. “Uh… No. No, he hasn’t. I mean, I know the King has an orange soul too-”

“NO, I MEAN. ABOUT ME AND SANS.” You shook your head no. “ME AND SANS ARE… ODD. WE DON’T HAVE NORMAL SOUL MAGIC, AND NOBODY REALLY KNOWS WHY. THERE’S NOT MUCH RESEARCH INTO SOUL MAGIC ANYMORE, SINCE MONSTERS ALREADY KNOW HOW TO USE THEIR OWN MAGIC FAIRLY WELL. FOR EXAMPLE, TORIEL HAS HEALING MAGIC. SHE’S A GREEN SOUL.” You nodded. Seemed accurate. “UNDYNE IS A GREEN SOUL AS WELL, BUT SHE HAS MORE BLUE, SO IT’S KIND OF TURQUOISE. AND ALPHYS HAS A YELLOW SOUL, LIKE YOUR BROTHER JUSTIN HAS.”

“Alright?”

“THE CLOSEST PERSON TO ME AND SANS IS ASGORE, BECAUSE HE DIDN’T ALWAYS HAVE AN ORANGE SOUL. BACK UNDERGROUND, HE ACTUALLY HAD A CYAN SOUL.”

“Wait - souls can change colors?”

“YES. WHEN THE PERSON WHO HAS THE SOUL GOES THROUGH A DRASTIC CHANGE. SOMETIMES IT’S SLOW, SOMETIMES IT’S FAST, BUT… ASGORE USED TO BE VERY BRAVE. THAT’S THE ORANGE TRAIT. BUT ONCE HIS CHILDREN…” Papyrus paused and you nodded. You knew the story. “HE LOST HIS ORANGE COLOR AND BECAME PATIENT INSTEAD. BUT HE STILL HAS BOTH CYAN AND ORANGE MAGIC. HE CAN USE THEM BOTH. IT HAS LOOKED MORE ORANGE LATELY THOUGH.”

“Interesting.” You sat up a little bit more, mind buzzing. A person’s magic correlates to the color. “So… What are you and Sans’s souls like?”

“THAT’S THE ODD THING. I DO NOT HAVE ONE SOUL COLOR. I HAVE TWO.”

“It can be two colors?”

“THE ONLY OTHER PERSON I’VE KNOWN TO HAVE TWO SOUL COLORS IS SANS. HE ACTUALLY USES… I THINK FOUR DIFFERENT MAGIC TYPES? AND I USE TWO MAGIC TYPES. IT’S VERY INTERESTING, ESPECIALLY SINCE I DON’T SEE PURPLE MAGIC IN SANS’S SOUL, BUT HE CAN STILL USE IT.” This was getting harder to understand. “I AM BOTH BRAVE AND HONEST. THAT’S ORANGE AND DARK BLUE. AND SANS… HE’S ABLE TO USE BLUE MAGIC, AND HIS MAGIC RESEMBLES BLUE MAGIC-”

“But it’s also Cyan.” You remembered that cold blue color. “And… A little bit of yellow?”

“AND PURPLE.” He huffed. “I’VE NEVER SEEN HIM USE YELLOW MAGIC, BUT HE HAS SOME. HIS SOUL IS MOSTLY DARK BLUE AND YELLOW, BUT HE HAS ALL THOSE DIFFERENT KINDS OF MAGIC IN THERE. IT’S VERY ODD.”

“Paps? Why the soul talk?”

“WELL. SOMETIMES, I THINK MY BROTHER WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A BLUE SOUL, AND… SOMETHING HAPPENED. I DON’T KNOW WHAT. BUT SOMETHING HAPPENED THAT MADE HIM MORE YELLOW. MADE HIM WANT JUSTICE. AND JUSTICE SOULS ARE KNOWN AS ONE OF THE MOST VOLATILE.”

Your mind flashed back to Justin. Volatile? Him? “How do you mean?”

“JUSTICE SOULS TEND TO SEEK JUSTICE FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS RIGHT, NO MATTER THE COST. THEY SEE MUCH MORE GOOD AND BAD ABOUT PEOPLE, AND THEY JUDGE PEOPLE BASED ON WHAT THEY DEEM ARE GOOD OR BAD.” He pauses again and when he speaks, his voice is… chillingly quiet. “Our father had a yellow soul.”

“Oh. Paps… I.” You put it together quick. “I’m sorry I never got to meet him.”

“It’s okay human. I don’t really remember him much. But I do know Sans idolized him when we were kids. And I do know our dad… didn’t like humans much. He thought they were all evil. And I think Sans took after our dad too much sometimes.”

“You’re… scared that Sans is still mad at Michael?”

“I’m scared that Sans is going to obsess. He has that tendency. To throw himself into things when he gets worried or upset at life. And with a justice soul, I’m scared he’s going to throw himself into danger to do what is right.”

“And… What should I do about it?”

Papyrus beamed and pulled you into a hug. You yelped and laughed. “WHY, TREAT HIM WONDERFULLY! HE VALUES YOUR OPINION AND YOUR FRIENDSHIP. PLEASE HUMAN! KEEP AN EYE ON HIM!”

“Alright, Paps. I will.”

 

Hours later, when spaghetti had been eaten, and Toriel and the gang were back from their shopping, and Papyrus was alone in his room, he thought. Thought about the odd conversation he’d had with you, about how he’d been feeling awkward about his arm around you because he could sense the guilt you’d felt all this time. How that guilt felt lessened now.

Papyrus also thought about Frisk, and how nice of a human they were, and how they had worked so hard underground to set you all free. And of Michael, and how many problems he had.

How Papyrus couldn’t just talk through those problems.

He had helped you and Frisk. He knew he had! Frisk had always listened to every word he’d said, and you seemed so much happier after talking to him. But Michael… that human was angry. Too angry. And Papyrus wasn’t able to handle him.

At first, Papyrus thought it had been a problem with himself. He thought, perhaps, that he had just not tried hard enough. Then, it evolved to him not being able to fight. Not wanting to fight. It did not take a genius, after all, to recognize why Undyne had never let him be a real royal guard. He had hoped that his enthusiasm would let her bend the rules, and he had hoped the cooking lessons would help hone his focus. But in the end, he recognized… He wasn’t built to be a royal guard.

Well no. He was. He knew how strong he was. How dangerous he was. His special attack could have blasted Frisk all the way back to the ruins! But. He didn’t want to resort to violence. He might be built for violence, physically, but not personally. He was not personally built for violence. He wasn’t built to hurt people.

And it felt like everyone else was.

Maybe he had been built that way. And something was wrong with him… But he preferred to be wrong, if that was the case.

 

You had mentioned New Years Resolutions not long ago. Papyrus had been putting great care and thought into what his resolution would be, and he thought he finally had the best one he could have. He knew he couldn’t help everyone. But perhaps helping everyone wasn’t what he needed to do. He had spent so long obsessing over how he could help everyone, he’d been chasing an impossible dream, and he’d even lost his only left arm!

He wasn’t going to help anymore. Not like that, anyways. Not chasing foolishly after things he knew wouldn’t happen. He was not a child, after all, despite how many people thought he was.

No, he wasn’t going to help people like he had. For his resolution, Papyrus was going to help himself. He was going to be the best he could be, for everyone, and for himself.

And maybe, just maybe, that would help everyone be just a little bit happier.

 

*~*~*~

 

It wasn’t long now.

 

Toriel hummed as she curled up that night, Frisk curled up in her arms the same way her children used to curl. She missed them terribly, but wounds that old healed with time. It wasn’t long now, she recalled thinking tiredly. The new year was coming, and that meant children who were on a sugar high from Christmas still. Oh, and Frisk’s backpack was already getting worn out. They would need a new one soon. Toriel sighed happily and yawned. She already knew her resolution, she thought as she shut her eyes. She resolved to give Frisk absolutely everything they deserved.

It wasn’t long now, he knew. Asgore, alone in his castle, had the same resolution, albeit in a different way. As he looked over safety laws for monsters, and the latest disputes he’d been having with local government, he sighed. “I pray this will be enough to keep them safe.” He knew very well that Frisk was not his true child. He knew he would not be able to protect them forever from the world, and it wouldn’t be long until they faced real struggles up here. He would do his best, but… they were indeed the Ambassador between Humans and Monsters. History had dictated the dangers of that position. He refused to let another war happen. He was going to protect them, however he could. He would not lose another child.

It wasn’t long now. As Undyne looked again at the secret spot behind the picture on the wall - she’d punched the wall there on accident while training in her room, and she’d covered it up with a picture - she breathed deep and with no small amount of nervousness. “Next year. That’s my resolution.” She was so glad Alphys hadn’t seen the hole yet. Well. The hole wouldn’t matter, Alphys would’ve laughed about it. It was the thing she’d hidden inside the hole that Alphys wouldn’t have been able to handle. Maybe. She wasn’t sure yet. That’s why she was waiting. But next year wasn’t long to wait… Next year, she’d finally ask.

A small robotic sigh earned no attention, seeing as Mettaton was alone in his dressing room. He knew the New Year was coming up, and he’d heard all about that pesky human tradition. He supposed his resolution would be visiting family. He did miss Blooky after all. As he glanced at the picture of all of you together, one Frisk had taken before he left for all his new movie deals. He smiled gently. “I miss you too. I won’t be long, now.”

 

That was the mantra in the world as New Years Eve approached. It wasn’t long now. Not long until that promotion. Not long until she really saw him for who he was. Not long until the baby came. Not long until the divorce. Not long until whatever they longed for would arrive.

 

“It isn’t long now,” was their mantra. Their battle cry. It rang in their very souls. “It isn’t long now until they’ll be gone.”

That is their resolution for the new year.

Chapter Text

“Undyne, be careful up there! If you fall on me, you’ll literally snap my spine in two.”

Undyne laughed as she hung another streamer. “How would that even work? I might be that strong, but gravity isn’t!”

“I didn’t even know you knew the word gravity.”

“Shut up nerd and hand me another one!”

You laughed a little and handed her another streamer. The party would be nice. You weren’t inviting anyone crazy - just your family and Tori and the gang. You’d invited Nick so he wouldn’t be alone on New Years, but he was already going to be with his own family for New Years. “I don’t know just how big Queen Toriel’s house is, but. I’m pretty sure that’s a few too many hares in your hair!” God fuck he was adorable.

Your family was coming later today, New Years Eve. Undyne had woken you up entirely too early, having drank far too much coffee already. You had slowly stirred yourself awake. Sans hadn’t even managed to wake up to the noise. However, a cup of black coffee and some grumbled comments later, you were up, moving and decorating happily.

You honestly couldn’t wait to see everyone. Yes, you had literally just seen them, but… You loved your family. A lot. And you had really grown distant after Eric’s death. Dad’s death, you mentally corrected. You wanted to call him dad, even if he hadn’t been yours long. Since dad died, you’d drifted away, but now you were coming back together. You wanted to be close again.

You helped Undyne down the ladder and glanced around. It wasn’t the most outrageous decorations, but you liked that fact. “I take it Tori got most of these?”

“Yeah. I told her we should’ve gotten the confetti cannons!”

You snorted and laughed a lot at that. “I think I’m glad you didn’t. That would’ve been hell to clean up. I like this.”

“Well. We’re here for the company anyways. Not the confetti.” Undyne winked at you - at least, you were pretty sure it was a wink - and grinned sharply. “Like you and Sans.”

Oh my god shut up what if he hears?!” You glanced around, but of course, Sans was still upstairs and asleep. It was only 10, after all.

“Why would that be bad for him to hear?” She snickered.

“Well whenever you say his name like that!” You rubbed your face quickly. “Look. Me and Sans? 100% not a thing, okay?”

“Oh, it’s a thi-”

“I have a massive crush on him and yeah he’s hot but he doesn’t like me back and there’s not a chance in hell so I’m totally over it and that stays between you and me.” You blinked and just. Let your mouth close. As your face turned red. Undyne’s face also turned red. You both turned very red.

 

Oh dear Christ you just did that.

 

“UNDYNE?”

“YEAH?” She was sweating slightly from nervousness, but you did see some mixed feelings of both happiness and sadness, which looked… weird.

“CAN YOU ASSIST ME WITH THIS BALLOON? IT IS BEING VERY ANNOYING AND WHILE I CAN BLOW IT UP, I CANNOT TIE IT.”

“UM. Sure thing Papyrus!!” She eyed you as you bit your lip. She cleared her throat. “Yep!” And then she darted downstairs to help him.

 

You rubbed your face, groaning gently. Oh god it’d been awhile since you’d been that awkward. You had just needed to get it out, and it sort of all came out in a little tumble there. You just hoped the mutual embarrassment would cause her to stop pushing you two together. It hadn’t been much so far, but it had already gotten to the point of awkwardness for you. Hopefully this would deter it.

You just shuffled about and redid a few things Undyne hadn’t quite managed well. She was passionate about decorating, but there were a few things she could use some work on. As you were doing that, you saw Frisk come in, still shuffling along with their pajamas on. They gasped at the decorations and began signing too quickly for you to read. You smiled a little. “Slower, kiddo. I’m still learning.”

You focused more this time and grinned. “Yeah, this is all for tonight. Yeah, my family will be over again.” You paused again and you frowned. “Of course Jayden will be here.”

Frisk signed quickly and you laughed. “Frisk! No, you can’t date Jayden! She’s like over twice your age!” Frisk pouted and stuck their tongue out at you. You shook your head with a big smile. That was the mood breaker you needed.

 

Sans finally stumbled downstairs and into the kitchen around noon. “Hey there sleepybones,” you said while you munched on leftover pasta. He mumbled something and yawned. “What’s that?”

“nothin’. just sayin’ not all of us wake up at 5am.”

You groaned. “Don’t remind me. I normally sleep in on New Years so I can stay up late enough. Undyne woke me early for decorating.”

Sans chuckled warmly and worked on getting himself some food too. “where’s everyone else?”

“Undyne and Papyrus are making snow monsters, Alphys hasn’t come down yet.” You snickered. “And Tori and Frisk went to the grocery store.”

“again??”

“She’s still completely certain she won’t have enough food and snacks for everyone. I even told her mom is bringing an appetizer, but nope. She’s still certain there won’t be enough. She ran out to get stuff for salad.”

Sans chuckled and sat, a… bottle of ketchup in his hand. You raised a brow. He raised one back as he sipped it. “Oh my god dude what the fuck?!”

He laughed a little at your face. “didja not realize i drank this stuff?”

“No! I thought you just really liked it on eggs! What the hell?!”

Oh god, he laughed more, and if he hadn’t just disgusted you beyond belief, you’re sure you would’ve been swooning. But no, this dumbass you had a crush on was guzzling ketchup like it was a milkshake! “sorry, sorry, it’s just. you’ve lived with us how long??? and didn’t notice?”

“I just thought you really liked ketchup, okay? And oh my god, Papyrus just sat and drank the tabasco! Oh my god. Do you guys just drink condiments? Is that a thing?”

Sans sat down the bottle, smiling. “time for a magic biology lesson, i guess.” Oh shit was it actually a thing? “skeletons don’t have digestion, right? well. i mean. not all monsters do, like slimes and stuff, but. basically, when other monsters eat monster food, their bodies disassemble the food into its magic. that magic helps fuel them.”

“Okay. So why-”

“does it look like i got any meat on these bones?” Sans grinned and you rolled your eyes. “skeletons don’t have an easy time digesting full things of food. though, weird enough? human food is way easier.”

“Yeah?”

“yeah. but it’s still a bit difficult to go through all that work of making our magic digest. condiments though? ‘s a bit like candy. delicious and easy to break down. paps was practically addicted to mayo as a kid.”

You gagged a little in your mouth. Not a little, a lot. Oh god. “Sans I’m literally gonna puke all over you, what the fuck. Oh my god. I can never look at you or him the same way again.”

Sans was cackling. You fought down the queasiness (mostly pretend queasiness, but fuck mayo) and smiled. That’s the way things were supposed to be.

 

You were practically bouncing by the time your Mom and siblings were supposed to get there. Granted, some of that was likely because of the sheer amount of coffee you had drank that day, but you were also very excited. Jayden really liked New Years, and you wanted to talk to them anyways. Especially Curtis. You were positive he was going to flip his shit once he heard about Nick. You even wanted to see Justin, just to talk to him about everything Sans had updated you on about Checks and Magic. It might even end up helping him figure out how to help your soul.

“Hey!” You jolted as Undyne came in, hand on her hip. You braced yourself for an awkward conversation about earlier, but then you saw the look on her face. She seemed concerned. You sat a little taller as she looked at you seriously. “Do you know if Alphys came downstairs today?”

You hesitated and thought about it. “Huh. I… I didn’t see her? I was kinda in whirlwind decorating mode.” Okay, and you’d taken a break to text Nick for awhile, and dissociated on Tumblr. Completely normal activities. “I just figured she came down while I was busy elsewhere.”

Undyne nodded. “I’m gonna go make sure she ate. She’s been off for a few days.” You hadn’t noticed, but… Thinking back, you hadn’t really talked to her much for a little bit. Undyne huffed a little through her nose. “I’m sure she’s fine. I’m probably worried about nothing.”

“Yeah. And hey, if she didn’t eat, we can make her eat her fill tonight. I think Toriel’s trying to feed an army.”

Undyne beamed and laughed. “Right.” She walked upstairs. You think, normally, that Undyne would have responded to your comment with a joke of some sort, but she was really concerned about Alphys. You sat back. Hopefully she was fine. You had heard enough from her to know she really struggled at times with depression and anxiety. Hopefully she’d get out of her slump quick.

 

The doorbell rang.

“I’ve got it!” You shouted even as you almost fell out of the couch. You beamed and darted to the door.

Your mom gave you a big hug the instant the door opened. You laughed a little, burying yourself into her happily. “Oh, sweetie, it’s so good to see you- Oh, I brought some of those spicy crackers, I know how much you love those! And some cheesy dip and butter crackers, I just couldn’t resist.”

You looked over your mother’s shoulder, grinning briefly as you glanced at your siblings. And then the grin fell a little. Just a little.

Curtis and Jayden seemed happy at least.

Your mom immediately could tell what was wrong. “He said he couldn’t make it,” she said gently. “Tied up with work. You know how it is.”

“What on Mt. Ebott is more important than being with your family?” You pulled away, frowning. “Alphys made the time for it. It’s New Years.”

“I. I know, sweetie.” Your mom put her hand on your cheek and you instantly felt like you were 5 again, soft and nearly innocent, and protected. “Don’t let it eat you up, okay? It’s Justin’s choice to do this sort of thing. He’ll realize soon what he’s missing out on.” She smiled gently, and you could feel just how sad she was that Justin wasn’t here. You weren’t the only one disappointed.

You sighed and nodded, putting a smile on your face, even if just to put your mom at ease. “Alright.” Your mom smiled more brightly now and walked past you, and you allowed that anger to rise up again. “Fucking jerk,” you mumbled to your brother and sister once she was out of earshot.

“Hey, he’s the one with the stick up his ass,” Jayden said with a grin, hitting you gently with her shoulder in lieu of a hug, given the giant bowl of crackers and dip in her hands. “Let him go fuck himself with it. We’re here to have fun.”

“Oh god, now I’m imagining Justin having sex. Why would you do that to me, Jay?” You shivered in disgust.

“Gross gross gross. Okay. Not here for that,” Curtis said with his nose scrunched up. Then he pulled you into a tight hug, attempting to pick you up off the ground and mostly failing. You chuckled, feeling a little bit more joy at that one. At least one of your brothers cared about family. “How you been, Chip?”

“Oh my god, Curtis. I took your advice.”

Curtis looked confused as he pulled away to look at you, but when he saw the look on your face, he gasped. “WHAT?!” You nodded and he covered his mouth. He looked so shocked.

Jayden looked between the both of you. “What?”

“NOTHING,” you both said quickly, at the same time, before laughing. Curtis shook his head. “Okay, no, inside mister, tell me everything.”

You smiled as Jayden and Curtis went inside, Jayden pestering him to tell her what you meant. You glanced back out down the driveway to where the snow was patted down from shoes and where numerous Snow Goons were attacking a Snow Papyrus, who was fending them off fearlessly (with one arm, you noted).

 

“It’s his choice,” you mumbled. It didn’t help much. But maybe you’d gotten a little too comfortable with Justin being not a piece of shit. You should’ve expected this. You shook your head and went inside, leaving the cold, and your sorrows, locked up outside.

 

The family you did have here was enough. Curtis and you talked quietly away from the now much louder group in the living room, and he congratulated you. You showed him some pictures of Nick, earning the new title of “fucking furry.” You called him one right back.

Jayden helped set up stuff in the kitchen before plugging in one of the animes she brought. You noticed Alphys was downstairs now in her pajamas. You grinned. “Hey, Al. How you doing?”

She definitely jumped, nearly spilling her tea. “O-Oh! Um. I. I’m doing.” She hesitated. “S-Sorry if I’m off, I’m-”

“Hey,” you said, cutting her off. You smiled and squatted next to the couch to talk quietly with her. “I have bad days too. It’s okay.” She seemed surprised by your candidness. Leave it to you to try and fix things, though. “You have the best idea ever. I’m gonna go put on PJs.”

“O-Oh this? I. I just couldn’t find the energy for clothing.”

“Yeah? Good thing I’ve got the energy. Pajamas sound amazing.” You stood. “Hey, I’ll be back down, I’m turning this into a pajama party!”

“FUCK YEAH! PAJAMAS!” Curtis went to take off his shirt.

“Oh my god no Curtis don’t get naked!” Jayden shrieked and tossed a couch pillow at him. You rolled your eyes with a smile. You, Undyne, and Sans ended up changing into pajamas, and you pretended to not notice Jayden stuffing her bra into her purse. You all might as well be comfy.

Alphys definitely seemed to appreciate it. She mouthed a thank you in your direction. You winked and smiled in response. You all sat and watched anime together, and Alphys definitely seemed to relax some. You think Undyne’s arm around her helped.

You just watched anime together. Asgore came in halfway through an episode and seemed fascinated, and Jayden had one hell of a time trying to explain the plot he’d missed so far. Frisk also tried to explain, leading to hilarity as they explained about the conversation they’d had underground about anime. You all played games together too, leading to shouting and carrying on. The hours passed happily, if loudly.

Nobody made any comments about Justin not being there, though you did notice Alphys and Sans looking around for him. Sans did give you a look, and you just shrugged. That apparently was all you needed to do for Sans to get the message. You were pleased to see a grimace and scowl for a moment before Sans nodded in response. When you went into the kitchen to grab more snackage as Jayden plugged in a new anime, you happened to see him across the table. He smiled. “hey.”

“Hey.”

There was a brief silence as you looked at the available food. Jesus christ there was so much. “so is your brother always a dick, or was it just this one time?”

You blinked and laughed, rubbing your neck. “Uh. Yeah, he sorta always is. But he’s been getting better. I think we were all a little blindsided by this, he’s been hanging out a lot more. And suddenly he just. Isn’t here.”

“y’miss him?”

“You know, I think I almost do?” You shrugged. “But hey, more spicy crackers for me.” You grabbed a few and munched happily. “Why’re you hiding in the kitchen? The party’s out there.”

Sans shrugged. “eh. sometimes i just need a break from the crowd. always been a bit of a loner.”

“Says the one who knows everyone.”

“yeah.” He grinned. “why’re you hiding in here?”

You raised quite a brow at that one. “Who says I’m hiding?”

“me. least, i’m pretty sure that’s what i just said.”

You laughed a little and nodded. “Alright, alright. Yeah, I love my family, but having Undyne, Paps, Alphys, Jayden, Curtis, Mom, Toriel, Frisk, and Asgore in there?” You shook your head. “Even a house this big can get cramped.

“wanna go on a walk with me?”

You blinked and hummed. “Actually? That sounds great.” Did you give a solitary fuck about being in pajamas? Nah. “I’ll ask if anyone else wants to go?”

“cool.” Sans stretched and stood. “but uh. i. was sorta wonderin’ if it could just be us? i’ve been wantin’ to ask you something recently, and i’ve been stuck, but. new years is probably a good time to get a move on, right?”

 

Oh god, was your heart going to burst out of your mouth? It felt like it was. It felt like you were gonna barf up your heart right now. Okay. Gross. Okay. “UH.” You cleared your throat in the hopes your voice wouldn’t crack. “Sure. Alright. That’s fine.” You just barely managed it.

Sans grinned. “sweet. c’mon.”

You followed him in a bit of a daze. You shook your head. Okay, this was clearly going to be okay. He was in love with Toriel, right? No way this was romantic in any way, shape, or form.

Unless he had realized Toriel wasn’t really into him? Was she? She had insinuated that you and Sans could be a couple? But what if she had just been making a comment on your crush on him? Did Toriel actually like Sans? What if Sans didn’t like her anymore? Oh god, you didn’t think you could handle that-

“uh, bud?”

You shook yourself out of your thoughts, seeing that you had managed to follow Sans to the door in your daze. He was looking at you, clearly bemused. You cleared your throat. “Sorry, sorry. C’mon, let’s go.” You announced that you and Sans were leaving to get some fresh air, and left before anyone could make any comments.

The air outside was still just as bracing. You fought a shiver, but your pajamas were a bit warmer now than they had been when you were younger. It helped that you had your jacket on. Sans seemed unbothered, despite the fact that he was in basketball shorts and his jacket. You sighed, smiling a little bit at Papyrus’s Snow-Self. “He’s really good at making those, huh?”

“we lived in snowdin. he had lots of practice.” Sans chuckled a little bit. “always got mad when i made a snow sans. i never put in much effort.”

“We’ll have to make a Snow Sans later, then.” You two started your walk, down the path you were steadily getting more familiar with lately. You cleared your throat, still feeling a little thumpy in your chest. “Okay, Mr. Bones. What’s with the cagey conversation?”

Sans flushed. Your heart beat faster. “alright, so… human holidays, right?”

“Yeah?”

“some of them are the same as what we got underground. we got somethin’ like christmas, and somethin’ like new years. but there’s one i’ve been wondering about.”

You forced your heart to try and calm down, failing miserably. God, you needed to get over this fucking crush. This was ridiculous. You breathed softly and nodded, grateful that the cold air was helping to clear your head. “What’s the holiday?”

“well. underground, we had this thing, all souls day.” You raised a brow. Definitely sounded magicy. “on that day, you would celebrate. well. love. not level of violence, but real love.”

You blinked. “Valentines day. You’re talking about Valentines day.”

Sans grinned at you, his cheeks still flushed. “you got all souls day up here?”

“Yeah. It’s in like two months. What happens on All Souls Day underground?”

“well, you usually give people little gifts to show how much you love them, and the gifts would be kinda. kinda like you were giving a piece of yourself to someone. i know kids usually give each other little soul-shaped notes and stuff. adults tend to do other stuff, like.” He hummed. “well. me and paps really just celebrated with each other. he always spent the day with me, asked me what i wanted. you’ve got no idea how many times me and him sat on our lazy bones on all souls day’s, just playing games and laughing. and i’d clean up and do the dishes, and make dinner and everything. it was the only day i really felt like i could manage it.”

You smiled really gently. “It’s… nice that you and your brother celebrated together.”

“do siblings not do that up here?”

You spotted a bench and nodded to it. Sans got the picture and you two sat, looking out on the streets of Monster shops, some closed and some opened for business. “Not always. I guess in some families they do, but. Valentines is really just a thing for lovers, usually.” You scrunched up your nose. “To be honest, I sometimes dislike the holiday. It’s nice when you have someone you care about, but… Otherwise, it usually just means you can’t do anything that month without being bombarded by stores selling pink things.”

Sans looked confused at that one and you shrugged. “Capitalism.”

“man. you humans sure are weird.” You smiled a little and Sans rubbed his head, looking away. “so. uh. do... do humans go on dates and stuff for valentines? when they’re in love with someone? or, uh, when they’re crushin’?”

You licked your lips, mouth too dry to do much. “Um. Yeah. You usually go out to dinner or something.”

Sans hesitated. “human?”

He’s not asking you to go on a date, no way, calm down, don’t panic, don’t panic, shut up brain, hush, calm down-

“Yeah?”

Sans looked at you, entire face flushed blue now, looking nervous. “i. i need help askin’ toriel to be my date for valentines day.”

 

You beamed.

 

And then you started laughing. You couldn’t help it. Part of the laugh was sad, yeah - he hadn’t asked you out, and okay, you’d somehow gotten your gay ass hopes up. But another part was genuinely relieved. This just made more sense, he didn’t just suddenly love you out of the blue! He still had a massive crush on Toriel.

Most of all?

“You need my help???”

Sans looked hurt and you cleared your throat. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be laughing, I just. Here I was, thinking of you as the charming suave skeleton-“ That made Sans snicker, and made you laugh more. “Hush, bone boy. I thought of you as all slick, and here you are, asking the one dude who’s never dated a guy to help you.”

“who else ‘m i supposed t’ask? undyne and al would lose their minds, asgore’s toriel’s ex, frisk’s her kid, and i ain’t bringin’ paps into this.”

“Well, I’m flattered I’m your last choice.” He rolled his eyes, clearly flustered. “Hey. Sans, seriously. I’ll help.”

“you will?”

“Sans, you’re my best friend!” He smiled and you grinned awkwardly because fuck, here you were, forcing yourself squarely into the position of friend. But the look on his face… “I’m happy you asked. You deserve to be happy.”

“heh. thanks.” Sans rubbed his neck, still flushed.

“Why the sudden change? You said you wanted to ask me for awhile.”

“well. remember that whole thing you said about resolutions?” You nodded. This was honestly the first year you thought you might have one. “i put a lot of thought into it, and i decided to make one. i… i really struggle, sometimes. depression’s a bitch, and sometimes this world just… fuckin’ bites.”

You frowned and put a hand on his shoulder. He chuckled gently, but you could feel the lack of humor. “Yeah. Yeah I know what you mean, Sans.”

Sans laughed a little more. “fuck, didn’t mean to make today a downer-“

“Shut up and speak your mind. Get it off your chest.”

He eyed you. “uh. which is it, shut up or-“

“You know what I mean. Say shit. Don’t bottle it all up, or you might end up exploding.”

Sans hesitated and sighed. You felt him slump. You were still holding his shoulder.

“when we finally got free, i… i couldn’t shake the feelin’ that it’d all get ripped away from me somehow. everything else was, after all. kinda got into the mindstate that the only thing i would be able to keep in this life was paps. my dad, my mom. my freedom above ground. i didn’t get to have that stuff, because i had paps, and that was the only thing i was allowed to keep.”

You knew there was more. Sans knew you knew. But neither of you were ready for that next step, so he just continued, gliding past the other things he’d lost underground. “then, when we got up here, i thought. i thought i’d wake up back in snowdin. back in bed, back in the cold. that this was all just some cruel joke my shitty ass brain was playing on me. and when that didn’t happen, when i didn’t wake up, i. i thought i’d lose paps instead.”

“managed to stop myself from thinkin’ it, some days. but it was always a trade off. either i’d lose paps, or i’d wake up from this dream. and then he got hurt, and i thought. i didn’t think, not really. i realized. realized this is all real. it’s not some dream or some video game where you can hit pause or go back to before a tragedy. it’s real, and i’m here, and i can’t just sit anymore and let this shit happen! no matter how dead i feel.”

He sniffed gently, wiping his face on his sleeve. You did the same. You hadn’t realized you’d started crying. “so… for new years? i figured i’d do somethin’ about those feelings i have. i just… god damn it, what even are words?”

“You just want to be happy.”

 

The air around you both was still. Quiet. The birds had all flown south, somewhere warmer, and you two were alone together in the bleak winter, tears freezing on your faces.

“you know what? yeah.”

“You deserve it,” you said gently. “You deserve to be happy.”

He laughed. “what’ve i ever done that-“

“Oh don’t get me started, mister ‘take my bed, homeless guy, no need to pay any rent’. You’re kind all the way down to your soul.”

Sans snickered a little. “don’t think i’ve got any green in there.”

“It’s just buried under all that blue.” He looked at you with a sniff and you smiled. “Hey. You do deserve to be happy, bonehead. Everyone does.”

“maybe not everyone.”

“Okay. Maybe not. But everyone at least should have the chance.”

He smiled a little bit and nodded. “yeah. maybe it’s finally time for the universe to give me mine.”

“Fuck yeah!” You stood up quickly. “C’mon! Let’s go be happy. And if the universe tries to take that chance away from you? I’m gonna fight it.” Sans laughed a bit at that. “I mean it! I’m gonna stare the universe right in the eyes and say, ‘we’re gonna be happy despite you, motherfucker!’”

“i’d pay to see that,” he said through his laughter.

“Glad you won’t need to. I’m gonna be by your side for it. We're gonna be happy together.”

“we deserve it,” Sans said with a big grin.

“Yeah. Despite what the universe thinks.” You offered your hand. He took it, pulling himself to his feet. “C’mon. Let’s stop at Muffet’s and see if she’s selling any spider cider today.”

“made with real spiders.”

 

You both chuckled and went together. Sans seemed a little better, which made your broken heart flutter even slightly.

Your soul felt heavy, but. You’d felt worse. You had known Sans wasn’t in love with you, and you’d expected this. Your gay ass got your own hopes up, so the sinking feeling you had was your own damn fault. You would recover eventually. In the meantime?

You were gonna make this motherfucking skeleton happy. It’s what you wanted to do, after all.

 

*~*~*~

 

“Boss?”

Justin sighed as he looked up from the paperwork. He was having a very, very poor day. He glanced seriously at the intruder into his office, which was… meager, to say the least. But this job certainly wasn’t taken for its monetary perks. “Yes? What is it…” He searched for a name for a moment. “Jess? It was Jess, right?”

“Jessica. Only my friends call me Jess.” She grinned in a way that told him quite plainly that his slip up was already far too inappropriate, and he was now on her shit list. He certainly hadn’t approved of her as a new hire, and he still had his issues with her now, but at least she got the job done.

“Very well, Jessica.”

“I just came to tell you that the latest was brought in about fifteen minutes ago.”

“What?” Justin checked the time. “Damn it.” Sure enough, it was around the time that the team should be back. They were actually a little late, given their typical retrieval process. “I should’ve been told sooner. What took so long?”

“They’re having some… difficulties containing her. She didn’t stay under the radar this long by being non-confrontational.”

“Are they still having difficulties?”

“Some, yes.”

“Do I need to intervene?” Justin frowned and properly set down his paperwork. This could get serious.

“No, sir, we’ll have her under control. Our primary concern right now is containment. That is, population.”

He relaxed some, putting his hands in his lap. Now that he was no longer needed, at least in regards of helping discipline a recent intake, he didn’t need to be quite so tense. “Population? We still have plenty of room.” That was a lie, and they both knew it. They had recently received quite an influx of new prisoners, one that correlated with all of the other strange phenomena lately. It all coincided with the falling of the barrier, of course.

“Respectfully, we both know that’s bullshit, sir.”

“Do you always speak so candidly to your superiors, Jessica?”

She smirked, as though she had somehow won something. Jessica was a confusing woman, finding victories in things where nothing had happened and no war was truly waged. A child waging playtime battles, Justin thought, was a perfect analogy. “Only to you, sir.”

“Very well. I’ll remember that for the future. I will also remember your concerns about containment facilities reaching capacity for the start-of-year review.”

“To put it simply, sir, I believe it’s high time we turned some of the less… interesting captives to other forces.”

“Oh?”

“Captive 57, for example.” Justin did a quick inventory in his head, but Jessica clicked her tongue as she saw him thinking. “Full name, Michael Clark.”

“He’s a nonessential, yes, but he will prove valuable with further testing.”

“But sir-”

“Who is the superior here, Jessica?” She looked stunned at the interruption. Surely, the little miss had never encountered someone with the gall to interrupt her. Justin regarded her plainly, even boredly.

She stood cooly, frowning. “You, sir.”

“And who called in the extraction of Captive 57?”

“... You, sir.”

“As immediately after the event as was possible. And have we gathered valuable information on monster dust from his capture?”

“Sir-”

“Yes or no, Jessica.”

She glared and huffed, looking away. “Yes, sir. We did.”

“Then I believe we gathered important information, and that we can continue to learn important information.”

“But he’s-”

“Stop talking, Jessica. It isn’t doing you any favors. It hasn’t won my good graces, though I highly doubt you were attempting to do that much. You were a bitch in high school just the same as you are now, and I quite plainly don’t have the time to fence with a novice. Go help with the containment of our new captive, and for god’s sake, let me finish this paperwork. It’s New Years Eve after all. Don’t you think I have other places I’d rather be?”

Jessica, however much of a bitch she was, was still ever so slightly intelligent. Intelligent enough, that is, to shut her fucking mouth when she knew it was a good idea for her. “Yes, sir.”

“Good.”

Jessica left, wisely closing the door behind her. Justin sighed and resumed his paperwork, very much so against his wishes. He wanted to be with his family. He had spent so many years distancing himself, because lord knew what this job entailed, but. Here he was, purposely working on being a better son.

“Step-son, Justin,” he mumbled to himself.

It did little to get rid of the sadness he felt. He set aside his paperwork, if even just for a moment, and breathed. He was… incredibly stressed lately. Things had not been going well with the project, and he had been slipping up more frequently. His business partners were reacting poorly, and he definitely needed to up his game. But with the influx of captives, and not much new research getting done, he definitely needed to get something new, and fast. And unfortunately, the only new thing he has was…

Well.

You.

 

He shook his head. Thinking about your soul at work led him down… dangerous paths, to say the least. He glanced at the time instead. 7:36. At this time, he knew you would be enjoying a late meal at the Queen's house with his family (your family too, he reminded himself). You would be exhausted, but happy, and probably giddy from the sheer amount of coffee and soda in your body. Curtis would have entirely too much booze in his system, and Jayden would be jealous. Mom would be ignoring Curtis’s antics, given her history with alcoholics, and you would be assuring her, likely with all honesty, that Curtis wasn’t as drunk as he was pretending.

His brother knew better, of course. He wouldn’t be too drunk. Just past the point of tipsy. Justin allowed himself a small smile. Curtis was an unorthodox brother, to say the least, but… he was his brother still. And Justin, despite his many failings, still very dearly loved his family.

Despite all signs of the contrary.

 

He huffed and sat a bit straighter in his chair, once more settling in to focus on his paperwork. It never seemed to end, but hopefully, if he kept at it, he might have just enough time to ring in the new year alone.

It was safer that way.

 

*~*~*~

 

Sans gently nudged you awake, earning a jolt. “hey. s’nearly time.”

You rubbed your face, trying to wake up and recognize the fact that you’d been asleep in the first place. God, you clearly hadn’t drank enough coffee. Or maybe it just wouldn’t help at this point - you were downright exhausted.

Today had been… nice. Could’ve been better. Could’ve been a lot worse. Definitely not the worst New Years Eve to your memory, at least. You had all partied nicely, Curtis going from pleasantly buzzed to mildly tipsy to almost drunk in progressing stages. You approved of how everyone else moderated their alcohol intake. Even you had chanced a drink, and you saw your mom take a sip or two. You were proud of her.

The news was on, showing the live event of New Years Eve in New York, as always. You smiled gently as the cameras swept the crowds. Mostly humans, but god, there were so many monsters out tonight. That sight was enough to make the night beautiful. Seeing so many people, together despite their differences, to truly welcome in a new age? It was amazing.

The countdown was starting in just a few moments. It wasn’t long now.

“I-Is everyone ready?” Alphys said, clearly nervous with anticipation. She’d really mellowed as the night went on, clearly enjoying being surrounded by friends.

“Hell yeah!” Undyne hugged Alphys close.

Sans grinned and nodded while Papyrus practically bounced out of his bones with excitement. Frisk signed at their joint parents with a beaming smile, and Toriel and Asgore shared a look that plainly said Frisk was saying something silly, yet lovely.

You were too focused on the TV, but Curtis came up behind you and held your shoulder, and Jayden wrapped an arm around you. Your Mom stood nearby, watching you three more than the television.

You smiled. “Here we come, 2113. Don’t hold your breath.”

 

10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2.

 

“One.” Undyne whooped and kissed Alphys square on the lips, earning cheers from the party around you. You beamed as you saw the fireworks go off, and the lights of joy in the eyes of the crowd. Papyrus picked Sans up and hugged him tight, still perfectly capable of that much with one arm. Unnoticed by you all, Asgore squeezed Toriel’s hand gently. Unbeknownst to her, at least for this moment, she squeezed back.

“Happy New Year,” you mumbled, feeling giddy with both booze and anticipation for what was to come.

 

*~*~*~

 

10. By October 10th of 2112, the group Justin had helped for multiple years now received first awareness of the militant group. It was just a whispered rumor, but it was startling enough to investigate.

9. By November 9th of 2112, rumors had been confirmed and numerous undercover ops had already been planned, approved, and began implementation. Justin was not one of the lucky souls who had the luxury to drop everything and go to New York, however. He was a bit busy at home on Ebbot.

8. By 8pm on November 10th, numerous undercover agents had worked their way to New York, one way or another, and were well on their way to joining the militant group.

7. By 7am, November 22nd, Justin received a call requesting his assistance however he could manage it. It was a day spent in meetings and arguments, and a day Justin remembers in a blur. It was well into the day - rather, the evening - that Justin finally managed to get your text. He’d been giddy at the idea of meeting the king and queen properly, but moreover, at getting to know how things were going with laws of magic. Those were vital for their mission, after all.

6. By December 6th, the militant group had been succinctly infiltrated, one of their people actually rising to the highest ranks. This was what they’d been waiting for. The rumored attacks on New Years Day were confirmed and verified as accurate. The group was planning on bombing the event, and taking as many monsters as they could with them. It wasn’t long now. The message was clear; the time for uncertainty was over, and the true monsters of the world had begun their move.

5. By 5pm that same day, Justin had begun making his plans and bringing them up to his partners. They were dangerous, but they were what was needed.

4. By the time the first meeting was over, 4 of the leaders were on the fence, and 2 had yet to agree. It needed to be unanimous. Otherwise, it was too risky. They would go the safer route; something to minimize damage without risk. Justin struggled, argued, pleaded, but they weren’t budging.

3. By 3pm on December 9th, the day he learned of Papyrus’s loss of his arm, of the existence of Michael Clark? The vote was unanimous. Justin realized now that all they needed was the proper motivation. Seeing monster dust staining human skin (and yes, mingling with human blood) made them realize just how dangerous this was.

2. By 2am on January 1st, 2113, Justin was able to set down the now completed paperwork with a weary sigh. He had worked all night, but the paperwork was finally, blissfully finished. He’d missed the show, but he was sure it was as uneventful as every year. The skirmishes had happened in secret lairs and basements of suburbias, not in Town Square with flashing lights and cameras. They’d lost good people that night, but it didn’t matter. The majority were safe. They’d known what they were getting into.

1. By himself, alone, Justin stood, and left the building, being sure to leave through the service entrance. He emerged into the, predictably, empty alleyways he frequented now. He breathed in the cold air of a new year, and recognized dimly that, had his people not intervened, there would be far more dust, and far more blood, to breathe in that night. There still was blood, and minute traces of monster dust, but far, far less. They’d played damage control, and that was a game Justin knew well.

He shut his eyes and fought back his queasiness. While it was a game he knew well, it was one he loathed to play.

“Happy fucking new year,” he mumbled. No one heard. He was entirely alone, after all.

It was better that way.

Chapter Text

You rung in the new year properly - that is, by promptly going to bed in the pajamas you were already wearing. Not having to change was blissful, and you commended yourself as your eyes closed on your genius idea of putting them in early.

The following days were spent with very little buzz, but very much buzz at the same time. Nobody was particularly busy, at least on January 1st, but tomorrow it would be back to school for Frisk, which meant back to school for Undyne, and back to whichever work Alphys was working. Sans would be back to his job every Sunday (he had today off, thank god), Tuesday, and Friday night, and Papyrus (much to the discomfort of some) was adamant about resuming his night guard on Thursday nights.

And… You would be home. Alone. Well, not fully alone, but Sans disappeared to god knows where sometimes, and Papyrus was too much to handle at all times every day. Sure, maybe you’d be out playing music in the park or something, but it was still too damn cold for that, at least for playing for a long time. It wasn’t really worth the numb fingers and lack of monetary gain. And sure, you could clean up some, but it wouldn’t be very helpful. Papyrus ran a tight ship, and you were always tidying around through the day anyways. You could go full tilt deep clean, but… Seemed desperate. And you would have wrinkled fingers all night.

You were starting to realize that you were facing the ever dreaded job search again. On top of suddenly being Sans’s wingman and the realization that you’d finally settled down happily somewhere for the first time in a long time, and you were definitely thrown for a loop lately. Your life really had changed since you came here. You almost felt a sinking feeling because of it - your first foray back into the real world after you took a few years off.

Still, as you looked up local job listings on your phone as Papyrus and Frisk played with their action figures, you couldn’t help but smile. You might be a little unprepared for the year to come, but at least you got to share it with so many great people. You could see it now: Papyrus and Sans dropping by wherever you worked to bother your managers and say hello. Undyne being gay with Alphys in front of you and you frankly loving it. You being pals with Toriel and Asgore and Frisk……

… Wherever you wanted to work absolutely had to support monsters. You frowned as you looked through local job listings. How many of these businesses saw monsters are lesser beings? How many thought they should die?

How many would agree with Michael?

Your heart hardened slightly and you sighed. You’d have to put more research into jobs now than you ever had before. And you had always struggled finding jobs in the first place, especially since you didn’t have a degree. You toyed with the idea of getting a job at a monster-run shop, but given the lack of business most of them got, you were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to pay a livable wage.

Well. You didn’t need to live. This was for Papyrus and Sans, so you could chip in where it was needed. That would be enough.

“No harm in checking,” you mumbled to yourself. It would be best to do that, to at least try. Even if you didn’t get very far. Until then, you would just do your best for everyone around the apartment. That, at least, was easy. That much was normal.

 

*~*~*~

 

She knew she was definitely acting weird.

There was no avoiding it. Alphys was too blatant. She had worked very hard to keep her secret underground, and it had taken quite a bit of time. And even with how well she kept that secret, Sans still seemed unsurprised by the amalgamates. She suspected he knew well before her secret got out about… what she’d done. Even if he had stopped working at the Lab back when Papyrus was much younger, he still knew her. And he knew when she was keeping secrets.

He’d figure it out eventually. She just had to hope he didn’t say anything.

 

Alphys jolted as Undyne came in, wrapped in two towels - one for her body, one for her hair. The bottom of the two towels was dropped the instant the door closed, causing Alphys to turn shades of red only marginally less red than they would have been 9 months ago. “Hey hon!” Undyne hummed as she looked for clothes in her wardrobe, purposely giving Alphys a nice view.

She knew the view was intentional, a way to distract her while cheering her up. She couldn’t help but nervously smile, biting her lip a little. “Hi Undyne. How was the shower?”

“Uh. Wet??” Undyne snorted and grabbed some nice, warm winter clothes. “But nice. Reminds me of home.”

“I doubt the shower is anything like washing your hair in a waterfall,” Alphys said with a few giggles.

Undyne laughed loud, shaking her head. “Not in the slightest. But the shampoo up here smells better!!” Undyne flashed Alphys a grin, but it was the softness in her girlfriend’s eyes that made Alphys melt. She sighed fondly and shifted as Undyne came to sit next to her. “How are you doing on the whole shower thing today?”

“Oh.” Alphys flushed a little and looked down at herself, taking in the oversized Mew Mew Kissy Cutie t-shirt and pajama pants with little sushi printed on them. She sighed gently. “Not… not well. I’m s-”

“Hey. Don’t apologize. You never need to do that with me.” Undyne grabbed her hand, making Alphys smile. She squeezed gently. Alphys was one of the few things Undyne was gentle with in life. “Take your time, Alphys. You have a lot on your plate.”

Oh, if she only actually knew. Alphys stifled a snort and looked away. “Yeah. A whole lot. Because my job is really that hard.”

“Hey! It is!! I wouldn’t ever be able to do the stuff you do, Al! And you do it with such a fire and a passion. It’s amazing!” Alphys felt a blush unrelated to their closeness rise to her cheeks, which just made Undyne smile more. “You do great work on Mt. Ebott, and the students at the university love you.”

“I-I’m not that great-”

“Don’t you dare diss my girlfriend, you fiend!” Alphys couldn’t resist some laughter as Undyne started peppering her in toothy kisses. “Yeah! Take that! And this!”

“U-Undyne, c’mon!” Alphys couldn’t help the laughter now, even as Undyne stopped to just watch her enjoy herself. Alphys leaned back and Undyne kissed her sweetly as they both calmed down. Alphys melted, feeling some of the problems that had been weighing her down start to get lifted.

Undyne pulled away, but stayed over Alphys, grinning a bright and toothy grin. “There we go. That’s a much better look on you, Al.”

Alphys squirmed and giggled despite herself, clearly embarrassed. “Undyne… Gosh.”

They stared at each other again, lost in the eyes of the one they mutually loved. Both of them were silently thinking the same thing; so little time ago, they had been dancing around each other, trying to avoid saying certain words, and now, the words came so much easier, and the dancing was something they enjoyed. Something they loved. Something neither of them ever wanted to live without.

“I love you,” Alphys blurted out, ever the romantic.

Undyne’s grin softened and she cleared her throat, flushing. “I. I love you too, Alphys.”

 

And then the towel containing Undyne’s hair decided this was the moment it should unravel and smack Alphys in the face.

 

Both of them were crying tears of joy for numerous minutes, lying together, making fun of the romance of it all.

She was acting weird, she knew, in the back of her head. But at least Undyne was there to distract her from it when it all felt a little too much.

 

*~*~*~

 

Monday rolled around and had you in a less than fantastic mood. Trying to sort out a resume had left you… less than hopeful for a job. Most places nowadays required at the barest minimum a degree, and at this point, you felt like you couldn’t even get a job at the grocery store. Some bullshit about needed 5-10 years experience with shelving frozen meals or something.

You fought back a sigh as you walked, plugging in your headphones more as an attempt to have something warming even just the inside of your ears. Besides. Walking without music sometimes felt weird. Just you with your thoughts, which… right now, were a little bit shitty.

You bit your lip a little as you picked a song, but even after the music started, you had trouble shaking that last thought. You… weren’t in a great place right now. Maybe it was the being inactive part, or maybe it was the fact that you had depression. Either way, you needed to try and claw your way out of it before it sucked you in. You had spent long enough in a depressive slump in the past 3 years, and now that you knew the state your soul was in, you didn’t want to backslide into breaking it completely.

Maybe calling Justin would help.

You frowned and shook your head at that thought. No. Justin had upset you, sure, but you also knew talking to him about how you felt… didn’t really work with Justin. He would just say some bullshit about how he didn’t realize it would make you feel so upset, which just made you feel like you were getting upset over nothing. That was a tactic Asshole Abuser Father of yours had used frequently, and one of the many, many reasons Justin left a bad taste in your mouth with such frequency.

You would just have to deal with your feelings your own way. Which would mean throwing yourself into something to keep yourself busy. Which… meant finding a job.

Back to square one.

You jolted a little as your phone buzzed - you didn’t often have it on buzzer. You checked the message and couldn’t stop a small smile. It was one of the latest photos of Nick and a customer. He liked to take pictures with everyone who bought ice cream. He was beaming in the picture with a little boy, who seemed thrilled at the idea of ice cream.

You shot a text back.

10:20: Oh cute. Glad you’re getting business!
10:21: Nick: Yeah :) Cute kids love ice cream!! You having a good day Bambi?
10:21: You always make me blush when you call me that
10:21: And Meh. Weird day
10:23: ): Aww. Wanna swing by and get some nice cream to lift your spirits?
10:23: Aww Nick I’d love to. Where you stationed today?

He sent you the address and you went there happily. It wasn’t far, and you could use the ice cream honestly. A pick me up might help.

By the time you got there, the customer Nick had sent a picture of had left. It was just you two. “Hon! Glad you stopped by.”

You smiled and bought a classic nice cream, a sort of vanilla tasting ice cream in a cone. You looked at the wrapper on it. “Love yourself! I love you!” You grinned at Nick. “Did you pick that one specifically for me?”

“Nope! The nice cream just knows what you want to hear.”

You shook your head and enjoyed the ice cream, sighing. It definitely did make you feel better. Something about monster food always made your heart warmer, even when it was a frozen dessert.

“So what’s got you down?”

“I’m looking for a job,” you said, resting against the stand with him. He proceeded to pull out two foldable chairs from under the cart. You smiled and accepted a seat graciously. He sat as well and motioned for you to say more. “I really don’t need one, but. I want to help out with money for Sans and Papyrus. They’re letting me stay rent free, and I feel bad.”

“Oh, Hon. You really are just so sweet.”

“It’s not really me being sweet. I’m just doing my best to help out. They helped me after all, and… this is the first time I’ve really actually settled down somewhere. I feel like getting a job really cements how permanent this change in my life is.”

Nick smiled and nodded. You just casually worked on your nice cream, sighing. “I want a place that supports monsters, but there aren’t many businesses still open around here that’ll let me work with my limited experience.”

“I’d let you work here, but I don’t really have the money to hire anyone right now.” Nick did deflate slightly at his own words, but perked up as he thought longer. “Though, there are some good monster businesses that are racking in the cash lately! Namely, Muffet’s and Grillby’s.”

You smiled. “Yeah? I. I had been trying to avoid monster run places I guess.”

“Yeah?”

“I don’t wanna take away money from smaller businesses who really don’t need another worker,” you said pointedly. Nick nodded - he had just admitted to having that same problem. “But if Muffet and Grillby are making lots of money, maybe they can afford an extra person.”

“It’s worth a shot at least! It’s always smart to aim for the stars, even if they’re unreachable. That’s what got us out of the Underground, after all.”

You smiled, feeling a slight warmth in your chest as you enjoyed your nice cream. Not the typical feeling when you had ice cream, but you couldn’t help but beam. “This is ridiculously good, Nick.”

“It’s the frozen treat that warms your heart!” You snickered and Nick’s smile grew. “I make that ice cream myself, you know.”

“Get out!”

“It’s true! It’s um.” He glanced around and winked at you. “Don’t tell anyone, but it’s part of my magic.”

“Wait seriously?” He nodded. “What, do you. Summon ice cream cones or something?”

“Oh well. No. That would be cooler! But I make ice and can shape it at will. Easier to make magic ice cream with magic!”

“So this ice cream really is magic… Does it do anything?”

“Well. Frisk said it helped them heal up, and it always has for monsters. Monster food made with magic almost always has healing properties.”

You shook your head and smiled. Made sense why Toriel insisted on making all those meals when Papyrus got hurt. “Does it ever do something else?”

“Oh sure! Some food items have been known to make people faster, for example. And some are known to make people attack harder, or make them harder to hit. Those really fell out of popularity a long while ago, though.”

You frown. “I guess… Those were probably more popular during the war.”

Nick’s ears folded down some and he looked away. “Definitely. After enough years, though, many monsters started to let go of those recipes. It… It became more about healing.”

“Healing after everything that happened.” You glanced back at the wrapper. “Healing the souls of everyone who was aching underground, and… making them happy again.”

“Exactly.” Nick reached out and held your free hand. You smiled and squeezed it. It felt warmer still, now, with the two of you, loving each other like this.

You realized with a slight shock that this was love. Not a crush like you had on Sans, or love like Mom and Dad had. No, this was love for someone like how you loved music, or how you loved a good breakfast to start your day. This was love like when you saw a sunrise and remembered people were sometimes, occasionally, not the worst thing ever.

“Hey Nick? I love you.”

Nick flushed and laughed. “I love you too, Bambi.”

You beamed. “Is. Is that okay? I… I’ve never really felt like this about someone. Casually.”

“Well.” Nick cleared his throat, taking his hand back to run it through his hair. “I mean. I love everyone, at least a little bit. Everyone deserves love, after all, and I’ve got so much I can give away. I think it’s okay. If it feels right.”

“It does. It feels like I could talk to you about so much. And just. Spend time with you. I don’t wanna marry you or anything-”

“Oh goodness!” He flushed worse and you both laughed together.

“Exactly. Neither of us want that. But I also just. Really like being with you.” You snorted. “We hardly even know each other.”

“Oh gosh, well. Maybe it’s because of our souls.”

You blinked at that one, feeling the conversation turn slightly onto a different track. You scooted closer. “What do you mean?”

“Oh! Sorry, hon, I forget, you never learned this stuff.” Nick smiled warmly and held out his hands, looking at them as he thought. “So. You mentioned once, you’re an orange soul, right?”

“Right.”

“Well, it was discovered a long time ago that those colors? Actually have. Think of it like a silent sound.”

“Colors have sounds?” You thought carefully. You seemed to remember that people sometimes could see color when hearing sounds, but not the other way around.

“Maybe it’s the other way around, but no matter what, a soul has some sort of. Sound to it. And think of it like a sound only other souls can hear. Depending on what sound a soul makes, some people just. Go well together.”

“Like soulmates.”

Nick flushed brightly and cleared his throat. “Oh goodness. That’s an entirely different matter. Soulmates are people who you’d be willing to share a soul with. You get married to your soulmate. This is more like… Like meeting someone who listens to the same music as you, or seems to act similar to you. It’s someone you agree with, in a lot of ways, and you likely think a little alike.”

“I see. So you think our souls make similar sounds?”

“Yeah. We play the same song.” You snickered softly. It sounded so cliche, but you liked it. “Certain souls have been found to harmonize more, but it’s hard to say sometimes. Usually, souls that share the same color work well together, and sometimes, souls of different colors resonate even more. It’s well marked that Kindness and Integrity souls work well together, and Confidence souls are usually well matched with any wavelength.”

“What about Bravery?”

He hummed softly, eyeing you. “Well. Bravery’s a tough one. It usually relies on your secondary trait, though some people do have an easier time of it.”

“Wait - I’ve got a secondary trait?”

Nick smiled sheepishly. “Well, this is sort of a personal belief thing. Not much is known about souls, and even the sound thing is a little. Controversial. Some people don’t believe in it.” You nodded. “It just doesn’t make much sense to me, personally, to boil down your entire personality to one personality trait, right? And not every orange soul is the same shade of orange. What’s your soul like?”

You paused and thought back to the last time you saw your soul. You winced. “It’s… kind of. Not great looking, actually.” Nick looked surprised and frowned. You cleared your throat quickly, pushing past the awkward moment. “But I think it’s kinda. Yellowish, actually. A yellow-orange color. And the edges are more red-orange.”

“It’s a very warm soul.” You smiled sheepishly. “Muffet is a Perseverance soul - that’s why she likes all the purple decorations - but the edges of it are more blue with Integrity. Different than mine, for sure.”

“You’re a purple soul?”

“Don’t really expect it, do you?” He beamed. “Most everyone expects me to be Kindness. And that’s definitely a part of who I am! But it’s not my primary trait. If you take a good look at my soul though, you can see green around the edges.”

“Wow…” You beamed. “So do Bravery souls and Perseverance souls match?”

“Yeah, a lot of the time.” You thought back to Curtis and smiled inwardly. “Your secondary trait makes it hard, though.”

“What? Yellow?”

“Justice. They’re… usually the hardest souls to resonate with.” You were a bit taken aback by that. “They rely on their secondary color too.”

You thought back to the day you saw Justin’s soul. You frowned as you remembered it in detail. “What about if there’s no secondary color?”

“Oh! Well. Some souls… Some people are so set in their ways or their opinions, the way they think, that their souls don’t have a second color. They represent everything their main trait represents.” You gulped. Justin, fully representing Justice… “It’s not usually the case, but it can happen sometimes. And hey! Souls do change over time. Younger kids usually only have one color. I heard Frisk has a completely red soul.”

“Yeah. Yeah, that’s true.” Maybe… Justin could change. You had to have hope for that. “Justice souls really struggle that much?”

“Definitely. It’s also a fairly rare soul trait. To completely base yourself on right versus wrong? It’s not a common thing for people to do. Some souls value justice, but there’s usually something they value more.” You nodded. It made sense. “Why do you ask?”

“Well. Me and my brother have never really gotten along. And he’s a Justice soul.”

Nick nodded, rolling his eyes. “I know the feeling. My cousin, Jamie, is a Justice soul too. He’s a prick sometimes.” You snickered. Nick glanced up as someone walked nearby, stopping at his stand. “Oh! Hi there!” He bounced up from his seat. You watched as he handled the customer, and you finished your ice cream. The customer, thankfully, did buy a cone! Nick bounced a little on his toes as he sorted the money into his register. “I’m doing well today. I think people are spending money they got for Christmas.”

“Definitely possible!” You stood and folded up your chair. “Here. I should get a move on before Muffet and Grillby get too busy for the day.”

“You gonna ask them for a job?” He took the chair, a big smile on his face.

“I think I will, yeah.”

“Who will you choose?”

You hesitated on that question. Who were you going to pick to work for?

 

*~*~*~

 

“You don’t have to pick right now. It’s just, this is closer to Mt. Ebott, and you always do better around other people.”

Alphys anxiously flexed her fingers against the table. Toriel smiled gently and reached out to hold her hand. “It is entirely up to you, child. I would never pressure you into doing something so drastic so suddenly.”

Alphys nodded, smiling back at Toriel, thankful for her kindness. “I-I. I don’t know? The University is my real job, a-and they pay better than Ebott. It’s more important to be closer to the school.”

“That’s true,” Undyne said with a frown. She heaved a sigh and sat back in her chair, closing her eyes. “I just want you to always feel like you can go to Ebott. I know how much that job means to you, and how much you use it as stress relief.”

“O-Oh gosh.” Alphys flushed. While Undyne was fantastic, she. Usually wasn’t the most observant. “I. I know. I can g-go to Ebott anytime! I just think maybe. This. This is so much to put on Toriel.”

“Nonsense. I would love to have you. As would Frisk.” Alphys certainly couldn’t argue with that. “We would even be able to drop you off at the university!”

“O-Oh no! No no I have such early classes!”

“I have been trying to get Frisk to rise earlier anyways.” Frisk, notably, was not present for this conversation; they would certainly have protested this statement. “It would not be a bother in the slightest.”

Alphys shifted uncomfortably. She felt a little too put on the spot by all of this. “I. I just don’t know yet. C-C-Can I. Can I have more time to think about it?” The words were getting harder. She forced herself to breathe.

“Of course, Alphys.” Toriel smiled reassuringly and glanced between her and Undyne. “I think I will go check on Frisk. They disappeared into their room quite some time ago, and I believe they should pick dinner tonight.” Toriel stood and quickly walked off.

Undyne eyed Alphys, who was staring determinately at the table. Her girlfriend had been acting odd for a few days now, and it worried her. She had no idea what was wrong either. Mentioning Ebott seemed to be making things worse, though. “Alphys?” She jumped, making Undyne frown more. She hated scaring her girlfriend. “Did. Did something happen on Ebott? You seem to get worse when we bring it up.”

“O-Oh.” Alphys hesitated enough for Undyne to realize she was hiding something. She had known Alphys long enough, and had been trusted with enough of her secrets, that she could work out when Alphys was hiding something now. “N-No.”

Undyne tried her best to smile, but she knew it was coming out wrong. “It’s… It’s okay, Al. You can always tell me anything, alright?”

Alphys thankfully smiled at that, looking ever so slightly relieved. “O-Of course I know that, Undyne! I.” She breathed quickly. “Something did happen but I’m not ready to talk about it. I’m fine, it’s just something I-I’m still. Coming to terms with!” She grinned nervously.

Undyne sighed in relief and stood, walking to Alphys and picking her up out of her chair into a tight hug. Alphys made a little squeak of surprise, but happily hugged her back as best she could. “Okay, hon. I’ll be here when you’re able to tell me, okay?”

“... Okay.”

“And whatever it is, I know you’ve got this.” Undyne sat Alphys down again, getting on one knee to talk to her. Little did Alphys know, Undyne had been practicing this position when Alphys was at work later than expected. She put her hands on Alphys shoulder, beaming at her girlfriend with unmasked pride. “You’re so strong, Alphys. You’ve gotten through so much. You’ll get through this too, no sweat, especially since this time you’ve got someone like me on your side!”

Alphys couldn’t help but giggle softly. “Thanks, Undyne. I love you.”

Undyne smiled and gave Alphys a gentle kiss, feeling Alphys melt like putty into the chair. That was the goal. She pulled away. “I love you too.”

 

Undyne stood and walked away, leaving Alphys to her thoughts. Alphys sighed gently, looking at the now mostly empty tea cup in front of her. Golden Flower tea had calming properties, but right now, she was still ramped up. Her heart was beating hard. She tried her best to practice controlled breathing now, willing herself to calm down.

It hardly worked, but she tried anyways.

Moving to Toriel’s? Goodness. Honestly, she didn’t mind the idea very much. It was nice, being able to see Frisk so frequently, and Toriel was so kind. But their room at the university was also nice, and they got it for free. Living here would put such a burden on Toriel and Frisk, and she didn’t want to get in the way of Toriel and Asgore. She still wanted them to get back together, after all (they were still her OTP, after all!).

But the bigger issue was definitely Undyne’s reasoning.

Alphys didn’t want to go back to Mt. Ebott. Not after learning Justin’s real intentions.

She still wanted to work on Ebott, definitely. The work they did there served, well, everyone! Humans and monsters would benefit. But working with Justin… Helping him with his goals. It made her nervous.

Not that what he was doing was a bad thing! She… didn’t think so, at least. She definitely didn’t know everything, after all, and soon she would be… delving more into what he had told her. As soon as she could wrap her head around everything. He had offered her a position at his “offices” to help with the influx of paperwork, but she had declined out of panic. She had to decide before the end of this work week. 5 more days.

She gulped.

What would she choose?

For now, she chose to finish her now lukewarm tea, praying silently that it would help her frayed nerves.

 

*~*~*~

 

“Wait, seriously?”

“Oh of course, Dearie.” Muffet was currently adding some cobwebs to a corner of the ceiling that she had just cleaned of dust. She worked in food, after all, and the cobwebs must be cleaned properly. Otherwise there could be health violations! “To be frank, I could use the help!”

You looked around at the monumental amount of spiders in the room. “It seems like you’ve got your hands full.”

Muffet giggled and dropped down from the ceiling, stopping behind the counter to stand. “Yes, but my family is not the most. Shall we say, people friendly. Why, I’m the only waiter or receptionist, and I do all the financials as well. Needless to say, I do have my hands quite full.”

“Well. I’d be happy to help.” You smiled. With Grillby’s being as busy as it usually was, you weren’t sure you were ready to work there. You wanted a job, sure, but you had never been a waiter before. The bakery would be much easier.

“Of course. We can work out the salary together in the back, just as soon as I’m done tidying up. Your lack of experience really doesn’t matter, sweetie. Just so long as you don’t step on anyone, we should be fine.” You chuckled, but you did glance down. Nobody underfoot, thankfully. “I’ve honestly been hoping for some help. A more… human touch might bring in more business.”

“Oh? Nick told me you were doing fairly well.”

Muffet giggled gently. “Oh, definitely better than I was underground. But I could definitely use more business. I mostly have monster customers, and while they pay the same as anyone else, I could still use some extended clientele. Besides. I’m getting tired of playing nice with the ones who come in with no intention of buying anything.”

“What do they come in for then? It’s not like this is the kind of place where you browse.”

She scoffed, rolling her eyes. “It seems some people prefer 8 legs to 2.” She left the conversation at that, but you worked it out from there. You’d seen enough internet to know the exact type of people she was referring to. “Having you here at the front will help prevent that from occurring frequently.”

You grinned. “You can count on me, Miss.”

“Oh please, dearie, call me Muffet.” She hugged you, making you feel incredibly awkward. Not because she was a spider, but because you really weren’t used to being hugged with 6 arms. You awkwardly patted her back. She pulled away. “One last question, dearie.”

“Oh?”

She grinned sharply at you. “How good are you at skating?”

Chapter Text

You were very, very, very not good at skating.

“Oh my god how do people move in these?” You wobbled around the small bakery, thankful that the layout allowed you simple movement throughout. There were also plenty of places to hold out your hand and grab onto something attached to a wall or floor that could be helpful for braking. You were also thankful that all of Muffet’s family had heeded your warning to stay out of the way and out of sight. You didn’t want to crush anyone accidentally, and while Muffet had assured you that wouldn’t be enough to kill anyone, you were understandably cautious.

Muffet watched with a clear mirth in her eyes. You glared. “You’re enjoying this.”

She laughed a little and nodded. “Of course I am. It’s hilarious to watch. You’ve really never skated before?”

“I-I have! Once. In middle school.” That time you managed to forge your father’s signature and scrounge up enough money to go on the school field trip with your then sweetheart. You remembered holding hands while skating around, before she promptly let go as you skidded into a fall. You also remembered being embarrassed while she laughed at you. And all her friends laughed too.

Middle school fucking sucked.

Muffet also laughed, but now you had much more self worth than an abused middle schooler had. “Oh fine, laugh it up. I don’t see you wearing these things.”

“Yes, but I can move much faster than you. I need to make sure you can get to everyone in this bakery at top speed if I want to be completely efficient. Besides. I can help heal any injuries you get from the skating. My bakery items will heal you up quick.”

You supposed that was true. And you really had to admit, it was pretty fun to be able to skate around all day. You also had full permission to sit at any time, as well as to take a break to eat or drink. You even had an hour for lunch! This was definitely going to be a better job than some other place, just for those facts.

You finally coasted over to the chair behind the host’s counter, sitting abruptly, much to the protest of your ass. “Ow! Fuck.” You breathed, feeling exhausted. “Okay. I think that’s about as much as I can take today.”

“I think you should practice some, and I’ll pay you for the time of course. It’s labor, and you should be paid for it.” You grinned. “We’ve already determined you’ll be starting tomorrow, and paydays are every other Friday unless you need to work out advanced payments or anything. Just let me know, okay?”

“Of course.” You smiles and unlaced your skates slowly. Your feet definitely ached, but you had been able to take frequent breaks, and you’re allowed to take the skates off at any time if you’re in pain. It’s mostly a rush hour technique anyways, which you had yet to see. Seemed Muffet’s was more popular first thing in the morning and later in the evening, but not as common in the middle of the day. “Thank you again, Muffet,” you said as you set the skates behind the counter.

“Of course. Thank you for asking me for the job.”

You left for the day, feeling as though you’d gotten a work out. And you had! It’s not like skating was easy on the body.

 

But there you were the next morning, before the sun could rise, lacing on skates and doing your best. At the very least, you were a fast learner, and YouTube tutorials helped. You still stumbled some, but you were going to get better with more practice.

You were really stunned by how little work you had to do, honestly. There were a fair amount of customers who came in that morning, surprised to see a human on staff. Most of the customers were indeed monsters, though there were a few humans who wandered in, clearly regulars. People who were okay with the spider part of the spider-bakery.

They mostly handled themselves. All you had to do was take their orders, and the bakery never got busy enough for you to cruise around. You just took orders at the front, asked them to sit, and the spiders would promptly bring their requests. The most you had, even at the height of business that morning, were three tables. You rode around once to ask if everyone was doing okay, but they were fine (and mostly just amused at your attempts).

It was an easy job. You felt almost guilty for being paid, but you were paid for the labor you did. It wasn’t like you were here getting rich. You were here working, however easy it was for you, and you were paid for the time you spent here so Muffet could stay in the back room doing whatever she found more important. That’s how this worked.

You relaxed a little bit. You had always hated the idea of getting a “real” job. Playing music and getting paid for it, without the fiasco of band agents or touring, was what really appealed to you. But now you had people you wanted to help provide for. That changed things. Maybe one day you would get fabulously wealthy somehow and capitalism would be just a weird fever dream you had once.

 

You were broken out of your daydreaming about Utopias around noon, however, when you had to deal with shitty customers. There had to be a few, of course, and being your first day, it was fitting they came now, right when you were thinking of this being a dream job. The first person to start it off, however, shouted at for false advertising (there were literally spiders? How was that false?) and for scaring the poor women who came in. You gently tried to calm down the screamer, but, well. He insisted on asking for your manager.

You paused. “A-Are you sure about that sir?”

“OF COURSE! I FUCKING SAID IT, DIDN’T I?” The guy shook his now reddened head, huffing like a bull. “What are you, deaf?!”

You shrugged and went to the door behind the host’s station, peeking in. Muffet was there, looking at something on her laptop with her glasses on. “Muffet? Someone’s asking for a manager.”

Muffet sighed. “How important is it?”

“He says you falsely advertised.”

“I CAN TELL HIM MYSELF, GET HIM OUT HERE YOU INCOMPETANT IDIOT.”

You stared dryly at Muffet. She stared back, clearly displeased. She rolled her eyes, folded up her glasses, set them down, and came slowly scuttling out to the front. The man’s eyes immediately bulged as he scrambled away. She opened her mouth to say something, but he screamed “FREAK” and fled immediately.

Muffet nodded and looked back at you. “For future reference dearie,” she said, now much happier and brighter than before, “feel free to be as rude to customers as they are to you.”

 

You blinked.

“Wait, what?”

“If a customer curses at you, feel free to curse back. If they’re rude, I certainly do not expect you to demean yourself by being complacent. What’s the saying?” She grinned sharply. “Take no shit?”

You laughed in disbelief. “So much about this not being a dream job.”

“Oh, you flatter me dear.” She glanced around at the empty store. “We won’t have many customers until the dessert pastry rush later tonight. Feel free to leave whenever you wish, and I’ll pay you for the time you work. Just alert me before you leave so I can jot down the times.”

“Of course, Muffet. Thank you.”

She waved as she went back to her work, and you relaxed.

Yeah. This was a dream.

 

You did decide to take off around 2 that day, having already worked (technically) since 5. You were exhausted, and you knew Muffet could handle the pastry rush for now. You did make sure she knew she could call you later in the day, even if you had already worked. Muffet seemed thrilled to hear you say that, but you had faith she wouldn’t abuse that. She seemed to value the fact that happy workers produced better profits.

And… somehow you had no doubt it was about profits for her.

Thankfully, though, she didn’t end up calling you in. You instead got to stay home, where Papyrus was insisting on a celebration of your “INCREDIBLY AMAZING ACHIEVEMENT” that night. He zoomed around the kitchen, doing his best to prep a cake. Sans shocked you both by insisting on helping. “SANS, YOU SO RARELY BAKE.”

“figured this was the best occasion for it. thought i would at yeast rise to the challenge for our roommate.”

Papyrus breathed in, ready to unleash a temper tantrum the size of his heart, but you interrupted with your laughter. Sans raised an eyebrow and Papyrus huffed out the air he had breathed in. “HUMANS. PLEASE TELL ME YOU WILL NOT CONDONE A PUN THAT BAD.”

“N-No, sorry, I just. I’ve never heard that one before!” You snickered, biting your lip. Sans was beaming. He had found your true weakness. Baking puns.

“no worries human. you don’t knead to laugh at these.” He made the motion as he said it. You rolled your eyes, but you couldn’t shake your smile. He opened his mouth, but you held up a hand and shook your head. You didn’t want to ruin Papyrus’s night. He shrugged. “alright, alright. i guess that first pun…”

“Oh god Sans no-”

“-really took the cake?”

“SANS!!!!”

 

You happily ate cake with your roommates as Sans fiddled with the controls on the remote, trying to turn on closed captions. You glanced at your phone and smiled at messages from Nick. All wondering how your day went, asking if Muffet’s had been nice. You shot back some quick replies and exited to your other messages.

Your eyes fell on your brother’s contact and you hesitated.

You couldn’t help but smirk.

8:48: Guess who just got a job at this bakery downtown? Sending you the address now with my schedule. You’ve gotta try their cider.

You sat down your phone and dug into your cake happily with the knowledge that Curtis would be too curious to resist visiting a place you had actually managed to get a stable job at. You wanted him to meet Muffet. His obsession with spiders would definitely make him love that place. And hey! Maybe he would buy something. Muffet would be happy.

“damn thing.” Sans huffed and set down the remote. “i think it’s on the fritz.”

“IT’S ALRIGHT, SANS. CLOSED CAPTIONING IS NICE BUT NOT NEEDED FOR THE NIGHT!”

Sans nodded and relaxed. “we might need to consider upgrading the tv soon.”

“How long have you guys had this one?”

“THIS IS THE SAME TV WE HAD UNDERGROUND! IT WORKED WONDERFULLY DOWN THERE, BUT IT IS VERY OUTDATED APPARENTLY.”

You reviewed the TV, with its shaky lines and slightly red-tinted color scheme. “Yeah. I think it might be time. If you wanted, I can try and pitch in too.”

Both of them stared at you. “Okay, before you guys get all up in arms, I will be getting money here soon, and it’s something. I live here too. Eventually, I want to start pitching in more. Buying the groceries with my money now and then, paying for stuff that needs replacing around here.”

Papyrus and Sans glanced at each other. Papyrus seemed displeased, but Sans shrugged. “i don’t see a problem with you pitching in, once you start getting some money in.”

Papyrus nodded. “JUST NEVER FEEL OBLIGATED TO. THIS IS OUR HOUSE, AFTER ALL. IT IS UP TO US TO PROVIDE FOR IT. YOU ARE OUR FRIEND, AND WE WILL ALLOW YOU TO CHIP IN, BUT IT IS NOT A RESPONSIBILITY!”

“Of course, Paps. Thank you.”

You all sat back and relaxed for the rest of the night, content with each other and your celebration. It had been an eventful day.

 

*~*~*~

 

“Yo! Frisk!”

Frisk looked up from their lunch box, beaming as a familiar friend ran to them, immediately headbutting them upon arrival. It was a dizzying ritual, to be certain, but one Frisk dearly enjoyed (even with a headache). Monster Kid, affectionately having taken the nickname MK, seemed to enjoy it just as much. They signed a question they asked every day now, just to be sure. MK nodded. “He/him right now, dude!”

Frisk smiled and nodded gently. “Okay,” they mumbled.

MK sat next to Frisk as they pulled his lunch from their bag. They always made sure to grab it for him before lunch, as it was too much hassle for him to try and grab it by his teeth and then come all the way down here. “Thanks. So, how was your Christmas break?!”

Frisk relayed the information of all of the gifts they had gotten, sharing stories happily while they ate. Another monster, Claire, came to sit with them, as well as Jamie. Claire was a type of Hippogriff, with pink and blue feathers (and matching freckles which she tried to hide in her scarf). Jamie, on the other hand, hid none of the fluff of his body, or his growing bat-like wings. They had both grown close with Frisk quickly, and both of them hated the fact that they had not made this new friend underground like MK had. No, they had been in the capital the whole time, and they missed everything.

 

As Frisk looked at them, they remembered briefly a time they had played with the two monsters, kicking a ball back and forth. It had been one of the resets where they had ventured into the capital on accident, escaping Flowey briefly. It wasn’t memorable, or important, but Frisk remembered it anyways.

They remembered so much.

 

“Yo, Frisk?”

They jolted slightly and looked at their friends. Claire frowned. “A-Are you okay?”

“You zoned out on us!”

Frisk nodded, clearly growing self conscious quickly. “We were talking about the new human,” MK quickly said to distract from their momentary absence of thought. “Didja get to talk to her yet?”

Frisk frowned and shook their head. They hadn’t, they explained, but they had heard other students whispering about humans all day.

“Yo! We should go talk to her! I’m sure she’s way freaked out about being in a new school by-”

“HEY!!”

 

Frisk and their friends all jolted as, speak of the devil, the girl they had been speaking of stood beside them. Frisk took her in curiously, before beaming. They had been wrong. They did know the girl.

“Yo! I’m MK. What’s your name?”

“Sydney.” She hesitated. “Frisk? Can I sit with you?” Frisk nodded and Sydney smiled brightly, sitting next to them. “But uh, you can call me Syd. Daddy does, he says he likes it better cause it’s easy to say.”

“Neat! I’m Jamie, and this is Claire. So you’re a human?”

Sydney nodded, looking at Frisk. “Mhm! Born and raised one.” She puffed her chest out with pride. “I’m friends with Frisk already.” Frisk signed and Sydney frowned. “What are you doing?”

“F-Frisk signs.”

“They don’t talk much,” Jamie added helpfully. “So they use sign language, so all the things they do with their fingers mean words that we can understand.”

“You all know sign language?”

Jamie snorted. “Nah. Magic!”

“Oh.” Sydney sighed gently. “I wish I had magic.”

“So how did you two meet,” MK asked after a moment’s quiet pause.

Sydney flushed a little. “Well… We only met the one time at Mrs. Toriel’s house… I went to go visit Papyrus! He’s a real skeleton!”

MK’s eyes lit up with pride. “Isn’t he cool?! I got a red scarf this Christmas so I could look just like him!”

Sydney blinked. “But you aren’t a skeleton. You’re a lizard.”

“Well. No! I’m not a skeleton. But I can still be cool like Papyrus! I don’t need t’be a skeleton OR have arms to be cool!”

Sydney smiled a little and bounced in her seat. “Yeah!”

“And now you only need one arm!” Jamie said in an attempt to be helpful.

The attempt very clearly did not work. It instead made things very awkward at the lunch table as Frisk started to choke on their peanut butter and jelly sandwich (with the edges lovingly cut off). MK bumped his head against their back hard, trying to help. It mostly just made things worse.

Sydney rubbed soothing circles on Frisk’s back, hoping to lessen the coughing. “Yikes.”

“Sorry,” Jamie said after Frisk managed to calm down. “You know. Filters and stuff. Struggle with that sorta thing.” He was clearly sheepish.

“Are you okay, Frisk?” Carrie asked softly. “I can go get some water?”

Frisk held up a hand to show they were fine before glancing at Jamie. They sighed and signed. Jamie sighed in relief. “Good. I was so scared I offended you.”

“Nah, Frisk is tough!” MK beamed at Frisk, which made them smile. They liked when MK looked at them like he looked at Papyrus. It made Frisk feel just as strong and powerful and amazing as Papyrus was. And sometimes, Frisk really needed a reminder of that.

The conversation shifted awkwardly and messily to Sydney, but they were young. It didn’t matter. The awkwardness would be forgotten one day. But for Frisk, the information was stored away, just like everything was with them now.

They weren’t sure when they had changed like this. Back before they had fallen underground, things had been… simpler, mentally. Sure, they’d had to memorize the sounds on the steps. They’d had to learn where to step in the kitchen so there was no creak. They memorized hotlines and learned how to get the only payphone in town to work without using coins. But at least they hadn’t filed information away as though it were something that could be filed.

Sydney was 9 years old. She lived with Derek, who she called Daddy because he was the sweetest man she ever knew and he always smiled so much when he remembered how much she loved him. Her parents were divorced, and her mom was apparently mean. She liked math the best at her old school, but here she was already preferring history. Her birthday was in July. She had a pet dog with three legs and a stumpy fourth leg, and his name was Stampy.

Frisk looked off at the other tables where other monsters sat, chatting and carrying on as children do. As children should. Frisk’s own friends talked with Sydney, quickly growing a budding friendship.

Somehow… They felt on the outside of things. As Sydney nudged them and mentioned how she’s a whole year older than them, Frisk laughed with the others, but had to refrain from saying they were older than her. Because here, they weren’t. Here, they were 8. Not 10. Here, they were Frisk, the Monster Ambassador. Not Frisk, the one who lived with MK for a week while they were stuck hiding from Undyne underground. Not Frisk, the one who kicked a ball into Jamie’s head so hard that Jamie broke a tooth. Not Frisk, the one who…

Frisk pushed their lunchbox away and rested their head on the table.

“Yo, Frisk. You okay?”

They shook their head and signed no. They explained they felt sick and they were going to go to the nurse for the rest of lunch.

“Do you need someone to go with you,” Claire asked, clearly worried.

They signed no again and left. They didn’t feel like talking anymore.

 

*~*~*~

 

He frowned and breathed a gentle sigh as he looked at his calendar. It was pretty well stocked, even he had to admit. While he had not been quite as much of a busy body underground, even with back to back shows, even he had to admit he was pushing himself too much.

“Oh, gods, this was all just too much!” He said this with all the dramatic flair he could muster, throwing the calendar onto the desk he was seated at. He leaned back in his desk chair, draping his arm over his forehead as he had trained to do in his bedroom for so many days the instant Alphys had completed his new form enough for him to use in bursts.

The flair was lost on the empty room, however.

He huffed and stood, stretching. Even nuts and bolts could grow sore, or at least they could when they were your body was attached to them. He needed to stretch from time to time, and at least it was nice to look at.

If anybody was looking.

He shook his head and went to the bed. The room was well furnished with numerous chairs and cushions and other things, but right now he just wanted to crash into the bed.

This had been a recent trend. He didn’t usually do this, at least not underground. But for some odd reason, these past few months, it had been more common for him to wear sweatpants and a pullover, to drown himself in too many snacks, and sleep in his spare time.

He knew what the problem was, he thought to himself as he scrolled through his phone. No new messages, per usual.

Well, that wasn’t true. His email was totally fried from the amount of interview requests. Requests for collabs. He’d even had his own number of “influencers” beg for him. But no messages from anyone who mattered, that was certain.

He set down his phone and nuzzled into his pillow, hugging it close. Yes, he knew exactly what his problem was. He just loathed the fact that he was feeling it. He had spent so many years being so much bigger than emotions like this. Emotions like this hadn’t mattered underground, when he had all eyes on him.

He was never lonely back then. But now…

He glanced at the picture he had moved to his nightstand recently. He’d moved it to look at it one night, and now he found himself nearly always looking at it, especially in moods like these. He smiled gently.

It was a picture he’d been sure to take himself, of all of his newfound friends. Undyne was cold, as usual. He supposed that was to be expected, given his treatment of Alphys. Alphys was beaming, though, both taking in the love of her friends and her accomplishments as she emerged from the underground. Frisk was there, too, hugging his leg. Papyrus, ever a delight, had been fawning over him and rambling about his incredibleness. He certainly was a sweetheart. His brother was much less of a blatant fan, but Mettaton could see the slightest admiration, likely due to how happy he made Papyrus.

His eyes rested on Alphys and sighed. As soon as they’d gotten above ground, Alphys had fallen in love with the new technology provided for them. It had taken nearly a month, of course, but a month was all she needed to be proved as a genius enough to experiment more on his body. It… hurt quite a bit more, now. She’d had to turn him off. He didn’t like that feeling, but it was needed for the… modifications she had given him, along with those university nuts she had with her.

He could use his body for almost a full day now without losing it to his more rectangular form. He could even stay like this indefinitely, so long as he was charged. Alphys was working on a more sustainable charge almost always, but this was more than he’d ever dreamed as a ghost on a snail farm all those years ago. Far more.

He looked at his hand and sighed. “I still need to thank her again. She’s… really changed my life.”

Was this the change you wanted, a small voice in his head asked.

Surely it had to be.

It had to be. After all of this, it definitely, most assuredly, had to be.

 

He shut his eyes softly. He would go home after this latest movie was complete, and the plans for the themepark were completed. Disney had already tried to get their grubby little hands on him, but he wasn’t going to let them dirty up his chassis with their mouse-mittens. No, he was making his own park, thank you very much.

After this was complete, he could return home, and all eyes would be on him again. All the important eyes would be on him again. And he would have a proper audience. The sheer idea of it made him feel happier. Warmer. And he could see Blooky, who had chosen to stay home for this particular tour.

He’d be there soon. He just had to hold out a little bit longer. For his dream.

Because this most certainly was his dream.

It had to be.

 

*~*~*~

 

“Ho. Ly. Shit.”

 

You beamed as you hugged Curtis, who was looking around in amazement around the bakery. He’d come the very next day to your shift, just as excited as you knew he would be. You were thankfully clothed in your regular shoes today, rather than the skates. You couldn’t handle practicing with them again today, and the store was empty right now besides you, Curtis, and like a million spiders.

“Chip. What the fuck is this. Oh my god. There’s so many little shits- That one’s green!”

You laughed. “Yeah, that’s. I think Sasha?”

“Oh my god they have names.” His eyes were quite literally shining.

You laughed and glanced at one that was nearby. “I’m gonna take lunch now. Mind if I buy some food for Curtis and me?”

They seemed fine with it. You didn’t really speak spider, but they nonetheless brought over a pad and pencil for you to write the order on. You did so, making sure to get some cider and a slice of cake. Curtis got some fresh marble bread. You handed the pad back, and the spiders got straight to work fetching it.

“Oh my god they’re amazing. You work here? I’d pay for this experience.” He got down on his knees next to the wall where a little spider was fixing some of the webbing. “Hey there. God, you’re fucking gorgeous.” You wondered if spiders that small could blush?

“C’mon, Curtis, let’s sit. Let them work.”

“Alright, alright, yeesh. Can’t even make new friends can I?” Curtis beamed as he stood though, too happy about this amazing place to be sour. He even squealed at the little 8 legged tables. “This place is just too much.”

“I knew you’d love it.” You sat, snickering. “You’ve always been obsessed with spiders.”

“Of course I have! Have you seen how cool they are? They’re gorgeous, resourceful, they make the most beautiful webs. They’d HILARIOUS to watch on camera, especially during mating season.”

“Please, god, let what you’re saying not be racist somehow.”

Curtis actually had the good concious to flush at that. “Oh yeesh. Okay enough about how much I love spiders. Spill, kid, why the job? Did your guitar break or something?”

“Oh god no, no.” You smiled as some spiders came and delivered you a pitcher of cider (Curtis made incoherent gibbering at this sight). “Thanks, guys.”

“Thank you!!”

“No, I got this job because I wanted a real job,” you said as you poured yourself a mug. It was steaming hot still. “Playing in the park doesn’t pay much, you know, especially in winter. Christmas went well, but I don’t have much in savings, and I certainly wouldn’t have enough if I had to pay for things like rent and food. I… just don’t really want to be a freeloader anymore.”

Curtis nodded gently, pouring himself a mug after you. The spiders came promptly with your food. You both thanked them again, of course. Your parents had raised you with manners. Curtis then turned his attention back towards you. “So are the sugar-skulls finally making you pay your way?”

“No. I insisted, actually.”

Curtis rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t not smile. “Of course you would. You’re too kind, Chipper.”

“I’ve told you so, so many times, not to call me that.”

“Yeah, but it always makes you smile a little.” You couldn’t deny that fact. It did make you smile, even if it reminded you of a… not so great time. “Hey. How’ve you been, really? The new job is great and all, but winter’s hard on both of us.”

You looked down at your cider, letting the mug warm your hands. It wasn’t cold in the bakery, but the air outside was cold, and you could sometimes feel a shiver just by looking at the snow. “I’m… definitely better than I usually am. I think it helps that I’m around other people. Usually, the best I have is a roommate I found off of some ad in the local news. This year, I’ve got. Well. You’ve met them.” You laughed a little.

Curtis smiled warmly. “Yeah. I have.” He sips his cider and moans gently. “Ffffuck. What? What the fuck? These are literally some of Gods tears, how did they fit Heaven in a mug, what the fuck-” You were laughing again, and you just felt so warm. “I gotta say. This place fucking rocks. I dig it.”

“It is pretty nice.” You sipped your drink, burning your tongue a little. You winced and let it cool a few more seconds. “What about you?”

“Yeah I rock too.”

“Curt.”

He sighed and shrugged. “Alright, alright. I’m shitty. It’s been a rough month.”

You frowned as he started to poke at his bread with his finger. “Curtis… Why didn’t you call?”

“It felt dumb. We talk all the time now, anyways, and I’ve been home a lot recently. Being home helped. It’s just when I’ve been away that… things have been bad.”

You bit your cheek lightly. “You… haven’t. Done anything, right?”

“Christ, man, would I do that to you?”

“I know exactly what the answer to that is, and you do too.” Curtis looked ashamed as you said that. Rightfully so. “It doesn’t matter how much you know it’ll hurt someone else if you only want it to hurt you. If it hurts you, that’s enough. So have you done anything or not?”

Curtis breathed softly in an attempt to calm his heart. “No. Resisted the urges. But. They were still there.”

“Aren’t they always?”

“Hey, none of that. They aren’t always there. Only usually and sometimes.”

You smiled despite yourself, but it fell. “Still. You can always call me. I’ll always pick up, even if it’s late.”

“Please, I know you, your ass with be lead in the bed from midnight to 9am.”

“Okay, guilty as charged, but you should seriously try and go to sleep at a reasonable time!” He laughed. “I’m serious. It might help that whole depression thing.”

Curtis shrugged. “One step at a time. Besides. I’m… thinking of making a pretty major change here soon that my body will need to get used to.” You eyed him curiously as you savored some of your cake. “I…” Curtis licked his lips, suddenly looking unsure of himself. It wasn’t a common look he let others see, but it was one you were more familiar with. He let you see a lot more of him than others saw.

“Go ahead, Curt. You can tell me anything.” You knew you could expect anything out of his mouth. He was getting married to a random dude? He was joining a circus with his bandmates for exposure? God forbid, he was straight now?

He breathed. “I’m quitting the band.”

 

You coughed on your cake. Okay. Of all the things you expected?

That was not it.