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Life can get pretty boring sometimes. 

One thing's for sure though, “sleeping” upside down on the couch is not a viable way to spice up your day-to-day...Unless you enjoy cramps and permanent spine damage...

Unfortunately... when it comes to establishing officially bad ideas... 

I gave an experimental wriggle. 

Pure.  

Agony. 

...I like to try before I buy.  

A soft groan slipped past my lips. The smallest admission of stupidity ever made.

…Evidently. I was not yet ready for the more extreme forms of couch sitting...

Survival instincts had me holding perfectly still, hoping to appease the vengeful back pain.

It didn’t work.

The vertebrae have taken a vote, and it's unanimous.

Your Spine hates you.    

Truthfully, this wasn't the first time heedless curiosity had led me down a dark path. Some part of me had seen this end coming.... and still saw defying common sense as a challenge

"Fool." I whispered to myself, glaring hazily at the upside-down world. "…You should have known better than to pick a fight with an inanimate object...."

In domestic disputes, the furniture always wins.

A lesson I now had to relearn the hard way…as I tried to free myself from the hellish contortion my need for adventure had gotten me into. 

This is exactly why I shouldn’t be trusted to make my own decisions. Whoever thought free-will was a good idea obviously didn’t account for this amount stupid.

I groaned again, louder and more despairingly this time as the full implications of my situation hit me

One false move and..... Game over.  

Dizzy from the amount of blood gravity had confiscated from my toes, I considered the pros and cons of just giving up now...

…And ultimately decided that eternity really is an excessive amount of time to spend on the couch. 

Rightio. Let's just rip this off like a Band-aid... 

Using a combination of mad arm flailing and lip biting, I was eventually able to wrestle my legs out from where they had hooked over the back of the couch. 

Semi-liberated, I rolled over onto my stomach, sliding to the floor and turtle crawling my way across the soft grey rug. 

Nobody escapes the couch with their dignity intact. Nobody

My trailing feet hit the floor with a dull thud, signifying that all contact with the couch had been lost.

I deemed the mission... Not a success... But certainly satisfactory.

"Good job me," I said. "Take a well-earned break."

…All that lounging around nearly killed me…

Hence, I collapsed bonelessly where I lay, taking a moment to breathe in the dusty carpet scent and come to terms with my existence. 

Ready for another day Ava?  

The steady click of the ceiling fan above... Inspires little to no enthusiasm. 

Yeah. Sure. Why not. 

In no particular rush to enjoy life, I spend a few more minutes procrastinating, watching the light from Television play across the dark living room.

The elephant in the room.

Try as I might to act life doesn’t revolve around it…

My gaze found its way to the Television screen. 

As it always does.

I n e v I t a b l y.

Channel one.

Undertale. 

I stared at the screen, awed by the complexities of the multiverse...

... I can't believe Alphys is eating instant noodles for breakfast…

Again

Some things, we will just never understand.

Rolling onto my back, I watched the small yellow monster go about her morning ritual. 

Yellow. Colour. Real.

REAL. 

Closing my eyes, I breathed a sigh of relief.

…Or just a regular sigh. I’m not that good at telling them apart. 

Still, it was the only thing to be heard…as the television was still muted from before I “dozed off.” A bleak reminder of what had led to the ungracious couch flopping scandal in the first place. 

When the gods of entertainment decided that what I really needed in my life was a Genocide marathon. 

Every single channel, playing reruns of the worst possible timelines.

And if there's one thing I hate...

It's reruns.

 ... Still.  

 It would be rude, to look away.

Besides being insensitive, it's kinda important to pay attention to the circumstances that led to the creation of your entire multiverse...right? 

No matter how many times you've already seen it. 

With that in mind, I'd spent…an indiscernible amount of time flicking through the scenes of horror, repeating the flat repetition of "seen it" over and over.... until I was finally able to justify stopping... 

Everyone has to sleep right?  

... Of course, I regularly go months without bothering with the pretence...

Still, better safe than sorry... 

Grumbling, I rolled up onto my feet. Wobbling a little as I searched my surroundings for the remote. 

Personally, I try not to watch the timelines too much.

There is a distinction. Between reality and possibility. The absence of colour most notably…

Even so. Blurring the line between what is and isn’t...

Is not suitable for unstable audiences. 

Fortunately for my undependable sanity, the usual program seems to have returned.  

That is to say, the mostly black and white scenes of death and betrayal have been replaced with colourful, Live footage from the forty-two different universes I had access to. 

Which…Honestly...makes for a pretty small multiverse...

Then again, what else would you expect from free T.V?

Finally locating the most powerful object to ever run on batteries, I started flipping through the channels, checking in on current events. 

Just.... you know.... in case something has gone horribly wrong in the multiverse... in which case I would need to bust out the emergency snacks and tissues. 

In a totally sympathetic way of course. 

Thankfully for my bleeding heart, this multiverse was a relatively peaceful place. Small but stable. Very exclusive and definitive. 

The community was pretty friendly too. 

Even after half of the universes discovered interdimensional travel and started interacting with each other, the drama was limited to only a few 'end of the world' scares a year.

Overall, a very nice slice of existence. 

In order to appreciate it, I made sure to carefully study the flow of familiar scenes and faces, absent-mindedly greeting each universe while I reassured myself that everything was fine. 

Good morning Undertale... Usual...

Good morning Underfell... No change... 

Good morning Underswap...Same...

Good morning Swapfell... Eww, didn't need to see that... But still, since I'm already watching... No, better give them some privacy...in three... Two... One... 

And so on and so forth... 

In the early days, I could spend solid months theorising about how the universe worked. 

I try not to do that anymore. 

Overthinking things is sort of a bad habit of mine....one that pops back up every once in a while, to drive me i n s a n e. 

"…Understanding it won't help. " I whispered. "It doesn't follow logic. Souls determine everything. The origin is Undertale. DON'T THINK ABOUT IT."

Don't progress. 

Still, it's too bad that watching stuff on the T.V doesn't actually make you an expert on the subject. Otherwise, I’d be demanding some sort of PhD.

Not to toot my own horn, but I know all my neighbouring universes off by heart, having spent many a sleepless night staring into their world's. 

 Like a creeper...

 Who has no life...

 ...I should probably just get a hobby... 

 It just seemed like such a waste... to have an all-seeing eye just sitting in your living room... And never abuse it... 

So armed with that weak excuse, I regularly invade the privacy of every other occupant in the multiverse. 

Which is bound to make me real popular when-

No

I caught myself a second too late, eyes narrowing at the image of Swap Sans on the screen. 

..When had I gotten back to…

The undeniably admirable Monster was currently cooking breakfast, chatting animatedly with his brother...who slouched at the table, relaxed and sneaking honey every time his brother's back was turned. 

It was Peaceful. 

A running theme in the multiverse, as almost every universe had long come to some kind of conclusion.

The events of the Underground were in the past, and though not every ending was all sunshine and rainbows, everyone was certainly at a point where they had a second chance. 

Not so much the happily ever after as... 

Resisting the urge to flick through all the channels a second time, I switched the television off.

...The eye of the storm. 

Seeing myself in the reflection of the dead television…motivated me to get properly dressed and start my day.

Which was bound to be both fulfilling and productive.

Tossing the remote aside, I shuffled over to the kitchen part of the open living space. Passing the untouched appliances, I lent over the table to tug open the blinds. 

White light burst into the room, sharp and painfully artificial. 

Constant

Once my eyes adjusted, I set off to retrieve the various articles of clothing I had left strewn across the floor. 

Some things are easier to watch the less you wear.

My hat was the closest, therefore first contender for reapplication. Scooping it from the floor, I popped the bucket hat on with...perhaps more enthusiasm than strictly necessary. 

The large accessory was pretty much a safety hazard with how much of my vision it dominated, but I like to think I'm stubborn enough to pull it off. 

Tugged at the rim, I used the bright red material to centre myself to the here and now.

The here and now being very far away from everyone else.

For good reason.

I chanced a glance back towards the T.V. 

Things are fine the way they are. Staying here will keep it that way.

I was determined to not interfere...Even if that meant the only thing connecting me to the rest of existence was a sixty-five-inch High definition Flat-screen TV...

... But if the universe really wanted to make me feel better... I'd feel waaaay more connected to my fellow existees if I had a seventy inch...

No? Not going to randomly spawn me a bigger Television? Tsk...See if I care... 

...Could I at least get Pay TV?

Netflix? 

Fine. A Tamagotchi, and that's my final offer... 

...It's like I'm talking to the wall here. 

Sighing, I abandoned all efforts to bargain with the universe, collecting one of my purple flip-flops on my way towards the door. 

Where the other had gone...was yet to be discovered.

Like the victim of a brutal crime, my raincoat lay crumpled in the doorway. Begging me to take it back.

Of course, I couldn't bring myself to stay away from it, or any of the other articles I'd discarded. Each was an essential part of my staple outfit.

Just not something I liked to wear during b a d times.

Only after intense training, had my eyes grown accustomed to the Raincoat’s fluorescent yellow. Which clashed with... Well, every conceivable thing.

 A relatable feeling. 

Bravely defying the laws of fashion, I pulled the coat over my white sweater. It is…we’ll say a few sizes too large, hanging shapelessly with its many button, straps and pockets. Covering the monochrome of my sweater and generic black pants as well as can be expected.

Now I feel more like myself

Dressed in what could only be loosely termed as appropriate attire, all that was left to do was to track down the missing left flip-flop. 

One half-hearted scan of the room later, I gave up, opting to face the wilderness, single shoed. 

I look sexy with a limp.  

Laying a hand on the doorknob, I took a deep, soothing breath. 

Getting out of the house and away from the T.V. is the first step to living a healthy lifestyle. 

I swung the door open with as much enthusiasm as I could muster... 

...and forced myself not to cringe at how the sound seemed to echo.

The street beyond was empty of life.  

... If you didn't count grass, of course.

The grass here was ironically green. 

Before the silence had a chance to make me feel uncomfortable, I started humming cheerfully... If not melodiously... As I descended the steps at a hop. 

Cause breaking my back on the couch just wasn't good enough. 

All things considered; My universe was pretty nice. 

A quaint little street lit entirely by street lamps. The sky was permanently black. No weather to speak of... not even a breeze really. The stilled air was crisp, pushing uncomfortably cold. 

Oddly enough, a convenience store was located just down the street from my house. Practically next door. 

The universe's way of acknowledging my laziness. 

Still humming, I strolled into the small shop in search of sustenance. 

Like sleeping, eating was only something done to relieve boredom... Or more accurately, distract myself from thinking... 

Isn't my life awesome? Everything I could ever want, right at my fingertips. No consequences... except the guilt... that came with having everything I could ever want!

This being the case, I plucked an ice cream from the freezer. A nice texture. Easy to eat and a pleasant temperature. The ideal breakfast food. 

Having good taste is something I'm still working on. 

First meal of the day acquired, I made my way out of the shop, grabbing a newspaper and tucking it under my arm as I swung open the door. 

And was greeted, once again, but silence.

Unwrapping the ice-cream, I made my down the street.

It was as I was doing this... that an interdimensional portal opened up in the middle of the sidewalk. 

Coming to an abrupt stop, I paused to study the swirling gateway of light before me. 

There was no denying it.  

This...

Just reeks of desperation. 

"Heavy-handed. No imagination or believability at all." I said, rolling my eyes at the universe before sidestepping the portal altogether. "I give it 2/10. Mostly out of pity." 

And that was the end of that.  

I continued my travels, abandoning the gateway fated to lead me on an adventure into the unknown without a second glance. 

Not today. 

Stuffing my free hand into a pocket, I brought the ice-cream to my mouth with the other. Humming happily into the ice-creamy goodness. 

A part of me was disappointed.

That the universe wasn't even trying to be subtle anymore. Not to mention clever.

More and more lately, it would try to provoke or entice me, paying little mind to the laws of basic reality as it tried to force me into some sort of continuation

Obviously, the universe was getting frustrated. 

... I blame a lack of communication. 

By the time I finished my ice-cream, I'd arrived at my destination. 

Nothing fancy, just the small park at the end of the street and/or universe. 

Walking through it, you'll eventually reach the point where the lush green lawn....for lack of a better word.... shatters off from existence.  

Which is my favourite place to balance precariously, peering over the edge.

At the Entirety of Everything.

While the sky was infinite blackness, the void below was full of pseudo-stars.

Universes nestled together in mimicry of galaxies and dust. Here and there, a spectacular burst of colour. True Realities outshining the pale possibilities. 

This is what the multiverse looks like from the outside. 

Down is in, and up is out.

My own, tiny little universe, no bigger than a neighbourhood, clinging to the edge of the multiverse. 

Comes with free ice-cream and a nice view. 

Totally good enough for one person, right? 

After dumping what remained of my breakfast into the park bin, I sat myself down in my usual place. Legs swinging off into nothingness. 

"...The space of non-existence in-between world's is called the Void," I recited under my breath, mostly to break the silence. "The only way to survive outside of a universe is to go to the space that does exist...antivoid..."

Pulling out the procured newspaper, I started separating the individual sheets and folding them into paper-planes. 

A challenge, given the paper's flimsy nature, but one I was far too willing to subject myself to.

I would probably be more eager to read my local paper instead of mutilating it... if it were written in a language I could understand. 

Completing the plane, I gave it a criticising look before shrugging,

And propelling it out into the void. 

Maybe there's someone out there who can.

Chapter Text

Today's the day. 

The day... I found... 

A fishing rod. 

A momentous occasion by anyone's standards.  

As wonderful as they are, I know for a fact that paper planes can only entertain me for so long.

Fourteen hours is the record. 

Hence the importance, of coming up with new and innovative ways of entertaining myself!

Wouldn't want to be driven insane by boredom, right?  Hahahahaa... ha... 

As they say, variety is important to a healthy mental state.

So instead of paper planes... I... Um...sometimes ... Throw other stuff into the void. 

Variety. 

...Deep down, I like to think that there's someone on the receiving end of all this...

...Someone existing somewhere out in the spaces between. 

Probability dictates, it's some sort of Skeleton.

That's why I only throw in the necessities. Provisions... Including but not limited too... Shampoo.... hand cream...Diet pills... A packet of underwear once... And looooooots of paper planes...

...Fine. I troll the hypothetical occupants of the void. Lock me up and throw away the key... 

Or at least that's what I usually do. Today, in my search for something entertaining, I had located a fishing rod. 

It lay... Alone... Abandoned... In one of the unoccupied houses I like to break into on rainy days.

Ha ha.

It never rains. 

...Not going to lie. My universe is kind of finicky... And maybe a little bit... Sentient... 

But that's cool. I'm totally okay with living in a universe that ignores logic and caters to my every need. Pfft, what ulterior motives...? Who said the cosmic forces are trying to manipulate me into destroying the... Oh never mind! That's crazy talk! Crazy... 

Anyway! 

Harmless fishing rod.

Probably not a trap. 

As someone who lives right by the void, it would be blasphemy, to not even try it. 

I already had the hat and the waterproof coat...not to mention the well-trained sitting skills of a couch potato.

Seriously. 

I was made for this. 

All that was missing was the bait, and that was a problem easily solved by a quick trip to the local store. Indeed, when choosing bait, it is important to keep in mind what you intend to catch. 

Armed with a bunch of bananas, I set off to catch me'self a marmoset. 

...It's the void. I'll have as much luck catching one of those as anything else right?

Having set up shop in my usual spot, I hooked a banana and cast the line out into the darkness of the void. 

Baby marmoset, please... Or at least a cutely ugly monkey... 

A small part of me doubted that a mere banana could survive the destructive depths of the void. 

A much larger part of me was already picking out names for my soon to be, new companion. 

I will call him Mo.  

But first...to catch the sea beast! 

For all of ten seconds, I was totally captivated by my fishing adventure...

And that's it.

That's pretty much the standard amount of enjoyment this sport has to offer.

But like everyone who has ever tried it, I was too lazy to pack up and leave...so I gradually found myself contemplating what thrilling activity I would do next. 

Leaf counting... Staring contest...

Not scissors paper rock. Never again.

Trying not to fidget, I settled for crossing my legs.

...I'm sure I'll think of something. The handy thing about having all the time in the world is...you tend to figure most things out eventually.

If anything, the obsessive need to constantly occupy myself has only made me extra good at being fun. Right?

Right.

...Now if only I had friends to appreciate how cool I am... pfft.

No. Stop that!

Self-depreciation is only funny when clowns do it. 

Growing more restless, I jiggled the rod a bit... Something about making the bait seem more lifelike...

It did not escape my attention that bananas don't normally move in their natural habitat. 

That was the trick you see.

What is more interesting? A banana, or a banana that had miraculously acquired mobility?

... It could even be said that I was making the banana more appe-

  1. NO

I slapped a hand to my forehead, brutally silencing the thought. 

There was already enough pun pollution in the multiverse thanks to a certain reoccurring skeleton. 

I refuse to humour that guy's need to... Oh for the love of...  

I slouched over with a heavy sigh. 

...So much for keeping my mind off you-know-who.

I'm all for keeping myself preoccupied... it's just that... I'm kinda boring? 

Yeah.

That's my problem.

As a professional stalker, I make sure to draw the line. 

No obsessing. 

No delusions of grandeur. 

No playing God, Hero or Judge. 

Because Nothing, no moral stance or justification, makes spying on people okay. 

.... That being said... there is no doubt in my mind that I will once again abandon all pretence of having a conscience and give into watching the multiverse tonight.

I'm a stalker, not a saint. 

Resisting temptation is not something... I do.

Period.

...Comes with having unlimited access to convenience store goods.

Knowing that I would kill again...! This left only the question of what to watch...

After the genocide marathon last night, I'd about had my fill of violence, which ruled out some of the rougher universes...

There were the more unorthodox channels, the ones that didn't fit the Undertale mould quite so closely...if I wanted to experience something less...standard. 

But on days like these, where I feel a little...flat-

Fluff is the key! 

I could see myself settling for some good old classic Undertale. It might not be the most exciting, but it had a certain dependability that made me feel... Safe. 

Underswap also had a familiar feel, with the added intrigue of the exchanged roles.... except that I was cutting back on that universe... after I wrote that thesis... 

... I'm currently banned from several different channels for the same reason... 

On second thought, I could probably talk myself into watching one of the Fells...

Violent or not, seeing a bunch of homicidal maniacs grudgingly achieve happiness was particularly heart-warming. 

Or I could go on the prowl for something more... Scandalous. 

That's always good for a laugh. 

Even anatomy challenged and devoid of a sex drive, I couldn't say no to a more... Romantic scene.

In fact, I was happy to indulge in every manner of slash...From a safe distance of course...

Again. Probably wasn’t the best idea to give me the power to spy on people without consequence. 

Just saying. Totally unethical ...

... And as morally outraged as it makes me feel to unabashedly watch intimacy of every sort...

... It was kinda nice to see.

Romance. Friends. Family. Fun and Adventure. Even an everyday life. 

I could settle for not having those things.

Not at the cost of sticking my incompatible self where it doesn't belong. 

That being said...I don't think I could survive... not being able to at least look. 

Staring out into shining multiverse... I slowly realised fishing probably wasn't going to be my thing... 

Who knew it involved so much thinking...?  

Unfortunately, the more I thought, the harder it became to-

A sharp tug pulled on the line. 

...Of the fishing rod. 

...That was cast out into the V O I D.  

Riiiiight...

Cause that's a thing... 

Another tug.

I bowed my head in defeat. 

… should have just stayed home and watched T.V.

More insistent tugging got my body moving...even if my brain refused to follow along. 

My hands were winding up the line before it could really sink in...

I was reeling in something from the Void. 

…It could be a monster... I mean a monster monster... As in a creature whose only instinct is to disembowel me... 

On the other hand... And just keep this in mind... There's no guarantee or anything but... 

It could be a marmos-

Sold

A speck of yellow appeared below, the glorious banana making a triumphant return from its void voyage. 

I watched its steady approach, stomach twisting as I was unable to locate what had caused the tugging. 

The impossible chance of actually reeling in something from inexistence...and I lose it?

...Welp. It's better to quit after realising you completely suck on your first try...That's how sport works right...? 

A familiar shimmer of blue caught my eye, almost making me drop the fishing rod. 

A koi... made entirely from blue light. Swimming entwining circles around the baited banana. 

As the fruit rose to eye level, the shining fish hovered a brief moment longer... its form softly flickering through the different shades of blue before floating towards me affectionately. 

Unimpressed, I shooed it away... scowling as it avoided my batting hand and swam upwards, and out. 

Damn. Meddling. Fish. 

With a grim sigh, I turned my gaze back down to what the koi had dragged in this time... finally laying eyes on the catch of the day.

Which sat shivering on the banana, cling to the line. 

... Worse than a monster monster. 

It was a monster. 

An actual monster. 

A bitty, to be precise. 

 ...Definitely. Not. A. Marmoset.

Peering out from beneath the brim of my hat, I inspected the tiny skeleton. 

Most noticeably, he was of the Sans variety.

About five inches tall, wearing a blue dressing gown over stripped pyjamas...

Even more unusual than his appearance, was the way he stared back at me. 

Despite having been pulled out of the void and shaking like a leaf, the little guy didn't just meet my gaze

He glared. 

...This bitty was smaller than the banana... yet when confronted with a giant, obviously dodgy stranger, his eye-lights held no trace of fear or intimidation. 

He mostly looked tired...really tired. As in Completely-out-of-your-mind-don't-know-where-you-are Tired...which probably explained the lack of screaming...

My first impression? 

This guy had guts... for...You know...a ske- 

I groaned. 

Wordplay. The dark compulsion that struck whenever anything even resembling a Sans drew near. 

"... would you mind... " The small bitty finally spoke, interrupting my train of thought. "...putting me down?" 

Fair question. 

Really, it was kinda a faux pas to dangle someone over the void like this. 

Still...

"That depends... " I said, voice soft from disuse. "... Will you grow any bigger, if I throw you back?" 

Had to be considered. Standard fishing protocol. 

The Sans shaped little skeleton blinked at me, trying to get his tired brain to wrap around the stupid question.

"...i doubt it."

My lips twitched. 

Interesting

Wordlessly, I reached out a hand, not aiming for the bitty but the line above in order to pull both him and the banana away from the gaping void. 

Dangerous

I set both gently on the ground, holding still as the bitty climbed from the fruit to stand unsteadily on his own feet. 

I contemplated congratulating him, seeing as he was officially the second person to ever walk my universe... 

The bitty collapsed.

Confused, I stared down at my now unconscious visitor.  

...Well... 

I glance between the small skeleton and the abyss.

....This would be my chance to roll the little body back into the void... 

My gaze fell onto the fishing line. 

 ...No strings attached.

I instantly felt like a horrible person. 

How could I even think that? !

That had to be the worst joke ever … Also, the contemplating murder thing...  

I sighed. 

Not my finest moment. 

Face pinched in a slight frown, I reached a finger out to poke the small body. 

No reaction

I could see him breathing, but the Bitty never stirred, even when I rolled him onto his back. 

As far as I could tell. 

He was asleep. 

... Now what? 

Instincts were prompting me to take a course of action... But I forced myself to sit for a moment, trying and articulate exactly how I felt about this development... 

... My neutral nature... Sometimes made it difficult to be myself

... It's something I'm still working on. 

Staring down at the tiny form laying in the grass I felt... Indecisive.

I face-palmed. 

Who knew being an individual could be so hard? 

...Okay.

Round two.

The koi brought him here. 

It was definitely a trap. A lure. 

Slowly, my hand slid from my face so that I could blink solemnly down at my problem guest.  

It was...Concerning.

But doing nothing... turning my back on someone in need was... boring

Lonely. 

I can do better. 

My fingers reached out to the small form, hesitating only slightly before scooping him up into my hands. 

I'm strong enough to take the bait... To help him... To feel... And then let Go. 

Because I am Ava. 

The small skeleton lay in my hands, warm and breathing softly. He didn't stir. 

Not the Avatar.  

 

Chapter Text

I've figured out the reason why people normally wear more than one shoe in public. 

After stubbing my toe hard enough to end my career as a pianist

Really, I found the experience quite enlightening

Never again, will I wonder the dangerous streets without protection against the elements. 

In other news, I have a bitty on my kitchen table.

Getting the strange bitty safely back to my place whilst half crippled was the easy part. 

Dealing with the aftermath of such a decision, the crushing dread and uncertainty, was what had me curling up in my chair, head buried in my hands. 

This is going to be a disaster. Everyone is going to die...except the hero and the love interest... Who is coincidentally super attractive... 

I peered through my fingers at the still sleeping form resting on my table.

Yep. Still there. Guess this isn't one of those problems that go away if you refuse to look at them long enough...

Good thing Denial wasn't my first plan. Reluctant or not, I'd done my best to prepare for when my guest inevitably woke up. 

Taking the time to close the blinds, blocking out the white shine and replacing it with my house's warmer lighting. Both were artificial, but at least this made the room look more normal and less... Piercing

Mood lighting. Very thoughtful of me. 

I'd considered keeping myself busy while I waited... So as not to loom over a sleeping person like a complete creeper... 

In the end, I decided to stay true to myself.

Hovering might be impolite, but least it was honest. 

Everything was spotless... Though I couldn't take credit for that... And my kitchen at least didn't look like it belonged to a crazy stalker. 

Good thing I keep all my crazy stalker stuff in the torture room. 

All in all, I don't think I was completely failing as a host... But that may have a lot to do with my guest being unconsciousness throughout the experience thus far. 

With a small noise of defeat, I buried my face into my knees. 

Another reason why I should not get involved with other people. 

I had plenty of experience watching others interact... but never having done it myself left me feeling a little... 

Inept ...

A sudden weight hit me.

My soul turning blue. 

... Inattentive...

That was the only warning I got before I was brutally flung across the kitchen, slamming into the cabinets spine first. 

... And in trouble.

There was a small, glorious moment where I couldn't feel anything. 

And then, my already abused body started to scream. Enough for both of us. 

Oh, that's right. I have no pain tolerance. Whatsoever. 

Gasping through the pain, I forced myself to look for my attacker. 

The bitty stood on the table, arm outstretched and eye flashing blue. 

I had a pretty good idea of what that entails. 

"w h a t  a r e  y o u?"

It's bad'o'clock. 

For a moment I was rightfully confused...He hadn't reacted this badly when we first met... 

Then I saw my hat, sitting on the floor where I had habitually dumped it. 

The bitty could see my face. Zero distraction.

Making my true nature painfully obviously. 

Whoops

"That's... " I couldn't help but wince. ".... kinda a personal question-ah!"

Great, now I'm on the ceiling. 

And even from this angle, the Bitty looked incredibly... Unsatisfied... With my answer...

"t r y  a g a i n. "

This guy seriously has no chill...  

"Schrödinger's cat." I finally gasped out. 

The blue magic controlling my soul sputtered out, returning gravity to its normal state. 

And me to the floor. 

Quite abruptly. 

Yes.

It hurt.

And no.

It wasn't over. 

"Quantum superposition." I groaned, dragging myself into an upright position using the island counter. "Basically, more than one possibility existing simultaneously."

Hunched over,  I peered across the room at my guest, who looked almost as bad off as I did. 

He wobbled with exhaustion, barely seeming to keep himself awake enough to glare at me. 

Now that his magic had released my soul, the little heart returned to its usual state of... Undetermined

I must be really freaking him out right now...

I tried to smile reassuringly. It didn't really work. 

Expressions don't come to me easily. 

"I'm kinda in a state of... My every possible self... existing all at the same time." 

"how?" He demanded, his voice already slurring with sleep. 

I shrugged a little. "It's an Avatar thing... I have no set traits. No features or gender. I'm a blank slate, waiting to be filled."

...Yea, couldn't be weirder if I tried. 

"Your mind is having difficulty comprehending the overlapping states of existence... So that's why when you look at me... You can't focus or remember what I look like. It um... "

I rubbed the back of my head a little sheepishly. "... takes some getting used to. "

Whether he was content with my answer... Or just that tired, the Bitty was obviously losing his battle against the Sandman. 

He stumbled, still trying to watch me through lidded eye-sockets as he fell to his hands and knees. 

I kept my distance, watching the slow descent into slumber. 

Once the bitty was asleep, I limped over to my abandoned hat, placing it firmly back on my head. 

... That went better than expected. 

My mind-bending appearance now somewhat tamed, I resumed my seat at the bitty's side. 

Feeling a little more optimistic about round two. 

At least we got one of the harder questions out of the way...and I learned some interesting things about my guest. 

For instance. His magic was incredibly strong for a bitty... Or even a normal sized monster.

To be able to throw me around like that, while on the brink of exhaustion... 

I nodded to myself. 

Very strong. 

A small while later, the bitty was able to drag himself into consciousness once more. 

I greeted him with a thumbs up. 

"Not to worry, I've got my hat on this time-"

He threw me out the window. 

Laying among the shards of glass, I was finally able to appreciate my luscious lawn on a more meaningful level. 

This is some seriously good grass right here. I should start paying my gardener.

Alas, I had no choice but to leave the lawn's gentle embrace or risk bleeding out. 

It had been a long time since I had last used food for its healing properties. 

Not being a fan of pain...or admitting defeat... the closest I've ever succumbed to self-harm was screaming for hours on end...

Experimentation doesn't count. That's science, not suicide.

After my grand window adventure, I decided to make a bloody hobble to the shop to steal some provisions. 

Good thing too, since I soon found myself in dire need of healing when my guest woke up a third time... 

...And again... 

... And again... 

For hours the bitty and I continued the cycle of him waking up, me trying to start pleasant conversation, and him throwing me across the room under interrogation until he collapsed from exhaustion. 

I was starting to get the feeling I gave a truly horrifying first impression... 

Not that I blamed him. 

It's not every day you meet someone of my... Peculiarity.

In fact, the bitty seemed to be taking it all rather well, calmly accepting that he was in another universe and that I was something other

I don't think he was all that surprised by the strange development really... Just not willing to trust me near him while he fought his battle with consciousness... 

No, I couldn't hold the violent reaction against him.

Even found it somewhat... entertaining. 

Of course, it hurt. 

A lot. 

But when it came too new experiences, I take what I can get. 

Gravity manipulation, bludgeoning included, beats Sudoku any day. 

It wasn't until about round seven that I was finally able to get a civil word out of my guest. 

"you."

I blinked, raising my head enough to look at the bitty...

I'd long given up sitting next to him, seeing as proximity only seemed to freak him out more... and had taken up refuge behind the island counter. 

"Me." I acknowledged with a small wave. 

The bitty sat on the table, watching me in open suspicion... but making no move to kill me at this time. 

His last nap had been fairly decent, lasting an entire hour. I like to think it's because he finally felt that he was safe to rest.

That's just how wimpy Trustworthy I am.   

"So..." I blinked. "You wake up in strange universes often?"

Friendly small talk...

Nailed it. 

"....something like that. " The bitty blinked back at me, climbing to his feet and slipping his hands into the pockets of his dressing gown. 

I flinched down at the movement, ready to be tossed across the room at any moment. 

"That's good." I nodded minutely. "At least one of us has some experience with this sort of thing then."

"if you say so." 

The bitty suddenly blinked out of existence, reappearing on the counter in front of me. 

I fell back with a yelp, landing on the kitchen floor. 

The bitty stared down at me as I cowered, still looking tired... But a little comforted by my terror. 

... I don't think this guy's used to picking on people his own size... 

"if you're that afraid, you could have just gotten rid of me while i was unconscious." He pointed out dryly. 

I frowned slightly. 

"...that would have justified you breaking my window."

T'was my favourite one too. 

The bitty crouched down, balancing on the edge of the counter as he stared at me. 

"you shouldn't let pride get in the way of self-preservation." He said scolded flatly. "i could have killed you."

... I'm in trouble for not doing away with you in your sleep?

"...I guess."  I admitted with a small shrug. "I just have difficulty... changing my mind sometimes... " 

The bitty stayed silent, regarding me with calm interest. 

"take the hat off." He said. 

I stiffened. 

"... You weren't a big fan of that last time." I pointed out. 

He raised a bone brow. 

"and you think  i g n o r i n g  my polite request is more likely to get you on my good side?"

"... No sir."

I've seen a lot of scary Skeletons in my time. 

Mr Bitty here was quickly climbing the ranks. 

I pulled the hat off without another word, bracing myself for another trip into the wall. 

The bitty stared at me, expression neutral as he tried to take in my unsettling appearance.

I knew from days spent looking in the mirror, perceiving me was like trying to carry water with your bare hands. 

Concentrate hard enough and you may catch an impression, but it will be gone or different the next time you blink. 

"You'll get a headache if you stare too much." I warned him carefully after a few minutes of scrutiny. 

"you're not a frisk are you?" The bitty asked. 

Sharp.

"No...ah... just something..." I lowered my gaze. "...Similar...?"

His gaze narrowed. 

"you seem well informed."

I blinked innocently. 

"So do you."

He shrugged. 

"i get around a lot. "

I shrugged. 

"Spying on the multiverse is my life.

Better to just get that tidbit out in the open... 

The little Sans lookalike crossed his arms,  expression revealing nothing. 

"that so?"

Too bad for him, I had a lot of experience reading a wide variety of Sans and could recognise scepticism when I saw it

"...I'm working on it....but yea. " I pointed over to my living room. "My TV is kinda Omniscient."

His eye sockets went dark. 

I cringed back. 

"s h o w  m e. "

Within a blink, the bitty had disappeared from my counter, reappearing to stand on the back of my couch. 

Sensing the impatient mood, I stood and made my way over to join him. 

Pretty sure proximity didn't affect his aim all that much anyway. 

The bitty watched me the entire way, silent as I picked up the remote and sat on the floor in front of my couch. 

Without a word, I flicked on the television. 

And immediately turned it back off. 

"... "

There was a long. 

Silence. 

"... Are you familiar with Fontcest?" I asked carefully. 

"...now more than ever. " The Bitty sounded... less than pleased. 

"That sort of thing's pretty standard in your universe though, right?" 

"i don't make a habit out of watching other people... do it."

Prude

"Why not? Skeleton sex is hilarious." 

He made a strangled noise. 

I tilted my head back to blink at him. 

"If you close your eyes for a sec, I'll change it to a safer channel..."

The bitty rubbed his eyes, looking utterly exhausted. 

"I need a nap." he muttered under his breath.

I'd heard that tone before, most often from the nicotine-addicted occupants of the multiverse. 

It was an amusing comparison. 

True to my word, I switch the channel to something a little more... chaste.

No fun.

"outertale." The bitty immediately recognised, staring at the star-filled scene. 

I stayed silent, beginning to flick through the channels at random. 

"fell...dance... swap... mob... w h a t  i s  t h a t?"

"Undynetale. Where everyone is undyne, and undyne is everyone." 

"w h y?"

A sans. 

I blinked up at him. 

Arguing for multiverse diversity. 

There had to be a way to put this delicately. 

"... As a bitty..." I carefully said. "I don't think it's fair for you to criticise a species made up entirely of variations of the same person."

No further comment was provided.

Just glaring. 

I changed the channel. 

"... why is everyone a cat in this one?"

Clear distaste.

I shrugged. 

"It's something the multiverse apparently needed." 

The next channel wasn't... A favourite. 

"...is that... the destroyer?"

It wasn't like I could deny it. Error sat plain as day, knitting while watching Undernovela. 

"....maybe?"

"... this is unsafe."

"Yea... Spying inception gives me the heebie-jebbies." I admitted, quickly switching to channel 18. Bittybones. 

Makes you wonder where the spying stopped. 

"I try not to dwell on channel zero anyway." I frowned down at the remote. "The antivoid is full of..." Cough *Assholes* Cough "Interesting characters..." 

"... this is my universe." The Bitty observed quietly.

I looked up in time to see a Bitty being sol

Adopted. From the adoption centre. Where Bittys are adopted into loving homes. Treated like equal, sentient beings. 

With cute accessories. 

"Yep."

We sat silently for a long time. Long enough, that I almost dared to check if my guest had fallen asleep on me again.

"i suppose this explains why you weren't surprised to find a miniature talking skeleton." The bitty observed. 

I fidgeted with the remote. 

"Actually... To pull one from the void... Was a little unexpected..."

Silence. 

Guess he doesn't want to talk about it... 

"... Can I put the hat back on now?"

".... sure."

I put my hat back on. 

More awkward silence. 

"So..."

I looked up at the bitty standing on the back of my couch. 

"You hungry?"

 

Chapter Text

It took a vast amount of will-power... and almost ended in a 127 Hours type scenario... but we eventually managed to drag ourselves away from the TV. 

For the better, I hope...

Weighing the pros and cons, I figured starving my guest to avoid the pressures of conversation was...well, a little rude...

Besides! My kitchen table has been waiting a long time to be used in the way that it was intended.

Thanks to my guest, today would be the day I finally experienced...dinning. 

Which...may not sound all that exciting in theory...but I'm sure it'll be a distinct improvement, on the whole flinging me across the room like a rag doll thing.

Speaking of brutality... the lack of continued violence was making me feel a little... Uncertain.

Truth be told, I had been sure that things would just... End... once the bitty learned of my prying ways...

Mass stalking is still frowned upon by the sane people, right? 

Yeah.

Probably.

I'd even turned my back to him while preparing the food, providing ample opportunity to whack me over the head and to flee...though really, there was nowhere for him to go... and it's not like he could just disappear if I ignored him long enough...

...not like my regular day to day problems. 

But while I was judging his survival instincts... he seemed to be doing the same for me.

"you shouldn't be trying to accommodate your attacker." The bitty spoke up from the table, drawing my attention away from the banana I was slicing into more manageable pieces. 

I blinked at him.

... Why not?  

He met my confusion with a disapproving stare, chin propped on his hand. The bone beneath his eyes was dark with sleep deprivation, his posture becoming increasingly more slouched. 

Still, he forced himself to stay awake, and endure my hospitality.

Out of...Remorse? For attacking me before he had a chance to get to know how crazy I really am...  

"...If you're willing to hang out with a serial stalker who violates the privacy of hundreds of people on a daily basis." I pointed the knife towards myself. 

"You probably deserve a la-ahem. Meal." 

A gentle reminder. 

He has no reason to feel guilty.

And a lot of reason to run.   

The bitty scowled.  

"confessing your crimes out of context to violent strangers is dangerous." 

...He has a point.

I had been pretty blunt with the truth. Carelessly so. 

"Sorry." I offered ruefully.

"don't do it again." He looked away from me, staring out at the living room. "especially to anyone who looks like me."

I stared down at my hands, resuming the food preparation. 

"...I don't intend to."

Meet anyone. Ever again.

Though he no longer watched at me, the Bitty's body language remained guarded.  

Maybe I should offer him my room after this... 

It wasn't much, but he would be able to lock the door and have a real rest without worrying about me doing something creepy... 

Like watch him sleep.  

The bitty's gaze was on me the moment I moved towards the table, bringing over the plated banana. 

"you don't get many visitors?" He asked, almost casually.  

I almost smiled. 

"You're the first."

Last.  

I slid the plate of sliced banana over to him. 

"Following the ancient traditions of fishing, you get to keep the bait." I explained seriously, taking a seat at the table. 

He didn't react beyond a small nod. 

"...thank you." Slowly, he reached down to start picking at the soft fruit. 

I watched, interested.  

The bitty remained stoic, gaze focused on the table as he absent-mindedly chewed his food. 

Guess I'll just have to ask. 

"So...." I leant forward in my seat. "Does it taste like a banana?"

The bitty froze, food halfway to his mouth for another bite as he lifted his gaze to stare at me. 

".... yes? " 

Why wouldn't it? 

I simply nodded. "That's a relief..." 

Guess it really is just me then...  

His gaze narrowed suspiciously, but he resumed eating after a moment. 

Whether the bitty was doing it to be polite or from real hunger, seeing him eat was... Reassuring

I wasn't sure I could pick up on the social cues of starvation, never having experienced hunger before. 

"Are you originally from the void...?" I tilted my head curiously. "Or did you move there just recently?"  

He glared at me.  

"Small talk." I explained. 

Invasive small talk.

His chewing slowed. 

"just passing through...." His permanent grimace tensed. "unexpectedly." 

I winced, averting my gaze to the floor.

"I see... Well, I recommend using the anti-void in your future travels." I gave him my sternest stare. "If that meddling fish hadn't rescued you from the forces of inexistence and brought you here... " 

"fish...?"

It was only when I met the Bitty’s confused gaze that I realised I had said too much. 

This is bound to be awkward.  

 "Sometimes... I see this glowing blue fish..." I finally confessed, my expression pinched. "It.... speaks to me... Tells me to... Do things..." 

The bitty cautiously lowered his food. 

"and this.... fish.... is it here at the moment right...?"

He couldn't see it earlier then. 

"...it left the multiverse earlier." I waved away his concern. 

The bitty blinked in the way people do when they're trying to think of a way to politely excuse themselves...

"Don't worry." I tried to reassure.  "The only thing it's ever asked me to burn is my coat. "

He grimaced but obviously decided to take the risk as he lifted the banana back to his mouth.

" ...if this fish shows up again, you are to tell me immediately. "

Sounds fair. 

"... Okay." 

That settled, we fell back into silence. 

I had hoped that, after a friendly chat, the bitty would feel more comfortable with me.  

See how that backfired? 

If anything, his posture was even tenser than before... Yet he continued to be polite... 

I sighed.

"Um... I know it might not mean much... coming from me..." I said quietly into the silence. "But I'd like to at least say... I... don't mean you any harm...officially."

With every word, I sank lower in the seat... Immediately feeling awkward for trying to convince the guy who had nearly killed me ten times over that I wasn't a threat. 

He seemed equally impressed with the sentiment.  

"you think you'd still be sitting here if i thought otherwise?"

Nope

"I think... You can definitely throw me further than you trust me..."I winced. "...Which is fair. "

"hmm." He acknowledged with a tired nod. 

"I'm not going to claim that I'm completely alright in the head... Since when we met, I was fishing in the void with fruit...And morally... Well, you've already seen how I like to spend my time..." 

Maybe I should just stop talking? Is that an option? 

"...But I do have moments of lucidity... And some concept of right and wrong... And overall, I'd say I'm pretty harmless... I mean... I do wear a lot of yellow... But that's only temporary damage to the senses... " 

I stared at the table. 

"That being said, you still don't have to trust me... And you don't have to... Be nice to me either."

Insecurity hour at the dinner table. Always fun. 

" Just saying. Nothing will change if you don't humour me. I've already made the decision to help you and..."

I'm not good at changing my mind. 

"... I've spent a lot of time thinking about the person I want to be....and one of those thoughts... Is that I don't want to be so petty as to hurt someone... Because they didn't try to be my friend."

He was staring at me, the food in his hand forgotten. 

I rubbed the back of my neck sheepishly.

"Pretty arrogant huh...? Since I've never even had my feelings hurt before..."

"i'll keep that in mind." 

I winced. 

"Thanks." 

Good talk

"...so, do i get a name?" The bitty resumed his meal, calm as he took in his surroundings. 

Not the gaze of someone unfamiliar with waking up in strange circumstances. 

"I may have decided this prematurely but..." I scratched the back of my hat sheepishly. "... I kinda had my heart set on naming anything I managed to pull out of the void Mo..." 

The Bitty sent me a dirty look.

I almost smiled.

"I'll probably get over it... In time..." I continued. "But if you wouldn't mind introducing yourself... It may speed up the healing process... "

His little skeleton expression soured further, obviously not impressed with my nerve. 

Couldn't call myself crazy if I didn't show some diversity of character.

"... Then again, if you're happy with Mo-" 

"Sleeper." The bitty said, terse.

My expression became a little more genuine. 

"Does that have anything to do with why you keep falling asleep on me?"

"... i'm a softbones." Sleeper frowned down at his food, voice lowering to a grumble. "my personality is i sleep a lot."

I winced, tugging the brim of my hat down. 

From watching channel 18, I knew that softbones were a breed of bitty known for napping even more than the regular sort of Sans.  

With the way he dressed and looked constantly tired when not asleep... I could see how Sleeper fit the description... But... There was obviously more to it than that. 

More to him. 

Everyone's a snowflake. Unique, even in a blizzard.  

Some of us were just flakier than others...

"That doesn't seem true... " I said carefully, lifting my hat enough to meet Sleeper's gaze. "...if all you wanted from life was sleep, you wouldn’t be here now... Right?" 

The bitty stiffened, wary of the implications.  

"... i just wasn't all that interested in being someone's pet." He finally said. 

I blinked.  

"... Exploring the multiverse isn't something you pick up on a whim... "

His gaze jerked up to me as if surprised I had put two and two together and got four.   

"here's another thing you shouldn't do carelessly." His gaze was devoid of light. "q u e s t i o n  m e." 

I ducked back.

"... Yes sir. "

Scary.

"So... I couldn't help but notice..."

Sleeper's eye sockets narrowed warningly, but I chose to take the risk. "... You sound a little bitter..." 

".... i'm a tiny, artificial monster, engineered with pre-set mannerisms and personality." He scowled at the food in his hand. "i have a lot to be bitter about."

We sat in silence. 

".... So you just took off to explore the multiverse to prove a point?"

"i don't have an inferiority complex."

"Kinda quick with the denial there shorty." 

A few minutes later, when Sleeper finally let me back up off the floor, I returned to my seat, lips twitching.

Quite a temper he's got there.  

I looked at Sleeper. Tired, hunched over and grimacing.  

I'd been thinking it for a while... Ever since I met him really... But He's...

"So cool."

Sleeper sent me a startled look, eye sockets widening.  

Belatedly, I realised that I was semi-smiling. 

A rare experience.  

I self-consciously covered the expression with a hand. 

What a way to realise my brain doesn't have a filter. 

The small Skeleton was obviously taken aback by my enthusiasm, seeming to forget his sullenness in the face of open affection. 

"w h a t?"

The compliment made him defensive. 

....But it was true.

The Bittybones universe wasn't one capable of interdimensional travel yet.

With a few possible exceptions, there were no outside influences in his world to teach him about the multiverse. 

Yet, here Sleeper was. 

To prove me wrong. 

"You're right... To feel insulted." I said, voice much softer than before. "I've seen so much, yet... I never saw you coming."  

With all the time and thought I put into my opinions... It can be hard for me to challenge these ideas of mine. 

They are... fragile  

"Worse... I didn't even consider the possibility that there could be more."

I peeked at Sleeper guiltily.

His head was lowered, hiding his expression. 

"I ah... may have been under the impression that I had seen all that was there to see.... and for that, I feel... Embarrassingly conceited..." 

Turns out, I don't know everything.

Bummer.  

"Just goes to show, you shouldn't believe everything you see on TV. " I narrowed a look over at the misleading machine. 

My own fault really.

"So... I guess this means...I'm Sorry." I was able to smile a little more sincerely than usual. 

A record. 

 "For underestimating you."

Sleeper still hadn't raised his head... Or looked at me...

Upon further inspection,

I found that the Bitty had fallen asleep. 

 

Chapter Text

It was probably for the best. 

To have my sincere words of apology go completely ignored

No no.

It's fine.

I wasn't supposed to have an opinion in the first place.

Who needs feelings when you've got TV, right? 

Not sulking, I decided to leave my guest to his slumber, and return to what I do best. 

Spying on people without remorse. 

So what if I happened to notice they were playing highlights from all the Sanscest flings that occurred in possible timelines...and consequently made sure to watch every single cringy moment of it at the expense of Sans-es everywhere?

It's not like I'm letting personal feelings get in the way professional interest.

"Stop arguing and screw already." I stared impatiently at the screen, munching away at a packet of chips. 

Dry, with a satisfying crunch. 

"Why are you crying? Don't try to talk about your feelings, you'll be there all night. Just pin him down and... Yeah, there you go."

Finally

Nothing like a little poonage to take one's mind off the slow and unstoppable collapse of one's entire life falling apart.

Which is totally what's happening right now.

That's right. Something new and uncontrollable had entered my life. Tainting the sanctuary of my hip, bachelor life style  

Nothing left to do but to sit back and watch the world burn.

And really, when was the last time I just... enjoyed something. No introspection. No agonising over the state of the universe.

Sometimes, it pays to take a step back, and appreciate the simple things in life.

Like friction. 

"so..." A very Sans like voice spoke from behind me. As opposed to the gasps and groans coming from the T.V. 

I tilted my head to find Sleeper sitting on the back of the couch. 

Finally awake, the Bitty was watching the screen with a grimace... obviously not keen on my choice in entertainment....if not outright disgusted. 

"...what's with you and watching smut?"

You say that like it's a problem...

I huffed, maybe still feeling a tad resentful. 

"I happen to have an intellectual interest in sparkly magictalia."

How could Glow in the Dark sex not be fun? 

"let me rephrase." The light disappeared from his eyes. "what satisfaction do you get out of humiliating people?"

Oh.

The chip in my hand snapped with a sharp crack.

That. 

I took a moment to brush my mess back into its packet.

"...It's not like that." I murmured. "Yes, it's wrong, but it's not...malicious..."

Most days.

I held up an informative finger. "Besides, I have no sexual organs or orientation to speak of. So, I can't get no satisfaction... From anything. Totally lets me get away with being a shameless pervert." 

The sceptical look on Sleepers face said he didn't quite agree with that.

"...i see." He finally said, pulling his dressing gown tighter around himself as he turned his gaze away from me. 

I followed his gaze back to the television, and that was that.

The two of us sat in silence. 

I must be doing something wrong. Most people don't just alternate between awkward silence and uncomfortable talking when they interact...

Maybe I should try harder to have a personal opinion?

"I... like... " I stumbled with the words. "The expressions that they make...."

Sleeper shifted his inscrutable gaze towards me.

"The... Vulnerability... And intimacy. They feel...Real."

When so much doesn't.

"That is why I watch." 

I held my breath... Making the following silence seem much longer. 

".... those things..." Sleeper spoke softly as if it would lessen the blow. "... weren't intended for you."

I cringed. 

He didn't look angry... Or disgusted with me. 

Pity. 

I turned away from him. 

"There's no need to try and be my conscience, Mr Sleeper." With a thump, I fell to lay sideways on my couch.  

"I am fully aware that what I'm doing is wrong." 

Abandoning the half eaten chip packet on the floor, I decided to save them in case Sleeper decided to reinforce his point. 

"Knowing that I am wrong...isn't enough to make me stop."

We sat in silence. 

Sharing meaningful words is a lot harder than I thought it would be... Maybe I should just stick with deflection. 

"... you never told me your name."

It's an Avatar thing... 

I looked up at him. His usual grumpy expression was restrained... Like he was putting effort into polite conversation. 

I could appreciate that. 

"Ava." 

A beat. 

"....came up with that all by yourself huh?"

...so much for polite conversation. 

"Your name isn't much better..." 

"i was named by a five-year-old child." Sleeper drummed his fingers impatiently on his knee.  "your excuse?"

".... It was easier to spell than Couch Master?"

"huh."

I turned away. 

More silence. 

"....i'm confused... is that...?" Sleeper had returned his attention to the Television.

"The ship's name is the S.S Kustard." I supplied,  glancing between his horror-struck expression and the touching love scene. 

"... since when was that a thing?"

"Technically never." I curled into myself. "This only happened in a timeline. Not reality." 

If only... 

"you can see timelines on this thing?"

I glanced up at him, curious to see if he looked as shocked as he sounded. 

Nope. Just suspicious. 

"Of course I can. This is 5D T.V." I preened. "Nothing but the best for my living room. "

Sleeper leant forward, peering down at me.

"...does that have anything to do with why it's in black and white now?"

Bingo

"...Possibilities don't come in colour." 

"why's that?"

"Something to do with souls." I shrugged. "I'm not supposed to think about it."

"why not?" 

"I go insane."

Silence. 

I sighed. 

"-er" I amended. 

"...oh."

We watched the rest of the program in awkward silence.

Belatedly, I realised that the courteous thing to do here would have been to change the channel away from the blatant smut...

...But I wanted to see who ultimately wins the top spot... 

Yea.

We ended up watching the entire thing.

"...if i never see another bottle of mustard it'll be too soon... " Sleeper muttered, as the credits started to roll, naming and shaming every Sans involved. 

I sent him a raised eyebrow.

"If you thought that was bad, wait until you see what they do with mayonnaise..." 

He'd been so quiet, that I half expected him to have left at some point... Or be asleep... but there he was. Still sitting on the back of my couch, watching the screen with grim fascination.

That is, until he sent me a suspicious glare. 

"...if you ever so much as reach for a condiment in my presence, i'm throwing you out the window."

"I'll never be able to eat again if you start banning sexualized food groups."

The bitty sighed, rubbing at his boney temples.

"...so. you...seem to have a lot of answers..." He finally decided to just change the subject. "... to some very difficult questions." 

A part of me felt like laughing. 

"Calling them answers is a bit of a stretch." I switched off the Television before the next show could start, to avoid further questions.

"But yes. I've had the time and resources to study the multiverse to such an extent that I can't think about most of what I know without relapsing into insanity."

Ah. Sweet irony. 

"...I wrote a lot of it down though." 

I pointed over to my bedroom door. 

"Several bookshelves filled with my theories on the true nature of everything." 

A great responsibility... 

"You're welcome to check it out. Careful though. There be Spoilers."

Sleeper glanced towards the door, grimacing even more than usual. 

"... i'll pass, thank you."

"Not curious?"

"i don't trust your judgement."

"That's the spirit. "

I didn't realise we were making meaningful eye contact... Until he averted his gaze. 

"besides... i don't intend to stay that long..."

My chest tightened. 

Huh... Weird...

No obsessive urge to tie him up in my dungeon...Just soul crushing grief. 

I'm handling this way better than I thought... 

I blinked up at him. 

"So you've figured out a way to escape my clutches already?" 

Sleeper narrowed his gaze down at me. 

"if my usual means of travel don't inexplicably fail me, yes. why? did you have something else in mind?"

I shrugged. 

"Put a loaded gun on the stage, and it's bound to go off. You need to leave. A means of departure would have turned up eventually. "

On the off chance I would want to go with you...

"... that's not how reality works."

... My universe is all too happy to oblige.

I blinked at him. 

"it isn't?" 

Sleeper gaze narrowed. 

"you know what they say about making assumptions."

"they make an Ass out of u and me?"

"they get you k i l l e d. "

" ...oh...no. I hadn't heard that one before... "

Sleeper crossed his arms impatiently. 

"....as for how I intend to leave... with more sleep, I should have enough magic to make the trip."

I raised an eyebrow. 

"Most people need a complicated machine to accomplish that sort of thing..."

When he looked up at me, his eye lights had vanished. 

I sunk back into the couch. 

"...There are always exceptions of course!" 

... And, you know... A first for everything...

Without a word, Sleeper blinked out of existence... Only to appear standing on my forehead, pushing my hat aside. 

Holding as still as possible, I stared up into the gaze of the tiny bitty. 

He studied me, seemingly debating with himself. 

"... i could take you with me."

My eyes widened. 

"drop you off in a universe that is... " He sent a narrowed glance at the Television. "...not this.

Damn.

Meddling. 

Fish. 

Without thinking about it, I sat up. 

"No thank you." My hands were on my hat, harshly tugging the rim down over my expression. "I'm... Sort of isolating myself from the rest of existence at the moment...." 

Too late, my brain registered the sensation of something tumbling into my lap. 

Which could only mean... 

I lifted my hat enough to find Sleeper laying upside down in my lap...where my movements had dumped him... 

His expression was...Indescribable... 

Whoops ...

"I'm sor-"

"e x p l a i n. "

Not a good idea. 

"....um... it's an Avatar thing?" 

"and what is an avatar?" Sleeper said, making no move to right himself. 

I shook my head. 

"...I'm not supposed to-"

"t h i n k  a b o u t  i t."

Well... When you put it like that... 

"...No."

Surprisingly, Sleeper didn't teleport from my lap and start flinging me across the room for my defiance. 

He did glare harder though. 

"...so... you want me to leave you here. " He said, eerily calm. "alone."

It's not a matter of want

"...Yes?"

"f i n e." 

The weight in my lap vanished. 

My hands fell from my hat, confirming the absence. 

Gone.

Movements slow, measured... I turned, sitting on the couch to face my reflection in the black television screen. 

The room was empty, harsh with the white light shining through the broken window. 

Well... That's that then.  

My ears seemed to ring in the sudden silence. 

Another trap successfully avoided. 

I switched the television back on. 

Good job me.  

 

Chapter Text

I started with Dancetale.

Alphys and Undyne were dancing together.

Change the channel

Mobtale. 

Can't say no to fancy suits and guns. 

Except tonight's program featured Toriel reading to Frisk. 

Change the channel

Watching Gaster Sans flirt to hide the dark pain inside, never not funny...

Brother bonding night.

Change the channel. 

Horrortale. 

Sure, the menu was questionable... but dinner with friends and family will never not be heart-warming. 

Change the channel. 

Birdtale. 

Everyone has wings and can fly in the flipping sky together. 

Change. The. Channel. 

I ended up settling for Underswap.

If the universe is determined to rub my face in the fact that I was the only person in the multiverse alone tonight,  I'm at least going to do it right. 

And there's nothing more lethal than a blueberry overdose. 

Sure, I wasn't supposed to be watching this channel... as it was currently on the list.

The list of channels I'd parent lock...if I weren't so cool, and let myself watch anything...

There are many reasons why a channel may be disqualified from my regular viewing schedule. Sometimes, it is due to a high risk of puns. Slightly more often, it is a matter of managing my mental health and avoiding channels that will trigger psychosis.

Same difference really.

Fortunately, Underswap has only been labelled a risk, not a hazard. An interest that is purely scientific... and only occasionally bordered on obsession...

Viewable, at my own discretion.

Today, I figured I deserved some sort of reward for resisting the temptation to ruin the lives of everyone in existence. 

So yes. I indulged. 

By the time I got down to watching it though, it was more morning than night.

Swap Sans was already up, well before the sun itself. 

Alerting me to the fact that I had wasted yet another twenty-four hours of my life... Pretty much doing nothing. 

Go me. Pointlessly continuing your existence, one day at a time...  

Just like the previous morning, Sans was cooking, humming to himself in the empty kitchen as he made his speciality dish.  

Containers were set to the side next to a picnic basket, ready for him to pack his masterpiece into. 

All the evidence pointed to them going out for a day full of fun and happiness. 

Overall... It was pretty boring. 

I sank back into the couch with a relieved sigh...

So lame. To think this is everything I've ever wanted. 

I should go get higher standards.

Peace is nice and all...but if I were directing, there'd be more smut...and mecha...   

Cause there's nothing giant robots can't make better.

My attention began to wane...

Leaving me indecisive... on whether or not I should stare at his butt. 

It's not that I had any particular interest in doing so... it just kinda seems like I'm not taking my Voyeurism seriously.... if don't at least put a little effort into being creepy...

...but it's Swap Sans...But, I shouldn't discriminate... But he's probably saving the privilege of butt ogling for his one true love... But he has the right to be objectified as much as anyone else... Butt...

This debate continued... Right up until Sans went to wake up his Brother. 

Before dawn. 

...welp.

I blinked at the screen, upon which the small skeleton jittered in front of his brother's door, simultaneously excited and nervous. 

This ought to be an epic battle of wills...

"PAPYRUS!"

Straight to the full name. Someone means business...

True to form, what should have been a simple wakeup call quickly escalated into a boisterous monologue, highlighting that one... Sans is magnificent, two, everything Sans has accomplished up until this point is by extension, magnificent, and three...if Papyrus doesn't want to be forcibly carried to the PICNIC OF FRIENDSHIP like a babybones... This was his only chance to cooperate.

Even when faced with an ultimatum... Swap Papyrus doesn't go down without a fight.

He negotiates for honey.

"bro... "

"NO PAPYRUS. IT'S UNHEALTHY. YOU NEED TO EAT A REAL MEAL FOR BREAKFAST."

Case in point. Tacos. A wholesome breakfast food. 

"come on bro... it'd be sweet of you...." 

Sans stomps a booted foot.

"IT'S TOO EARLY FOR PUNS BROTHER!"

I raised a hand. 

Seconded

The door opened and the taller skeleton slumped against his doorframe, eye sockets still closed with sleep. 

"...what time is it?"

Sans brightened, switching from stern to excited in an instant. 

"IT IS 0500 HOURS. MEANING WE ONLY HAVE FOUR HOURS BEFORE OUR SCHEDULED MEETING AT THE PARK!"

Papyrus nodded, humming in understanding. 

Then turned heel and ran, making one last bid to return to his bed's sweet embrace.

Sans was having none of it. 

In a blur of blue, the smaller skeleton pursued his brother into the dark depths of his bedroom, re-emerging a moment later, dragging the other along by the ankle. 

"brooo... " Papyrus moaned, his hoodie rising as he was dragged belly down across the floor. His phalanges wishfully believing they could leave claw marks in the carpet. 

"DON'T BE SUCH A LAZY BONES PAPYRUS! IMAGINE HOW HURT OUR AMAZING FRIENDS WILL BE IF WE ARE NOT PUNCTUAL TO OUR FRIENDSHIP GATHERING!" 

Papyrus didn't reply but to snore softly. 

Swap Sans may be a sweetheart... But he is still a Sans

When push comes to shove...

He cured his brother's sudden bought of narcolepsy with a bumpy trip down the staircase.

"sans!"

.... He won't pass up an opportunity to make his brother squawk.

"MWEHEHEH! YOU LEFT ME NO CHOICE BROTHER!"

Papyrus didn't answer. Didn't do anything at all but lay motionless on the floor. 

No. Don't...

"PAPY?" Sans was immediately concerned, falling over himself to kneel down at his brother's side. "ARE YOU ALRIGHT!? I DIDN'T MEAN TO...." 

..... Fall for it. 

Papyrus lunged, quick as a snake to tackle his brother in a suffocating hug. 

"PAPYRUS!" 

Sans struggled in the hold, outraged... but there was no escape... 

"RELEASE THE MAGNIFICENT SANS THIS INSTANCE!"

Papyrus pinned his brother to the floor, trapping the smaller skeleton under his weight. 

My eyes widened. 

Could today be the day...?

"...five more minutes bro..."

... Bah. Platonic sibling affection. 

"WE DONT HAVE FIVE  MORE MINUTES TO SPARE! AT THIS RATE WE'LL BE LATE!"

Papyrus just snuggled his brother closer, trying to quiet his protests through suffocation

Sans huffed and puffed for a little bit longer, but Papyrus didn't show mercy until his brother completely stilled... Even began to return the hug a little.

Just goes to show, dragging your brother down a set of stairs on his face is not something easily forgiven...  

"YOU CAN HAVE ONE BOTTLE OF HONEY. "

"thanks, bro."

I stand corrected.

The moment the words left his mouth Papyrus had teleported into the kitchen, grabbing one bottle out of the cupboard dedicated to the Golden substance, shoving it into the pocket of his hoodie.... before reaching for another.

"IF I CATCH YOU TRYING TO SNEAK MORE, THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES!"

"kay bro."

...Someone might have a little bit of a problem. 

Sans flittered into the kitchen after his brother, smiling and chattering excitedly as he collected everything he had prepared for the day. 

Papyrus nodded along with the one-sided conversation, smiling fondly and sipping honey. Content to watch his brother's enthusiasm, if not actively participate himself.

The moment Sans came close enough, Papyrus was slumped over on top of him, resting his chin on the small Skeleton's skull. 

"PAPY!"

"Hmm?" Papyrus let his eye sockets shut, laying almost boneless at this point. 

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

"you promised to carry me.... this being the case, i thought i'd help you pack."

Sans facepalmed, muttering something about babybones under his breath... But otherwise gave up the fight as he resumed bustling about the kitchen, brother in tow. 

Papyrus clung, arms hugged around his brother neck and feet trailing on the floor. 

Years of training conditioned him to fall asleep in this position. 

The two of them eventually left the house, the smaller skeleton dragging his brother like a lazy cape out the door, picnic basket in hand. 

I didn't really realise I was staring at an empty kitchen until much later...  

I feel for you, sad, lonely kitchen. I too, know the pain of being used for food and abandoned...

This is when I realised. 

I need to do something with my life. 

Immediately

And since I still had leftover bananas... Fishing it was.

I stood from the couch, grabbing my gear before I could take in the scene of my own lonely, battered kitchen. 

Empathising with one room is enough for the day. 

On my way to the usual spot, I took comfort in the fact that everyone in the universe only goes fishing to ignore their problems. 

Inspiring a real sense of belonging right there. 

During this walk, a portal opened up in the sidewalk much like it had the previous day. 

I didn't spare it a glance. 

Try to emotionally manipulate me huh? Well no thank you. 

I have better things to do. 

And it's not often that can be said about fishing. 

Arriving at my destination, I got straight down to business. For the second time in my existence, I cast a banana out into the void. 

... Surprisingly... It was slightly more fun the second time. 

The secret to how fishing works.

With enough exposure, you become corrupted and actually start enjoying it. 

I sat on the edge of the universe, back straight and upper lip stiff. 

I can do this!

I don't even have the emotional capacity for loneliness!

Good riddance to uninvited house guests!

That guy was way too grumpy and judgemental....not to mention violent and rude. 

I wouldn't even hang out with him if he was the only other person in existence...

Hahahahahaaha... 

Not five minutes later, I was hunched over my fishing rod, staring out into the void as I concentrated solely on breathing. 

...handling despair like a champion. 

I closed my eyes, pressing my forehead into the cool metal of the fishing rod. 

I've been through tough days before....but jeez, happiness withdrawal hurts... 

A sudden weight appeared on top of my hat. 

"insanity. doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

I yelped, hands flailing as I nearly dropping my fishing rod into the abyss. 

At my sudden jolt, the weight on my head vanished.... only to reappear as a grumpy Bitty standing on my knee.

It took a moment, but I managed to locate the vital organs that had jumped out of my chest. 

"... Einstein... was not a therapist." I said weakly, clutching the rod to my chest. 

Sleeper crossed his arms, looking meaningfully between me and the fishing rod.

"i think we can both agree that fishing in the void is not the most rational of pastimes." 

And here I was, under the assumption that fishing was the cause of insanity, not a symptom. 

I shrugged. 

"... Beats sobbing in a corner."

Sleeper was not impressed. 

"... was that the alternative?"

"No. Even worse...." my hands tightened painfully. 

"Sudoku."

Crying is something I'm still working on.

The betty's glare became that much more piercing.

"if you're trying to convince me you'd be okay here left here alone..." 

... What does me being okay have to do with anything? 

"Speaking of leaving..." I blinked down at him. "I thought you'd already..."

"i said i'd need more sleep before attempting such a thing." He pointed out. 

... 

...Oh yeah.

"... Guess I celebrated too early huh?"

Nobody laughed... Then again, it was debatable if either of us were actually capable of laughter...

"doesn't matter." Sleeper declared after a tense moment of silence. "if i get my own way, there will be no need for that sort of... celebrating."

His gaze narrowed darkly.

"and i'm very used to getting my own way. "

You don't say...

"Um..." I blinked, at something of a loss. "...It almost sounds like you have... plans for me... as opposed to ignoring me and going on your way..."

Sleeper dealt with this confusion with what I was beginning to recognise as his usual response to most things.

Blunt trauma.  

"it would be negligent, to leave someone with impaired cognitive reasoning stranded alone on the outskirts of reality." He stared up at me as if it were obvious. "the moment you stop being difficult, i'll relocate you to a place where you can get professional help."

Oh. 

I stared at the bitty, unable to find a single trace of self-doubt in his expression.

Wow. 

"...Um... That seems like a bit of a hassle..." A hand reached up to self-consciously tug at my hat. "For someone you just met... "

Sleeper sighed, sounding both irritated... And waaaay past tired. 

"... you saved my life..." 

With each word, the bitty on my knee walked forward.... intimidating as ever.

"... gave me a place to rest, fed me and despite encountering only animosity, have been nothing but kind to me."

I was already leaning away guiltily.

"...Kind is too strong a word... "

"don't interrupt me."

"Sorry!" I ducked for cover, but nothing was thrown...this time...

Sleeper continued to scowl, hands on hips and utterly unimpressed with my attitude at this point. 

"what is it exactly, that makes you feel undeserving of my help?" 

Um... 

"... Besides the immoral pervert thing?"

Sleeper nodded. 

"beside the immoral pervert thing."

Gee... You'd think the immoral pervert thing would be enough for most folks...

I stared at Sleeper. 

Not the usual blank staring I do. Real staring. 

Like I'm seeing something for the first time. 

Despite his harsh demeanour and the unflinching way he resorts to violence... 

"Mr Sleeper..." I blinked meaningfully. " You're... A surprisingly nice person... "

His grimace turned disgusted. 

"that has nothing to do with anything." 

"Of course it does." I nodded seriously. "Nice and freakishly cool. I'd say that makes you quite the catch."

I jiggled the fishing rod. "Turns out fishing might just be my calling after all." 

Then, the thing that made my entire day happened. 

His cheekbones flared blue. 

... Sleeper blushed. 

I might not be inclined to strong emotions, but suddenly, all the stress and heartache felt entirely worth it. 

If that counts.   

"...Wait." The good feelings froze as something occurred to me. 

Like I had just received a bucket of ice cold water to the face. 

"You're not getting flustered over the wordplay, are you? Because that's disgusting, and I will not stand for-"

I was yanked forward. 

Brutally.

 Out into the void. 

Bother

There wasn't a lot of time to figure out what was happening, let alone what to do about it.

This being the case, I went with the first thought to pop into my head.

Twisting mid-fall and wrapping hand wrapping around the tiny bitty...

Shame really. Plan B was going to involve grabbing onto the edge and not falling to a terrible demise. 

Oh well. May as well finish what I started.

Sleeper growled as I unceremoniously flung him back towards safety.

I caught a glimpse of the bitty tumbling through the grass as I fell backwards into the void. 

Then I was past the edge and was treated to the sight of my universe growing further and further away as I plummeted into non-existence.

This.

Is what I get for fishing without a life vest.   

 

 

Chapter Text

This.

Was not.

 Ideal.

I mean… there's nothing worse than dying from something completely avoidable right? 

Who even really wants to go fishing in the place?  

... Welp. Since the final curtain seems to be taking its time...I might as well take a moment to appreciate life.

Sure it sucked, but at least it was free...

The split second I spent mourning my closest loved ones was...well, brief...to say the least. A little more time was spent kicking myself over not being able to see how my favourite shows ended. All that time spent stalking the lives of strangers...wasted...

At least this way no one gets hurt... and hey, I get to find out where all those paper planes went. Bonus.

It was nice, to have a comforting thought to take with me to the end.  

Then, as my final act on this mortal coil, I flipped off the universe. 

Screw you reality, I bet inexistence has way better healthcare...

Something pinched my neck. 

In the next instant, I hit the grass.

Hard .

...

..

Someone was yelling at me.

I knew this to be true, because the culprit was making sure to do so right in my ear. 

...Have to be honest here, I wasn't really paying much attention... seeing how my lungs were stuck on an infinite loop of WTF?   

I rolled onto my side in hopes of improving my situation...Which, you guessed it...Prompted a devastating coughing fit...

No. Not really an improvement on the NO OXYGEN crisis... but thanks for trying Respiratory System. You just do you buddy...   

The yelling had gone eerily quiet by the time I managed to tame my breathing into a ragged pant.

I opened watery eyes... Only to be confronted with a livid glare, barely an inch away from my face. 

"i. can. t e l e p o r t. " Sleeper gritted the words out from behind clenched teeth. "separating yourself from me was the stupidest thing you could have possibly done in that situation. "

I squinted painfully. 

...Bet I could come up with something even stupider if I tried...  

"...still... working on.... my impromptu...." I eventually gasped out. 

Sleeper made a frustrated sound, harshly crossing his arms as if stifling the desire to throttle me. 

"why didn't you just let go of the fishing rod?" 

Yes, why did I hold onto the thing dragging me into the void, especially when I could have done with the extra hand? 

 Sitting up painfully, I glanced down at the rod I still held like a lifeline.  

"When... You're as passionate ....about Void Fishing as I am..." I gazed off into the middle distance "...you never let go... "

A tiny bone thunked into my head. Hard enough to inspire stars. 

I fell back, clutching my forehead as I silently endured the waves of agony.  

Wow...And I thought he was violent when he wanted me dead. 

 "Careful Mr Sleeper... " I screwed my eyes shut against the pain. "One of these days I might just get mad at you for picking on me... Or worse... Start enjoying it..."

The suggestive eyebrow wriggle is on my list of expressions to master, right after smiling...

Sleeper wasn't paying me any attention. 

"... the line has gone slack."

I blinked. 

"Huh?" 

Holding the rod up over my head, I squinted at the line. Indeed, the string was loose enough sway with the movement.  

"So it has. It would appear as though I have lost my quarry... "  

Maybe I should thank my lucky stars for that. Whatever was on the end of that line... It was definitely bigger than a bitty....and I don't even have a fish tank... Or an appetite...

"...I mean, what are the odds it'd be coming towards us... " I sat up, in time to see Sleeper's expression freeze...

And in the corner of my eye...

A dark mass lunged out of the Void. 

My soul turned blue. 

And then I was falling sideways. Gravity shifting like honey. Slow to begin with, but quick to gain momentum.  Drawing me out of the path...

Of claws.  

The world around me became a blur of green as I was flung across the Park. 

...What goes around comes around I guess... Except tenfold, as far as Sleeper and gentle rescues go...

The hold on my soul vanished, returning gravity to its original state of suck and causing me to hit the ground in a bone-jarring roll. 

Teeth clenched, my spontaneous tumble through the tulips only came to a spine breaking halt when I collided with one of the trees.  

... Huh... That didn't hurt so ba...oh no, there it is. Delayed pain. Always a charmer.

Groaning,  I maneuvered myself into some primitive form of upright. It was slow going, and a one point I might have misplaced a limb, but in the end, I found myself standing. 

Sure the tree did most of the actual supporting....but I was the brains of the operation.   

There came a roar, so deep it made my chest ache. 

...Could it be...?

I lifted my gaze, finally able to see just what I had pulled out of the void.  

Ten feet tall and made of dark.

Like someone had cut a shape out of existence and this creature was the empty space left behind.

...It was...

Don't think.  

Sleeper's weight appeared on my shoulder, all gentle like...with no grievous bodily harm involved.

The little skeleton stood balanced and alert, staring down the creature with grim determination.  

It shuffled forward, bipedal but balanced on its massive fists. A modest collection of tail like appendages swirled around it.... and my fishing line still caught up in its teeth.

It's reeeeaaaly big teeth.

"...Maybe it's friendly?"

The creature opened its jaws wide and roared, claws tearing up the earth below it as it charged forward. 

... And an eager hugger?  

Sleeper yanked on the brim of my hat. 

"r u n."

Better yet.

FLEE. 

Abandoning the tree for dead, I took off in the direction of my house. If possible, I'd like to be surrounded by my precious belongs whilst mauled to death.  

Sure it takes a lot of effort to run in flip-flops, but I'm just one of those people who really value their blood being on the inside.   

I exited the tree line at a flat out sprint, thankful for once the street was deserted... 

Nowhere to run.   

A sharp crack ripped the air. 

No place to hide. 

Sleeper turned my soul blue and flung me to the side. 

An entire tree came crashing down in the place I had been, scraping harshly against the road as inertia did its thing. 

I landed on my feet.

Sideways on a building. 

...With a mental shrug, I kept running.

Of course I'm good at this running away thing. I watch it on T.V all the time...  

"sorry." Sleeper said from my shoulder.

I nearly fell over. 

"You didn't throw me that hard Mr Sleeper..."

I leapt over the gap between buildings, my feet cracking the glass of a window as I sprinted across it.

"no...that thing...followed me here."

"...Oh."

Should have known good fishing skill couldn't be the cause of this.  

 "you're probably going to die. " He admitted.

"...Um..." I winced. "About that...."

"d o w n. "

I threw myself in the direction that would normally be considered up, putting more space between me and the intended direction before Sleeper shifted gravity.

My feet hit the ground and I kept running, barely missing a step in the transition. 

... Wow. I'm a natural...   

Just as we reached the local store a huge force landed behind me, buckling the pavement. 

Before I could be flung in some random direction with magic, I threw myself forward.  

Rolling with the motion, I caught a glimpse of the swipe that would have taken my head off... 

... And totally made me lose my hat

I ended up in a crouched position, facing the beast... bitty missing from my shoulder...  

...He's probably fine...

In the next breath I jump backwards, the tips of the Creature's claws coming close to performing nose surgery as it swiped the air in front of me. 

The backwards motion didn't stop though, gravity dragging me down the street. 

Falling.   

The creature moved to follow... Only for a ring of tiny Gaster Blasters appear around its neck in a disturbing mockery of a collar. 

Charging.   

I closed my eyes.  

f i r e. 

Gravity returned and I stumbled, arms pin-wheeling as I fell ungracefully on my behind. 

The street was silent but for my heavy breathing. 

"... are you alright?"

Sleeper's increasingly familiar weight appeared on my knee. 

Slowly... I pried my eyes open. 

The creature still stood where I had last seen it. 

...It was just it's Head that was... over there

"... I am...ah... quite puffed." 

"... anything else?"

"...Wondering why... everything I pull... out of the Void... turns out to be so violent?"

Sleeper rubbed a hand against his eye sockets. 

"you are handling this better than i thought. " 

Knew my psychopathic tendencies would come in handy one day... 

"It's an Avatar thing. "

Instinct.

"right..." The small bitty wobbled on his feet. 

My hand was under him in time to catch the softbones as he... Fell asleep... Again... 

I nearly collapsed a lung with the force of my sigh. 

I'm starting to see a bit of a pattern here...

Pulling my hand closer to my chest, I stared hard at the sleeping skeleton. Willing him to wake up soon, because...

"...What am I supposed to do with the body?"

Seriously... I've never even had to deal with a deceased insect before.  

I blinked woefully.

"Rolling it back into the void for a funeral at sea seems to be the most cost-effective solution...And I can think of a eulogy in the meantime, but..."

Before any of that, I really should ask Sleeper what he knew about my latest catch.

No more avoiding questions.

I'm really gonna put my foot down this time and beg

Starting to feel every one of my aches and pains, I glanced back up to the creature... Unsure of how exactly I was going to get its corpse off my property… 

"...Mr Sleeper."

He mumbled something, barely conscious. 

"Sleeper!"

His eye sockets blinked open, exhausted. 

"w h a t?"

I delivered the dreadful news.

"It's not dead."

Though the creature's head had dissolved into black dust... it was quickly returning to its rightful place.

On its shoulders.  

The creature growled. 

With only a half-formed head, it took a jerking step towards me.

And another. 

Using my fingers, Sleeper pulled himself up to his feet, standing unsteadily in my hand. 

"It appears to be somewhat Immortal." I noted, blinking in surprise. "Any suggestions?"

"... do you trust me?"

I stared at the Bitty. Who I had just met recently. 

"As far as you can throw me, Mr Sleeper."

He stiffened... But didn't look back.  

"...then no matter what." Sleeper raised a hand towards the creature. "don't. move. "

... Wait a second... this plan...sounds like it's going to get me... 

The creature lunged.  

Killed. 

Blue magic burst into existence. Blinding cyan light. 

A surprised whimper of pain. 

My fault. 

Slowly, my sight adjusted to the brightness, the blurred shapes above me taking form.  

I was met with the sigh of the Creature, hanging above me, impaled on a wall of jagged blue bones. 

Each one, twice my size. 

I'd seen enough skeleton magic to know, Bones are easier to summon and control when connected to a surface. 

 Without moving my head, I looked down. 

 Yep. I've been impaled. 

"Mr Sleeper...." 

Not killing me was sort of implied in the whole trusting you thing... 

"working on it."

Between one breath in the next our spot in existence shifted, Sleeper teleporting us a few feet back while leaving the creature impaled on the wall of bone.

I sat, coming to terms with what I had seen and the fact I had somehow survived it. 

"You're... Not just a regular Bitty... Are you Mr Sleeper...?" 

"if you're implying that i'm the sort of bitty that doesn't respond well to invasive questions, then by all means..." Sleeper turned empty eye sockets on me. "c o n t i n u e  t h e  t h o u g h t."

Choosing not to die horribly, I gave a shaky salute.

No Questions. Message received. Loud and clear. 

Sleeper dismissed my cowardice by turning his attention back to the problem at hand.

Just like before, the Creature's injuries began to turn to black dust, attempting to heal itself around the bones. 

It couldn't move without tearing itself apart on the blue magic. Trapped.  

Gruesomely...that didn't stop it from trying.  

Soft, confused sounds came from the creature.

Pain.  

I closed my eyes. 

"Um... Mr Sleeper...do you think you could maybe...Let it go?"

Small Bitty hands clenched down hard on my fingers.  

"...are. you. insane?"

"Yes." I opened my eyes, meeting Sleeper's scowl. "...But that isn't why I'm asking..."

"this is the only way to hold it." The exasperated Bitty gestured towards the Void Beast. "its soul isn't responding..." 

"It doesn't have one." I explained softly.

Sleeper immediately stiffened. 

"you know... what that thing is?" 

Of course-

"It doesn’t matter." I shook my head. "It doesn’t matter what I know, or even if I can stop it. "

I glanced up at the creature. 

"Either way, you can't hold the bone construct forever. The only thing you are doing is wasting magic and lowering your chance at survival."

He wouldn't look at me. 

"I don't mean to sound heartless, but... "

"don't you dare." Sleeper glared at me, gaze smouldering with anger. "tell me to give up." 

I blinked in surprise. 

In the short time I had known him, Sleeper had never smiled. 

I was starting to think that it may not be a coincidence.  

"....Daddy issues huh?"

Sleeper flailed, sputtering as his body reacted to my words in too many ways to process. 

Also, his magic sputtered out and died.  

Freeing the Void Beast. 

For a second of disbelief, the Bitty seemed caught between shouting at me and trying to rectify the situation before someone got killed. 

In the end, he sent me a dark glare.

"you did that on purpose."

.... I looked around, before pointing to myself in confusion. 

"yes you!"

"...I am a force of nature Mr Sleeper." I blinked at him seriously. "Blameless. Like the wind."

He glared at me. Unamused.

Luckily, the Creature was making a rapid recovery and well on the way to devouring us both.  

No time to be awkward. 

"Don't worry Mr Sleeper, we're not giving up..." 

Since Sleeper looked to be one strong breeze away from collapsing, I relocated the tired Bitty to my shoulder.

"...Just changing tactics."

Climbing to my feet, I stood as confidently as I could. Hands on hips, chest puffed out and wearing the blank look I like to call Heroic

"It's time I finish what I started."

If the void beast was in any way intimidated by my posturing, it did a very good job of not showing it. 

This wasn't going to be easy.

Sleeper's first attack with the Gaster Blasters had succeeded in not only removed the creatures head...but also severed the fishing line. 

"... Looks like I'll need to wrangle this beauty in with my bare hands..."

"no. you need to run away." Sleeper growled, his slight weight leaning against my neck.

"We tried that already. With nothing left to lose but our lives, we might as well do things my way."

"no."

"Eh...? Why not?"

"because it is unlikely that you are rational enough to realistically judge the situation."

Okay. Ouch... Insane people are just as capable of making informed decisions as anyone else you know...

The Creature was already up and stalking towards us.

I waved a dismissive hand. 

"Thanks for the vote of confidence Mr Sleeper, but I don't need it." 

Tiny, aggravated hands clenched into my clothing.

"l i s t e n  t o  m e."

Can't.

"...This is my fault." I spoke softly, keeping my eyes trained on the approaching creature. "I should have taken your arrival here more seriously." 

With great fishing. Comes great responsibility.  

"that's not..."

"You can punish me later if you want."  I cut him off an implied wink. "Maybe even in private, if you play your cards right."

"don't you dare..."

The creature charged forward in a burst of speed. 

All paws stayed on the ground this time. 

I raised an eyebrow to demonstrate surprise. 

It's learning. 

And fast learners don't make the same mistakes twice.

"Don't worry Mr Sleeper." 

The creature changed course. Leaping from a point in front of me... To one on my side. 

"I don't kink-shame."

Now out of my line of sight, it lunged forward in attack. 

Too bad. 

I crouched down low on all fours. 

The advantage of prediction goes to the one who can think the most moves ahead.   

The creature missed its prey, passing over me in an uncontrollable leap. 

As it passed over my head, I struck upwards. Latching onto its tail.

Success!  

Now that I had the beast in my grasp...! How this situation translated into me making it submit to my superior hunting skill was...Kinda up for interpretation...

Basically, I was hoping the creature would be as weightless as the shadows it was seemingly made from. 

As it turns out...

Not the case. 

The creature flew over my head. 

Attached to its tail, I went along for the ride. 

At some point during the flight, I realised, as bad as the take-off was...The landing was going to be infinitely worse.

The moment I saw the damning swirl of blue open up...

B A D.

...I let go. 

The creature continued forward...

Right into the gaping portal that had appeared in the sidewalk.

I landed on my feet, arms flailing as I balanced on the rim of certain Disaster. 

...phew. 

A splash of water came from behind me. 

Damn.  

A soft weight batted against my spine. 

Meddling.  

Tipping me forward. 

Fish

Into the portal.  

Chapter Text

You'd think that, after falling into a portal of all things, I'd at least get some sort of mind-bending cosmic experience...

Turns out, portals to alternate dimensions work a whole lot like regular doors.

No light show. No theme music. Just a sudden face meet ground encounter.

"...Ow." I mumbled into the sidewalk.

I knew this was coming.

Has anyone, ever, looked at a portal and thought to themselves "oooh, I bet this will be a safe and reliable mode of transport."

NO.

Yet here we are. Me and my expectations, laying on the ground, somehow feeling betrayed by the reality of interdimensional travel and cursing our lack of athletic ability.

Is it really too much, for a lowly couch potato to dream of portal parkour?

Something moved in the space between my hat and shoulder, alerting me to the fact that my passenger had survived the face-plant across reality.

... Meaning I'm in trouble. In three... Two...

"w h e r e..." Tiny hands pinched my skin as Sleeper pulled himself out of the debris of my fallen body, climbing up to stand on top of my head. "a r e  w e? "

Well...

"... Probably in one of the other universes?" I said... Entirely too afraid to even move if this was indeed the case. "Hard to tell with my face in the pavement and all..."

Sleeper's impatient shuffling stilled.

"you've been able to leave this entire time?"

...oh. 

"Um..."

Be diplomatic Ava, he's obviously on his last nerve here...

"...Only at any moment I felt like it? "

The weight on my head was starting to feel a lot heavier and colder...

"and why. haven't. you?" Sleeper said.

Trying to explain an aversion to jeopardizing the multiverse is kinda hard...especially when the person inquiring sounds one bad answer away from playing arts and crafts with your vital organs.

Seriously, how can someone so small have a voice so menacing...

"Cause...um... all my stuff is back there?"

There. Not here. Here is not there and I need to be there because here is... 

Sleeper whacked me on the back of my head with all his Bitty strength.

"The next time you open your mouth to insult my intelligence, I'm throwing you through the nearest window. u n d e r s t o d?"

That someone has a vendetta against all things glass?

"...Very much so."

Sleeper growled something under his breath, still angry.

Though I doubt my deflecting was helping his patience, I think most of the Bitty's frustration came from my unfathomable stupidity. 

He had assumed I couldn't leave, because the idea that I shouldn't just didn't occur to him.

My heart beat hard in my chest.

"...I'm sorry." I apologised softly.  "I didn't mean to be misleading."

The opposite in fact. I'd come with an instruction manual if I could. 

Against the forces of my remorse and his exhaustion, Sleeper's ire finally took pity and relented.

"at some point in the near future we need to have a serious talk about your avoidance issues." He finally grumbled.

My panic subsided to only mostly overwhelming.

With a trembling sigh, I forced myself up on all fours.

It's a good thing my nose has no definitive shape. Otherwise, it would be severely bent out of it.

"I know you're eager for me to get out more Mr Sleeper... But you do realise that waltzing into someone's universe without so much as a 'Hey neighbour' to the occupants is pretty rude right...? To the point that it's become illegal in some universes... "

Even though he was still on my head, I could sense Sleeper scowling.

"Laws only apply to people who actually have rights."

That's my little rouge, always putting the Bitter in Bitty.

"I see... So does that mean I can-?"

"no."

Careful of the exhausted skeleton balanced on my head, I rose to my feet. My gaze still focused on the same point I had been staring at since arriving.

"You didn't let me finish..."

"do you want to stand here, having me personally ban every illegal action you can think of, or are we going to do something about the abomination we've just set loose on an unsuspecting universe?"

I scuffed a flip-flop on the pavement.

"I guess...It's probably going to eat the children and elderly first so... "

Also, it was about to undo the very thing I had been trying to protect by stifling my existence... It would tip the balance... Back in the right direction.

Too much peace makes for a stagnate multiverse. A stunt in growth.

So the fish decided to rock the boat.

And standing here wasn't doing an awful lot to keep it from capsizing.

Don't let indecision trap you.  

Unable to put it off any longer, I raised my gaze to face the world.

My breath caught.

Morning cut through the scene before me, instilling colour and light into every humble surface. It was a street. More metropolitan than my own, but still.

Beyond the immediate buildings, I could see skyscrapers.

A city.

There were cars, storefronts, even rubbish.

Evidence of life.

But no sign of the beast.

In fact...

"where is everyone...? "

I flinched.

Sleeper had noticed.

"what?"

DON'T.

I fingered the brim of my hat nervously.

"Just another reason why I shouldn't be here..."

The Bitty sitting on my head didn't press further. For now.

"It couldn't have gone too far..." I said, searching our surroundings for some sort of trail of destruction. "... Working under the assumption that the uncontrollable mystery portal dumped us in the same location as..."

A distant explosion went off, followed by smoke rising up over the buildings a few blocks away.

"found it."

...I didn't move.

"we need to hurry up if we want to avoid drawing attention to ourselves." Sleeper pointed out warily.

Yea. That's a nice, optimistic thought. Let's just go with that.

I pulled my hat lower.

"... I thought the law was for squares? "

Sleeper scoffed sleepily. "exploring the multiverse is one thing. actually interacting with those giant assholes is another."

I made a small noise of amusement.

"Giant... as in comparison to you or... ?"

The weight on my head slipped down onto my shoulder, unsteady despite Sleepers efforts to seem conscious.

"p a r d o n?"

"Nothing. You're right. The fewer people who know about Bittys and Avatars the better...."

I stood still a little longer.

Staring at the street.

This was my first time... Seeing another universe with my own eyes.

Feeling a breeze.

Sunlight on my skin.

"... Watching it on a screen really doesn't compare huh?" I breathed to Sleeper.

"... no." He mumbled, so quietly I wouldn't have heard him if he weren't beside my ear.

I dusted off my raincoat with shaking hands... before setting off at a painful hobble.

"... I was afraid of that."

There was a moment of silence... Then Sleeper slumped against my neck, making my steps waver in surprise.

"... my offer still stands." Sleepers voice was starting to slur, whatever energy reserves he had tapped into seemingly running dry. "after we stop that thing, i can help you find a place where you don't have to be alone."

...That was almost... tender. He must really be exhausted.

"Speaking of the unspeakable horror..." I changed the subject. "How'd you two meet?"

I felt the small breath of a heavy sigh against my neck.

"...it attacked me when I went exploring... somewhere that I shouldn't... "

Which brought Sleeper to me.

My face fell into the blank expression I like to call horror-struck.

"You mean... You actually wear that... To travel?"

"... it takes a lot of nerve to criticise someone while dressed like that."

I opened my mouth to argue...

 …

But no argument came.

"... This isn't over." I warned, my steps forward now fuelled by the scorn of fashion. "I'm just too busy to explain the importance of day and night clothes to you right now."

Sleeper didn't answer.

Lulled to sleep by my bullshitting.

It gave me a small moment to feel... Frustrated.

This right here, what was happening now, was the exact reason why the Meddling Fish and I would never get along.

I didn't argue that cosmic harmony wasn't all that and a bag of chips. Just that maintaining the perfect balance of peace and destruction through deliberate interference was blatant micromanagement.

More determined than ever, I shuffled forward.

Sleeper's breathing evened out, the Bitty now well and truly unconsciousness.

A tension I hadn't quite been aware of eased inside me.

I wasn't an expert on softbones... Except for that study I did on Bittys back in my channel 18 phase...But it was obviously unhealthy for him to stay awake for long periods of time.

If I were a braver person, I would have encouraged him to sleep sooner... But Sleeper doesn't really come across as the type to appreciate caretaking.

I couldn't understand the hardship of sleep deprivation anyway, so who was I to tell the strong independent skeleton what to do?

The person who wants to preserve the integrity of the surrounding windows, that's who.

....But that wasn't the only reason I was glad Sleeper had succumbed to his natural instincts.

Not when we reached the end of the block and finally encountered life.

Worse yet.

People.

In small groups and as individuals. Most at least acknowledging the rising smoke and sounds of destruction in the distance.

None made a sound.

.... Reality is... economical.

Can't blame it really.

Why build a full-scale universe, full of people, just to house a relatively small group of individuals?

While I didn't have enough of a soul to warrant a performance, none of these people had a real soul at all.

Like the Meddling fish, this was something only people with high levels of AWARENESS could see.

The lack of colour.

Fingers thumbing the sleeve of my coat for comfort, I sent a shy glance upwards.

From my reality, these worlds shone with light.

Reality comes in colour because souls determine reality.

Fear tugged at my chest. A warning.

Don't think. You can't handle it.

I held my breath, walking past the people as fast as I could.

They ignored me in turn.

The closer we got to the real souls, the more numerous and believable the pseudo people would become. It would be easier to pretend then.

I just had to keep my head down. Get to the Void beast and capture it before it caused too much damage.

Go home in time to watch someone be read a bedtime story.

See? Mental breakdown successfully avoided. Good Ava. Who's not a Crazy? You are! Oh Yes you are!

I travelled a few more blocks, all the while congratulating myself for having a sound state of mind before I found any sign of the Void creature.

The street was a mess. Broken glass, cars turned over, concrete cracked, the once busy street had become a disaster zone.

People had been running past me for a while now, fleeing the danger.

Some were injured, many were panicking.

The usual, believable thing.

I pulled the brim of my hat low, doing my best to scamper unnoticed through the crowd.

"Hey, you!"

Like a shadow... in the night...

"The one in yellow! What the hell do you think you're doing!"

... shadow or not, heading towards the danger kinda draws attention...

Caught red-handed, I started to look over...

When fate stuck like lightning.

My eyes widened.

In the next instant, I was slammed up against the glass of a store window so hard I nearly did Sleeper's job for him.

It's...perfect.

Breathing a little harder than what was socially acceptable, I stared through the glass, somehow hoping I could melt the barrier with the sheer force of my desire.

...I still have time... it's only the elderly and children-

"No window shopping." Sleepers groaned into my neck, obviously woken by me crashing into the glass like a crazed bird.

"This isn't shopping Mr Sleeper." I stared unblinkingly. "This is true love."

"your true love comes with a price tag."

"Oh good. I thought there would be something that could actually stop me, like a lock or something."

"...i don't know who it is, but someone in the multiverse is obviously a bad influence on you."

I moved towards the door.

"do you even have money?"

I froze.

No. I do not.

"... I was just going to steal it. " I admitted.

"... you're going to make me put this into actual words, aren't you?"

"... I really want it."

"you're not wasting my time by stealing from the salvation army!"

"Don't worry Mr Sleeper." My gaze narrowed in grim determination. "The military is no match for...."

"Here! Crazy Human."

Something prodded me in the small of my back.

Carefully, I looked over my shoulder.

The first thing I saw was the Gold coin.

"It ain't safe. Just exchange this for whatever you want and... "

The yellow lizard monster trailed off as I turned fully to face her.

As she stared in amazement at the paradox that is my face, I blinked down at her from the several inches I had on her height.

Alphys. Dressed in jogging clothes. Scars running across one eye.

Something in my chest hurt.

Probably my lungs... Since I hadn't taken a breath since finally identifying the familiar voice....as well as the universe we were in.

The last channel I had been watching before the portal opened...

Was Underswap.

Chapter Text

Underswap.

A world where personalities and burdens are exchanged. 

Seeing the reversal of fate... Often paused the anxious chattering of my mind...

Leaving emptiness in its place.

The coin was dropped, bouncing across the sidewalk with a clear ring.  

My gaze followed the movement... so it was only out of the corner of my eye that I saw Alphys move forward. 

This...

She closed the distance between us, violently grabbing my coat and slamming me into the store window. 

... is why I don't have favourites. 

"What..." She growled through clenched fangs.  "...the hell are you?" 

Good question.

Gritting through the sudden pain, I blinked down at the fierce expression...now mere inches from my own.

It was... pretty intimidating. 

"I...ah..know this will be hard to believe... But I'm..." I took a deep, steadying breath. 

"...A vegetarian."

My shame. 

Alphys' glare faltered. 

"What...?"

"No, it's true." I raise my hands. "I survive on nothing but junk food."

If it doesn't come in a colourful packet, you can't trust it.

Alphys' grip tightened, her glare returning to full force... and then some. 

"I don't know what you're playing at punk, but-" 

"b a c k"

Oh no. 

"o f f."

It wasn't a suggestion. 

Sleeper's voice had taken on that deadly quality it got when he was both exhausted... and homicidal. 

So yeah, his regular voice.

Needless to say, it got Alphys' attention. 

The yellow monster shifted her glare to the Bitty, eyes widening at the sight of the tiny skeleton. 

The claw keeping me pinned to the window loosened in confusion. 

"...Sans?"

Sleeper flung her across the street. 

Into a car. 

The alarm of which went off, piercing the now evacuated street. 

I stood... 

 Very... 

 Still... 

 "Mr Sleeper...weren't we... laying low or something...?"

Sleeper tensed against my neck, maybe even guiltily...

"inducing amnesia is our only option."

Nope. He's already committed to wiping out the locals.

"...Just to be clear... you intend to do this with brain damage?"

"... or death." 

Okay then... 

I tried to give the Bitty on my shoulder a stern look. 

"Mr Sleeper... Is this really just about killing the witnesses?" 

The angle wasn't ideal, and my face was pretty unresponsive....but I'm sure he got the overall vibe or something.  

" ...she called me sans." Sleeper finally mumbled, voice dripping with resentment. 

My blank stare of disapproval shifted into one of sympathy. 

Guess it must be hard, to be seen as a carbon copy of someone else. 

 "Listen Mr Sleeper." I held up a lecturing finger. "The only thing that matters is that the people who care about you know that you're way too cold-hearted and pre-emptively sadistic to ever pass for a Sans. So let's just forgive the ignorant and... " 

My hands fell limp at my side. 

As Alphys had recovered and was now back on her feet.

She was not empty-handed.

"NGAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" 

 ...huh. 

 "TAKE THIS! "

And that...

Is when she threw the car. 

I dove forward. The top of my hat brushing the impromptu missile as I narrowly avoided being crushed to death.

The car crashed into the store behind me, the sound of shattering glass and scraping metal making my heart stutter. 

After a long painful death, the car alarm finally stopped, returning the street to its abandoned silence. 

Slowly climbing to my feet, I stared back at the damage.

What was I saying again...? 

 "Um... and not... Kill each other?"

 Sleeper thought it over. 

 "if she wakes me up again, we do things  m y  w a y."

 "...How generous of you. "

"be quiet."  

With that, Sleeper settled back against my neck, leaving me alone with a very angry ex-captain of the royal guard.

Probably for the best. One thing I've noticed about Mr Sleeper is that he isn't very good at...well, whatever the opposite of throwing people through windows upon introduction is...

Straightening up, I turned to face Alphys.

Someone I knew intimately... though had never met. 

I couldn't help but play with the buttons of my coat as the reptile limped forward, her face set grim with determination. 

Nervous, partly due to the fact that she had an axe made from yellow magic in hand...and also because I'm a big fan...

I took a deep breath.

Go Winsome personality! I choose you!

My hands flailed out in front of me defensively.

"... You wouldn't attack a person in flip-flops, would you? That's just barbaric..."

She flung the axe at my head. 

I side-stepped, feeling the force of the axe flying past as a slight breeze in my hat. 

Okay, defensive didn't work, let's try offensive...

"No seriously, this is the part where you listen to me!" I posed dramatically, one hand held out to stop her. "Or else I'll unleash... !"  

Alphys froze in place, tense and watchful...Also panting with pain. 

After a moment of suspenseful silence, I dropped the pose, fumbling in my inner pockets until I found one of the items I store in case of emergencies. 

 "... Diet pills. "

 I stared at the bottle. 

"... Orange flavoured."

Excellent. Now all I need is for her to step onto a blue water tile... 

"Is this funny to you?" Alphys said.

I glanced back up at the former guardswoman, who trembled with barely restrained anger, glaring at me like I was screwing with her while her friends were in danger... 

 ...The look may have been a little justified. 

"Um..." I scratched the back of my hat.

Underswap Alphys is a pretty righteous person, so if I just am honest...she might actually try to kill me...

"...Maybe not so much funny as...Entertaining?" I admitted, wilting under her angry gaze. "Sorry if that bothers you. It's just that seriousness is kinda a slippery slope for me... If I get too involved in what's going on...I... Well, that's enough about me, let's talk about you!"

Propping a hand on my hip, I gestured towards her with the bottle of pills. 

"You're looking a little worse for wear."   

Alphys bristled up at the accusation. 

It didn't do a whole lot to cover up her pained breathing and tight expression.  

Though I wasn't capable of checking her Hp outside of an encounter, I did know just how tough Underswap Alphys was. 

This was more damage than just one collision with a car would cause. 

The scaly warrior opened her mouth to yell at me... 

"You wouldn't happen to have run into any void beasts lately..." I interrupted, head tilted. "Have you?"

 Her jaw snapped shut, a hand reaching up to clutch her side. 

Bingo. 

 I tucked the pills away, making a show of disarming myself as I continued to speak. 

"Because... coincidentally! I've just lost mine! So... " 

 Alphys took a menacing step forward, summoning a new Axe. 

"Actually! That's why I'm here!" My voice rose with panic. "To find that pesky Void Beast and take it back home with me. No pest, no mess, no duress..." 

She kept walking... Alarmingly quiet...

"It isn't the least bit house trained, you see, and having it out in public... This is just all really embarrassing for me, so please... Put down the axe...or keep coming towards me... That's okay too....I'm just gonna... "

At this point I was huddled down in a little ball, hands protectively clutching my hat as Alphys stood over me. 

"... You brought that thing here?"

She didn't yell.

The part of me that wasn't afraid, because I knew everything there was to know about everyone... faltered. 

Alphys was hurting. She was afraid.

And it felt like...I wasn't here.

That I was watching from afar... poking fun at the situation because there was nothing else I could do.

"... It um...wasn't intentional or anything..." I peeked up at her from beneath the brim of my hat.

Apologetic.

"...but at the same time... It wouldn't be here... If not for me, so..."

Her face was a cold mask. 

I stared down at my toes. 

Can I hope to relate to someone else.... when my own emotions seemed unreachable?

"....I'll do my best."

To save everyone.

Alphys didn't speak for a long moment. 

Then the electric buzz of yellow magic whacked me on the head....in a non-lethal way...

"Let's go."

I looked up at her... shocked

"huh?" 

Alphys grinned down at me. Confident.

Warm

"Listen up... Whatever you are... I don't care if you meant to do it or if it was an accident. If you have a way of stopping that thing, I'll drag you there make you do it even if you die." 

...her words did not match her heroic expression at all... 

I blinked. 

Also...

"...Aren't you here evacuating people because you're severely injured and shouldn't be anywhere near dangerous Void Beasts?"

Alphys hauled me up so that I stood on the balls of my feet... Single handily. 

"So?"

"...Good point." I conceded. 

She started to drag me, marching in the direction people had initially been fleeing from. 

"Wait!"

I turned my head back to look at the store. 

... I've still got time... 

 "Can I salvage my souvenir out of the wreckage?" I rubbed sheepishly at my hat. "This is my first time in Underswap so..." 

Alphys dropped me back onto my feet, crossing her arms to glare at me. 

"So you know about all that multiverse crap huh?" Her scowl deepened in distaste. "Just what we needed, another know-it-all nerd, screwing with things they shouldn't."

Surprised by her casual attitude...I tilted my hat politely, giving her a glimpse of my face and almost smile. 

"Happy to be of assistance."  

If scales could go pale...

With that, I spun on my heel and begun scrounging around for that coin she dropped earlier. 

Luckily, it had avoided being caught up in the car throwing incident, so was easy enough to retrieve. 

Significantly richer than before, I leapt in the direction of my prize, carefully climbing over the car and into the store to pick it out of the broken glass.

Once retrieved, I scrambled back the way I came, stumbling a little as I jumped from the car's carcass. 

 "Got it! " I called, too excited to remember that Alphys and I weren't exactly on the best of terms. 

 "...The small skeleton." Alphys actually sounded a little nervous as I scampered over to her. "He’s..." 

"Oh, how rude or me! This is Mr Sleeper." I stage whispered his name. "Careful, he doesn't like... Most things, I suspect....and he's nowhere near as cute and cuddly as I am so..."

"... I was going to say awake. "

...Oh.

"I had better still be dreaming." Sleepers growled into my ear, confirming Alphys warning. "Because if you're doing what I think you are...." 

"I paid for it!"

I held my first authentically bought belonging up over my head to admire in the sunlight. 

 A scarf. A rainbow striped scarf!

"It's... "

"hideous?"

"Perfect!" I spun, making the ends twirl. "All the colours, Everything, all at once!" 

Just like me. 

"Not only that, I also thought it would be comfier for you Mr Sleeper." I chatted away as I wrapped the scarf around both him and my neck. "This way you can go to sleep, all secure and not exposed like! Maybe... Do I dare say it... Even cosy?"

Sleeper was strangely quiet. 

"do what you want." he finally muttered  "your neck. your rules."

Could have fooled me... 

 "Urg. Enough lovey dovey crud!" Alphys finally lost her patience. Before I could protest her accusation or tease Sleeper for the offended noise he made, I was being hauled up onto the crazed monster's shoulders.

...Yep.

"You're too easily distracted!" She growled, as if that justified her insane actions.

I sat shell-shocked on my perch, clutching her head for balance. 

"... Shouldn't this be the other way around?" I leant forward to peer into her face. "What with you being terribly injured and all..."

She just started laughing. 

...I felt my chances of survival steadily decreasing.

All further argument went ignored as she took off at a breakneck speed.

"Let's GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! " 

 And that's how I ended up riding in style, on the shoulders of a charging yellow dinosaur monster.  

 

Chapter Text

In the beginning, I didn’t have a name.

A sense of self.

A soul.

...But witnessing the wonders of the multiverse from the isolation of my nest... inspired something.

A Will.

And with that Will, came awareness and eventually...a decision.

To become myself.

…………………I know more than anyone.

A name is a heavy burden.

...

..

...The easy solution is to just ignore it.

Neglect all responsibility and accept that you’re just kinda crappy at being a person.

And then, when the consequences finally start to catch up with you, you jump up onto the back of an enraged dino monster and run even faster...

Don’t be mistaken.

I was completely reluctant to ride on the shoulders of a wounded one-sided-stranger... So of course I handled the situation with as much restraint as possible. 

"Look how tall I am Mr Sleeper!"

"high up. not tall."

"This is so faaaast!"

I had to hold onto my hat as Alphys ran, tearing up the street at break-neck speed. 

"With our powers combined like this, we'll be unstoppable!" Alphys roared, burning with passion.

It was contagious.

"They'll call us the Triple Decker Yellow Bringer of Justice!" I cried.

"Heck Yeah!"

Huddled in the safety of my new scarf, Sleeper seemed to be having a bad time.

"don't include me." He muttered, just awake enough to be a killjoy.

I repeated the compliant for the Alphys’ benefit, doubting she’d be able to hear the Bitty over the sound of not being lame.

"Join us or walk pipsqueak! " Alphys threatened, charging even faster than before. 

Another explosion went off, closer than ever before. Alphys took a sharp left and I clung with all my might, barely hanging on through the sudden change of momentum. 

Something bubbled up in my chest, forcing out this strange... breathless sound. 

Almost laughter. 

".... i'm going to sleep." Sleeper said, craftily escaping the situation with some semblance of dignity.

His loss. 

In contrast, Alphys continued to work herself up into a frenzy as we ran towards the danger, passing small fires and destroyed buildings without a second glance.

It wasn’t easy, knowing my incompetent fishing skills had led to this…but being completely invulnerable to lawsuits made the sight a little easier to bare.

“There they are!” Alphys shouted, her grip on me growing tighter.

I looked up in time to see an orange blur shoot across the intersection ahead, followed by a massive black shape. 

To mirror the dread currently sinking my stomach, I pulled my hat lower over my face. 

Why couldn't he have just stayed lazy? 

Target in sight, Alphys went turbo, barrelling down the street heedless of any obstacles. 

To think, if she hadn't been injured, we’d probably be breaking the sound barrier by now…

We skidded to a stop in the middle of the intersection, turning to face the direction the two trouble makers had gone.

The dwindling time between me and the decision I would have to make gnawed at my nerves.

You shouldn't be interfering  

"Oof!" Something collided with our back, bouncing off Alphys' superior strength. 

...Note to self. Next time you try to go incognito... the Triple Decker Yellow Bringer of Justice is just not the solution...

Sheepishly slow, I peered over my shoulder to see a small skeleton sitting on the road, rubbing his head with a pained expression.  

My insides twisted.

UnderSwap Sans.

Just act natural. Your heart will start back up any second now...

The most Magnificent Sans in the entire multiverse shook off his concussion, peering up at us with blue eye-lights.

Tsk. Even cuter in person. Shouldn't have used up my one souvenir on the scarf-No! Back pervert! Back from whence you came!

I patted Alphys on the head to gain her attention. 

"... I think you were supposed to giveway..."

"ALPHYS!"

The burly monster whirled around as if just noticing the Skeleton for the first time. "Sans?! You bonehead! I told you to get to safety!"

It didn't go unnoticed, the way her claws grew painfully tight. Holding me in place. 

Sans was already back on his feet, expression pinched with anxiety... but determined none the less. 

"SORRY CAPTAIN, BUT A ROYAL GUARDSMAN WOULD NEVER RUN AWAY WHEN THERE ARE PEOPLE IN DANGER! ESPECIALLY NOT WHEN MY BRO...THER..."

We waited for him to continue... But he didn't. 

Sans was looking up at me, smile slack with awe. 

I crossed my arms on top of Alphys' head, leaning forward to peer down at the small Skeleton.

Now, this…is a position of power.

Sans backed away a nervous step at my scrutiny, gloved hands clenching into his bandanna. 

It finally dawned on me that... I might... have a scary face.

Creepy...Like water.  Always changing and reflecting.

...Still, to be able to render the Blueberry speechless…there was only one feature that could be to blame... 

"I know." I blinked down at him. "It's a lot of yellow to take in all at once."

Even without the power of our yellows combined…

"oh no... that's um..." Sans seemed to finally catch himself gawking and stuck a hand out. "GREETINGS... HUMAN...?  I AM THE MAGNIFICENT SANS!" 

Even in a crisis, his smile was bright. Hand outstretched in friendship.

Except… after witnessing countless handshakes and the ridicule that follows them… Ha ha haaaaa.

NEVER.

I stuck my own hand out... but instead of shaking his, I mimicked the gesture itself... as if only seeing it for the first time. 

What's the fun of being extradimensional lifeform if I can't pretend to be ignorant of their customs?

"I know." I answer solemnly, holding my hand above his own. "Don't mind me, I'm just here to find and capture my Up Dog."

"WHAT'S -" Sans recoiled, hands slapping over his teeth before the damning words could get out.

Suddenly very wary of me, Sans' face flushed bright blue...even as his eyes narrowed in betrayal. 

My lips twitched at the sight.

It made my heart swell.

With the urge to bully him.

"Alas, he was too cunning for my trap." I sighed, sagging onto Alphys head.

Should have known...If there is one thing Swap Sans is always on guard for, its wordplay.

“...THOUGH I APPRECIATE YOUR MISGUIDED ATTEMPTS TO CHEER ME UP STRANGE HUMAN..."Sans huffed, hands falling to rest sternly on his hips. "...NOW IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE TIME!” 

I tilted my head.

It would be so easy to befriend him. It is in his nature...and I know all the right buttons to push.

...

A real friend wouldn't.

I leaned over to pat Swap Sans on the top of his fuming skull. 

"You should be more careful when talking to strangers, Mr Sans." My expression was blank, voice neutral. "Not all of them will let you off with a warning."

Alphys tensed beneath me, making it very clear she didn't appreciate the low key threats and creepy overfamiliarity.

Wow. If you think that's bad...you're very unprepared.

"Now... " I twisted, narrowing a look back down the street. "Where did that elusive Up Dog go...?"

The hunt continues... 

Sans must have been pulling faces while my back was turned, because not long after, Alphys straightened up reassuringly.

“Stop with the freaking out already... I have a plan.”

“YOU DO?” Sans perked up with relief.

I returned my attention to the duo, curious. 

Alphys gazed seriously upon her disciple… before laughing heroically.

“I'm going to throw this thing at the enemy.”

Sans looked... concerned.

“BUT THEY MIGHT GET HURT...AND BY MIGHT, I MEAN DEFINITELY!” 

“Hear me out..." Alphys clapped a reassuring hand on her best pal's shoulder. "there’s a small chance that that thing...will be allergic to this thing.”

Meh.

I held a thumbs up.

“Beats my plan.”

“See?" Alphys hiked me up a little higher on her shoulders. "They’re cool with it.“

Sans didn't seem convinced.

“BUT PAPYRUS…”

“e n o u g h.”

My tiny excuse for a soul sunk.

The beast had awoken.

“i’ m  t i r e d.”

"I know. Sorry Mr Sleeper."

"that stubborn idiot is going to get himself killed playing pacifist. h u r r y  u p."

My gaze lowered guiltily.

Circumstances may change, but souls stay the same.

No matter the universe,

Papyrus has standards.

“...Yes Mr Sleeper.”

I nearly fell in my efforts to scramble off Alphys’ shoulders. The lizard monster let go grudgingly, either reluctant to dismantle our combo... or not trusting me with my own devices...

I'd pick all of the above.

Sans peered at me curiously... but his wringing hands gave away anxiety. 

"WHO...WERE YOU TALKING TO JUST NOW?"

Right. Now to try and explain what a bitty is to Swap Sans...in a limited amount of time... without igniting Sleeper's wrath...    

"...Quite possibly the scariest person in the universe right now." I answered with complete sincerity.

Oddly enough, my grim expression seemed to quell further questioning.

I sighed.

...might as well do this while the mood's right.

Now under pressure to get this over with as soon as possible, I wasted no time in walking right up to Sans.

A little closer than appropriate...or comfortable really...

When the small skeleton moved to back away my hands came down on his shoulders, trapping him in place.

....oh. He is just as cuddly as he looks. Guess I win that bet I had against the wallpaper...

Sans made a small noise of embarrassment...or terror...a combination of the two... 

The short skeleton glanced down at my hands...before blinking up at me uncertainly.

"UM..."

I stared back...officially sidetracked.

Yes, this started out as me doing something productive...but now just want to watch him squirm... 

Not one to let bullying go on before her very eye, Alphys took a furious step forward.

"What the hell do you think you're playing at Punk?!"

...Right. Violent Best Friend. Ready and Willing to smite me... 

"Ahem." I peered intently from beneath the brim of my hat. "Mr Sans?"

"YES?" He squeaked, shoulders tensing under my hands.

"I need to ask you a favour." I blinked my most serious blink. "Could you please call your brother, and let him know Captain Ahab is waiting?"

...

...Oh look.

A literal sweatdrop.

My third favourite magically produced bodily fluid...

"...pardon?" Sans finally asked, sounding a little...stressed.

Maybe the question was a little...underwhelming... after all the dramatic build up?

I bent lower to stare directly into the smaller monster's eyes.

"I thought it might save us some time, if you called your brother's mobile and had him bring Moby here, instead of us chasing them all over the city." I explained simply.

Confusion left Sans' eye-sockets vacant and dark.

Alphys facepalmed. "You want Sans to call the dweeb while he's running for his life?"

...It's not like he's never done it before...

"that's..." The Blueberry trembled under my hands.

Could it be... that being a jerk is about to backfire on me in unforeseeable ways...?

"...AN EXCELLENT IDEA!" Stars burst into existence in Sans eyes, stunning me before I could react to...

The hug.

I STOPPED BREATHING.

Don't-

I blinked down at the excited skeleton wrapped around me, praising me even as he pinned my arms at my side.

...In the same way that Papyrus has standards...

Sans is often friendly for the wrong reason.

"Oh dear..." I almost smiled. "It appears as thought I've been Disarmed."

He jumped slightly, guiltily peeking up. 

A good heart...but he worries too much about people liking him.

Or what would happen to him if they don't...

"Was I too creepy?" I mused, frowning in thought. "I bet I was too creepy. No one appreciates the invasion of personal space and intense eye contact like they used to..." 

If only I could just go back to the good old days, where those things were hip and cool...

"N-NO...YOU...um..." With not positive way to describe my behaviour, Swap Sans grew increasing flustered.

...He really needs to work on his Bad Cop.

"It's fine you know." I tilted my head. "I wouldn't trust me either... what with the zero effort made towards seeming un-suspicious."

Really, suspicious is one of the more better impressions I tend to give.

"...I...i didn't mean..." Sans mumbled, gaze lowered ashamedly. "...the magnificent sans would never judge...or feel irrationally nervous..."

I nodded my understanding.

"Here in the stalker business, we call those feelings survival instincts ."

".....STALKER?"

"Tell ya what, I'll restrain myself from ribbing you in the future...If you try to be more assertive." I wiggled my eyebrows suggestively. "Embrace the word NO mr Sans. You can even practice on me. I'm great with rejection..."

Sans stared at me for an unguarded moment, before hiding his blue face in my jacket.

"...UGH, THAT WAS HORRIBLE."

The short skeleton released me with a sigh, backing away in disgust.

Truthfully, the wordplay hurt me more than him.

But to discouraging him from associating with pure evil me, I had to show him my worst side. 

Tipping my hat... I tried not to think too hard about the loss of warmth.

"Sorry. I was in a tight situation."

Shooting me a warning look with little-to-no bite, San whipped out his phone and started dialling.

Sleeper relaxed against my neck, alerting me to the fact that he had at some point gone stiff. 

As far as first hugs go, that one was...a little insincere...  

I rubbed my arm absentmindedly.

...Meh. It's my own fault, for idolising something so... casual. 

Alphys... who had been giving me a strange look, crossed her arms in disapproval at Sans. 

"Seriously? What are the odds that he'll even pick up..."

"MWHEHEH."

A dial tone.

Once.

Twice.

click.

"....sup bro?"

Chapter Text

…There was a cat.

Sitting on the traffic lights.

Staring at me…

“…Mr Sleeper?”

The grumpy Bitty stirred.

“…what?”

“…Are you awake?”

Sleeper sighed, his small bones snuggling further into the warmth of my neck.

 "no.”

Call it a gut feeling, but something about his story doesn't quite add up...

The “cat” bent down to lick sparkling gold and green fur.

Kindness. Justice. Understanding.

I glanced over to where Alphys and Sans stood, taking turns to passionately speak into the phone.

My voice dropped to a cautious whisper.

“Cats are…reasonably safe animals… right?”

Sleeper didn’t sugar coat it.

“they’ll tear you the pieces if you let them.”

My fingers clenched into the folds of my scarf.

“…It’ll probably spare us if we behave… just keeping an eye things is all…”

Don’t give the mice a chance to play.

Sleeper very quickly ran out of patience for my mumbling.

what are you talking about?”  

Still, I hesitated.

“The…cat.”

The simplest explanation.

“…this isn’t related to the arson fish, is it?” 

I shifted nervously, debating how much to tell him...

Nah. Better to leave questioning reality too the insane.

“…If you put an answer in front of someone, they’ll stop asking questions.” I offered softly.

Sleeper's fingers tapped impatiently on my pulse.

“start making sense before I lose my patience.”

...Pretty sure I'd need a time machine for that.

“...People who don’t look, won't see Mr Sleeper.” I explained, well aware that this was in no way an improvement on my last answer.  

Some things just aren't meant to be understood with sensibility.

Sleeper's next threat was interrupted by a voice drawling through the loudspeaker.

“i don’t know bro…”

I turned my attention back to the matter at hand...and more importantly, away from the homicidal bitty in my scarf.

Who, I'm sure, was willing to w a i t.

Swap Sans had already shifted into the stance of brotherly disapproval #4 when his brother concluded.

“…that seems like a lot of work...”

Translation: Papyrus doesn’t trust that the random person Alphys picked up off the street is going to be a whole lot of help against the Deranged Shadow Beast of Terror. 

Fair enough. Good judgement really.

“BROTHER…”

Something exploded in the distance, the blast echoing through the phone as well as the air.

…It was deceptive… listening to Papyrus speak, you wouldn’t think the lanky skeleton was running for his life.

Without complaint, he had listened to Sans and Alphys' excited… barely comprehensible explanation, only adding the occasional hum to let us know he was still listening and not...you know…dead.

 Apparently though, the laidback attitude didn’t extend to letting crazy strangers brawl with Void Beasts on his behalf.

Talk about inconvenient.

“don’t worry bro. pretty sure i've got this.”

Swap Papyrus had a way of making the usual Papyrus confidence sound comfortably smug.

“heh, really, there’s no claws for alarm. but i'm glad you fang all the same.”

While Sans barely suppressed the urge to scream, I had to shove a hand over my mouth to quell my own reaction.

...If I didn’t know for a fact I'm incapable of being ill…

Unfortunately, if Papyrus wasn’t going to cooperate, my next move was to catch up to them the old-fashioned way…

...Or

I peeled my hand away from my mouth enough to mumble.  “…are you guys absolutely sure you really need two skeletons?”

Not helping is always an option...

Alphys crossed her arms with a disapproving look.

“You say somethin' Punk?”

Good point…bad puns probably don’t warrant a death sentence... once again, Alphys, your muscles have persuaded me.

“this is a waste of time.” Sleeper grumbled into my ear. “carrot cake isn’t going to trust us. ”

Can't argue with that...he does resemble a carrot...

I tugged reassuringly at the ends of my scarf.

“Even so, giving someone a choice opens up more possibilities.”

...Creates a split in the timeline...all that jazz...

“don’t try to play by your own rules in someone else’s game.” The bitty scolded bluntly.

I carefully rolled my eyes. 

“I’m not one to flirt with Gaming Mr Sleeper. It's one of those things that would get very uncomfortable very fast.

“...glad to know there’s something in this multiverse you won’t sexually harass.” He grumbled under his breath.

I tugged my hat down, hiding my amusement...even though my expression did little to reveal it.

“...Guess we’d better get going then…” I quietly decided to take my leave, starting off in the direction I had last seen the Orange Wonder.

Couldn't have gotten too far right?

“PAPYRUS...” The hidden strain in Sans’ boisterous tone struck like an off cord. “AS YOUR BROTHER, I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT YOU ARE VERY GREAT AND YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO… BUT I AM STILL... A LITTLE…worried...”

My departure slowed to a stop.

“everything will be fine sans.” Papyrus voice came from the phone, for the first time showing concern. “undyne is getting help…” 

My hand fell from my hat as I turned to look at the small skeleton...only to find him staring back at me.

He met my gaze for a conflicted moment, a flash of something like guilt crossing his expression before he turned away to continue speaking to his brother, optimism switched to the max.

"It's NOT THAT I THINK YOU CAN'T BEFRIEND THE GIANT RAGE CREATURE THAT NO ONE (except apparently this strange human, whose assistance you insist on refusing) HAS EVER SEEN BEFORE, THEREFORE KNOWS MUCH ABOUT…BUT YOU ARE MY VERY IMPORTANT BROTHER, SO PLEASE…” Sans' shoulders wilted slightly.

Wow…real life is way better than HD… 

"CONSIDER…YOUR OWN SAFETY… a little more…"

A shard of self-disappointment dug sharply into my chest.

I had avoided putting my intentions into words. Using the neutrality as a small comfort in all the pressure and uncertainty...

Barely aware of having crossed the distance between us, I found myself tugging softly on the hem of Sans shirt.

Causing anxiety for everyone else.

Hesitantly, the small skeleton turned to look at me. Though his voice had remained strong, blue tears threatened to spill from his sockets.

I have never been in a situation to prevent that sort of expression before...

My hands flew up, mashing the little Blueberry’s cheeks together.

Much better.

"AH!? HOOMAN...?"

I stared intensely into his expression. Startled and deformed.

…There had always been some doubt.

Maybe it would be okay. Maybe I could venture from my lonely world without causing pain. Maybe…

His cheeks were warm under my hands....slightly damp from the tears I had caused to spill over.

...I felt that doubt slip away like a sigh.

My hands fell limp at my side.

“Please don't do that Mr Sans.” I tried to smile reassuringly. "The only time it is okay to cry is before, after or during amazing intercourse.”

It didn’t really work.

I gave him a thumbs up.

"All of the above even."

It took a moment for those words to sink in, but the moment they did San's face flushed a spectacular blue.

Papyrus could be heard choking on his cigarette from the phone, even as his brother rushed to brush away all evidence of tears.

“AH! WORRY NOT STRANGE HUMAN.” Sans said, arms flailing in embarrassment. “I JUST CAUGHT SOMETHING IN…”

I didn’t let him finish.

"There's no need to fret you know." I poked him gently between the eyes. "I wouldn't have involved you if I had any intention of hurting someone."

The decision to take a life isn’t a burden I’m willing to share.

Semi-smiling, I took a step back.

“Sure, at first glance I might not seem like a very reliable person…but that’s why Mr Sleeper’s here!” I pointed eagerly to my scarf.

"He's super talented, and smart, and good-hearted, so you shouldn't...Worry your brother…by worrying about your brother…Because that sort of brotherly angst can only be enjoyed with popcorn..."

My gaze grew intense.

“And I don’t. eat. Popcorn.”

Cooking is just not a safe pastime for the morbidly indecisive.

Sans stared at me, still obviously afraid, in a distracted kind of way…

I’m counting it as a comforting success…

“oh...um...THANK YOU...STRANGE HUMAN. IT'S REASSURING TO KNOW THAT YOUR TALKING RAINBOW SCARF IS SUCH A STRONG ALLY…” Sans smile brightened momentarily, before flattering “but papyrus…” 

I waved him off…very aware of the skeleton still listening carefully on the other side of the phone.

“Please. If I needed his help…well, I would have been more insistent.”

In some cases, consent is more of a luxury. 

Alphys immediately took a step closer to Sans, suddenly wary.

I shoved my hands into my pockets to appear less threatening.

If Sans noticed the sudden tension, he didn’t show it.

“SO… YOU CAN HELP MY BROTHER...EVEN IF HE DOESN'T LEAD THE CREATURE BACK HERE?”

I puffed up with confidence.

“Of course we can.”

“…if that is the case...” Papyrus’ mellow voice murmured, addressing me for the first time. “...then why the phone call?”

I shrugged a little.

My only excuse is insanity…but what does that say about you for picking up?

“The Void Beast isn’t the only one who may have reacted badly to us showing up uninvited.”

Alphys and Sans glance at each other nervously before turning their confused stares on me.

It was almost like...I knew exactly what I was doing...except that couldn't be right because I'm obviously crazy... 

"This, Mr Papyrus..." I tilted my head, the slightest of smiles on my lips.

“...was your Courtesy call.”

The world blinked.

Then. 

I was standing on the roof of a large building...Surrounded by pigeons.

Teleportation.

I blinked.

“…Mr Sleeper?”

“dramatic effect.” He explained bluntly.

“…Nice.”

I lifted my hat to study our surroundings.

“You don’t think we came off as a little too villainous, do you? I mean, my cute face probably balances out the ominous phrasing…but that’s kinda hard to convey through the phone…”

“does it really matter?”

“I’m a fence sitter Mr Sleeper. If I tilt too far in any one direction I’ll fall down.”

Curious about our new location, I snuck through the surrounding bird-life to peer over the edge of the building…

LAB.

clever skeleton.

“This is where they keep their machine Mr Sleeper.”

“indeed.”

“…You think this is the help Mr Papyrus was talking about?”

“obviously.”

I whistled lowly.

“Calling in the bouncers and escorting our beastly friend towards the door. That's some A+ planning right there. ”

Sleeper scoffed in disagreement.

“It'd be lucky to get a B-.”

"Not enough lasers?"

"not even close."

I hummed sympathetically.

“So...all we have to do is wait for our prey to come to us?”

“if you feel like taking the passive approach." Sleeper shifted to get more comfortable against my neck. "i mostly just wanted to get away from the heroic duo.”

“Aww.”

“shut up.” He grumbled. “i’m energy intolerant.”

I'd believe it.

Staring out at the city, I bathed in the glow of morning.

Funny how it still managed to look untouchably perfect...even with clouds of smoke rising out of the skyline.

“…You know..."I sighed, letting my eyes close on the too bright scenery." "...a B- isn't the worst plan in the world…”

Dependable at least.

“...Are you sure I can be trusted with this? To not make things worse?”

If at all?  

A small grumble came from my scarf.

"do you think either of us would be going about this so casually if we didn't believe they could handle the situation perfectly well on their own?” Sleeper muttered.

...Not sure if this is supposed to be me acting casually...but he has a point.  

Underswap never needed me to play hero.

I couldn’t watch the multiverse face challenge after challenge...and not know that.

Even with my eyes closed, I still felt the golden light as warmth on my face.

When this conversation ended, my chance to bask in it would be over.

“…So why are we still here?”  I asked. "This sort of thing is way comfier from my couch..."

The Bitty sighed, impatient with my attitude.

"i doubt that it’s not UnderSwap you are trying to save." He muttered.

I winced.

Ouch. Always with hitting the nail on the head.

"Probably not."

"but you are undecided.” 

Guess I'm not all that complicated.

"Yea."

My body felt heavy. Reluctant.

“Being responsible for another life is…a big commitment.” I mumbled. 

We stood in silence, breathing in the chill of the air.

All this time spent longing, only to find myself afraid of the things I wanted.

“…Ava.”

My breath caught, eyes flying open only to be blinded once again by the Sheer colour around me…

“…the person who gave me my name is dead."

 Mr Sleeper's voice was quiet...but I'd heard screams with less heartache.

"so i understand…the consequences of love.”

He fell silent, never saying whether it was worth it.

Just that he understood. 

I nodded, finally feeling determined.

“I don’t know about Love, but a name...”

With crack audible from here, a telephone pole a few blocks away started to fall, pinpointing our target's exact location.

Decision time.

“...is a powerful thing.”

I climbed up onto the edge of the building.

The bitty sighed.

“do you always take this long to make up your mind?”

Longer. Usually.

“Pretty Much."

"great."

The sarcasm is strong with this one.

I fiddled with my hat, sheepish.

"...um...just so we're on the same page...This isn’t just about us one-upping Mr Papyrus because he snubbed our help… right?"

“what are you saying?" The bitty scoffed. "of course it is.”

I clutched at the spot where my heart should be.

“...I hate to say this Mr Sleeper… but you’re… meeting all my standards…”

“shut up pervert.”

With the smallest of smiles, I stepped off the edge. 

The world blinked away.

 

Chapter Text

With science, there will always be mistakes.

Little…miscalculation’s.

Sleeper teleporting us so that we burst into existence directly above a certain fleeing skeleton… leaving me no choice but to land with one purple flip-flop planted directly into the middle of his shocked expression…

Was probably not intentional.

I winced sympathetically, uttering an apologetic “Excuse me" mid-step.

Arms flailing up in surprise, Papyrus' verbal response to the sudden assault went muffled by my foot in his mouth.

On top of the general unpleasantness of a foot meet face encounter, Papyrus' cigarette was crippled for life between his clenched teeth...ensuring that nicotine would not come to the rescue this time...

Not really expecting to be stepping on someone’s face in a scenario that didn’t involve whips and leather, I did my best to maintain my balance as the tall skeleton fell backwards with the force of our collision. 

No sense in jumping off the mid-ride after all…

Completely unprepared for the sudden change in momentum, Swap Papyrus didn’t exactly… nail the landing.

I heard the nasty crack of his skull hitting the concrete.

Strangely enough... it sounded a whole lot like the whispered words “I told you so.”

Sleeper and I stood in the settling dust, momentarily speechless at what we had done.

 “whoops.” Sleeper observed, voice devoid of any sincerity.

“…It’s certainly not how I imagined ploughing my first skeleton into the ground.” I agreed.

Papyrus said nothing.

I lifted my foot… just enough to check the expression of the skeleton beneath me.

“…Score. He’s barely conscious.”

My life just became significantly easier.

“grab him.”

I ducked down without question, wrapping my arms around Papyrus’s bony shoulders just as a shadow fell upon us.  

Something seemed to shift, then I looked up to find we had suddenly travelled several meters... and in time to see the Void Beast slam down on the spot we had once stood, crushing the road beneath its claws.

...Starting to think someone is cutting these escapes close on purpose…

“Careful Mr Sleeper.”  I used the opportunity while Papyrus was out of it to let my hands…roam. “Keep saving my life like this and I might have to accuse you of actually liking me.”

The Bitty's grumbled response was lost to the depths of the scarf.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Lanky bones suddenly shifted beneath me, as the tall skeleton in my arms began to stir.

Remembering my self-preservation techniques, I dropped the insanely powerful monster before he could catch me taking liberties with his body.

Swap Papyrus groaned as he hit the road...again. Phalanges coming up to clutch his head.

I studied his agony, nodding to myself after a small moment. 

It is as I thought…Sadism is only fun in the bedroom…

“You are very fortunate that there was no intent behind any of that Mr Papyrus.” I scolded softly, tapping him sharply on the forehead. “You should be more careful. First the stairs and now this, I doubt your handsome features can take much more abuse.”

Prying his eye sockets painfully open, the Judge of the Underground blinked up at me with a dazed expression.

Not giving him time to notice my odd appearance, I patted the skeleton on his smooth skull one final time...before stepping away and walking forwards at a cheerful gait.

How can one not be enthusiastic when there is a Void beast to woo?

Said beast stood panting, staring at Sleeper and I like it recognised us…

And was less than pleased at the reunion.

…it’s a good start.

I slowed to a standstill, hands casually in pockets.

A low growl rumbling in its chest, the Beast fidgeted warily in place. Waiting for me to act first this time.

I tilted my head.

“Interesting…You’re developing AWARENESS at a faster rate than I ever did.” I said, observing the growing intelligence in the creature’s gaze.  “Likely a side effect of being in direct contact with mature souls.”

No different to throwing a child into the ocean to sink or swim.

"I've been doing this abomination thing for a while now...so allow me to give you some advice..." I stood straighter, lifting my chin to haughtily stare the creature down. "...There are some lines you shouldn't cross...or bite onto...Fishing lines. I'm talking about you breaking my one and only fishing rod."

My gaze narrowed.

"Dick move."

The Void beast all but scratched its head, completely unsympathetic.

I blinked, forcing myself to calm down. Raging emotion has no place in diplomacy.

"Anyway, this is game over for you buddy. You can either come quietly or be reeled in kicking and screaming." I shrugged. "Your choice."

At the challenge, the Void beast stood up on its hind legs.

Its jaws opened wide in a deafening roar, clawed hands beating furiously at its chest.

I tilted my hat down, tiniest of smiles in place.

“I was hoping you would see things my way...”

“run.”

Startled, I glance back to see Papyrus struggling to get to his feet. His expression almost naked in its alarm.

“you can’t…”

The words failed him the moment the tall skeleton caught sight of my face.

...Guess Alphys and Sans couldn’t quite capture my true beauty with words alone.

I tried to smile.

“…there is a long list of things I can’t do Mr Papyrus… Sleep. Taste food. Feel love. Coordinate colours." I turned away, in time to see the Void beast leap forward in a blind rage. Desperate to silence me.

“...Trying to do better is not on that list.”

Sometimes…when there is a vacancy in reality, magic will take on a life to fill it.

An enemy was needed.

This creature was created, with no other instinct but to fulfil that purpose.

No soul of its own.

No mind of its own.

No name.

“Do you trust me Mr Sleeper?” I whispered, standing firm in the face of oncoming death.

There was a beat of silence.

“…as far as I can throw you…ava.”

Sometimes all you need to change

I locked gazes with the charging creature, pulling the remaining hand from my pocket.

…is someone to call your name.

It bulked.

I’m Sparing you.”

My voice rung through the air. Doubtless.

"Mo.”

Fangs froze, inches from my face.

I didn’t budge, waiting calmly to see if that jaw would close.

Giving the option of Mercy.

…A small, confused growl came from the teeth in front of me.

Creates a new path.

“Bad. Marmoset.” I scolded, expression stern. “If you don’t want to behave, I’ll just have to eat this. All. By. Myself.”

In my hand, I held the Honey I had nicked from Papyrus’ hoodie.

The creature… whined, backing off enough so that it towered over me in a less lethal sense.

“You dare to "But" me?” I held the honey bottle over my head threateningly.

“No Marmoset of mine is going to get away with attempted murder…Or worse... neglecting their manners. All you had to do was ask nicely and I'm sure he would have shared." My gaze widened dramatically. "Now, you’re going to watch me eat this and be grateful if I deem you worthy of licking the bottom of the bottle.”

...It doesn't take long for power to go straight to my head.

After a moment’s hesitation, Mo lowered himself down onto his belly.

Staring up at me.

Pleading.

I crossed my arms, turning away from the sight.

“Don’t play innocent. Your attitude stopped being cute when you started imposing on the neighbours.”

A small whine.

“It’s not me you need to be apologising to." I started to unscrew the lid. "Really, I should be making you give this back to Mr Papyrus as you beg for Mercy, but you're not the only one who needs to learn a food-related life lesson today."

The ten-foot void beast made from pure darkness started whimpering in earnest....shrinking in on itself.... changing…

Until all that stood in its place was a small, baby marmoset shaped shadow.

Dreams do come true.

In the form of unfocused magic easily influenced by the perception.

"Playing to my weaknesses eh?" I sighed, rummaging through my coat.

“Fine. Starving you probably won’t achieve anything.”

I crouched down, revealed the yellow fruit I had stashed away for safekeeping during my fishing expedition.

Mo reached towards the banana excitedly, latching onto it with tiny hands.

I raised an eyebrow, keeping a hold of the fruit.

“What do you say when someone shares their food with you?”

He squeaked.

I took it as a thank you.

“You want any while I’m at it Mr Sleeper?” I asked, releasing the banana into the little void beast hold.

The bitty was a frozen ball of tension on my shoulder.

“w h a t  d i d  y o u  d o?”

I took a calm sip of honey from the bottle.

Sticky paste.

“It’s complicated. "

"indulge me."

I took a deep breath.

"You can’t enter the game without a name Mr Sleeper.”

Some names are already taken…

Instead of asking me what I meant by that, Sleeper pulled Mo’s soul into an encounter.

A small, shapeless white light appeared in front of the small creature, causing it to tilt its head in curiosity.

I felt a swell of pride.

He got that curious head tilt that kinda comes across as condescending from me!

“…it doesn’t work like that.” Sleeper said, sounding deeply unnerved.

I reached a finger down, scratching fondly behind Mo’s ears.

“Mr Sleeper…Does it seem more likely that the small fraction of the soul that magic allows you to interact with is the entirety of what there is to see and understand…”

The Marmoset responded positively to the affection, making a happy trilling noise as it started munching away at the fruit.

“…or that you have simply stopped asking questions?”

 I felt the brush of Sleeper shaking his head.

“…it can’t…”

He didn’t seem to know how to finish that.

“Ultimately, it’s better to just not think about it.” I said, abandoning the bottle of honey to scoop the tiny marmoset up into my hands. “There is no truth out there that belittles the emotions you feel. People are what matter.”

Mo curled up in my hand, paying little attention to the world around him as his thoughts were focused on food consumption.

Typical Mo.

“Besides.” I sighed. “Going insane isn’t nearly as easy as I make it look.”

Really. I’ve elevated mental illness to an art form.

“It might not seem like it, but a lot of irrational thought went into this outfit. You’d have to step up your game from the whole 'I can't be bothered getting dressed today' look. Maybe try wearing something that screams “I’d like to bring a little colour into your life, before I end it.

“…i’ll sleep on it.” Sleeper muttered, acknowledging the little bit of hope that had crept into my voice at the end there.

I nodded, my spirits jumping back out of that dark place they sometimes go.

“Now....”

I spun back around to face where I had last seen Papyrus.

Least I could do was apologise before escaping, taking absolutely no responsibly whatsoever...

The good news was that the tall skeleton was exactly where I had left him.

The not so good news…

He wasn’t alone.

The help.... had arrived.

I froze at the sight of the small crowd.

Who stood frozen, staring back at me.

Classic. 

Fell.

Ink.

All three of them, at various levels of surprise and cautious.

...That’s a lot of Sans to deal with all at once.

A mimicked gulp felt like an appropriate response.

UnderSwap Undyne was also here… with her phone out…

Pointed at me.

Ah.

The irony.

"stall them while i calculate." Sleeper whispered to me.

Right. Just strike up a friendly conversation with some of the most dangerous people in the multiverse, while on camera.

“…Ahem.” I coughed softly.

Excluding the Original Sans, everyone jumped at the sudden sound.

He was also the one to make the next move.

"...heh. i was going to ask you to turn around...but..." Classic Sans shrugged, winking an eye socket at me.

Right.

Fell Sans was visibly grinding his teeth, sweat rolling off his skull as he held onto his temper by a thread. His restraint was probably due to his colleagues not wanting this to escalate into something we all might regret...

So… unless I want to get boned in the not so fun way…

"Hello..." I waved an awkward hand towards the group as well as the camera. "...everyone in the Multiverse.”

Time to make an excellent first impression.

“You've kinda caught me in a compromised position here so...”

I forced a sheepish laugh sound, rubbing the back my neck.

When no one laughed with me, my hand dropped.

Of course.

“My name is Ava."

My voice held no inflection.

"...You don't know me but..."

We can't be friends.

"I am your stalker.”

A spark of red flared up, easy to trigger. Otherwise, the others watched silently.

The only one who stiffened, who believed that the words might be more than the ramblings of a crazy person...

Was Papyrus.

"I spy on everyone.... In every universe... To the extent that I've witnessed your entire lives and countless possible timelines."

Mo started fidgeting in my hand, abandoning his half-eaten banana to scurry up my arm.

“...as far as first impressions go.... this destroyed city you see behind me...” I pointed a thumb back with a wince.

“It was totally like this when I got here....”

Mo sat up on my shoulder, tilting his head curiously at the group of strangers.

Ink clutched his brush tighter at the movement, silently cautious.

Not every day he meets someone new.

“Also, I understand that some people may feel uncomfortable... Even a little murdery...”

Not looking at a certain edgy skeleton… whose expression was becoming increasingly dark...

“... And I promise, the day I get tired of abusing your privacy for my own entertainment, I'll quit and go get a real life.” 

I caught the look of concentration on Ink’s face. The brief glance at my feet.

I sidestepped sharply, looking down to find my shadow didn't follow the movement.

...The nerve... of taking advantage of my monologue…like this was his idea...

The darkness revealed itself to be ink, moving to follow me now that it had been caught.

I had no choice.

I threw the half-eaten banana.

Ink’s eyes widened in surprise a moment before it hit him in the face.

Standing frozen with my arms still outstretched, I realised something about myself. 

I don’t do well under pressure.

Swap Papyrus was the only one who snickered at the sight of a smooshed banana slowly sliding down Ink Sans' suddenly stiff smile.

…no… he wasn’t the only one laughing…a muffled sound… behind…

 A wisp of smoke in the corner of my eye.

Ducking, I narrowly avoided being caught up in a long pair of leather-clad arms.

Figures they’d bring in the void expert.

I looked up, meeting Gaster Sans’ mildly surprised expression.

Staying low, I sprinted away from the skeleton who had snuck up behind me, continuing to put distance between me and them before someone lost patience and fired a Gaster blaster…or worse…

Tried to shake my hand.

Jumping up onto an abandoned car to avoid being attacked from below, I stared down at the group.

“But until that day... Yea... I'll know when you're sleeping, when you're awake.... and also,

I held out a thumbs up.

"I'll be criticising your technique in bed.”

There was a shift, like a puzzle piece falling into place.

Tilting my hat up, I gave the group a glimpse of the blank expression I like to call “Bite me.”

"I have scoreboards ladies and gentlemen."

Something in the universe seems to simultaneously break and...pull itself together.

Then I was standing in my kitchen and all was once again right with the world...

... Wait

I glanced towards the television, horror sinking my stomach.

...no...it couldn't be...

"Nobody panic... but..."

My legs just wouldn't hold me up any longer.

Devastation. 

"...I forgot to record the Alphys and Undyne honeymoon special."

Chapter Text

 I stared at my hands…covered in dust.

…The universe… has a disturbing sense of humour.

A small squeak reached my ears.

“I’m insulted by your lack of faith Mo.” I gave the primate on my shoulder an admonishing tap between the ears. “As the wise, all-knowing hermit/pervert thing that exists on the edge of existence....”

...A Permit…or a Hervert… hmm, the question begs further contemplation…

 “…it’s pretty safe to assume I’m qualified to use a power-tool.”

Assume being the key word here.

Mo gave an unconvinced sneeze as I continued my search through the contents of my neighbour’s garden shed.

That it was dusty in here when nothing else in my Reality acknowledged the passage of time... well, it could be my imaginary neighbour (Who I would never, in my perfectly sound and not delusional state of mind, come over here and pretend to be…) has a dark secret.

A bad habit…of not cleaning their shed…

…Heh.

“I mean, do you have any idea how many times I’ve seen them used on T.V? Cooking isn’t Undyne’s only hobby you know…”

 The marmoset on my shoulder trilled worriedly, scurrying up onto my hat.

I made a small noise of disapproval.

“Judgement isn’t something that should be handed out amongst equals Mo.”

Indifference. Judgement. Negligence. The cold things the soul relies on in the absence of love.

“…The UndyneTale DIY reinnervation series had way less casualties than you would think…” I frowned as I came across the pair of scissors I’d used to cut the lawn once. Darn thieving neighbours…

“Not like that timeline where Horrortale Undyne went on Master Chef… Now that was brutal.”

The blood and orange cake she made in the final was apparently to die for.  

Knowing that arguing with me would only prove futile, Mo leaped from my head, landing on the work bench with a clutter.

“Running won’t save you.” I scoffed softly, finally locating what I was looking for. “…this thing’s got range.”

Straightening up with a cheerful hum, I found the small marmoset crouched beside a hammer and packet of nails.

Ah. The wisdom of the young.

“…Fine.” I sighed, shoulders sagging. “Since you’re so insistent…” I held the nail gun up with an enthusiastic head tilt.

“I’ll only set it to stun…

Mo growled…a dark edge of what he had once been lurking in his tiny lungs.

“Bully.” I blinked at him. “Since when were you the responsible one?”

Another firm squeak.

“Right… But we all learned a valuable that day.” I carefully set down the nail gun where I had found it. “Don’t slow roast bananas in the microwave.”

Stoney silence.

Turns out, Mo’s forgiveness isn’t nearly as cheap as mine…  

Sighing, I gave the nail gun one final, loving pat.

I’ll come back for you my pretty.

The marmoset’s shadowy fur unruffled a little when I reached for the hammer and nails, but his gaze remained untrusting…

Couldn’t blame him really.

One time watching me throw gift wrapped Apology For Not Delivering The Paper Lube into the void had been enough for Mo to decide he’d take my role modelling with a grain of salt.    

“To be fair, how was I supposed to know setting the house on fire wasn’t a necessary step in the cooking process?” After picking up the recommended tools and stuffing them into various pockets, I held a hand out to Mo. “Undyne and Papyrus are my only cooking references for anything that isn’t instant, snail related or pulled into existence across space and time.”

Some means tend to defeat the purpose of being lazy...

Mo jumped into my hand, following my arm up to my shoulder… only to be confronted by its first-class passenger.

“get back on your side r a t.”

Mr Sleeper used gravity to fling the tiny shadow creature out the door of the shed and onto the lawn…but it was gentle disposal.

By the bitty’s standards anyway.

I tugged my hat down to hide my relief.

“Good morning Mr Sleeper.”

“i told you..." He growled. "if i catch that thing chewing on me in my sleep again, I’m throwing it back into the void.” 

He's just not a morning…or, well…being awake person…

I averted my gaze.

“What goes on in the scarf between you and Mo is really none of my business Mr Sleeper.”

“k e e p  i t  a w a y  f r o m  m e.”

And live the rest of my life never seeing the sight of Sleeper an Mo curled up together, sleeping peacefully?

“You say that now…”  I gave an uncommitted shrug. “But unconscious you is a much more honest fellow… latching onto Mo every time he comes near you for snuggles...”

I ducked as a shovel suddenly decided to follow me out of the shed, aimed at the back of my head.

“i resent you implying that my genetic predisposition to seek warmth and comfort in my sleep reflects how i feel as in individual.” The softbones pointed out reasonably, as if he hadn't just tried to bludgeon me.

“Sorry Mr Sleeper.”

Mo wasted no time scampering up my leg and onto my free shoulder the moment I stepped out of the shed.

Without missing a step, I strolled across my neighbour’s backyard, hands casually in pockets.

“You know, blaming nature and nurture is just self-hatred, absolved of responsibility.” I nodded to myself sagely.

Sleeper climbed out of my scarf to sit on my shoulder, yawning all the while. “wise words coming from the person who couldn’t see a reason why smoke detectors shouldn’t double as alarm clocks.”

funny that you put that in the past tense…

"I just thought the smell of a nice cooked breakfast might entice you to wake up Mr Sleeper.” Unlatching the gate, I exited the small yard and made my way back towards the park.

It had come as no surprise to find everything in my universe had been reset back to its former glory after Mo’s first visit. I was used to my universe’s fussy ways, always having any disturbance I made corrected the moment I turned my back.

“I’m not an expert or anything, but two days seems like a long time to be unconscious…Speaking of…"

I reached into one of my many pockets for the banana I’d prepared earlier. It was good to have fruit on hand, for those rare times Sleeper woke up long enough to have sustenance forced upon him. Peeling it and giving the first half to Mo, who was millimetres away from trembling off my shoulder in his eagerness, I handed the bitty on my other shoulder a more manageable piece

Sleeper accepted with sleepy hesitance.

“i told you the first time you woke me up, I just needed to sleep.” He mumbled.

Indeed, the moment we had returned from Underswap, Sleeper had insisted on catching up on some much-needed rest.

To the point that the softbones had spent less than a single hour out of the last seventy-six conscious.

Out of growing concern, I had even resorted to true love’s kiss. Second hand of course…from the rim of a glass of water.

Which I had tipped all over him.

Sleeper had woken up long enough to reassure me that his aim had not deteriorated in the slightest.

Blowing up the microwave to force a meal into him had come later. The nail gun incident…had been avoided entirely…

…Starting to see how my actions may have been a little excessive...

“It would seem that I may be a little neurotic.” I observed quietly as we entered the park.

Sleeper huffed in mock disbelief.

“say it isn't so.”

I blinked.

“You noticed?”

“i’m a bitty. i can tell when someone is looking at me like I’m made glass.”

“…oh.”

 “…it wasn’t until i saw how you look at everyone like that… that i started to understand your reluctance to leave this place.”

My fingers brushed nervously against my hat.

“Does that mean it’s okay for me to stay…”

“n o.”

I flinched, but Sleeper seemed to catch his temper before it could get much further away from him.  

 “though I doubt that your fears are completely unfounded, the way you’re coping with them is irrational.” The bitty gave an irritable sigh. “you have a phobia.”

I slowed to a stop, staring up at the pitch-black sky through the unmoving leaves of the park's trees.

The idea that my fears could be even the tiniest bit exaggerated…

“You’re right." I offered simply. "I am afraid. So much so, that sometimes it feels like I’m holding my breath, afraid of disturbing the air in case it stirs a storm.”

Mo made a soft noise of concern.

I reached a hand up to pat the marmoset soothingly.

“…but?”

Sleeper didn’t sound the least bit impressed with my confession.

My lips twitched in amusement.

“with the entirety of my little soul, I know…I don’t belong here.”

With one last press to the Mo’s soft ears, I let my hand fell to my side.

“Neutrality is an Avatars nature Mr Sleeper. I could question morality until the end of time, and still not come to a decision. Regardless of intentions… the act of forcing myself into their lives seems little… self-indulgent, don’t you think?”

Sleeper thought it over while he finished the last bite of his banana.

“…i think you put a disturbing amount of effort into making excuses.”

With a slight huff, I resumed walking.

“Right, and your mission to rescue me from self-imposed isolation has nothing to do with you being too shy to admit you want to be with me forever…”

I didn’t get far.

“sorry, i'm a little hard of hearing.” Sleeper said, blinking into existence a few inches from where my face had been suddenly slammed into the ground. "care to  r e p e a t  that?'

“Is...um... "No" an option?” I mumbled around the mouthful of grass.

Sleeper's glare remained ice cold. 

"don't, try to turn the conversation onto me." He spoke with quiet rage. "it just proves you're not l i s t e n i n g."

I winced.

He had a point.

"Sorry Mr Sleeper." I said, meaning it even more than usual.

True to form, the bitty couldn't stay mad with this pitiful face.

“hmph…you said it yourself before…” Hands in pockets, Sleeper kept up the force of gravity for a moment longer to ensure the lesson had been learned. “you’re not very good at changing your mind.”

He leant forward to glare me in the eye.

“though the word i’d use for it is stubborn.”

I almost smiled.

“Stubborn and neurotic." I mused softly. "A few traits more and I might even have a personality to brag about.”

Sitting safety on my head, Mo squeaked.

I tilted my head up indignantly.

“What do you mean I’m immature?”

A small growl.

“I don’t just screw around for the fun of it Mo. I am motivated by complex reasons far beyond your comprehension.”

I could feel both Sleeper and Mo giving me flat looks.

“If people ultimately end up in tears after long durations of interacting with me, that is pure coincidence.”

I don’t have endeavours, just dreams.

Sleeper rubbed at his temple, managing to look tired even after a coma.

“as much as it pains me to agree with the monkey…”

“Marmoset.” Mo and I corrected immediately.

“abomination from the void.” Sleeper trumped our correction with one of his own. “…the point is, you are quite possibly the most aggravating person i have ever had the displeasure of meeting. if i didn’t owe you my life, i probably would have killed you multiple times over by now.”

I opened my mouth.

“l e t  m e  f i n i s h.”

I closed my mouth.

Expression dark, the small skeleton crossed his arms.

“…but if you didn’t exist, i’d be one shoulder short of a comfortable napping place.” He rubbed a hand against his skull, looking incredibly uncomfortable. “…far as i’m concerned… that more than justifies your existence in this world.”

I blinked.

“…can I get up now please Mr Sleeper.”

The bitty grimaced.

"fine."

I sat up, swallowing the tiny bitty up entirely in my shadow.

“Um…I need to show you something.” I confessed, fiddling with my fingers. “It would make things much easier, if you waited until after that to kill me.”

Sleeper glared up at me, immediately suspicious.

I didn’t give him a chance to escape, scooping up his tiny frame in my hands in the same movement I climbed to my feet.

Better to ask for forgiveness than permission. 

Ignoring the way the bitty had gone deadly still against my fingers, I sprinted through the park, not slowing down until we arrived at my regular fishing spot.

I came to a final stop in front of my masterpiece, holding Sleeper out so that he had the perfect view.

Gracefully, the bitty put aside his homicidal feelings to acknowledge my great accomplishment.

WELCOME TO THE OBSERVETORY.

POPULATION_2

PLEASE LEAVE.

“…you made a sign?”

A large piece of wood, duct taped to a tree, with sloppy letters and paw prints painted in rainbow vomit.

“I made a sign.”

“…that isn’t your door is it?”

“My neighbours.”

“…the observatory?”

“I was going to name this place stalkerville… but Mo pointed out that it was a little narcissistic.”

The bitty sitting in my hands slowly turned to look at me.

“…is this it? or is there something behind the sign that is going to convince me not to throw your bone riddled corpse into the void?”

Knowing the answer, Mo leaped from my shoulder.

Climbing up to sit on top of the sign, the little abomination gave me a wave of bon voyage.

I glared as much as it was physically possible... Resulting in a slightly angrier blank expression. 

Next time there is a radiation infused microwave banana to be eaten, don’t come crying for me for help.

Keeping my narrowed gaze on the traitorous marmoset, I reach into one of my pockets.

“You don’t have to use it right away Mr Sleeper. Or at all really.” I handed him a small block of wood. “but it’s yours, and always will be.”

The bitty stared down at the number 3 painted on the small piece of wood, before blinking over at the sign.

“…you’re offering to add me as a resident?”

I stared down at the ground.

I'd been putting it off long enough. 

“I said it when we met. I have never seen someone like you before Mr Sleeper. But…it isn’t as simple as me never noticing you before.”

Carefully, I set the bitty down on the sign next to Mo.

This wasn't going to be easy to hear. 

“…Nothing can exist in the void, so....”

Already, Sleeper's gaze had lost all trace of light.

I took a deep breath.

“Technically, you didn’t exist until I pulled you out of it.”

He didn’t need me to explain the implications.

Sleeper slowly turned to look over a Mo.

The Marmoset had already sunk low on its stomach, ears flattened down guiltily.

“i see…thank you for letting me know.”

I blinked.

Sleeper was being…civil.

Terrifying.

“though I’m not really interested in setting down at the moment, i’ll keep your offer in mind.” He calmly set his piece of wood down.

I had my answer. 

Sleeper understood the consequences of love.

I tilted my hat down over my expression.

“Goodbye Mr Sleeper.” I said softly. 

“…see you later ava.”

When I looked up, the bitty was gone.

At the absence, Mo made a small, sad noise.

I couldn't help but feel the same way. 

With shaky fingertips, I retrieve Sleeper’s little sign.

He said he’d keep it in mind.

“…Come on Mo.” I held my hand out to the marmoset with tiny smile.

“Let’s go watch Undertale.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

'Report!'

My nervous system snapped to an obedient salute.

'All feeling in the left foot has been lost, sir.'

I nodded gravely.

'…Sever the leg.'

'Sir!? There are still cells alive…'

'The numbness is spreading, soldier! Would you have me risk the safety of the vital organs for a mere limb!'

'With all due respect sir, if only the Brain would consider moving-'

'You dare question the hippocampus?! '

'…well, this isn't the first time we've sat on the couch in a such a way as to cause grievous bodily harm, sir…'

'Insubordination! Take him to the bowels!'

I chuckled darkly to myself, causing the marmoset on the couch below to send me a curious look.

A part of me felt like I should warn him...this is what curiosity does to a person.

“Internal affairs Mo.” I pulled my hat down over the expression of corruption. “Nothing for you to worry about…”

The marmoset gave me a long look, paying special attention to the fact that I was laying straddled over the back of the couch like a confused sloth…

Mo chose not to question my sanity.

We both knew the answer.

Instead, the Void Beast turned back to the television, completely absorbed in watching his favourite channel.

A universe I had forbidden myself from watching…

I sighed, staring despondently at the screen.

…As nice as it was to have a partner in crime, Mo tastes in entertainment were a little…

“…I just don’t understand it Mo…"

...MADDENING.

"...they were so close…how did it come to this?”

The marmoset’s only response was to crunch down meaningfully on a potato chip.

Ah…Sweet, naïve Mo.

I reached out a hand.

Avatar's are entitled to attention.

 “…That’s my philosophical little Marmoset.”

With a gentle finger, I fondly scratched behind Mo’s ear, marvelling at how cool and soft his shadowy fur felt beneath my fingertips.

Power and importance are my silver spoon. Though it would be foolish, to assume I understand the value of something I’ve never had to earn.

“Truly, there is so much the universe could learn from you.”

The Void beast tilted his head back to give me an impatient look.

I almost smiled.

The expression was coming to me more naturally these days.

“Don’t pout, you knew I would sulk when you picked the channel.” I drew my hand away. “Though I hope you understand why I don’t approve of this universe now...”

I regarded the screen a sadly.

It was the skeleton’s turn.

Smile firmly in place, Sans reached out a hand to attack.

“…check old lady.”

His opponent smiled knowingly, calmly reaching across the board to set her pawn into the path of Sans’ bishop.

“Oh dear Sans, you really are on fire today.”

“heh, I’m glad you understand the gravity of the situation.”

“Now now, this is a game between friends. No need to get heated.”

“sorry tori, it seems the pressure might be getting to me.”

Both chuckled ominously.

I scowled.

“Chess ruins the mood. Every. Time.”

ChessTale.

A deceptively fun universe, but for someone like me... who has zero aptitude for all puzzles and games…

Mo gave a dismissive squeak, turning back to the television.

I scoffed softly.

“Being a sore loser does not even begin to cover my resentment towards Chess Mo.”

As he could very well imagine.

After discovering his newfound passion for the strategy game, Mo had insisted on playing with me.

The excuse that we didn't have a chessboard had only inspired the Marmoset to make his own, scribbling out a battlefield in green crayon and using every small object he could find as the pieces…

I may be near soulless, but even I couldn’t say no to an army made of knickknacks.

Unfortunately, getting me to agree to a game had only been half the battle.

What Mo hadn’t understood at the time, was that I am incapable of making a decision without thorough consideration … and that the concept of rules is something I…struggle with.

After sixteen hours of negotiation, the Chess game had ultimately ended with a union between the two kingdoms… with me even stealing a wedding doughnut from the store…

Needless to say, I hadn’t been asked to play a second time.

"Why does it always take so long?" I grumbled, staring at the screen like its very existence mocked me. "She should just flip the board and bend Mr Superior Intellect over the table…"

The Marmoset gave an indignant squeak, turning to throw a chip at me.

… the effort it took to not even think the obvious pun associated with being attacked with a salty object…

My eyes narrowed.

“I see no reason why our hobbies can’t be enjoyed simultaneously...”

The marmoset turned away from me in a huff.

He squeaked.

My jaw dropped at his nerve.

“Mo Marmoset.” I sat up indignantly. “My bullying of every Sans in the multiverse for no apparent reason has nothing to do with their resemblance to a certain individual. It is merely the result of a deep, deeeep appreciation for irony.”

I scooped up the Void Beast from the couch, bringing him to eye level so he would know he was in trouble.

“Mr Sleeper would be incredibly offended at the implication-”

"-that I can't speak for myself?" A flat voice inquired, stalling the lecture just as a familiar weight appeared on my head.

I groaned, feeling the beat in my chest stutter.

Though I was not worldly enough to interpret this pause as elation…or terror…

“Now look who you made me summon…” I stage whispered to Mo.

The bitty on my hat tapped an impatient foot.

“i’ve had warmer welcomes...”

With an excited squeak, Mo leapt from my hands towards the bitty.

Sleeper appeared before me, standing on the back of the couch in the next instant...followed by a dull thump from behind.

Hands lazily in pockets, the bitty leaned over to glower at the Marmoset now apparently on the floor.

“too slow rat.”

My lips twitched.

“…I think this is what some might call, setting someone up to fail.”

Asking for affection only to immediately punish it…

Sleeper’s gaze immediately shifted to my face, a single eye socket twitched in irritation.

“i am not a difficult or unfair person." He defended sourly. "there is just a certain range of behaviour between affectionate and dismissive that i can tolerate.”

Talk about trying to thread the needle.

“I would never presume to judge your character Mr Sleeper.” I blinked at him seriously.

…doubt that the issue isn’t up for debate anyway....

The bitty crossed his arms, eyes sockets narrowed in an obviously foul mood.

“funny how you only speak like an intellectual when you don’t want to say something straight.”

I blinked at him, startled by the observation.

“My state of mind is a fickle thing. It's unlikely that my intelligence is that dependable. ”

Mo was already scrambling up the back of the couch, eager to reach our visitor. I gently caught the Marmoset before he could make a second attempt on Sleeper’s personal space.

Wouldn’t want a repeat of the decapitation thing. A third time might prove the charm.

“Welcome back Mr Sleeper.” I playfully rolled the small Void Beast in my hands, tickling him when he continued to squirm. “I’m not one to pine, but Mo certainly missed you.”

Sleeper glared tiredly at his feet.

“…it’s a wonder why. I’ve spent more time here than I have away lately.”

He didn’t really sound happy about the fact…

It had come as a surprise at first. How often he came back after the…insensitive way I had informed him of his erasure.

Six weeks after the fact, and Sleeper was spending his time between universe exploring to come kick me off my couch and make sure I feed the marmoset, with the excuse of wanting to nap on my shoulder.

Though I wasn’t oblivious to the Bitty’s internal conflict…I wasn’t one to tip the balance.

“Enough of that. Worrying will only turn your hair grey you know.” I lectured sternly, head tilting in amusement. “Now, I’m going to release Mo on the count of three, and you’re most likely going to be dragged against your will into a game of Chess.”

Sleeper’s expression flattened as the void beasts’ struggles grew more excited.

“chess?”

I nodded toward the television and Sleeper’s gaze followed the movement.

It eased something inside me, that his expression immediately turned to disgust.

“you’re watching the chess snobs? aren’t they a little…tame…for your tastes…?”

To be understood…it’s a nice feeling.

I blinked over at the television.

“I doubt you’d appreciate the appeal of a skeleton dressing like he actually has plans to go outside for the day Mr Sleeper…”

...To comic-con, but still.

"i suggest you take another look at the board tori." Chess Sans winked, smug as a bug in a rug. "You might find yourself be-queen a rook and a hard place.”

The taller monster giggled, holding a hand over her mouth as she set her next piece down.

Barely looking at the board, Sans lazily countered.

Toriel was ready for him.

“Not to-night dear.” With a flourish, the goat monster made her move.

It must have been a significant maneuver because Mo gasped, and Chess Sans leant forward to peer at the board.

The small skeleton’s eye socket twitched at the challenge.

“Looks like I won’t be board after all.”

The last straw was the suppressed look of amusement on Sleeper's face.

I released the marmoset.

With the bitty distracted, Mo actually managed to tackle him, wrapping his shadowy form around the small skeleton like his life depended on it.

From the way Sleeper’s gaze went dark…it just might.

I let myself fall from the back of the couch, laying upside down on the cushions as I retrieved the remote and the packet of chips.

“now that we’ve exhausted every possible chess pun, I’m going to watch pawn… Porn.” I cringed. “I said porn.”

I did.

“... i’ll just babysit your monkey then, shall i?”

“Marmoset.” Mo and I corrected.

“v e r m i n.”

“…the chess board is on the kitchen table.”

Resigned to his fate, Sleeper teleported himself and the Marmoset without another word.

I listened out for the sound of them arriving on the table…slightly wary of Sleeper taking the opportunity to do away with the nuisance.

“…i’m white…strawberry king. whatever.”  

Blinking contentedly, I changed the channel.

…and kept changing the channel…

...All forty-two of them…

In colour.

The ability to blink abandoned me. 

Not a speck of smut to be seen.

My stare turned to the remote in my hand, as if I could intimidate the universe into giving me what I wanted.

Like any responsible universe, mine held firm against my pouting.

Sighing, I accepted that today was one of those spans of undeterminable time where I would be forced to face Reality.

Normally, this would be fine. I only watch timelines for the impossible romances anyway.

But as I’m sure the universe was well aware of…reality kinda sucked at the moment.

What with there being a manhunt across a good portion of the multiverse for yours truly.

With everyone being overly conscious of me spying on them...

The pickings had been sparse.

I sighed.

Of course I'd seen the video. I'm narcissistic to begin with, and I've always been very curious to know how I'd look on camera.

Yellow.

The answer is very yellow. 

What had surprised me, was that Swap Undyne had been filming from the shadows a lot longer than I first thought. She had been at the edges of the scene even before I showed up, and had gotten closer when Papyrus went down.

In the end, the video evidence was more revealing and incriminating than I'm comfortable with.  

“Why is no one into voyeurism these days?” I muttered, starting back at channel zero.

the anti-void was still deserted.

Amusing, that the regular stalkers were the ones most disturbed by my presence.

Next channel. Undertale.

One look at the collection of skeletons in Sans’ workshop had me quickly flicking over to Underfell.

Eesh… makes me feel like the villain when they all work together like that.

“ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away.” Sleeper pointed out from the kitchen.

“That's okay Mr Sleeper.” I reassured, twisting about so that I sat on the couch in some approximation of normal. “All I have to do is outlive them."

If there is one game I can play, it’s the waiting game.

It was a calm, wintery day in the land of Hot Topic and even hotter tempers. The birds were too angsty to sing. The sun was stuck at a permanent glare. Snow covered everything, and the trees were dead.

Funny that these would be the sort of days kids choose to go out and play.

The literal child of the group being Frisk, who was rugged up to a ridiculous degree. The issue of them not being able to move for all the layers they wore was solved by Fell Papyrus, who carried the bundled child underarm through the park.

His scowl was one of pure business as the tall skeleton marched a path through the deep snow. Toriel followed behind, talking to the potted Flowey in her hands about the fine art of incinerating snails.

Mo squeaked.

Sleeper muttered rudely, then presumably moved himself out of check.

My finger hesitated over the channel button.

I shouldn't dwell... Fluff was something I indulged in… sparingly.

Besides. Channel four is SwapFell. My sanctuary from the prudes.

I just had to get past Underswap…

Something caught the light in a wrong way. 

The erratic shifting in my mind stilled.

My breath held.

Thin as a spider web, blue light floated weightlessly in the air.

String

I blinked.

Every light in the house shut off in the same instant the T.V turned to blaring static. The temperature dropped to a point that my breath caused fog.

The universe had an uncanny way of reading the mood. 

And a flair for the dramatic...

The white light from the street filled the room, casting sharp shadows.

Most disturbingly, the silhouette of someone hovering in the frame of my window.

“…ava?”

Sleeper's answer came in the form of two deliberate taps on the glass

My eyes closed in acceptance.

… at least he was polite enough to knock.

“Who’s there?” I whispered.

“y̷̵̨̹͇̖̮ơ̸̡̛͈͕̬̟͙̻͠u̶̥̯̩͖̹̭͕̩̫̘͎̝̣̣̺͎̩͡ ̴̵̙̹̟̺̰͜k͎̜̘̯͈̻̫͠ṋ̸̮͙̩̺̙̠͔͙̫̺̦̫o̧̡̧̹̬̜̥͚̞͖͉̩̼͟͝ͅw̶̶̛̮̭̥̠̱̟̭̺̥̠̣̥̰̭̗̲͇̻͖͡.” 

You

know

who.

I finally took a breath, flipping over the back of the couch and crossing the room at a speed that ignored the logic of distance.

So much for a lazy day in front of the T.V. 

I heard the sound of glass cracking as my hands wrapped around my two small companions.

Time to entertain the guests. 

As I turned to look up at the Skeleton in my window, the glass shattered inwards.

 

 

Chapter Text

“…Thank you Mr Sleeper.”

“grab me like that again, and i’ll leave you in the path of the flying glass.”

Teamwork. It's a thing of beauty. 

“Speaking of dire warnings... " I bit my lip, stalling the thought. No, it would be too much to hope...

"what?" Sleeper snapped impatiently, sitting up as much as he could in my anxious hold.

"Well…" I shifted a little nervously. "...Do you think it would be a waste of effort, to make a sign asking people not to break my window?”

Sure, the last sign I made hadn't exactly been a huge success, but...

“it wouldn’t stop me." 

And that was the bottom line.

I nodded in sad acceptance.

Doors are for jokes. Windows are for breaking. Who am I to question basic skeleton psychology?

Of course, this tragic news wasn’t enough to dampen Mo’s curiosity. The marmoset chattered excitedly, straining to catch a glimpse of our surprise visitor.

Never mind that our guest wasn’t exactly friendly…

I too, shuffled forward on the roof tiles, peering over the edge at the insanely powerful skeleton standing on my front lawn in his house slippers. Blue string drifted loosely in the air around the monster, as misleadingly docile as his short frame, riddled with glitches.

There was no mistaking that daunting colour scheme though.

Golden grin stretched in a mad smile, the Destroyer of worlds slowly raised his gaze to meet mine.

Error.

My back straightened, abandoning all pretence of casual slouch.

…That expression was one I had rarely seen since his grudging crawl back to grace.

Demented Joy.

s̶o t̢h̴at͞’̷s͜ h̶ow yơu͏ did͠ ͏i̛t͜.̹̗͟" His grin relaxed into the usual smug assholery.

A tiny, terrible part of me was disappointed with the returned of reason.

ne͟v̛er ͢seen̢ a̛ bitt̷y͜ s̸̷t̢r̕a̷y̶̷ ̨̨thi̷s ͜f̸a̸r bef͠ore

...Oh.

I glanced at the bitty on my raised palm. 

Busted.

Sleeper sat frozen, likely under the fair assumption that we were all incredibly dead.

“I’m sure you can out-run him Mr Sleeper.” I reassured quietly, barely moving my lips.  

I wasn’t an expert… but I knew that the machine used to travel through dimensions worked by linking with other working machines across reality. Error himself uses the anitvoid, the space in between universes where physical laws, such as distance are…flexible.

Sleeper...teleports directly to where he wants to go. Bypassing the anti-void and without a machine.  

...Apparently it's not as impossible as it looks...? 

Shooting me a frustrated glare, Sleeper blipped onto my shoulder, settling into a stiff ball between my neck and the scarf.

“that lunatic likes to play with dolls.” The softbones grumbled in my ear. “if it’s all the same to you, i'd like to avoid playing tag.”

Indeed... who knows what might happen if Error managed to get him alone...

Mo squeaked his agreement, interrupting my sudden urge to drool by scaling up my arm and onto my other shoulder.

The concerned noises the marmoset made drew my to the small wounds on my face and hands. Where the glass had cut before Sleeper teleported us to the roof.

…Nothing to worry about really… but…

I’m not used to discomfort of any kind.

The strings floating in the magical wind stilled the moment I moved.

Error’s smile widened.

Eager.

The desire to play was one I could easily relate to…

I reached into the pocket of my coat, pulling out the packet of chips…

Crunch.

And resumed eating them.

huh.

Eating mid-battle seemed far less awkward when Frisk did it…

The munch of crispy potato filled the air as I blinked down at Error.

His smile had frozen stiff, a stark contrast to the erratic glitching.

… Guess the parallel hadn't gone unnoticed 

Arms flew up, red and yellow phalanges widespread.

Error took a moment to glare at me.

“n̶oth͜įņg̷ ̴to s̸a̸y ͏f̛o͟r̛ ̴your̶se͏lf,͜ ̛gli̸t̛c̛h?"

No defence that wouldn’t be a waste of breath…

Instead of answering him, I took the chance to whisper to the bitty in my scarf.

“Not to make light of the situation Mr Sleeper, but...”

The Bitty scoffed.

“and you claim to hate wordplay.” 

“ ͘he̶h͝."͢ The Destroyer smirked, blue tangled finger clenching shut. 

"̕.. .ne͡ve͢r did͡ ͟l̴i͏k̡e ̕tḩe qu͘ie͟t͏ ̴type." ̴

“error!”

The Destroyer yanked downwards.

I jumped.

Strings sliced through my home, severing the entire building to pieces in a sudden explosion of dust and sound.

My soul was already blue, body light as air as I flew upwards out of the flying debris.

And thus, like a candle in the wind, my stuff is gone.

Deciding to express my how my life had change in the most dramatic way possible, I flipped backwards to hang upside down mid-air.

It was an act of tragedy irony, and had nothing with my viewing preferences.

Calmly shoving the last handful of chips into my mouth, I pinpointed the source of the newest voice and the single protest to my house being demolished.

A second skeleton stood on my lawn… this one paint splattered and furiously waving an oversized paintbrush.

...Had Ink Sans been here the entire time? Watching from the bushes as Error assaulted my house? Was he the true mastermind behind all this?

I scoffed softly at the idea.

Knowing him, he'd been too busy admiring all of creation or agonising over his height to notice Error was up to no good…

Being late didn't stop him from disapproving though… already in Error’s face, chewing out his long-time frenemy for his homicidal reckless behaviour.

“we’re here to resolve the problem! not attack them!”

 The darker toned skeleton held his deadly hands up in a lazy shrug.

"te͝chn͜i̢ca͏ll̨y̡,̢ i on͡ly attąckȩd͠ ̨the b̴ųįl͘di͡n͢g͠.”͝

 The Creator’s hands clenched furiously down on his paintbrush, trembling with anger as my house finally finished collapsing in.

“hey.'i ͘t͢ried̸ ͠rea̛so̕n̕in͟g ̕wi̡t̵h ͠i̛t̕.͏..͞"̡ ̢Error winked an eye. ".̸.no̡t͝ my̴ f̢a̧u̕lt͠ i̕t di͞d͟n't h͝ave mu͢ch t̨o say͟...͟"

 Ink’s constantly changing pupil’s burst with angry bright colours, his smile a clenched, frustrated line.

“error. if you don’t want to help me resolve things peacefully, you should leave.” He managed to grit out with some semblance of calm.

I blinked, flipping back into an upright position.

Guess they are working together... at least in theory...

"͟r͏e͏la͢x ̢skitt̴le͝-vo͠mi̢t." The Destroyer gave a dismissive wave. "i̛ am͞ ͡h̷ęlp͝ing͞

 “you’ll be lucky if they survive…!”

The clear clang of flip-flop on metal put a stop to the argument, both skeletons falling speechless as I landed on my mailbox, completely unharmed.

…would have been cooler is I was facing the right way though…

Back turned to the enemy, I took a moment to scrunch up the empty chip-packet and shoved it into my pocket.

Not gonna die a litterbug.

"...Gentlemen.” I calmly dusted my hands of salt.

The sudden shift in tension…the preparation for battle… was almost an auditable thing…

“If you’re here to join my harem…” I peered over my shoulder, expression grave. “I’m afraid to say that there’s a waiting list.”

They wouldn't be my first choice anyway…Strings hurt… and paint is just that little bit too kinky, even for me.

To my delight, Error’s glitching took on the quality of a skipping record… and Ink actually did a spit take, black ink spraying out of this mouth before he covered it up with a gloved hand.

Their recovering expressions, caught between disgust, mortification and disbelief…

…actually bumped them up the ladder…just a bit…

A shift in space.

I ducked as a tiny Gaster Blaster appeared at eye level, firing off without mercy.

...Please…not my hat…

 Even when the laser dragon returned to non-existence the air still buzzed with static, smelling of singed ozone.

“…Mr Sleeper?”

“n o.”

I’d never heard the Bitty’s voice go so low before.

 “f l i r t i n g.

…It was probably good advice…

Still hunched over nervously, I peeked back at Ink and Error…One openly stunned that my own ally had attacked me with killing intent and the other maintaining a bored glare.

“I’m sorry.” I held a hand to frame a whisper.

“He gets jealous.”

Gravity’s betrayal was swift and ruthless, knocking me harshly from my perch and onto the grass at the feet of my guests.

Flailing around like an upended turtle, I fought for every breath under the unforgiving crush of gravity

“…spare me…” I gasp.

“n e v e r.” Sleeper growled in my ear.

My lips twitched.

“Promise?”

The gravity increased to the point I could no longer talk.

Ahhh… my pervertedness rewards me…

“…̶t͢hi̵s thi̛n̡g's w͞o͠r͞se than̵ a̕b̛o̵mina̛ţion 13̸."

“don’t be rude, they can hear you!” Ink hissed, hitting out at his counterpart.

Error dodged the touch effortlessly, shoving his hands sourly into the pockets as Ink visibly collected the nerve to talk to me.

...Gross things really shouldn't be approached without a stick... but drastic times... 

Sleeper immediately relented when the Creator took a step forward.

Even when freedom was granted, I stayed where I was, head tilted back to watch the approaching sneakers.

Ink Sans stared down at me, colourful pupils guarded…but curious.

“.. hello.” He gave a hopeful smile. “i’m ink…”

Ink Sans crouched down at my head, extending a hand to shake.

“…though I suppose you already knew that…”

He makes being friendly seem so…not tortuous…

The guilt hit so hard, even I could feel it.

Ignoring the offered hand, I rolled away, only coming to a stop several feet away to curl up into a ball.

I wasn't prepared for them to be nice to me...

“…oh, um… not to say that’s a bad thing or anything…it's just that you said…”

I lay unresponsive, wallowing in self-loathing.

If only I could talk to them like a normal person...but how am I supposed to hold a conversation that isn't deflective or manipulative or explicit or just really really awkward…

 “…that you knew…” Ink didn’t seem to know what to do with me being curled up like a depressed bug on the grass. Most people reacted to him with awe or suspicion at first, not…this.

"n̴eg̕͢ơt͞i̷̡a̧͟͡t͘i̵ons̛ ͝s͟e͏̸͘em̷͢ to̶ ͏̡b̨̨e̴ ̵g̸o̴̵i͘n̕g̴̨ ͠węl͘l̢." Error all but snickered.

I’d seen enough of Ink Sans' dirty looks to sense when he was pulling one.

“and what would you have me do differently, oh great and terrible Destroyer of suburban homes?” 

And out comes the immature side. 

"d̵unno.͟ di̵p̸l͘oma͞c̢y i̢s̛ ̶mo̶re your̕ ͡sort̸ of̢ ͟th͟i̷n͞g.”

"then please refrian from commenting!"

Mo squeaked, growing impatient as the two skeletons started bickering again.

“You’re not the first to suggest they do so Mo.” I sighed hollowly. “I’m afraid that ship only sails in the timelines though.”

When Sleeper didn’t immediately punish me for being a creeper, I took it as a dependable sign he had fallen asleep.

That left only me and Mo to deal with the situation…which the Marmoset rightfully interpreted as putting him in charge.

Wriggling free, Mo went to confront our visitors face to face. Mano a mano.

The argument between the two skeletons had fallen silent at the first signs of life from my body, so both were paying attention when the small shadow beast scampered over to them. 

Mo squeaked, demanding attention with a sternness he definitely hadn’t gotten from me.

“…so you’re the one who caused so much trouble in swap.” Ink’s voice was quiet, more amused than threatening. 

“͠dơ̸n̛'t̴͘ ̶̕to͡uc͠h ͢i͠t ̡id͡io̷t͘, ̸̡y͞o͟͡͏u͠ ̡̡͝d̨o͜n̕’͡͞t̵ ͏k̢no̧͜w͢͠ ͞wh̨er̢e ͜įt͘s̸͠͞ b͏e̢͟͞e̢͢͜n̡͞͝…”͞A small weight hit my back as gravity cast Mo back from whence he came. "... or͞͡ w̶͟h͏͠at̴̴ i͟͟͡t̢͘s̨͘’͝ ̵̛m̛͢͞a͘d̸e̶ ͞o͜f͠҉.̷͟͡” 

Unfortunately for Error, Mo had spent too much time with Sleeper to be daunted by a little skeleton sensitivity.

Chattering excitedly, Mo ran back this time, determined to have the affection that was rightfully his.

“don’t pay attention to him.” Ink said, his gentle tone obviously intended for the marmoset. “control freak over there doesn’t like anything new.”

"i͜ don͟’t͜ like͞ a̕͟n̕҉y̷t͠h͝͞i̡̛n͞g̸͜,͝ ̸per̛i͢o̶d͜.̴ "

Shamelessly, Mo trilled in the way I recognised as preening.

It eased the indecision inside of me, just enough so that I could speak.

“…I’m sorry.”

Ink must have paused in whatever he was doing with Mo, as the marmoset started loudly protesting.

“…ah… no! um...” Ink sputtered, caught off guard. 

No Sans in the multiverse handled an apology well…  

“...i mean...we’re the ones who… your house...”

“For that time I threw a banana in your face.” I clarified, looking over my shoulder at them.

“…It was a moral low for me.”

The paint stained skeleton was still crouched, scratching Mo behind the ear with a single finger.

When I met his colourful gaze, Ink Sans winced.

“to...ah.. be fair, trying to capture you was a fruitless endeavour at best.”

My face must have somehow conveyed some level of disgust, as Ink's smile widened triumphantly. 

He held out his hand again, more confident this time. 

“your name is ava, right? "

I blinked, unwilling to introduce myself.

To engage in this... handshaking...

Ink didn't let that deter him.

"it's true, you said some concerning things before..." his fingers wiggled encouragingly. "but no one is angry or wants to hurt you over a bad first impression. that would be insane.

Error’s bored gaze remained on the lightless sky, but his small huff of disagreement was unmissable.

 …So my choices are Error trying to kill me or Ink Sans “talking” to me…

… Suffering is guaranteed, either way.

“we just want to talk. ”

The best thing about all Sans-es shone painfully bright in the creator's ever-shifting pupils.

“you might find that all you need is a friend.”

Slowly, I rolled over to face them, staring at the outstretched hand.

I wanted it…in a way that I rarely want for anything.

But looking past the hand… Ink’s encouraging smile… even Error’s mild scowl…

I saw my home. Destroyed.

Underswap. My own home. How much is enough? When does it become a pattern?

Surely I don't need to learn my lesson a third time?

I met the Ink’s friendly gaze.

“Do we…” My voice faltered.

I had to give them a chance...

 “…Really have to do this?”

To give up.

Ink’s smile faltered, and even Error looked away with a disbelieving click of the tongue. 

“...Okay.” I whispered. 

My hands loosened from where they had unconsciously gripped the grass.

Fear is louder than reason. 

I sat up, keeping my movements slow and relaxed. 

“Then it’s probably better…”

Sensing my change in mood, Mo abandoned Ink's affection to return to my shoulder. 

I tried to smile. 

"...If we just get to the point.”

 

Chapter Text

And that point being…

I shamelessly make like a banana and split.

A flawless strategy, giving my guests no choice but to leave…

...After they've exhausted every other option that is. 

Making decisions may not come to me naturally…but through my few life experiences, I’ve found avoiding problems works almost as well as solving them…

Though I will concede, ignoring Error may prove to be the exception to the rule…

“w h a t  d i d  y o u  d o?”

As his attempts to… gain my attention... had awoken the beast…

 “…I may have…” I abruptly leant back, gripping my hat for balance as a red bone whizzed past my nose.

Straightening up just as quick, I stumbled forward to desperately stay ahead of the constant flurry of deadly magic. A rapid succession of sharp cracks followed me, more bones impaling the brick wall instead of their intended target.

Though my situation was dire, ignoring Mr Sleeper would only make it worse. 

At a flat-out run, I dodged into a narrow alleyway.

“I may have… ah…” Rounding the back of the building, I fell to lean against the wall. “… Aggravated… Mr E’s PTSD…"

This…must be what a stitch feels like… or my organs are rupturing…

I pinched my fingers together demonstratively.

"...Just a smidge.”

why?” Sleeper asked.

On my other shoulder, Mo chattered worriedly.

I didn’t have the heart to tell the marmoset that my agonised wheezing wasn’t from injury… so much as the consequence of an unfit couch potato life style…

“Too many…ugh, similarities...” I explained weakly, a lack of air making my words airy on top of vague. “I'll end up...pulling triggers...no matter what I do...”

So I go ahead and quote his darkest hour. Smooth.

"so instead of trying, you pull them on your one terms?” The bitty growled.    

Entertaining the idea we could get along?

"...I don't...like...pretending..."

Even a harsh reality is easier to deal with than false hope... 

Sleeper mauled over my confession for a silent moment, disapproval radiating off his small frame.  

“...since when did you give people nicknames?” He switched the topic. 

I winced guiltily.

Because Reality is like a matryoshka doll...Always something bigger and badder out there...

“…I feel like we've gotten a lot closer… Mr E and I...ever since he started taking an active interest… in my death.”

The warmth leaning on my neck slowly pulled away.

“…you suck at lying.”

Through a combination of pain and frustration, my face reached a record level of almost grimace.

“…I don’t… like scaring you Mr Sleeper.”

Not over things neither of us should be thinking about…

I felt a drop of rain land on my hand.

My eyes flew open.

It never rains here.

I looked down to find a small splatter of black ink.

…Right.

Error was only half the problem.

The liquid rolled off my skin, dripping to the ground and rapidly travelling over the concrete towards a quickly forming puddle.

Before my wary gaze, the ink rose weightlessly into the air, quickly taking on a very recognisable shape.

An arrow, urgently pointing downwards.

Meanwhile, Sleeper’s mind had drawn the worst possible conclusion.

“…so help me ava, if you have an infatuation with the destroyer…”

There came a sound. A dense drop.

A Gaster Blaster firing.

I hit the floor.

Light consume the space above, the sheer force of the blast tearing at my clothing like a violent wind.

…so much for a lazy day watching SwapFell…

My ears continued to ring even when the roar of magic fell silent, making my head feel like it was filled with cotton. Blood was pumping rapidly through my body with my racing heart, a loss of control I rarely got to experience.

I wasn’t sure I disliked the feeling…

Hands clenched onto my hat, I shakily stood up to meet Error’s smug grin.

Across the massive hole his Blaster had incinerated through the building between us.

…Should I tell him that he just blew up the orphanage...? 

Also staring at me from the other side of the hole was Ink, who breathed a visible sigh of relief to see I wasn’t charcoal.

“…y̨̡o͟͢u ҉͟w͡ȩ̕͠r̵͜͝ę̧ s̷̢a͢yi̢͠n̶g̡?” Error shot the colourful skeleton a smirk.

After staring blankly for a long moment, Ink gave a confused blink.

“…eh? sorry. lost my train of thought...”

...wow.

That forgetfulness was way more endearing back when my life didn't depend on it...

Error rolled his eyes.

“e͢͝͡aseļ ͏i͡n̢̨͝ ̶͞͏t̷h͟e͘ ̢͜a̵̵t͢͡t̸҉į̢c̡͡.̡͡" he scoffed.

Awww, look who's picking on the kettle...  

Unperturbed, Ink raised a stern finger, body already beginning to melt into black liquid.

“the point is, don’t kill them.”

With that, the Creator disappeared into a puddle, leaving me alone with the Destroyer...who surely wouldn't dare risk a slap on the wrist...

...Ink really needs to start thinking these things through…

“wh̢a̴̕͟t̵̡ ̧s͘͞ay͏͜ y͞o̡u,̢ ̕gl͘i̴͘͠t̶͡ch͘͢?” Error turned his mocking attention back to me.

I held my chin up defiantly.

I can handle this. At his soul, Error is still a Sans.

“f̛ee̷l̴̡̕i̷̧̨n̸͏͏g ta̴͜l̡͝k͠a̴͘͠t̨͘i͟ve̢ ͟͢y̸̢̢et?”

Once something proves itself too bothersome…

Wordlessly, Sleeper turned my soul blue.

He’ll give up.

Staggering to the side, I moved out of the skeleton's murderous line of sight before leaping upward.

Free from gravity, I reached the roof in a single bound.

…It’s a wonder Sleeper’s never called me out on my flawless adaption to blue magic... 

Kicking up off the gutter, I boosted my weightless body up and over the top of the building.

Error’s head was turned, focused in the direction I should have gone.

I landed silently behind him…then proceeded to stand there when The Destroyer failed to notice me.

…wouldn’t have thought there was such a thing as too ninja…

Keeping my arms tucked behind my back, I leant a little to the side to put my head at Error’s eye level.

“…Tag?”

Instead of startling or even trying to decapitate me, Error kept his back turned.

“t͘h̶at ̴w̵̶as̕͟ ̵͝͏yo͜u̢r͟ ͏c͡͠͠ha̢n҉̸c̛e̵ to̧ ̡at͢͝͏t̶a̷çk͘͝ ͢m͜e̢҉ ̴ģlį̴t̡̕͠c͏ḩ̸.”

I blinked.

Oh. A trap. That makes more sense.

“You don’t like being touched Mr E.” Mo started fidgeting at the proximity to the violent skeleton, prompting me to give him a soothing scratch behind the ear.

“If I can’t respect your privacy, then I should at least respect your boundaries, right?" I nodded to myself.

Error tilted his head back, giving me an unamused glare.

“yo̕u͏ ̴͡exp͢e͞c̴̢͘t̨ ͘th͏̕ą͞t̶̛͢ b̛u̧l̶l͏s̡̨hi̢̕t̸ ̴t̷͜o̢ ͠͏͢w̨ơ͠rk ҉on̡ ͘͠m̕e҉r̝̺͕͍̜̪?” 

I stiffened, unsure on how to respond to such a blunt confrontation.

Just…let him down easy Ava…

“I know its hard Mr E, but please…" My eyes fluttered pleading. "...don’t fall for me.”

Hoo boy, if looks could kill, he wouldn't have had to retire...

I gave him a tragic blink before turning away.

“I’m just not ready to befriend someone so high maintenance!”

Besides, the multiverse would probably wet itself if we teamed up…

Unable to bear the sight of his broken heart, I made my escape.

“You’re too precious for meeee-!”

Then nearly broke my neck, as I stumble stepped over a string suddenly in my path.

…Turns out, Error hadn’t been standing idly by while I tried to deflect his unwelcome affection.

No, he had used my distracted turmoil to lace the street in a complex web of string, turning what was once a humble neighbourhood into a field of death. Then stood casually by as I proceeded to run into it.

I glance back at him, betrayed.

Error had turned fully to watch me, a brow raised as if he couldn’t quite believe I was this stupid…

…my heart had been played.

I leapt over a string, sidestepping the next and limboing under a third.

Error probably hadn’t expected me to actually try to navigate my way through the barricade, as any misstep would end in my capture or death…depending on his mood.

… not like I can turn back now…that would be embarrassing…

As Error’s loyal stalker, I had seen these strings in action many times. Caution had me choreographing through them with all the uncanny grace I could muster, as I knew exactly what to expect should I fail.

Right down to the science.

Regular magic is summoned with a single intent. Succeed or fail, the magic is quick to dispel.

Reinforcing magic with PATIENCE or BRAVERY makes it durable, able to continue casing damage so long as it is maintained. 

There are only two things Cyan magic will spare.  A motionless soul and…

Mo squeaked in alarm as the strings shifted sharply, Error playing petty since I was close to escaping his trap with little incident.

I leant back, the blue string coming so close to my face, I could feel its slight hum.

My eye narrowed.

Once the pettiness starts, its fair game.

Abandoning caution, I proceed to speed run through the last few meters of the complicated string network, even doing a fancy barrel roll at one point to show off my badassery.

Once out, I had a humble celebration, inviting only a few close friends as I held my arms up in a victorious Ta-duh!

Childishness wins again!

And all I had to show for it was a small slice on the brim of my trusty hat…

…don’t cry…

My hands clenched.

...just think of it as an autograph…

Resisting the urge to look back and gloat, I took off running again.

There was something I had to do, no matter what…

“are we seriously going to run away from them all day?” Sleeper groaned, and Mo chirped sympathetically...

“Of course not!” I protested, the very picture of attempted indignation.

Sleeper politely waited for the other shoe to drop.

“…We’ll probably break for lunch.”

I mean, hunting is way less fun when you're actually hungry...

“you are missing the point.” Sleeper said.

Mo was less concerned, chattered excitedly at the prospect of food as he leapt up onto my hat.

I tilted my head back in contemplation. “Do you think it would be insensitive to offer Mr Ink a banana?”

...The funny thing about looking at the sky in philosophical ponder while running for life…

Sleeper grabbed onto my ear, pinching furiously as he growled. “what did I tell you about feeding people who attack you?”

“Not t-?”

I crashed face first into a stop sign.

Which was really quite odd, as I don’t recall my universe having a stop sign…

Sure enough, when I peeked up at it, I found the sign to be blue.

A startled laugh came from beside me, only to be quickly muffled.

“heh…sorry…pfft… i didn’t expect you... to actually…run into it.”

A glitchy snicker came from somewhere above, and that marked the end of Ink’s self-control.

I side-eyed the laughing skeleton from where my face was wrapped around a pole.

It was… strange…

I’ve never be thwarted before.

My newly discovered pride tearfully demanded I describe to Ink exactly what he looks like in labour…

...But that would be spoiling…

Groaning, I unmoulded from the pole and fell back to lay on the ground.

The sky seemed to have miraculously spawned some stars, cartoon-like, and twirling around it a dizzy circle.

I marvelled at how hard I had managed to hit my head.

...really out-done myself this time...

“so…uh…about you coming with us for a chat…?” Ink leaned over to peer into my face. With a hopeful smile, he brushed my hat with his giant paintbrush, instantly mending the cut Error had caused.

...so much for my roguish good looks...

Blinking resentfully, I rolled up onto my hands and knees to crawl away…

Just until my head stops spinning...

Ink took chase…at a slower than normal walk…

“come on… it won’t be that bad…”

I ignored him, determined to reach my goal.

If it’s the last thing I do…

A scarf the colour of warm parchment was dangled in front of my face.

“i have people depending on me to find you, you know.”

I squinted at the scarf in front of me, feeling my stomach drop when I saw the big important letters, written in a familiar light blue.  

REMEMBER:  DON’T HURT THE STRANGE HUMAN!

The words were surrounded by doodles of a skeleton and what looked to be a stick in a raincoat.

The ability to swallow abandoned me.

…I already have Mo…and maybe even Mr Sleeper…more than I had ever dared to want...

My unblinking gaze fell to the smaller, orange letter below.

they owe me honey.

...yet I just keep getting greedier...

Ink crouched down to my eye level, giving me a teasing wink. “heh, it seems you made a pretty good impression…”

I scoffed softly.

“I didn’t step on his face that hard…”

Too late, my hand shot up to cover my traitorous mouth.

I glanced at Ink's face, hoping that he hadn’t noticed.

If his huge smile was any indication…

I shot up to my feet, spine ramrod straight.

I couldn’t afford to not take this seriously anymore…

Brushing off my raincoat and straightening my hat, I made myself as intimidating as yellow can be.

…The wordplay was spreading.

“It is only fair that I warn you Mr Ink…If you don't give up soon...” I stared down at him from my superior height, expression flat.

“I’ll be forced to use my special attack.”

The Creator expression fell with disappointment...only for his smile to came back a thousand times stronger.

 “and if that fails, will you give up?”

Ink bounced up onto his feet, eye-lights bright now that the road to victory was in sight.

It must have been at some point after I threw a banana at his face that he stopped taking me seriously…

I blinked.

"Maybe..."

Ink, very alarmingly, coughed up ink in his overexcitement.   

"...you should calm down. "

He held a hand over his mouth apologetically.

"...sorry."

I scavenged through my pockets and handed him the handkerchief... I may have prepared earlier...

...never know when you'll have a body fluid to mop up...

"...Don't worry about it Mr Ink. You're doing a great job."

He blinked at me in surprise.

"...huh?"

I scratched my cheek.

"Well, as far as being dragged off and interrogated goes... this has been fun."

I gave him the thumbs up.

"Thanks... for playing nice."

Ink blinked at me.

"anyone ever tell you... you're a little...ah...odd..."

I nodded in understanding.

"Its the raincoat, isn't it?"

"...amongst other things..."

I knew it.

"Right. Well, Mr E must be getting bored by now, so I'll just go back to escaping..."

"wait!" Ink's hand shot out and grasped my sleeve.

I'm not squeamish... but....

"You're...kinda putting ink on me..."

Ink blushed bright colours, but his hand remained firmly on my arm.

"will you at least tell me why you're fighting us?"

I blinked down at him.

"...shouldn't you understand that better than anyone else?"

His face pinched with confusion, eye-lights flickering erratically.

"i don't..."

I shook my head. 

"You need to let go."

His hand tightened and I made a small noise. 

"please..."

 "w h a t  a  s p o i l t  b r a t.”

The Creator leapt backwards, and continued to run for his life as Gaster Blaster after tiny Gaster Blaster burst into existence and fired at him.

Oh dear...it seems someone has finally lost his patience... 

When the sudden deadly pursuit ended, Ink stood on top of a building, panting as he stared down at us in surprise.

Error hung casually by his strings behind him, mocking smile stretched wide.

“really..." Sleeper blinked into existence on top of Ink's blue stop sign.

With a yawn, the bitty shoved his hands into the pockets of his dressing gown. "...someone ought to teach you the meaning of n o.”

While Error chuckled in amusement, Ink's eyes widened in surprise.

"you're..."

"n o n e  o f  y o u r  b u  s i n e s s."

Blue magic flared around Ink's body, gravity pulling him forward before the Creator had a chance to escape. 

"whoa...!"

Ink's arm's pinwheeled as he fell off the edge of the building, landing on his feet only to be dragged forward, stumbling nearly to the bottom of the stop sign.  The Creator only slowed once he managed to turn his feet partially liquid, countering Sleeper's influence by sticking himself to the road...

Magic works better on souls than it does on the physical world...

Once he was secure, Ink gave the bitty a nervous smile. It was obvious by the complete lack of retaliation...the paint-stained skeleton was even more reluctant to fight Sleeper than he was me. 

"wow...your magic is pretty strong...for such a little..."

The concrete around Ink buckled, shattering inwards as if crushed beneath an unbearable weight. Splinters of concrete begun to float up as the magic presence remained. An unspoken threat.

Sleeper would make do.

"you think yourself an exception." The bitty's voice dripped with venom. " talented. intelligent. r i g h t. but you're a b u l l y, hiding behind a fake smile."

Ink stood frozen in the middle of it all, eyes unblinking as he met Sleeper's cold glare.

"just. another. sans."

My hands clenched painfully into the sleeve of my coat.

I may have underestimated just how deep Sleeper's resentment ran.

"...Um...Mr Sleeper..." I tried.

Unfortunately, the bitty's words had sparked the temper in one of the most tolerant Sans-es in existence.

“heh...you know what they say about having nothing nice to say.” Ink's grin lost all of its warmth. "you really should have stayed in the scarf."

The stop sign shifted in a rapid blur of colour, the paint becoming a cage around the bitty.

Sleeper didn't even take his hands out of his pocket, scowling down at his captor. 

"i knew you were gutless, but can't say i'm surprised to hit a nerve."

My jaw dropped.

Sleeper had finally gone off the deep end.

Gloved hands tightened on their giant paint brush.

“fair warning.” Ink winked cheerfully.“i won’t lose to a sans smaller than me.”

For the first time since I’ve known him, Sleeper’s permanent grimace shifted into a grin.

He disappeared from the cage, only to reappear just in front of Ink's face, hand outstretched to touch the other skeletons forehead...

“g o o d  t h i n g  I’ m  n o t  a  s a n s  t h e n.”

In a brutal shift of space, both vanished into thin air.

 

...leaving me unsupervised.... 

 

...With... 

 

"ḩ̴̪̳̲̜̣̯̪̦̯͍̪̝ͯ͒̇ͣ͂͗̑̊͜͝͠e̵͎̯͕͕͇̩̯̰̭ͦ̊͑͌̌ͣ̅ͥ̇ͧ̉͘͢ͅh̷̎͌ͬ͑̀̏ͪ̋̃̈́͌̌̃͏̵̧̰̜͕͕͠. "

Chapter Text

I stared at the empty space the two skeletons had once occupied, half hoping the forces of the cosmos would personally intervene and save me from this awkward situation.

…No such luck.

“Well, that’s… ah…” I swallowed nervously, slowly raising my gaze to acknowledge the remaining skeleton hanging above. “… one way to ditch the Chaperone…”

Error’s grin widened without a word.

Promising horrible, agonising death.

I backed away a step.

“Listen Mr E…”

There is a thin line between Humility and grovelling. 

“…I’ve…um…been reflecting on my behaviour and I am so…so sorry.

I did not hesitate to throw myself across it.

“My attitude was insolent, my flirting was inappropriate and this whole time I’ve been secretly staring at your… well…that’s all in the past Mr E and I want you to know, I’ve changed…”

I leapt to the side with a terrified eep, hands flailing as a red bone impaled the ground beside me.

…Don’t know how I feel about being attacked as a way to shut me up, but okay…

The Destroyer of worlds swung a lazy foot to rock himself in his hammock of string, giving no indication he had just tried to nail me to the road.

“s҉̩̻̮̗͎o̙̻͔̦̝̘̪,̰̙̤̟̝͕̬ ̗̤͉̤̪̬̜y̟͇o͍͎͠u̴̖̞ ͝ģ͚̱̰̮̭o̦͉̰̭̖̖ ̷̤̹b͖e̠̦͈l̮̬̤ͅl̲͍̙͍̻ͅͅy͚̬̳̤͓͟ ̗̘u͏̳̠p̼̖̟͖ͅ ̢̯̝͎͇͍̼t̘͈̰̟̥̯̰h̪̪̙̲̼e̹̯͍̮̕ ̢͍͕̱m̸̳o̗̝̜̭̱̘̼m̩̻̰ͅẹ̬n͎t̯̱̰ ͕̖̘̜̻̮ͅy̤̩̪͉̙͍̳o̯̞͚̮̬͚u̯̦̗̥̗̠̼ ̪̱̤̺͠lǫs̘͙͈̹͈e҉̲̥̲̖ ̠͎̟̜y͘o̺ưr̸̙̤ ̛͚̖̰̭s̸̝̺̝a̘͎̙̙f̴͓ȩ͍̱͕t͏̼̦̲̻͕̖̼y͓̬ ̜̰̖̺̱̳̯n͈̫̹̦͝e͉̟̭̤̪̠t ̲̲͎̣̻e̡̖͈̭̹h̜̗̮?”

I stiffened, causing Mo to make a low growling noise, one that was… adorable…mostly...

…at least we tried.

 “There’s a reason why I wear so much yellow sir…” I gave up on being offended with a small shrug.

Error’s murderous expression made one thing perfectly clear.

My outfit was not up for discussion and would go completely unacknowledged until the day Error could happily vaporise it from existence.

I tugged nervously at my sleeves.

…Out of all his hang-ups, Error’s prejudice against ugly florescent clothing was probably the most justified…

No.

My hands flew up to slap my cheeks. Hard enough to justify the sudden heat in them.

Now is not the time to think about him.  

Mo chattered a firm scolding in my ear at the sudden facial abuse.

Half-hearted, I gave an apologetic nod, hands still pressed to my cheeks as I indulged in self-pity.

Socialising with people who want to kill me is hard ...All I want to do is curl up on my couch and watch CatTale until the bad feelings go away…

“Yo̢u're n̢o̵t...͝.̛ what i w̧a͢ş ͟ex̸pecting̡..." Error commented, startling me out of my catatonic state.

I glanced down to find the dark skeleton standing casually at my side, staring up at me with a slight frown. There was confusion there, a frustrated sort of doubt.

That he would take any sort of interest in me besides the desire to exterminate…

It made me hesitate.

Instead of running away with my tail between my legs, I let my hands slip to my side with a small nod of understanding.

“The camera adds ten pounds.”

…Error seemed to be weighing the pro and cons of slapping me.

“̫̩̫e̕v̧e͘ry̛͝ ̸t̛͠im̴̧̨e ̵͡y̢͝͞o̶̴u̧͞ ̧o̸̴p̡̡e͡ņ̸̶ ͘͡͠you͢r̢ mou͢t͜h,̶̵ ̶̷̨i̛͜ ̛͘r̢e̵̡g̶̷r̢͠et̛ ̸͡l̶͢e̸̛t̕ti͢͏̴n̡g͢͟ ̶̶y̷͠ou̢ ͘͏c͘o̢n̢͝t̨̨̕i̶̛͟n̡u̧͘e̶͞ ̵ţ̶̛o̷ br̷̡e̕͏a͠t̶h̕̕e.̸̨”̘̺̘ The Destroyer crossed his arms with a scowl.

I stared at him, silently pinching myself to confirm I hadn’t somehow developed the ability to dream.

He’s talking to me.

Not at me.

"i ̴di̢d͘n̨’̸t̕ t̕a͏ke ̵ y͏ou ̸for s̕u͡ch͜ a̛ pe͞ǫp̵l̛e ͜pl͜e҉as͟er.” Error elaborated, ruining the moment.

My stare turned to one of disbelief.

What part of me being a stalker screams self-esteem…

“…The threat of having my universe destroyed with me in it… does merit a small amount of diplomacy Mr E...” I pointed out softly.

The Destroyer shoved his hands into his pockets with an impatient tsk.

We stood in silence… notably not killing each other…

I shuffled my feet, unsure of what to do.

It was obvious the Destroyer had something on his mind...

"y̶̷҉ou̷ ̸s͘͞a͝w̵̕ t̨͏h͢͡e͟ m̛̕es̛͏sa͘͟gȩ͠." Error finally stated, staring hard at the concrete by his feet.

Like I'd run the risk of missing out on even the barest scrap of errorberry…

 “I did…” I gave a serious nod, hands clenching with passion. “…and once again, I am in awe of Mr Sans' wingman capabilities…” 

Error’s fingers twitched, a tiny tell that revealed his desire to string me up and leave me to rot.

"w͏h͝at͝ ͘ar̛e̛͟͡ ͘y̶͏ǫ̛͟u͝ ͘͏i͘͠m̛͞p̕l̛͏yi͘ņg͟,̷͢ ̸gl̸it͜c̶͢h͞͝?"

I raised my eyebrows as high up as they would go.

“That I have already contributed your friendly behaviour to Swap Sans' insistence that you play nice.”

If there’s one person in the universe that could make Error try to do better…

“f̝̥͖̦̰̱͑̄̌̄͐͑͂ŗ͉̺͌ͪi͓̪̣̜̦̗e̸͔͙̼̤̻̖̩n̸̞͈͙̜͚͎̟ͨ̏d̼̲̦̈̀̋͒̋ĺ̷̋ͭ͒̚y̡͙̪͓̗͙̳ͯ̋́ͥͬͫ...?" Error huffed sardonically.

Even Mo squeaked his own scepticism as I nodded.

“Compared to some of the things I have seen...yea.”  

“r̨̯i̦͍̥̳̺̤͉͘g͙͓͠ͅh͈̠̭͙͔ͅt͓͕͚.҉͎͈̪̣̦”̩͕͕̜̗͕̗͜ Error rolled his eyes. “y͞o͠͞ųr͘͟ ̸̵̨a̡͢ll̶e̡҉g̨͘e̷͡d ͢abi̧͜͜li͢͜t̶̛͘y̕͜ ҉t͞ǫ ͡͡s̡p̴̧̕y ̨͝o̢n͢͏ ̴͏u̧s̵͝͠ ҉a̧҉̵nd ̷s̨ee ͠ti̴m̷e͏l̸i̧҉͜ne͞s.͢”̡͖̦̥̞̳̫ͅ

I tilted my head.

Eesh, everyone who has free range over the Sixth dimension thinks they’re an expert...said the biggest offender ever... 

 “Is this the part where I surrender all my secrets in an effort to convince you that I have unlimited access to every naughty thing you ever did and didn’t do? Cause if it’s a lack of motivation in killing me that’s the problem here...”

The skeleton’s gaze narrowed.

“i̵ ̷͏su̸̕gg̕es̡t҉͠͠ ͡you͟ g̴͡e͟t͜ t͘͡o th̵e̴ ̶͠͞p̛͜͏͚͉̘̝͙̩̫u̸̵̖̦ņ͚̥̣̕c̸͖͎̤͔̗̙h҉҉̬͖̹͖̲̕ļ̻̱͎̠͇į͙͓̠͞n̦͇͍̲͎̠͠e҉̢̼̱͉.”

I stuffed my hands into my pockets, mirroring his position.

“Nobody likes a know it all.”

This earned me a baleful look.

“…s̨͉͓̼̣̳̳o͏̭̜̜͇̖̝̰?”

“why would I settle for just being smarter than you when I can be popular?”

Jazz hands.

Error pinched the bridge of his…well, the space between his eye sockets.

“…wh̷y ҉di̸͠d̡̛ i͟ e̡͝v̡͟ȩ̴̢n̛ ͞b̛̛ot͏̢h̛e̢͟͢r̴҉͜...?” he growled to himself. “…s̵̶̟̘̭̠̲̱̘̟͇̟̣̜͉͔̘̤͎ͅơ̴̧̝͕̙̼̳͘ ̶̧͕̣̜̻̮̺̱̣̱̱͚̻̪ą͝҉̛̗̹̯͙͍͇̭͉̯͎̠̲̰͖̞̣n̴̟̭͇̘̯̫͈̯͟n̙̞̲̳̬̕ͅo҉̭̞̬͙͈͔̲̦̦̭̼̘̼̥̠͓̖y̴̷̫̣̖̮̫̭į̛̰̮̭̼̙̱͟ͅņ̶̛̜̟͖͇̭͚̣̞̟̠̜̬͔g͏̴̣͙̪̰͇̦̟̕…”

I blinked, a little humbled by the fact that the Sans who had given up on everything was currently putting more effort into making this work than I was.

“I assumed this heart to heart was only happening because there’s no one here to see you...”

Error’s expression dared me to finish the thought.

I gave him a serious blink. “…slacking off.”

An eye socket twitched with barely suppressed ire.

“…bl̸͠u͘͘͝e̷’̡̨s̵ ͠w͟r͡a̡̕t̷̨h̷ ̡̕įs̛͘ ͘͢s͡tar̢t̨i͘͠n̷͜g͘͡ ̕͜to ̡͟l̡̛oo͞k̸ ̛m͡o̧r͜͡e҉ ̷̷a̴n̵͞d m̸͟ǫre͠ ̴̧p̬̮̣̳̼͔̜͟͝r̢̤̱e̶̡͈̜̭͔̮̫f̨̛̠̦̞͚̫̬͇e͓̖̹̕͝r͔̗a҉̯̞̜̦̮̰̮̰b͔̤l҉̻̮̟̖̘̺e̛̘̙̦̟͘͡…” he gritted out.

“Indeed.” I sighed. “As much as I hate to disappoint, there’s only room for one bad influence in Swap Sans’ life, and to be fair…” Blank-faced, I molded my fingers into the shape of a heart.

“He captured you first.” 

It was hard to tell past the sudden flurry of glitching… but it almost looked like Error was…

No way.

The Destroyer made a distressed choking noise, unable to coordinate the defence of his virtue and act of killing me all at the same time.

A couple of times his hands moved as if to do something, only to freeze in frustration as he dismissed each lethal reaction. 

Not wanting to interrupt, I could only tilt my head in quiet amusement. 

I had always been sympathetic…in the sense that I believed that becoming a genocidal manic... well, it could happen to anyone really...

But now, I found myself captivated by the way he fretted and blushed... watching him...like this little moment far outweighed everything I had witnessed before it.   

“wh̨͏̡at ̨͞͠ą҉re̶ ̵͘yo҉̢͡u҉ s̡̧͞t̸҉a̡r͠į͝n̵͟͞g̛͢ ̨̕͠at͏̵̴?̶!”̛̛Error finally managed to hiss past his clenched smile, fighting to hold onto his last few strands of self-control.

Even the worse person can change.

“Sorry Mr E…I’ve just never seen you pull that face outside your boudoir before.” I started backing away, tilting my hat down over the cheeky smile that would never grace my lips. “...Thank you for giving me the chance.”

Really, I may as well have sat down and written a formal letter requesting my immediate execution.

With one last disbelieving look at my face, Error let out a sudden burst of laughter, covering his expression with a trembling hand.

“h͍̦̥e̱̭̼͘h̩̰͔͠.”

The soft pluck of tensioning string had me leaping away.

His other hand shot up, the back of his clenched fist facing towards me.

“ẅ̫͔́͆̆ͯ̈́͐͘ ͓̻̒͐̇̈́ͪͥh̢̻̳̩ͤ̓ͣ̔ ͓̣̥̾ͣ́a̤͖͈̳͔͗̏͊ ̪͙̀ͪ͛̽ͭ͋ͣ͝t̡͕̮̝̤̍̓̌͂ͅ ̼̭̜̯̑̆͋e̯͍̖ͫ̄̇͂͠ͅ ͥ̒̍v̩͌̽ͥ͒ͣ̊ ̖̮ͮͣ̂ͅe̠̒͞ ̵̰̺̹͗r̡͇̝̉ͪ.”

The movement of the single digit had a devastating effect.

White hot pain exploded behind my eyes as the ground started to tremble, collapsing on a massive scale.

In the simple act of flipped me off.

Error sliced my universe in half.

The kid gloves had come off.

Whatever sense of gravity kept my island floating in the sea of inexistence seemed to have been severed with the earth I stood on, causing my entire half of reality to slowly tilt at an alarming angle.

Stunned by the pain, all I could do was stare as the Destroyer grinned madly down at me from his now elevated slice of existence.

“p̴̡̺͔̖̦͎̭u͈̬p̷̜͎͓͟p̷͈̹͠e̯̻͓̮̟̤̠ͅţ̢҉͕̯̟͈ş̛͓̰̟̝͘ ̼̠a͏̘̤̗͉̰̜̗r̷̢̻̤͕̬͖̫̟̼͔e̷͇̭̫͖̤̤͝ͅ m̜̻o̷̦̞̳̘̰ͅͅr̤̤̟͙͖e̠͎͜͞ ̻̗̕f͓̲͡u̶̠͈̦͟n̶̤͙ ̷̠̠͉̩͈͈̤͕̼̣̦t̸̗̝͕o҉̞̲͍͓̣͈͟ ̛̫̬̜͔̭̮͙̻p̶̛̺̜͉̼̖͟l̪̯̖̲̠̹͢a̶̙͙̙̭͠ͅy̵͙̪̤̙͖͜͢ ̡̬͎͈͙͈̠̝͈w̢̱̬̺͍i̟̕t̬̯̮͓̙͍h̵͓̤ ̡̛̺̤͉̱̭͚̻̯͔a̶͉̜͙̟̣̣n̡̙͚̮y̛͍̥͇̲̲͉͉w̧̜̯a̛̩͖͜y͙͓̣͔͙͜ͅͅ.”

The mask of calm cruelty had well and truly slipped, revealing a grin that twitched with madness.

It wasn’t evil.

He was desperate.

I took to the violence like a fish to water.

“Sorry Mr E…”

I grinned back.

A soulless baring of teeth that mocked the concept of a smile.

 “…but I was intended for far greater puppeteers than you.”

Error’s expression was lost behind a spasm of glitching.

“y̧̨̩͎̦̞̖o̶͈̰̦̗̟͎u҉̖̜͉̜ ͏̴͎c͓̱̞͈͖͇͠ͅa҉̨̹͙͉̮̲ͅn͎͓’̪̩̠͙̕̕t̵͍̠̬̟̬͟ ̖̪͉ͅḳ̴e̴̦͎̣̟͔̙̫̘e̬̞͈̮̰͟p̸̷̻͓͇̺̩̝͚͢ ͝҉̟͎̖̯d͇ͅo̧̙̞̖͇̘̬̺͢ͅd̙̹͉̮͎̩͉͓ͅg̸̤̝̪̥͟i̴͓̯͈̤̞̥͠n͏̷̯̱̭̭̦̻g̭̲ ̹̙̻͈̪̥̱͖f̩̖̠̭͖̼̠̯ͅo̯̺̳̟r̨̢͔͈̤̯̘͍͈͡ḛv̪̖̞͖͔͘e͙͙͓͍͜͝r̷̡͎̯̻̹̻̰͈̝̟͜ ̶̪̯͕̹͖̖̮̝g̸̬̳l͎̜ḭ͓͔̤̯ͅt̴̢̖̰͖̗̱̘ͅc̴͉͔̻͇h̛̟̭͓̖͘ͅ.”

I tilted my head.

“I know."

Fleeing was never the only option.

"There's just something I need to do on the other side of the universe..." I made rueful finger motions. "...so if you’ll excuse me…”

In a twirl of scarf and coat, I turned and started sprinting in the opposite direction.

“Make sure to destroy my home just enough so Mr Sleeper doesn’t suspect we bonded okay!" I called back over my shoulder. "I don’t want to find out what happens to people who don’t have his blessing!”

“ś̂̐͗̏҉̶͕̼͙̗ḩ̵̙̺̩̖͓͍̱̽ͣ̃ǔ̸̓̉ͪͫͦ̓͘҉̻̯̹͓͎̭t̸̡̩͎͒͢ͅ ̸̧͔͓͖̱̏̔̑̈́́͑͒͒u̷̱̯̣̗͇̳̣͗̏ͮ̿̆̕ͅp̧̠̋̊̑!”

Error reinforced his polite request with a Gaster Blaster appearing in my path.

At least he has the decency to not to shoot me in the back...

By the time it fired I had slid under the giant skull, coming up on the other side of it unharmed.

I ran, paying little attention to how the street was torn up around me by Error’s magic.

My mind was made for navigating spaces. Timing. Prediction.

I weaved my way through Cyan string as it gleamed menacingly in the pale light, as if I had seen the attack a thousand times before. 

Which I had.

Every ability. Every tactic. Every habit, motive and weakness.

On the same screen I used to connect with these people…

I had been trained to destroy them.

...Too bad I have zero tolerance for exercise.

I could have almost been cool.

“Mo.”

The Marmoset on my shoulder perked up at the attention.

I almost smiled.

“Time for Walkies. 

With a thrilled squeak, the marmoset leapt from my shoulder.

By the time he hit the ground, Mo was a ten-foot hulking mass of darkness.

Ha...Running is for people who don’t have a shapeshifting baby marmoset addicted to their forty-two channels of free T.V.

The void beast kept pace with me until I leapt, using his cool fur to climb onto up his back with a graceless oof!

The moment I was settled Mo put the pedal to the metal.

And as fond as I was of the Triple Decker Yellow Bringer of Justice…

Mo was four-wheel drive.

and fluffy.

The marmoset rumbled questioningly beneath me, running powerfully forward as the ground continued to splinter and become more unstable.

“Just the usual spot Mo.” I answered cheerfully, grabbing my hat as we ducked under another string.

I’m not good at changing my mind.

Sometimes, it’s a struggle with indecision.

Other times…it’s a matter of winning.

We had almost made it to the park when Error short cut in front of us, balancing with eerie grace on a line strung between two trees.

Hands already twisting rapidly through a complex series of knots, the short skeleton hooked an ankle into the magic below him before leaping backwards.

My gaze widened at the same time as his smile.

"Stop Mo .”

Too late.

Claws tore into the earth as the giant marmoset fought inertia, losing badly enough to fall forward and send me flying…reuniting me with the biggest reason why I don’t dare cause trouble in the multiverse.

Pain.

I stared up at the sky, bemoaning the fact that I’m a complete wuss…and just generally moaning…

“Did we ever...establish a safe word…?” I very slowly pushed myself into a sitting position. “...Cause that sounds like... the sensible thing I should have done…”

My mouth stopped working, and just hung open as I sat, blinking at the clear view I had of the infinite darkness beyond.

The entire park had been levelled to the ground.

...More importantly.

I had lost.

For the first time, the thing I wanted wasn’t just resisted on my part, but taken from me.

Mo rumbled behind me, nuzzling into the space on my neck he usually curled up into.

A little overwhelmed, I reached up a hand to gently pat his maw.

“There’s no point in getting back up Mo…”

Slow with heartbreak, I reached into my pocket.

And pulled out the empty chip packet.

 “…that was the last rubbish bin in existence…”

My Marmoset… hit me over the back of my head.

For being an idiot.

Face pressed into the ground where I had landed, I made a small noise of despair.

Broken by the cruelty of life.

All I wanted... was to do the right thing...and not litter...

“g̝͎̘̩e̶̩͎̘̺͖̬͜t͎̝͎̘̦̲̘̱͘͜ ͏̢͕͇̦͎̞u̴̩͇̹̪̞̣͚͞͞p͉͙̝̠͓̞.”

Mo let out a low growl, his huge form towering protectively as I continued to kneel with my face in the dirt.

If the destruction of my park had taught me anything...it's that Error Really doesn't like being ignored.

Keeping that in mind I tilted my head up, chin still pressed to the ground as I stared up at the Destroyer of Park Bins.

His gaze was too wide. Unblinking.

Both of us had been left alone for far too long.

"No."

I met his demand with an eyebrow wiggle.

“Step on me.”

You can keep the dirty look on.

Emotion had Error bowing his head, teeth clenching so painfully tight I could hear it from here.

“...yo҉͓̣u̞͕͘’r̩e͜ ̰͖͚͚̝̰̕n̘ǫ͍͔̖̫̮t̛̩͈͙ a҉̡s̕͟͝ ̗̱͈̟͉c̸͉̝̥̟lev̮̝ͅe̺̘͇͙̤͢r̗͕̭ ͓a̛s ̬̘̹̬̤͎y̢̤͉̺ǫ̳̝͔̘͎u̱̝͕ ̸̦͚ͅt͙̲ḫ͜i̧̬̟̠̱n͉͚͎̪͉̼͞k̻̙̯̹͈ ͍͕͉͍̤̞̫y͇̳̦̬̬̤o̪͇̥̲̞ͅư̘̤͖͖̣ ̦͕͘a͈͈̘͓͈̪ͅr͙͠e҉̭̪̜̼͍"

He started taking decisive steps towards me, trembling hands clenched at his side.

“̩̘̙̹̭͙͔y͙̼̗o͕̤̟̹͔u̺̙̦̤’̮̘r̬̞̣͉̳̬͘e͍͉̟̥ ̪̮̘̞͈͓̭͠n̶̠ͅo̠͕̖͟t҉̜̟ ̨̬͙͓s͝c҉̤a̱̱̖r̴̰͕̥̲̻̮̙y̱̣ͅ.̥ ̸̟̹̹͔y̩̮̥̭̕o̧̻̪̳̺u̢̝͙̻̣̝̱̥’̤̣͖͍̙̻̯͜r̴̮̘̙̪̮e̹̦ ̶̟̟̟̥͕n̪͈̤͜o̡̬t̻ ̤̩̤̥͙s̵͔͚̬̳̟̟̣p͍̤e͇͈͎͖c̫͖̦͖̻̲͈i̲͜a̸̞ļ̥͓.̥̞̰̲̙̞ͅ ͢y̰̬̘͞o̢̘̼͍͈̳͖̼u̲̬̩̦͖̻’̫̘͉ͅr̰̼e̵̟̦̫̘̖̲ ̹̟̗n̬͉̯̠̝o̼̦̬͍͔̙t͓̝̥̰͞ ̤e̲v̪͍̲e͓̹̦n̶ͅ ̫͍l̷i͇̩̻͎͔̪͔k̸ab̸͖͉̥͎̫̳l͘ẹ̫̩̖͚.̘̝ ̝̼̻m͏o̭͎͚̠s̘t͚ ̸̪̣̼̬i̹̘͙̘ͅm̹̦̳̺p̴̺̳͚͙̖͔o̭͙͉̠̟̤̕rṱa̪̼̣̺͎͙̟n̝͎͙̖͙͉͓ț͍̝͚ly̲̲̭…̹͖̟̮̭̙͞”͇͉̻

Before I could react, the Destroyer bent down and seized me by the front of my jacket.

I was yanked upwards, brought unbelievingly close to touching him as he bent to snarl at me.

 “̶̺̝̘̳̼͕͜͝ͅy͔̗̕͟͟ǫ̬̝̹̻̻̯͇u̺̯̣̲̯̠͉͓’̫̼r̸̼̱͙̻ͅe͚̝̞̹̺͍̕ ̨͈̘͉͖̜͘͘n̛͓͙͞͡o̳̠̺͕̗ț͈ ͚͖͚̝̭f҉̞̩͢u͔͞ṇ̡͜͢n̶̢͉͔͎̭͔̥̙͘y̸̬.̨̧̣͕̻̞̳̻”̲͓͎͢͠͠ͅ

 I held very still.

̝"s̷̪̭̞ ̜̭̪̳̻̕ͅͅo̸͈̫͈̙͖̺̻̲̤ ̖̞͖ ͚̲̤̹̪̯͝s̴̥̳̣̳͈ ͍̗̘̺t̶̺ͅ ̘̮̺͎ͅo͏̘͔͖̕ ̙̫̙̰̰̖p̡̱̭̖̭ ͓̻͘͟ ̶̡̗̲͓̬̜͖̦͖ͅt͖̰͘͘ ̷̧̯̬̙̻̻̙͓̳͢r̻͖̲͘͜͢ ̩̫͚̺̲̠͡y̧̦̘̳̙̳͘ ̹̫̮͜͝i̦͎̟ ̡̞͍̭͉̪͔͍͜n̸̘͔̖͉͠ ̷̫̗͘g̢͚̺̝̯̜̭̦͘͜ ̨̻̯͙ ̣̘͟t̟̘͙̮͍̝̗̮͘͡ ̵̵̟͈̰̼̦͈̭̰ơ̶̻̳ ̱̩̖̦͔͔̕͠ ͜҉͇̩̫̺͎h̻͎͖͎̞͟͠ ̢̜͠u̶̠̥̳̯̭͟ ̵̡͉̮̲m̢̡̲̮̜̯̦͡ ̨̹͇o̵͏̗̞̘ ̦ų͉͙̞̠̣ ̴̡͏͓̠̥̖͕ͅr̴̘̫͎ ̨̛̗͉̞͈̘̘̞̤ ̙̗̬̙m̘̥̪̟̮̘̦̕ͅ ̵̦̹͕͈̜̮ͅe͔̤̰̗͍̤̭̻̲.̵̭̲̣̙̠͡͠”̨͉͎̖͓̞̰̕͡

My hand was already out, keeping the Void beast at my side calm.

No sugar coating it. 

Error . Was. MAD

Still, I wouldn’t give up to save myself...

Then again.

I wasn’t the one close to breaking.

“My name. Is Ava.” I spoke softly. 

“I am an Avatar.”

I could spare him a moment of honesty.

Very slowly, I worked to put my feet under me.

“…I don’t like myself very much…and I don’t…really have a good argument for being here…”

Error’s hand remained clenched in my clothing as I took my weight away from him.

“Still, it's not like I have anything better to do. So I’m going to keep existing, imposing as little as possible on you and your multiverse...”

Now standing, I looked down at him.

Besides...

“...And if that means putting up with your insensitive assholery until the end of time, I’ll do it.

...he had crossed a line.

I yanked my coat out of his grasp.

“Now come look at the stars before I kick you out of my Observatory.”

The affronted skeleton stared at me.

“…w̝̩͘͘ẖ̡̡͇̙̯̣̩̭͓͝a҉̠̳ͅt̛҉̲̤̝͕͈͕?”

I strode past him.

“You were looking for them earlier.”

Before. I had caught him looking up at the sky. Feinting boredom.

May as well indulge his star fetish.

“Seriously..." When Error didn't move, I turned back slightly to stare at him. "... it would be a shame to come all the way out here and not see the one tourist attraction I actually have.”

With that, I made my way over to the edge of existence with a purring Mo following on my heels.

The Marmoset made a low questioning noise, glancing back at the frozen skeleton.

I had been a bit harsh...resorting to name calling..

I shrugged.

“He said I wasn't funny. I like degradation, but even I need to be prepped for that level of sadism."

Mo whined.

"If you're going to throw up do it out into the void."

The moment I reached my spot, I collapsed to sit on the edge with a pained sigh.

Finally back in my comfort zone....

On my Ass. 

Error glitched into existence a few feet away from me.

Whatever scathing comment he may have prepared was lost at the sight of the entire multiverse swirling below him.

It may have be an injustice, and I couldn't claim empathy, but I knew the sort of life he had lived.

Being able to give him this view…

Made existing a little bit more forgivable.

It was a long time before either of us spoke.

“w͔̪̳ḩ̛̗̜͍͖͘y̛̺̱͢͞ͅ ̶ͅa̷̦̲͕̦̦̻͜͝r̦̣̯̮̘͙͎̮e͔̮̯̱͉̘̰̩̘͜͠ ̵̹̪̞͈̗̯̤͓͡y̘̥͈̲͖̻͜o͚̮͎͖̝̘̦̙͘u̶̢̥̪̥̗ ͕͠s̵̛̩͉h̴͎̪͔̞̹ơ̴̩̹͇w̡͈̙̩͔̣̻͈̭͉i̞̱̯̻͘n̥͖̼̺g̢̜̦͖̻͜͢ ̴͇͠m͈͉͡e̪̹̼̖̜͔̫ ̠͓̻͜͢t̙̫̗̥̙̻h͖̮̥̘̟͕͜i̛̠͕̙̮̠̻͝s̵̴̛̰̬̖̣̻̮̱̝͚?”

I knew he wasn’t talking about the view.

“If you’re going to kill me." I propped my chin on my hand. "I’d rather you do it in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone else.”

And narrowing down the ways in which you will try to kill me will make death significantly easier to avoid.

“Throw me into the void, and the Blueberry will never have to be disappointed.”

A flicker of confusion and pain crossed his face. 

“t̵͙̣̬̘̥̬̬̕ḥr͜͏̢̼͉̭̤o̷̬̰̞͘w̛͏̭͙͚͕̘̝͇̲ ͉̣͡y̝̪̺̯̙̭̪͉̥͞o̢̙̲͉̘͉ụ̯͇͉͠r̺͎̯͇̱͖̬s̤̼͎̼̭e̥̫̣͖̤̱̘͍͞l̘̤ͅf̷̡͎͇̼̠̜ ̶̡̹̦͉i̡̭̫̥͓͔͘n҉̺̞̝̪̜̻͖͘ͅ i̵̵̠̭̗̯͖f̧̰͙͙ ̨̼y̵̞̘̳̲̕o̻̼̥̘̦̖͕̤̥͢u̮͞’̷̲̲̯̖̝̠̺r̵̨͇̙͍͈͡e̹̤̹̣̣̱̳ ͙̮̕t̖͚͜ḩ̶͖͍̳̞a̴͖̩̜͖̱͢ț̢̲̞͕̥̖̥ ̰̲͉͜e͙͚̰̫̪̣̝ͅa͏͎̼̗͕g̡͓̜͔̼̝̥̠͢ͅe̡͇̜̫r̸̢̮͔͇̜͓̙.”

I already made the decision not to.

“I don’t want to die Mr E." I turned my gaze back to the void. "…but I also… don’t want you to ever give up…on winning…”

To drag someone so low...

I sat back with a sigh.

“Cause angst doesn’t even begin to compete with fluff, let alone smut...”

Seriously, just bottle that crap up inside where I don’t have to watch it.

When he spoke, Error's voice held none of its regular cruelty.

“f̡͢ǫ̶r ̸͡͞w̸̕͢h̷a͢t̸͢ ҉i̛t̨̢’s͠ w̛o̢r͟͞t̕͡h…̦̞̕ͅ”̨͇͉̥̲͜

My soul turned blue.

“...y̶͟o͏u̡͜͝ ̕͟w͘̕e͟re̢ ̴a̴̵͜ ̷͟l̷i͡t̸t̡͞l͏e̷̛͝ ͘͢b͜i̸͡t҉ ̧҉̨ l̘͔͉̣̺͕͔͝i͓͓͕̗͠k̭̥̹̣̮͔͡a̴̦̥̜͈̦b̶l̙͔̤͖͟e͕̥͎̥̳͈͙͘.͇͉̟͈̹̗”̼̞̤̮͇̗̥

Before he could throw me over the edge...

My soul returned to its neutral state of UNDETERMINED.

Refusing to be established with a little effort on my part.

Slowly, I tilted my head back to stare at him.

“Don’t forget scary.

Errors glitching became more violent, pupils shrinking with distress.

The insane don’t handle having their logic challenge.

I spoke up before he could panic.

“I’ve been studying souls and magic since the dawn of time Mr E.” I smiled slightly. “Did you really think I would sit here and take it?”

Even doormats have standards.

Errors surprised expression took on a cynical edge.

“f҉̡̠̯̯̳̹͡ą̠͕̰̬i҉̻͖͔̺r̵̠͚͇͜.”̤̱͔ ̶̺̜

He smirked…but the malice never reached his eyes.

“b̵̢u͘҉t͜ ̴I ̧st͟͜an̕d ̵͠by wh̛͝a͏t ̡I̶͞ ̷͡sa̶͜͠id ̶̨ab̛͞o̴̢u͟t̷͟͞ yo̧͠ư̷ ͘͜no̵͏t͏ ͟be̶͡͏i҉̸n͏͞g̢̡ c̦͈̙̗͕͉͇l̼͈͖͙̩̳̖͜͝e̴̝͓͢ͅv̕҉͔̰̳͠e̞̥̗̹̣̜r̛͇.”

He waved a string tangled hand.

The ground beneath us bucked. 

“S̵̹̜̫e͇͙̤̗͔͚̠͢e̠̖̞̣ ͚͕͓̗̠̠͕͜y͕̜͚̲̝̞ạ̴͎͕͙, ͎av̳̞̲̮̞̼̗ạ̹͇.̯͍͍͓̼ͅ”̱̯̗̙̪͎̕

I had hoped...

The Destroyer vanished.

My hand closed on empty space.

I stared.

.. .missed.

A slight delay, to make sure Mo would come with us when we teleported.

The next moment I was on my feet, already clutching Mo as the world tilted sickeningly downwards.

One quick glance confirmed my worst fears.

The entire park was on the brink of tumbling into the void.

I had miscalculated.

“Run Mo.”

Without question, the Marmoset threw me over his shoulder, taking off faster than ever before.

My mind was made for navigating spaces. Timing. Prediction.

I knew we weren’t going to make it.

My Determination to show Error the stars had narrowed our fate to one.

“Guess believing in him didn’t pay off this time.” I sighed, pressing against the Void Beast in an apologetic hug. 

True, I've always felt the universe would be better off without me...but I tried to not let that angst interfere with my everyday life...endanger others...Not everyone can make broodiness look hot after all...

I'd. Been. Careless.

“Shame...I didn’t really do a lot with my existence huh…?”

My hands clenched into his fur, unable to watch our inevitable fall.

“but I think…I may have loved you Mo.”

The one person in the multiverse who was mine to cherish.

My eyes hurt.

Who I wasn't afraid to ruin.

My Marmoset rumbled softly.

Keep trying.

A giant clawed hand pressed down on my hat.

One.

Last.

Time.

I was yanked up by the scruff of my jacket.

When I looked over my shoulder, my vision was too blurry to make out his expression.

"...please..."

By the time I blinked and felt the heat rolling down my cheek…

"...don't..."

Mo threw me.

…A little harder than necessary.

For being an idiot.

I hit the ground, rolling so hard I lost my hat.

It hurt.

More than anything else before.

With all the strength of a rag doll, I shuffled myself up into a sitting position.

The park was gone.

My welcome sign was gone.

Absentmindedly, I reached a hand up to brush at the foreign wetness on my cheeks.

My marmoset…

I stared out into the emptiness.

The silence was overwhelming.

 

"...Mo?"

 

Chapter Text

In the beginning, I had been given a weapon.

A tool I chose to cast into the furthest reaches of my pockets.

I had hoped… I would never have to use it...

Click.

PLAY

“…i was only gone…for ten minutes…”

The Creator was rarely one to panic.

Accustomed to the pressures of the multiverse depending on him to stay calm…if not act mature… or even be all that helpful… He could at least keep his head long enough to repair someone’s clothing or something...

But now, the usual sass was nowhere to be seen as Ink stood panting, gaping openly at the devastation that had been wrought in his absence.

There was no brushing it off this time.

Ink had screwed up. Royally.

And no, this wasn’t the first time he had come back from a distraction to find the thing he was supposed to be protecting in ruins...it’s a little alarming how often that happens really…

…kinda a wonder it still surprises him…

“s̞̼̭̣’̤͍̯u̵̼̠̲̟p̹̺͇̦͇?̧̥̗̦̲̪̭”

Error glitched into existence beside the colourful skeleton, taking in the other's haggard appearance with an amused smirk.

“l̶͉̲͈ǫ̪͕̟̻s̨̤̙̗t͔͔̞ ͖̱̱͕̼ͅy͈̞̱̭̯̤o̜̺͢u͙̩r͚͉̙̩̱̱ ̡͕͍p̳̘̞͎̬̯e̹̜̭̲ͅn͍̹c̹̟͍͉i͉̱̖̞͙l̥͙͠s͏ ̴̘̥̜ͅa͚g̰̻ai͍͔͍͇͍̺̼͘n̺̩͇͖͖̺̬͘ ̵̬̙̬c̱̮͘r̤̟̩̦̯̱̤͟a͏̝p̡̥ ̘̰̟a͕̮͚̤͍͎͕r̪͎͕̰t͕̥͙͈̬͔͢is̲͜t̷̰͎?̦͖̺̫͎̦̮”͖̩̝

…Yes…but that was beside the point…!

“error!” Ink spun to confront the smirking skeleton. In an instant, his concerned expression was replaced with stern irritation. “do you have any idea how long it’s going to fix all this!”

Error only rolled his eyes at the others accusing tone.

“l͉̻̼̫͚̬i̼k̳̩̟͘e͕͔̯̯̲͕̥͝ ̳̺̰̤̫͖̱y̡͍̟̱̠̖͔͔o̥̝̹̪̞̥ͅu̙̬̟͜’̳̻̤̻͎̘̞r͙͇̲͔̼̜̟e̳̥̰̺͇̗ ҉̼no͉̣̟͈̝̟͇t ̴̖̞d̯͞r̘̼̤̣͖̘o͖͔̮o̳̗͠l̲̜̲i̦̙̞͖n̷͇̯̖g ̰̝a̠̝̞t̻̬ t͈̰̖͟h̢̟̣̯̻̺͞e͉̯̥̠͙̱̤͡ͅ ̢̝̱c҉̣̞͍̟̬̜h̢̯͉͈̮̝a̖̙̥̼̟̞͈n̡̬͎̬̯̦̲c̜̞̼e̙̞̣͉ͅͅ ̱͇̟̩t̪̻̺̰͎̯͇͠o̸̹̞̮̟̜̺ͅ ͓͕͚͓̺̫̰̕a̷d̸̠̖͍̣̠͇̳d̠͍̟̻ ̥̰̝̲̣̱a̫̦̜̭̻̠̕ ̻̘l͇̪͙̫̻͙i̞̭̲̩̥̣ͅt̯̳͉̣ͅt̨͇̪̩l҉e͎̦͔̞̙̼ͅ ̝͍̦̮̱̞cọ̳͎̻̫l͢o̶͕̩u̸r̳͔ ̰̼͉̯͍̻̬t̳̝͔̦o̳̰ t͕̩̘̞̻̘͠h̹͉̝̯̤̭i̺̯̭̖̰s͇̜̠̮̞͕ ̯͚̜͎̗p̝̝̗̞l̼͈a̬̯̜̺͘c͈͉͇̥͎͔̖e͙̥̱̱̺̹̩.”

At this horrible accusation, the Creator cast a glance at his surrounding that was just…a little bit…too long…

“…even if that was true…” Ink ignored Error’s disbelieving scoff. “it is no reason for you to go to town on the entire universe!”

“h͖e̶̞̟̳͎h̞̗̙̫̲̙̜,͈͖̤̹͈͠ ̲̗͖̬͡ḷ̯̦͈̭̦i̪̭̜̮͚̲̼k҉̬e͍͜ ͝I̙͓̜̯͓͔͟ͅ ͍͎̯̩̕e̪̭̘v̗̤ȩ͖̜͙r̞͎̬̻͇͈̼͠ ͖̪̳̯n̯̪͉̬͈̝e҉̮͚͕̳̮e͈̦̞de̩̦d̗̹̼ ̲͕̬͚͚̪̫͠a̶̼̣̥̜̫ ̫͍r̠e̴̙̖̻̦̳a̙̟͈͢s̯̥̺̞̳̝o̬̺͚n…”

“no, but you usually do me the courtesy of inventing one.”  The Creator flung out his arms in exasperation, drawing attention to the cage he held.

And the bitty sleeping inside.

“y̫̜e͈̖̳͎͎͔ͅa͙̮ ҉̙͙y̯̞͕e̛͓̞͍̪̬̺a̭͍̙͓̣.” Jumping at the easy distraction, the Destroyer bent down to peer into the cage. “s͟o, ͏̧̡wh̛a̴͞t ̧̢̛t͝oo̶͝k̴͟͏ y̢͢o͏̧͠u͝ ̵̢s̡҉o͜ lo̵̶͜n̸͏̶g̛͘? ̨̛do̸n̨͡’̵t͜ ̡t̡e̸ll m̧͡e̴͜ ̸t̴̵͢h̨e͠ ͏҉͟p̨͞͞e̡t͟ ̶̵͞a̡c̨t̶͝͞u̷al̷l̸̨y̧̛̛ ̴͢͡g̸̕͟a͏͡ve̶̴͘ ͘͘yo͢͟u̴͜ ̕͡͝tr̢͏o͜͞ųb̸l͢e̡…͠

Ink’s haunted expression was worth a thousand words.

Error’s smile widened gleefully.

“…n̷̹̙̞̥o͈͟ w̛̻̬̺a̬͇y̫̬͜.̛̲̦̟”͏̫͔͖͎

“…it doesn’t matter." Ink dismissed, pulling the caged bitty away from the smirking skeleton.

"we need to find our colourful stalker and talk some sense into them.” He grimaced down at the cage. “preferably before this guy wakes up again… ”

The Creator had already taken a few steps in his expedition to find the lost Avatar, when Error spoke up....

“y͇͖̣͓̺̖̞͡e̥̫̜͎a̺̱̙̳̲.̛̖͓͍͔̫ ̦̟̺a̞̳̝̜̭̤͟bo̢̯̜u̕t͚̲̮͚̭̣ ̲͖̟͢t̸͙͉͕h̫̞a͇͉̗͉͈ͅt͕̫̗͇…” The Destroyer shoved his hands in his pockets.

The atmosphere between the two became instantly colder.

Optimism can only last so long in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Ink turned to look at Error with empty eye sockets.

“…w h a t. d i d. y o u. d o?”

Errors blinked at the other skeleton, as if surprised by the question.

Then his grin widened triumphantly.

“m̞̙̲̞̣͙ͦ̃ȳ̫͉̞̟̱͕̰̗̒͑ͬ̏̎̏ ̱͔̟̦̫̑ͥ̇ͤ̄̒̉j͇̞̯̿̿ͥͦ̀̚o̭̜͚͎̣͚̱̊͗̍̔̈́ͅb͚̦̜̪̥͔͖̼ͪ.”

How can trusting someone you shouldn’t believe in...

The Creator’s hand clenched down on his brush, trembling with barely suppressed emotion.

“…don’t flatter yourself.” his voice was cold with rare rage. “you just did what you wanted, like always.”

…Hurt every time…

 “h͏͎̪̰e̡̝̰̭͓̘͔̼h̴̖,̙̥͉̟͎̤͇ ͇̣̣̹͇̩͇sp̬͉̲͈a͖̮̲͉͕r͕̘̫e̟̩ ̩̞̭͡m̱̣e̡ ̲͕t͖h̢͇̘̦e̢̪̰͓̙̞̫ ̛̱̖s̻͉̮̭͕p̘ḛ̳̰̙e̙c̝̱̻̳͈̙̻h̯̻̺̮.”̨

Error’s smile looked more like snarl at this point.

…On both sides.

“you̵ ̵a̴n̡͢͠d͘ i̡̕͟ ̴bo̷͡t̢̕h ͠҉k̵̢n̴̷̨o̸̕w̴ y̴͠o̸̧u͡͠ ̷̢ca̸͜r͘e̵̷ ̢͠a̕boư̧t͢͢͡ ̸̕t̶̕͝h̛͡e̡͘şe҉ ̧͟abom̶̷͡i̵n̨͠a̶͟t͡͏i̡o̷̶ns ̧̧͜a̢͟͡bout ̵̛a̸s̡ ̕m̛ư̛c͠h̷̢͜ ̷͞͝a̢͢͞s̨ ̧a͢ h̶̡̢ơ̡̧͟b͏̸̧̛͠b̴͝͝y̸̧͞͝i͏̴̛̕s̴̵̷͜t̸̨̕͝ m̷̵a̸̛i͘n̢̛t̸̨ai̷n͟i͜͢n̷̡͢g͜ ̸̡̛h̶i̵͢s ͘a̛r̕͜t ̨҉c̶̷o̶͟͡l̷̨ļ̛e͠c̢̕tio̶̧̧n͢.;" The Destroyer winked a cynical eye socket. “ev͘҉̕en̴ i̢͘͢f ̢t͞h̶ei͝r̴̛ w̨̕͢o͞rt̕hl͘̕e̛ş͏s̸̴͜ ̶e͏͡x̸͟i͞st̴e̶̛n͟c̴e ̵is h̵̢e̷͞҉l̕l̨̕,̸ ̧͘͡s̸o l̴͞͠on̡͝g҉ ̴҉a͘s t̨h̷e͞͡҉y̧̕͟ ͟mak̨e̶ ̵͏͢a͏ p̛͜r̡e͝t̡̡͞ty ͏̛͠p͠ict͝ưr̛̛e͜ ͢yo҉u͢ ͘c̴͢o̷u̡͟͠l̕d͝n’̧̨t̸̨ ̕͠g̢i̸v̧e҉ ̷̴a̢͜ f̶͞ly̴͘i̡̧n…”

Ink crossed the distance between them in an instant, grabbing the dark skeleton by the front of his jacket.

“i value people for what they are. i believe in them, and that’s why i don’t…”

Ink eyes widened slightly, his hand slowly going slack with realisation.

“…interfere…”

Something only a Protector could understand…

Error suddenly burst out laughing, grinning up at the sky.

“o̺̺̠͙̜̻̫n̲͍ͅly͙͕̠͟ ̰̝̤̭̣̺̼a̖̼̰̤̫n̷̜̳̪̮̪̹ id̹̯̺̞̫̝̖i͇̝͔̳̗̕ͅo̵̝t͞ ̮w̳͠o̲̣̮̝̖̖̮u͖̦̺̬̘ld ͍͍͖b͏͎̱͈̼r̖̹i͚̗̗͍n̞̰̣g͚̹͈ ̰̠͎̼̜̲̝ą̗̣̩ͅ ̬͕b̵o̬̟̤̖̹̣͍m̝̻̩͚͠b͔͘ ̛t̲̱̬̼o͎͚͎̥ ̜̺͉̯͉͚̘͠ą̠̬ ̶t͏͕̯e̷̥̤a ̦͚̙p͇̣̹͇̤ąr͔̠̫͙̤͢t̲͓̘͉͓͙͓y̖̪̹̭̹͡ ̸̖̖̠a̢͙̦̬̱n̵̯͇̙̰͖̭d̫̣͚̠ ̣̮̘n͈̟͚̭̞͔o̪͝t͇͇̟͎̜ ̲̭e̦̭̘͈x̢pḛ͚̥͓̹̩͖c̗̹t̥̼̯͓̰̕ ̞͟i͏ṭ̛̘ ̴̮ṱ͈͉͍̞ọ̬͈͝ ͕͔g͉̣͍̘̮̻̟͞o͈̺ o̶̦͈̘̣f͏̻f͙̞̤.”

Ink’s turmoil came to a horrified standstill.

Negligence is the easiest crime.

“i-i didn’t…”

Requires almost no effort at all.

Error cut off the protest with a single look.

“...à̾́ͮͮ̈n̩̄ͯ̎̂̔d̵̻͚͕͔̰̰ ͌͗͞y̵̞̜̹̜̲͎͒o̰̦̞͌̇ͭ̋u̫̯͔̩͑́̑̊̂’͇̳̘͕̌ͣͨ̽͐̚r̷̼͎͍̽͌͒̉ͣ̍̂ͅe͚̥̺͈͙̟ͨ̓ͪ̅ͭ̓ ͈͉̱̖n͆ͮ̑̌ͭ̃͌͘ȏ͈͕̬̬̠̈̐ͅ ̥͑̈̽̍i̳͙̯͙͔͊̍ͥ̈ḍ̷͕͊̑ͥi͍̬̣̲̩͓̙ͬ̏̊͊͋o͡t̾ͪ̐ ̰̰̽ï͍̰n̴̲̻̖̫̗k̖̔͊͒̓̿y͓̽̀͂ͫ̿͊͝.”

Ink stared back… his smile collapsing with a guilty sort of grief.

The Destroyer had made an excellent observation.

It would have been too naïve to believe that things couldn’t end badly.

Ink had tried anyway. Hoped.

Because loneliness makes people desperate enough to face the consequences.

“…Allow me…” Both skeletons jumped, gazes swivelling down to stare me.

Where I crouched.

Right by their feet.

Staring up at them.

“…To tell you about some complex the feelings...”

There was an instant in time, where it almost looked like the two big brave skeletons clutched each other with a girlish scream…

Then vanished, only to reappear standing, poised for battle at a distance that was…a little bit excessive…

I stood, shrugging off the accusing looks that were being thrown my way.

Not like it takes a lot to sneak up on these two when they are in the middle of one of their lover’s quarrels…

“...The uncertainty in your own judgement, now that your mistakes have cost you a precious friendship.”

Hands in pockets, I took a casual step forward.

“...The disappointment, of not being a very good person no matter how hard you try to be.”

Neither skeleton spoke, completely on edge as I drew closer.

San-es were sensitive to this sort of thing after all.

“These feelings…”

L.O.V.E

 “…they must be what you are feeling right now.”

A way of measuring someone’s capacity to hurt.

I tilted my head.

“I can hardly imagine what it must be like to feel that way.”

A distance that came naturally to me.

Speaking of distance, I could hear the two skeletons whispering to each other even from here.

“i thought you…?!”

“d͚̐͐̈́̚i͍̘̼͙̩ͨṫ̗̭̖̜̔͌̇͒ͅṫ̥̯͍ó̼̼̬̺͚͕̙ͧͦ̐̒.”

Without so much as a I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, my soul was yanked brutally into a complete confrontation.

Forcing my stats out onto display.

AVA

Hp -

AT +

DF +

LV 70%

EXP… :)

Is too neutral to comment.

While Ink drained of colour at this ambiguous information, Error ground his teeth in recovering anger.

“…į’̣̳͞m͍͓ ͉͎͖̭̠̣͇͝b͎̗ͅe̶̫͙̰͕y̖̯͕̼o̝̟̺̫̬n̮d̠ ͖̙̪̖s̙̳̖͎i̝͇̳͈̪c̠͚͙̰̪̯̦͝ḳ̳̱̟̮ ̴̣̼͈̞̥o̺f̙̻̩͇̰̫͚͢ ͏̝̼̹̼ṯ̭͉͔͉h̸͍͚͕͖i̷͓̱̜͙̘͇͓s͈̣̙̜̱ ̺̬̲̖̟̖t͎̪̬̤h̷ͅi̝ͅn̙͖̺͈̻͈g̘ ͈̝̩͓̲͖͢ͅs͖͕͜c̵̙̰r͓̼͙e̜̰͔̼w̙̘͖̼i̞̠n̪g͕̦̟̩̳̤ͅ ͏͍w̞̻̜̤̺i͎̘͍͙̠͇t̺͇̻̻͇͜ͅh̰͔͔̘͓͟ ̴̮̠͇̫u̢̮̖̹͚̰͕ͅs̝…”

“yeah, well I don’t think they’re all that happy with you either…”

My stats faded as my soul was released and I tilted my hat down, hiding the shyness I was sometimes myself enough to feel.

Or the lack thereof.

“It’s not in my nature to be so direct, but I doubt Mr Sleeper will appreciate waking up in such a kinky situation, so...” I held a hand out with a slight smile.

 “Give. Him. Back.

Politely.

 “Please.

Though they jumped at my tone, both skeletons took the time to weigh their options.

This was unknown territory.

But if the two of them couldn’t handle me…

Was there anyone in the multiverse who could?

Ink spoke up with a shaky sigh.

“…you should come with us.”

The Creator finally put his foot down, holding the cage with Mr Sleeper close to his chest.

“before someone gets…”

Too late.

I crossed the space between us before the final word could leave his mouth.

For me, the pinnacle of human ability...

Inks eyes widened.

...Is just another possibility.

My hands landed lightly on top of his own, pressing his clever artist fingers into the bars of the cage.

“Quantum superposition.” I blinked in explanation. Slow and simple. “Makes exercise kinda redundant. Downside is I can never have a tattoo…Or a baby…”

…Nah. The multiverse isn’t ready for an Avatar with reproductive abilities…or me with sexual ones

 “It’s kinda a bad deal...but by god, there ain’t a pickle jar in existence I can’t open if I put my mind to it. Now…”

I saw Errors hands move out of the corner of my eye and prepared to avoid whatever attack he…

My gaze fell to our feet when I felt the tremor.

I smiled.

...No amount of power can help you when you’ve just been plain outsmarted.

Ink cried out in alarm when the ground beneath our feet buckled and crumbled, both of us losing balance as we were suddenly entangled and lifted high up into the air.

Error focused on me with an unnerving level of seriousness, fingers tugging at the pattern of string he had twisted between his fingers.

A master weaver, manipulating his web.

The net grew tighter, cinching down on my limbs and soul to render me immobile. What had once been a half-assed obstacle became a strategic net, capturing me with little chance of escape.

Now this…

Hurts.

…but I wasn’t the only one who had been ensnared.

“oh stars, that startled me!” Ink swung a foot, the only body part that wasn’t restrained. The major difference in our circumstances being, his soul was completely absent. “…would you mind putting me…”

“g̠̰e͕̩̗̩̯̖͔͠t̶͍̙̩͍̣̭̫ ̛̞̫̥yo̺̥u̯̩͚r̟͖̭͉̻̪s̝̤̰̯͉̥e̛̺̙̲̜͎̟l̳ͅf͚̭̰͕ ̫͔̝̩̩̪̼d̘̖͎͍̺͠o͏̲͚̫̝͉̮w͏n̹͎̞̜̯̦͓.” Error snarled, not even looking at the bonus skeleton he'd caught. Too busy glaring at me like I had…

…quoted Papyrus...

...Whoopsie-Doopsie. Insensitivity wins again.

The taboo had been breached and we all knew it. Ink sent me a sympathetic look, shrugging as much as it was possible for him... considering his arms were trapped above his head and all.

...I decided not to read too far into how comfortable he was with bondage.

Why read...when the movie would be so much better...

Instead, I hung unresisting, watching on in interest as the Creator melted to black Ink to escape capture.

The way magic interacts with itself and the physical world is a matter of intent and physics. The soul is the wildcard...and his has been taken out of play. 

“geez Error..." Ink reformed beside the darker skeleton, dividing concerned looks between the two of us. "...what did you do to make them so angry?” 

The Destroyer tugged at the string, causing Sleeper's cage to fall from the net and into his waiting hands.

“tr̢̭̥͎̬i̠̞̤̫̱͝e͡d͕̩̬̕ t͎̲͎̮̠̺ͅo̷͇̖͉̭ ̴͇̫͉̦̩k͖͇̭̝̠͈̗͡i͚ḽ͙͍͉l̫͉̕ ̛t̴̳̼͕h̢͕̘̞̭̬͖e̺̪̮̩̞m̳͓̦̫̝̜̲͡.” Error muttered with zero amusement.

“…guess that would work…” Ink trailed off, his gaze falling on my shoulder.

Now Vacant.

His gaze jerked to mine, looking for some explanation. Reassurance.

I blinked back at him politely.

“…where...?” The Creator spoke up hesitantly.

“That was a really neat trick Mr Ink.” I interrupted with a cheerful head tilt, not giving him the chance to finish his question.

It's the fact he noticed that counts. 

Ink scratched at his skull, confused and a little bashful at the sudden compliment.

“oh…um…thanks?”

I smiled slightly.

Might as well keep this light-hearted.

“Would you like to see mine?”

The skeletons exchanged a look, one desperately searching for a polite way of declining my offer and the other seeking permission to make Avatar confetti.

…I’ll take that as a negatory on the kinky surprises…

“...Oh well.” I sighed, tilting my head back as far as the string would allow. “…Here goes an absolutely normal attack then.”

With a ping.

My soul established.

Both Skeleton’s watched on in frozen horror as I slipped through the string, landing on my feet in a lazy crouch.

There are only two things Cyan magic will spare.  A motionless soul and…

With a liquid sort of grace, I straightened up to my tallest posture, grinning down at the two staring San-es.

A cyan heart, floating in front of my chest.

Itself.

 “...I know right?” I said into the shell-shocked silence.

I am my every possible self, all at once…

I winked an eye.

Narrowing down the possibilities…

“Totally unfair.”

Is only a matter of DETERMINATION.

I shot forward, only to be met with a bone attack inches away from impaling me through the eye.

My soul turned orange.

The attack passed through.

I never missed a step, completely ignoring every attack that followed as each bone shot through me without consequence.

A moving object cannot harm a brave soul.

Error had barely come to grips with the futility of his attacks before I was upon him.

He leapt backwards and continued to dodge out of the path of my outstretched hand.

He was fast. Faster than me.

But that what’s the environment is for.

Errors back hit the wall.

My hand struck.

Only to catch one last glimpse of his grimace before he teleported away.

Empty handed...again... maybe I should practice more... 

There came a slight shuffling from above and my gaze jerked upwards to find Error standing on the top of the building.

My soul turned blue.

...but that might cut into my T.V time...

I flew upwards as my body followed its own sense of gravity.

Error was running before I could reach the roof, following the gutter before leaping from the side of the building onto his string.

The Destroyer leapt from string to string, putting distance between us at a rapid pace.

I followed in his footsteps, leaping from the roof only to shift gravity sharply downwards as a splash of black ink was thrown my way.

I hit the ground running, dodging the pursuing liquid in my single-minded chase. It took every ounce of my physical ability to stay untouched, leaping, rolling, ducking and flipping the Creator off as I ran past him.

No way was I going to let him stain my clothing....

Error landed ahead of me,  raising a hand to summon a wall of bone in my path.

Caging me.

My soul returned to cyan.

And I leapt through the unmoving obstacle.

Errors eyes widened, hand flattering.

That is when the goal changed from capturing me.

To stopping me.

A line of Gaster Blasters ripped into existence. 

My soul turned yellow.

He fired.

I.

Fired.

Back.

Light and heat exploded in the space between us, overwhelming all the senses with pure power.

I pressed forward fearlessly, leaping through the last remnants of the blast to find myself almost on top of my target.

Error stared, a rare fear constricting his eye-lights to pinpoints.

For someone so smart, Sans invests far too much of his fear into nightmares, uncontrollable forces and maybes.

Today, Error had been too busy jumping at shadows to realise he might be drawing the unwanted attention of the reality casting them.

A mistake that might prove fatal.

I reached into my pocket for my greatest weapon.

Now or never.

Error backed away, flinging out an attack in a last-ditch effort.

The bone pierced my shoulder.

Perseverant.

My soul turned purple.

But I am the persistentest.

I jumped. 

Not through space, but through possibility.

To a different timeline, continuing on from the place I could have been had I made a different choice.

To anyone watching, it would just look like I teleported behind The Destroyer.

...Which is significantly less impressive than becoming your alternate self, but whatever.

My arms shot out, wrapping around Error from behind.

Not like anyone is going to care enough to sit and listen to me lecture my theories on souls and magic when the practical application is way cooler.

Error stiffened in my arms, bracing against the attack with a small noise of despair.

An eternity of study and research...of learned control and discipline over my very nature…  summarised in a fancy light show.

His surrender guaranteed his fate.

Error's life was over.

Click.

...his social life that is...

I could tell the exact moment Error reopened his eyes, because the small skeleton went slack in my arms.

Staring up at the smartphone in my hand.

And picture immortalised on the screen.

Of me and the Destroyer together, him with his face screwed up in absolute terror… and me, with my chin resting on his shoulder and my free hand held up in the peace sign.

Wow…That’s the exact face he always makes when he gets topped for the first time…

 “…did you…?”

Ink stood panting a small distance away, staring at us with growing disbelief.

 “…just take a selfie?”

 

Chapter Text

Anyone who thinks that Gaster Blasters are Sans' deadliest attack… obviously haven't been elbowed in the ribs by a skeleton before.

“…you know you’re gravely injured…” I clutched my sides painfully, gasping like an unfit fish with a broken rib. “…when you can’t think of a single clever one liner…” 

Wow, I'm so out of shape...That is to say, trying to force a shape is what has me on the brink of puking so...the only conclusion I can draw from this is No. Me no need exercise. 

“um…are you okay?”

I tilted my head up to see Ink staring down at me with a concerned frown.

That’s the benevolent Creator I know… because I spied on him… extensively…

Even on bad terms, Ink couldn’t bring himself to hold a little…reckless endangerment…over the head of someone huddled up on the ground in a ball of pure agony.

He’s decent like that…also very forgetful…

“…Not to worry.” Phone in hand, I held a shaky thumbs up. “Being the victim of self-defence is all in a day’s work for a professional stalker…”

“w̴h̨a͢t͠ ̷t̡͞h̡̡e͏͠ h̸ell̨͠ ̸a͘͏r͡e̵ y̴҉oų̶ ̵̢p̵͞l͜a̡y҉͟͝i̕҉̧ng ̸̛a͟t̵̷?̵͡!͢͝”͏ ̛͠Error shouted, glitching so badly I almost couldn’t make out his violated expression. “af̵t͢e̵҉͝r t̡̕͡ha͢t͝ ̨͞s̵͟p̷e̢͡e̸͘c͡h̢ ̧y̴o̢u͢ ̕g̷͡av͏͜͝e͏ ͟o̴n̴ ͏͜r̸̸ȩ͟sp͘͘ec̴t̨i̕n̡g ͠m̧̛͝y҉ p̢͟͝e͞r͏͜s̸͜o̵͜͏n͏a̵̶l̸͝ ̨̨͞s̸pa̢c̸e͜.̕..̡̕!͏͠”̴͞

"yeah, that was pretty uncool of me..." I sighed, wincing as I straitened up as much as possible. "...My Bad." 

We'll just put aside the fact you maimed me in a melee battle for now. Focus on the important stuff, like your virtue.

"I’m gonna level with you bro…" I gave him the most serious of stares. "...there’s a small chance I’ve been overcome with raw emotion and am in no fit state to be making rational decisions...

“t̪̺̙͙̬̱̯̯ḩ͚̯̺̫̱̼e̖̬n̸̢͙̼̳̮͔ͅ ̧̣̥͞j̟͔u҉͎̩̹͇̩͓s̜̥̕͢t͏̞̠͓͚̪͟ k̡̘͓̬̦͙̰͎̝̗͞i̷̭̳̮̟͇̗̦͘ḽ͓̼̦̼̹̠͝l̴̠͎̹̯̘ ̡̢̛͇̭m̡̢̪̞͚͕̭ȩ̖̞̲̰̤̭͡!҉̺̩̪͇̺͘̕ͅ ̥̭̞Ḽ̮̫̼̬̠i̩̹̪͍̤̕k̸̰͖͖͕̤̰e̜̙̗͙̫ͅ ̯̤̠͔̜a̡̳͇͇͖͈͝ ̨͈̼ņ͈̫̟̠̠̳͎̥o͎͉r̦̯̳̖̲͙̝̕ͅm̹ͅa̷̰̗̠̜͙͇̕͡l̨̥͖̥̼̘̟͚͈ ̢̥̖̦͖p̢̛̱̞͇ę͖͉̭̯r̥̣̣͕̹͚̮͔͟s̨̛̳̟̘͡o̢͚̪͇̦͢ņ̷̖̥̦͚͘!͏̻͚͢" The Destroyer clutched his jacket, seemingly on the brink on a mental breakdown.

In a… really crazy homicidal way…Error was right.

I had compromised my morals…gone back on my word… betrayed…

Click.

The Destroyer’s eye-socket spasmed as his usually stoic expression was overloaded.

“y̼̜̜͘͢ ̶͉̩͚̬͘o̮ ̴͈̠͡ư̴̙̭̥̣̘ ̴̻͙̪̤̪̹͇ ̵͍̳̪͙͘d͏̵̼̭̞̼̫ ̸̬͚̣̝͖̭͟i̗̦͎ͅ ̞͍̹͉̲d̯̜͓̺̪̩ ̞̤͎͍͜n̴̺̹̪̝ ̧͇̝̣̺̥͙͓̫’͙͎̮ț̴͎̰͠.̞̝͔͓͈"

I looked guiltily down at the phone in my hand, and the picture of Error clutching himself with a scandalised look…

…I’m going to regret this wild fit of rage in the morning.

I swallowed nervously.

“…But that’s your Cherry Popped face…”

Though my argument was sound, that didn’t stop the Destroyer from trying to stab me to death with a bone attack.

Spry as always, I jumped back out of my crouched position to avoid death, but in my haste, I dislodge… 

“My shoe!” I wailed, staring at the purple flip-flop now nailed to the road.

Just when I had learned the true meaning of a wholesome shoe pair.

“How could you!? First my jacket…” I gesture to the bleeding hole in my shoulder. “Now my one and only left shoe!”

The bone attack impaling said shoe dispelled, revealing a huge gaping hole in the sole.

But Error didn’t even look at the mutilated object before him.

“w͝h͢͡o͠ ͞ca̵r̨͞e̷̸s̸͜ ͟a͏b͠҉o͏͝u̢҉͠t ̷͝͡y̧̢o̢͢u͘͢҉r̵ ͏̡͘f̕͟r͟͝ea̸ki͏n̢g͏ s͜ho̴e̡̛!͘͟” Error was well and truly on the edge, skeletal hands clutching at his skull as he struggled to cope with the stupidity of the situation.

I gave a horrified gasp.

Every single article of clothing I owned had a deep and meaningful significance! Each one a monument in its own right…

“It was purple damn you!”

Error sneered, more than eager to throw down at this point.

Could I really let this escalate into a Nerd battle?

 “um…you guys know i can…” Ink tried to mediate, glancing back and forth between us with his brush held up suggestively.

The Creator’s moment to shine…the singular instance in which he could demonstrate the true meaning behind his existence…

Would have to wait.

“This is your sick way of getting me naked isn’t it!”

“w͏̨̹͕̬͍̭h̢͕̺̯̹̯͚͎͕a͔̞͍̘̥͙̼t̵͈̘?̖̘̯̮͚̣̞͜͝!͍̣͎͖͍̗̫̪͘͞”̺̭͙̘̮

“You’re just going to murder every article of clothing I have until there’s nothing left but my hot bod…”

“y̰̯̟̹̳̰̬͘͠o̮̘̰̩̭̤̗͉̗u̸̮ ̧̰͎͈͡c͕͇̻̱̫̳̼a̡͔͟ͅn̴҉̥̼̗̤͔̰͔̝̰’͚̝̜̕t̬͇̹̝̤͎͝ ̢̥̼͈̣͢b̙͡e̡̯̗̖͖̩̥̜͜ ͉̤͝s͢͏̘͇͉̣̼̺̳e͏̷̼̮͇̠̳͖r͖̩͠͡i̶̖̗͔̦͇̹͔͓o̘̥͙̣̕͠u͙̖͚̮͖͞s̱̖̖͟͟!̞̯̘̲̟̟͉̮͡”̺̝̪͇̖͇̫̞͢ ̷̫͎͙̤̟͠The Destroyer’s voice rose an octave as his last nerve snapped.

“Well. No.” I blinked. “Not really…”

I mean, attempted murder can be kinda hurtful when you take it to heart...

“I mostly just wanted to draw attention the fact that you stabbed me. Without making a big fuss over the fact you stabbed me. With a bone. Right here, in my favourite limb, where the blood is pouring out like a grotesque fountain…Its…” My head bowed in shame. “…not exactly how I imagined my first time being penetrated…”

Error summoned a Gaster Blaster in a fit of unadulterated hatred...

…only to dematerialise the weapon with a strangled noise…followed by a passionate spew of violent language… before turning his back on me and summoning a ball of yarn to de-stress with… continuing to mutter to himself angrily under his breath…

…The show of tolerance made me feel…

Uncomfortable.

Mostly.

On the job, the Destroyer was snarky and malicious. Confident in his power and quick with the wit. A bratty and resigned Error, one who would rather crochet than socialise with you… it was like…seeing him in his underwear...

…It's just a little bit too personal...

Surreal or not, I had obviously been dismissed.

In lieu of anything better to do, I turned a helpless look on Ink…to find him watching us with quiet amusement.

He always did prefer to observe.

The Creator smiled at me curiously, a little surprised at the attention.

As always, content to go unnoticed in the company of the homicidal maniac. Easier to daydream that way...

I chose to open up my phone, instead of interacting with him.

For all Error's flaws, he's still somehow the easier skeleton to talk to. Teasing Ink was unlikely to get a reaction, and trying to reason with him would be boring on top of futile. Being a skeleton, The Creator's head was as Strong as it was Empty.

Besides, there is a deed to be done, and flirting wouldn’t get me anywhere…

“Ahem...Anger management is cute and all…”

Good thing I can multi-task.

 Keeping one eye on my phone, I toed the sad remains of my shoe back onto my foot.

“…But you’re sort of killing the momentum…”

“s̨̼̰̯̪̦͜h̷̭̼͇̘̯͚͠ͅu̶̠̥̤̬̰͜ţ͏̯̹͕̝͙ ̳̬̻̹͜ṳ̻̝̕p͙͈̹̱̕.҉̸̯̩͙̫”̴̻̹̼̬͍̖̱̕ Error shot me a dirty look, hands kneading angrily at the magic string in his hands. “H̨͔͕͉̪͜o̸҉̤͎̹̙w̵̧̳͙ͅ ̴̳͖̲̯̩̭̜͈͘͝c̵̹͖͚a̴͙̮͕̝̱̺̬̟̳̕ņ̫̕ ̨̱̣͍̗͍̪̪͇y̷̦̜̦̰͓̝̣͘o̖̺̩̗̥͇̫̼u̸̡̼͖̭ ̷̛͙͜b̶͎̼͈͔̠̲͍͘ȩ̬̠̞̘͖͡ ͇̳̤̣͢ͅs̰̗̘o̷̜͙͓̬̦̺̼…̶̲s͔̱ͅo̮͍…̩̳͡”̴҉̹̤̱̝̭̺̞

“…Handsome?” I offered, turning my attention to the phone in my hand.

“̟̘͍̺̹͈̕ͅa̲̝̙̪̽nͦ̃n̗͔͚̂̔̓o͒̈́͏̩͚̻̝̱͚̼y͑̅̓̈́̈́͛ĩ̬̙̪͓̭̇ͥ͂̇̏̚͡n̨̠͇ͬ͊̉g̝̪̰ͮ̏̃͑͢!̳͔̣̗̗͕͇͛̎͋ͨͨͧͣ͝”̥̞͔ͦ̈́͆͠

Ahh…The novelty of having him hate me for my personality…

I gave a single shouldered shrug…cause…you know…stab wound that isn’t just going to magically stop being a problem without medical attention and everything…

“are you saying…” Ink's smile twitched in a way that immediately set alarm bells off.

“Mr Ink.” I cut him off, shoving my phone under his nose hole in a stern point. “I am a peaceful soul. I believe in love, unicorns and musicals… But if the words “under your skin” dare to leave your mouth this day, I swear, I am going to personally test the capacity of your gag reflex.”

The Creator looked mortified by the graphic threat…also more than a little amused...

Mostly just amused.

Before he could respond with an even worse joke, I held up the hand that wasn’t occupied with the phone, wincing at the way my shoulder throbbed with the movement.

“Don’t get cheeky with me.” I tried to glare. “Taking Mr Sleeper hostage was very inappropriate of you, and I’m going to be officially upset until he accepts your sincere apology.” 

Both skeletons stared at the cage in my hand, only just realising they had lost their only leverage…like…ages ago…

“c̡̞̗̮̙͔̄̈̑ͧ̿ͨ̓r̐̾̚̕a̶͓̯̗p҉̱.̯̟̙̦̟̥͋̆͂”̹̌̊̾̈͐̉

“when…?”

Between absent mindedness and insanity, it really is a wonder the multiverse is still in one piece…

I sighed, peering into the cage myself to confirm that the bitty was still sleeping soundly, snoring softly. Well and truly tuckered out.

Compared to Ink's torn and dirty appearance, Sleeper didn’t have a single scratch.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Mr Sleeper is strong enough to fight his own battles…but here’s some friendly advice…”

I side-eyed the two skeletons carefully, ageless boredom turning my neutral gaze cold.

“…if you hurt him…”

… 

Nah.

“Pfft. Never mind…” I turned back to my typing. “...That's just not realistic…”

Besides, this next part should give a pretty good idea of what I'm capable of. 

Tongue sticking out in concentration, I made the finishing touches on my phone.

 “…cute winky face and… post!” I gave the screen a triumphant tap.

A moment later, both skeleton's pockets chirped with a notification sound.

An event that was happening all across the multiverse.

I looked up at them eagerly.

“...Aren’t you going to get that?”

Both skeletons hesitated, in the process of reaching for their cellular devices...though Error looked more than ready to throw his instead of answer it.

Ink was the first to unlock his phone, drawing a little pattern with his thumb before staring at the screen.

“…this app wasn’t here before…” He frowned slightly in confusion. “or did i just forget…”

I tilted my head.

“do you like it? it took me ages to settle on the design.”

The Artist looked between me and his phone.

“…a white box with your name on it…?”

I shifted nervously.

“…Should I have gone with black box and the white lettering?”

Ink stared in disbelief before realising I was serious…and gave me a smile that was just that little bit too forced.

“no no…its very…um...”

“̼͇̭͓w̛͈̜ ̴̻͓̰h҉̜̭̥ ̷̱̤̜̯̦a͈͇͎ ̞̩t̘̜̗̹̫͖͚”͕̬̫̗͠

Error’s phone creaked under the force of his clenching hand as he lifted his gaze to glare at me.

“̻̞͠i̯̙̺̘̠ ̴̬͚͓͓̤̮s̩̟̯͔̰̱”҉

There was no light in his eyes.

“̹̮̖͚̩͝t͇ ҉͕̺̝̤̤̹h̥̩̼̜̜ ̞̮̯̹̬̪ͅi͈͢ ͔͙̬̤͎s̤̩̭?̻̬”̼̱̥̺̓ͣ͑́͘

I blinked innocently.

“Well. If the program worked like it's supposed to.” I waved my phone at him. “I’d say I just sent everyone in the multiverse with the AVA App a cute little picture.”

On my screen was the selfie we had taken together earlier, captioned…

You guys sent me the Destroyer? Aww, you shouldn’t have…;)  

Error’s stress ball disintegrated in his clenched fist.

…And here I always thought revenge would be boring…

“…everyone with the app…?” Ink finally asked, looking a little ill when he lifted his gaze from his own phone.

I nodded excitedly.

“The AVA App will automatically appear once the two conditions have been met.”

My own phone was beginning to vibrate like mad, so I took a moment to switch the notifications off before casually snapping a picture of the paint stained skeleton.

“…conditions?” He sounded a little faint, but didn’t protest my picture taking like Error had.

 “My name.”

“…um…” He faltered.

I didn’t look up, quickly typing out a title for my next picture.

“The only thing you have to do to get the app…”

My thumb pressed over the Post button.

“Is know my name.”

Another notification sound beeped, and both skeletons silently selected the next picture.

A horrified Ink, staring at me with his phone in his hand.

Mr Ink is here too I guess, though I’ll have to stock up on art supply’s before I make an attempt on his innocence.

“…annnnd be 18+.” I admitted with a coy head tilt. 

Because the internet should be a safe place.

Colour blossomed on Ink’s face before he hid his expression behind the bristles of his brush.

“…that’s…ah…”

“d̛̮̺i̯̺̮̖͇̥s̮̭͔͓̣͎t̙̪̠̗͉̬͖͡uͅŗ̹̝̗b҉̤̠͚i͍̰̮͠ͅn̳̙g͍̹͉l̠̪̹̮y̬ a҉͕̳̜̲c͖̫͜c̝̰ṷ̶̪̘̰̻̖ͅr͕̗̲͕̮͈͞ąt̜͔̥e.͘ͅ”̗

“error!”

I took a sneaky picture of Ink's bashful reaction.

This one’s going straight to my private collection.

“If you think that what you’ve seen so far is impressive, just click the little hat icon in the corner.” I said.

Error sent Ink a sharp glare.

“d͏̗̱o̖̭ͅn̜͍’͇̳͚̪͈͘t̫̜̲̺̟͘ ̠y̷͚͔͍͍͚͈̪ọ̪̭̦͎͝ṳ͇̬̼̫ ̰̗̭d̤̗̲͇̝͚̮a̺̗̟̹̣̲ͅr̜̘̘e̪̲…̣̫̯”̖̻͕̟͚̫

I got a notification on the Error picture.

Ink LIKES this.

The Creator's eye sockets went wide and Error leant as close as his personal bubble would allow to look at other's screen.

“…is this…?”

“That’s right.” I gave a cheerful nod. “Rewarding me with a Hat Pat will grant you access to the comment feed.”

Error stared at me, glitching wildly in growing horror.

“n̤̹̰̗͚ͪ ̻̖͚̝͚̤̮ͮͮ̃̽ͦ̓͂͠ǒ̸͊̐ͅ.̵̻͒̍̃ͯ”̣̙͍̖̤̠́͡

I smiled.

“Yes.”

My curiosity finally got the best of me. Using my Avatar privileges, I accessed the comments and promptly scrolled through the first page.

 

-Comments-

 

>Classic Alphys- Oh. My god...

 

>Reaper Sans- keep him.

 

>Classic Sans- Censored

*For pun.

 

>Geno Sans- heh.

 

>Mob Undyne- Censored

*Overloaded the app with a full page of passionate laughter

 

>Fell Sans- Censored

*for Swearing.

 

>Classic Sans- Censored

*thought the pun would go unnoticed if it wasn’t obvious, i.e. not bone related.

 

>Science Sans-how are you even doing this?!

 

>Dance Mettaton-Stunning photography Dear ;)

 

>Fell Sans- Censored

*for Swearing.

 

>Swap Alphys- Stop screwing around with those punks and come back and face me!

 

>Classic Undyne- Censored

*for…also… writing a full page of passionate laughter.

 

>Fresh- LMAO

 

>Swap Sans- STRANGE HUMAN! IT IS I, THE MAGNIFICENT SANS. I DON'T KNOW IF YOU RECALL, BUT WE MET FOR A SHORT TIME WHEN YOU VISITED UNDERSWAP. I KNOW IT MIGHT NOT SEEM LIKE IT, BUT ERROR REALLY IS TRYING HIS BEST. HE CAN SEEM VERY RUDE SOMETIMES,  BUT HE PROMISED... SO PLEASE FORGIVE HIM.

 

Error swore under his breath, snatching Ink's phone out of his hands to begin typing.

 

>Fell Sans- Censored

*for Swearing.

 

>Alter Asgore- GOLLY!   

 

>SwapFell Undyne- Censored

*Again. Passionately laughing in the form of text.

 

>Error- Censored

*threatening to destroy the entire multiverse in his embarrassment.

 

>Classic Sans-Censored

*it’s unnecessary to knock on the phone.

 

>Swap Papyrus- Censored

*can’t get away with begging Ava to xxx the dirty brother stealer, so cops out with a pun.

 

>Horror Toriel- Censored

*fingers were too big for the keys… but yes…Error does look delicious…

 

>Fell Sans- Censored

*went to the huge amount of effort not to swear, but got censored anyway cause fuck that guy.

 

>Outer Undyne- Censored

*seriously has way too much time to be writing a full page of Fuhuhuhuhuh…

 

>Error- Censored.

*…the important thing, Swap Papyrus, is not to panic…

 

>Classic Papyrus-  DEAR HUMAN AVA, THIS IS THE GREAT PAPYRUS. I AM WRITING TO IMFORM YOU THAT THE CAPS LOCK SEEMS TO BE BROKEN ON YOUR APP.

-SINCERELY, THE GREAT PAPYRUS.

 

I instantly logged out, a wave of dizziness making the screen blur in my hand.

Exposure was the price I had to pay…but having him see me act so villainous…

 “t̨͏̫̫̖͎͓̪̲̠͍a̴͇̱̬̩̭ͅk̴̠̺̲̗̖̕͡e̺̠͟ ̧̧̨̰̥̼͕͚̝i̶̳͕̩͇̜̻͕͙͈t̡̲̩̫̤͠ ̴̰̹̖̞̠d̷̨̳̩̥̼̗ǫ̶̟͍̮͚̜̱̪w̡̻̥͔͙̟͢ͅͅn̹̹̝͇͔͍̝ͅ!” Error hissed.

I raised my gaze to stare at him flatly.

No. I couldn’t afford to lose my resolve.

“Pffft.” I waved my phone at him in disbelief. “I might be an all powerful Avatar, but even I can’t take embarrassing pictures off the internet! Nothing can challenge the power of the Cloud."

My gaze widened.

"Nothing.

“…how is this even possible…?” Ink still had the state of mind to ask, staring down at his phone while the Destroyer seemed to be struggling with hyperventilation. "error commented on my phone, and it still registered as him... and that really doesn't even scratch the surface of what's wrong with all this..."  

I shifted uncomfortably.

“Well... you know this universe, that you guys invaded and started tearing to shreds… yea, it’s kinda sentient… and honestly?” I gave a slight huff. “A total wanker.” 

“bu̙͉̭ͫ̋̒̔̑l̶̟͔̞͔̳͎ͩ̋̈̆̃̈́̃ḻ͔̝̦̉̈́ͨ̄̓̽̅sͥ̍ͩ͛͊ͭh̥̰̬̿̚i̻̱͘tͤͫ.̬͉̣̪͓̓ͥ̚”̝̞̫̟͎͊̓́̂͋

“No, seriously. If the universe was a cool homie, it would spawn me a nunchuck…" 

...Nothing happened.

"...A Kunai…? Fine… one shuriken…”

I waited expectantly, but all I got for my trouble was awkward silence.

“Screw you Reality.” I muttered bitterly. “I won’t give up on my dreams. One day, I will become Hokage, and when I do, I want a mountain with my face on it and a pointy hat! Dattebayo!”

Only then will Sans-ei acknowledge me...

Neither skeleton seemed to know what to do with this declaration. I gave a longing sigh.

“...Anywho, the only thing I need to view the infinite possibilities of the multiverse is a medium.” I gave my phone a meaningful wiggle. “And though I wanted to stay old school, the sad fact is, television is becoming obsolete. I mean, with this little device, I can watch anything I want, whenever I want. I can livestream, use social media and my personal favourite...”

I smiled at them, opening up the search on my phone.

“My special attack.”

Ink shifted nervously.

“…i thought…”

“What? The changing my soul thing? oh no, that was just a really cool regular attack, this…” I held my phone up in the air dramatically. “ Is my Special Attack.”

PLAY.

Immediately, sensual noises burst from the speakers, causing both skeletons to start sweating nervously.

“…error.” The phone moaned, and Ink lost all colour.

“sh̟̳͕͉̼͈u̹t͡ ̸͙u̡̩̖̥̤͓̰͙p̴̳͙͓͉͓͓͚ ̮̹͕̕a̯n̤̳͉͎̪͎̖d͚͕̱͍.̟̩̗.̲.͙̙̲͙̼ ̮̺̳̙̟̙a͏h̵͙͕̼̺!͏̳̺͉ ̯g-g̯o̟ ̖̟̦d̷̲͚͚e͙̻͕͕e̸̻̪̹ͅp͎̗̥ḙr͏͍͇.”

Error was glitching so hard it was nearly impossible to make out his next words.

“wh̞̲̳̖͒ͥ͋ͫǎ͕͓̫̅̇͂̒͒t̴̝̝͈͍͆ͮ̇̉ ͇̟̣̻̻̘̲̀̒̓̄̌̋̎i̦̺͙s̸̩̙̔ͬ͛͊̏ͫ ̨̎̏ͯ̓̍̒ẗ̹̳̩̞̖̯̇͋h͕͕̲̞ͯ͊̏̉̂a̴͙̲͇̭ͭ̆͋̎̊͋̓t̴̩͂̐̔͊͆̒?̃̒̐̌a̵͔͈̱͓̖͇͒̎͊̚ṋ̠̫͔͓͚̹͉̍͞͠ḑ͕̙̘̭̊̊̍͒̌͆͘ ̷̘̠̹̯̯̂̽̋́ͩ̓̂w̬̘͖̤̲̙̜̣̍́ͬ̓̾̚͜h͍̰͔͛ͤͪ̌ͬ͡͞y̛̲̦͉͖͇̜̲̯̓͒ͬ̇ͮ͟͢͠!̷̹͕̯͈͉͖̜̀̐ͭ̇̾͠a͆͞҉̪̮̦̪̘ͅͅm̰̱͒ͥ̽͢͡͞ ̨͙̠̭͆̾͆̈́ͬI̼̟̾̂̋́ͪ͝͡ ̶̺̙̰͈̥͎̼̜ͣ̑͋͗ͥ͑ͯo̪͙̒̾ͫ̑ͣ̋n̞͔͙͛ͧ̃͆ͤ̂ͮ͒͛͠ ̶͇͙͗̓ͧ̏ͯ̒͊ṫ̳̥̙͖͓̫̮͖̜̋h͍̻̬̰͌ẹ̱̮̣͕̫̣̘̾̋ͤͩ͒̈̒͠͠ ͆ͨ͜҉͍͙b̑̍͊҉̠̲̰̱̼ò̵͉̱̘̪͎̝̱ͥͭ͋͒͛͢t̵̰̖̅͑̄̑̅t̝͖͎̆̀̾̀̏̀͑̎ỏ̫̱̤͇̳̘͎́̕͞͠m̡̳̅ͨͬ̋ͦ̎͘͢!”

 I tilted my head.

“It’s a movie. A documentary really, based in a timeline. It’s called…”

I turned the screen towards them so they could see.

THE MAKING OF PAPERJAM: Ver.6

In HD.

A noise erupted from Error that was either static or screaming, and there was a spray of black from Ink's direction.

“I̒̎̊̓̽̿͊ͣ̀҉̰̜̙̫͖̪͖̦̹’͊ͣ̋̓̈́̏ͪͤ҉̷͚̞̯̯̤̟m̶̡̭̯͖̒̓̑ͬͭ͐ ̶͇̬̫̥͖̐ͬ͞g͙̮̖̻͎̫̦̼͋͋͝ȍ̸̷̼̦͓̜̣̙͚̤ͮ̈́ͮ̔͛̍͠n̷͓̼̘̼ͥ͒͘ǹͮ̋̓̋͛͏̧̙͍̦̺̲̫͘a̴̼̰͕͎ͮͣ̉̚͟ ̨͎͓̻̙̓̓̅̈̐s̶̮͓̎͋e̶̴͂͒͏͎̳̣̤̲w̶̭̫ͨ̿͌͟ ͎̜̝̤̰ͩ̆̎͢y͖̹̭̳̟̰͗͜͡o͚̺̟̭̘̘̐͛̀ű̳̼̙̺͖̼͎̃̈́̈̔͐͟͟ͅr̺̘͕̤̜̂̈́ͪ̉͒͡ͅ ̡͇͈̙̖̱̳͙̭̹ͪ̎̔͝p̢͇̘̱̳͇ͩ̌̃̋͗̇̕͞e̯̤͔ͨ̆̊ͭ̏̍̄̇͜ͅnͨͧ̀̽͂҉̦͕̯̪̼̣͚̰̯c̼̣̥͇̹̓̾͑̓́̒͘̕i̶̱̙ͩl̴͓̣̙̬͖͆ͧ̈ͦ̓ͩ͟ͅ ͔̘͎ͥ̒̅ų͖̮ͤ̈́̌ͥͭ̐̃̓̒͝p̺̮̳͕̤͍͇͐̓̐ͥ͛ͫ͜ ̨̛̖̻ͦ̍̐̈́͂ͤy̷̹͖͖͙̬̮ͯ͑̆̓̿͜ỡ̵̗̬̞͇̻͛̎̎̋̉͑͊́u̶̧̪̙̜̜̗͛̄̒͑ͧ̓ṟ̺͉̲̥ͫ̋̕ ̶̧̟͍̹͙̼͓̺͍̂͐f̬̙̙̦̒ͭ͋̿ͤ̊͘r̺̆̎ͮ̓ͦ̇ͦ͒͢͠e̲̯͎ͥ̎͑̉ͭ̈ͤ̕ã̧̬̰̪̬̽͛ͫͥ̉̊̚ḵ̛̟͎̬͈̙̔̄̀̒̕͢i̵̠̜̘͉ͩ̋ͨ̂ͥ͑ͬ͝ṅ̡̝͔̻̱͎̜ͥg̴̤̩̜͉͍̠̊͒ͬ̽ ̛̪̲̬̣͉̘̣̪̲̈́́͆͢a̷̛̺̬̥͇ͫṣ̭͕͇̯̭̤͙̽ͤ̏ͮ̈́̽̈́̚ͅs̶̯̹̼̃̎ͯ͋ͦ̀̚ ̠̭̱͉͔ͦ̈ͪ͜͝c̡̧̙͓ͩ̚͡ř͋ͣ͐̾̂ͣ̉͏̨̞̘a̸̖̮͈͚̹̐̾͑ͦ͆̾̈́y͎͚͔̳̝͒ͨ͒̍͒ͦ̕o̸̝̫̞̳͎͗̚͠ĺ̶͍̫̙͖̦̮͙ͯ̏̅ͮ̏ͪ̍̔a̡̳̾̿ ̵͔͚̣̘̭̖̻ͮ̔̋̄ͭ̉̃͒͡w̰͙̟͚͔̱̗ͥ̀͌͂͗ͅh̶̵̭͔̘͈̔̄̋ͧ̅o̵̰̥̻̞̼͓̠ͦͯ̾ͭͩ͐̒͌ͅr̷̡̼̬͍̖̝̫͓ͯͦ͒e̶̴̟̙̻̞̹̺͇̞̲̓͑̇ͪ͌͒!” The Destroyer snarled, grabbing Ink by the scarf.

“wait!” Ink held a hand over his nosebleed. “with that app, they can send that video to…”

“Everyone.”

Both skeletons turned their heads to look at me, finally realising the true horror of their situation.

I semi-smiled at them from beneath the brim of my hat.

 “…that being said…”

I turned the video off, shoving my phone in my pocket with a shrug.

“I give up.”

My hand raised in surrender.

“Take me to your leader.”

...

They stared at me in silence.

...

Did a double take.

...

Then continued to stare in silence, until finally…

 

“...what!?”

Chapter Text

So.

How did the Destroyer and Creator respond to the sudden olive branch waved in their faces?

..Well, it was pretty obvious from the get-go they didn’t buy it. 

Ink even expressed some confusion as to why the change of heart.

I tilted my head.

“Because you won Mr Ink?”

Nothing fancy, just the traditional reason. 

“…did…i…um…” The Creator glanced around in confusion. “…miss something?”

I blinked.

This was my chance to monologue explain.

But staring at Ink's politely blank expression...the words wouldn't come out.

Saying that I had lost something… because I'd overestimated...or underestimated...a lot of things… and that I had to go find it… but I needed help… and that it still hurts even though I know there is a chance…

Meant trusting them.

Them trusting me.

And we all know how that ends.

…Guess we were never really friends then…

I pulled l my hat down over my expression, all at once desperately wanting Sleeper to wake up.

“The benefits of resisting no longer outweigh the cost…” I said, swallowing past the sudden tightness in my throat. “…Fighting, dirty or otherwise, makes me feel rotten... and my shoulder hurts reeeeally baaad so…”

I peeked out from under my hat, my eyes pleading…ish.

“I’m sparing you.”

Please. Before I somehow make this worse.

“then…” Ink's expression flickered through an array of emotion before settling on exasperation. “why did you make us go through all this in the first place!?”

I flinched a little at the raised tone, pulling my hat further down to hide behind.

There were lots of reasons. I wanted them to understand. I was upset. They needed to know what they are dealing with. I was bored. I needed to get Sleeper back. I'm terrible at making choices... 

“…Because I’m human.”

In the ways that mattered anyway. 

Ink lost some of his huff, looking hurt and confused while Error…

Calmed.

“gi̵v̴ȩ̵ ̢͝m̴̛e̴ ̸̧͝t̢̕h̢̛̕e͡ ̷̕͡p̡͢͏hon̶͘e̛͜͠.”̴

The Destroyer held a boney hand out, smile revealing only laziness.

An Avatar may be an unknown threat... But a human was something he knew how to handle.

I shifted nervously.

“That's…”

“̕͏i͠ k͟no͡w͘͟ ͜i̕͢t̴͞’͏s̷̨ ̸͡h̶͜a͜rd ̸͢t̡ǫ̕̕ ̡g̵̸͏iv̕e̶ ̛up,͏ ͡͞a̴͏̸ft̷e̛͠͏r͞ e͝v͘͡ę̧͢r̶͠y̕t̶͞hi̢n̵̢g̴ ͟y̴ǫ͘u̢͟ ̴h̨͝a̷ve d͏͜o͘n͟͢e̸͟.” His fingers wriggled teasingly. “b̶͘ut ̛͠if y҉o̧u̸̕ me̸͡a͏nt̨ w͠h̷҉at̷͡ ̵yo͏̷u ̸s̛͢a͞i̢҉͝d, ̶y҉oư̧ ̢w̡͘o͜͡n̶͡’͜͏̸t ̴̵͏hol̨͜d͡҉̧ th̢̧͜is̵ ̸̛ag̢ai͞͞n͡͏s̨̛͡t̸͝ m̕͟e͝.͞”̴͘

He didn't understand. 

Silently… I reached into my pocket…and tossed over the phone…

“͢h̛͝e͢h, ̕t̴͘hank͜s̴͞ ̕b̷̸u͠d͜͡dy̛͜.͟”̧̡ ̛͢͟͏͔̠̤͓̯He caught it with a widening smile.

“͏̶̨͝I̶ ҉̴w̡͘o̕͢͟͠n͜͏̨̢’̢͟t͏͘ ̷̡͘͜l̴̡͜͟e̴͢͝ţ̕͜ ͘͠i̷͟͟͡t̸̢͝͞ ̸̨̛͟͡g̷̶͡o̴̷̧͡ ̸t̢̧͜͡o̢͠͡ ̷w̢͢a̶͜s̸̴͠t̴͘e͏̸̶̡̡.”

He knew that I would recognise the words.

I did

He gave me fair warning.

But I had already made my choice. 

The words definitely alerted Ink to what was about to happen, as the shorter skeleton was already moving...

Only to come to a sudden halt, dropping his brush to catch the cage I suddenly threw in his face.

I smiled slightly, meeting his panic with the tiniest shrug.

If you’re going to spare someone, with the entirety of your soul… you drop your defences completely… and trust everything you are on them returning your mercy.

Sans was always too practical to do something so stupid.

But not me.

I’m a romantic.

At first, I felt the force of it more than the pain.

My brain seemed to skip whatever came in between those two things, as the next thing I was really aware of was hanging impaled on a wall of bone…in a great deal of pain.

... Gotta say, as far as gruesome deaths go, this one is definitely not as fun as it looks…

And if Ink's, or even Error’s expressions were anything to go by…

It looked about as fun as it felt.

I coughed as my lungs filled, agony beyond comprehension wracking my body as my insides moved against the bones. Blood I couldn’t taste slipped past my lips, splattering to the ground with a thick, wet sound.

…at least my initial stab wound is waaay less of an issue now…

Even as I watched my blood drip down, barely even distinguishable from the red bones below… I couldn’t help feel a little miffed.

Besides the very long list of reasons he had to kill me, his continued struggle with mental health and the classic knee jerk reaction every Sans has towards mercy…

...I had really hoped Error would have at least learned something from the first time he tried to shove me off the mortal coil.

With a pained huff, I tried to lift my head again, surprised at how heavy it felt…and how bright everything was.

…I mean, I know it’s a Sans thing, to assume the worse and ask questions never… but consent is important to any healthy relationship…Making me show my cards like this is just rude.

 “If you were trying…” I gasped, determined to have my famous last words. “…to spit roast me…this is not how it works…”

When I finally managed the herculean feat of lifting my gaze,  it was to find three skeletons staring at me in horror.

Three.

The last of my blood drained from my face and out of one of the various holes in my body.

How inconvenient...

“…Mr Sleeper…”

Even from here, I could see something inside him breaking. Hurting in a way I was only just learning to feel.

I knew he understood the cost of love.

I just hadn’t realised how much he had invested in me.

“This…isn’t…” I tried to smile reassuringly. I blame the bloodloss for my lack of success. “…what it… looks like…”

My head fell forward, unable to support both itself and my hat at this point in time.

Ink was the first to snap out of his shock.

I heard him shouting at Error, something to the effect of stop impaling them you douchebag!

I'd been saying it from the start, hadn't I?

The bones finally disintegrated and my body fell limp to the road below.

I don’t want to fight.

But some things cannot be conveyed through words alone…or even realised, without something breaking.

In every single timeline, Error proved himself to be one of those people who had to go through a whole lot of stupid to realise what they really wanted.

…come to think of it…is there any monster out there that doesn’t use a combination of combat, monologues and puzzles to achieve any sort of epiphany…?

I dully registered the explosion of sound and power…but didn’t really have the luxury of paying attention to what was happening outside my body.

Dying in a pool of my own blood would become a real issue if I didn’t start doing something about it.

I had to focus within.

Turning my soul red.

... This is normally the point where Cher climbs up on her battleship to bid logical chronological order fare thee well…

Except…for someone like me, who can’t decide whether to use liquid or powdered soap in the washing machine I never have to use anyway… no Ava, don’t let yourself get dragged back into it…you’ll only get hurt…

Must. Focus. On. Impending. Death.

Ahem…it’s just that the ability to bend the entirety of reality to my will…is a little out of my league… to say the least...

Besides, the Determination needed to actually maintain a save file is…well… a constant thing.

And I don’t really do constant.

This being the unfortunate case, I had to come up with an alternative.

In the name of cheating death, I had studied the greatest Avatars of all time… until I found inspiration in one who also shared a love of red hats.

My Answer.

The conversion of biomass into a second life.

Though I have a tendency to shift between my every self, I do have parameters. A set space in the universe in which my matter is confined. An adult, human shape, with an average range of mass.

Changing the very template of what I am…takes a great deal of reality-bending determination… not to mention concentration, scientific know-how and a surgeon’s ability to manipulate both magical and physical matter…

It wasn’t exactly something I learned to do overnight…But if done successfully, any access mass can be recycled…broken down into energy… and turned into hp.

The scientific theory behind the phenomenon is…

What doesn’t kill you makes you smaller.

The process, for one, took far less time than the explanation.

... 

The first thing I noticed was the strange sound. A constant pitter-patter.

I blinked, focusing on the road beneath me, still stained with my blood and…?

I turned my head groggily to find… rippling puddles…

It was raining...

Ink.

…this demands further investigation.

The change was always a bit disconcerting…even when it hadn’t been so long since I practised…

I sat up, feeling what had always been a baggy raincoat swallow me whole.

While my sweater and pants were a part of my entity and shifted to suit whatever form I might take…the same couldn’t be said for my other clothing.

From what I could determine past my even more oversized hat, was that my hands were in serious trouble, stranded in the depths of the yellow sleeves.

I knew for a fact I looked like a child playing dress up…because a young child was the closest description of what I'd become.

Adorable is the second closet word, but in my opinion that always applies…

The sound of something... Probably a prized possession... Being destroyed by an explosion of magic finally drew my attention away from the all-important me.

And back up to the sky.

I frowned slightly at the black rain. Rain Noir?

Even Ink Sans can’t spawn this much liquid on demand. It would have taken him ages to accumulate…

Realisation startled my face back to blankness. 

The rain wasn’t coming from clouds. No. The sky was its usual pitch black self.

…Sly bugger used the lack of stars to smuggle in enough ink to challenge me even at my finest.

I hadn’t had as much of an advantage as I'd thought.

With a sigh, I looked around to find my universe even more destroyed than it had been only a few minutes ago, and a light show coming from down the street.

Which was probably two very unlucky skeletons finding out I was never the one they had to worry about.

“That Mr Sleeper...” I huffed, strenuously beginning to roll up my sleeves and locking them in place with the button/strap combo I had inserted for this very reason. “…Always with the overreacting.”

With a wobble I stood up as best I could, beginning to apply the same treatment to the hem of my coat.

My shoes had to be shoved into a pocket for safe keeping and my scarf wrapped to maximum capacity, but in the end, I could walk in…not style per say…

It was just that my outfit, which was now vastly oversized as well as ugly…was covered in blood, ink and littered in holes…

…and I still didn’t have an answer to the great laundry question…

"Don't worry about that." I shook my head to clear it."...I’m sure they won’t even notice your clothing past the fact you’re not even a meter tall now…”

Falsehoods and lies!

Sniffling a little, I started forward at a painful shuffle.

“...Let’sa go Ava…”

My body was healed, but my soul felt raw. 

“...Get out more, they say. Meet people, they say. Have a life, they say.” I grumbled under my breath. “Well at least my hobbies have never mugged me for my phone.”

Seriously such a jerk…he doesn’t even know the password…probably never will either…it's randomly generated…every time you try to open it…

Now that I was on much shorter legs, I was significantly more grateful my universe was so tiny, even before it was subdivided.

It didn’t take long to reach the mayhem, and when I did, my eyes widened in awe.

If a string factory, the black sea and super advanced GPS system were going to have an argument, this is probably what it would look like.  

I’d seen Error's and Ink's attacks before…though this was a ridiculous amount of liquid even for him…

Mr Sleeper is the one who threw me for a loop.

It wasn’t the classic skeleton magic.

Symbols of blue magic shone in the air, lines of code forming into shapes.

Anything that touched the magic disappeared.

All of it looked like something that would come from a computer rather than a Bitty... 

A rapidly calculating computer.

“This is all very flattering...But not in my backyard people.” I groaned, trudging through the knee-high ink. “Have a little respect for the lawn.”

What’s left of it anyway..

The living liquid around me moved like it couldn’t decide if it was a hurricane, an angry ocean or a dinosaur.

Still, wild as it was, Ink must have sensed the disturbance my presence caused… as a few steps in…

...every drop of liquid fell lifeless.

So much for sneaking in unnoticed... 

I sent a searching glance around for Ink...  and found him, stained and staring. 

... I don’t know if it was the force of the relief... or the fact that he was now taller than me by a fair margin…

But colour tainted tears welled up in The Creator's eye sockets.

I was more mortified than I could say... 

..Grown skeletons, getting weepy over stuff that isn't even awesome sex…

I held my hat down over my face with both hands, ignoring everything as I marched through the remaining sludge.

 …The "souless" are all a bunch of jackasses anyway…

The moment I got close enough to Sleeper's fortress of magic...  that, from the feels of it, was probably building up to tear the universe a new one…I drew a deep breath…

“Yo, Mr Sleeper!” I called, hoping he wasn’t too far gone in saiyan mode to hear me being an asshole. “I’m really happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but Sans the Skeleton had one of the best avenge battles of all time…”

There's no such thing as a situation that can't be diffused with a meme. 

The magic vanished, going out like a girl on the town.

Leaving a very small skeleton, staring up at me from a circle of untouched lawn.

Cause some people have magic and are too good to get drenched. 

“…you’re not dead.” He noted simply, staring up at me with empty sockets. 

I scratched my hat sheepishly. 

“Apparently not...You...ah...really ought to confirm that sort of thing before going full blown angst...save yourself some trouble...”

He frowned, disapproving. 

“you’re younger. smaller.”

Still taller than you. 

“All the better to guilt trip you with my dear?”

“i'm going to k i l l  y o u.”

And this is how surviving backfires.

I shrugged a little.

“At this point, you'd probably get away with it fairly easily...but leaving you on you lonesome seems like a bad idea to me.” I stepped forward until my feet touched the clean grass. “I mean, what sort of maniac fights both the Destroyer and the Creator at the same time?”

“you did.”

“Yeah, but I was dressed appropriately, in accordance with work health and safety.”

“bullshit.” He muttered,  already looking tired again. “if I hadn’t left… fallen asleep…”

Life sucks, because it's nobody's fault. 

“I’m the one who fished you out of the void Mr Sleeper.” I tried to give him a stern look, planting my hands on my tiny hips. “Maritime law makes you my responsibility, for all of eternity. Whether you like it or not.”

Instead of chewing me out for my boldness, the small skeleton remained stiff.

Silent.

With a groan, I crouched down, offering my hands towards him.

For cuddles.

“I won’t tell anyone.” I promised.

“go away idiot.” He muttered, physically having to turn away from me to resist. “i don’t want it.”

It's in you're nature to want it... 

“I want it.” 

Sleeper sent a surprised glance up at me.

My fingers twitched, and all trace of smile left my face.

“... Please help me Mr Sleeper…I…”

My gaze lowered in shame.

“I lost Mo.”

…a weight appeared on my shoulder. 

It wasn't as spacious as before, but he made do. 

“we're leaving. and you will explain. n o  a r g u m e n t s.”

I nodded, pulling my empty hands back to wring together.

Climbing to my feet, I turned to face the two skeletons who hadn’t dared approach.

...Welp, if they hadn’t been intimidating before…now they were both a lot bigger than me, and I was heart down. 

The only thing that had changed was me... But it certainly didn't feel that way... 

Before I could say anything, Ink took a step towards me, hand outstretched.

“thank the stars! are you…?”

I immediately retreated, jumping backwards to keep the distance between us.

My heart was racing with something quite unexpected. 

Fear. 

It was more than the height difference... I was vulnerable and my instincts were compensating... 

My sudden skittishness was something no skeleton failed to notice, and I could almost feel Sleeper’s deadly anger leaking coldness onto my shoulder.

Ink didn’t make another attempt to approach, his hand falling limp to his side.

Error looked… apathetic.

This was probably among one of the worst possible endings.

A portal suddenly opened up behind me. Even had the nerve to act like it was supposed to be there. 

I reiterate, my universe is a troll.

The first time it saves me from an awkward situation, and I didn't have the heart to feel grateful. 

Before making a move towards the gateway, I gave the two larger skeletons a shaky wave.

“I was…kinda hoping we could carpool…but I guess…I’ll be meet you there…?”

A little light returned to Error gaze as he…flipped me off.

“y͏͞ea̴h̷̛ ̛͟y͘ea̷̢̕h͢͜.͠ ̷g͘͠ę͢t̷̷ ͝d̶u̢͟͝n̨̢k̶͜͠e̵̶d͞.”

Ink’s eyes widened in horror, half reacting to Error before realising something and trying to stop me.

“.. wait!”

The choice was taken from me when I was grabbed from behind.

I looked down to find sharp phalanges digging into my arm.

Reminding me exactly which channel I had been watching before I had been so rudely interrupted.

F.E.L.L

I was yanked backwards, out of the frying pan.

Into the fire.

Chapter Text

The change in temperature was the first thing to register.

A sensation I had never felt in my own universe.

Warmth.

I caught a glimpse of a disappearing blue portal and wooden floorboards before the conclusion of the ride found me dangling high above the ground, face to face with the stuff of nightmares…And wet dreams... 

Arm trapped in a vice-like grip, I stared dazedly into the eye sockets of the edge lord himself.

UnderFell Papyrus. Face set in a stony glare… one that from only bare inches away revealed very little surprise at finding an ink-drenched Avatar suddenly at his mercy.

…speaking of which…

 “did you just…” I blinked at him with rare surprise. “…stick your arm into a strange portal with absolutely no idea what was on the other side…?”

Never one to waste words on the obvious, the edgy skeleton ignored my question to send a calculative glance down my body, frowning as he noted, characterised and filed away every detail.

As a Former Royal Guardsman and a puzzle-loving Papyrus, it wouldn’t take him long to draw a conclusion, and the right one at that.

“…So. Freaking. Badass.” I breathed, barely holding in a fan-person squeee as I hung helplessly in his grasp.

“More like a dumbass.” Griped a voice from below…admittedly at a cautious volume.

Do my ears deceive me, or is there an angsty flower in the room?

Fell Papyrus’ already narrowed eye sockets twitched with irritation.

 “I HEARD YOU TALKING ON THE OTHER SIDE IMBECILE.” He stated coldly, making it very clear the tall skeleton’s bullshit tolerance was sub-zero at the moment.

Even as he spoke, Papyrus’ clawed hand tightened on my arm… to the point where I wondered if I was about to lose the limb.

“WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?” He demanded, his tone warning that this was my one chance to cooperate.

Before he'd strap me to a table and bring out the toys.

I failed to answer right away, and not just because I didn't mind the idea.

As he spoke I had become distracted…by the fact that he wasn’t wearing gloves.

Fell Papyrus…most Papyrus-es, don’t take their mittens off unless they were doing something… intimate…

One curious glance confirmed that we weren’t in the kitchen or the bedroom… so that rules out cooking at least…

During my looksie around what I quickly recognised as Toriel’s living room…I spotted Sleeper sitting on top of the bookshelf.

The Bitty watched the unfolding scene with a half-lidded glare, impatience radiating off every small bone in his body.

The threat of intervention is what spurred me to make this quick.

if not painless.

“Could you…um…maybe be a little more concise in your line of questioning?” I tilted my head. “It's just that I could explain the meaning of a lot of things... but that would take a long time and my arm’s already going to sleep, so...”

Fell Papyrus seemed…less than pleased with the backtalk… but was a professional when it came to interrogation.

He’d use whatever method got him the result he wanted... And despite popular belief in the Fell universes, that method was not always torture...h

Tat doesn’t mean I could get away with being cheeky though.

Another huge hand came down on my ankle and, with a jarring drop, my upright privileges where revoked.

I yelped, arms flailing as I tried to reorientate myself with the now upside word…

Abort code sixty-niner! My hat won’t make it! I repeat, Abort…!

All trace of naughty thought left my soul the moment I made eye contact with the child hiding timidly behind the large skeleton’s legs.

…And a Golden Flower, who was giving me the dirtiest look I have ever personally received.

The parental lock on my mouth activated.

Hesitantly, I wave a hand.

“Hi.”

Frisk ducked away, hiding their face in the pant leg of Papyrus'…batman jammies.

The clues came together and understanding dawned.

 My hand fell dejectedly.

“Am I interrupting the story?”

Flowey pulled a frill-neck lizard impression on me, flaring up and hissing…heh, classic … but the child holding his pot responded to the attention by… peeking at me hesitantly…

A small nod.

My eyes closed in despair.

This was a Sleepover.

Like clockwork, Papyrus had been concluding the day by reading to them.

And I am the scum of the earth.

“…Sorry.” I mumbled, barely hearable past the hat I had pressed over my face. “…Didn’t mean to…”

Uninvited burden on the Universe.

Story of my life.

Something press into my head, causing me to rock slightly in Papyrus' hold.

I pulled my hat away enough to watch Frisk retrieve a finger…from where they had poked me.

The moment I looked at them, the saviour of the underground held up a hand… In the okay sign.

…Right. Welp, that’s me instantly won over.

I stared at Frisk in stark admiration, cheeks warm from more than just the heat of the fireplace.

But the interrogation was far from over.

“YOU ARE THAT CREATURE... AVA, CORRECT?”

Biting my lip, I turned to meet Papyrus’ glare…which was no less intimidating now that it was upside down.

“Yes sir.” 

Something in his expression twitched, and I was suddenly raised higher into the air… so that I was once again nose to nose-hole with the monster.

“…IT WOULD SEEM OUR FOOTAGE FROM UNDERSWAP IS OUT OF DATE…” He observed at a mutter, clawed hand resting on chin.  “AS WELL AS THAT OBNOXIOUS PHOTO I RECEIVED HALF AN HOUR AGO.”

The question here was heavily implied.

“Yeah…um…the Destroyer had the last laugh there I’m afraid.” My hands clenched nervously into my hat as I tried to smile. “This…ah…change in stature… it’s a…survival technique?”

Papyrus sent another grim glance up at my clothing, the only evidence left of the injuries I had suffered.

He had enough experience…and EXP to recognise a fatality.

“…I SEE.”

The jaded skeleton didn’t spare my feelings or sensibilities, pulling my soul into a direct confrontation without another word.

I held very still, not even breathing as my stats and undetermined soul were brought out onto display.

AVA

Hp 1/2

AT -

DF -

LV 0%

           (\ (\  

EXP… (=_=) 

        O_ (“)(“)

The Privacy Rabbit says No.

 

Something in Fell Papyrus’ gaze hardened.

“IS THE RODENT A COINCIDENCE?”

I blinked, unsurprised he had noticed the small power play.

When it comes to survival instincts, he is elite.  

“No.”

The coldness that came with LOVE kept his tone disinterested.

“A THREAT?”

I shook my head.

“Proof of my earlier claims.”

I am your stalker.

Papyrus nodded contemplatively…not really seeming all that bothered that I had taken Fluffy Bunny as my hostage.

Guess if he had an issue with my spying on him I’d be dead by now…

“AND WHAT OF THE ABOMINATION YOU TOOK WITH YOU WHEN YOU LEFT SWAP?” He questioned, only half paying attention as he frowned to himself in thought.

I blanked, caught completely off guard by the question.

To my confusion, I also momentarily lost all control over lips. Not only did they refuse to form words, they started twitching and shaking until I pressed them into submission.

Even as I struggled with an answer…Papyrus seemed to find what he wanted to know in my expression.

“...can't trust those idiots with anything.” He muttered, so quietly I only just heard him thanks to proximity.

Fell Papyrus stared at me silently, seeming to be weighing his options, then…

“CALL HER HIGHNESS. STAY WITH THE WEED.” He said shortly to the Frisk, stepping away from the child with a slight pat to the top of their scruffy hair.

I saw the child nod and scurry off before suddenly finding myself in motion.

“I DON’T CARE HOW OR WHY YOU GAVE DUMB AND DUMBER A RUN FOR THEIR MONEY.” Papyrus spun on his heel and stormed from the room with me in hand. “BUT NOW THAT YOU ARE UNDER MY ARREST, YOU HAD BEST BEHAVE YOURSELF. UNDERSTOOD?”

I hung, unresisting.

“Yes sir.”

The scenery changed as we entered a hall and took a turn.

“…Where are we going?”

I caught a glimpse of Mr Sleeper following, teleporting across the floor of the hallway.

Then Papyrus entered a room, kicking the door shut behind him.

 “TO TAKE PREVENTATIVE MEASURES AGAINST YOU DIRTYING THE QUEEN’S HOME.”

Before I could question this, I was dropped onto a tiled floor.

None. Too. Gently. 

Rubbing at my injured face, I sat up… and realised the idea that I might get out of this without being tortured really had been too good to be true...

“STRIP.”

We were in the bathroom.

“Um…If it’s the floor you’re worried about…I don’t mind being tied up outside…”

“IN THE SNOW?” Papyrus dead-panned.

Snow?

“I am immune to weather…” I perked up…only to immediately deflate. “…though that theory is untested… and mostly an assumption on my part... ”

It was a tough decision to make, but Papyrus made the call.

 “YOU’RE NOT GOING OUT INTO A BLIZARD.”

…awwww.

“…Frostbite builds character?”

The edgy skeleton scoffed in disbelief, glaring down at me.

“AS MUCH JOY AS IT WOULD BRING ME TO WATCH YOU LOSE YOUR EXTREMITIES…” He drawled with an exaggerated eye roll.

Weird tastes. The only fun I've had watching hypothermia was is the warming up that came afterwards...

“I HAVE STANDARDS TO UPHOLD.” Papyrus informed me, hands falling to his boney hips.

“THAT IS, WHEN I CAPTURE SOMEONE ALIVE, I MAKE SURE THEY ARE DELIVERED IN PERFECT CONDITION.”

…It might have just been the batman pants, but he looked pretty heroic right now…

Then he pointed towards the shower.

“SO GET IN THERE AND PREPARE TO HAVE THE FILTH HOSED OFF YOUR BODY WITH BOILING HOT WATER.” 

Nope… must have been an optical illusion. Definitely a villain.

Even as my mind rebelled, my hands started unwrapping the long scarf from my neck.

Just stay calm and look for a way out of this... or you'll in for a bath time...

The moment the scarf hit the floor I started on my trusty coat, unbuttoning and pulling it off…only to hold it nervously to my chest.

“…you won’t…do anything obscene…to my raincoat, right? E-Even if the voices tell you to burn it?”

He blinked down at me. Very. Slowly.

“…THE SHORT ANSWER IS NO.”

I breathed a sigh of relief, setting my prized possession down on the tiled floor with the scarf.

My hat was next, and the moment it was gone my hands didn’t seem to know what to do with themselves.

Just act natural... 

They fumbled around before latching onto the hem of my baggy white sweater.

Like the rest of my clothing, it was saturated in ink and blood…but no amount of mess could cover up the change that had occurred. 

I stared down at the traitorous grey stripe that had appeared.

Every time I did this, I had to argue with my clothing that I wasn’t a baby. That the sacrifice in mass…and the change in proportions and possible chemical makeup…had nothing to do with age and could go die in a hole.

 But did my clothing ever listen? Noooo.

“STOP DAWDLING.”  

My resolve broke.

 “…I can’t.” I sent a pleading glance upwards, hands wringing into the soaked material.

Papyrus’ arched an impassive brow, arms crossed.

“WHY THE FUCK NOT?”

I winced, shrinking under his haughty gaze and the sudden harsh tone.

No Frisk to protect me now...

Summoning all my courage, I mumbled my shame in a barely comprehensible blur…but was persuaded to try a second time when he made a threating move…

To turn the water on.

“…I don’t know what’s underneath.”

Clawed phalanges froze on the tap.

“…WHAT?”

I buried my face in my hands.

“…I’ve never… taken my clothes…off… before…”

There had never been a need to. The laws of biology don’t apply to Avatars and my Universe maintained the integrity of everything in it. Experiments never really got past the stage of experiencing what water felt like because…because...

…I didn’t want to find out the hard way that whatever force holds my metaphysical-self together had been too lazy to fill in the blanks. 

“…LET ME REITERATE.” The tall Skeleton standing over me pointed a sharp finger in my face. “WHAT MAKES YOU THINK I’M IN THE MOOD TO BE FUCKED WITH?”

I lifted my head to stare up at him wordlessly.

His eyes narrowed threateningly.

“REMOVE THAT POUT IMMEDIATELY.”

My face was blank as always.

 “I am incapable of pouting.”

“NONSENSE. MY BROTHER DOESN’T EVEN HAVE LIPS AND HE CAN POUT JUST FINE.”

…Well there’s no arguing with that logic. 

"You don’t understand… if you go through with this…” I let my voice drop into a cautious whisper.  “…Mr Sleeper might get jealous.”

At his success in bossing me around...

Papyrus raised an eyebrow.

 “WANT TO SEE ME GIVE A FUCK?”

…well… it would be a supernatural phenomenon…

Papyrus continued to glare arrogantly down at me, revealing nothing but total apathy towards me and my bullshit problems.

“WANT TO SEE ME DO IT AGAIN?”

“…No thank you.” I mumbled.

Shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.

“NOW LISTEN, FOR I WILL NOT REPEAT THIS HUMBLE REQUEST AGAIN.” Papyrus announced. “REMOVE THOSE FILTHY RAGS BEFORE I DO IT FOR YOU.” 

The gig was up... but what was the step that comes after stalling...?

Our standoff lasted another tense moment longer, as neither one of us gave an inch.

With me being around knee height, Papyrus had the clear advantage in size, reach…strength…speed…probably cunning and experience now that I think about it… definitely style…

My resolved hardened.

…I’d take on those odds.

Papyrus seemed to realise I was about to make a run for it in the same moment I did.

The skeleton took a menacing step forward, his giant frame crowding what little space there was to be had in the small bathroom.

I leaped to the side, landing and running along the side of the bath with the grace of a trapeze artist before throwing myself at the door.

My soul turned blue mid jump and gravity grew more intense … not the crushing treatment I normally received from Mr Sleeper, but strong enough to make lifting my feet from the floor a chore.

I didn’t give up, reaching with all my strength…

Ha! You will always remember this is the day you almost caught…

Only to fall far short of the handle.

…Right. Puny Avatar. House of giant goat monster. Non-compatible.

“…Curse you door. A plague upon your children.” I hissed, even as I supported myself against its wooden surface.

“NYEH. PATHETIC.”

Claws dug into my sides, lifting me up and delivering my squirming self the two feet necessary to dump my ass into the tub.  

“THOUGH YOU NEVER STOOD A CHANCE AT ESCAPE, I THOUGHT YOU WOULD AT LEAST ENTERTAIN ME A LITTLE LONGER WITH YOUR FUTILE STRUGGLES.”

The sweater was yanked over my head without further ado. Before the horror could set in, I was lifted up and my pants were given the same treatment.

Like ripping off a band-aid,

The last mystery of the universe had been spoilt.

I stared down at myself.

Can't say I had a lot to brag about, but at least it isn't pixelated...

Any tears I may have shed were lost as the hot water hit my head. I hissed, scuttling around on the bottom of the bath to escape the spray.

The evil tyrant just followed me with the detachable showerhead, a bored expression on his face as he had his way with me.

Though the water was hot, it wasn’t scalding like he had threatened and I found myself adjusting as steam filled the bathroom.

Papyrus was careful not look directly at me… perhaps for modesty's sake, probably because my unsettling appearance was a factory for headaches. 

“I am an adult.” I seethed, curled up and miserable. “Dignified and deserving of respect.”

“USE THE SOAP.”

I spun to point up at him in defiance.

“I have seen you in every single stage of coitus-!”

…And got a face full of water.

“I HEARD. NOW SHUT UP AND DO AS I SAY SO CAN I FEEL LESS INCLINED TO PUNT YOU ACROSS THE ROOM.”

With a lot of lip biting and broody body washing, I managed to hold my tongue.

After a while, the water swirling down the drain lost its black tinge and my hell was finally put to an end.

Refusing to look up, I sat dripping and sulking even as Papyrus rummaged around in the cupboards.

My teeth clenched.

I didn’t come to Underfell to be abused like this… I want a refund and a free torture session…

Suddenly, I was hoodwinked by fluffy whiteness. Though the battle was fought valiantly, I was outnumbered by towels and quickly dried into submission. A verbal assault was the only option left to me, so I mumbled disgruntledly as the towel was rubbed vigorously …but not ungently...into my hair.

“...insensitive…mean…bully…

 “…THREAT TO THE ENTIRE MULTIVERSE MY FUCKING ASS…” Papyrus seemed to have a similar idea, fuming quietly to himself on the other side of the towel barrier. “…LAZY PIECE OF SHIT BROTHER JUMPING AT THE FIRST EXCUSE TO PUT OFF FINDING A REAL JOB…”

Probably not wanting to deal with me any more than he had too, Papyrus bundled me up tightly into the towels. Only when my limbs were restrained did he lift me out of the bath and high into the air once more.

“My clothes…?”

“WILL NOT BE GIVEN A CHANCE TO UNDO MY HARD WORK.”

The door crashed open a moment later, and the noise only continued when the tall skeleton stomped his way down the hall, boney feet on floorboards.

Trapped by the Great and Terrible Papyrus, it was all I could do to wriggle as I was planted in front of the fireplace, more towel burrito than Avatar at this point.

Discovering a small hole in the mountain of fluffiness, I peered out to find Papyrus crouched down to my level, expression deadly flat.

“I’M GOING TO ASSUME YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT I DO TO PEOPLE WHO CROSS ME, AND KEEP THIS SHORT.”

A hand hooked into the front of the towels, yanking me up close and personal with the face of dark promises.

“DON’T.”

He didn’t wait for a response, which was good because I’m pretty sure I didn’t have the gall to make one.

Papyrus stood back to his feet and left the room without a second glance in my direction.

Leaving me alone …by the roaring fire…with Frisk and Flowey watching me from Toriel’s armchair.

I stared back at them from the dark depths of my towel cave, feeling like a bomb had just been shoved into my hands.

Hey, here's our precious ambassador. Hero of the underground. We're trusting you alone with them so...Just try not to breathe on them or anything okay? 

The pair didn’t seem all too happy about the arrangement either…or at least Flowey didn’t. Frisk looked more timid if anything…but knowing them, they’d warm up once I proved myself less… murdery.

I knew of at least one way to sooth them…but it was…despicable...

My blank expression settled into one of grim determination.

You do what you have to do Ava. No matter how low you must drag yourself, you get out of here alive.

I took a deep breath.

“I know…you’re wondering how I ended up in such a pitiful state." I shuffled around, turning my back on them to face the fire. "Steadfast your heart child, for it is a story of incredible woe.”

Self-respect is overrated anyway.

“You see, a long time ago, A showerful force took my clothes from me, and ever rince then, I just haven’t had the courage to face the outside world without these towels, no matter how hard I dried.” I stared solemnly into the depths of the flames. “…But the truth is… I’m only using them to hide what I really am.”

I peered back over my shoulder with an angsty gaze.

Naked.

There was a terrifying moment of silence…

Then there came a great groan of despair, that rose up into a muffled wail as the flower responsible for the noise shoved his face into the couch caution below.

“You have got to be kidding me!” He screeched, even as Frisk started to silently giggle.

The honest, uncontrollable laughter of a delighted child. I sighed.

Sans is a terrible influence.

There came a quieter snort from somewhere up on the mantelpiece, giving up the hiding spot a certain bitty and once again proving him a traitor. I narrowed a glance upwards, but only found framed photographs grinning down at me.

…You have to sleep sometime Bitty... A lot of the time really... 

A shuffle came from behind me, followed by soft footsteps and a hissed warning…

Then there was another warmth sitting at my side.

I glanced over, a little devastated to find the eight-year-old quite a bit taller than me even as we sat side by side.

…At least I’m still taller than Sleeper... 

Frisk hesitantly started to sign, asking me about my strange appearance.

No beating about the bush with this one..

"Hmm. Good question." I tilted my head in contemplation. "Well, you see... we don’t have wind where I come from, so my face just never got stuck I guess.”

Frisk giggled good-naturedly, not calling me out on the lie... though Flowey glared distrustfully.

With less hesitance this time, they asked me if I was staying here for the night.

“That’s up to Mr Papyrus.” I answered softly.

They looked a little worried at this. No one in Fell really had a good history with…peaceful resolutions...

I couldn’t help but try to reassure them.

“Do you know why I have a red hat?” I whispered.

...Though it wasn't really all that red at the moment, what with it being drenched in ink...

With a slight frown of confusion, Frisk shook their head.

“To make our eyes burn.” Flowey muttered a guess.

I almost smiled.

“Close, but… when I first found my hat, it reminded me of someone who… well... always works really very hard…”

I extracted one hand from the fortress of towel, moving it carefully towards Frisk.

“And even if they didn’t always do the right thing… I believed in them. That they would do better...  you know... Eventually.”

Though the guardian flower bared his teeth threatening, I didn’t pull away.

“So as you can see…”

I poked them between the eyes, interrupting the frown line.

“I lost my mind a long time ago.”

My finger tapped gently.

“Seriously. I haven’t felt fear or common sense ever since the unicorns moved in." I tilted my head reassuringly. "Nothing to worry about, see?"

I quickly retracted my hand when Flowey finally made an infuriated snap for my fingers.

“So…” I sighed, changing the subject before I could feel stupid. “How about I make up it up to you for interrupting the story?”

It didn’t take long for Frisk to realise what I meant, and their enthusiasm for the request showed when they stood to go retrieve the book.

I grabbed their sleeve...not in a panicky way or anything... 

 "Mr Papyrus... might prefer I ask permission when it comes to his belongings..." I gave the ground an encouraging pat. "Luckily, I have a really good story already memorised. You'll have to listen well and tell me if I do it right, 'kay?"

Turning my gaze back to the fire, I started reciting Papyrus’ favourite story, in the exact same tone and cadence it had been read to him his entire life, across multiple realities.

Frisk settled back at my side, listening with an attentiveness that showed how they starved for every soft-spoken word.

I didn’t know how to comfort them in my own way, so I had borrowed someone else’s…

Frisk sided closer.

...but there was always hope I could do better next time.

 

Chapter Text

"...Why isn’t he here dealing with it then...?”

There are some things you should just not do.

“...THE LAZY BASTARD ISNT ANSWERING HIS…”

Drawing the attention of an angry goat mum, is probably one of them.

“Mr Papyrus?”

It must have been a trick of the stark kitchen light, because it almost looked like the deadly skeleton may have…jumped… just a little… before both tall monsters halted their tense conversation to stare down at me…

Where I stood silently, peering at them from around the doorframe.

…As far as debuts go, meeting the Queen dressed only in a cloak of towel…was probably still an improvement on my usual attire…but still…

Papyrus was in trouble. And as his stalker, it was my job to make sure he survives long enough to make a lifetime's worth of porn.

Not that he appreciated my sacrifice.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT?”

I blinked.

“Frisk is asleep.”

Toriel had returned to the house sometime after I had begun “reading” to Frisk…but after the initial noise of arrival and a hushed conversation in the hallway, no one had come to interrupt or drag me away for interrogation.

Not that I minded.

While hanging out with Frisk was indeed more fun than having my teeth pulled out while people asked invasive questions…I could only avoid impending torture and/or awkward conversation for so long.

So, after it had been made obvious by Frisk’s soft snores that my storytelling was doing little more than irritating Flowey…and when a spat friendliness pellet made even that lose its charm… I'd gone in search of the “Adults."

And now, neither monster seemed to know what to make of my declaration…or presence at all really.

“…On the floor.” I elaborated.

As a victim of poor sleeping posture, I understood just how dire the situation truly was.

Indeed, this seemed to be all that was needed to spur Toriel into action.

“I’ll go put them to bed.”

With one last glare in Papyrus’ direction, the Queen started towards the door…and me.

I hugged the frame, utterly intimidated as Toriel paused to look down at me.

Assessing the threat personally.

I gulped, a little alarmed to find the usual technique of imagining people naked…and in lewd positions… was doing very little to calm my nerves.

“Did you think changing yourself into a child would win our trust?” She finally spoke, gaze cold.

I blinked up at her in confusion.

“…What would I want your trust for?”

I mean…I’m sure it’s nice and all… but I never really seen myself needing trust to live my life before. I’ve got my hobbies and material belongings… meaningful relationships just seem excessive...

Toriel frowned, unhappy with my answer.

Wishy-washy just wasn't going to cut it.

As usual, Tori's got more common sense than most people...excluding a less than a healthy lack of respect for fire safety of course.

I pressed my face into the wall, unable to meet the glare. The plaster of the wall felt nice and cool after the sitting by the heat of the fire for so long.

“…This state isn’t anything so fancy as subterfuge." I reassured neutrally. "Just a side-effect of being dumb and dying unnecessarily.” 

Anyone would have to agree, Devious isn't really the first word that comes to mind when you encounter someone prancing around in yellow, shamelessly declaring what a pervert they are.    

 “The ah... cuteness... is probably an instinctive way of making myself less killable." Seems plausible. "If it really bothers you, I can wear a sign that says “Please don’t feed the Stalker” or something.”

“I never said you were cute.”

I blinked.

Ouch.

Just goes to show, there' s more than one way to burn a person.

touché.” I said, falling just short of pouting. “ ...At least I still have my career. All that smut isn’t going to categories and critique itself you know.”  

I felt the goat monster stare at me a tense moment longer.

“… You can stay.” Toriel finally declared, still a little on the cold side. 

Angst. Gets all the girls.

"Just don't consider yourself welcome."

Before I could look up, I heard her footsteps depart down the hall.

And thus, Ava avoids another horrible death.

“Does this mean I don’t get to see the inside of the Shed.” I peeked back at Papyrus from the door.

Though in this universe, the Shed was more of a cute nick name than an accurate description of the place Paps likes to put the people he captures.

The edgy skeleton crossed his arms, glaring wordlessly.

“…it’s probably for the best.” I sighed, leaning against the wall. “I must confess, I lack a tolerance for that sort of thing. It’s gonna be super embarrassing, if anyone ever does decide to invite me back to their torture chamber.”

There was a twitch in his stern expression, one that could easily be interpreted as irritation, disgust…or amusement.

“this is ridiculous.” He muttered, rubbing at his temples. “JUST…GO INTO THE CORNER AND SLEEP UNTIL I FIGURE OUT HOW TO DISPOSE OF YOU.”

Well, despite you asking nicely...

I ran a finger along the wood of the doorframe, feeling the grainy texture.

“Impossible.”

The hand over Papyrus’ expression was lowered. very. slowly.

“RUN THAT BY ME AGAIN?

I ducked back out of sight.

“Avatar's can only sleep in a safe place.” I explained softly.

There came a muttered curse and few brisk footsteps… then Papyrus was standing over me, leaning against the doorway.

His gaze narrowed in suspicion. 

“IS THIS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE BULLSHIT EXCUSES YOU EXPECT ME TO BELIEVE?”

I pressed close to the wall, once again uncomfortable with the drastic difference in height and the position that accentuated it.

…This problem certainly hadn’t shown up in the initial determination soul-testing…

“If it is, it’s a lie that can easily be proven wrong by time.” I said, mostly to the floor.

After a moment, the tall skeleton gave an irritated sigh.

“…IF I GIVE YOU MY WORD YOU won't BE HARMED, WILL YOU STOP BEING A PAIN IN THE ASS?”

After a moment, I shook my head.

That’s...just not a realistic thing that would ever happen.

“It’s more a matter of instinct than choice…would me sitting quietly somewhere suffice?”

Papyrus glared, weighing the potential pros and cons of leaving me unsupervised.

Or at least letting me believe I wasn’t being watched.

 “…DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE. DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING AND DONT BOTHER FRISK OR HER MAJESTY. THE WEED IS FAIR GAME BUT IF YOU MAKE NOISE I’LL KILL YOU BOTH.”

I nodded, pulling away from the wall and giving the skeleton a wide berth. Heading off in the direction I could hear the washing machine running. 

Papyrus muttered something about needing to attach me to a bell as my bare feet padded silently across the cold floor.

I too, missed the flip-flop that usually accompanied my foot-steps. I’d even risk the single solemn flop that came with only wearing one shoe over this…lack of presence and personality.

Who am I without my goofy clothing, but a humble towel person… stalking the lonely hallways of the night…

Ha ha, Me? Have an unhealthy dependency on clothing? No way... 

A longing for my personal items was only part of the reason why I chose to go to the laundry, sitting myself down in front of the washing machine.

The room was dark, lit only by moonlight pouring in through a single frost-covered window…but it was enough, to watch the familiar flash of yellow going around in the soapy water.

The other reason soon arrived.

“it’s freezing in here.” A skeletal weight landed on my head.

“The cold never bothered me anyway.” I mumbled, moving my towel enough so the Bitty knew he was invited in. “You’ll get spotted if you stay out in the open like that Mr Sleeper.”

He gave a disapproving tsk, but climbed down to my shoulder anyway.

“make one suggestive comment, and you can consider your belongings donated to Underfell.”

I scoffed very quietly.

“Trust me Mr Sleeper, in most of my fantasies I’m rarely ever included, let alone naked. Being sexualized is very awkward for me.”

“...you don’t say.”

Sleeper ducked around the towel and came to sit in his usual spot against my neck. He didn’t fit quite as well as before, but the familiar press of his fuzzy dressing gown against my pulse immediately eased the stiffness that had taken over my posture.

I closed the towel to keep in the warmth.

“i can’t believe you threw a tantrum about getting in the bath.” He muttered, sounding tired.

It felt like a really long time since I had heard his grumpy voice in my ear.

“Because I normally act so mature and level headed?” I asked hopefully.

 “…the fear of not having a torso was a bit of a stretch.”

Sleeper’s bones were cold where they pressed into my skin. Though the cold tended to go through skeletons, I knew most still appreciated the warmth.

I didn’t mind the trade.

“I’m a walking theory Mr Sleeper. Logic is for peasants.”

He hummed, and I could tell from the tone that being in his favourite napping spot was having the usual effect.

I would have let him nod off then…but it would seem the sleepy bitty had a much better work ethic than that.

“you hate when i ask questions.” He whispered tiredly into my ear. “so don’t make me ask what happened to make you this upset.”

…The first step in finding something lost…

I swallowed hard.

…is to believe you can find it.

“I thought I was being pretty stoic.”

“you’ve been risking serious bodily harm to initiate contact with me.”

…At least he is aware of just how insanely prickly he is.

“I am in an increased state of vulnerability.”

“the lack of sexual harassment?”

“just because every second comment out of my mouth isn’t about someone’s…okay no, I see your point. Need I remind you though, that there are impressionable young minds in this house?”

“and the isolating yourself in the laundry?”

“I needed to talk to you.”

“why?”

Checkmate.

I pouted at my clothing in the machine. Trapped beyond the glass where it could not save me.

“…That wasn’t very nice.”

The bitty flicked my ear.

“i’m not a nice person.”

“Will I get in trouble for agreeing?”

“what do you think?”

My lips twitched.

“…I think…” I let out a huge sigh, watching my breath fog in the freezing air. “…that I took a lot of things for granted today.”

Sleeper shifted against my neck, curling tighter.

“we both did. that doesn’t tell me what happened.”

Could I really put it into words?

“The worst possible thing.”

I pressed my forehead to the surface of the washing machine, just to feel my empty head rattle.

“My soul hit puberty.”

The bitty stiffened on my shoulder.

“...don’t involve me.”

“But I have questions…”

“read a book.”

“Nah. I’m gonna start a band.”

“d o n ‘t.”

“Let out all my teen angst in a constructive way…until I discover what drugs are. Then I’ll start doing that. In alphabetical order…”

Sleeper let out a small groan of surrender.

“…one question.”

“Hmm, let me think…”

I tilted my head back, staring up quietly at the window.

“Do you think…the multiverse would be better off…if I quit now?”  

The laundry suddenly felt very quiet. The sort of silence that came with intense listening.

But Sleeper’s answer was whispered into my ear alone.

“...i’m giving you one last chance to ask me something that isn’t a complete waste of my time and energy.”

I blinked up at the moonlight, finding the pale light comforting.

“Okay then..." I gave an enthusiastic arm swing. "How do you feel about going on a long and likely tedious quest through the multiverse to find the marmoset I irresponsibly lost in the void?”

“i believe the best way to describe it would be h o m o c i d a l.”

That…wasn’t a no…

“You’re an experienced multiverse traveller, right? With your help, I’m sure we’ll find Mo in no time!”

Sleeper had enough tact not to immediately shoot down the idea.

“is it even possible?” He sighed.

I nodded.

“Yes. Probable even.”

“what makes you say that?”

My gaze narrowed in disgust.

“Because my universe puts the Holistic in Asshole.”

“...there is a line between reality and philosophy you need to learn to distinguish.”

“It’ll be fine.”

“it really won't.”

I sighed.

“It doesn’t matter…Mo didn’t save me so that I could go back to how I was.” I closed my eyes, and for the first time since Mo fell into the void, I felt a little bit braver.

“From now on, I’m going to stalk these people so intimately they won’t even realise they’re being observed. Seamlessly, from within their own eco-system! The ultimate research.”

 “…this is insane.”

“…We’ll get to bully Sans.”

The perking of none existent ears.

“…which one."

“Ideally?"

I almost smiled.

"All of them.”

He resisted a moment longer.

“You can be quest captain .” I sang enticingly. 

“that  was  n e v e r  up  for  debate."

Then Sleeper’s weight disappeared from my shoulder.

Before I could begin to question the absence, a voice spoke from behind me.

“YOU CAN NOT BE SERIOUS.”

I tilted my head back to find Fell Papyrus leaning against the doorway, arms crossed impatiently.

How long he'd been there and how much he'd heard could not be discerned from his glare. 

Ultimately, I was too confident in my ability to crush any threat to care.

…at least I’m honest.

I gave a half-hearted shrug.

“I’ve borne witness to every possible Mettaton film in existence.” I waved a hand towards the washing machine. “A consistent plot is something I've learned to appreciate.”

Papyrus covered his expression with a hand, willing down the urge to kill me before he spoke.

“JUST PUT THIS ON.”

Something red and black was thrown in my face.

Underfell logic dictated it must be clothing.

“…Am I being promoted?” I asked, curiously unfolding the sweater for inspection.

Much too big…One of Frisks…

“WE’RE GOING OUT.” Papyrus scowled at the wall as I started to pull on the edgy clothing, already beginning to feel the angst.

He too, had changed out of his sleepwear into something more appropriate for the outside world, and still had a bundle of jackets hooked over his arm in preparation for our outing.

“Where?”

“TO TRACK DOWN MY BROTHER AND MAKE MY APPRECIATION FOR IS IDIOTIC VOICE MAIL KNOWN.”

I perked up hopefully, one leg paused in a pair of baggy pants.

“Grillbys?”

Papyrus tilted his head back in exasperation.

“CONGRATULATIONS SANS, EVEN THE ABOMINATION KNOWS YOU AS A DRUNKARD.” He fumed moodily to the ceiling.  

“He isn’t answering his phone?” I queried, standing up straight to see how the clothes fit.

Horribly…and even worse…

“…CORRECT.”

Though Papyrus continued to avert his gaze, the suspicion was obvious from his tone.

I sighed, still staring miserably down at my outfit.  

“…Your brother may be among the few people who weren’t exactly thrilled with the new app…” I mumbled.

“THATS…OH FOR THE-WHAT ARE YOU POUTING ABOUT NOW.”

He had caught sight of me.

I bit my lip.

“…I look like Frisk.”

With their clothing being my only feature, how will anyone even recognise me…?

“…JUST TO BE CLEAR, THIS CONVERSATION WE’RE ABOUT TO HAVE, IT'S GOING TO BE WORTH THE EFFORT NOT TO STRANGLE YOU RIGHT? BECAUSE…”

I stared up at him, eyes haunted.

“What if the clothing overpowers my weak personality and I become them?”

Papyrus took a deep breath, counted to ten, then jumped back into the fray.

“…YOU HAVE A FIVE SECOND HEAD-START. I SUGGEST YOU FUNKING RUN…”

We both froze, eyes widening with growing horror.

I had underestimated the amount of possible eavesdroppers.

BUS-TED

Papyrus was quick to test the threat, even as he crossed the room towards me.

“YOU DARE CENSOR THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE PAPYRUS? SHOW YOUR FUCKING FACE PARASITE-OH FOR FUCKS SAKE, I KNOW YOU’RE THERE. DON’T TRY TO RECOVER FROM THIS YOU ASS.”

A terror I never saw coming seized my soul, causing me to cover my face with the sleeves of Frisk’s baggy sweater.

My worst nightmare was coming true.

Even as I hid, I was yanked up into a pair of boney arms.

I wouldn’t insult Papyrus’ edgy nature by saying the way he held me was in any way protective…And the way I clung to him and buried my face into his clavicle wasn’t cowardly in the slightest.

Just two bad-asses, taking on the world…one laundry at a time.

“I’m going to die…” I whimpered into the bone of Papyrus’ collar, causing him to growl irritably.

“LIKE I WOULD LET HIM…”

“You don’t understand.” I shook my head furiously. “Fresh is the master of fluorescent.”

This is how it ends for me.

“…WHAT?”

“My. Idle. Saw. Me. Naked.” I was trembling. “My life is over.”

Death by shame.

The skeleton holding me shifted impatiently.

 “…AND THE FACT THAT THAT THING PROBABLY WANTS TO EAT YOUR SOUL JUST SLIPPED YOUR NOTICE?”

I stilled.

“Take it back.”

Papyrus stiffened.

“DID YOU JUST…?”

I lifted my head up enough to stare balefully at the tall skeleton.

“Fresh is not only the master of fashion, but detachment. He is an apex predator and would never try to eat something that doesn’t even look editable. He. Isn’t. That. Stupid.”

Papyrus looked at me like I had spoken in an alien language.

“He isn’t.” I insisted.

It was a fight that even Fell Papyrus just did not want to be a part of.

He averted his gaze.

“…WHATEVER.”

Not so fast blasphemer.

I gripped him on either side of his face, squeezing until I was sure his skull would crack under the pressure.

Say it.”

Defiance kicked in and he glared back.

“NO.”

“How do you expect to lose your virginity if you don’t learn to admit your Ultimate feelings?!”

His gaze widened and red blossomed on his sharp cheekbones.

“THAT’S NONE OF YOUR FUNKING BUSINESS!”

“Of course it's my business! I’m your professional stalker!

“I SWEAR TO ASGORE…!”

A light sparked in the doorway and we both froze, slowly turning…

Toriel...was awake..to say the least...

When she spoke, even Fresh didn’t dare censor.

“Shut up..."

The flames in her hands flared dangerously higher.

"...and get the fuck out of my house.”

Chapter Text

"So. What’s the plan of attack?”

“WE ACQUIRE MY BROTHER AND LEAVE THE PREMISE BEFORE THE GREASE HAS A CHANCE TO INVADE MY PERSON.”

“But that’s...boring…Can I at least rough him up a little?”

“NO.”

“But I’m your wingman.”

“FOR THE LAST TIME, I DON’T. NEED. A. WINGMAN.”

The regular patrons of Grillby’s bar were all familiar with the sound of their door being kicked in by an edgy skeleton on the war path.

The fact that he was livid, hauling a child shaped abomination and a little singed… only turned a few heads.

Those heads did not include his brother’s, who was slumped over at his usual spot at the bar.

Unaware of his impending doom...

...Or too used to having his ass hauled out of bars to care.

Papyrus himself seemed to need a moment to come to terms with the reality of actually killing his brother…We all knew this day would come…

Unfortunately, the longer we stood at the door, radiating menace, the more people took notice and the quieter the bar became.

I blinked at the room, meeting the gaze of the few people sober enough to feel disturbed by my presence… though that says more about my creepiness than their sobriety...

Always did want to silence a bar… Though if life were to follow true on my mid-west fantasies… nah, wouldn’t be the same without my hat...

“Just try to blend in.” I stage whispered to Papyrus. “The bar is not a safe place for one so pure as you…”

My words of encouragement got me dumped on the floor.

Which turned out to be the right move to make, because the moment Papyrus established himself as the one in charge, the crowd returned their interests to the pursuits of intoxification.

Whilst I.

Took a moment to admire Grillby’s smooth timber flooring.

Seriously. I barely lost any skin at all unsticking my face from its surface… a commendable feat, considering this was a bar, and a good portion of its patrons were Canine in nature.

Slobber is just how they show they care…

“I see how it is.” I sent Papyrus a hurt look. “The moment frostbite is no longer a threat, you cast me aside...”

My haunted gaze slid back towards the door.

“...Which one of you is colder, I wonder...”

No seriously, he hadn’t even let me set foot on the snow… so much for multiverse exploration…

The tall skeleton sent me a disgusted look before stomping forward with grim determination.

“BE SILENT OR I WILL GAG YOU WITH YOUR OWN GUTTED ORGANS.”

Ooooh.

Kinky. 

Climbing to my feet, I trailed in Papyrus’ stormy footsteps.

I looked curiously around the room… though I probably should have been paying more attention to the situation… or even the trip hazard that was Frisk’s baggy clothing…

...It’s just that I’ve never been around so many people before.

An assortment of souls, some more vibrant than others.

Familiar faces scattered amongst the fillers.

I didn’t like it.

Even when it had only been the stray person passing us by on the street, mingling with the farce population made me…uncomfortable.

I sped up to stay on Papyrus’ heel.

Don’t think about it.

Besides, there were better things to occupy my attention than the creepiness of existence.

I bumped suddenly into a pair of halted femurs.

Like brotherly bonding.

“pish off papyrus.” A rough voice slurred from above.

Rubbing my injured nose, I peeked around Fell Papyrus' legs to find the leather clad Sans still hunched over the bar, refusing to look at us.

I felt a twinge of concern.

To be speaking to his brother like this…and using his actual name…

…Was apparently unacceptable... as Papyrus wasted no time in kicking the barstool out from underneath his brother.

Down came humpty dumpty, hitting the floor in a crash of bones and a splatter of mustard mix drink.

...Sans should know better...

Papyrus stood over his brother, arms crossed and dispassionate.

 “WE’RE LEAVING.”

…No amount of alcohol justifies that sort of bravery…

Sans blinked up at the ceiling, likely not comprehending the complex physics that had led to him falling on his ass.

Then his sharp grin spread menacingly wide, and all light vanished from his sockets.

A good sign really. Sans is way more dangerous when he is level-headed…

Before I could duck for cover, Fell Papyrus reached towards me. Clawed phalanges latching onto the scruff of my collar and pulling me forward until I stood between him and…

Boney hands covered my ears from behind.

…Not a moment too soon, as Sans finally recovered.

I blinked in surprise.

It was fascinating… how even without the correct padding, Papyrus’ hands were able to muffle the foulest, most violent, alcohol inspired tirade I have ever had the misfortune to hear in person.

Fell Sans managed to get to his feet through some combination of willpower, luck and maybe magic…though how he stayed standing was still a mystery, even to me…

He then proceeded to add explicit sign language to his polite request that Papyrus g o   d u s t   h i m s e l f.

I peeked up at the taller brother standing over me, keeping his hands in place to preserve my innocence…or more likely his brothers last shred of dignity…

Papyrus’ expression was calm…bored even.

Utterly unimpressed, that’s for sure....

Yet still promised Sans a sober morning filled with regret. 

The muted screaming cut off as suddenly as it had started.

I blinked back to Sans to find the shorter skeleton staring down at me with hazy eye-lights, a pointed phalange wilting from where he had been shoving it up at his brother.

Papyrus’ hands left my ears to sit sternly on hips, silently waiting for Sans’ comprehension…which never really came as the drunk skeleton sent the spilt mustard beverage on the floor a horrified look.

“…can’t believe i’m sayin’ this…but i think i’ve had too much...”

Papyrus gave a derisive scoff.

“NO SHIT.”

But his ire was destined to go unappreciated, as Sans finally lost the battle with his self-respect and fell face first to the floor.

A mumbled “…fuck.” his only protest.

With a sigh, I officially handed over my title as 'Champion of the Humiliated' to Fell Sans.

This night belongs to him.

Papyrus muttered under his breath…something about letting his brother wake up at the bottom of the river... before turning his attention to Grillby, who stood behind the bar watching the pathetic scene play out with calm acceptance.

Skeletons tend to be very susceptible or immune to depressants and stimulants, depending on which way they tended to lean…

But being a light-weight makes alcoholism waaay less angsty, so nobody in Underfell really felt comfortable acknowledging it.

While Papyrus made a grudging apology to the owner of the establishment, I stared down at the skeleton failing to grasp the mechanics of getting up off the floor.

…I couldn’t help feeling a little bit responsible…

…Okay. A lot responsible.

I crouched down, hesitantly poking at Sans’ head to hear him groan.

“...Hello.” I greeted. 

The Fell Skeleton lifted his head enough to squint at me…

“…kid?”

I sent up a horrified look at Papyrus as if to say 'See…!' But the tall skeleton was otherwise preoccupied explaining to Grillby why the bar stool was a necessary sacrifice…

“…My name is Ava.” I informed Sans a little stiffly… but found he wasn’t really in a state to listen as dizziness prevailed and his head returned to the floor with a small clunk. 

“…really brain…?" he mumbled bitterly. "...there goes the entire fucking point of drinking...”

Officially making this all my fault.

"Drinking won't solve your stalker problems Mr Sans." I scolded, crossing my arms over my knees. "The best we could hope for is that it improves my looks somewhat...and I'm afraid you'd probably die from alcohol poisoning before that happens..."

Sans clawed weakly in my direction, growling into the floor.

"...don't care..."

Yeah…It just isn't right… to kick a fellow bully while he was down…

“...There is no need to think poorly of yourself.” I told him quietly, knowing exactly what sort of toxic thoughts would be swimming around in his alcohol flooded skull. “The point of a problem is the struggle to solve it.”

Though some methods are better than others. 

 “shu'd up…stupid hallucination…don’t know shit…”

Having been thoroughly put in my place, I rocked back on my heals with a contemplative hum.

“True. Never having experience rock bottom before, I doubt I can truly sympathise.”

Should just leave him be…Relatability has always been more creditable than unbiased common sense anyway...

Except I was the one who had broadcasted my ability to kick ass to the multiverse, with very little thought for how intimidating that would be for the people who already suspected I was the second coming of Charageddon …so yeah... 

“Though…there is one thing I do know.” I tilted my head seriously. “And that’s, if you continue on this path…”

Take responsibility Ava.  

“...The alcohol is likely Tequilya.”   

The atmosphere above dropped a few decrees, but down here on the floor…

Sans lifted his head with a twitching scowl.

“…bullshit.”

…Comfort is so not in my skill set…

I gave an offended blink.

“Is not. I read it on whiskypedia.”

An ungraceful snicker into the floor.

 “shooosh. boss’ll hear yer…”

…can’t believe I’m doing this twice in one night…

“You don’t have to flask me twice. I’m well aware of just how whisky it is to spill puns in his presence.” I patted Sans head reassuringly. “He’ll definitely wine about it latter, but I guess I mustard really wanted to lift your spirits.”

Edgy people don’t giggle like drunk school girls.

…So for the record, that’s totally not what happened.

“…that’s a pour life decision kid…” Sans sighed, well and truly on his way to oblivion.

I pulled a face.

Ugh.

 “…and that’s my cue to tap out… Just remember.” I waved a hand over his skull as if casting a spell. “My indulging your secret fetish for clean humour was all a drunken dream. I was never nice to you, and anyone who says I was…”

My gaze focused eerily on the monsters watching from above.

“Will find two can play the name and shame game.”

Both Fell monsters looked completely unimpressed with the threat.

I gave a small shrug.

“...Meh. Sounded cooler in my head.”

Wasn’t like I was going to go through with it anyway…leaking cute pictures of adult monsters dabbling in roleplay goes against everything my stalking stands for…

Sans was already snoring softly into the floor when I rose from my crouch.

Papyrus’ bad mood seemed to sour further as he glared down at me.

“DON’T FLIRT WITH MY BROTHER.” He warned.

No Preparation. Going in dry.

I blinked up at him innocently.

“One of us has to.”

Though I’d rather do it when Sans was conscious enough to freak out about it…

…The look Papyrus gave me then had me quickly relenting.

“Relax. I’ve already seen how you skeletons handle suiters throughout the timelines.” I waved him off. “I’m gonna leave that honour for someone else to enjoy.”

 Just have to roll the dice and hope it turns up some sort of incest…

Papyrus rubbed painfully at his temples.

“…IT IS BEYOND ME, HOW THEY COULD POSSIBLY WANT YOU ALIVE…”

A cynical crackling noise came from above, drawing my attention to the poor soul whose misfortune it was to be Sans’ confidante. 

The distant sound of fan-person screaming drew closer in my mind, drowning out the chatter of the room.

Grillby crossed his arms on the bar, leaning forward to peer down at me in interest.

…Now, there isn’t a single person in the multiverse who I can’t say a nice word about. I’m a fan of just about everybody, though some hold my interest more than others.

Despite being the anti-slob, Grillby was one of the few people who didn’t…

Disappoint me.

Mostly because he rarely talked…and was great in bed…

Didn’t murder.

 “I never could decide what was more ironic.” I blinked up at the bartender curiously. “That everyone uses fire puns as the go-to ice breaker with you… or your fondness for ga…”

Speaking of gagging, or rather, the lack there of…Papyrus nearly broke the sound barrier in his urgency to do just that.

I was yanked up against a boney ribcage once more, clutched like a soft toy in a full body restraint…which seemed a tad excessive on top of having a hand shoved over my mouth.

“I’LL RETURN ONCE I DESPOSE OF THIS NUISANCE, AND PAY FOR THE DAMAGES AND MY BROTHER’S TAB.” Papyrus told the fire elemental with a scowl. “THOUGH BY RIGHTS I SHOULD BE SNUFFING YOUR SLEAZY FACE OUT ON THE SIDEWALK SNOW. ENABLING ASSHOLE.”

Grillby sparked a little with irritation, but continued to lazily stare at me.

I blinked back over the huge hand covering the lower half of my face.

It was then that I realised… I really liked the sound of my own voice.

The inability to apply some sort of commentary to the situation made me feel…

Excluded.

In a sudden fit of…something…I squirmed in Papyrus arms, catching him off guard and freeing myself enough to…

Akanbe.

Papyrus swore, wrangling me over his shoulder to put an end to the immature expression.

“STOP THAT YOU LITTLE SHIT!”

“But he was looking at me.”

“JUST RESTAIN YOUR IDIOTIC IMPULSES FOR TEN FUCKING SECONDS WHILE I GET US OUT THE DOOR!”

The tall skeleton bent down sharply, dropping altitude to snatch his brother up by the ankle…so as to drag him along as he hightailed it towards the door… desperate to escape before I provoked Grillby into killing and/or overcharging us.  

The shorter skeleton, now leaving skid marks in the floor, only stirred enough to pull a lecherous expression.  

The switch had been flipped.

From over Papyrus shoulder, I watched Grillby as we made our getaway.

Just before the doors closed on our departure, the bartender raised a finger under his glasses… and returned my cheeky taunt in kind.

I sat up straighter as a wave of pure joy hit me…

Then again… I could just be confusing emotion with the cold blast that came with the transition out into the freezing winter night.

Either way, it left me breathless.

So cool.

Shakily, I settled back on Papyrus’ shoulder, resigned to my role as luggage. Even at the skeleton’s ground consuming pace, it would take a while to reach our next location. From my first ride on the skeleton express, I had learned that anything that interfered with the single-minded march from A to B would not be tolerated.

i.e. Everything my little heart desired.

I stared down longingly at Sans, who was being pulled like a sleigh through the snow, jacket riding up as the icy substance invaded his insides…

…lucky fella.

Being the very interesting person that I am…of course I didn’t spend the entire walk through Ebbot city coveting the snow…

It was as Papyrus was opening their front gate, that I took an interest in something completely un-snow related.

Catching a glimpse of purple I shot to upright attention…or at least as much as I could…

Papyrus stiffened at my sudden alertness, turning to find…

An empty street.

“WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?” He hissed to me, cautious even though he couldn’t see it.

I didn’t speak, holding the gaze of the light infused creature standing on the other side of the street.

A wolf, it’s slightly shifting fur made from purple and red light. Dark blue simmering at its core.

Persevering through the worst to become your best.

Hands wrapped tightly in Papyrus’ scarf, I waited for the wolf to make its move.

It blinked back…seeming to come to some conclusion... before turning to walk away…

Only pausing to declare the lamp post part of its territory, before disappearing into the night.

Rude Asshole.

"Papyrus.” I pulled back as much as I could to meet the skeletons wary gaze. “Do you know why winter always starts earlier, lasts longer and is colder in Fell universes?”

He stared back at me, guarded.

“I’m assuming you’re about to tell me.”

I blinked at the unusually hushed tone, lifting a cautious hand.

To poke him right in the frown.

“Its cause the cold is super Edgy.”

He scowled at me in something like betrayal.

“FOR FUCK'S SAKE.” He stomped forward hard enough to make me lose my balance on his shoulder. "STOP WASTING MY TIME."

The fact that I had pretty much confessed to him that his universe is influenced by its own soul…

Was naughty.

I smacked my hand.

Bad Ava.

We entered the freezing cold house with a slam of the front door…because respecting the neighbours during the wee hours of the morning was just not a thing edgy people do…

The procession of delivering the drunkard to his bed included kicking off boots, switching lights on and dumping one docile Avatar onto the couch.

Returned to my natural habitat, I watched quietly as Papyrus ascended the stairs with his brother in tow.

Sans groaned at the rough treatment…

…It wasn’t…exactly a protest…

I averted my gaze to the ceiling, determined to not take advantage of his drunken state…not now that I might actually be caught…that would just be irresponsible...

…Seriously. Don’t. You know nothing is going to happen anyway. Sans is just an indiscriminate pervert who prefers to play it safe instead of seeking a real relationship, and Papyrus is…well, Papyrus...

“Truly a law unto himself…” I mumbled rolling my head back… and freezing when I caught a glimpse of yellow out of the corner of my eye.

Very slowly, I turned my head to look at the bundle of clothing sitting on the couch beside me.

My clothing.

The clothing that had been abandoned at Toriel’s when we ran for our lives.

I poked a hesitant finger at the coat.

Warm. Dry. Here.  

If it wasn’t for the fact they had obviously been folded by a complete novice, I would suspect the universe was being nice to me…

...But if not the cosmic forces, then who…

My stare widened. Unblinking.

No way. 

“THAT FUNKING PARASITE!” Papyrus snarled, suddenly appearing to glare suspiciously down at my possessions. "HOW DARE HE COME INTO MY HOME UNINVITED!"

My hand slowly wrapped into the raincoat, lifting it up to my face.

Warm.

“…I’M GOING RIP YOU OUT OF THAT PUPPET MYSELF AND SERVE YOU UP AS CALAMARI…!”

“I want it.” I said, pulling away to stare at the bright yellow. “…more than he ever possibly could.”

Papyrus very slowly lowered his gaze from where he had been screaming at the ceiling.

“…WHAT?”

"Him to eat me."

Papyrus took a confronted step back. 

"YOU'RE JOKING."

I blinked somberly.

“…I’ve spent enough time alone to go insane…heal…and go insane again…multiple times over...”

My hands clenched.

“Just one lifetime spent with another…especially someone with as much will to exist as Mr Fresh has…”

I smiled slightly.

"...would be a relief."

The gentlest way to give up...

I blinked up at Papyrus, suddenly stern.

“...That's not to say I think he should run the risk of my nature overpowering his and wiping himself from existence...cause that's a pretty uncool thing to suggest."

As much as I would enjoy the company, I couldn't ask him to gamble his life on making me his host.

"Especially with him being such a bro and all, getting me my threads..." I held up my coat demonstratively. "Wonder how long I can milk it until he realises there's no point in lulling me into a false sense of security...?"

Papyrus looked utterly disgusted at this point.

What's the point of being a hardcore fan if I don't have creepy desires...?

I gave a small sigh.

“Never mind. If can’t use Fresh to cheat, I'll just have to develop sick skateboarding skills the traditional way…”

...But the traditional way hurts...

...I'll just watch TV instead.

Thus, the endless cycle of lameness continues.

Papyrus met my innocent expression with a glare. 

“…YOU NEED TO GET OUT MORE.”

“That’s what Mr Sleeper always tells me.” I said, standing from the couch to pull Frisk’s sweater off.

Modesty couldn’t compete with the eagerness to wear my own clothes.

“Though I have always been of the mind that I should be locked up.”

I caught Papyrus frowning slightly as I pulled my own sweater over my head.

The clothes that were an extension of my person had returned from the wash looking pristine.

…The same couldn’t be said for everything else.

My coat was full of holes… my scarf and hat so ink stained it was difficult to tell the original colours underneath… my shoes made it out okay, the exception being the giant hole in one from where Error nailed it to the road....

“My attire is in a sad state.” I sighed as I finished wrapping the scarf around my neck. “Do you think Mr Ink might fix it for me if I beg.”

“… I’M SURE YOU’LL BE ABLE TO TALK HIM INTO IT.” Papyrus was staring at the stairway that leads to where his brother slept.

I felt a weight suddenly appear on my shoulder, using the distraction to crawl quickly into the scarf around my neck.

Mr Sleeper wasted no time in falling unconscious, sparing me not a single word as he took full advantage of the cover my scarf provided.

Final accessory in place, I crawled back up to sit on the couch, sticking my legs out as far as they would reach.

Blinking up at Papyrus, I patted the seat beside me.

“If you’re going to guard me all night, you might as well get comfortable.”

He didn’t budge, strictly not looking at me.

I tilted my head.

My charm is undeniable.

“...did you know that there is a universe where everyone is Undyne…?”

Chapter Text

You know you’re hungover when you have to close your eyes to open the fridge the next morning.

Needless to say, Fell Sans was

Very.

Hungover.

The edgy skeleton kept his eye sockets shut throughout the entire process of stumbling into the kitchen, feeling blindly around the fridge for a bottle of mustard before collapsing at the table with his hood pulled up over his head.

Already exhausted.

It took a minute of cringing into the table to recover...but when the threat of possible death passed, Sans asserted himself as the capable, independent adult that he is.

“boss…”

“ON THE TABLE.” Papyrus answered tersely from where he stood at the stove, cooking breakfast as loudly as possible.

With a pathetic whimper, Sans sent out a tentative hand, scouting for his cup of herbal hangover tea…which was totally not sissy and if you were to look up edge in the dictionary, you would see a picture of this damn fucking tea…

Just as it seemed that all hope was lost...the warm beverage was pressed into his hand by an unseen force.

Without lifting his head, Sans started unscrewing the lid of the mustard in order to add the final ingredient.

“…thanks boss.” He mumbled, using as few syllables as possible to convey gratitude.

“LOOK UP ASSHOLE.” Papyrus said. From the stove. Where he hadn’t moved at all.

Winching his eyes sockets open, Sans slowly lifted his head to look at the person sitting next to him at the table.

I held a hand up in greeting.

“Hi.”

He screamed.

I screamed.

We both screamed.

Fell Papyrus crossed the room in an instant to slam his face down into the table.

ENOUGH.

Clawed phalanges scraped at the table as the shorter skeleton struggled to free himself in a blind panic.

“shi-fuck! b-boss! get off...!”

But the tall skeleton was having none of it.

“EITHER YOU FIND YOUR MANNERS THIS FUCKING INSTANT, OR I KNOCK YOU OUT SO YOU CAN TRY THIS AGAIN…” He paused mid-tirade, catching sight of me and immediately face-palming. “oh lasagne give me strength…WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING NOW?!”

My eyebrow rose imperiously. 

"I have ascended to a greater power.”

His jaw bone all but cracked under the pressure it took not to scream.

NO. YOU HAVE NOT.” 

One hand still crushing his brother into the table, Papyrus pointed at the floor.

“NOW GET THE FUCK DOWN OFF MY FRIDGE.”

And this is the story of how I ended up huddled up on top of Fell brother’s fridge like a frightened animal...

Also possibly the setup to the weirdest porno ever.

“Can't. This is my home now Mr Papyrus.” I blinked down at him, chin pressed to the top of the fridge door. “I think it’s in everyone’s best interest, that we quietly accept that this is the way things are supposed to be.”

Suffice to say, Sleeper hadn’t exactly been impressed with the wake-up call.

Papyrus finally released his brother, only to march over to me, hands on hips and scowl set to max. Even with the added height of the fridge, he didn’t have to look up far.

“…FUNNY, I COULD ALMOST SWEAR YOU JUST SAID NO TO ME.

...Kinky Kitchen. 

That's what I would call it.

...Because you can never be too prepared for fridge sex...

Meanwhile, Sans took full advantage of his newfound freedom. Leaping to his feet and sending his chair clattering to the floor.

The small skeleton was a sweaty, nervous wreck… but there was a grim set to his features.

Even as one hand clutched unconsciously at his collar in anxious habit, the other rose towards me, magic buzzing and ready.

...He's doing a little better...

I held his gaze, even as I spoke to his brother.

“I’m sorry Mr Papyrus, but the truth is…it's cold up here and lonely and I want to come home but…I’m stuck.”

The sharp skeleton’s gaze narrowed, disbelieving.

I held my hands out for help, fingers wriggling.

…please.

With a resigned sigh, Papyrus reached out, lifting me off the fridge.

“HOW DID YOU EVEN GET UP THERE?” He muttered, holding me up under the arms.

If having an Avatar wrapped around him like a koala bothered the edgy skeleton in the slightest, Fell Papyrus didn’t show it as he carried me back to the table.

“Mr Sleeper doesn’t like to be woken up.” I explained as cold menace radiated from my neck. “...By screaming in particular.”

Whether he had been trying to save or punish me was…not even worth asking...

I was sat back down in my seat but ignored as Papyrus sent his brother a scathing look.

That may have been…a little bit…concerned…

“BROTHER. YOUR STUPID IS SHOWING.”

Or not.

Sans cringed, eye-lights flickering between me and his brother before settling on Papyrus. Whatever he found in the taller skeletons expression must have helped him calm down, because Sans backed away from the lethal edge…

And into fury.

 “what the hell boss!?” The hand not still tangled in his collar was thrown hectically in my direction.

w h y!”

Just why.

Papyrus crossed his arms, unimpressed.

“I HAVE CAPTURED THE HUMAN. OBVIOUSLY.”

Obviously.

“y-you…!?” Sans sputtered, not seeming to know how to finish the thought. He turned to me, as if for some sort of confirmation.

I blinked.

“You probably should have sent him in the first place. I never stood a chance.”

My weakness is assertiveness…and sexiness... 

Papyrus was looking down at me like he hadn’t expected me to understand the severity of his Greatness.

I blinked back.

“It's true. I don't let just anybody strip me naked and make me all hot and wet.”

Sans sputtered, making noises of distress and outrage.

Papyrus whacked me on the back of the head.

“DON’T BE VULGAR.”

Sleeper seemed to agree.

“not around the filthy pervert.” He hissed into my ear.

…But I thought I was the filthy pervert…

“Yes sir.” I mumbled to the table, answering both of them.

“AS FOR-STOP BLUSHING IDIOT! ALL I DID WAS SHOWER THEM!”

By the time I looked up, Sans was clutching at the counter for support… very nearly hyperventilating.

“b-boss…that thing…it could have…”

The doorbell rang, silencing the kitchen.

I stared down at the table, uncomfortable with the look Sans was giving me.

Like I could have murdered his family while he was completely unprepared...

“…THAT WILL BE FRISK AND HER HIGHNESS.” Papyrus rubbed at his pseudo temples before starting towards the door. “BOTH OF YOU DO NOT MOVE UNTIL I RETURN.”

“Stove Mr Papyrus.” I reminded helpfully.

He swore, backtracking to turn off the appliance and move the pot of…something… to a different element.

Then he left the kitchen...leaving Sans and I alone…

With Mr Sleeper.

coward.”

My hands shot up to my scarf.

Sans stared at me, his breathing slowing with confusion.

“…what?”

Noth-“

hypocritical ass-”

“Mr Sleeper!” I whimpered, hunching down into my clothing as much as possible. “I’m trying to make a good impression!”

don't bother." Was the bitter snarl I got for my trouble. "if that creep comes anywhere near us, i’m throwing him out the window.”

“That’s not fair…” My hands tightened into the scarf.

If there was ever a time to stand up to Sleeper and insist he do the right thing…is was now.

“Degrade me too.”

“n o.”

 “…okay.”

Sorry Sans, I tried...

My time spent wallowing in sorrow was cut short when claws suddenly hooked into my scarf, yanking it down to find…

Nothing.

“the fuck?” Sans muttered, yanking me up by my jacket to get a closer look.

I blinked at the sudden proximity, senses overwhelmed by magical heat and the scent of mustard.

His jaw was clenched in frustration, confused gaze locked onto my bare neck…

…Error had also been surprised to find out Sleeper was a bitty…

I tilted my head as it dawned on me.

“…You don’t know.”

His gaze shifted to mine, grim and suspicious.

“know what?”

Alphys mustn't have…

I averted my gaze.

“Nothing. Nothing at all.”

Sans’ hackles rose at the obvious lie, hands almost ripping my clothing with the strength of his grip.

 “bullshit.

I looked away even harder.

“No it isn’t.”

Convincing.

“then i suppose you were the one calling me a  c o w a r d?”

I opened my mouth…only to have my words fail me.

…something tells me I should have seen this coming.

“…well… um..." I cleared my throat nervously. "...When one encounters a big baby chicken, one must declare…”

My back hit the table hard enough to make the teacup rattle.

Wrong answer.

Winded and disorientated, I pushed up against the crushing weight of leather as Sans loomed over me.

Game over.

Large hands took advantage of my unravelled scarf, wrapping around my neck just tight enough to make me gasp for breath. Despite my wriggling becoming increasingly earnest, the Fell monster barely budged from his seat on top of me.

His grin remained frozen in place.

In control.

"let's try asking another question then shall we...?"

Only his eyes revealed desperation.

“...w h a t  d o  y o u  w a n t ?”

My weak struggles stalled....

Straight to the point.

...Then my hands...numb, unclenched from his jacket... and fell limp at my sides.

Good for him.

“...It doesn’t matter.”

Expression blank, I gave up trying to escape and just lay on the table, staring up at him.

“…No matter how hard I try… how much I take or beg… I can never have what I want.”

Something in my surrender caused his crazed expression to waver.

I smiled slightly.

“...And that’s okay.

My hand left the grainy texture of the table, rising up slowly from my side and towards Sans.

I’m not a sore loser.

His smile slipped slightly, grip faltering…

"...But if you’re taking requests..."

My finger poked his forehead.

“I want a blow job.”

The light guttered out of his eyes.

I let the finger draw seductively down to his sharp teeth.

“...For Mr Papyrus that is.”

He's earned it.

I tilted my head, studying the larger skeleton's expression as my hand fell away.

Nothing.

No reaction at all… he just… stared down at me…

Empty. 

...Then... with a flicker, the light returned to his eyes.

Averted to the side.

“...and if I do this…” He spoke roughly, red magic warming to stain his cheeks. “you’ll quit with the spying crap?”

I visibly relaxed.

There’s my comrade in perversion. 

“…I’ll give you a week off.”

He gave me an offended look.

Everyone has standards…

“a month.”

My gaze narrowed.

 “Only if I get front row seats to the entire event. Aftercare and encores included.”

“d-“

“AHEM.”

We both turned our heads to find the doorway crowded…which was something of a problem, as Sans was straddling me on the table with his hands around my neck.

Not something you'd want to walk in on...under any circumstances...

Sans sweated nervously, frozen in place.

 “b-boss. i-ah…”

But his brother wasn’t the only witness to his...loss in composure.

Frisk stood nervously, one hand wrapped nervously in Toriel’s skirt, the other carrying a disgusted looking Flowey. Toriel was watching the scene with a look of severe disapproval and Papyrus…

…Papyrus…well…

Luckily, I more than willing to come to Sans' rescue, holding a hand out in a thumbs up.

“Don’t worry. If this was really what it looks like, I’d be the one on top.” 

Red light flared above me and I turned slightly to find Sans’ smile stretched alarmingly tight…promising me a good time if I didn’t shut up.

...Hmm…nah. I’d still rather be the dom.

I gave him an apologetic shrug and mouthed my excuses.

"You bite.”

Despite my winsome smile, the hands on my neck grew alarmingly tighter.

"you little..."

S A N S”

“right!” The short skeleton actually teleported in his urgency to get off me, appearing next to his brother, anxious and shamefaced. “sorry boss. i-”

He didn’t get to finish his grovelling.

The population of the room found itself staring at the stocky skeleton... who was now groaning on the floor...covered in the contents of today’s breakfast.

The pot that had mysteriously flown across the room to bludgeon him was still rattling to a stop on the kitchen floor when, as one, those gazes rose to stare at me.

I blinked back innocently from my seat on the table.

“…What a strange supernatural phenomenon.” I observed.

...At least Sleeper restrained himself...I'd hate to bring a plague of window breakage wherever I go...

“YOU MEAN TO SAY..." Papyrus pointed to where his brother, and more importantly his culinary masterpiece, lay tragically on the floor. "...YOU HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS?”

I hopped off the table, oversized flip-flops slapping against the floor.

“The universe speaks in mysterious ways.”

Papyrus didn’t look the least bit convinced and even Flowey gave a disbelieving scoff.

“…is it saying, "take a shower?”

Chapter Text

A part of me was sure…

This.

Is what parenthood feels like.

Hours of love and devotion put into its creation. Constant questions of will it be okay? And when will it be ready to come out…?

And now I stood, staring in awe at the existence I had ushered into this world.

Against all odds…

There was a small tug on my sleeve.

I turned my head slightly to find Frisk watching me, concerned.

There had been many such looks over the last few hours, as I had taken Toriel’s suggestion very. Seriously.

I knew the process. Had seen it a million times over. But indecision had me checking and double checking and rechecking again…until Toriel grew so frustrated she threatened to incinerate my progress so far if I didn’t shut up.

But in the end…

“…I made a pie.”

 A pie, golden brown and still steaming from the oven.

Made by me.

Ava.

The creator of this Pie.

My hand shot up to clutch Frisk’s sleeve.

“It’s real right?” I studied their expression for any doubt. “You saw me make it?”

I'm not having one of those days?

“it’s not that unbelievable.” Sleeper mumbled into my ear with a yawn. “and i’ve seen you cook before.”

…His scepticism was well earned…

Frisk also testified positively with a timid smile.

They saw me make it.

From his place ornamenting the table, Flowey scowled at my fingers like he was contemplating biting them…off.

Duh it’s real. You sat there and watched it bake, moron.”

It’s real.

I spun to Toriel, raw hope peeking through my wide stare.

The motherly monster looked beyond exasperated.

“For the last time, yes. It’s perfect.”

It’s perfect.

It’s…

I, in no exaggeration of the word, screamed.

"PAPYRUS!”

Something crashed in the living room, followed by muffed swearing as I ran toward the source.

Fell Papyrus was just leaping from the couch, ready to maul someone…only to find me suddenly latched onto his leg.   

WHAT…?!”

“I made a pie!” I spoke in a rush, nearly trembling as I stared up at his startled expression. “I asserted my will over the ingredients and it didn’t explode and it wasn’t spawned by the universe and it’s real and it’s perfect!”

My pie is perfect.

Toriel approved and everything.

Hands frozen mid-air, Papyrus stared down at me like he wanted to punish for me scaring the crap out him…but couldn’t force out a single harsh word.

Sans was having a similar problem, though for a different reason…

Hungover, stressed and resentful, the surly skeleton had returned from his shower in the foulest mood possible. Thus, he didn’t speak so much as growl, grumble and hiss like a disgruntled cat whenever forced to tolerate my presence…

Which…hadn’t been so often, as he had been strangely absent while Toriel and Frisk kept me entertained…

Still clutching his clean red sweater over his pseudo heart, Sans glowered at me.

Making a low noise of displeasure when he caught me staring back.

“SANS.” His brother immediately admonished with a sharp glare. “WHAT DID WE JUST DISCUSS?”

In an act of pure maturity, Sans forced himself to stop glaring at me… by turning his gaze to the wall and latching is teeth harshly onto the sleeve of his sweater.  His chest continued to rumble darkly as he ground down on the fuzzy material, trying to burn a hole in the wall with his gaze alone…

What a Gentleman.

“I AM AWARE YOU HAVE MADE A PIE HUMAN.” Papyrus returned his attention to me, speaking in a very controlled way. “CEASE YOUR SHENANIGANS AND GET TO THE POINT.”

I blinked up at him…

The point was I made a pie… but I guess that might not be such a big deal to someone so experienced in the kitchen as Papyrus…

“...Cooking is something I'm still working on...” I admitted, ruefully clutching at the black material of his pants. “…This is the first time I’ve made something that seems…editable.

Papyrus’s face twitched slightly with…something. 

“…I SEE.”

Sans’ growling escalated…to a point I could make out a few words.

“…grimy mitts off already…”

I glanced over to find red eyes on me once more…or more precisely, the hold I had on his brother’s leg…

My gaze widened in realisation.

In my elation, I had taken liberties with Papyrus’ leg.

Looking is okay.

Touching?

I let go, taking a sharp step back.

Not. O. K.

Hands wringing my coat, I stared at the floor. 

“I...um...know it doesn’t replace the breakfast that got ruined but…do you… would you…” I peeked up; Shoulders pre-emptively cringed. “…like to…maybe...try a little bit…?”

Papyrus expression was frozen in a mask of stern edginess.

“…FINE.”

My hands flew up to clutch my scarf, relieved. 

“See Mr Sleeper? I told you he wouldn’t be mad.”

“he never said he wasn’t mad.” The Bitty grumbled.

Papyrus' expression seemed to agree with that statement. 

“The pie still needs time to cool.” Toriel spoke up, watching the scene unfold from the doorway.

My face must have fallen in some minuscule way, as Papyrus wasted no time in marching towards the kitchen. 

“THE HEAT OF A MERE PIE IS NO MATCH FOR THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE PAPYRUS. IN FACT, THE PIE IS THE ONE WHO SHOULD FEAR BEING BURNED, BY THE PASSION WITH WHICH IT WILL BE DEVOURED.”

I stood, staring after him in admiration.

Such a relief, to know my pie is in such capable hands.

Toriel followed Papyrus into the kitchen… but before trying to join them, I gave the skeleton still sitting on the couch a curious look.

“…Are you going to tell me what you’ve been scheming all morning?” I tilted my head. "Or is it a surprise?"

That's right. When you're as paranoid as me, you can't even make a pie without someone plotting your demise in the other room.

The hackles rose immediately. 

“piss off.” Sans curled tighter into the couch, guarded and expecting a fight. “why would i tell you anything?”

I gave him a pitying look.

 “…Are you afraid I won’t share my pie with you?”

He blinked. Long and hard.

 “fuck no.”

Well now…I find that hard to believe.

“Because I would still totally share my pie with you..." My voice fell to a murmur."...Even if you did tattle on me to Classic...”

The fell skeleton flinched slightly, eye sockets narrowing in challenge.

"got a problem with that, brat?”

Call the paramedic, we have a concussed nail here.

I blinked, carefully considering my answer. 

Even after a talk from his bro, Sans still looked like a wound up ball string, and...yeah...as much as I'd love to distance myself from his mental breakdown... Being the cause of it meant I had to do... Something

Before someone snapped.

...Worse case, that person would be Sleeper. 

“I think…”

Taking a big breath of courage, I crawled up to sit next to Sans.

It always helps to have something in common, right? Now we are both uncomfortable…and also sitting on this couch…

Fell Sans curled tighter into his side of the furniture, keeping a grim eye on me even as his body language made it clear he'd rather be anywhere else.

“…That Classic Sans is very upset with me." I folded my hands in my lap politely, peeking up at the skeleton as he shied away from me. "...The same can probably be said for you... as well as most of the Sans population."  

The Fell skeleton tsked.

"figure that one out all by yourself sherlock?" He narrowed a look at me, as if contemplating kicking me off.

I nodded seriously. 

"My uncanny ability to read the mood aside... this is not a matter of whether my actions upset you or not, but of how you being upset affects me."

Sans' eye twitched. 

"oh? has my stress been inconvenient for you?" 

I blinked at him. 

"Recently? Yes." I pointed towards my shrunken self. "The attempt on my life being one example, but there is also a chance that Classic Sans will try to..." I frowned slightly

"... befriend me."

Some good food

Some bad laughs

Some nice friends.

There was a moment, where we both felt equally daunted by the suggestion.

"...trust me." Fell Sans grimaced, mildly disgusted. "...that ain't something you gotta worry 'bout."

Not in a million years.

"Hmm? Well yes, in the case of genuine friendship...though, who am I to underestimate... but no." I shook my head to clear the scrambling thoughts. 

"What I mean to say is...I'm not...overly interested in being placated..." My gaze fell to my lap. "...so I we could just skip that part...that'd be nice."

"...whatever." Sans grunted dismissively, refusing to look at me.

….......... why do awkward pauses like this never happen in porn?

"It’s...um...Not that I don't appreciate diplomacy..." I shrugged slightly. "...just that…from my perspective, this is all rather…anticlimactic.”

Sans shot me an irritated look, prompting me to raise a lecturing finger.

“Don’t question this, because the timelines are weird, but I’ve seen you fight a dragon before…well, technically, it was an alien, but still. A literal, fire breathing dragon, with your bare hands. It was awesome. This…” I gestured between the two of us. “… trying to talk things out like rational adults, is significantly less awesome. It doesn’t even fall under the categories of romantic or angsty… it’s just lame.”

The more I talked, the more Sans' expression soured. 

“excuse me for not being entertaining.” He managed to get out, civilly, from behind a twitching smile.

“Don't apologise Mr Sans.” I sighed, staring dejectedly at my hands. “It's not that I'm not enjoying this edgy brooding session, quite the opposite really... you've been amazing... it's just a matter of picking one's battles and...well..." 

I blinked at him in stark desperation.

“Classic Sans creeps me out.”

His grim smile slipped a bit, nervous sweat appearing on his brow.

“you’re kidding.”

“No way. Have you seen that guy’s face?”

He couldn’t help a slight eye roll. “on the odd occasion.”

"Passive aggression is the worst.” I held my hands despairingly to my cheeks. “Compared to him, you and I are so emotionally well balanced. The pinnacle of mental health, really.”

Sans raised a disbelieving brow.

“well if that ain’t fucking backwards…”

I tilted my head at the self-deprecating undertone, hands still pressed firmly to my face.

“You may break often Mr Sans, but you have the strength to heal…crooked but still. Classic...He…well…" I gave a grim blink. "Snaps.”

And is never himself again.

Sans’ expression lost all trace of colour.

Errors can always be made.

My hands fell to fiddle with my coat buttons.

“Yes, well, it is certainly a concern that I have…and something we should be proactive about so …The safe word is “Take my virginity.”

Pause for effect.

what?!” He sputtered, rounding on me with a red blush.

I blinked back seriously

“If I ever do something you are uncomfortable with… like try to kill you or steal your underwear… say the safe word, and I promise to stop…" I gave him the sincerest of all sincere faces. "Not gonna lie, it’ll probably be to laugh at you… but I’ll stop nonetheless.”

Fell Sans shifted to face me fully, sharp smile tense with distrust.

“again. what?”

I leant back, nervous now that he was the one closing the distance between us. Before his gaze could do more than widen in surprise at the retreat, I lifted my chin in a sniffy expression. 

Best not let him smell fear.

"As I have more important things to worry about, I would like to keep the time spent accommodating your frail mentality to a minimum. " I stated very carefully. "That being said, this was the only thing I could think of to make you tone down the paranoia a little. Now…”

I hopped off the couch, shoving my hands into baggy pockets. As I did so, I caught a glimpse of a couple of faces ducking back out of sight behind the door.

And they say I'm nosey.

"...This conversation makes me feel gross, so successful or not, I'm going to go over there and pretend it never happened."

Behind me, I could feel Sans pulling faces, mimicking the act of strangulation whilst glowing red with silent anger. 

Always good, to clear the air.

I started towards the kitchen.

“You’re welcome to come drown your sorrows in pie if you like. I imagine it tastes nearly identical to one of Ms Toriel’s, as it was her recipe I shamelessly ripped off, right down to the secret ingredient.”

L.O.V.E

A skeletal hand landed on my shoulder, stopping me in my tracks.

I tilted my overlarge hat up to meet Sans gaze.

The skeleton visibly had to calm himself, taking a deep breath before forcing himself to meet my gaze. Though his smile did give a nervous twitch…His grip on my shoulder was firm.

“i'm nothin' if not a nice guy, so here's fair warning. you wanna go making promises? fine. but this is your only chance to back out, no hard feelin's.”

He leant closer, red gaze deadly serious.

“cause if you go through with this, i’ll have no choice but to hold you to your word.

No second chances.

I didn’t want it to seem like I was making the decision lightly… but Mr Sleeper was tensing up on my shoulder...

“I have a 100% success rate with all my formal promises.” I assured, reaching a hand up to my scarf.

Finally, something eased in Sans' expression and the painful grip loosened from my shoulder.

“ugh. fine. fuck my life.”

The stocky skeleton threw his arms up as he marched his way towards the kitchen, muttering irritably to himself about being an idiot and going soft…

I watched after him…wondering if I should point out that technically this was the first promise I had ever made…

Ha ha, nope.

My lips twitched fondly.

I wanna see his face when he finds out.

That, is when the mood killer fairy fluttered in.

“we should leave.” Sleeper grumbled darkly.

My hand still on the scarf pressed comfortingly against the bitty’s side.

“why?”

“i  d o n t  l i k e  c l a s s i c.”

Something about the way he said that made me think he might be holding back on how he really feels.

“I suspected as much.” I walked slowly towards the kitchen. “I won’t ask you to stay…but this is something that needs to be dealt with before it escalates any further.”

“since when did we care about what they think?” He muttered.

I could sense the skeletal pouting.

“I have a pie now Mr Sleeper.” Even though I was well and truly in the kitchen and people were openly staring at me, I made no effort to hide the fact that I was speaking to my scarf. “It’s made me realise that life is too precious to be picking fights. Speaking of, would you like to try some? I don’t imagine Mr Papyrus’ cupboards held anything overly appetising.”

Everyone excluding Sans was seated at the table…cause why wouldn’t they be? They had been sitting in the kitchen the entire time hahaha… watching on in silence as I made my way towards the plated pie and the skeleton helping himself to it.

“…yes. but that doesn’t mean I forgive you.”

“Of course not Mr Sleeper. I know it doesn’t make up for everything you do for me, but…”

Sans was so bewildered that he made no move to stop me as I took the piece of pie he had just served himself from his unresisting hand. Humming, I carried the pie over to the fridge, pulling on the huge door with all my might in order to place the pie inside.

Hidden by the door, I pulled the scarf down to show Mr Sleeper his prize.

“I stole it from Mr Sans and everything. Just for you.”

Mr Sleeper took a deep breath, stifling his emotions before teleporting beside the plate.

“…if the pervert touches you, scream.” He warned with a stern glare. “i mean it.”

I nodded obediently.

The pie and Mr Sleeper were gone before I shut the door.

Now, to distract the masses from the disappearing resources.

I had only taken a step back when I was pushed aside by a larger skeletal body.

Arms swinging lazily, I made my way back to the table to pick up the plate with the remaining pie as Sans swung the fridge door open.

He made a noise. The sort of noise people make when they know they can’t swear… but really really want to.

Pie in hand, I looked over my shoulder to see Sans still hiding his expression behind the door.

...But if the way his hand was clenching down on the handle was any indication…

Fell Sans lifted his head to give me the kindest, warmest, most refreshing smile I have ever been blessed with.

“w h e r e  i s  i t?”

I blinked innocently, turning fully to face him with the last of the pie in hand.

“Mr Sleeper was hungry.”

One look over my head at Toriel’s expression had Sans…rewording his initial response.

“then maybe mr sleeper should get his o w n  s l i c e.”

“But he wanted yours.”

His smile spasmed.

“DON’T.” Was Papyrus’ single word of warning.

Sweat appeared on the shorter skeletons brow, a mixture of nerves and supressed temper.

“i can see that, but taking things from others isn’t very n i c e.”

I tilted my head in contemplation.

“…Nice guys never get laid.”

My lips twitched with the ghost of a smirk.

“Though I wouldn’t say that’s the problem in your case…”

The sound of his patience snapping was an audible thing. 

Sans held his hand out demandingly, glaring with empty eye sockets.

“h a n d  i t  o v e r.”

My posture straightened up, serious.

“Only. if. you. Beg.

I ducked as Sans was suddenly across the room and grabbing for me.

“hold still you little sh-!“

SANS!”

Clawed phalanges followed after me as I leapt out of harm’s way, jumping onto the remaining chair to stand closer to eye level with the enraged skeleton.

I held the pie up over my head, out of…oh no, never mind. He can still reach.

Being small is really starting to get inconvenient…

Sans went for it, moving fast despite his lazy nature. I jerked the plate out of his reach, continuously moving it every time he came close to capturing the pie. It didn’t take him long to change tactics, going for me instead.

I rocked the chair back on its hind legs, twisting so it spun and placed the back between me and skeleton hell bent on stealing my pie.

The others were protesting at our antics…but that hardly mattered as the world narrowed down to me, Sans and the pastry delight I was keeping from him.

Red eyes twitching menacingly, Sans hooked a sneakered foot into the leg of the chair and yanked it out from beneath me.

Losing balance, I hopped backwards, landing on the floor with a distinct lack of grace.

I scurried away, ducking and weaving as Sans followed relentlessly…though to the naked eye it might just seem like I got lucky as I tripped and stumbled in my oversized clothing.

In the end, I was only saved by Papyrus’ intervention, as the tall skeleton yanked his brother up by his scruff.

"I EXPECT THIS CHILDISHNESS FROM THEM, BUT YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER..."

Not one to waste an opportunity, I sprinted out of the kitchen, taking the pie with me.

I didn’t get far before an enraged shriek came from the kitchen and Sans popped into existence in front of me.

Far too close and grinning triumphantly.

I threw the pie up, diving under his reaching arm and catching the plate on the flip side.

Without pausing to brag, I started forward once more…

Only to catch a glimpse of blue.

My pie went flying and I hit the floor, face first and soul…still Undetermined.

No blaming magic this time. I tripped over my own lameness.

A weight landed on my back and my arm was wrenched up painfully.

I gasped as Fell Sans leaned closer, sharp smile pressed close to my ear.

“nice try brat. but i still want to know…”

“uh…red?” A confused voice spoke from above. “…what are you doing?”

The skeleton on top of me jerked in surprise, his grip on my arm loosening as he looked up.

Caught in the act. Again. 

“nothin!” He reassured quickly…if not convincingly…

Lifting my head, I squinted at the pair of fluffy pink slippers standing casually in front of me…

“..and by nothing, i mean i’m…trying…to... uh…get…pie…”

Smooth.

“ARE YOU REFERRING TO THIS MYSTERIOUS FLYING PIE?”

I froze, lifting my head further too meet the gaze of one Classic Sans, who was staring at our positions with mild surprise… Frisk, who peeked around Sans’ blue jacket, openly amused.... 

And the Great Papyrus, standing heroically with my pie held safely in one hand.

My face felt incredibly hot.

I blame carpet burn.

 

 

Chapter Text

The Corner.

It is a dark, lonely place, meant only for the worst of criminals.

It is my fate…my punishment, to spend the remainder of my days here.

Scorned by society and left to rot, I must suffer in silence…

“boss…?”

NO.

Silence…

“but…”

“SHUT UP AND FACE THE WALL.”

Si-

Fell Sans whined, curled up and fidgeting in the corner opposite mine.

He had suffered the brunt of Papyrus’ ire, having used…the unspeakable to escape his brother earlier.

The Secret Technique.

I’ve only been able to watch it to completion three times. Once in unprepared horror, a second time in morbid curiosity and a third to completely rule out the possibility of it being some disturbing form of porn.

These days, I never watch past the point of him manifesting his tongue reaching for his…

Eww. I just pictured it.

I curled up tighter, keeping a tight control on my breathing as it once again threatened to break rhythm. The loop of in and out.

It would be a very long time before Fell Papyrus could tolerate looking at his brother's face again, and we would be released from our imprisonment…

A fact a certain skeleton saw fit to take advantage of.

“don’t look at me, you were caught red-handed.”

Numerous groans and giggles echoed around the room.

I stared unblinkingly at the wall, forehead pressed directly to the white plaster.

No point in screaming. Begging won’t save you and killing everyone probably just sounds fun in your head… Face it Ava. There is no escape from the naughty corner. You’re going to die here so just... breathe…

“REALLY SANS? YOU’RE MAKING A HORRIBLE FIRST IMPRESSION!”

There was a loud clatter as Classic Papyrus set the dish he'd been cleaning down onto the rack. 

Yea…living in a universe where all my wrongs were immediately righted had crippled me in terms of cleaning up after myself.

“sorry bro.” Sans barely finished the apology before he was yawning.

Sincerity at its finest.

“you’re right… guess i can give the jokes arrest for now.”

I curled tighter, cramming as much as myself into the corner as possible.

Breathe in… not too much…no that’s gasping, stop…breathe out…slowly…keep going…it only feels like you’re going to pass out…but we’ve called that bluff before…

“UGH, THERE’S NO NEED TO BE SO…SO…”

“THE WORD YOU’RE LOOKING FOR IS OBNOXIOUS.” Fell Papyrus supplied, tapping an impatient foot as he leaned against the counter…keeping guard over the prisoners...

“HMM, NO I’M SURE THAT WASN’T IT…” Another dish was set on the rack. 

One of the Frisks must have signed a suggestion, as Papyrus continued in a contemplative murmur.

“I’M AFRAID THAT WASN’T IT EITHER…NOW WHAT COULD IT HAVE BEEN…SANS, DO NOT DO ANYTHING ELSE UNTIL I HAVE FIGURED OUT HOW BEST TO ARTICULATE MY DISAPPROVAL!”

“kay bro.”

With the 'help' of everyone else in the kitchen, Papyrus continued to ponder how to gently break the news to his brother. 

Sans. I wouldn’t say your humour is bad per say…just that it should maybe be treated as a weapon of mass destruction…

“you’re not fooling anyone idiot.”

Sleeper popped into existence, clinging to my scarf for a moment before climbing into his rightful place against my neck.

The moment he was secure, a small hand was pressed against my rapid pulse... already significantly slowed after his arrival.

“stop holding your breath.” The bitty scolded.

“I’m not.” I whispered back, for once making an effort to be inaudible.

“you may as well be.” He snapped, his hand tightening impatiently. “what are you even…”

“Altitude sickness.” I quickly explained.

no.

There was a pinch on my neck as his hand tightened in anger...

But I wouldn’t be deterred by simple threats of grievous bodily harm.

“I entered the corner too quickly, not giving my body time to adjust to the reduced oxygen and changes in air pressure.” I took a very deliberate breath.

“It is the only explanation.”

Because I am a master in the ancient art of Ma-ri-sue. All my stats are times infinity and of course everyone loves me why wouldn’t they love me? I’mspecialandnothingcanevereverevereverhurtme…

There was one obvious solution to my problem. That is Altitude sickness. Yes.

“then. m o v e.” Sleeper gritted out. A reasonable suggestion on all accounts.

My breathing hitched and I pressed tighter into the corner.

The room was suddenly very quiet.

I held still, pretending that I could become one with the wall if I just committed to blending in…

Then again, canary yellow probably isn’t the best choice of camouflage…

My building panic came to a halt when a finger lightly poked my shoulder.

Too fleeting to be confident...Yet they had been the one to act.

I sighed.

Then, like a well-loved toy, I put my neurotic thoughts aside.

Can always come back to them later…

It was only when I tried to unfurl that I realised just how cramped I had become.

No.1 reason to be a coward.

If I had a spine, it might sue me.

Very slowly and with as little movement as possible, I looked up to find Fell Frisk next to me, staring down worriedly.

They asked if I was okay.

I blinked up at them… not really knowing the answer, but already having a contingency philosophy for this sort of concern.

Leaning on someone won’t give you the strength to stand.

My gaze narrowed.

Then my hand struck.

“Not.

Cute.

At.

All.

I tugged on Frisk’s pinched cheek, staring at them with the blank face of disapproval.

“Worrying all the time will give you wrinkles. Is that what you want Frisk? Raisin face? Cause I'm not sure I can be friends with a dried fruit product...” 

Frisk blanched at my sudden intensity… and possibly the fact I was yanking on their face...

Then they frowned…and insisted that I tell them what was wrong.

Behold Frisk. A tenacious little bully in every incarnation.

Having made a single attempt to be mature, la resistance surrendered to the unforeseen double inquiry and forced me to act on self-pity.

I lowered my head shamefully, letting my grip slip away from Frisk's face.

“I’m not good at being unoccupied…” I mumbled. “…or in stressful situations… around people, in corners or under the assumption that any wrong move I make could result in total multiverse annihilation… is all…”

This turning over a new leaf thing seemed way easier in theory...

“is that so?” Sleeper hissed in my ear, sounding pissed that it had taken so much effort to get an honest answer out of me.

I nodded miserably, blinking up at the child still hovering over me.

“So…um…I know this is a lot to ask but…do you think you could maybe…”

I peered around Frisk, staring nervously at the people watching from the table.

The curiosity and the caution.

Now or never.

I met Frisk’s stare, eyes wide and pleading.

“...Break me out of Jail?”

They froze, taking into consideration all the risks.

It was too much to ask…

Then their face set with determination and a hand wrapped around mine.

“DON’T YOU DARE…”

I was yanked to my feet and running before Fell Papyrus could finish the threat.

Freedom was at hand, and there was very little any of the responsible adults could do as we fled from the room.

Pulled along behind the taller child, I met the gaze of Fell Sans as we ran past.

Sans expression #9: The Vacant smile.

A blank expression that is often followed by impulsive acts of violence, as Sans continues buffering the unpredicted change in circumstance.

Otherwise known as surprise.

…I could fix that.

Lacking the correct facial structure to smirk...I stuck my tongue out and made the appropriate noises indicating my contempt for his inferior jailbreaking skill.

Sans smile twitched, anger playing with his facial tic’s.

Better.

My good deed for the day done…I tilted my hat down and turned away.

Freedom is so much sweeter knowing someone else is suffering in confinement. 

We ran, Frisk leading the way with a soundless giggle. 

Before I could even realise our intended destination, we burst from the house…

Into the bright, white world outside.

Only a few startled steps out, I came to a stop.

And stared.

Sunlight and Snow.

Just like last night, the crisp air turned my breath to fog.

With a strange sense of vertigo, I looked down at my feet, at where my toes had curled up instinctively to prevent contact with the whiteness below.

I could touch it. It is right there and nothing is stopping me...

Hand still locked tightly around Frisk’s, I crouched down for a closer look.

They stood at my side, watching curiously as I slowly reached out a hand…

And poked the snow.

I was on my feet and behind Frisk before the sensation of cold could even register. I stood clutching at their jumper, staring down at the imprint I had left in the whiteness.

The result of my actions having an effect on the world.

Slowly unclenching my hands, I released Frisk and stepped away.

Walking forward to stare some more.

Silent wonder. Followed by questions and discovery… replaced by playfulness and rude commentary to stave off boredom…

Indifference.

A burst of cold hit the back of my head, knocking it forward.

I froze in surprise, feeling the icy sensation travel down my back.

Mr Sleeper swore, muttering angrily as some of the snow managed to make it into his hiding place.

Eyes wide, I turned to look at Frisk…and was treated to the biggest smile I had ever received from the timid child as they dusted their hands of snow.

In fact, they were so busy celebrating the successful head-shot... they didn't notice the shadow fall upon them...

IRRESPONSIBLE.

Before Frisk could even turn to face the danger, they were seized by a huge overcoat.

“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, GOING OUTSIDE WITHOUT ADEQUATE ATTIRE?! ARE YOU TRYING TO CATCH ONE OF THOSE DISGUSTING HUMAN DISEASES?!”

Frisk struggled, head and torso trapped in the depths of the coat as Fell Papyrus forcibly applied winter clothing.

“JUST DON’T COME CRYING TO THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE PAPYRUS WHEN THE GERMS HAVE TAKEN OVER YOUR BODY. I REFUSE TO BE A PART OF ANYTHING THAT INVOLVES MUCUS.”

There was a giggle, and Classic Frisk ran from the house, dressed in borrowed clothing and carrying a disgruntled Flowey.

“You left me behind!” The little flower scolded, glaring at his Frisk as the child's head finally popped free of the clothing.

Classic Frisk signed cheekily at their counterpart, causing them to blush and take the potted plant.

I stared back at the four of them, arms limp at my side.

If I had been watching this at home, I’d probably be turning the brightness down on my T.V...

The moment Frisk's coat was equipped, Papyrus turned his attention to me.

The tall skeleton took a menacing step forward, my coat from the night before slung over one arm and a pair of boots in hand.

I took a step back.

“DON’T.” He warned, gaze narrowing sharply.

I bit my lip.

“but it’ll clash.”

Truly a fate worse than death.

Another menacing step.

“THAT’S NOT MY PROBLEM.”

Straight-faced, I bolted.

With a muttered curse, Papyrus took chase, shouting after me as I sprinted around the yard.

Despite having every advantage, catching me would be no simple task.

I had the gods of fashion on my side.

Both Frisks took the opportunity to get up to no good, beginning a snowball fight that ended up targeting Papyrus more than anyone else…

He quickly lost his temper, sometimes pausing in his chase to return fire with deadly accuracy.

“GIVE UP NOW AND I’LL MAKE IT QUICK.” He shouted, the sound of Flowey’s laughter cutting off as the flower got a ball of snow in the face.

“I can't Mr Papyrus! Those clothes won't fit...”

The sound of pursuit stopped, causing me to look over my shoulder to see Papyrus staring at me flabbergasted…if not mortally offended.

“HOW CAN YOU EVEN SAY THAT?!”

I peeked down at my baggy clothing.

Point.

“…I panicked-!”

As per tradition, the moment I stopped paying attention to where I was going I ran into something…

Or rather... someone ran into me.

“STRANGE HUMAN!”

I gasped as the ground disappeared from under my feet.

Suddenly held up in the air, I looked down to find myself confronted by a pair of excited blue stars.

Oh no...

I blinked in stunned horror.

“Mr Sans…?”

My curiosity proved no match for Swap Sans, as the elated Skeleton started a rapid interrogation of his own, at full volume... all the while spinning me around in the air.

All I could do was hold onto my hat.

“WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU WHY ARE YOU SO SMALL AND CUTE OH MY STARS YOU’RE CUTE DO YOU REALISE HOW CUTE YOU ARE WHY DIDN’T YOU LOOK LIKE THIS WHEN WE FIRST MET CAUSE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN WAY LESS SCARY IF YOU HAD BEEN CUTE LIKE THIS…!”

Pot. Meet kettle. 

At some point, Classic Papyrus and Toriel had left the kitchen and formed an audience with the two Frisks and one grumpy Flower. I caught a glimpse of the group on one of my rotations and sent an SOS.

Unfortunately for me, they weren’t born yesterday.

“Please stop!” I cried, increasingly more aware of the small skeleton in my scarf and how still he was becoming.

And Sans stopped. Just like that.

Oh. That wasn’t so hard…

“Arrrrrrrgh!”

It was at this point in my life that I was tackled by an angry yellow dinosaur.

“I’ve got you now punk!” Alphys shouted, sitting up enough to glare down at me where I lay stunned in the snow, still tangled up with Swap Sans. “How dare you run off like that without so much as a goodbye! You’re lucky if I don’t beat the heck out of ya for that disappearing stunt you pulled…”

She trailed off as I stared up at her, unresponsive.

Even Sans had sat up enough to look down at me with a slight frown of concern.

Above them, Fell Papyrus stood disapprovingly, scowling and arms on hips as he waited for his chance to shove me into warmer clothing.

It was...overwhelming.

I swallowed, throat suddenly tight with regret.

I had no choice but to break the news to Alphys...

“...I was…um…hoping I could fix it before you saw…”

My gaze averted from Swap Alphys' confused expression, my hand tangling in the once rainbow coloured scarf.

Stained black.

“…sorry... Even though you bought if for me... I..."

Failed.

"...sorry.”

After a long moment of silence, a clawed hand joined mine, tangling in the scarf and yanking me up into a sitting position.

I blinked back up at Alphys' fierce expression. As she took in the damage to my clothing and the changes to my state.

There was a flash of anger.

Then a firm hand on my shoulder.

“Why are you laying in the snow dressed like that!” She demanded, frowning in clear disapproval.

...You knocked me over into it…?

“THEY REFUSED TO DRESS APPROPRIATELY.” Fell Papyrus growled when I only blinked innocently.

Alphys was not impressed.

“You need to take care of yourself punk! Inside we go!”

“but…”

“No excuses!”

Just like that, I was yanked up into a strong pair of arms and marched back towards the house.

Sweet, sweet Freedom. Our time together has been short, but I will never forget...how much money you owe me! That's right,  I'm coming back for you asshole, if its the last thing I dooooo…!

Swap Sans gave me an encouraging smile as I peered miserably from over Alphys' shoulder.

“DO NOT WORRY HUMAN! THE MAGNIFICENT SANS WILL KEEP YOU COMPANY INDOORS! AND PAPY WILL ARRIVE SOON!" The small Skeleton practically skipped with excitement.  "MY BROTHER HAS BEEN REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO MEETING YOU...UNDER BETTER CIRCUMSTANCES THAT IS!”

I blinked in confusion.

“Mr Papyrus is here?”

Alphys gave a derisive scoff.

“Slowpoke didn’t want to race.” She announced, kicking the door down…needlessly.

Fell Papyrus made a low sound of disapproval, as did his brother from the kitchen.

“YOU RAN ALL THE WAY HERE FROM THE MACHINE?” Classic Papyrus enquired, falling into step with Swap Sans, his own Frisk sitting atop of his shoulders.

“OF COURSE!” Swap Sans smiled heroically.

Toriel followed behind the skeletons, hand in hand with Fell Frisk.

“did they seriously invite the entire multiverse over to gawk at you?” Sleeper muttered irritably.  

I tucked my face into Alphys’ back as the door to the outside world was shut once more.

"That would be a dire turn of events." I grimly acknowledged.

If the skeletons continued to duplicate at such a rapid rate...it could make identifying everyone using the context slightly harder...therefore not really worth doing... then I might actually have to use their nicknames...

Alphys' grip grew tighter when I shuddered...but it wasn't from the cold.

Never.

Chapter Text

How does one come to find themselves stuck in a tree…?

Well.

 First, they need to have kicked an infant in a past life.

or stolen a packet of tic-tacs or…dunno.

Something bad.  

Then, one must continue to suffer through their current life, until they reach the point where they need to avoid interacting with a group of certain individuals… of the original flavour.

Not in a way that would hurt anyone’s feelings mind you… just as a precaution! On the off chance the multiverse depends on it…

Except… they do notice…

Especially when one maneuvers themselves around the room so as to constantly have other people in between them and the avoided party…

...Yeah.

Feelings got hurt.

Unfortunately rude, antisocial behaviour only seems to encourage some people to try even harder to befriend the unstable maniac in the room.

Hence, stops were pulled.

Inventories were delved into.

And this.

Is where the dog comes in.

“RETURN THAT AT ONCE YOU STOW AWAY!”

There was a bark.

A simple noise. Not even a particularly scary one.

Hiding under the table in my latest and greatest attempt to casually avoid destroying the multiverse…I was as far from not scared as it was possible to be.

No one else in the room seemed overly concerned.

Most watched on in amusement or mild annoyance as Classic Papyrus chased the small animal into the kitchen.

Then the dog caught sight of me, nearly tripping his pursuer as he came to a standstill.

I stared back, eye level with the fluffy creature as I huddled on the floor.

Then the be-ribboned bone was dropped from the dog’s maw.

And the Annoying dog growled.

Every single nerve in my underdeveloped self-preservation system lit up, causing my body to go haywire with terror.

Other people had time to feel confused. Maybe a little unnerved by the uncharacteristic show of aggression.

Not me though.

I proceeded to get the heck out of dodge.

Not before up-ending the table above me though, paying no mind to the people still sitting at said table as I flung the solid wood between me and the charging mammal.

The small dog rounded the obstacle, yapping furiously the entire way as I bolted. Voices cried out in alarm and confusion, a few of the towering figures in the room leaping forward to intercept the chase before more than a poor table could be caught in the crossfire.

Unlike the other times in the past where I had found myself running for my life, I didn’t make a sound.

No cheeky comments or jibes. 

My heart beat hard in my chest, the pounding blood deafening me to reason as I dodged grasping hands and ducked through at least one pair of legs.

Hardly comprehending anything beyond my own terror and the hell hound on my heals... I found myself up the stairs and bursting into one of the second story bedrooms before any thoughts of respecting privacy and planning appropriate escape routes could protest.

A figure appeared in front of me, stepping casually into existence as if it had always been there. A low, (almost not really) relaxed voice spoke, the tone of amusement and confusion registering…if not the words.

There was also a pissed off shout from behind and a sharp bark.

My feet were thinking faster than my head.

By the time I realised this might be a not so good idea, I had dodged around the person in my path, leapt up onto the desk and pressed one foot up onto the window sill.

Cyan.

Then I leapt through the window, leaving the barrier of glass untouched in my wake.

...It was at some point during my decent from the second story, that some of my senses returned to me.

The realisation of where I was...What I had done...Just who had witnessed me manipulate my own soul…and most importantly, the people currently standing outside the house, conversing directly below the window I had just thrown myself out of.

In the way.

The group looked up…comprehension not moving quite as fast as my plummeting body.

By the time I landed, foot planted directly in the face of one very surprised Papyrus, I had enough presence of mind to appreciate the irony.

“you didn’t.” Sleeper said, awed in that brief moment of frozen incredibility.

Some might accuse me of doing it on purpose.

I would even agree…if Swap Papyrus hadn’t been standing nearby, his cigarette falling from his slack teeth as he gaped at me…but otherwise unharmed.

No. It was SwapFell Papyrus who’s face I was standing on.

Completely different. Therefore, coincidental.

Sorry!” I cried, horrified hands flying to clutch at my hat as I leapt forward, jumping ship before the tall skeleton beneath me had a chance to topple.

There was pained grunt as the SwapFell Papyrus hit the ground hard, but my own feet landed flawlessly in the soft snow.

With zero hesitation, I sprinted towards the horizon.

...just because I’m remorseful, didn’t mean I was going to stop.

Though, between the two lazy Papyrus-es, my chances of getting out of this relatively unscathed were…

 “YOU…”

Oh. No. never mind.

BALLSY LITTLE FUCKER!

SwapFell Sans was going to murder me.

I knew this, because I could hear the infuriated skeleton swearing at top volume as he took off after me.

There was a crash, followed by more shouting and barking, signalling that the annoying dog had re-joined the chase…

And that,

Is how one ends up in a tree.

Clinging to the very top as an angry skeleton and dog circle below.

I’ve had better days…

“you’ll have to go down eventually.” Sleeper commented heartlessly, his damns to give having run dry fairly early on in this whole tree hugging experience…

I shook my head into the bark of the tree, refusing to budge from my locked position.

Nothing could stop me from clinging to this tree for the rest of eternity. I could survive forever without sustenance or rest. My body was immune to the elements…

“you’ll get bored.” He reasoned, offhandedly predicting my train of thought.

I shook my head again…far less convincingly this time.

The Bitty sighed, resigning himself to staying up here…for at least as long as it would take for my neurosis to drive me into some sort of activity. 

Or until someone was sent up to retrieve me.

“hey.”

There was a small tug on my dangling foot.

I squeaked, yanking the appendage up out of reach and causing a light chuckle below.

“sorry, didn’t mean to startle ya.”

...Here’s some free constructive criticism then. 

I lifted my head to stare boldly down at my attacker…who revealed himself to be Swap Papyrus.

Sneaking up on me is where you went wrong.

The hoodie-clad skeleton stood casually balanced on a lower, sturdier limb, unbothered by the distance between him and the snowy ground below...not to mention the creepy pervert above.

His relaxed smile grew at my accusing look, taking on a cheeky edge.

“okay. maybe i did.” He admitted easily, his mischievous smile making it impossible to stay mad at him... something I’m sure he took full advantage of.

Papyrus’ and their japes.

I glared warily down at him, my foot kept safely tucked beneath me and out of his reach.

The Edginess of this tree had rubbed off on me you see.

Cold steel was my life now.

 “so…” his arms folded on the branch just below mine. “i might be barking up the wrong tree here, but wood you believe me if i said its oak-ay for you to come down now?”

I twitched.

… should have just taken my chances with the dog...

 “trust me, you’ll be pine. i’m sure we can get to the root of the problem if we just talk about this palmly.”

...fine.

With a small, defeated groan, I released my kung-fu grip on the tree.

Let’s try the nice way first.

With one hand securing my hat and the other supporting Sleeper, I fell back to hang upside down from my branch.

The Bitty in my scarf took a long hard look at the situation and firmly noped, vanishing from beneath my hand with an indignant huff.  There are many things Sleeper is willing to tolerate for the sake of a good napping spot.

Playing rollercoaster just isn’t one of them.

Swap Papyrus didn’t seem the least bit concerned to find me staring intently at him, suddenly on the same level… uncomfortably close really.

Wary of me he may be, but intimidated he was not.

It’s almost as if seeing me tame a crazed void beast with a bottle of honey and a banana gave him the misconception I’m not scary…

“Figures.” My gaze narrowed, one hand moving to my chin speculatively. “The one time in my life where the spider-man kiss is perfectly set up, and you don’t even have lips.”

He blinked… and blinked again.

Whatever he had been expecting me to say, that obviously wasn’t it.

“sorry?”

“No no, it’s probably for the best.” I mused, swinging listlessly in the chilly breeze. “If I’m being perfectly honest, I’d rather Muffet be the one to score for all spider kind… ideally with another Muffet.”

I clicked my fingers, pointing a finger-gun at Papyrus.

“100% spider self-cest. Ticks all the boxes.”

He was staring at me.

This was me, distinctly being stared at.

I tilted my head, a little concerned.

“…Didn’t anyone warn you before sending you up here? Give you a guide book… or at least a few tips on how to safely interact with the weird thingy?”

A bone-brow was raised, as if questioning my sanity. 

“didn’t really get a chance, what with you jumping out of windows...crushing people underfoot and all.” He finally shrugged, propping his chin up on a hand.

“i decided to wing it.” He admitted.

I mouthed the words “wing it” it in disbelief.

All the papyrus-es in the multiverse need to sit down, and have a long talk about stranger danger…

“I...Ah…” I cleared my throat awkwardly. “I’m not really gonna ask you to cower before my greatness or anything…cause that would just gaudy…but…you know…a little bit of apprehension would be nice...”

A small smile quirked his expression.

“eh? is that so?”

“Picking on the guileless makes me feel bad." I nodded, very serious. "If you don’t get a clue soon, I’m gonna have to further postpone my goals to molest you, and nobody wants that.”  

Instead of being offended… or even healthily cautious… Papyrus chuckled, his stance becoming impossibly more relaxed.

“…guess my bro was right about you.” He sighed, blowing out a puff of smoke.

In my face.

Just because he doesn’t take my threats seriously, doesn’t mean he appreciates them.

I blinked back balefully through the smoke.

“Doubtful, since I can’t imagine Mr Sans saying a bad word about anyone.

Papyrus flicked the ash from his cigarette.

ODDLY SHY.” He quoted softly, watching the ash float away in the wind.

And now I was the one staring.

That’s…

“…Am not.”

“are too.”

“Na-ahh.”

“ah-ha.”

“Nope.”

“yep.”

“Rabbit season.”

“duck season.”

“Wrong.”

“right.”

“Left.”

“…”

It was a cheap victory. Not clever, and certainly nothing to be proud of.

Still, the following silenced was filled by some strange force of nature mysteriously humming “We are the Champions.”

And yes, even though I’m technically incapable of smirking like the superior lifeform I am, Papyrus still felt sufficiently justified in poking me in the forehead as punishment.

“nobody likes a braggart.”

Who? Me?

I pulled my hat down to hide my complete lack of remorse.

Then, just to prove the universe only builds you up to watch you fall, a sudden weight fell onto the branch I was hanging from.

I wasn’t expecting it. Papyrus wasn’t expecting it. The branch sure as hell wasn’t expecting it because it snapped.

Much like the assent of the tree, I don’t really remember many of the details of my trip down.

My body reacted on autopilot, navigating the branches with small acts of acrobatics as gravity did most of the work.

It wasn’t my fault the iciness of the final branch was not accounted for…

…And that I found myself laid flat in the snow, staring up at what was once my sanctuary and the two Papyrus-es standing in it. One staring down at me in concern…the other with his hands in pockets and a bored expression in place.

Karma was the one to blame…and I would keep that in mind, the next time I step on a Papyrus' face.

...Of course it’s going to happen again…its practically a thing now... 

Then came the clearing of a throat.

Funny, as the scarred and edgy skeleton standing over me with his arms crossed and his gaze set to murder…did not have a throat.

“HOW NICE OF YOU TO JOIN ME.”

A technicality that didn’t get in the way of him being terrifying.

I swallowed nervously, slowly raising my hands in surrender.

My chances of escaping SwapFell Sans from this position were slim. 

Far above us, the two Papyrus’ were having a glaring deathmatch…so no hope of rescue there...

Right. Time to face this problem like an adult.

“I consent to everything…” I grimaced slightly. “…except role-play.”  

I have enough identity issues as it is.

Something twitched in his expression. A brief flicker of surprise and worse...

Delight.

Before SwapFell Sans could make me regret this decision, a low growl came from somewhere around my ankle.

Knew I was forgetting about something.

"What...um..."I swallowed nervously "...was the safe word again?"

After a long moment of staring down at me where I lay frozen in terror, Sans' sharp grin widened.

Maliciously.  

"THERE ISN'T ONE."

Chapter Text

Swap Alphys.

Mooch.

Swap Sans.

The Yellow Triple Decker Bringer of Justice.

Swap Papyrus.

Foot.

Fell Papyrus.

Nudity.

Fell Sans.

Jump scared while critically hung-over.

Classic Sans.

Ignored.

Classic Papyrus.

Avoided.

SwapFell Papyrus.

Also Foot.

SwapFell Sans.

Vandalism.

...I think its Safe to Say…

I had made a terrible first impression on every single person in this room.

And this is excluding the footage they have of me admitting I'm the multiverses most overpowered NEET. A sloth, with zero ambition for anything that isn’t my juvenile and/or perverted hobbies.

So, understandably, I was a little uncomfortable with being the centre of attention. 

It might have something to do with the whole 'this might seem like you're being put on trial to the untrained eye, but it isn’t and you’re not, because to judge someone without going through the correct legal procedure would be completely unethical and totally not something any skeleton would ever do. Ever'  Vibe I was getting from this situation…

Or maybe I’m just shy.

“SHOULDN’T THAT THING BE RESTRAINED?”

Finally!

I perked up with interest.

The voice of reason has spoken!

Despite SwapFell Sans making an excellent point, Classic Papyrus looked horrified by the mere suggestion and quickly rose to my defence.

“WE COULDN’T POSSIBLY...!”

“nah, the cherry’s right.” Fell Sans smirked widely from his place on the couch. “i vote yes to rope and gag.”

Can't argue with diplomacy...

 “I AGREE.” Fell Papyrus declared, already making his way out of them room. “...NYHEHE, THAT LITTLE SHIT HAS ESCAPED FOR THE LAST TIME…”

Hey now, let’s keep the bondage professional…

 “m’lord…” SwapFell Papyrus looked up from his seat at his brother’s feet.

The Edgy Sans didn’t even spare him a glance.

“LATER MUTT.”

The tall skeleton huddled contentedly into his hoodie.

“nyeh…”

...Some contributions were better than others...

Classic Papyrus paced the divided room, gloved hands wringing in distress as he turned to his brother.

“SANS, SURELY YOU DON’T AGREE WITH THIS OUTRAGEOUS SUGGESTION!?”

Sans met his brother's soulful gaze with a vacant blink.

“…what was the question again?” 

Papyrus stopped pacing.

Sans sat up straighter in his chair, suddenly much more alert.

“…oh yeah, right… ahem. guys? i think it might be a bit premature…”

My jaw dropped in disappointment.

But Fell Papyrus has already taken out his…

“…BUT I’VE ALREADY-!”

Sans raised a placating hand toward the taller skeleton who was re-entering the room.

“i don’t think that will be nessa…” The lights sputtered out from his eyes when he actually saw what the tall skeleton was carrying. “edge, buddy, do me a favour, and take that back to where you found it. then, if it's not too much to ask… b u r n  i t. ”

Fell Papyrus pinned the shorter skeleton with an arrogant glare.

"IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR REASON FOR ME TO FEEL THAT CHARITABLE?"

Sans pointed silently.

At me.

One look at my expectant stare ...and the Fell monster relented with a disgusted huff.

"...TELLING ME WHAT TO DO IN MY OWN FUCKING HOME..." He muttered, turning on his heal and stomping off to return the Good China to its rightful place.

Aww...

Classic Papyrus was visibly confused, tilting his head as if contemplating a particularly difficult puzzle.

“I DON’T…HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO…?”

“YOU DISLOCATE THE ARM FIRST.” SwapFell Sans paused in his sulking to helpfully explain.

Classic Papyrus wasn't the only one to nod in sudden understanding.

“I SEE.”

Yep. I obviously have nothing to worry about …and while we’re dabbling with denial, maybe it was only a coincidence that Toriel had taken the children on an errand into town.

Anything could happen in this crazy world.

I sighed, sinking further into my seat.

It was certain. 

I wasn’t the most popular person in the room.

…but that’s not to say that everyone was against me.

…Some people were neutral.

And of course, I could always count on Mr Sleeper…wherever he may have run off to this time… and assuming he’s still conscious…

Dependability is just another thing me and Sleeper have in common.

Then, I guess…

...in the worst case scenario…

There is Swap Sans.

The Skeleton who, after heroically rescuing me from the annoying dog SwapFell Sans, had made it very clear to everyone.

I was under his protection.

Hence, the reason why my feet hadn’t touched the ground since he scooped me out from under his edgy counterpart’s heal.

...And why I am now being held, cuddled like a teddy bear in his lap…

…Needless to say...

“sans…”

Arms tightened around me.

“NO PAPYRUS.”

...not everyone was a fan of this development.

Swap Papyrus hovered over us, visibly fretting as his only family member snuggled with pure evil. His fingers twitched, eager to reach out and enforce his brotherly protection.

“i’d listen to your bro if I were you, short stack.” Fell Sans rolled his eyes at the standoff. “you don’t know where that thing has been.”

I blinked in offended outrage.

Seeing as I had accidentally entered his room in a fit of dog induced terror, I’d say I’m pretty much disqualified from cleanliness for the rest of my life, thank you very much...

“Back off punk.” Swap Alphys shooed Papyrus, propping a hip up on the chair Sans and I occupied. “If it was hurting anyone I would have pulverised the Human into the floor by now.”

...Fair.

As much as I appreciated her support of my not ruining everything I touch by default…

This hugging thing was terrifying.

Not only did I not know what to do with my hands…I had a distinct impression that, if I did decide to let them wonder, this would be the last time my appendages experienced that particular problem...

...My fingers took a vote and, in the end, the majority decided it would be best that my hands remained in my lap.

As unnaturally stiff and awkward as the rest of me.

“i want to give them the benefit of the doubt just as much as you do bro…” Swap Papyrus took a minuscule step forward under Alphys watchful eye. “…but they have this look on their face…and it’s really starting to creep me out…”

Oh? This look? Yea, It’s new.

I’m thinking of calling it stressed.

Swap Sans stared defiantly from over the top of my head.

“I’M SORRY THAT MY PROXIMITY TO THE STRANGE HUMAN ALARMS YOU BROTHER, BUT I CAN’T IN GOOD CONSCIOUS, LEAVE THEM ALL ALONE TO BE BULLIED.” Swap Sans huffed.

This drew the offended attention of more than one skeleton.

None more so then Fell Papyrus.

“HOW DARE YOU INSINUATE…!?”

Time to defuse the situation.

“I saw a show just like this once…” I mused, looking blankly up at the ceiling. “…except you were all fighting over the maid or something…”

Monogamy ruins everything... 

I frowned slightly as more urgent thoughts occurred to me.

“If we’re going to play bachelor, I’m gonna need some roses…and a chaise. The only way to reject someone properly is whilst lounging… and if I turn you all down, I get to keep the bouquet. Win win.” 

I glanced back down to find almost everyone staring at me with open disbelief and/or disgust…

... maybe I'll just keep these little thoughts to myself from now on...

“…AS I WAS SAYING.” Fell Papyrus waved a dismissive hand in my direction. “DESPITE THE OBVIOUS TEMPTATION, I HAVE TREATED THIS HUMAN WITH NOTHING BUT THE UTMOST RESPECT AND CARE.”

“Five stars.” I agreed with a serious nod.

Swap Papyrus paused in his anxiety to send me a doubtful look.

“My favourite part was when went to the bar.” I added sincerely. “Grillby's even hotter in person.”

With zero exception, every monster in the room sent the edgy Papyrus a questioning look.

The question.

ARE YOU INSANE?

Papyrus met those scandalised looks with a haughty glare, saying only one word in his own defence.

“SANS.”

Yep. Pretty much sums up everything…

“…it ain’t boss’ fault.” Fell Sans advocated in a sickly mutter, his glare daring anyone to disagree.

“I HONESTLY COULDN'T GIVE A FUCK.” SwapFell Sans aloofly declared, looking bored for the most part. “WE’RE  HERE TO DECIDE ON HOW TO DEAL WITH IT, NOT BABYSIT THE THING.”

The room fell silent, realising they still had a problem on their hands.

Me.

“…did any of us actually think that far…?” Swap Papyrus sent a glance to Classic Sans, who only shrugged neutrally.

“well… i guess we’ll just have to convince our new friend here to quit with the spying… and the stalking... and the occasional terrorising...or we’ll...ah..." Sans scratched his head. "...have a problem?”

Threatening or friendly. At least commit to one.

"fuck off or d i e." Fell Sans said to me, arms crossed impatiently. "there. done. make sure to take the rest of these arseholes with you when you show yourself out."

"nobody is killing anyone." Swap Papyrus shot the surly skeleton a disapproving glare.  

"my house my rules."

"IS. THAT. SO?"

"and by my rules, i mean your rules boss." Sans was quick to grovel.

"HMPH."

Swap Sans' arms tightened around me, making it significantly harder to breathe.

When he spoke, his voice was unnaturally quiet.

“you’re all being incredibly harsh.”

His face was buried into my shoulder, leaving me at the forefront to face the wary looks suddenly focused on the upset blueberry.

“ganging up and intimidating someone like this isn’t right.” He said, so quietly it was a wonder anyone besides me could hear him. “i don’t like it.”

But you feel you have no choice.

I watched quietly as guilty looks were passed around the room, even by the people you’d least expect.

Everyone does.

…Welp.

Time to put them out of their misery.

 “I…ah..” I raised a nervous hand. “…think there may have been a mistake here. A misconception.”

Classic Papyrus practically lit up with hope.

“DO YOU MEAN TO SAY WE WERE GIVEN THE WRONG IMPRESSION ABOUT YOUR… EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES?”

It took a lot of effort to only tilt my head with confusion…you know, instead of falling over myself to beg for his forgiveness.

Way to kill me with kindness....

 “Ha ha ha. No. Not at all. Everything I've previously said is true. Right down to the last disturbing detail. No, what’s wrong is that you all seem to be under the impression that we are gathered here get answers from me.”

I pointed innocently towards myself, blank expression stating very clearly how ludicrous I found this thought.

“To reprimand me… perhaps guide me to a better path...”

Or kill me, if all else fails....

“That, is not the case.” I explained simply. “We are here....”

My guileless expression was marred only by the flatness of my gaze.

“Because I am very. Upset.

Under the focused gazes of everyone in the room, I slipped out of Swap Sans' unresisting grip.

And stood alone.

“Ahem." I brushed off my damaged coat. "I know most of you aren’t used to bowling when it comes to a severe dressing down, so I’ll try to be gentle.”

Looking Classic Sans directly in the eye, I stepped forward.

“Sending the Destroyer and the Creator to my doorstep was reckless, borderline negligent, a gross overreaction and an abuse of power.

Even with him slumped on the couch, Sans still had the advantage in height.

“Not only were your advocates  biased, irresponsible, unstable and just plain bad at diplomacy..." 

I did my best to look down on him anyway.

"They were completely o u t  c l a s s e d." 

Sans returned my look with a tense, twitching smile that had everyone in the room distinctly leaning away from us.

The only reason they are alive and well is because the restraint shown on my and Mr Sleeper's part." I explained. "It should go without saying that assaulting someone without at least a small investigation into what they are capable of is not only stupid, but rude.”

My arms crossed, adding to my disapproving stare.

“If you people weren’t already what amounts to a higher authority in this multiverse, I would demand you be held accounted for the endangerment of not only their lives, but lives of everyone in existence.”

Sans stared back at me, expression set into a lazy smile.

“…is that so?” He asked softly, making me realise.

This guy is waaaaay scarier in person…

 “then where are they?”

Huh?

My crossed arms fell in confusion.

“Who?”

“ink and error.”

This time, it was Sans’ turn to close the space between us, and when he moved to lean forward, it took all my nerve not to back away.

“because, unlike you, they haven’t been seen since yesterday.”

I blinked.

Blinked again.

I even sent a look back a Swap Sans, who appeared clearly worried… unable to look at me.

“...They’re missing?” I asked very carefully, turning back to Classic.

There was a flash of fear, gone in an instant and replaced with a tense grimace.

“you tell me.”

My eyes widened in growing panic.

I had been the last to see them alive…I was the only one who…

…No.

The panic came to a stop.

I wasn’t the only one.

“I...Um... think…” My hands clenched in my coat nervously. “…That Mr Sleeper... might know something about their sudden absence...Maybe.”

The Bitty definitely had some explaining to do if that was the case…

Sans leant even closer, putting his face directly in front of mine

 “then i suggest…” It was very clear from his expression.

Sans had little to no patience for my imaginary friend.

“...that mr  sleeper  b r i n g  t h e m  b a c k.”

Too bad Mr Sleeper had even less patience for Sans.

Glass shattered with the sound of screaming metal, causing a flurry in the room as people dodged out of the way of something large and metallic.

Sans and I finally broke eye contact to watch the twisted ball of red metal roll to the middle of the floor.

It came to a complete stop, motionless, much like everyone else in the room.

In the following stunned silence…Fell Sans walked from the room…returning a few moments later with a set of keys.

Face frozen in numb disbelief, the Skeleton clicked the keys in the direction of the metal ball crushed beyond recognition.

Beep Beep.

at least...the lock still works...?

Very slowly returning my gaze to a glaring Classic Sans, I gave a small shrug.

“…Mr Sleeper says he’ll think about it.”

Chapter Text

Family.

It’s the sort of thing people would trade the world for.

It gives life meaning and perspective.

A truly wonderful thing.

…it’s just that some of us are better at it than others...

Take me for instance. The closest thing I have to family gets shot out into the void, and I respond by quoting my half composed letter of complaint to the person semi-not-really responsible.

Now take a look at the Fell brothers. The two of them fight constantly, yet the moment Sans’ motorcycle/one true love is turned into a pretzel by a Bitty from an alternate dimension, Fell Papyrus drops everything, including his dignity, to comfort the poor widow.

Seeing the normally fiery skeleton laying devastated on the couch, shell shocked with his head resting in his brother’s lap… Made me realise.

I needed to pull my finger out and do more for Mo.

Write down that strongly worded letter, at the very least.

Staring at the broken window, I only flinched a little when a startled cry came from outside... followed by venomous swearing and a small explosion...

Both Swap Sans and his Fell counterpart had rushed outside to investigate the crime scene, followed by their wary brothers.

If the sound alone was to be trusted, the group was now waging war on some unseen force...and losing...

Lacking much of an imagination, I could only guess that Sleeper was using this opportunity to...de-stress.

Alphys had followed the group at a much more reluctant pace, grimly aware of what they were about to face.

When and how Sleeper had managed to threaten her into silence was just another question to add to the growing list of things I needed to ask the Bitty...if I ever felt brave/ suicidal enough...

Classic Papyrus alone had heroically opted to clean up the glass, chattering reassuringly to the pair of mourning brothers on the couch…all while his own brother hovered over me like a friendly guillotine. 

Standing lazily at my side with his hands in his pockets... Sans made no effort to disguise the fact he was watching me as the noise continued to escalate outside...to the point I'm pretty sure SwapFell Papyrus had fallen tragically in battle...

...or was at least faking it to get out of work... 

“your friend doesn’t seem very friendly.” Sans commented offhandedly.

It was at this point that the people outside started screaming. 

Well…he wasn't necessarily wrong…unless understatements count

I turned my head slightly to blink up at the smiling skeleton.

Still, I am Sleeper’s primary napping location. It is my duty to defend his honour.

“I may not be an expert on intelligence Mr Sans... but surely one motor vehicle being thrown through a window is enough for a smart person to realise, it hurts Mr Sleeper's feelings when you talk about him like he isn't here.”

In other words, call him an asshole to his face.

I dare ya...Heh, I might even pay to watch...

No. I lie.

I'd just download it later. 

Despite just receiving quite the severe burn, Sans did little more than shrug in surrender.

“eh, i just wanted to make my opinion on this transparent.  Breaking someone's window isn't exactly glassy after all...

And this is where my brain starts monologuing as a defence mechanism. Completely tuning out what Sans is saying and replacing it with silent speculation on why I’m going out of my way to antagonise one of the most influential people in the multiverse....

...Sans. I'm talking about Sans. The skeleton currently comparing the broken shards of glass on the floor to Fell Sans heart.

Super influential person.

Not an idiot.

And here's me. Embracing his paranoia with open arms. Feeling relieved he doesn't like or trust me. Encouraging it even... 

…Yeah.

Even inside my own head that doesn’t sound very smart… and it's not like its a tough crowd in here. What with it only being an audience of one…most days anyway… 

Truthfully, I could probably go through a long list of reasons why it was important not to get along with this Sans in particular.

Ranging from his involvement in what happened to Mo…to not wanting to influence what could possibly the control group of the multiverse, on the off-chance existence is an elaborate experiment… Messy things like feelings and friendship were an obvious con… And the amount of work I would have to put into gaining his trust...it just didn’t seem like a worthwhile investment... considering the only thing I would get in return is puns…

...Ultimately, I’m gonna have to go with “he’s sexier when he’s angry” As my official motivation.

…Speaking of sexy... 

My gaze had wondered.

...I need to figure out a way to subtly encourage Sleeper to break more windows. This has to be the least amount of shame I’ve ever felt watching Papyrus bend over…

“STOP STARING AT MY ASS.”

Startled, I jerked my guilty gaze over to Fell Papyrus.

The fuming skeleton sat stiffly on the couch, one hand resting on his unresponsive brother’s head while his other dug holes into the armrest.

He was also glaring at me…though that glare couldn't compare to the one currently burning into the back of my head…

…not to mention the slightly scandalised look I was getting from the victim of my ogling...

Classic Papyrus had straightened up from his cleaning, dustpan in hand, worried frown in place.

“I DON’T SEE HOW OUR GUEST COULD BE DOING SUCH A THING WHILE YOU ARE SEATED EDGE…”

I coughed slightly into my hand, gaze averting to the side.

“That is…um…It’s rude, to generalise you know.” I directed a stern look at Fell Papyrus.

Shame on you.

“All asses are individuals, much like their owners. To claim Mr Papyrus’ ass as your own is the same as saying you two are the same person, when in fact your asses are completely different. Unique and special.”

Equal rights for Asses ...is just something I am passionate about...

“…Your ass prefers leather.” I added. For good measure. Because it needed to be said.

And at some point, demonstrated. 

“Also, new topic! Could I borrow someone's phone?" I rubbed ruefully at the back of my neck. "Mine was...confiscated.”

Fell Papyrus scowled, not even acknowledging my request as he turned and ordered his Classic self to visit the trash can with his accumulated glass shards...Plus an elaborate list of tasks that would keep him busy in the kitchen and out of my view... 

Fell Sans didn't even seem conscious of the world around him at this point...so that left...

My bestest buddy in the whole wide world!

By the time I had turned my head, Classic Sans’ expression was schooled into one of neutral curiosity.

“calling someone to bail you out kid?” He asked casually.

I shrugged slightly.

“That. Or ordering pizza. I’m still undecided.”

My hand came out.

Now gimme.

At my expectant gaze, the short skeleton dug into his pocket and relinquished his own phone over to me with a sigh.

“who am i to say no?” I switched to screen on just in time to appreciate Sans latest and greatest pun. “lock yourself out kiddo.”

Passcode protected.

Slowly, I lifted my gaze to stare a Sans.

He stared back, unrelenting.

You can use it… if you can open it.

I blinked once, thumb hovering over the keypad.

“…Please open the phone for me Mr Sans.”

I can play nice....

Sans smiled back teasingly. “aw kid, if i did that… then you'd have nothing better to do...”

t h a n   s t a r e   a t   m y   b r o t h e r 's   a s s.

… Holding Sans’ gaze the entire time, I typed.

5318008

The phone unlocked.

First try.

… I just prefer not to.

“You’re underestimating me Sans.” I said softly, lowering my gaze to the phone.

The short skeleton hummed, not seeming all that worried. “heh, guess so.”

Sighing seemed a little over the top, expressionism wise... so I just pinned the relaxed monster with a flat stare.

“And now you’re not listening to me.”

I held his phone up in explanation. 

“Hacking this isn’t a test of my spying skills…In fact, my knowledge, thoughts, personality, likes, dislikes, experience, motivation and everything else that makes me a person… Ava… all of it is completely irrelevant. Because of what I am.” Sans rocked on his heels slightly, not all that impressed with my sudden speech.

“an avatar, right?” He tilted his head in interest. “mind explaining that one to me?”

A small growl came from the couch, the first sign that Fell Sans still had a chance of making it through this.

Pure frustration in a single syllable.

I stared at Sans petulantly.

As much as I hate to go on and on about myself…it’s probably the only common interest we have so...

“…You mean that in terms of what an Avatar is compared to a monster or a human…” I tilted my head in return, mimicking the skeletons own action. “…but that perception is fundamentally wrong. An Avatar isn't something that is a part of your environment.”

Sans’ expression flickered with unease under my unreadable stare.

Which...Might have been my first clue to stop with the creepiness...

"It’s something that influences it."

But since when have social cues applied to me?

"In nature, I have more in common with time than I do with you.” Opening up the settings on his phone, I held the device back out to him.

“Change it.” I pulled my hat over my eyes. “I won't watch."

A moment later, the phone was gently taken from my hand.

Hopefully he’ll use something a little bit smarter than beghilos humour this time…

Muttered swearing and stomping feet marked the return of a certain skeleton to the room...also. The audible pouting gave him away...

I paid it little attention as the phone was returned to my waiting hand.

Still blinded by my hat, I typed a random number into the phone.

“If you try to stop an unstoppable force with an unmovable object it creates a paradox. To prevent this, reality will ensure the two never meet.”

With a click, the phone unlocked. “An unsolvable puzzle will never result in more than an elaborate joke.”

And nobody's laughing at this one.

A fact made even more awkward by the fact that, when I lifted my hat, it was to find everyone had returned from the battlefield alive... if a little flustered, and covered in snow.

I glanced at the monsters staring at me, some with obvious distrust.

...Okay. Let's just scratch that one off the party trick list...

I lowered my gaze to the phone, humbled by the continued stares. 

“You won't win if you treat me like another player." I said softly, dialling a random number into the phone while holding it out in front of me.

“I’m part of the game.”

The phone was on loudspeaker, so that its dial tone filled the room.

Ignore the silence. Attention is what it wants… 

The other end of the line picked up.

"w̢͞͏͟h̷̨͜͡o̧̡̢̧ th̴͜͢e҉̧̛ h̶̵͘͡e̴͟͝͝l͘͜͝l̶̷̕…͏͏"A lazy, distorted voice drawled."e̢̧͘͠͝n̸̡͏c͘ŗ͜y̶͜p̷̛̕͝t̕s̕̕͝ t̷͟h̶̕͘͟e̡̧̕͝͞i͘͡͡r̸̡̛ n̨͜͜͏o̴͞͡t̸̕e̶̶̢̡͜s͜͡҉ i̵͟͠nt̷̡̕͢͡ơ̧̢ e͜҉̴̡r҉͜͏ǫ͢͡͏ţ̛͟͡͠i̢̧͢͠͞c͢͞a̢͠?"

I gaped at the phone.

Affronted…nay, insulted.

“seriously.” Another voice chimed in, distant but obviously bemused. “i can’t figure out if half of this is code or just regular innuendo.”

Many things could be deduced from these simple words.

The people now in possession of my phone were alive...in my universe... which had made an expectant recovery, and…

“You’re going through my stuff…!?” I screeched.

"y̕͘͟͝e̴͟͏̨ą̶͢͜,͏̶͜͡ ̴̷͟w̛͜͟ȩ̢̧̧l̸̡l̸̢͜.̸̴͘.̛.̴̢y̶̴̨o̶̕͡u̶̶͞r̶̛̛͜ ̶͢͢͡l̵̨͝i̶͟͢͞t̶͟͝t̴͠͞͠͞l̸͝e̴̡ ͏̧͢b̵̨͞u͢͢͢d̸͟͝ḑ̴̛̕͡y̡̛͟ ̸͝d͢͡i̷̕͢d͘͏n͏'͝͞t̸̢͡͡ ̷̴̡͜e̛̛͘͜xac̵͠t̴͡l͢͝y ͏le̷̴͡av̶̡̧̛e̷͠͞ ̸̡͡u͏s͘͏̨ ̸̕a̢͜n̴͘͜y̧͠t̡͞ḩ̛̛͘i̴͜n͞͏̨͠g͞ ̛̕҉͞be͠t̵̨̛͢͠t̷̷̢̢e̛͢͡r͏̡ ͟͢t͘͢͡͡o͏̷͘ ̴̢͝͞d̵҉o̴͟͡ ̡͟͟҉w̶̷̸͘h̶̴e͘͢͡n̵̵̛̕ ̶̵̢͘he̡ ̧̨̛͟͜ļ̶̕͟ǫ̶͜͝ç̛͠͝͞k̵͢͢͠͠ ̸̵̨̨͘u̡͏̵s̡ ̡̢͘͢͡i͢͏n̶͠ ̕h҉e͠͠r͘͞͝e̷͠͏͢.̴̴̶͟"̕͘͟

... Locked in... The Observatory...? 

"we'd really appreciate it if he would let us out by the way. " Ink's voice sounded closer this time. "... also explain how he did it in the first place...." 

I open my mouth to express disbelief... Or have them advocate my innocence in this matter... or maybe just ask them what they were wearing... only to cut off as there was suddenly an ecstatic skeleton latched onto my arm.

“ERROR! YOU’RE OKAY!”

I stared at Swap Sans with mildly veiled disgust.

Oh eww. My heart melted.

In contrast, the Destroyer responded to his only friend’s obvious relief in abject horror.

“g̶ę̕t͟͡͡ ̴a̴̸̶̛w̕͢a̴͟͠y̴͜͝ ̷͡f͏͠r͜͟͠o̵̡͏m̕ ̷̢i̧͢͝t̶̴ ̕͏̶̛͡b͘͢͢͠l̷̛͟uę!” His voice skipped over a few syllables in its urgency. “i̴̕͡’̧̡̛̕͝m̷̷̡ ̡͡͠c̵̨̛͟u͏ŗ̷̡ŗ͟͞͏̶e̴͡n͜͞t̸̸l̕͏y̶̧ ̷̶̷̷h̢͏̕͢o̸͘͝l̵̕d̴i̶͟͏̛͡n̶̢͜͝g̵͜ ͞a̷͢t̵̛͡͡͞ l̕e͢͝͡a̵̕͢͢s̷͏̕t̵̴̸̕͏ ̷͏͡͠҉on͝e̛͜͡ ̧̡͢͝r̶̡̡e̵̡̛a̕͞s̶o̕͘͡͠n̵̴͜͟ ̛why͘͜ ̵̸̨th̵at̸̵̨͜ ͏͞͝͝ţ̵̛̕͟h̨͡i̛̕͝ng̴̨̕͟͞ ̧͘͟a̡͢n͟͠d ̸̡͘͜͢e̸͢͢v͠e͘̕͢͞r̡̡yt̵̴h͘͞i̧͏̧͠n̵̢͟g̢̛ ̴̢͘͠͠i̶͜t̶̢͜ ͡t̶͝ǫ͟u̶ch̨͞es͢͏ ̵͜͜͝s̶͡͏h̨̧͢͝o̸̶͟͡u̴̸̸̧ld̕͝͠ ̕͞b͏͢͏e̕͢͡͠ ͝͝͝b̵̢͘ur̨̢͞͞n̡͜͢͝ȩ͝d̢.”

My stomach sunk with shame.

“…You read my thesis on timeline characteristics...didn’t you?”

A faint gaging sound could be heard as Ink offered an intelligent critique of my work.

“……̵̧I̛̛͡͠ ̶͟h̕͝͏͝͏o̵̵̴̕͞p̡͞e͝͏͘͠ ̴͟͝y̴̴̨̛̛ǫ͜u̸̴ ͜͟k̛͝͏nǫ͟͟͡w͢͢  ̶͏̵͢͝i͏͠’̷͟͠m̸͜ ҉̨͢n͏͢ęv̧͠e̴̛͝r̷̕ ̷̴g͏o̵̶̡̕͢i̶̡͢͡ng̵͘ ̨t̷̛͟͝o̸̢̢͠ ̶̡b̨͝ę͏̴ ̸͜͟͟͞a̷̵̢͞͡b̵̕l̴̛̛̕͞ȩ̴̡̕͞ ̶̕͜t͢o̷̴͜͝͠ ̢̛l̷̷̵͟͞o͟͟͡͡o̸͘͢k̵̡ ͠g̷̸̸̷͝e͠n̵̸̷o͏̸͠͠ ̴̵į̧͠n͏͞ ̵̢͡t͏̴h̛e͟͠ ̷͝e̸͟ye̶͜͞ş ̧̕͘a̢͘͠͝g̡̕͝a̴͜i͏̧̕͡n̶̢” The Destroyer finally answered, sounding kind of numb.

I bowed my head sombrely.

“If its any consolation…that’s what doggie style was invented for.”

…click.

...

He hung up on me!

After a long moment of listening to the steady beep of rejection...and having accomplished very little...I blinked hopefully at my audience. 

Ava do good? 

"how..?" Classic Sans was already reaching out to take his phone off me. 

I really need to ask Sleeper that same question...

I held up an informative finger...which wilted the longer I spoke.

“Like I said,  my phone was confiscated...Stolen.... Mugged really..."

There goes the neighbourhood.

I perked back up with an overbright not-smile.

"Fortunately, my mobile plan covers inter-dimensional calls.” 

Chapter Text

"BEHOLD! THE ULTIMATE BONDING EXPERIENCE!"

With all the sparkle and flourish of a transforming magical girl, Papyrus unveiled his latest masterpiece.

"THE PUZZLE OF FRIENDSHIP!" 

Dun dun duuuun.

I applauded politely...even as my heart sunk to newfound lows.

This... was the fallout of underestimating the Classic Brothers.

The thing about Sans is, he has an observant eye, and a seamless way of screwing people over.

Of course I had known this when I picked a fight with him...but knowing, and having the wisdom to say hey, this seems like the sort of thing I shouldn't provoke for my own amusement...'

Are two different things.

I could puff up all I wanted. Act scary and mysterious and powerful.

...oooh, I'm the Avatar. I can hack phones with my supernatural luck and tie cherry stalks with my tongue...

But at the end of the day, Sans was just plain the bigger fish.

"...thanks for the help kid." He winked at me, shrugging off my Avatar-mad-skillz like they were nothing.

And genuinely complimented me. 

"guess you ain't so bad after all."

Echo...echo...co...

But wait, it gets better.

Turns out, in all the confusion as to whether or not I'm an evil abomination, Swap Sans had been holding back in his affection.

And Classic's approval was the only green light he needed.

As my brain was doing that weird pause-rewind-analyse-document-archive into deep storage thing it does whenever someone says something nice about me, I couldn't even try to save myself.

I did do my best not to cough up any blood as I was swept up into the friendliest hug to date. Though a tiny whimper did escape, it went completely unheard beneath Swaps Sans' declaration of appreciation.

"THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU...!!!"

"...you're...welcome..." I manage to rasp out past my suffering.

Sure, my ribs were breaking... but who could say No to that level of gratitude...?

Especially when Swap Sans went on to reassure me that he had known all along that I was a good person/not a psychopathic murderer...or had at the very least, really really hoped that was the case...

As usual, the display of faith had me feeling pretty anti-Ava.

... Not to the extent that I would consider changing my evil ways...just maybe start recycling or something...

A dark rumble came from the direction of the couch...all the noise and excitement in the room aggravating the bomb that was Fell Sans... waiting to go off...

Classic Sans grinned lazily at my worsening predicament, showing his concern for my wellbeing by playing with his phone.

"hey blue, it might be a good idea for you guys to,  ah... hang out in the other room... " Sans smiled apologetically, as if that would take the sting out of being told to scram. "just while we try to coax red into a better mood."

In other words, postpone my inevitable murder with flimsy excuses and false promises.

"PERHAPS THAT WOULD BE FOR THE BEST..." Swap Sans mused, shoulders sagging with concern. "RED CAN BE QUITE...VERBAL... WHEN HE IS UPSET."

"you said it buddy." Sans paused in his typing to give an exaggerated wink in my direction. "just make sure to keep an eye on them, kay?"

I was trying to figure out a mature way to respond to this... and establish my superiority once and for all... but by the time I ruled out all vulgarity and lethal options, Swap Sans had marched the both of us off in a huff, ignoring his own snickering brother who trailed behind.

We strode past Alphys, who had taken up a guarding position by the door to watch Fell Sans warily, and into the kitchen... 

Where a far greater foe lay in wait...

...

...Let it never be said that Classic Papyrus isn't resourceful.

Or a quitter.

What had initially been a mission to dispose of glass had evolved into an engineering project/ diplomatic mission intended to crush my defences.

Swap Sans was only too happy to help, setting me down in his brother's company as he rushed to contribute.

The SwapFell brothers joined us not long after Fell Sans started shouting bloody murder...choosing the quieter evil. They then proceeded to lurk silently against the wall, burning holes into the back of my head as Swap Papyrus made a running commentary on the puzzle's progress...which was really just an excuse to pun at me...

And thus, Greatness was born.

Well-meaning... but really intimidating Greatness.

Not being what one might call a puzzle orientated person, I couldn't say I was excited at this development...But I did have (Questionable) morals, and a heart.(Probably

i.e. No choice but to watch on in a sort of numb horror as my demise was lovingly handcrafted from scratch by two of the nicest skeletons in the multiverse.

Can't complain about the quality at least...

The device scavenged from kitchen drawer rejects must have taken a page out of my book...because the longer I looked at it, the less sense it seemed to make.

And here I thought operating the microwave was hard...

"WITH THIS, OUR FRIENDSHIP WILL ASCEND TO THE NEXT LEVEL!" Swap Sans declared, laughing heroically at having outwitted his adversary.

Me. 

An unimpressed scoff from the SwapFell gallery went unnoticed as Swap Papyrus filled the kitchen with his own unique interpretation of fanfare.

Yet another person who shouldn't have been given access to the Fell brother's personal belongings.

"gimme that." The celebratory tune was cut off when Fell Sans himself stormed into the room and snatched the instrument straight out of Swap Papyrus' hands.

"this kazoo is for sarcasm purposes only."

Nice to know the dwindling homicidal rant had been a result of him calming down...and not his brother's decision to become be an only child...

"...back from the dead eh?" Swap Papyrus, proving once again that a Sans' attitude + Papyrus' confidence makes only for an even bigger and bolder asshole... proceeded to poke the growling ball of gruff in the forehead. "...get it, cause you're a skeleton? and you had a mental breakdown over a motorcycle?"

Fell Sans snarled, swiping at the offending finger to remove it, if not from his head, then the hand it was attached to.

Swap Papyrus chuckled, shoving unscathed hands into his pockets and pulling out a bottle of honey.

"too soon?"

When faced with an opponent who is taller and rivals you in speed, use your brain... 

Or your fist.

Without further ado, Fell Sans sucker punched Papyrus in the gut, snatching the honey out of the winded skeleton's hand and slam dunking it into the trash on his way out the door.

Waaaay too soon.

Rubbing the wounded area, Swap Papyrus eyed the bin longingly. Even took a small step in its direction before Swap Sans put a stop to his madness.

"DON'T YOU DARE."

Papyrus looked between the bin and his brother, weighing his options and coming to the only logical conclusion.

"... three-second rule bro."

"PAPYRUS NO!"

Swap Sans had to resort to physically restraining his brother as the addict tried to retrieve his poison out of the garbage.

SwapFell Sans rolled his eyes at the display, arms crossed as he casually leaned against the wall. His own brother crouched at his side, relaxed/bored, with an unlit cigarette between his fingers.

Because the only thing allowed to smoke in Fell's kitchen was the food. 

Meanwhile, I was still trying to rub MT glitter out of my eyes.

If I ever wondered how Classic Papyrus managed to have a sparkle effect in real life, I wonder no longer...

"...COME HUMAN." A large, gloved hand took my own, gently pulling me forward. "LET ME SHOW YOU..."

He probably said something else at this point, though I couldn't say what, as the deafening sound of terror roared in my ears.

As Papyrus continued to speak, I stared at the place where our hands were linked, holding my breath as I half expected the universe to just pack up its desk and quit.

When it didn't, I realised that I was quickly losing the only excuse I had.

Without the threat of the multiverse spontaneously combusting...how was I supposed to convince myself I couldn't have this.

Noticing my unease, Papyrus hesitated. 

"...HUMAN?"

Figures that he would build a complicated puzzle only to undo all my hard work with simple hand holding...

The hand in question loosened and moved to pull away.

I didn't let go.

Even when the tugging became a little more insistent, my grip only tightened.

"ah...NO NEED TO BE NERVOUS HUMAN." Papyrus decided to let me keep his hand, standing by my side as he continued introducing his puzzle. "YOU SEE, THE OBJECTIVE IS TO GET THIS MARBLE TO GO FROM HERE TO HERE, USING THE CORRECT SEQUENCE..."

He explained it to me. I know he did...But when the explanation was over and the tall skeleton fell silent, I was left staring at a row of levers made from cutlery.

Mentally going over every single outcome. Checking, double checking...taking into account outside influences such as fluctuation in weather...then just staring at the marble as my mind refused to grasp why I couldn't just reach out and take it from point A and insert it into point B...

"WHAT THE HELL IS TAKING YOU SO LONG?"

Another red gloved hand appeared in my field of vision, jabbing the levers in quick succession.

"AH! WAIT..."

But the protest came too late, as the marble was already rolling flawlessly through the obstacle course, bypassing the pit of death and flying through the ring of fire before landing safely across the finish line 

Ta da...  

A little overwhelmed, I looked up from the marble to find SwapFell Sans scowling down at me, hands on hips.

Annoyed, frustrated...and a little disquieted

"IT HONESTLY WASN'T THAT FUCKING HARD." He said, dismissing me to walk back to his spot by the wall.

While his brother seemed to be fascinated with the mysteries of the ceiling, The Swap brothers were watching me in open concern.

I must have been stuck for a really long time if SwapFell Sans decided to intervene... 

"OH, UM...I SUPPOSE WE CAN ALWAYS JUST SET IT UP AGAIN." Papyrus was quick to reassure, pulling my attention back to the puzzle."...THOUGH YOU HAVE ALREADY SEEN THE ANSWER SO...no, um...IF YOU WILL JUST GIVE ME A MOMENT, I SHALL CREATE A NEW..."

"Mr Papyrus." I interrupt quietly, and the tall skeleton visibly sagged.

Yet another failure to befriend me.

"...I'm not very good at puzzles." I admitted, staring hard at the completed one before me.

Even if SwapFell Sans had left me to suffer...it would have taken a very long time to even make an attempt to solve it...

There was a pause, then the hand still holding mine squeezed reassuringly.

"THAT IS PERFECTLY ALRIGHT HUMAN. I, THE GREAT AND PATIENT PAPYRUS, AM WILLING TO CATER TO YOUR EVERY PUZZLE SOLVING NEED, SO THAT WE CAN ALL ENJOY THIS GREAT MONSTER TRADITION TOGETHER... THAT IS..." His voice lost some of its assurance. "...IF YOU STILL WANT TO... i realise i never asked before..."   

It hadn't felt real. Him being here. 

A small eternity passed before I was able to lift my gaze to meet his hesitant one. Papyrus' expression was pinched with concern, the tiniest bit of frustration and despair present as he blamed himself for my reactions.

Not until now.

Wet heat flooded my eyes, overflowing and slipping down my cheeks before I even realised what was happening.

A severe allergic reaction to the glitter in my eyes.

Papyrus' hand was ripped from mine, only to return with the other and settle firmly on my shoulders as the tall skeleton crouched to my eye level. He spoke, and it wasn't only my dazed state that made the frantic words unintelligible.

Ignoring the sudden attention, my free hand rose to my face, brushing away some of the wetness and holding it up for further inspection.

The sight of tears reminded me of the last time this strange phenomenon had occurred...and seemed to only worsen the condition.

Papyrus' barrage of increasingly worried questions and reassurances that there were plenty of other non-puzzle related activities we could enjoy, was cut off by two simple words.

"I'm sorry."

And that was it.

The reason I found it so hard to face him.

He was my hero.

Swap Sans began to speak, stepping forward only to be gently hushed by his brother.

Classic Papyrus' response wasn't immediate, and when it did come, it was very quiet.

"whatever for?"

I blinked up at him.

"Everything."

... Yeah.

Weakest. Apology. Ever.

Feeling foolish...and worse, insincere...I began to pull my hat down over my expression.

"...STRANGE."

While one hand rose to his chin in contemplation, the other settled gently on the top of my head, forestalling its retreat into the depths of my hat.

"I DIDN'T THINK IT WAS POSSIBLE FOR ONE PERSON TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING, OR THAT EVERYTHING WAS SOMETHING TO FEEL REMORSE OVER...PERHAPS IF YOU COULD BE A LITTLE BIT MORE SPECIFIC..."

I paused in my embarrassment long enough to narrow him a suspicious look.

If I didn't know for a fact that Papyrus is incapable of insincerity...

"I only grovel for personal gain Mr Papyrus." I informed him gruffly.

(... and/or sexual favours.)

Maybe it was the tear stains, but I don't think Papyrus was convinced by my tough attitude.

"I SEE...WELL, NEVERMIND." He smiled reassuringly, the hand on my head tugging my hat further away from my face. "THOUGH I'M NOT SURE WHY, IT IS OBVIOUS THAT YOUR REMORSE TROUBLES YOU, AND IF THERE IS ANYONE WORTHY OF SUCH A CHALLENGE AS FORGIVING EVERYTHING, THEN IT IS I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS!"

Then I was tugged forward into a firm hug, eyes widening as a sudden sensation flooded me.

"I WILL DO MY BEST TO FORGIVE, SO PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE TO BE SO UNSURE AROUND ME, AS IT IS STARTING TO FEEL VERY AWKWARD...HUMAN?"

His tone picked up with concern, and rightfully so as I suddenly sagged bonelessly in his hold.

And no. It wasn't an elaborate ruse to get out of more puzzle solving.

My body collapsed all on its own, startling me as much as anyone when my ability to stand deserted me.

"what happened?" Swap Papyrus was suddenly closer, speaking low but urgently.

I'm...

Papyrus didn't answer, his grip shifting, lifting me up into his arms to keep me from slipping to the floor as my legs refused to carry my dead weight to the grave.

"AVA?!" Swap Sans was tugging at my arm in the next instant.

I tried to say something reassuring, but my mouth couldn't maneuver around the words.

...tired. 

"here, let me.."

Another set of boney hands reached out to take me.

The lethargy vanished in the instant it took my arms to wrap themselves around Papyrus' neck, locking me in place. No amount of tugging could get me to budge, even as my head buried heavily into his collar and my eyes refused to stay open.

More and more voices were being raised around me, to the point that I struggled against the crushing unconsciousness to speak.

If only for some peace and quiet.

"Safe place." I sighed, breathing in the clean scent of Papyrus' scarf.

Though I doubted anyone but Fell Papyrus would understand the reference, I couldn't really bring myself to care.

Sleep was calling.

REST?

I was aware of someone trying to lay me down, but instinct more than comprehension had me snuggled tighter against the skeleton holding me.

"Stay?" I mumbled.

Even on the edge of oblivion, consent was important.

I didn't really hear the answer, but nothing appeared to pry me away, so I took the continued warmth in my arms as permission.

YES. 

Chapter Text

The sound of crashing waves brushed my ears, soothing in time with the steady rocking beneath me. Creaking wood ached with the motion, and dampness burdened the air, making it harder to breathe.

Quite Unexpectantly.

I am on a boat.

A little rowboat to be exact, barren but for a set of oars and a fishing rod…

Not exactly the grand ship I had in mind, but every great pirate has to start somewhere...

I stared out across the water and night sky…not quite sure what to make of my situation.

This was a first for me.

The whole boat thing… 

And the dream thing.

Sleep, as far as I am concerned, involves lying still in one place while time passes. 

Not awake, but not unconscious either. More of a deep meditation than actual sleep. 

The fact that I was quite suddenly on a boat, in the middle of an endless, noticeably luminescent lake… lead me to believe that something, either in my biology or the situation, had changed...

Maybe not for the better.

The part of me that liked to study the mysteries of existence wanted to investigate... The part of me that has spent eternity in solitude wanted to admire my surroundings… even the part of me that aspired to perfect my fishing trade was thrilled.

The part of me that was dying from seasickness had me gaging over the side of the boat. 

Take a hike curiosity and wonder. Vomit never takes 'No' for an answer.

Of course, this was all in my head.

Really, it says a lot about my imagination’s commitment to making this dream authentic, that it would go so far to make me pseudo ill on my pretend fishing trip.

Thanks imagination.

I groaned pitifully, hanging limp over the side of the boat as my entire body ached. A slow, agonizing death… This might actually be it folks…

Can't believe I'm gonna die a virgin…

A soft weight was pressed against my forehead.

Almost as suddenly as the act itself, the pain began to fade, instantly soothing with a rush of…

Positivity?

Oh no.

Squinting, I slowly turned my head to find the source of the comforting hand.

“...IS THAT BETTER?”

He glowed.

Even next to sparkly water and starry sky, the new monster shone with a warm light.

Which really made the whole comforting smile and worried hovering over me thing super effective...

I groaned despite the fading pain, resting my cheek against the side of the boat.

Normally, a 'Thank you' would be the appropriate response to this sort of thing.

“This…” My voice fell flat. “…is all your fault.”

The accusation seemed to startle the monster, causing his golden eyes to widen.

“OH NO, I DIDN’T MEAN…”

“Can it Sparkles.”

...I’m not really known for my appropriate responses.

“It doesn’t take a detective to figure out which direction the gig is in.” I sat up as much as I could with my fading fatigue, going the extra mile on the road of indignation.

Can’t very well intimidate anyone curled up in death’s sweet embrace, now can I?

“…and as far as names go, yours is a little on the nose, don’t you think…?” My expression darkened further. “Dream Sans?”

The personification of hopes, dreams and all the good things blushed brightly gold.

The hand on my forehead was snatched back and wrung guiltily.

“I…IT WASN’T MY INTENTION TO INTRUDE…” The starry-eyed skeleton began.

“Intrude…?” Oh geez, I’m actually doing this aren’t I?

Ahem.

“As someone who is very familiar with crossing boundaries uninvited, allow me to draw the line for you.” I pointed up at the short skeleton with a weak finger. “It's fine to invade my mind like it’s your god given right. Hold me in a position of complete vulnerability, I don’t care… But don’t insult my intelligence. Not inside my own head.”

Don’t come in here and talk smack. It might hurt my feelings… and make me cry…like a complete loser...

…wow…I’m never going to let that go…am I?

Looooser.

Meanwhile, outside my own stupid thoughts, Dream Sans was becoming more flustered…

“NO! I MEAN YES, YOU ARE COMPLETELY RIGHT, I SHOULDN’T HAVE ASSUMED…I’M SORRY!” His face flushed bright with mortification.

Just like that, I could feel my guilt tactics beginning to backfire.

…It’s not that I wanted to be a big meanie and bring up the morality of his actions…But in this moment of uncertainty, I couldn’t afford to give him any more of an advantage…

Dream Sans leant forward, expression earnest.

“PLEASE BELIEVE ME…I REALLY NEEDED TO SPEAK WITH YOU AND THIS SEEMED LIKE A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO INTRODUCE MYSELF AND…AND I...um…"

I clutched at my heart.

A direct hit.

After hours of having my defences worn down by Papyrus and Swap Sans, the adorableness had a devastating effect.

K.O.

Tough love Ava, down for the count.

Dream Sans buried his face in his hands, muffling his continued apology.

“OH, THIS WAS SO RUDE OF ME…”

I sighed.

So much for trying to be a good influence.

“...Just kidding.”

Dream Sans’ slowly lifted his head, giving me a confused blink.

“…huh?”

Demeanour shifting completely, I propped my head seductively up on a fist.

“Congratulations Mr Dreamy. You’re being screwed with, in the second most delightful way.”

Eyebrow wriggle.

“Should have seen your face.”

His expression was frozen in shock.

“THAT’S…”

For a second, I thought I was going to get away with it.

Then his temper sparked.

“HOW COULD YOU?!” Dream Sans threw his hands up indignantly at the sudden betrayal. “I WAS REALLY…! IT WASN’T EVEN FUNNY!”

I blinked at him.

Devastated.

“Well that’s not very nice…I’m giving it my all here…it's only my first time…”

His boney cheeks puffed up in a furious pout- ahem…scowl.

I stared back at him, a tiny bemused quirk to my eyebrow.

“What were you expecting when you popped into my head uninvited?”

“A POLITE WELCOME… IF NOT AN ENTHUSIASTIC HELLO.” He offered seriously. As in that was an actual outcome he had honestly expected.

...They don't call him Dream for nothing...

“…couldn't hurt to be more sociable I suppose...” I mused, frowning slightly in thought. “Mind answering a quick and completely unrelated question? Are you here for gossip and tea… or to trap me in an endless loop of good feelings, brainwashing me into complacency?”

Kinda important to know what sort of hospitality I’m providing here.

Dream Sans shrunk back at my intense stare.

“OH…UM…are those the only two options?” He questioned meekly.

I blinked.

“The rest are explicit.”

But if you insist…

“…THE FIRST ONE THEN?”

Damn.

My blinking became a little more pleading.

“…sure you don’t need more time to think about it?”

His smile grew tentatively, disarmed by the flirting.

“I’M GOOD. THANK YOU.”

Rejection! You may disguise yourself behind a gentle smile, but I would recognise my old foe anywhere…

“…well shite.” My frown became even more severe. “I don’t have any tea…”

Great. This is one of those dreams. Where you’re completely unprepared for whatever important thing you have to do and wind up naked…except I’m not that lucky…

Dream Sans waved away my concerns.

“…THAT’S ALRIGHT, I’M NOT REALLY ALL THAT THIRSTY ANYWAY.”

“You’re sure?”

POSITIVE.”

I watched him…Waiting…so that I could capsize the boat and drown him if he dared acknowledge the pun.

Dream Sans mustn't have sensed my ire, as he changed the subject.

“FORGIVE ME FOR SAYING SO, BUT YOU SEEM A LITTLE… ON EDGE.”

Underfell joke…is there a polite way to ask someone to leave my dreamscape? I’m a little biased towards beating him off with a fishing rod at this point...

I shrugged.

“The last time I gave someone like you the benefit of the doubt, my universe and its population were cut in half.”

Good times. Feels like it was just yesterday.

Dream Sans stared at me on the brink of horror, as if not sure if I was still joking or not.

Can’t really blame him…I’m terrible with inflections. 

I sighed, turning my gaze back out to the water.

“If it makes you feel any better about the whole ‘shamelessly invading my mind’ thing… I know better than to apply moral standards to people who only act on their base nature.” I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye, nonchalant. “It would only stand to frustrate me. Might as well resent the sun for shining while I’m at it…So lucky you.”

Despite my reassurance, Dream Sans mauled over my words with a slight frown.

“...I'LL LEAVE.”

I turned to stare at him, surprised to find determination steeling his expression. “SOON...IF YOU WANT ME TO. I PROMISE…BUT I NEED TO WARN YOU…”

“About your bro.” I blinked at him plainly. "Right?"

Instead of speaking, Dream Sans gave a small nod, expression haunted.

"Mr Dream." I brought his averted gaze to my own.

My lips turned up in the faintest of smiles.

"Do I seem concerned?"

He studied me for a long moment...before shaking his head.

"NO..."

"That is for good reason."

He flinched at my suddenly dark tone, but I didn't relent.

He needed to understand.

Still. Didn't mean I had to watch as the small spark of trust he had in me died.

"FYI, I don't really need help. Like. Ever." I glanced out across the water, all trace of smile gone. "...So don't feel obligated to provide it." 

Maybe not strictly true...but the last thing I need is more heartbreak on my conscious...

Dream sat silently...at a loss...

"...he's my brother..." He finally uttered.

And that made all the difference.

The right thing to do would be to ask him to leave. To take him completely out of what is likely to be an ugly picture...

But if I had a family...I'd probably want to keep every picture...ugly or not.

I sighed.

...On one hand, the morally correct decision. On the other...possible fontcest...

My eyes closed in defeat.

“You know..." I opened one eye, peeking at him from the corner of my vision. "If I really take a good look at it, there does seem to enough room in this boat for the both of us..."

My boat. My dream. My head. Same thing.

Dream Sans stared back at me with tentative hope.

 “REALLY?” The small skeleton seemed to glow even brighter.

That happens when people smile.

“I MEAN, IT WOULD REALLY PUT MY MIND AT EASE…” His gaze flickered, dimming with doubt. “…JUST IN CASE…”

Say no more. 

With a small nod, I turned my gaze away from him.

“Yea sure.”

I’d be mad to turn down a threesome.

“It’s really in the best interest of everyone in the multiverse that you leave and have nothing to do with me…but ever since I got this boat five minutes ago I’ve always wanted a boat buddy*…”

*A slave to man the oars.

“...Besides I owe a lot of my tentacle sex collection to you and your brother, so I might as well exercise my hospitality.”

“THANK Y…ah…what was that last part…?”

“Just don’t go into the water.” I shot him a flat look as his eagerness flattered.

“Ever.”

Hell to the no. That’s not how my first wet dream is going to play out…

“…OH.” Dream Sans sent a cautious look over the side of the boat. “…CAN I ASK WHY?”

My eyes said no…but…

“I don’t have life vests on this boat.”

Whether in a bed or a boat…Safety first.

Dream Sans’ nervous expression flickered into a rueful smile, as if he couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing.

“THERE’S NO NEED TO WORRY…”

“Also.” I cut him off with a flippant wave at our surroundings. “If this is the surface of my mind…”

My finger pointed meaningfully at the vast ocean. “…that would be the depths.”

I sat back against the side of the boat.

“A place even I dare not go.”

…he had that look on his face. That innocent “I would never!” expression that is normally followed by “Whoops. Dropped my pen… Now.I. Shall. Go. Get. It..."

I gave him a warning blink.

For real this time.

“There is seriously a lot of mature content down there dude.”

He stiffened…then sighed, easily relenting.

“RIGHT. I PROMISE I WON'T…”

“Almost entirely porn.”

“OKAY…”

“If you tested it, I think you might find that not actually water…”

“EW. NO. THANK YOU, I GET IT.”

“…H2-Oh.”

“…PLEASE STOP.”

“Yea. You're right. I’ve gone too far.”

We sat in silence.

“So…" I studied my companion carefully. "...I rarely socialize with anyone past the initial realisation what I am an extremely uncomfortable person to be around. What do you recommend we talk about?”

He brightened almost immediately.

"HOPES AND DREAMS!"

Blink.

"...I think you must be one of the few people in the multiverse who can say that sort of thing without gagging."

Also, pull off a boots and tiara combo...

He just leant forward, staring at me excitedly.

I sighed.

"Only if you go first."

"OH THAT'S EASY." His grin widened happily. "I WANT TO HELP EVERYONE ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS!"

I tsked.

"Just like a Rainbow."

He tilted his head at me, confused.

"Pretty. But an illusion." I elaborated.

His expression fell.

"YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME?"

My arms crossed over my chest, hugging my coat tighter.

"I don't think you are willing to acknowledge your real dream, because that will only reinforce the reality that dreams are rarely ever achievable."

He flinched but was quick to shake his head in denial.

"NO, I'M SURE..."

"There's nothing wrong with that sort of dream." I spoke softly, unable to meet his hurt gaze. "In fact, I'm sure that is entirely the point."

We fell into silence. Again.

I'm starting to think we mustn't have a lot in common...

"...I want my brother back."

By the time I looked over, Dream Sans was gone....

And the dream was beginning to fade.

Chapter Text

Living in a multiverse, it's only natural to be called upon from time to time to help a neighbour out. 

Cups of sugar. Feeding the pets while on vacation. Fighting interdimensional terrorism. Standard stuff. 

And if there is one guy you can count on to lend a hand in a time of need, it's Sans the Skeleton.

“welp...at least one of us has to go...”

screw that."

Hero of the multiverse/main offender. 

"let tall, dark and sleazy handle it on his own.”

Cause what's not to like about a taller, sexier version of yourself?

“you always say that red." Someone sighed the long irritated sigh of nicotine withdrawal. "yet you're often the first to show. what I wanna know, is what are we gonna do with the kid?”

A pause.

“not really much of a kid anymore…” the voice amended.

"PAPY! WE COULD..."

“ENOUGH." Boots hit the floor as the speaker stomped to his feet. "IF ANYTHING HAS BEEN ACHIEVED TODAY, IT IS THE CERTIFICATION THAT YOU ARE ALL INCOMPETENT. LEAVE. I WILL DEAL WITH THE HUMAN MYSELF.”

"welp...that's that settled."

Indeed.

Someone must have been making puppy-dog eyes at his brother, as said brother came to rescue me from almost certain death. 

“i don’t think that’s such a great idea edge...”

“WHEN I WANT TO HEAR THE OPINION OF A LAZY GOOD FOR NOTHING ASHTRAY, I’LL ASK FOR IT. THEN KILL MYSELF.”

The tension in the room rose another level...even as at least two people snickered. 

Ha. Suicide joke. Never fails to get a laugh...

“I say we wake the punk up." A voice gruffly reasoned. "Let them decide."   

"YES!" Someone agreed maybe too eagerly. "I MEAN...IT'S ONLY FAIR..."

SwapFell Sans scoffed, loud and full of scorn.

“THAT THING HAS BEEN AWAKE FOR THE LAST HALF AN HOUR.”

Silence.

My body betrayed nothing, continuing the perfect mimicry of sleep. A little lamb, snuggled peacefully on the couch.

It's his word against mine...

“MOLESTING THE SIMPELTON.”

Oh…

Feeling the weight of every gaze in the room, I slowly withdrew my hand out from under Papyrus’ armour…and held it up in surrender.

BUSTED.

“In my defence..." I winked a single eye open. "I was only tickling.”

Though to be fair, Papyrus probably wouldn’t have held diligently still and silent for the torture if he had known I was doing it on purpose…

I decided to use my time being thrown across the room wisely.

Reflecting on my actions? Pfft. No.

Making myself presentable.

From the time my soul turned blue and I was ripped away from Papyrus, to the moment I landed feet first on the wall, I had straightened my hat, unbuckled straps and readjusted my scarf to ensure I landed with maximum style.

For the first time since Mo's untimely demise, I felt like I could take on the entire world without consequence. Perpendicular to the wall, I stood heroically…or like the villain from a horror movie that just refused to die… as my stats were pulled into question by several monsters in the room.

AVA

Hp 100%

AT  [000[} - - - -3 pew pew. Laser gun

       L]

DF + 

LV =stable 

EXP ^^

I’m back babe.

…Minus my glorious colour scheme of course.

My gaze hardened.

Enough’s enough.

“You.” I pointed directly at the suspiciously innocent-looking Classic Sans. “Cease and desist. There is much to discuss and we don’t have time to get kinky…”

Say no more.

I hit the floor with all the grace of a pancake and none of the flavour.

Wish granted.

There were mixed reactions from the peanut gallery. Everything from sympathetic ouches to gleeful snickers. 

Fell Sans seemed especially pleased with the Ava whumpage.

"heh, had it coming." 

...Seeing how I'd need a montage to cover all the bad things I had done to this single skeleton in the last twenty-four hours alone...

I was inclined to agree.

Papyrus, oddly enough, was the one to come to my defence.  

"REALLY SANS, IT WAS ONLY A HARMLESS JAPE..."  

Sans' responding shrug was near audible. 

"they gotta learn manners somehow paps."

...Never thought I'd drool over etiquette... but there you go... 

Still face down in the carpet, I lifted a protesting finger. 

"Careful Mr Sans. Your interest is very flattering, truly...but the matter of the fact is, Mr Sleeper doesn't like to share."

Loyalty is an important part of any healthy relationship.

"why am I not surprised?"  To keep me from getting up and potentially groping another innocent, Sans decided to casually sit his bony self down on top of me.

Being a skeleton, he wasn't exactly a crushing force by any means...but why rain on his parade?

Mostly, I was just taken aback by his willingness to touch me...but I suppose there's only so many times you can watch a person act like a big yellow chicken before the fear factor starts to wear off... 

"n o w..."

Pinned, I carefully looked over my shoulder.

Sans winked down at me from his perch.

"... how about you explain this..."  He poked my cheek with a boney finger. "...sudden growth spurt to me?" 

I stared back reluctantly.

"...It's...complicated..."

Sans blinked, as if unsure how to respond... it's not like those words have ever applied to him before...

His smile widened. Reassuringly. 

"i'll try to keep up."

Okay... Don't say I didn't warn you...

I took a deep breath, preparing myself to give the lecture of a lifetime. 

"... Magic."

Sans' smile twitched.

"...magic?"

I nodded seriously.

"Magic."

... There was a beat of stunned silence...then someone cracked up, causing a chain reaction of muffled guffaws and cough covered snickers.

Nice to know the multiverse is in such capable hands...

The skeleton on top of me sat frozen, expression unreadable.

"huh..." Sans shifted slightly, breaking eye contact to stare ponderously at the ceiling. "so this is how the other half lives..." 

"THIS..."  Fell Papyrus, for one, was not amused. "...IS JUST IDIOTIC."

The edgy skeleton all but threw a towel, muttering to himself as he stormed from the room in disgust. "...there'd be none of this insolent back talk if you had just let me torture it like I wanted..."

Fell Sans watched him go, amused smirk becoming something fonder at his brother's frustration.

I averted my gaze to the floor...uncomfortable at catching the unguarded expression. 

So much for carpe diem. The day is past half-way over, and the only thing I've done is traumatize Dream Sans...  

"Could you maybe get off me now Mr Sans?" I asked, trying not to sound too hopeful and failing miserably. "Please? I was kinda in the middle of something..."

"OF COURSE!" Papyrus was the one to answer, leaping forward to lift his lazy brother off my back.

"oh my god sans you are so embarrassing..." He continued to mutter as his brother hung limp in his hold.

Sans grinned lazily as I climbed to my feet... Making absolutely no move to escape his brother's scolding...

Whatever keeps him between me Papyrus is the bee's knees I'd say...

Brushing off my outfit, I straightened to my full and glorious height of...whatever it may be.

Taller than Sans, and that's what matters...

"ARE YOU OKAY?" In a burst of pure doting power, the sweetest of all the Sans-es was at my side, hovering as he checked me over for injury. "YOU FELL ASLEEP SO SUDDENLY AND NOW YOU'RE..." 

...Yeah. 

I blinked. 

"Usually, I'd say something outrageous to avoid any sort of self-analysis, but that would only continue this vicious cycle of me being thrown against hard surfaces so... I'm going to go ahead and settle for yes."

I gave a thumbs up.

"I am okay."

Even before I had finished speaking, Swap Sans was frowning. Waves of disapproval rolling off the small skeleton as he stood sternly with on his hands on hips. 

But who could possibly be intimidated...

"...and sorry."  I sagged as every ounce of confidence left me.

"YOU COULD HAVE BEEN HURT." He scolded, voice tense and upset. "I KNOW YOU DIDNT MEAN ANY HARM, BUT NOT EVERYONE CAN TAKE A PRANK AS GRACEFULLY AS PAPYRUS..."

He sent a pointed look over his shoulder at Classic Sans, who had finally been set on his feet once more... only to hunch down into his jacket at the Blueberry's ire.

Anyone who thinks Swap Sans is a clueless pushover, obviously hasn't seen him wage war on his brother's filthy habits...

"I know." I admitted quietly, but this only seemed to infuriate the monster further.

"THEN WHY BE SO RECKLESS!"

Boredom? Masochism?

I fidgeted with the buttons of my jacket, retreating as far as I could into the depths of the material.

Or something more sinister?

"I...um..."

Swap Papyrus stepped forward, placing a hand on his brother's shoulder.

"how about we let them off the hook this time bro?" He smiled down at the smaller skeleton easily. "if they get any more sorry, they might just disappear into that coat for good." 

The heroic Sans, never one to stay angry, was quick to relent with a sigh.

"i suppose..." He mumbled contemplatively. "...mistakes are bound to happen. as a master prankster, i can only offer guidance."

"exactly."

"VERY WELL." Sans pointed an instructive finger in my face. "DON'T DO IT AGAIN."

What my nod lacked in honesty, it made up in enthusiasm.

"Okay."

"YOU MAY CONTINUE."

Then I shall gladly do so.

"Yes, well...Right...um... First off, thank you everyone..." I held my hands together in a sign of sincerity."...for this delightful intervention. I had a blast." 

Nothing like being cornered and judged mercilessly to make an afternoon go by...

"FUNNY." A sarcastic voice drawled. "I DON'T RECALL ANY OF US GETTING A WORD IN EDGEWISE OF YOUR BULLSHIT." 

A poem.

by Ava the Avatar.

The sharper a skeleton's teeth,

The blunter the bite.

When smol skeletons seethe,

Something something flies a kite.

...

...it's a work in progress. 

I waved a dismissive hand at SwapFell Sans.

"You've seen one, you've seen them all... and I have seen them all so let's skip this one."

Avoiding boredom is much harder when you can't change the channel...but I manage. 

"Besides..." I tried to smile. "As I happened to be spying on you under the pretence of sleep, I couldn't help but overhear..."

"n o." 

no?

I met Classic Sans' flat look of refusal with a bemused blink.

"Well, yes. The fact that you don't trust me to accurately count my toes, let alone accompany you on an investigation of the strange phenomenon currently terrorizing Echotale was kinda implied...as was my not really needing your permission..." 

"well ain't you just awfully keen." Fell Sans observed, sneering in the face of my tough talk. "any particular reason you wanna tag along?"

My mouth shut with an audible pop as my bubble was burst.

Right. I haven't actually confessed what exactly had happened to Mo to these guys...or the fact that I would be helping myself to the multiverse in my quest to find him...

And how this unexplained void thingy suddenly showing up was not my fault?

I shook my head solemnly.

"...No-ope."

"really? cause it seems to me you might know something." The Edgy Skeleton continued, his mistrust mirrored by several other monsters in the room.

"What? Me? No way..." I pulled my hat down over my expression of pure honesty. "Just thought I would offer my services...you know...seeing as I have no plans for the foreseeable future and will mostly be spending my time respecting your wishes and not causing trouble..."

"laying it on little thick there kid." Swap Papyrus chuckled, once again saving me from myself.

Swap or no, There isn't a Papyrus out there who isn't a Great.     

"Yes well...let’s just put a pin in that subject..." I went so far as to mime the action, knowing that arguing wasn't going to get me anywhere fast...and fast is what I needed to be if I wanted to get to Echotale and maybe actually do something to find Mo...

Wow. Living my life on the couch with zero responsibility has not prepared me for this " being productive" thing at all.

"Besides!" I gave my brightest expression. "We have more important things to discuss...such as the freeloaders going through my personal belongings as we speak."

My fists clenched at the reminder.

Violating my stuff...it's only a matter of time before they stumble on something they shouldn't...

Classic Papyrus leapt forward, taking my hands into his own...defusing my fists, just like that.

"DOES THIS MEAN YOU'LL HELP SEE TO THEIR SAFE RETURN?" He asked, staring hopefully down at me.

...can't resist...his power...too strong...

"A little bit..." I mumbled, averting my gaze to where the other, less Great skeletons stood. "I was thinking something more along the lines of...you guys guaranteeing the restoration of my clothes and the return of my phone...and I advocate on their behalf to Mr Sleeper..."

Classic Sans raised a surprised brow.

"that's it?"

I blinked. 

"...well, if you're offering..."

"he's not." Fell Sans quickly interrupted, scowling at me as if he knew I was about to ask for something vulgar...

Tsk. Fast learner.

I narrowed him a betrayed look.

"Does this mean I rank higher than him..." I nodded towards the other Sans. "...on the screw over whenever possible list?"

Fell Sans' scowl melted into a smirk, likely against his will.

"nothing's official yet sweetheart."

My finger twitched.

The only physical manifestation of the compulsion to pin him to the closest surface and make him cry.  

Gotta love when they fight back.

Out of common decency, I decided not to violently molest the cheeky skeleton in front of his peers.

Maybe next time...

"Well...in that case." I gently pulled my less than innocent hands out of Papyrus' hold, not wanting his brother to be the first in skeleton history to develop high cholesterol...against all odds...

"...I'd best summon Mr Sleeper."

It was a grim declaration, and most everyone took it as such.

"ah...just to be clear...you want to invite the guy responsible for that..." Classic Sans pointed meekly over to the Thing whose name must never be spoken in front of Fell Sans. "...into the same room as us?"

I blinked between the nervous looking skeletons... and the mangled corpse in the corner...

"...Yes?"

Personally, I find him much easier to reason with when he isn't scarce...

Sans' continued stare said please don't.

Fell Sans' said do.

"DOES THIS MEAN WE FINALLY GET TO MEET THIS MR SLEEPER?" Swap Sans chirped excitedly. His brother looked decidedly ill.

I held the small skeletons gaze solemnly. "That would be entirely up him I'm afraid."

Wouldn't recommend holding your breath though. Lungs or no lungs.

"and how exactly are you going to get this guy to show up?" Fell Sans grumbled...oddly eager to get my unseen companion within reach...

I gave him the most serious blink of my life.

"Using, the sacred ritual."

...not a single skeleton failed to sweatdrop at that.

"you're kidding..." 

I quickly shook my head.

"I never joke when it comes to Mr Sleeper."

...continued awkward silence.

"GET IT THE FUCK OVER WITH THEN." SwapFell Sans demanded, the first to accept that this was the way things were gonna be, and that sanity had left the party hours ago.

"I will... it's just..."

"WHAT?"

I shuffled nervously.

"you have to turn around first."

Every monster in the room bulked.

"that's not going to happen." Was Fell Sans' flat refusal.

"...Mr Sleeper won't come if any of you are watching." I explained, trying to seem reasonable. "He's shy."

...There had to be a better way of phrasing that...

"fuck him then." The edgy monster crossed his arms stubbornly. "there's no way I'm trusting you with my back turned."

I placed my hand over my heart and gave him my solemn oath.

"I have no intention of dacking your pants."

"yeah, okay... you see, that was the least of my worries, then you went ahead and said that..."

"would this face lie to you?"

"y e s." 

Ha ha...yeah.

"Not to sound harsh Mr Sans..." I placed my hands sternly on my hips. "...but I'm perfectly capable of doing whatever I want regardless of your attention."

How many times do I have to repeat this? Me Ava all powerful. You puny mortals bow down so me no need to get off couch. 

"great." The edgy skeleton flipped me off. "ritual away then."

Yeah, no. See, this is the part where you were supposed to do what I want...

Officially giving up, I sent a pleading look over at Classic Sans.

Bully him for me...?

After a moment of deliberation, the most reasonable of all the Sans-es sighed.

"...ten seconds kid."

I nodded.

"Deal."

"what?! no..."

"GO HIDE IN THE KITCHEN IF YOU'RE SCARED BITCH." SwapFell Sans was the one to put an end to all arguments, already turning to give his back to me. His brother was slower, his suspicious gaze lingering on me before he followed Sans' lead.

Teeth gritted in frustration, Fell Sans followed suit.

Every Monster in the room gave their back to me.

It was a precious moment of trust I would forever cherish....

By the time the shift in gravity hit me, I was halfway out the broken window.

"s e r i o u s l y?"

Seriously.

Hooking my limbs onto the frame to keep from falling backwards, I looked over my shoulder to see a wide range of disapproving looks.

As far as escape attempts go, this was not my finest.

Straining to pull myself through the window sill, I cried. "It's time for me to leave the nest!"

I just didn't know how to tell you...

Mr Sleeper used this opportunity to make a reappearance in my life, climbing nimbly into the front of my scarf. No one else the wiser. 

Just like every time before, our reunion was joyful and sweet.

"Mr Slee..."

"firstly. don't talk to me. secondly. n a p  i n  y o u r o w n  t i m e."

I nearly lost my grip on the window.

"...how do you make hypocrisy so sexy?"

The Bitty's threat to castrate me went mostly ignored as our escape drew the wrong sort of attention.

"THIS HAD BETTER BE WORTH MY FUCKING ATTENTION."

"b-boss..."

"...SANS." The voice was calm.

Too calm.

"EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THE HUMAN IS BEING ALLOWED TO PLAY AROUND IN BROKEN GLASS."

The shorter brother managed to at least stutter a protest/plea hybrid... before his defence fell into unintelligible swearing.

Yeah Sans. This is all your fault.

"knock it off already!" Fell Sans finally decided his best chance at survival was to remedy the situation...by shouting at me. "you're not going to fucking get anywhere so stop trying!"

"Surrender isn't in my vocabulary!" I declared, grunting as I finally got a leg up on the window. "...Excluding the obvious exception of course!"

I'd have a paradox on my hands otherwise...   

"get the fuck down from there, or so help me your next trip through a wall won't be out a window!" 

Oh yeah?

I sent him a look.

"Make me."

The force of gravity increased tenfold.

Note to future self. Screaming "make me" does not improve the situation. Ever.

"stars kid..." Classic Sans sighed, his ire fading at the sheer patheticness of the situation.  "stop struggling before you hurt yourself..."

"I won't go back to prison!"

"no one wants to lock you up kid..."

"L i a r!"

Okay...that came out a little... louder than usual...

The...intensity... must have surprised everyone else as much as it did me... as the force pulling me lessened to a degree...and no one seemed willing to break the silence...

I sagged as much as a person fighting a window can sag, keeping my back to them.

Bad enough I had taken my frustration out on them...I don't think I could stand to see their stricken faces...

"I'M GIVING YOU FIVE FUCKING SECONDS."

Also, SwapFell Sans has this thing about indoor voices...where he's the only one not required to use one...

"G R O V E L."

Hmm...Well, death is imminent...might as well try honesty on for size.

"...Okay. well, ah...you see...the thing is...I really, really, really need to go... because...um....Mo...my marmoset that is...Mo...he...ah..." I turned enough to give the crowd a weak smile. "...He kinda went on vacation."

The temperature in the room dropped...and not just because of the broken window.

Vacation.

Sans for

never

coming

home .

"...Without me." I added softly. That was the part I really didn't like.

Something in my voice must have been the last straw for Mr Sleeper, as the static weight of his reality jumping magic begun to stir.

My gaze averted to the floor, not wanting to give us away...and...

If I had had the courage to watch their expressions...I'm not sure what I would have found. How many of them would understand what I was trying to say.

How many of them would care? 

"So...I guess...."

I was suddenly very tired of holding onto this window.

"I'll see you guys later?"

I let go of the frame.

Magical gravity took hold, and I fell.

Not a single part of me doubted that Mr Sleeper would save me from my own stupidity.

The problem was...I wasn't expecting anyone else to try.

A boney hand wrapped around my wrist.

My gaze jerked up to meet SwapFell Papyrus' intense stare...even as another body caught me from behind.

Just in time for Sleeper's magic to click.

And for all four of us to disappear.

 

Chapter Text

It's always the quiet ones you gots to watch...

"Uncle!" I slapped a hand frantically down on the ground in front of me. "Uncle Uncle UNCLE."

Pinning me to said ground, with my arm twisted to the breaking point, was SwapFell Papyrus.

The lazy skeleton took a long, unsympathetic drag from his freshly lit cigarette. 

And continued to say nothing.

A silence I was more than willing to make up for...

"Ican'ttakeusbackIwouldifIcouldbutIcan'tbecauseMrSleeperisalltuckeredoutfromcarryingtheextraluggageotherwisewewouldbelearninghispolicyonstowawaysrightnowinsteadofyouhurtingmeeee...!" I babbled into dark earth below, trying to wiggle away like the cowardly worm that I am.

For his part, Sleeper refused to let any comment on his sleeping habits slide, jabbing a tiny elbow into my neck to let me know that I suffer, not because he is too fatigued to save me...but because he simply can not be arsed.

Thanks Sleeper. If I get any free time between now and my torturous death, I'll make you a little badge that says MY HERO.

Finally accepting that no amount of squirming was going to save me, I fell limp, huffing and puffing but still no more free than I had been before the pathetic attempt at escape.

Couch potato Vs Angry Skeleton.

No contest.  

A sigh from the tall skeleton above was all my grovelling got me, and even then, it had more to do with boredom than anything else...

SwapFell Papyrus was a simple skeleton, content to spend his days lazily being a pervert.

But being separated from his bro is at the very top of the list of things he does not appreciate.

...Being forced to deal with the multiverse's latest brand of "Overpowered Asshole" was a close second...no, bump that down to third, after anything that keeps him from his first love. Nicotine.

...having his face stepped on uninvited probably shouldn't go unmentioned...

Point is, wrong buttons have been pushed...Mostly by me... and if I didn't do something quickly, I would be seeing a side of Papyrus that made his brother look like the kiddie end of the pool.

Sounds simple enough in my head...but with Mr Sleeper down for the count/uninclined to lift a finger, my only hope was the other skeleton who had leapt to my rescue...

Chin still pressed to the ground, I lifted my hopeful gaze...

And immediately regretted the decision.

...

...There are angry expressions.

Then there are the really-actually-angry-and-directed-at-you expressions...and even the occasional OMG-this-person-is-seriously-going-to-kill-you-RUN  expressions.

Then, there is Fell Papyrus.

And the way he is looking at me.

Right now.

That makes me wonder...

Do I really need a Marmoset? 

"ENLIGHTEN ME HUMAN." 

Fell Papyrus bent down, trumping SwapFell's own intimidation thingy by yanking me out from beneath the other skeleton and holding me up to eye level.

By the scruff of my coat. 

"JUST WHAT..."

...I mean, some luxuries can be sacrificed to for the greater good, right Mo?  

"THE EVERLOVING FUCK..." 

He leaned further into my personal space, so that I peered deep into his murderous gaze.

How romantic.  

"WERE YOU T H I N K I N G?"

His voice wasn't raised...any more than usual that is...

In fact, it was measured, controlled but for the slightest tremor of insuppressible wrath.

...If there was ever a time to answer a question like someone who wants to live, now probably qualifies.

"Um..." I shifted nervously, as much as I could with my hanging above the ground and all. "Something along the lines of... Oops?"

Forgot to turn the oven off.  

...no seriously.

I forgot to turn off the oven. 

...here's hoping someone picked up on that...

"FUNNY." Papyrus drew me out of my troubled thoughts, voice lowering to a dangerous murmur. "I IMAGINE THAT IMBECILE CLONE OF MY BROTHER WOULD BE THINKING MUCH THE SAME THING, WHEN HIS G-FORCES SHATTERED YOU ACROSS MY LIVING ROOM WALL."

Every single gravity pun Sans has ever made chose that moment to parade through my head.

I blinked.

"I seriously doubt it...."  

His gaze narrowed and I rushed to finish. 

"...But I concede the point."

This seemed to do nothing to appease the edgy Skeleton... If anything, he somehow looked angrier. Something about my dismissive attitude causing him to fume on a deeper, darker level.

Fell Papyrus' jaw clenched, and I was sure he was about to say something... devastating.

"...waste of my fucking breath." He finally muttered, pulling out of my face and allowing me a small sigh of relief...

Before harshly throwing me over his shoulder and stomping forward.

"WE'RE LEAVING."  

And that was that.

"...But I just got here..."

"IT IS PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO GIVE ANY LESS OF A FUCK."

Well that...does not give me a lot of wiggle room...

"Mr Papyrus..." Nevertheless, I tried to reason. "I respect that you have an opinion, if not the opinion itself...but I kinda had stuff I wanted to do..."

"AND WHAT...?" He cut me off, sharply twisting so that I was confronted with a full-frontal view off...

Oh.

"...DO YOU INTEND TO DO ABOUT THAT?!"

...Overall.

I'm not really sure how I felt about this development.

It was certainly unexpected. What with my view of our surroundings being limited to the ground so far... and the angry skeletons crushing my face into it... I hadn't really noticed...

One: We were in Waterfall. The Underground, by extension.

Two: That was the king's castle off in the distance, nestled under a glittering cavern sky... 

And Three:

GIANT.

PLANT.

Giant Plant.

Not a normal Plant. Not even the normal evil plant.

But a Giant plant, made from shadow and possibility.

Void beast flower. 

I crossed my arms on Papyrus' shoulder.

"Well... this is quite a pickle."

"YOU DON'T SAY."

"Am I the only one who slept through the part where they explained this little detail?"

"fell alphys called with the news from the machine." Sleeper explained tiredly. "Everything after that was mostly procrastination."

Figures.

"Oh well. At least one of us was awake to get the right address."

"like i would trust you to take directions.

"Right." I nodded in agreement. "That's exactly the sort of thinking that put you in charge Mr Sleeper."

Hmm, I wonder what could explain the recent increase in Void Fauna and Flora activity...?

"IF YOU'RE DONE TALKING TO YOURSELF..." Fell Papyrus drawled, resuming his determined march forward.  

...Probably global warming.

Momentarily defeated, I allowed myself to be carried away. Plotting Weedicide is just as easy to do from the back of a skeleton as not.  

Besides, another issue was coming to the forefront of my attention...as I was treated to the sight of SwapFell Papyrus being left behind in the dirt.

Literally. The skeleton who had been terrorising me only a moment before now sat listlessly in the dirt...probably still searching for his stolen thunder. 

d'aww...

"Um..."

"NO."

"...Is he...?"

"THAT THING WILL FIND ITS OWN WAY HOME. OR STARVE. CAN'T SAY I'M PARTICULARLY INVESTED IN THE OUTCOME."

"But..."

"WORSE CASE, IF CHERRY NEEDS A REPLACEMENT PERVERT,  HE CAN HAVE MY BROTHER."

He's, ah...put a lot of thought into this...maybe too much...

Still I couldn't leave things like this... and that meant I needed to address the elephant in the room. 

"So um..." I shifted nervously on Papyrus' boney shoulder. "...I know... you know... and that he knows...and that he knows you know... but you guys don't seem to think I know... so I'm just gonna say... I know."

"...YOU DO THIS TO AGGRAVATE ME, DON'T YOU?"

Not...untrue... 

"The, ah... 'going to murder me at the first opportunity ' thing?" I elaborated, pointing weakly towards SwapFell. "Yeah. I know.

He hadn't grabbed my hand to save me.

He took the chance.

To get me alone.

Fell Papyrus came to a stop.

Not surprised by my words so much as paranoid about how the skeleton behind us was going to react to them.

Since I was the only one facing SwapFell Papyrus, I was the one who saw the way he slowly looked over at me. Face blank but definitely unfriendly.

I waved a placating hand.

"It's not really a big deal. I mean, Both Mo and Mr Sleeper have tried to kill me on multiple occasions and we get along great..."

"have not." Mr Sleeper protested...insulted that I believed I could survive such a thing.

Ahh. With friends like these... 

"It's...I was just...um... thinking...that trying to assassinate me from the shadows would be...kinda boring?" I tilted my head contemplatively. "Also Creepy. And yeah, a little sad." 

This declaration was met with disbelief on all fronts.

"JUST TO BE CLEAR, YOU'RE NOT WORRIED ABOUT HIM ATTACKING YOU, BUT THAT HE WON'T ENJOY IT?"

I thought it over, hand on chin.

"...Yes, well... I always feel lonely when I stalk people so... there's that, suddenly out in the open and... well, besides..." I held thumbs up. "I'm like, legit invincible. Attempts on my life are amusing at best."

"INDEED." Fell Papyrus gritted out, turning slightly to give his lazy counterpart the stink eye. "I'M JUST SO FUCKING EAGER TO WATCH HIM TRY."

Yep. Attacking Papyrus' prisoner was pretty dumb by anyone's standards... which made me think SwapFell's little initiative hadn't exactly been put through the board for approval...

"I wouldn't get your hopes up if I were you." I shook my head sadly. "He'll probably wait for your Brother to have a go first."

Papyrus scoffed at the very notion.

"SANS WOULDN'T DARE..."

"Ultimately, his brother is going to have the last word... and that word will probably be D I E."

Really, might as well have signed my own death warrant with this whole kidnapping thing. 

"It's...ah... in my best interest..." I tried to put delicately. "...to bring both of you back in mint condition."

Maybe even gift wrapped and gagged.

Papyrus huffed contemptuously

"SO THIS ALL BOILS DOWN TO YOU WANTING TO SAVE YOUR OWN SKIN."

What a hurtful thing to say.

I patted Papyrus' head reassuringly. 

"Indubitably. So can we keep him? Please? I always wanted to be part of a P.A.P.s sandwich. That's a..."

"DON'T. JUST FUCKING DO NOT." The tall skeleton rotated on his heal, turning to fully glare at the down-cast skeleton behind him.

"what part..." Mr Sleeper hissed into my ear. "...of don't include me in your perverted fantasies do you have trouble understanding?"

So much for hoping he had nodded off.

"No no, it's okay Mr Sleeper, technically you're on the outside of the sandwich..."

"bottom..."

I froze, looking over at the quiet rasp.

SwapFell Papyrus didn't meet my gaze as he climbed to his feet, flicking his cigarette butt away before shoving his hands into their respective pockets.

"...actually."

I'm sure my expression, though empty, must have been as bright as the sun, radiating pure approval. 

But that's just me. I've spent my entire life admiring these people in unhealthy and obsessive ways, so I was mostly just happy to be breathing the same air...

Mr Sleeper?

Not so much.

SwapFell Papyrus side-stepped in a sudden burst of agility, narrowly avoiding a bone longer than he was tall as it shot up out of the ground.  

...As far as opinions go. 

This is what's known as a Bone of Contention.

While Fell Papyrus tensed, on alert for another attack... I propped myself up on his shoulder for a better view. 

Also to better present myself as a smug asshole.

Lacking decent facial expressions, I had to rely on the environment to convey these things...

"Hmm." I set an elbow one Fell Papyrus' head as I spoke to the other. "You're probably as well versed in interpreting bone magic as any skeleton Mr Papyrus, so... ah.... Just for future reference..."

I failed to give a disarming smile

"...that is Mr Sleeper's preferred language. "

Eyeing his would-be impaler as the magic began to fade, SwapFell Papyrus gave a small shrug.

Insert a Do not give a fuck meme and move on.

Speaking of progress...Convincing Fell Papyrus to let his alternate-self tag along was only half the battle.

The other half being SwapFell Papyrus himself.

These two had had their own share of conflict since the early days of interdimensional diplomacy.

And by Conflict, I mean their fights had made an active appearance in my ranking system.

5th most immature Papyrus battle ever.

3rd Most stuffed animals lost in the crossfire.

7th Best Aquarium battle.

...to name a few.

Really, for all intents and purposes, forcing them together was a bad idea...

...But according to my timeline research, there is a 13% chance that them fighting will lead to making out.

And that was a chance I was willing to take. 

Fell Papyrus kneaded his forehead, as if interacting with the other skeleton was the most bothersome task known to monster and man. 

"I REALISE THAT THERE IS NOTHING YOU ENJOY MORE IN LIFE THAN PISSING ME OFF... "

10/10.

Now just nail the landing... 

"...BUT COULD YOU SPARE ME THE ATTITUDE FOR FIVE FUCKING MINUTES, AND JUST ENTERTAIN THIS THING WHILE I DO ALL THE ACTUAL WORK?" 

Perfect.

Nearly brought a tear to my eye.

After a long moment of staring at us like he was desperately trying to think of anything more productive than escorting an annoying pervert and a violent control freak to their destination...Swap-Fell Papyrus gave a simple nod and started walking over.

I pumped a fist.

"Go Team P.A.P.s!"

All three skeletons groaned.

 

Chapter Text

"in case i changed my mind."

That was the answer Mr Sleeper gave, when I asked him why he had felt it was necessary to give two of the most powerful Sans-es in the multiverse free rein of my home/ porn collection.

No denying that he was the culprit. No explanation as to how he was even able to lock a universe.

Just a plain "i wanted to come back and finish them off later." 

"So um... just to avoid any confusion..." I kicked my dangling legs thoughtfully. "...We're still officially mad at them. Right?"

"correct."

"...And does this holding a grudge thing come with terms and conditions?" 

"..."

"It's just that I want to sell your forgiveness for materialistic gain."

Sleeper gave an unsympathetic yawn.

"fixing your clothing is the opposite of what I want."

...Fair enough.

"What about my phone?"

"when you say phone, are you referring to some god-like device that gives you unlimited access to all the information in the multiverse, but your primary use for it will involve non-consensual pornography?"

"...I'll probably use it for other stuff too."

"...you understand that i wouldn't trust you alone with a rubber-band, right?"

 "...No phone?"

"no phone."

Damn.

"...Does it change anything if I say I'm uncomfortable with them running around the Observatory unsupervised?" I tried hopefully.

The Bitty scoffed.

"adds to the pro-kill them list."

...He's really not letting this attempted homicide thing go, is he?

"I'm serious Mr Sleeper." I crossed my arms worriedly over the top of Fell Papyrus' head. "What if they finally give into their ultimate feelings and make wild passionate love on my couch? I'll never be able to sit on it again."

"...didn't expect that sort of thing to bother you." Sleeper released a tired sigh.

Pretty sure the only reason he was still awake is that he doesn't trust SwapFell Papyrus...

Full stop.

"Of course it does." I frown slightly. "That couch belongs to everyone. Every pairing, every position, every magical orgasm...everything has been witnessed from that couch, and for just two people to have actual physical sex on it is...is sacrilegious..."

"THE CONDITION..." If the claws digging into my legs were any indication, I'd say Fell Papyrus did not approve of this particular conversation being held upon his person. "...FOR INDULGING THIS RIDICULOUS PIGGYBACK RIDE BULLSHIT, WAS THAT YOU WOULD GET ME ANSWERS HUMAN."

Really, dignity was a small price to pay to make me even the slightest bit more tolerable...

I wrapped my arms and legs around the tall skeleton, pre-emptively cuddling him in a way that made it more difficult for him to drop me and start kicking.

"...What was the question again?"

I forgot.

A frustrated hiss.

"TELL ME YOUR ALLY'S WEAKNESSES."

Oh yeah...

I almost laughed, beginning the cycle of distraction all over again.

"Well, if the name doesn't give it away..." I poked the fuming skeleton in the side of the head teasingly. "Narcolepsy." 

Fell Papyrus accepted this information with an eager nod.

Mr Sleeper would soon rue the day he had made Papyrus' brother cry...

I was more than happy to oblige.

"But he's well and truly prepared to compensate for that." I tilted my head, putting some serious thought into my advice. "If you really want revenge, you'll have to exploit his greatest weakness."

Fell Papyrus' metaphorical ears perked with interest.

"a v a..." Sleeper's hackles rose. 

I ignored the warning

"He's a prude. Take your clothes off."

I gave Papyrus a cheerful pat.

"He won't stand a chance."

The edge lord... thought it over.

"...I SEE."

I nodded in satisfaction.

That should even the odds...

"don't encourage him." Sleeper grumbled into my ear.

"But..."

"no. he can stop annoying me, or he can go keep the assholes in your universe company."

A terrible fate indeed.

"Hmm. Okay."

I tapped Fell Papyrus on the head.

"A threesome with the Creator and Destroyer. Yay or nay?"

"....R E L E V A N C E?"

"Keep pissing off Mr Sleeper and you'll find out."

More importantly, that wasn't a nay...

A tiny noise of amusement from behind us went unheard as Fell Papyrus made it very clear to everyone in a five-mile radius just how much he did not appreciate Sleeper's attitude.

"...IF HE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY TO ME, THE COWARD CAN...!"

"Left Mr Papyrus." I interrupted cheerfully.

Barely pausing in his tirade, Papyrus followed my pointed finger.

The first time I had tried to give him directions, the Fell Monster had argued adamantly that 'HE KNEW HIS WAY AROUND THE DAMN UNDERGROUND FUCK YOU VERY MUCH.'

Except that in this universe, the Underground was a glitching patchwork labyrinth with no rhyme or reason. Go in the direction that normally led you to Alphys' lab, and you'd find yourself knee deep in snow around the next corner. 

Which is what happened. Naturally.

Here I was, prepared to stall and trick my way into staying longer... only to have my work done for me for an hour of aimless wondering as Papyrus refused to be defeated by mere geology. 

It took walking into an upside-down version of the MTT resort for Papyrus to grudgingly accept my navigation. 

And it wasn't that he was lost. Just that I needed a job to do so I would stop pestering him.

A task I accepted wholeheartedly, showing off my hard-earned-through-stalking knowledge of the Multiverse with nothing but cheer and enthusiasm.

Sleeper eventually dozed off with the inactivity. SwapFell stared at my back like he was wondering how best to put a knife in it, and Fell Papyrus kept me entertained with his incessant disapproval of every aspect of this situation. 

Until, inevitably, we ended up...

"...BACK WHERE WE FUCKING STARTED?!"

Papyrus stood, gaping at the very same view of the castle we had been treated to when we first arrived here.

Giant flower. Never gets old.

"Not that...ah... I make a habit of reviewing your past mistakes Mr Papyrus, but that..." I pointed in the direction we had initially marched. "...was one of them."

"WHY DIDNT YOU SAY SOMETHING?!"

Papyrus was trembling with rage at this point, so I made sure to think over my next words very carefully...

"I had a long list of reasons Mr Papyrus... but I think it all boils down to 'didn't wanna."

As much as Sleeper resented me getting a nap in before our latest adventure, I couldn't help feeling grateful for the chance to recuperate.

Especially since it made prying my grip from Fell Papyrus' body, so that the enraged skeleton could throw me headfirst off the nearby cliff...

That much more difficult.

"L E T  G O."

"I'll die!" My plea was muffled by his hand as he shoved my face away.

"LET ME KNOW WHEN THAT STARTS BEING MY PROBLEM!"

Papyrus managed to get one of my arms loose...only for me to hook it up under his clothes and into his rib cage.

The indignant screeching made it entirely worth risking life and limb.

It's probably a good thing softbones sleep like the dead, because dead is what we would all be if Sleeper woke up and saw this.

In a final fit of desperation, Fell Papyrus rounded on his much quieter counterpart, nearly dislocating something in his effort to get me off of him.

"YOU WANTED THEM DEAD SO FUCKING HELP ME!"

SwapFell Papyrus watched the scene with a conflicted frown. Yes, me being murdered by Fell would be really convenient... but watching the uppity version of himself suffer is kinda what he lives for... 

The lazy skeleton toiled with indecision long enough for our wrestling match to resolve itself, with me somehow ending up attached to Fell Papyrus' leg like a barnacle, and the enraged skeleton himself hissing furiously as he marched/hobbled away.

In the right direction this time. 

"So..." I piped up hopefully.

"DON'T TALK TO ME."

Needless to say, Papyrus wasn't in the mood for conversation.

...which is all fine and good, except there was a giant void plant off in the distance begging to be over analysed by the greatest T.V watcher of all time.  

"...Do you think it's a weed..." I squinted past the swinging motion of Papyrus' long legs "...or a flower."

"WHAT FUCKING DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE!?" Fell Papyrus exploded, stomping hard enough to make my head rattle.

 "Eh? Well, that would be the difference between it growing on its own, or someone planting it intentionally." I offered helpfully.

Basic Garden terminology. 

When the tall skeleton failed to respond, I tilted my head to study the plant with further intensity.

"...The Placement has me leaning more towards the latter."

Papyrus came to a stop.

I peeked up, to find him glaring down at me suspiciously.

"EVEN IF THAT WERE TRUE, WHO WOULD BE CAPABLE OF PLANTING SUCH A THING?"

I blinked.

Good question.

"...I'm less interested in the identity of the culprit than the motive." I informed him dismissively.

SwapFell Papyrus snickered.

"...an 'ception to the rule then..."

Startled, I turned my gaze to the skeleton who had been following along silently thus far. Content to not be involved...

Except when the opportunity to make me eat my own words arose.

I spy on everyone.... In every universe.... To the extent that I've witnessed your entire lives and countless possible timelines...

My eyes narrowed. Displeased.

He smirked back. Defiant.

I harrumphed, refusing to admit ignorance.

His gaze narrowed minutely. 

Brat fetish...

"ENOUGH." Fell Papyrus ended the dispute before it could begin.

Rubbing his forehead in quiet aggravation, the edgy skeleton collected his thoughts before attempting to interact with me once more.

"SO... YOU DON'T KNOW WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS...OR EVEN IF THERE IS ANYONE TO BLAME...AND YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE HELPING OUT...IN WHAT WAY EXACTLY...?"

I puffed up indignantly.

I mean...not to spread it on too thick or anything, but I'm kinda this all knowing, all powerful GOD...thing. It could even be said that I exist to trample on other people's problems... and if you don't like me hogging all the glory, I'm sure I can take my heroicness elsewhere...

"eesh..." Fell Papyrus pulled a face, like he had just cracked open a can of worms that he very much did not want any part in. "FINE. I'M WATCHING. " He crossed his arms, brow raised challengingly.

Do the thing.

I didn't exactly preen under the attention...but yeah. 

It was a close call.

"It’s a plant." I pointed towards said plant.

See?

Papyrus spared the void plant a very brief glance before blinking down at me. Very... very patiently.

"AND THIS... IS SIGNIFICANT?"

I nodded enthusiastically.

"It being a plant means this is potentially more than an act of terrorism."

His eye-socket twitched.

"WHICH WOULD BE..."

I opened my mouth.

SwapFell Papyrus was the one to answer.

"...terraforming."

My heart fluttered and fell.

Never to move again.

Robbed of my moment to shine, I whipped around to rain resentment upon the thief...

Only he wasn't looking at me.

Cigarette clenched between his teeth, SwapFell Papyrus was looking up.

Against my better judgement, I followed suit.

"...Oh." I blinked. "It's already started."

Never mind then.

Fell Papyrus shifted, settling into a more defensive position even as he stared up in disbelief.

"IS THAT...?"

"A giant Bee made entirely out writhing void voodoo? Carrying what looks to be...Oh hey, Look. It's Frisk. Very angry Frisk. Probably about to be Devoured Frisk. Did I mention Frisk is here?"

I tilted my head curiously.

"Though you'd think I'd have noticed that earlier..."

 Just goes to show how easily distracted I can be. Really, if it weren't for SwapFell Papyrus, the desperate scene might have flown straight over my... 

"Shouldn't we be doing something about that...? Because this continued lack of reaction is starting to..." I glanced over nervously, annnd... 

He's gone.

"...worry me..."

In the place that SwapFell Papyrus had once occupied, stood only absence and frustration. 

No big deal. It's not like his continued safety is the only thing keeping me from a terrible death at his brother's hands or anything.

At the sound of a Gaster blaster going off in the distance, I thumped my head lightly against Fell Papyrus' femur.

"It's my own fault." I mumbled despairingly. "I took my eyes off him. That is where I went wrong."

I didn't have the spirit to struggle as Fell Papyrus reached down and yanked me from his leg, throwing my limp body over his shoulder even as he leapt forward into a ground-eating sprint.

Towards the Danger.

Yeah. Sure. Why not. Let's all join in.

Unfortunately, going towards the fight also meant heading towards the edge of that cliff I mentioned earlier.

I didn't complain.

I was past complaining.

I just watched on in resigned silence, arms crossed as Papyrus all but threw the both of us from the safety of nice solid ground...

And onto a staircase of conjured bones.

One in which every magic stepping stone barely manifested long enough for the edgy skeleton to finish taking another step towards certain doom. 

...Not gonna lie. My enthusiasm for this experience was wearing thinner than the air between us and the hard ground below.

Far. Far. Below.

Not that death couldn't come from above of course. In fact, Death from above was getting closer...if the angry sound of buzzing insect wings getting louder was anything to go by.

I twisted in Papyrus hold, feeling the need to see for myself just how little time I had left to plan my own funeral.

That.

Was a big Bee.

...And it wasn't half bad at dodging either.

Fast enough to keep up with a pissed off skeleton at least.

SwapFell Papyrus was using his own Gaster Blasters to keep himself in the air, teleporting between each conjured skull as they blasted off with such unrestrained force, I kinda had to wonder...

Frisk is supposed to survive this... right?  That was the goal?

The hero of the Underground also seemed concerned by the increased amount of incinerating lasers that had been added to their already precarious situation. Frisk struggled in the hold of the Bee, and if there was any way to translate silence into profanity... well...

Fell Papyrus grunted as we finally came within firing range of the beehemoth. The Part of me that had been kinda hoping that we had only come up here for a closer look died as the Fell Monster took careful aim...

And flung a single skewering bone directly at the wildly swerving insect, clipping it in the wing as it pulled up and out of the firing line of one of SwapFell Papyrus' blasts.

Yay teamwork.

Now, it wasn't that I was expecting the thing to apologise and kindly hand over the abducted human all gentle like. 

But watching on as the Bee dropped Frisk with an enraged buzz of pain, I had to facepalm.

Of course.

Like anything else was going to happen when you start shooting at it...

Like two couch potatoes caught in the headlight of a doorbell, I met SwapFell Papyrus' gaze.

You...ah, gonna get that?

why don't you?

Pretty sure you touched it last dude

i'm busy

It's just a freaking Bee man.

lalalalaa not listening...

Urgh.

Fine.

In a burst of sudden strength, I twisted out of Papyrus' hold.

I'll get it.

Fell Papyrus swore sharply, a clawed hand reaching out after me as I flung myself towards death.

Before he had a chance to interfere with my suicidal heroics, I shifted my own soul to blue.

Decent, after that, became a far more interesting experience.

Sure, falling sucks at the best of time, but increase the force of gravity tenfold and it's just...ew.

Needless to say, something about plummeting head first just did not sit well with me, so I wasn't exactly in a good mood once I managed to catch up to Frisk.

They could tell. I know they could tell, because they somewhat paused in their own freak-out to give my sullen, arms crossed and implied lip pouting a bemused look. Same old Frisk, calm in the face of overwhelming odds.

But Unlike most Frisks, this one was old enough to give consent.

Which opened up a world of possibilities.

Falling (upside-down) alongside my fellow human, I drummed my fingers in thought.

"I've never done this with another person before." I explained briefly, reaching out a hand to poke the adult Frisk in the forehead.

"Wanna be my First?"

Something in my expression must have betrayed some sort of mischievous enjoyment... because Frisk's lips quirked with both relief and amusement.

Their hand suddenly latched onto my wrist, startling me by pulled me closer to my falling buddy. Frisk grinned with fearless determination... even as death rushed up to meet us.

Bring it on.

Before I could react, I felt another person's magic take a grip on my soul, trying to wrestle the force of gravity away from my influence and stop our fall.

We had already begun to slow when I peeked towards the ground and found SwapFell Papyrus standing below us, glaring up at me defiantly.

i don't care

I smiled slightly.

I know.

My soul turned Purple.

Chapter Text

"This..."  The camera zoomed in on the flower petals far above. "is the Rosa Voideathicus." 

"A plant native to the Spaces Between, and commonly found Nowhere. It is locally known as the Void plant, or a WTF?  The plant is best recognized by its astronomical size, silhouette-like features and the tendency to overgrow royal architecture."

The camera panned down, following the shadowy stem until it reached the roots, digging their way into the floor of the throne room.

"Though not much is known about this curious species, The Void Plant is believed to pre-tell the terrible demise of the Universe in which it grows. This suspicion is supported by the presence of its sole pollinator, the Apis Voideathicus. Otherwise known as 'Those Asshole Freaking Bees man '. They are bees. And they are assholes."

"WHAT." A strained voice interrupted the lecture. "ARE YOU DOING? AND WHY..."

A shifting of equipment... then suddenly Fell Papyrus was glaring down the lens of the camera, hands on hips. 

"...ARE YOU ON THE CEILING?"

Peeking past my framed fingers, I gave the fuming skeleton the most welcoming of expressions. 

"Mr Papyrus? You're alive!"

"ANSWER THE FUCKING QUESTION!" 

So much for a touching reunion.

"I'm filming a documentary." I nodded obligingly to my hands. "It helps my thought process, to view things through media." 

Papyrus stared up at me for a long moment.

Ignoring the fact I was using my fingers as an imaginary camera and talking to myself... 

"...ON THE CEILING?" He finally asked.

"Oh, um... yes?" I glanced down at my feet, which were indeed glued to the ceiling. "...this is something of a... restraining order..."

Personally, I think the 'changing my soul trait' thing is pretty nifty.  

Sure, it’s not as easy as it looks...and a training montage would never quite capture how hard it was to learn... but the convenience of always having the unfair advantage over any given situation...well, it means I get to spend more time focusing on what really matters.

ME.

Getting my way.

And looking cool doing it.

Yep. Pure Self-indulgence.

Nothing else really explains why I dragged myself and Frisk through possibility, to a timeline where we had met under different circumstances.

Risking everyone's lives in the name of discovery/ pissing people off! 

Classic Ava.

But...ah...as it turns out...

Not everyone is a fan.

The three of us had stepped back into reality inside the Core, of all places.

I can only assume that it was where Frisk and I would have ended up, had Fell Papyrus taken a different turn in his misadventures, causing us to encounter them instead of wandering aimlessly through the Underground...

It was just a theory. In fact, pretty much the whole thing was one big Maybe...so if you really think about it, crying out "We lived!" after finding we were, in fact, still alive...was a totally fair reaction on my part.

But did my self-appointed babysitter see it that way?

"...I didn't mean to wake you up Mr Sleeper..."

"i don't want to talk about it."

"I promise to warn you next time"

"the next time you intend to my meddle with existence, or the next time you're about to do something so stupid and reckless, killing you beforehand would be doing us all a f a v o u r?"

"...the latter?"

An hour later, and I was still on the ceiling. 

...

..

.

Celebrating.

That is where I went wrong.

...or maybe it was grabbing Frisk's ass when they gave me a joyous survival hug?

That might have been it.

Still, I didn't ditch the Papyrus-es just to loiter about on a ceiling all day. With things to do and places to be, I marched my way through the core/every odd place that popped up in between, and to the castle. For a closer look at my adversary.

Closer, as in millimetres away from it.  

As it turns out, the ceiling was the perfect place to study the Void plant, as it continued to sprout up through the castle and out the hole such progress had created.

All potential danger was ignored as I made sure to get up close and personal with the rising star of hazardous flora.

Frisk had been a good sport about the whole ordeal.

Listening to me when I said the Void Bee's might have something of a taste for human souls and/or flesh, and it might be interesting a good idea to test that theory protect our friends, by staying separate from the bossy skeletons. 

Just while I go inspect the plant see? Just a harmless little look-see that no skeleton in their right mind would ever approve of...but what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them, right? Didn't Frisk want to have a look too? Of course it was safe. I am a professional. I know what I'm doing. The sooner someone actually lets me do my job, the sooner we'll be able to sort this thing out. Assuming a giant void plant busting up your castle is something that bothers you?

Besides...No one can call for help in the Core...

If one thing is for sure, it's that Frisk followed me out of Trust, not in a quest for better reception...

No doubt, the message they sent when they thought I wasn't looking must have been a quick 'hi, didn't die. BRB.' Text to the skeleton probably halfway out his two minds with worry. 

And of course my fellow human had absolutely no reservations about joining me on my journey to do a comprehensive study on the Void Plant. 

Right up until the point I licked it.

That was when Frisk realised.

I'm an idiot.

Thus, ruling out the culinary possibility marked the end of my credibility, and the skeletons were blatantly called in to help. 

I didn't pay it much mind. 

I'd gotten what I wanted after all.

I was checking out the newest and coolest thing in the history of stuff. Four angry skeletons showing up with every intention of filling me with holes...then hesitating...because the crazy thing was on the freaking ceiling talking to itself, and no I'm not going to go over and talk to it, you talk to it, but you're the one who lost it, well it's your human it stole so, FUCK FINE I WILL DO IT...

Was not a big deal. 

"COME DOWN THIS INSTANCE."

"But I'll be maimed." I tilted my head pleadingly. "If not by the fall, then by the horde of undead."

That is the correct term for a group of skeletons, right?

Fell Papyrus did his level best to reassure me.

"I'LL BE THE ONE DECIDING WHO DOES AND DOESN'T GET MAIMED."

...well, in that case...

"...Mr Sleeper...?"

"no."

I relayed the news obligingly.

"Mr Sleeper says no."

To this, Papyrus let out a string of violently vivid profanity, detailing exactly where bossy imaginary friends can stick their opinions.

A little stunned in the wake of such a harsh suggestion, I listened to Sleeper's response...

"...Mr Sleeper wants to know "If you kiss your brother with that mouth?"

...I just failed to repeat it.

Papyrus sputtered in outrage, but he wasn't the only one.

A few seconds and a quick betrayal of gravity later, Papyrus had me caught by the ankle, inches from impacting the floor.

Because Sleeper does not appreciate me paraphrasing.

Twisting, I blinked winsomely at the skeleton dangling me above the ground.

"You're...ah...not still angry about the 'Running away with Frisk' thing...right?"

With nothing more than a 'what do you think'  look, Papyrus released my ankle

Resuming my crippling fall to earth, albeit from a much shorter distance... 

"...and they stick the landing..." I muttered, face down on the floor.

Nothing felt broken, I still had my hat and Sleeper had already begun to snore softly in my ear. So all and all, a success.

Lucky I'm a resilient little abomination...

"we really need to stop meeting like this kid." with a sense of sinking dread, I lifted my injured face from the floor to find a pair of fuzzy pink slippers in front of me. 

Quick. Act dead.

"as a descend guy, i'm im-flooring you to be more careful. recklessness will only lead to your downfall you know."

Never mind.

I thunked my head back onto the ground.

Acting just wouldn't cut it.

"DON'T START." Fell Papyrus sounded about as impressed with the punny skeleton's presence as I was. "IF I'M NOT ALLOWED TO TORTURE THE CREATURE, THEN YOU ARN'T EITHER."

But it gets worse

"yeah sans." Sly charm dripped from the tone, identifying the latest speaker even before he stepped forward. "don't you know better than kick someone when they're down?"

Classic didn't come alone.

"FUCK OFF."  

...How is he always so poetic?

"relax edgelord." The newcomer brushed off the ire with a wave of his hand. "just wanted to introduce myself. wouldn't pay to be rude now would it?"

Holding a cigarette to his teeth, G-Sans bent over to examine me closer.

After a long look...

"...yikes."

Yikes.

He said.

Whilst looking at my face.

"AHEM." Raising a brow at the hypocrisy, Fell Papyrus moved to help me to my feet. "YOU WERE SAYING?"

And by help, I mean he yanked me up by the scruff and dumped me in an upright position.

Dusting myself off, I endured the staring the best I could. 

Openly fascinated, G-Sans tilted his head to study me from a different angle.

"...it's even creepier than I remember."

Behind the trio of skeletons, Frisk facepalmed.

And here they thought things couldn't get any worse...

"BE THAT AS IT MAY." Papyrus huffed. " WE HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO THAN..."

"is it just me...?" G-Sans had the nerve to interrupt whilst also poking me in the face. "...or is this thing actually maintaining a state of quantum superposition?"

And they say he's just a pretty face. 

"who knows." Sans rolled his eye-lights with obvious amusement. "laying the charm on a bit thick, don't cha think?"

"don't get jealous short stuff, there's enough of me to go around." The tall skeleton leant back, offering me a hand. "name's g. we've met once before."

I blinked, from his expression to his welcoming hand.

And immediately didn't trust it.

"Introductions won't be necessary." I said, casually slipping my hands into my pockets.

Not in this lifetime.

G-sans followed my example, hole marked hands finding their own pockets to be awkward in.

"i suppose you're referring to the stalking thing." he offered neutrally. 

"That, and the fact you will all be dead soon." I poked a thumb back towards the void plant. "As in 'there's no point even getting acquainted'  Soon." 

This declaration was met with horrified silence.

I tilted my head.

Not the reaction I had been hoping for. 

"...That was a Joke." I explained belatedly, letting my hand fall back down my side. "Everyone was telling jokes so...Of course I was referring to the stalking thing...but explaining it just makes it less funny..."

I did get one snicker from the doorway where SwapFell Papyrus stood guard/lurked. 

From the expressions of everyone else... I knew, deep, deeeeep down inside. They were laughing.

Hysterically.

Without further ado, Papyrus cuffed me on the back of the head.

I yelped, clutching at my hat tenderly. 

"Mr Papyrus...?"

"NOT. ANOTHER. WORD."

Everyone's a critic.

G-Sans released the puff of smoke he'd been holding in ever since my not so successful attempt at humour. He gestured to me with a side-glance towards Sans.

"i think i get what you were talking about with the-"

"yep"

"and the-"

"couldn't have put it better myself."

"does it always...?"

"far as i can tell."

"and killing it is officially not the smart thing we're doing?"

"apparently."

Always nice to feel welcome.

"AND AS YOU CAN ALL SEE..." Following this less than reassuring dialogue, a certain pair of claws took a firm grip on my shoulders. "...WE WERE JUST LEAVING."

We were? Well, who am I to argue.

"ah... wait..." Sans held up a hand as Fell Papyrus started steering me towards the door. "...about that..."

"AS FOR YOU..." Papyrus spoke to me, firmly ignoring the smaller skeleton completely. "...DON'T THINK YOU'VE GOTTEN AWAY WITH THAT LITTLE STUNT YOU PULLED. THE MOMENT I GET YOU BACK TO MY DU  ah...HOME, YOU WILL BE RECEIVING A STERN TALKING TO."

And here I thought I was in trouble...

Papyrus' determined march came to a sudden stop, confronted by one of the only obstacles in existence that could cause such a thing to occur.

Frisk.

The human stood in our path, expression stern and hands on hips.

"...GET OUT OF THE WAY HUMAN." Papyrus demanded...to very little effect.

Despite my sending them the 'it's cool, i'm about to score' in wingman code...not to mention Fell Papyrus glaring menacingly down at them from above my head...Frisk stood firm.

Even when Papyrus tried making little shooing motions.

 "...listen edge..." Sans tried again, stepping a little closer to where we had been stalled. "...underfell might not be the safest place for the human...right now..."

He trailed off, sweat dropping nervously when Fell Papyrus slowly turned to look at him.

"GO ON."

"it's...ah... just that I had to get your tori to sit on red to make sure he took the time to...ah... cool down before..." His gaze flickered to me. "...you know."

"ARE YOU IMPLYING THAT I CAN NOT HANDLE MY OWN BROTHER'S TEMPER?"

Tread carefully...

Sans pointed weakly over to SwapFell Papyrus.

"no...it’s...um... his brother's temper...that i'm worried about..."

At the prospect of an angry SwapFell Sans, even Fell Papyrus had to pause to consider...

"I'LL DEAL WITH IT."

"...please don't..."

And this is my cue to prevent Fell War 3 

"On a more serious note..." I raised a hand. "I wasn't exaggerating when I implied that the void plant is going to kill us all."

Claws dug sharply into my shoulder as Papyrus held onto his temper by a thread.

"I THOUGHT YOU SAID YOU WERE JOKING."

"It's funnier if you keep in mind my intention to stop said demise."

"YOU LITTLE...!"

"ava."

I glance away from Fell Papyrus furious expression to find Sans grinning at me.

"...listen bud...can we, ah..." He shrugged a little. "...just... get to the point?"

Faster than I have ever known them to, my hackles rose.

I didn't like it. 

The way he looked at me. The tired expectation that said this was my fault. That I was using their misfortune as entertainment. That my intentions and excuses didn't matter. That he didn't care.

That I was boring him. 

"The point?"

I smiled. 

Far too wide

"Is that there is no point."

I stepped out from Papyrus' frozen hands, as even he felt the difference in L.O.V.E

"Nothing matters."

Sans stood his ground, unflinching as I closed the distance between us. 

"Nothing will ever matter, and the only thing keeping today from being just another one of those days where I sit back and record your death for my snuff collection..." His gaze was indifferent, but mine was eminently more so. "...is my ability to ignore that fact." 

Now standing directly in front of Sans, I leant cheerfully into his personal space.

Neutral.

Is the cruellest path to take.  

My head tilted curiously.

"...Or were you asking about the flower?"

Like a ball, my enthusiasm for the situation bounced back. 

"Because if that is the case, I've got a couple of theories I think you might like to consider." 

I stepped past him, pretending that I hadn't just unnerved every single person in the room.

Everyone loses their mind temper, now and then.

"Assuming that this Rosa Voideathicus has, in fact, been planted intentionally and with the purpose of terraforming your universe into a habitat suited to stabilise the raw magic best defined as potential, it poses the question of, Why Here?" I strolled back towards the plant, holding my arms out to indicate the room around us. 

"Though this is all just speculation, I would say Echotale qualifies as the ideal gardening spot on two accounts. Firstly, it is a patchwork universe."

I turned to regard Sans, hands on hips.

"Where your reality is a singular timeline that stands above the rest, this universe is a collection of timelines sown together to make one mismatched reality. It's how you..." I pointed over to the adult Frisk. "...and your brother..." I pointed over to G-Sans. "...are able to exist in the same Universe."

At this astounding revelation about the nature of his universe, G-Sans blinked at me neutrally, listening politely but... in the way that most people sit through insane ramblings. 

I shrugged.

Beats talking to the wallpaper.

"Ultimately, all these little gateways into various timelines create room for this eco-system to grow. Potential pathways into different universes and... well, this is where I got confused."

I cupped my chin in a show of ponder.

"Out of all the universes I know, this one is hardly the most suited for infecting the entire multiverse with a plague of Void creatures. There are universes out there that combine all of your universes under a common theme, like channel eighteen for example... but then it occurred to me. That was just out of all the Universes I know.

Tilting my head, I used the hand under my chin to point towards Classic Sans.

"What about out of the universes you know?" 

Everyone in the room looked pale, even the skeletons.

"...Which brings me to the second qualification. Echotale is the only universe of the desired nature..."

I held my hand up in the peace sign.

"...that has a machine."

 

Chapter Text

"are you saying...?" Sans started the thought.

"that one of us...?" G-Sans got a little further.

"Is behind all this? Pfft." I clutched an arm around my stomach, pointing at them with the other. "Please imagine the sound of uproarious laughter, as I express my contempt for the suggestion."

Which may be overdoing it.

Just a tad.

True, these guys are normally the ones to blame when something goes horribly wrong in the neighbourhood.

From Flowey shenanigans, independent maniacs like Error, the (now disbanded) league of evil, demons and ghosts... to the Undyne Olympics, hardly a season goes by without the Multiverse facing some sort of peril.

But this was a little bit above their pay grade. 

Would do it? Yeah sure, I could name a few.

Could do it? Ha. ha. hahahahaaa....

An assumption I was sure annoyed more than a few skeletons...

Fell Papyrus, for one, felt no particular need to keep his ire in check.

"CAREFUL." He growled, arms crossing in a clear warning. "I GET IRRITATED WHEN I'M NOT THE MOST OBNOXIOUS PERSON IN THE ROOM."

This earned the startled stares of his peers, as if it had never occurred to them that he might be self-aware. 

"Fair enough." I brushed away a pretend tear of mirth before pointing up at the void plant. "But before you make any more assumptions, your really should try to pull it into an encounter."

...Might as well have asked them to lick it, for all the cynical looks I got.

G-sans was the first to shrug.

"hate to break it to ya kid, but that sort of thing doesn't work without..."

While one skeleton spoke, another obliged.

With a quick flick of his long fingers, SwapFell Papyrus drew out a pinprick of white light from the plant.

HP 99999/99999

AT 0

DF 100

"...a soul." G-Sans blinked in surprise. "well whad'ya know." 

I nodded eagerly, bending over to study the little soul from a different angle.

"I befriended Mo by giving him a name you see, so when I first saw the void plant I said to myself, "self. you're getting a harem."

Or starting a wildlife preserve. One of the two.

"So...with that being the quickest and easiest solution I could think, I sort of reached for that feeling you get when something needs you to acknowledge its existence in order for it to...well, do so... only to find that feeling wasn't there." 

And thus was deduced, the fact that this plant must already have a soul... but what I hadn't expected for no name to be revealed with the encounter... 

"Weird right?" I blinked back at them cheerfully.

"...WEIRD IS ONE WORD FOR IT." Fell Papyrus didn't seem to agree with my enthusiasm, scowling at the void plant like it had mildly inconvenienced him.

That is to say...with cold, murderous intent. 

"so you were able to instinctively tell that this plant was different from the first creature...because it already has a soul?" G-Sans asked, almost absentminded as he studied the plant. "...or at least a partial one." 

I glanced guiltily at the small pinprick of light.

"...Being an Avatar...makes me more AWARE than most." 

Don't think about it.

G-sans crossed his arms.

"whatever. if this thing has something that acts as a soul, hypothetically it should be..."

"killable." SwapFell Papyrus concluded, calculated stare burning into the small soul.

I tugged anxiously at my scarf, trying not to think too hard about where this was going.

"...easier said than done." G-Sans sighed, flicking ash from his cigarette. "the thing's a tank. its gonna take a serious amount of firepower to even put a dent in it." 

"that's not going to matter..." Sans suddenly spoke up, earning my uneasy attention. 

Throughout the entire exchange, I'd been trying to ignore how the smallest skeleton had been staring me.

And now, I was forced to meet his tired gaze. 

"...if we can't get to the root of the problem." he gave a slight shrug.

I shifted nervously, indecisive on whether I should...well... confront the issue... or better yet, escalated it...

...Meh.

I was getting bored with monologuing anyway.

Reminds me way too much of home.

"So...um... as I implied earlier..." I twined my fingers together nervously. "...even assuming that one of you did figure out how to tame the void creatures, none of you have the, ah...perspective... needed to distinguish this universe as a target... at least by the criteria I just set so...it's just... you know... kinda unlikely any of you are responsible." 

"eh." Was Sans' two cents of protest. "never know with that lot."

True. But more importantly...

I tilted my head.

"Ultimately, there is not enough evidence to prove anything. So I think we can agree, trying an allocate blame at this stage... well, it would most likely be seen as an attempt to, well...mislead." 

Something they had kept in mind when they asked me of course. 

"you think it's too early to point fingers?" Sans asked, shifting to face me more directly.

"To the contrary." I fiddled with my buttons, averting my gaze to the floor. "I think the finger pointing has already occurred." 

And the direction they were pointing...

"Of course, scientifically it's better to deal with facts than assumptions..." I started to ramble. "and I have presented you with a lot of assumptions... which may distract from the fact that the one who does have the necessary information and resources to accomplish all this... The one whose appearance coincides with the threat they have demonstrated control over...the one who used Frisk to bring everyone here...the one who is blatantly enjoying themselves right now..."

I lifted my gaze, a slight smile in place... 

And pointed my own hand at the most likely suspect.

"Would be me."

There was a pause.

Then Sans shrugged, closing his eyes with a slight smile. 

"i've never tried to hide my suspicion of you a kid..." He tilted his head back with a sigh. "though i doubt i could if i wanted to, with how determined you are to resent me for it."

I flinched slightly, but Sans wasn't done yet. 

"since it's no secret that we mistrust one another, i have to ask, why the sudden concern as to what we think?"

One eye opened lazily. 

Staring into my soul. 

"...it's almost like you're accusing us of something. "

...gulp

At least we're talking, right? Yes sir-ree. Nice, calm, open communication. Just two mature individuals, sorting shit out and keeping it together. Absolutely no reason to be alarmed ...but just as a precaution... Let's back away slowly... 

"What? Me? Accusing People? Pssh. No way." My eyes widened to seem as harmless as possible.

"It’s not like you're deliberately keeping me here or anything right? Stopping Mr Papyrus and I from leaving, then very politely conversing with me as we stand in a compromised position, almost like you're trying to keep me distracted while someone who just happens to be innocently absent is...well, maybe up to no good?"

Much to my surprise, no one took this as a cue to relax. To laugh at the absurdity...to do anything reassuring at all...

The opposite in fact.

Short of openly sweating, a couple of the Skeletons were starting to look very nervous.

"...Is what I would say...if I were paranoid and said crazy things." I quickly back-pedalled "I mean... even if you were plotting against me, and that is not to say I suspect such a thing...it's not like you would go for something so obvious right? Might as well dangle a sparkly in front of me while someone sneaks up behind with a net, ha ha...." 

Silence.

Really silent silence.

....seriously? 

I sagged slightly...Honestly a little offended. 

As far as delusions of grandeur go...I don't really consider myself a criminal mastermind or anything... Sure I watch a lot of T.V, and have something of a knack for plot prediction... But enemies + oddly cooperative = Trap... it’s just... 

I can't help but get the feeling they're not even trying...

"Um..." I backed away a step.

...But if the scary stares are any indication, plan B is going to be even less creative. As in B stands for Blast the Avatar into submission... 

Leaving me with only one move left to make.

FIGHT? or...

"So... ah...Just as...an unrelated question..." I took another careful step, sending a questioning glance towards G-Sans. "...Where is your brother?"

FLEE.

Everyone moved at once.

In that split moment of decision making... some of us... made wiser choices than others.

G-Sans went for Frisk, wrapping a hand around the human's wrist as he simultaneously called out to someone unseen.

Sans lifted an arm towards me, grimacing as he went for my soul. 

I.

Went for the door.

Not out of any particular desire to escape... just that if I was going to be hunted... I might as well enjoy the full experience.

True to form, I was fast enough to dodge Sans initial attack, avoiding his influence as I leapt over a root and made towards the exit.

This, is where I normally would have begged Mr Sleeper to rescue me...or maybe just started giggling and squealing "chase me."

Not today.

Today.

Was a different day.

A day separate from every day before it.

Defined.

Because today, was the day possibility and reality collided. Teamed up. To defeat me. 

Barely a couple steps into my departure.

SwapFell Papyrus...

I came to a halt.

Mind, body and soul.

Went for... 

Every firework went off...every Ballad played...The planet, the stars, the universe, r e a l i t y itself stopped.

...his Fell counterpart.

 and stared.

...As SwapFell Papyrus tenderly brushed his teeth in a skeleton kiss. One hand still in his pocket as the other captured his victim gently under the chin, cradling the statue that had become of his alternate self.   

P

A

P

C

E

S

T

Light flooded the room as the trap activated, the floor around me becoming a maze of coloured squares.

My moment to escape was forever gone, but I couldn't care. 

I stood frozen, literally mid-step with my arms stuck in the sprint position. 

Even when SwapFell Papyrus causally stepped away from the unresponsive Fell, ignoring the stares of everyone in the room to look over at me... wiping a sleeve across his teeth as if to erase the...

Oh. My.

Something that sounded very suspiciously like Alphys fan-girl screaming pierced the room. 

Without a word, G-Sans gripped Frisk's hand tighter...and bailed

For the end is nigh.

Even Sans took a shaky step back, looking like he wanted to make like his fellow skeleton and vanish... but if someone didn't do damage control, there wouldn't be a multiverse left to save.

"...ah...slim...buddy...was that really..." A blink, as he tried to find an appropriate word. "...necessary...?" 

Fell Papyrus twitched, the first sign of life.

Only Death would follow.

Oblivious to the impending horror, SwapFell Papyrus shrugged, searching around in his pockets for a lighter and cigarette.

"worked." He said, lighting the cig and bringing it to his teeth for a long drag.

Openly sweating, Sans flicked a nervous glance over to me, where I stood, still frozen...

...In the middle of a puzzle.

Worked Indeed.

 

Chapter Text

If there had been any dispute as to who would come out on top if Fell Papyrus ever lost his temper...well...

"THIS IS YOUR FINAL CHANCE TO ACCEPT MY MERCY, MONGREL."

... The multiverse was about to find itself an idiot short, as Papyrus kindly laid the question to rest.

SwapFell Papyrus firmly shook his head nope, arms trembling as he barely managed to hold the other skeleton away...  

From using his eye-socket as an ashtray.

"COME NOW..." The Fell Monster bestowed the other with a benevolent smile.

"WE WOULDN'T WANT THE STENCH OF DEPRAVITY TO AFFECT THE TASTE..."The cigarette was pressed that terrifying fraction of an inch closer. "... WHEN I USE YOUR DUST TO SALT MY PASTA."

Sacrifices.

Must be made.

For the betterment. 

Of Papyrus cuisine. 

Out of desperation, SwapFell sent a pleading glance towards Classic Sans.

Who lay, face down on the floor, exhausted.

Because This,

Is what comes after Fell Papyrus has calmed down. 

That's right. 

The worst was over.

"screw it. no universe is worth this." G-Sans, ever the hero, sat in the corner... hunched over a cigarette. "don't know about you guys, but i'm heading to the closest grillbys to live out my last days in peace."

AKA- in drunken oblivion.

Frisk, the one who had dragged the poor skeleton back here in the first place, gave his shoulder supportive pat.

Which clearly translated into No.

You are not.

"first round's on me..." With the scraping sound of bone on tiles, Sans' turned his head to squint at the Echotale pair. "stars, i'm not looking forward to explaining this to red." 

When the Fell skeleton finds out that someone molested his brother...

Sans is gonna be so  j e a l o u s. 

"i hear outertale is nice this time of year." G-Sans offered with little enthusiasm.

"it's nice all year round." Duh. "that's why we hate them."

A sigh.

"when you're right, you're right."

Screw those guys. Living peacefully in space. What a bunch of assholes. 

"HUSH BROTHER, THERE'S NO NEED TO BE SO UNCHARITABLE."

The impressive tower of competency that is G-Papyrus stood apart from the other monsters, (so as not to be infected by their laziness) back straight and pocket watch held out for inspection.

Where Echotale Alphys had stayed behind to "Keep an eye on the puzzle machine/ avoid interacting with the very confronting pervert (+ the regular pervert+ The ticked off Fell Papyrus+ The nostalgic Sans= Everyone)"

G-Papyrus.

Had come down to babysit mediate.

"NOW, I DONT MEAN TO BE RUDE, EDGE..." With a flick of the wrist, the watch was snapped to a close and returned to its rightful pocket. "BUT IS THERE ANY CHANCE WE COULD WRAP THIS UP IN THE NEXT HOUR OR SO? IT IS GETTING FRIGHTFULLY LATE."

...The worst part,

Was that he was not the least bit sarcastic.

It had mostly been thanks to G-Pap's stern influence that any level of reconciliation had been achieved after SwapFell's stunt. Firstly, because he is the pinnacle of maturity and common sense, and secondly, because the tall skeleton inspires low key terror in just about everyone he meets. 

...The combination of stamina and conciseness is a daunting one. 

"THERE IS STILL MUCH TO BE DONE." G-Papyrus pointed out, his choice of words reasonable enough...if you ignored who they were directed towards. "AND I'D HATE TO SEE A PUZZLE GO TO WASTE, EXTEMPORANEOUS AS IT MAY BE."

In an impressive show of restraint, Fell Papyrus did not murder the other skeleton.

"...SINCE I HAVE HAD TO WAIT UNTIL AFTER THE FACT TO HAVE THIS FUCK UP EXPLAINED TO ME..." The edgy skeleton relented in his quest to blind his less-fortunate-self, long enough to pin G-Papyrus with a dark look. "HOW ABOUT WE START FROM THERE?"

That he would have gotten his answers a lot sooner if he'd forgone the reign of tyranny...

Was not something anyone was crazy enough to point out.

"...I'M SURE THAT CAN BE ARRANGED." G-Papyrus bestowed the edgier skeleton with a somewhat impatient look. "IF YOU WOULDN'T MIND PUTTING SLIM DOWN, SO THAT WE MAY CALMLY DISCUSS..." 

Fell Papyrus all but growled his refusal, claws tightening on the skeleton who now hung bonelessly from his grip.

"...he'd need a vet for that." SwapFell Papyrus mumbled, likely out of his mind with exhaustion.

Arms were crossed, and minds where changed.

While G-papyrus realised that some deaths just could not be avoided...Fell Papyrus decided.

The only way to justify touching SwapFell a single second longer...would be to commit to actually killing him dead.  

And that would involve a lot of paperwork.

Once again, Red tape saves the day.

SwapFell was unceremoniously dumped on the floor, landing on his knees only to slump forward, face down, ass up.

Safe.

"I'LL DEAL WITH YOU LATER." Fell Papyrus glowered down at the lucky bag of bones, before turning to the group at large.

SwapFell made a weak noise of acknowledgement.

Consider it a date.

"I'M LISTENING." Fell Papyrus declared, arms crossed.

Despite G-Papyrus being the one to offer an explanation, Sans was the one pinned with a murderous gaze.

The smaller skeleton groaned into the floor.

Here we go...

"edge..."

"IT IS A MYSTERY TO ME..." The Fell monster cut him off, unable to listen to another word. "...WHY YOU THOUGHT THAT THAT..."

Papyrus jabbed out an accusing finger.

"WAS WORTH RESTRAINING."  

All eyes in the room turned to regard the sparkly puzzle...and the abomination inside it.

Who gave them all a cheerful wave, tickled with the attention.

Because in my world, everything. 

Was perfect.

There was no conflict. No sadness. Only peace and love and joy. 

Which was pretty obvious for anyone to see, as there was a clear line between the doom and gloom outside, and the bubble of contented bliss surrounding me. 

Papyrus and Papyrus, sitting in a tree.

K I S S I N GEEEEEE...

The skeletons exchanged a look.

"...i'm like...ninety percent sure its evil." Sans justified, sitting up with an exhausted wince.

No one looked at the Avatar, sitting in a literal rainbow. Radiating pure euphoria, at just being alive.  

"okay." Sans' gaze flickered nervously.  "maybe more like seventy-five percent..." 

"P A T H E T I C." Was Fell Papyrus' flat evaluation of the situation. When no one did anything more than wince guiltily, he flung out an exasperated hand. "THE SAME THING COULD HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED WITH A COLLAR AND A LEASH!"

Sans' expression, to his credit, remained very straight.

"... let's just agree to disagree."

No one had the heart to tell Fell that pet play doesn't always save the day...

....... unless...

Meanwhile, G-Papyrus was having his own moral crisis.

"IT DOES SEEM A LITTLE HEAVY HANDED..." he mused, studying the puzzle with a worried frown. 

"TRY COMPLETELY-UN-FUCKING-NECESSARY."

With an absentminded nod, Fell Papyrus' professional assessment of the situation went duly noted.

"SURELY THIS CAN ALL BE RESOLVED..." G-Papyrus sent an expectant look towards his own brother. "IF WE JUST SIT DOWN AND TALK ABOUT THIS CALMLY."

While Frisk seemed to agree with this proposal, hands going to hips as they firmly nodded, three out of five skeletons immediately bulked.

"we've been talking for the last hour." G-Sans fluttered a dismissive hand in my direction. "at least this way we can start figuring out a way to contain the thing when it does eventually try to screw us over."

One too many disapproving looks were sent in his direction.

"...better safe than sorry..." He grumbled, climbing to his feet to resume his brooding from a standing position.

Accepting that no one else in the room was capable of dealing with this in a calm, rational manner, G-Papyrus sighed.

Then turned to me. 

"EXCUSE ME!" He called, cupping a hand to project his voice... Unnecessarily...

"AVA, WAS IT?"

I brightened immediately.

Company!

"Hello Mr Papyrus!"

Not that I didn't appreciate Sleeper muttering his opinion of my intelligence in between threats to throw me out the castle window.... it's just that the bitty had nodded off ages ago...and I'd gotten lonely...

Unfortunately, the chirpy greeting seemed to stall the tall skeletons momentum.

"oh, um...HELLO... I ah...I FEEL I MUST APOLOGISE..." G-Papyrus twitched guiltily. "...for the less than warm welcome..."

My head tilted at the uncharacteristic uncertainty.

"Not to...ah...put too fine a point on it Mr Papyrus, but the last version of you who found me in his universe wasted no time in wrangling me out of my clothes and having his way with me."

I held a thumbs up.

"I don't expect you to try and compete with that."

The bar had been set far too high.

Following this declaration, a couple of pained looks were directed towards Fell Papyrus. 

Who crossed his arms, completely unimpressed.

"I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU ALWAYS FEEL THE NEED TO BRING THAT UP."

I shrugged slightly.

Because it was the best day of my life.

"...THAT... IS A RELIEF..." G-Papyrus' gaze never left his Fell counterpart."...I suppose..."

Filled with too much joyous energy, my fingers fiddled with the buttons of my coat. 

"So... I know you guys just got me in here and...great job by the way, consider me very captured... but, um... do you think you could maybe...let me out now?" I asked hopefully. "Please?"

Never hurts to ask nicely right?

An awkward pause followed my bold inquiry.

"...I'M AFRAID YOU WILL HAVE TO DO IT THE TRADITIONAL WAY."   

I wilted.

"...I'm not very good at puzzles."

Which wasn't so bad, except it seemed to disappoint the few skeletons who didn't hate me... 

Guilt was taking a noticeable toll on G-Papyrus' posture, weakening it to something slightly less than perfect.  

"...I'M SORRY TO HEAR THAT." He confessed, completely sincere.

Behind him, G-Sans was beginning to sweat, all too aware of how quickly his brother' was being converted.

"I'M SURE YOU'LL BE ABLE TO FIGURE IT OUT EVENTUALLY." G-Papyrus tentatively offered encouragement.  "GIVEN A LITTLE TIME AND PATIENCE."

I blinked woefully.

"It once took me three days to do a word search."

My record best.

No one failed to wince at that.

"THAT'S..."

"IT'S JUST A LIGHT SHOW." Fell Papyrus lifted his chin imperiously. "WALK. OVER. IT."

I blinked between the impatient skeleton and the puzzle shining at my feet.

"...but that would be cheating..."

"NO." The edgy skeleton drawled. "CHEATING, WOULD BE FAILING TO EXPLAIN THE RULES OF THE PUZZLE, SO AS TO STALL THE HUMAN FROM COMPLETING IT."

G-Papyrus cringed, very nearly coughing up blood.

-99999 

My gaze fell to my bright purple flip-flops, competent shoes that would have no trouble just walking across the display of lights on the floor.

Though what Fell Papyrus was saying was true...

"...even so."

I looked up with a bashful shrug.

"Mr Papyrus made it for me."

Not just him. Everyone had gone to a lot of effort to get me in here.

"Least I could do is try, right?"

The virgin sacrifice, in particular, had been a nice touch.

A sound was made. 

The sound of the final nail hitting the coffin.

"BROTHER." G-Papyrus' expression was pleasantly polite when he turned it to face the other skeleton. "COULD YOU SPARE A MOMENT FOR US TO SPEAK PRIVATELY?"

The shorter skeleton was obviously considering desertion...when Frisk gave him a cheerful push forward.

G-Sans glared back at the betrayal.

A reassuring thumb was held up.

Go forth, my friend. You will be remembered fondly.

"you're not getting my stuff when i die, you know that right?" G-Sans muttered, shoulders hunched as he made his way towards the exit. "i'm donating it all to science."

Because a trombone and three swimsuit magazines were what science always wanted.

The Echotale brothers left, costing the room its one mature influence and a big portion of its sexiness. 

A great loss indeed.

Despite ultimately being told an approximation of the word No, Fell Papyrus was in high spirits.

Smirking at Sans with a clear air of 'I TOLD YOU SO.'

If one thing is certain, it is that The Great Papyrus, is never wrong. 

Classic kept his gaze on me, lounging in a far lazier version of 'The Thinker' pose.

A deep sense of awkwardness crept upon me.

If I could sit on my couch and watch people betray each other over and over and over again...then it should be easy, to meet his distrust.

And not feel hurt.

"...To what extent..." I questioned softly. "...can Papyrus' approval be depended on."

I tried to smile.

"That's what you wanted to know right?"

Assuming boring me into quitting wasn't the end game here...

"can't say I wasn't curious..." Sans confessed with a slight shrug.

This isn't really the sort of thing you ask on the first date...

"Well...um...If it helps clear things up...I, that is... Mr Papyrus...he doesn't seem to be enjoying this puzzle... at all..." I rubbed nervously at the back of my neck. "...I mean, making him feel guilty and miserable, it is the opposite of what I want. So I guess what I'm trying to say is..."

My hand dropped, leaving me to stare helplessly at the floor.

"... it's not really him... that I'm trying to make happy by standing here...probably... " 

Not that I worried about placating his paranoia or anxiety or anything.... it's just that, ultimately, any conflict with Sans would awaken the wrath of Mr Sleeper... 

"is that what you were doing before?" I lifted my gaze to find Sans climbing to his feet.

That, calm, knowing smile. 

"staying away, because you thought we would be happier if you did."

A part of me almost resented him, for being able to ask so lightly.

I met his gaze without flinching.

"That's what friends do right?"

don't

come

back.

....or at all, preferably.

The light vanished from Sans' eyes.

"i see. well..."

Perhaps it was time to remind me...

"...since we're being honest..." He shoved his hands into his pockets. "i don't know if you're to blame for this...or if trapping you here will resolve anything. all in all, i'm not even sure i care."

...That stripping him of every pretence would only leave me with the truth. 

I nodded my head once in brief acceptance, nervously touching the brim of my hat. 

"common sense tells me you can't be trusted... but that expression..." His gaze narrowed, as if to study me even closer."...that's the expression of someone who gave up..."

His voice lost some of its conviction as I stood unmoving, finishing on a weaker note.

"...a long time ago."

I stared at the floor.

...okay then.

Fair's fair.

I'll just...

Yep.

Alarmingly, the Bitty under my scarf was trembling with rage, a clear indication that he had been awake to hear Sans declaration.

The very opposite of good. 

"i...ah...that sounded...pretty harsh..." Sans seemed to be regretting his choice of words already. The loss of temper "...what i'm trying to say is..."

"ENOUGH."

Fell Papyrus' hand came down on the smaller skeleton shoulder, silencing him once and for all.

"WATCHING YOU MAKE AN ASS OF YOURSELF CAN ONLY ENTERTAIN US FOR SO LONG. IT HAS BEEN A LONG DAY. I AM GROWING INCREASINGLY MORE IRRITABLE AND THAT..." He pointed towards the void plant. "...IS STILL VERY MUCH A PROBLEM. SO JUST ANSWER ME THIS."

Using the hand on his shoulder, Papyrus turned the nervous Sans around to face him.

"IS THERE ANYTHING, ANYONE CAN SAY, THAT WILL INSPIRE YOU..."

Until that moment, I thought I had seen the Fell monster truly angry.

I was wrong.

"... TO GROW A FUCKING BACKBONE."

Sans had already begun to sweat, hands raising as if he stood a chance at calming the infuriated skeleton.

"listen... it's not like..."  

"why bother?"

Everyone stopped.

And turned to SwapFell Papyrus.

Who still lay on the ground, his head lifted just enough to stare at me. 

"said it yourself." He spoke with his usual raspy softness, a tired flatness laying just beneath. "nothin' matters."

His gaze averted to the side.

"s'just give up."

At first, I had no idea how to respond.

...It had probably taken more bravery to ask that, than any of the people staring at him in disapproval would ever understand...

I sighed.

Figures the one moment I lose my temper would come back to bite me

"Nothing matters." I repeated softly, contemplatively. "At the very surface of that thought, I feel despair." 

My hands rose up to fiddle with ends of my ink-stained scarf. 

Just another thing, I intended to fix.

I finally lifted my chin up.

"then... I...ah...sort of let the thought sink in a little, and then I realise the concept of validation is something applied by sentient individuals, not the cosmos...so it’s kinda silly really, to put "price tag" on something that is completely relative."

I shrugged slightly.

"After that, I figure that with enough time and energy I could probably come up with a good enough excuse for just about anything. All in all, Philosophy is a scam."

I held out a thumbs-up.

"Just focus on not screaming. That's what I do."

One day at a time.

Everyone was staring, like it was their first time ever seeing me. 

Not only was I a deranged pervert, but one with absolutely no principals to stand on.

Sans, in particular, seemed kinda offended.

"so the comment about the snuff collection..."

I said before that my weakness was assertiveness.

But indifference is what makes me petty. 

"I hate to poke holes in my own story Mr Sans, but who records anything these days?"

I tilted my head, the picture of innocence.

"That's what the internet is for."

Unless you want to get that sinful vintage feel.

Frisk looked like they were trying not to laugh...

While someone else was never that good at trying. 

It took a while to find the origin of the breathy giggles, because really, SwapFell Papyrus only ever makes that noise when he's doting over how adorable his brother is...

From a safe distance, of course.

With half a mind to be offended, I watched as the lanky skeleton rolled onto his side, clutching his ribs with continued mirth.

We all just stood there staring... As SwapFell laughing was not something anyone was willing to touch with a mile long stick.

Hence, this was the scene the Echotale Brothers walked back in on when they finally returned from their talk.

"ooookay." G-Sans drawled, taking a long look at the giggling Papyrus before throwing a thumb back over his shoulder. "we've got a problem."

Sans immediately stiffened.

"what sort of..."

How a Bee

managed to roar,

I'll never know.

But that's what this one did, when it busted its gigantic-ass-self through the wall like nobody's beeswax.

I blinked mildly.

A cheap Godzilla impression if I've ever saw one.

G-Sans' put upon expression never changed.

"i'll give you three guesses."

 

Chapter Text

...Knew I was forgetting something...

I mean, as much as anyone could put aside the thought of giant void Bees taking over the universe aaaand... It's gone.

In the three seconds it took me to rustle up some awe, the Bee had been incinerated.

Instantaneous.

Obliteration.

Because that's what happens when you keep Skeletons up past their bedtime.

They get trigger happy. 

Stunned, I stared at the smouldering hole where the Bee had once stood, hands still protectively clutching my hat.

...oh.

My chest felt uncomfortably tight.

...I thought that it would be different in person...

"so, ah..." Sans' shoulders sagged, already resigned to his fate. "...any chance that wasn't the least of our problems?"

G-Sans raised a brow at the preposterous question.

"nope."

Even as he spoke, another bulbous form crawled its way through the hole, followed by another...and another...

With the bone-chilling scuttle that only insect legs could produce,

The Bees came marching in.

My hands fell from my hat, leaving me staring numbly as the walls and ceiling were overtaken by a writhing horde of Void Bee. 

...RIP,

Asgore's security deposit.

Where one would expect normal Bees to attack relentlessly to protect their hive, these insects seemed to learn from the first failure. The majority held back, observing from the walls as a few aggressors swarmed above our heads, testing the boundaries.

Trial and error.

"right...um, well...i'm officially open to suggestions?" Sans announced, hunching defensively into his jacket in pre-emptive regret.

An incredibly long and implicit wish list sprang to mind...

Sorry pseudo libido. 

I put a halt to the thought.

...He's just talking about the Bees. 

Save the birds for later.... 

G-sans started to raise a lazy hand, only to be none too subtly elbowed in the ribs by his brother... Who, like all great Papyrus-es, had a sixth-sense for Sans' bullshit humour.

"I HAVE SOMETHING IN MIND, BUT FOR PROPRIETY'S SAKE..." Fell Papyrus summoned a wall of bones, the jagged ends pointing towards their multiplying target.

"I'LL KEEP IT TO MYSELF."  

As if to demonstrate, he flung the magic with brutal force, pinning several insects to the wall.  

The darkness screech and dissolved with vapid ease, only to have another soldier immediately take its place.

...With all the casualty of stepping on an insect...

"Tsk." The Fell monster looked utterly unimpressed. "Not even a full decimal of EXP...hardly worth the bother..." 

Sans spared the angry skeleton an apprehensive glance, sweating nervously as he raised his own hand to defend himself.

"...anyone else...?"

With the homicidal foreshadowing said and done, the brainstorming could only get better from here... right?

Thus, SwapFell Papyrus made his humble opinion known by vanishing, all but leaving a dust imprint in his haste to escape.

The remaining Sans-es exchanged a look.

"...sometimes..." With one hand, G-Sans reached into his jacket for a cigarette. "...i wonder how that guy managed to invent dimensional travel before me. "

Without turning, the calm skeleton summoned a Gaster blaster to his side and fired backwards, into the face of an oncoming insect. The Bee dissolved like a shadow exposed to light.

Show off.

"this..." Sans facepalmed. "...is exactly the reason why none of us ever want to invite you to anything."

G-Sans raised a brow, bringing his freshly-lit-via-laser cigarette to his teeth.

"and here i thought you were all just intimidated by my good looks and charm."

G-Papyrus and Frisk exchanged a look of long-suffering.

Yeah, no. Pretty sure it's the personality...

Classic Sans pulled an approaching Bee into an encounter, revealing its tiny shard of soul.

HP 10/10

AT 10

DF 10

"if that was supposed to be sarcasm..." After confirming the void bee did, in fact, have a soul...kinda...he turned it blue, dragging the creature into the flight path of one its comrades.  "... you're doing it wrong."

G-Sans smirked.

"pretty sure height plays a factor as well..."

He dodged to the side, not avoiding a bee attack so much as the sudden return of SwapFell Papyrus.

Who had a mortified Alphys flung over his shoulder.

"...s'yours..." He mumbled, dumping the blushing scientist at the other skeleton's feet.

A-grade heroic service right there.

The mortified monster shrunk timidly into the floor, even more apologetic than usual.  

"s-sorry...I c-couldn't get t-the data..."

I blinked.

And blinked again.

Data? As in  'Keep the Avatar still so that we can scan it with a freaky science machine' Data...? 

"never mind alph. we can stick peepers back under a microscope later"

My ego reeled.

...This trap was a trap all along!  

Keeping his eyes on the lazy Papyrus, G-Sans reached down a hand to help his friend to her feet.

"for now, we've got more important things to worry about." 

I blanched at the sudden demotion.

...Talk about adding insult to injury...

"that being said..." G-Sans raised his voice, tilting his head almost sarcastically in my direction. "any bright ideas, creepy?"

And that was my cue to offer up either a brilliant solution or irritating comment...

MISS.

I didn't say anything.

Couldn't bring myself to speak.

Which is weird, cause it's normally the opposite I struggle with...

As the silence continued, more people turned their attention towards me.

I blinked back, hand clutching anxiously into my scarf.

Not speaking. Not moving.  

Just Watching.

INDECISIVE 

"...HUMAN?"

Gaze numbly shifting to G-Papyrus, I let my empty expression answer the implied question for me.

Not Okay.

Light headedness...paralysis...Rapid pulse and...no I don't think I'm breathing...

I might not be a Doctor, but those are all clear symptoms of Not-Okay-itis.  

"DON'T JUST FUCKING STAND THERE MORON." Fell Papyrus was the one to hold a hand out to me, gruff, but tentatively coxing.

"HEEL."

...Okay, maybe the held out hand was pointing where he expects me to obediently sit, but still. Friendship and rainbows all around.

Despite Fell Papyrus' best efforts to stall whatever crisis I seemed to be having, I failed to make a single move towards him.

Because if I moved, I would have to make a choice.

A shadow fell over me.

K I L L  O R  B E  K I L L E D.

My soul burst into existence, already blue and dragging me to the side as the bee landed with enough force to crumple the tile.

The influence of gravity halted as quickly as it had started and my sidewards fall came to an end with a tumble, allowing me to roll to my feet with the momentum.

Intentionally or not, this was the wake-up call I desperately needed. Because the moment I came to a stop.

Sleeper sighed

And all my anxieties and fears took a long hard long, hard look at the situation, and decided to get in line.

"what do you think you're doing?" Sleeper asked. Mildly enough.

Through my terrified trembles, I managed a shrug.

A whole lot of Nothing. Mostly.

Old habits die hard.

The Bitty sighed again, seeming to come to some sort of terrible conclusion.

With a single word, he narrowed my options down to one.

"b e h a v e."

By the time a boney hand wrapped around my wrist and yanked me forward, the bitty had vanished from my scarf.

Off to break someone's window, knowing him...

Though I refused to believe that any pun had been intended, I did take Sleeper's advice to heart...if only to keep said heart beating in my chest...

So if I couldn't fall back on my T.V watching ways... I needed to ACT...

Or FLEE. Cause that's never failed me before...and would you look at that, I'm already running...

Free hand reaching up to secure my hat, I looked up to find myself being dragged along by...

I did a double take, mind blown by the fact that the skeleton currently pulling me to safety was wearing a blue jacket...

...I didn't know Sans could run.

Not only that, but we were heading for the door.

Just the two off us.

Alone.

...I would ask what the special occasion was and/or the cause of Hell freezing over, but the sudden increase in Bee activity...and by activity, I mean actively trying to kill me in particular...was pretty self-explanatory. 

Still, it was nice of Sans to shed some light on the subject, as the two of us crossed the threshold and sprinted down the castle stairs with apparently no thought for the people we were leaving behind.

"sorry kid, but between you and me..." The short skeleton sent me a brief look as we ran. "...I rather not find out what happens if these things get a hold of a human soul." 

...I'm just gonna start hearing that pun everywhere now, aren't I? He's not even putting any emphasis on the consonant, I've just been irreversibly traumatized by his humour to the point of paranoia...

And also,

That actually makes way more sense. 

I mean, the targeting humans thing goes without saying...but when the Bee's had busted in guns blazing, a part of me had assumed it was to defend the flower... 

You know, that near invincible flower that was left completely undefended the entire time we were in there...meanwhile, apparently the Bee's managed to accumulate a small army and plan an ambush..?

I had to resist the urge to whack myself on the head because, Doy 

Bees don't protect flowers.

They pollinate them.

I frown slightly at the logic.

...with human souls.

Apparently.

Hence, we are skedaddling.

Running, because teleporting away makes for a terrible lure.

And just me and Sans, because he was the only one responsible/powerful enough to babysit me on his own while everyone else tackled the weed problem...

...

..

.

...So we're basically eloping...

My eyes widened with the realisation.

...Which is like FLEEING...

Hand latching onto Sans' wrist, I returned his grip tenfold. 

...except with benefits.

The Puller became the Pullie as I passed Sans in a sudden burst of speed. The skeleton monster made a startled noise, stumbling with the increased pace and enthusiasm.

We're just a pair of crazy kids! Harsh realities like Responsibility and Consequences don't apply to us!   

With an unearned sense of invincibly and a less than pure motive, I dragged my star-crossed lover through the Underground...as in literally dragged, since it didn't take long for Sans to abandon the pretence of exercise completely...        

Lost in the throes of Passion, I had no time to agonise over my choices...or be overwhelmed by the entirety of the situation... or worry about people dying...

Because I had a dream. A hope. One that I was willing to cling to with single-minded determination. 

I am going.

To take.

His clothes off.

...I don't know why.

Technically, I already have a naked Sans calendar.

But that is officially where this narrative is going!

Me. Taking Sans' clothes off. As soon as I can ditch the army of killer void Bees hot on my tail.

Because I need justification for not being eaten. 

And Sans, apparently, needs to be sexually assaulted on top of everything else.

...this self-motivation thing is hard... 

Yet somehow only became increasingly more difficult the longer I was forced to do it. Which felt like forever by the way. You know that chase scene that always goes on that little bit too long?

That was what this was. Awkwardly long chase scene, fuelled by raw determination and perverted thoughts. 

Thankfully, the limits of my possibly infinite energy were not going to be tested this day.

There was a flash, my only warning before the sky above my head lit up in a blast of incineratory glory.

Not that I really appreciated it, as I fell to my hands and knees, completely ignoring the awesome destruction because screw exercise.

No. Seriously. If this is what I have to do to live a healthy and active lifestyle, please universe, strike me down now... 

Panting, I followed our still connected hands to the skeleton it belonged to...whom I now officially hated with my entire being, because the lazy jerk was, I shit you not, asleep.

Yeah. Sure. I'll keep us alive. It's not like I'm in the middle of a mental breakdown or anything. You get some shuteye Sans.  

Staring at his insultingly peaceful expression, I contemplated starting a betting pool.

How many articles of clothing could I remove before he woke up and murdered me...

"s̶̕'͜͡u̶̕p̸҉̴̛͞?"

I froze, immediately overwhelmed with regret.

...Really universe? Don't you think you're being a little too eager...

Slowly, just in case Reality decided to conveniently end itself before it became officially unbearable, I met the gaze of my saviour. 

Error grinned down at me, triumphant smirk gleaming sinisterly in the blue light.  Not only was the web of string entangling our surroundings lethal. 

It made for excellent mood lighting.

I swallowed nervously, pretty much the only thing my terrified body could do at this point.

...guess Mr Sleeper decided to mend some bridges while he was away.

 

Chapter Text

"҉̴w̴̵̴ḩ͞at̵ ҉̧t̸̷h̨̕͜e̵͘͢ ̢h͏̢e̷͘l͡l ̴͘͢d͡o̵ ͘y̢͢oư̵͘ t̴͡h̸̸i̢͞n͢ķ͞ y̷̛ou̧'̕r̶̨e̢҉ ̴̵d̕͠o̸͠i͏̴n͞͠g͠ ̡?!̷"͜

I raised an eyebrow in Error's general direction, pausing with one of Sans' slippers dangling from my fingertips.

You'd think this sort of thing would go without saying...

I'm molesting Sans in his sleep.

Can't give up on all my hopes and dreams just because Certain Death shows up. Nope.

I owe it to myself,

To die doing what I love.  

So with that flimsy justification, I removed Sans' footwear with the utmost caution, well aware that one false move would...well...  

After the shoes, I struck socks, and by some sort of miracle, I managed to remove both without interruption.

Riding on a wave of victory, I reached for his shorts...The pretty white drawstring presented to me like a bow on a present...

Which is apparently where Sans draws the line.

I can't say which Sans snapped first, as both were up and staring at me with violated expressions by the time I came crawling back from being flung fifty odd feet...

Funny thing about Echotale.

You're lucky if you can travel more than a couple of meters without ending up in a completely different terrain.

Which is why I had to extract myself from a snowdrift, of all things.

...As it turns out, the white powder looses some of its magic and wonder once you've been buried in it.

Sure. It's not the worse thing to ever happen to a pervert person, but it did mean I had to cover my ears when I returned, covered in snow.

Because if the words Cold shower came out of Sans' mouth at that moment...

I don't know what Sans was expecting from me...maybe an apology... but it wasn't to have his attacker bounce back, wearing his socks as mittens and pressing pink slippers over their ears... staring at him with the deepest resentment, like he was the one making the world a darker place...

All of which, was completely justified...

"eh? don't look at me like that." The still sitting monster threw me a less then friendly wink. "you should snow better than to pick a bone with a skeleton, if you catch my drift..."

Because Sans is an asshole.

I ended up huddled on the ground, a quiet, high pitched wailing sound trapped at the back of my throat.

...No...You need him alive for future porn...do it for Soriel...Sansby ...all the cests...

Sans took the chance while I was distracted to send his insane counterpart a sceptical look.

 "so...does this mean you and the imaginary friend kissed and made up?"

Ooh, yes please... 

I glance up from my suffering, tentatively hopeful that this might be the dawn of a new Error...  

"i͝'d̢ s͝o͜o̵ņe̵r̸ ̢d҉o j̧ust͠ that͟,̸ tḩan̡ ͟te͘l̶l you̸ aņy̶thing͡ v̕an̸i͠l̴l̴a."

The Destroyer glared at the other Sans in open contempt, even going so far as to flip him off.

"go̧ suc̶k͏ ͢ink̨'̧s ̡p̴a͟int̸bru̧s̴h if͠ ͟you ̶w̡an̴t ͏answer͡s̕. i ͟ḩa͞v͢e ͘bet̕t̴e͠r thi͝n̶gs ͞tơ ̶d͜o."

 Better things to do...?

I blinked away the sudden urge to maybe-not-really cry.

That has to be the nicest death threat he's ever said to me...

Classic Sans sighed at the failed attempt at polite conversation, shaking his head once before holding a hand out to me.

"alright. give 'em back."  

I leapt back at the sudden affront, standing in a defensive position, slippers clutched to my chest.

 ...but I love them...

Sans' smile gave a warning twitch.

"do i look like i'm joking kid?"

I stuffed both the slippers and socks down my pants.

"...seriously?"

I stood defiantly, my too wide gaze saying all that needed to be said.

We have become one.

While Error went so far as to make a small gaging noise, Sans handled my assimilating his shoes onto my person like he does most things.

By giving up. 

 "...okay then...you are apparently holding onto those for now..." The lazy skeleton climbed to his bare feet, stretching with a yawn. "... but don't think I'm letting you keep them, not even if you're willing to foot the bill..."

I cringed.

Next time, I'm eloping with Alphys. Sure the Undyne's of the multiverse would rise up to smite me, but that's the fun part.

"jus͞t ͝b̕͜͢͡u̷̴͢͞͠ŗ̷̛͢n̷̛͢ ̴̕͏t̕h̡e̶m͢.͏" ̢Error muttered spitefully, earning himself a 'do you have to talk?'  look from Sans. 

The indignant skeleton gestured towards me. 

At which point, he could have considered the argument made and moved on...

"͡th͡at ͜t͢hing'ş ho̴us͏e͏ is 9̧0̵%̶ ̢f̴ilt̕h. ̢y̨ou ͝c̕an't ̡ev̴e͠n ͞o̵p̢ęn ̧th͜e͞ f͏r͢i̢dg̶e̵ w̢i͞t͞hout ͞a͏n̷ av͢alanch͘e of ͞pơr̸n̡ ͝falli͡ng ̶ąt ̡y͡o̡ur̶ ҉f͢eet, ̨an҉d̵ wha͜t͢ i̶sn't ̢hi͜dde̸n, ͜f̵o̸r͠ ͝whatev̴e͏r ins͞a͏ne ̸rea͘s͢o̴n͏ i̛t fee͝ls th̷e ͜nee͢d̷ ̧t̴o ̸cr͟a͜m͜ ̡ev҉er̡y͠ crevice ҉w͜i͢th s̕mut̕,,̡i͝s͏ ou͏t on̕ ̢f͜re̕a͝kin̴g͜ ̢display!̸" ̡He crossed his arms, putting a lid on the building hysteria.

"į̷'͞͝m҉ ̴͠n̨͠o̡t̸͘ ͜go͡i̧n̷g ̢bac͞͞k ̴t̨͠h̴͠e̷ŗ͜͢e͟."

e v e r.

We stared at him, because I, for one, was impressed with the hypocrisy, and Sans... was probably counting to whatever number gets him through most days.

"...ok." 

There was an awkward silence, in which we all stared at each other and realised we didn't know how to interact without the crutch of antagonism.

...Back to the threesome drawing board, I guess...

Errors eyes narrowed in immediate suspicion.

"y͝o̧͏͜ų b̞ͅṟ̸̮̤ok͎̙̰̯̳̠̟͜e̳̫̥̰̪̩͜ i̛͟͡t"

Sans’ gaze averted to the side. 

"no i didn't."

The darker skeleton flung out a sarcastic hand.

"͞r͘eall͝y̷?̨ becaus̷ę i͘'̶m͞ ̶noti͞ciņg ͢t̷he ̕d̴isti͏ncţ ͝lack ̢of ͠obn҉o̵x̕iou̕s comme͠n̵ta͟r̷y."

Cue, sweatdrop.

"...it's fine."

It's totally not fine.

But there were a lot of things in the world that weren't fine. 

A lot of terrible sad things that came hand in hand with the good.

I stared as Error started ranting, something about being home watching incomprehensible Spanish drama by now if someone hadn't locked him out of his own house... the same someone who was going to be majorly pissed if his pet weirdo gets so much as a scratch on it...

It takes a great deal of Determination to undo your mistakes.

I felt my shoulders sag with the smallest of sighs.

And even more to live with them.

Catching Classic Sans exhausted gaze, I pointed at Error expectantly.

"Does this mean I can have my phone back now?"

The two skeletons paused to stare at me.

There.

Silence broken.

Not a big deal.  

"no."

I blinked.

"No?"

As in 'No means No?' 

Sans' polite expression and the resounding echo of 'screw you ' convinced me I wasn't imagining it. 

"no." He repeated.

For clarification. 

"Really?" I tilted my head contemplatively. "Because I have been planning my responding tantrum, and I can't decide whether to hang red balloons at your brother's orientation to kinky sex party, or pink..."

After all. I had kept my end of the implied-yet-never-actually-agreed-to deal, so it was only fair that I have my stolen property returned to me.

Sans didn't seem to agree.

"d o n 't"

The word was uttered with such unspeakable malice...that I actually starting to see his resemblance to Mr sleeper... 

I wilted.

"You're right..."

It's important to listen to constructive criticism.

"A party would be a little over the top. Maybe we should organise something a little more private..."

"c̷ut th̢e ̕c̵ra̕p.͢"̧

I nearly dropped my jaw, because the one standing with his arms crossed, calling me out on my bullshit...

Was Error.

The neurotic, supposedly paranoid skeleton even went so far as to scoff.

"y͢o̸u ca̷n't̕ even̡ ̶t͢al͘k͞ to h̵is͝ br҉ot͟he̸r dįr̕ectly w̨i͏t͝h̸o͢uţ ͡b͏l̨ushing͏."

I sputtered, mouth failing to make a single coherent sound as it moved to defend my honour.

Me? Hesitate to violate an innocent soul?  I would never...!

Sans seemed just as surprised by the bold statement, brow raising in obvious question.

Error all but rolled his eyes.

"i͏ ̨k͟now̴ ̷h̵o͞w ͞t͜o ̡w͝ork͠ a̧ ͡r̡emo̸te ͞mor͘o̕n."̶ Was my simple explanation.

I blinked, scandalised.

"were you..."

...watching the entire time?

His smirk grew as I trailed off into horrified silence.

"w͏̴̷h̵̕a̴t ̷̢̡d̶̕o̷̧̕ ̷̕yo͜u ̸̵thi̷͠n̡k?̧̛"

...I think... that I picked the wrong side to hang out with.

What the Bees lacked in sex appeal, they more than made up with by not being Sans.

"...not fair..." I muttered bitterly, curling up into a mortified ball right then and there.

Failing to get my way through vulgarity and coercion, the only thing left to do was sulk.

"...stupid... mean... horrible... bully..."

Sans blinked between me, shamelessly moping on the ground, and Error.

Because, last anyone checked, that guy didn't have the marbles to be on the adult side of a tantrum...

Sans ended his scrutiny with a shrug.

...Oh well.

Worst-case scenario, The Destroyer has been replaced with an evil clone, and all we can do is wait for the day it turns on us.

It just might take some time to adjust to such a harsh reali- And Done.

"so..." Sans shoved his hands in his pockets. "...i assume ink is making himself useful?" 

yea...about that...

Error's responding glare was utterly deadpan

"͜any̶on̵e ̡e̶v̴e͜r̢ te̶ll ͟you y̶ou̶r ̷jokes suc̕k?"̡

"...ink's not that bad."

"..."

"at least he can't make the situation worse?"

A disbelieving scoff.

 ...well...i'm sure if he put his mind to it...

"...don't suppose you guys came here with a plan or anything like that?"

"d͏e͠s̷͜͏t̢r̡̨̕oy̨ ̡͘͟sh̸i͏̕t͡."

Eloquent.

I raised a hand.

"As in Me?"

I bet it's me.

The dark skeleton raised a brow.

"y̨ǫ̛͝ư̧̧ ͢͢v̷͢o̶͡l̡͝un̢͝t̨eer̷̨i̶̛͘ng̶̕?"

My gaze narrowed.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you." I let my hand slowly fall. "Sorry guy, but only the first assault is fre-ack!!"

"̛do͜n'͢t ̛g̶et ͏co̧cky̶ ͠per͠v̵e̶r͜t̨." Error snarled, stomping his slippered foot directly into my face. "҉i͘'͞m one̕ an̛no̢yin͟g ͜commen͡t̢ ̶aw̷ay̕ ͠fr͡om ta̵king ̷my ̛c̨ha̵nce̸s̢ ̕wiţh͠ y͠ouŗ l̵i͜t̴tle ̸şidek͝ick a͡n̴d̸ ҉bl͟ast͡ing̸ y̢ou͟r̷ as͟s."̕

"...pfft. Sidekick." Good thing Mr Sleeper wasn't here to hear that, cause dem fightin' words. "You've got the dynamics of our relationship all wrong."

"̷̛ḑ̧͞o̸͠͡n̵̡͝'t̶͘͞ ͝c̵a̡͠r͠ę.̴"̵͠

"If anything..." I tilted my head, peeking seriously up at him past all the foot that was currently going on in my face. "I am his loyal steed." 

̛"..͝.͘i ͏t͏hink,͝i m̵i̴ght ̸g͠en̡uin͡el̶y͘ ha͝te y͠ou.̢"

le gasp.

"Skellykins!" I hissed, utterly abashed by his forwardness. "Not in front of Mr Sans." 

His eye sockets were cold and empty.

Not a fan of the pet name eh?

"Sugarskull?"

Classic Sans just about popped a rib coughing over a laugh.

Error's bones rattled with restraint.

That decides it.

"Bonemuffin."

His hand shot out, outstretched and trembling as he went through the motions of ending me...minus the actual death lazars.

Cute. 

With much-restrained screaming and over the top flailing, the Destroyer managed to disengage from the situation/me, storming several feet away to have a twitching, one-sided argument with himself.

I buried my face in my scarf, muffling my own urge to scream.

So Cute.

In the meantime,  

Sans.

Sighed.

"...what about you?" He asked, tone flat with immediate regret.

I lifted my head.

"Huh?"

He met my gaze, already braced for the stupidity he was asking for.

"you wouldn't happen to have a plan, would you?"

I blinked in confusion.

"I thought you had a plan."

"who says I don't?"

...right.

"And the problem with the 'Destroy shit' plan?"

A long stream of violent language drifted over to us from Error's direction.

Sans blinked at me.

"Plants don't move kid."

There are only two things Cyan magic will spare.  A motionless soul and…

A strangled sound escaped me.

I slapped a hand over my mouth to contain the sudden outburst of mirth.

Error was on me in the next instant.

"̢͠it̴̕͠'͝s̕͞ ̶n̴ǫ̕͝t̨̧ ̡͟fu̷̧̢ck͞ing fun̸̕ny̢͘ ̸͝yo̴͏̧u̢͠ ̧l̸̡͞it̨͝t̸l͜͡e̛ ̛s̶̴͠ḩi̵t!͜͞"̨ ̨͠ ͘͡He was grabbed me up by the scarf and started shaking.

It’s a little funny.

“w̷e̷̴̢'̨͡ļl̕ s͏e̵̕͟e̷͘ ̴̡͞wh̛͘͞o͡͡͡'s̶͟ laųg̴h̴͞i͢ng͟ ͏͟wh̵̵eņ̵ ͜i͏͜͟ st͝r̶in̡͡g̡͠ ҉y͡ou̕ u̵p͘ to̴͘ r̡o̶t̴͞ ̡w͝į̷̷th͟ ̨҉my͜ ̴pup͢͞pe͟͟t̨̧͡ ͞c̛o̵̶̧l͡͡l̸҉ec̴t͏̧͞i҉͡o͜n͡!!”

I let myself be manhandled, flopping around bonelessly as amusement bubbled in my stomach.

Thwarted by a plant with a soul. Comedy gold.

"Sorry..." I tried to appease.

Didn't help that I was cracking up mid-word.

"...Never mind...even without your strings, I'm sure you'll figure out a way to..." I had to cough to cover up an outright snicker. "...contribute."

"̕you͢'̕r͏e r͝i̴gh̷t."̴ His smile was twitching manically. "̡i̕f̡͡ ͞i͢ c̶̨͠ą̧̕n̶'̵t ̶̕d̢e̸͘͡str̴o̷y ͠t̡͘h̴e̷ ̨͝ţ̶͜re͘͜e҉,͜͢ i̸̛͘'l̛l͜ ̷̕j͟us̵̶̕t͢ ͠hav̧e͢ ̵͝t͡o̶͘ ̶d͢es̡͘tr̢o͘y̸ ͜th̢ę ͏͢g̨͟͡ąŗ̕d̢̧en̶."

And by garden, I get the feeling he means UNIVERSE.

"...Or..." I defused the situation by poking at his hands, causing the skeleton to release his hold before contact could be made. "You could give me my omniscient phone back..."

"that's not..."

I held out a hand.

"...And I'll Google how to beat it."

 

Chapter Text

"Cross-dressing."

Huddled across from me in the Circle of Scheming, Sans and Error shared identical looks of scepticism. 

"That's what it says..." I defended, holding up my phone up for the non-believers to see.

"Cross-dressing." 

Google has spoken.

While both skeletons were too indignant to put their denial into words, I was already sitting, ready and eager, in the bandwagon. 

Hell yes.

My gaze burned with Determination as I flicked through the images on my phone. 

We're gonna Mulan the shit out of that flower. 

Error flinched back when I shoved the device under his nose-hole to further stress my point. 

"There's even a diagram here of you dressed in goth Lolita."

Very informative. 

"w̧̛͍͉͖͚̟̩̞̥̘͝ͅͅh̡͞҉̛͚͙͎͇͖̗̳̼̙̟y̟͈̪̲̠̜͜ ̷̨̯̟̝̯̦͔͎͕̩̖̪̩̜͉̠m̵̢͔̤̠̮̦̣̘͉̫̻̭̪̗̝͇̱e̢̗̳̠͔̲͙͙̥̭̥͟?̨̧̟̳̜̭͎̤̻̺͖̣̯̼̳͞͝!̵̛͉̗͕̤̜̝̞͔̮͙̱̖͡"̧̨̤̺͙̖̺̠̗̜̜̤̣̤͟͟ͅ

I pulled my phone back out of reach of Error's swiping hand, staring as if it were obvious.

Because. Yum.  

Still, the hesitation was understandable.

I mean, the amount of perverseness I produce alone is enough to make any sane person want to lock up their genitals...

Gift wrapping them in ribbons and lace... well it's pretty much the opposite of Safe...  

"I'd do it myself." I offered, trying to be reasonable. "But inverting my raincoat isn't likely to make anyone's heart go doki doki."

Besides, showing off too much my skin would sooner make people vomit than swoon. 

"one problem." Sans spoke over the top of his laced phalanges, expression dire. 

"we don't have a dress.

A small crack could be heard, as my heart broke.

...The best-laid plans of mice and men...

"t̕͞h̶̴a͏t҉͝'̶͘s͠ ͜t̴h̵͞e̴͏ o͜͜͠n͞ly ̴p̵̨rob͏̸͜le̡͢͟m ̧̕y̨͜o̢̨u͢ h͞av̵̧e͡ ̛̕w͟͝it̕h̡ ͘͝t͏̨͞h̵is͏?̢" Error glared on his Classic counterpart.

Sans shrugged off the indignation. 

"...basically."

The Destroyer's smile strained disturbing wide.

"̴"͘͠an҉d̴̨͢ we͏r͝͏e ̨y͏o͟u̶͘͡ ̴̵g̛͝o͏͠in̨͡͠g ̴̕t͏͠o ҉a͝͝s̛k̨ ̨h̢͡ơw ̷͞f͟as̷̷hi͏o̷͘n͏ ̨͘͟m̢a̡k͘e̛s̴̴͘ ҉a҉͜ ̢͢d͜i͏̴͡f҉f̶̶̷ȩ͘r̵e̵̸҉n̵c͠e͞, ̷̧b̵͘e̕f̨o͘ŗ̡͞ȩ ̡ǫ̸r̵͏ ̷͏͞a͡͏f͏̢te̶̛r͡͏ ̷th̢r̡o͏̕w̷̸in̨͠g̢͡ ̷̵̵m͡e ͏ųnd̷͟e̢͘r ̶ţ̧h̨͝͝e̷͠ ҉͝b͝u҉s͏͏?"͢

Sans smiled politely, allowing Error time to remember just who he was talking to. 

The dark skeleton scowled, hunching bitterly into his jacket.

".̡.̸.̶i ̕h͏a̢͢te ̛͢͡dea̵̧lin҉g͘ ͠w͏͞i͡t̡h̴ ͢m͞ys̨̨e͞l҉̢͝f͟͝." 

An amused huff.

"tell me about it."

"...Apparently..." I said, scrolling down the webpage for the required information."...if we hold onto the panty shots, the final boss battle will be much easier."

Error bristled, furious expression hidden behind a flurry of glitches.

"͢͝ţ̕h̷̨͠a͏t͘͢͝'̶s̢͏ ̴b̧҉̛e͞c̨̕a҉ų̕s̡e ̴̴͝i͟͏͡t̷̶'͞͠l̶l̸ ͜͜͠p͝r̡̡o̷b͘͢a҉͝b͢͜l̵̸͡y̨̡͢ ̨͜en͏̴d̵ up̕͘͟ ̴b̷e̵͟͝i̵ņ̵͟g̨͝͝ ̴̡f̷̴͘u͠c̴ki̵̕ng ̨͢o̧u҉̨̨!

Heh.

"Phrasing."

Error twitched.

Then my vision then went white as what I presume to be a bone catapulted into the side of my head, sending me hunching over my knees with a whimper.

...Why doesn't anyone just use their Words anymore...?

Painful as it was, we (mostly me) had to accept that The Destroyer would not be flipping his skirt to save all man, monster and other kind...Not today anyway...

So, seeing as we had no real means with which to execute plan A, that left no choice but to go straight to Plan D B.

Which, in a nutshell.

Was me. Summoning up every ounce of courage and Determination I have...

And Impregnating that Plant.

...

...Really.

It was the only way.

That is, if you're not okay with your friendly neighbourhood Avatar becoming a bodysuit for a higher power, which...  

I'm not.

After that, it's either have the denizens of the multiverse fight a long and strenuous battle, shoving Frisk up to the plate...

All in all, it was well worth the time and effort... to put molestation back on the table.

Of course the internet couldn't tell me everything about the Void creatures. Where they came from and how to defeat them...  

Not because the information wasn't there, but because I wasn't willing to pay for premium membership.

I'd figure something out and keep my (non-existent) 99c, thank you very much.

What I did learn, amongst confirmations of some of my earlier assumptions, was that the Rosa Voideathicus has a weak spot.

Which was...wow. Convenient. 

One that is only accessible during pollination.

Oh no, I shouldn't... 

Which occurs when the Ovum comes into contact with a human soul.

...Welp. It'd be rude to refuse, after the universe has gone to the trouble of justifying it for me...

As far as plans go, seducing the Void plant and stabbing in the reproductive organ was...well...it still beats my usual plan of run away and hope it gets bored with me...

Details like how and what and when could be figured out if the process didn't immediately kill me.

And yeah, it did occur to me that this all played right into the Void Plant hands...so to say... and even suggesting it not only looked suspicious, but was insanely reckless...

Which is why... 

"Fine..." I sighed, rubbing at where I had been boned across the head for no good reason. "...guess we're doing this the hard way then..." 

I gave my hand an exaggerated lick.

And proceeded to slap licked hand onto Error forehead.

I blinked sweetly.

"One Express ticket to Hell please."

...I decided to keep it as a surprise. 

Error had made a valiant effort, to overcome his prejudice and not kill me. 

But it was not to be.

There was a second of solid disbelief.

Before the Destroyer flipped the table on coping and made sure generations to come would know all about it.

When they came to sightsee the giant, smouldering crater that used to be Echotale... and neighbouring the statue of me, with a plaque explaining why not to be an idiot.

...

..

.

"Wow..."

Hand shading my eyes, I gave a low, appreciative whistle.

Even from a distance, Error's laser show was impressive.

"...That guy really needs to get laid."

If only to gain a tolerance towards saliva.

There came a small, strangled sound of restraint. 

"...you wouldn't happen to still be mad at me about the whole puzzle thing..." Sans' traumatized stare remained on the fading pillar of destructive light as he spoke. "...would you?"

What? Me? Motivated by petty grievances?"

".................Nope."

"...something about the way you paused excessively makes me think you might be lying."

"Nonsense." I huffed, snuggling up against him, something made possible by the fact that I had sprung into his arms to be princess carried away from danger the moment the fuse had been lit.

"It's not like I actively go out of my way to torment you."

I just incorporate it into everything I do.

Sans scoffed, but failed to hide the way his smile twitched in amusement.

"keep telling yourself that kid."

He made a move to Drop me and start kicking set me down gently, only to have me cling in my best (none sexual) impression of a tentacle monster.

"You're not going to leave me to face his wrath all alone..." I blinked innocently. "...are you Mr Sans?" 

The space in front of us became a whole lot darker and crazier as it was filled with homicidal skeleton.

One look at Error expression was enough to confirm.

I need more Dominant Destroyer Porn. 

...Also, Error has gone off the deep end and we're probably all going to die.

But mostly the porn thing.

Sans groaned.

"...apparently not."

The reluctant arms around me tightened as the short skeleton ducked to the side, continuing to run as bones flew at us. Sure he was no Mo, but Sans did move with effortless grace and skill, something that was quite novel, when compared to my usual bumbling though obstacles.

As far as chariots go, he'd do in a pinch.

"so..." One sharp turn had us suddenly sprinting through icy wilderness outside of Snowdin. "...did you have something in mind when you ticked off the most lethal skeleton in the entire multiverse?" 

"Hmm?" I pulled my phone out play with. "...Sabotage."

"sabowhat-?"

Sans was forced to take a drastic sidestep as the terrain changed to Waterfall, narrowly avoiding a dunk in the...well, it was supposed to be water... 

Error took inspiration from the scene change and switched up his own projectiles to something a little more...lasery.

With a firm nope, a little science and a whole lot of bullshit magic, Sans teleported away from the death, bare feet clinking on tile as we were suddenly in the True lab.

Which, though it took us away from Error...was not reassuring in the least...

I paused in my typing to give Sans a horrified look.

"This is where you take us for our Honeymoon?"

It's just that 'Science lab of Horrors' isn't the theme I had in mind for our tender first time together...

There must have been a little bit of frustration hidden beneath that cool smile of his, because Sans met my indignation equally, and then some.

"what part of running for our lives because you decided to screw around is supposed make this our honeymoon!?"

"You carried me over the threshold! " I poked him in the sternum. "Bridal style!"

Trying to argue with an idiot.

We glared at each other in silent resentment.

That is where he went wrong.

Something Sans seemed to realise very quickly, as he took a step back from temper and into calm.

"for the record, i didn't bring you here for a n y sort of extracurricular activities." He reassured me. Through his teeth. 

"Oh good." I turned back to my phone. "Because if you ever try to stick me in something, or something in me, the only thing you're going to be testing is my Patience." 

Patience, of course, being the cute nickname I gave my Rape Dungeon.

As if the universe wanted to prove Sans right and me a jerk, we were met with a sudden blast of heat around the next corner.

Between one step and the next the dark hallways of the lab were replaced by a completely safe and child-friendly Volcano.  

All without me being strapped into the DT Extractor and tortured horribly.

…Maybe he really is trying to give me the benefit of the doubt here...

"...And I'm not. Screwing around that is..." I added grudgingly, because I couldn't let Sans one-up me in the maturity department. 

Oddly enough, this seemed to be exactly what the short skeleton needed to hear, because the edge to his grip... the one that made it feel like he was keeping his enemy closer... lost some of its bite.

"...kid..." 

I finished dialling the number and held the phone up to my ear.

"That part comes later."

Luckily, the universal laws of courtesy dictated he could not murder me while I was on the phone. 

Didn't stop him from talking to himself though.

"...this isn't going to end well." Sans groaned. "...i can feel it in my bones."

....Sans' fatal mistake, was believing I was too invested in my own survival not to strangle him.

It wasn't long before the ring tone was answered with the utmost curiosity.  

“…ava?”

 Oh good. 

“Hello Mr Ink.”

I was afraid he might be busy, doing something actually useful.

“you're alive! have you seen error!? what was that explosion…?”

Later, Mr Ink." I interrupted him firmly. "For now, I’ve called to ask a very important question…”  

My voice lowered suggestively.

“What are you wearing?”

A pause.

“…the usual?”

“hmm…And is Mr Sleeper there with you?”

“…asleep, but yes.”

“…Could you-ah! Wake him up...and t-tell him…that I’m about to…huff…do something so stupid and reckless th-That killing me beforehand…would be doing us all a f a v o u r.”

“…is something… wrong…”

“N-no! Just keep talking to me like you’re completely oblivious to my sexual harassment. That’s how I like it.”

"...oh...ah...can i help you with anything else...besides that..."

"Yeah. I'd like you to stop whatever it is you are doing...probably nothing important that mightinterferewithmyplans... and go do that Totally Platonic Thing you do with the Destroyer. You know, the one where you spray him with your wet ink and force him to submit..."

"...can i ask why?"

"I may have assaulted him with saliva."

The phone was filled with the distinct sound of coughed up ink.

Something I would have liked to enjoy more of, but we were, unfortunately, running out of time.

"Please Mr Ink. For all our sakes..." I lowered my head solemnly.

"Go play with yourself." 

I hung up the phone, slipping it into the pocket closest to my heart.

It's all up to him now...

"...so." Sans said.

I glanced down at skeleton, lying partially in my lap...struggling to breathe past the choke hold...

You know...The choke hold I had taken precious time out of our fleeing to make a reality? Because Bone jokes are not okay?

That choke hold.

San's struggled at first, trying to escape my hold... but had inevitably given into the punishment at some point during my conversation with Ink. 

"...i’ve been thinking...about things..." He managed to gasp, boney fingers biting into my arm as he tried to pry it away from his throat. 

Despite my best efforts, the skeleton was still able to talk with the small amount of air it took to keep him on the brink of expiration.

"...about some things you said… and some things I said…"

I blinked down at him.

Could it be...?

"and I think…"

...that he has seen the error of his punning ways...?

"...i might be overthinking things."

Nope.

My grip tightened. 

No more air for you.

He spasmed as the strangulation levelled up... only once...as he forced himself not to panic...

"...your expression..."

Ah, great. This is going to be one of those awkward conversations where he puts his foot in his mouth and makes me feel like scum, yet somehow doesn't manage to address the real issue. That is, his evil punning ways...

"...it’s the expression..."

A shadow fell over us... as a Gaster Blaster was summoned above our heads.

Well and truly.

The joke was over.

I was unmoved by the threat.

Physically, I didn't try to escape...and emotionally...

His expression, was the one to show the first signs of surrender... as he peered up into my unflinching stare.

"...of someone who...gave up..."

It...didn't fire.

"...but never stopped trying..."

I stilled, watching the fading light of his eyes. 

...are we having a moment? I feel like we might be having a moment....

Which was really inconvenient, because I need him to be unconscious. So that I can ditch him and go have unprotected sex with a plant.

Why does he always wait until the point of no return to say something?

"Stop me Sans." I spoke softly. "Or go to sleep." 

Just Get Out Of My Way.

I watched the resolve in his gaze harden, even as the light extinguished. 

...but...

He didn't give up.

I could tell the difference.

Feel it, when the death hanging over my head vanished from existence.

M E R C Y

...If you’re going to spare someone, with the entirety of your soul… you drop your defences completely… and trust everything you are on them returning your mercy.

Sans was always too practical to do something so stupid...

I'm not sure what happened first. Mr Sleeper's sudden weight climbing into my scarf...

Or me, letting go.

Either way, I was up and away before Sans could even start breathing again.

...Until now I suppose. 

I stared at the coughing skeleton, feeling my LOVE slip back into a neutral state.

"...you could have waited." Sleeper grumbled in my ear.

To avoid this, or so he could watch...?

I huffed.

Doesn't matter.

It's all in the past now.

Distant, distant past.

The Sans flinched when I offered him my hand.

No more playing solo.

"There's a joke here about strangulation and coming with me, but that's far too close to a pun for me to make it, so..." I twiddled my fingers when he just stared dumbly at my hand. 

"...Wanna be my Wingman?" 

 

Chapter Text

How does one...come to find themselves stuck in a giant void plant…?

Well.

I'd like to say it somehow involved me being slapped for sexual harassment...so hard I was sent flying...

...or just flying in general really.

"...We need to figure out a way to infiltrate the flower...a way that makes it seem like I have been captured by the Bees, yet has zero risk of me being eaten...if only there was a way to make a pretend Bee... using a similar material...Wait. Stop the press." My pacing came to a halt.

"...I've just figured out a way for Ink to actually contribute to the situation in a meaningful way. Universe, you hold the horses..."

I took a single determined step forward.

"I'm going to go change someone's life..."

Sans put a hand on my shoulder.

"...or not..."

'Not'  being the case, as we were very suddenly standing high off the ground, balanced precariously on one of the plant's giant thorns.

Teleportation. 

Ruins everything. 

"i figured this would be quicker." Sans said, justifying his cruel act against adventure with a shrug.

I squinted reproachfully.

Oh Yeah...? Well, now I have an angry Bitty muttering evil voodoo in my ear...

Holding onto my hat, to keep it flying away in the turbulence that came with elevation, I made a point to scuff my shoe in disappointment.

"...It's not as fun though..." I complained.

"sure it is..." Sans brushed aside my doubts with an evil grin. "...think of it as a game of thorns."

We stood.

Staring at each other.

"...This is why people would sooner choke you out then invite you to come with." I told him. Dead serious. 

Sans' smile grew wider.

"eh?" He clapped a hand down on my shoulder. "no need to get prickly."

I flinched back in horror.

"Mr Sans..."

He teleported us up to a higher thorn.

"plant you see i'm trying to make amends?"

"No means No..."

And again.

"flower we ever going to overcome our differences..."

Seeing a direct link between me talking and him flipping our existence about, I chose to stare down at the short skeleton in silent resentment.

Sans tilted his head cheekily.

"...if we can't leaf these things in the past...?"

"AHH!"

And that's my quota for Silent Suffering for the day...

"I knew it was too good to be true!" I stepped back out of his reach, pointing an accusing finger "You just wanted me to think I had survived your MERCY...lulling me into a false sense of security...all so you could take your sweet time, torturing me to death, one pun at a time..."

Sans had the audacity to wink.

"...sounds like a fair punishment."

My jaw broke and was left hanging.

...I can't believe he just went there.

Sleeper, on the other hand, didn't seem the least bit surprised.

"what were you expecting?" He muttered tiredly.

For Sans to be totally cool with me trying to strangle him and not make my life a living hell...?

...yeah.

Even if I take out the first half of that sentence, that's still way too unrealistic...

Pressing a hand to my temples, I took a deep breath, trying to regain some composure and/or the will to live.

Sans made an effort to cover up his snickering.

Something like 3.6%

Peering at the short skeleton through my fingers, I felt a little daunted by the fact he was enjoying this.

Not just in a sadistic way, but in an honest "I had my doubts, but this Ava thing doesn't seem half bad when it squirms..." 

Okay. 

Maybe sadism plays a big part in it...but this tentative maybe-kinda-getting-along-at-least-for-now thing is still doing weird things to my stomach... 

Meeting Sans amusement with a grim stare, I steeled myself.

To end this, once and for all.

...Sorry Sans, but you leave me no choice...

"...I want a divorce-"

"done."

...

..

'Quicker' he said.

Well, now I'm huddled up in a dejected ball, tracing sad words into the stem of the plant with a heartbroken finger.

Probably, to never move again.

He'll come back here, years from now, and find only my skeleton...

Then regret ever letting me go.

Cause I'll be super hot, and independent and totally over him...

"you invited him." Sleeper pointed out. Not at all vindictive.

"What was I supposed to do Mr Sleeper? He spared me." I sulked quietly. "...Who am I, to compete with Sans when it comes to being a ruthless asshole...?"

A boney hand landed on my hat. Gently reassuring...

"come on bud."

Or not.

"we've got out bracts against the wall here, no choice but the keep on Pollen,  put the petal to the metal,  flora you quitting on me...?"  

"Alright I'm UP!" I was on my feet in the next instant, hands thrown up in an explosion of exasperation. "Gonna go risk my virginity, also probably my life, to save the universe. Happy?"

If smiling like the cat that got served the canary was any indication...

"Sepal?" He winked. "It ain't so bad."

Like a puppet with its strings cut, I slumped in defeat.

...Could have been worse I guess...

"You spend way too much time resenting Flowey." I informed him flatly.

...The Void plant could have been behind a door.

"...in-seed, he might be the root of my problems, but I like to think my humerus stance on people trying to kill me, stems from an ingrained love of fun."

Stone-faced, I stuck out my arm.

"...'Grains' a bit of a stretch."

With a shrugged, he wrapped a hand around my offered wrist.

"it'll grow on you."

Then we were falling.

Because Sans decided, in his infinite wisdom, that the best way to get at the plant's sexual organs would be to attack from above.

Mary Poppins style.

Even as gravity took hold and we started to plummet, Sans wrapped an arm around my waist. Sharing in the effect his magic had on my soul.

With a blue soul shining between us, the three of us floated our merry way down towards the shadowy flowers petals.

"not to imply I don't cherish every moment spent in his company..." Mr Sleeper muttered into my ear. "but we'd be done by now if he'd done this in the first place." 

"...My endurance isn't that bad Mr Sleeper..."

The bitty growled in annoyance, still not one bit happier about the plan...or my sexualisation of it, despite agreeing to help.

"for your sake, i hope it's shorter than my temper."

"...It would be irresponsible, to break the space-time continuum just for a Quick lay." 

"you know, creepiness is something that is best enjoyed from a distance." Sans was the one to speak, squeezing my waist to remind me of all the things I took for granted.

Like him not dropping me.

"Shutting up." I saluted, but the skeleton was too busy watching our rapidly approaching target, preparing to coordinate our landing...to appreciate the formality.

Which was fine by me. I was all too happy to tuck my feet up, letting him do all the work in the near-zero gravity. Sans bare feet made contact with the petal and he pushed off with just enough force to guide our fall into the centre of the plant.

As we entered the depths of the flower, my blue soul cast eerie shadows upon our giant surroundings.

Stigma, Style....Anther....Filament.... Ovary. Bingo.

I have located and recognised the sexual organ. 

Let the sexy times begin.

"...Just have to go rub my human soul thingy up against that...bottom bit...make sweet sweet...soul sucking...love..."

"nervous kid?" Sans asked as we landed in the innermost centre of the flower. Exactly where we needed to be to get the mojo happening.

"I never blink in the face of perversity." I said, wrapped around him like a monkey so that I wouldn't have to touch the plant. 

"relax" He poked insistently at my clinging limbs. "i'll be here to kill you if anything goes wrong." 

“...I know that's the plan, but you don't have to sound so competent."

"hurry up." Sleeper snapped. "i'm tired."

And worried.

I jumped off of Sans and to attention.

"Yes Mr Sleeper. Right away sir."

I crouched down, about to start... when something occurred to me.

"You'll...um...erase the search history on my phone for me...if I die right...?"

Both skeletons answered.

"no."

I nodded calm acceptance.

Right.

Dying is no longer an option. 

"...Let's hope Wikipedia was right about this one." I mumbled, willing my soul down.

The moment it made contact with the plant, I felt a tug-

>annnnd this is not what I was expecting.

>I was surprised. Not in the 'mind blown amazing sex' way, but the 'finding unicorns in the dungeon' way.

>Stick the accumulation of my being inside a weird organism, and what do I get?

>A mini-game.

>Pixilated. 

>Retro and...

>Yep.

>Jumping makes that weird "whooping" noise.

>Kinky.

>...No need to panic.

>This is just one of the hurdles that comes with interspecies love'n.

>Speaking of hurdles, why did the plant's mating ritual have to be a platformer?

>Creepy dark room. Creepy Bee monsters doing the creepy pixelated patrol thing. Platforms and...

>Banana's to collect.

>...okay, maybe my psyche is contributing to this more than I thought-

> Oh. Look.

>A timer.

>So much for foreplay.

> I leapt onto the closest platform, trying to block the horrors of the jump animation from my mind.

>You can cry about it later Ava. Curled up, rocking in your shower.

> I made my way to the platform with the banana, collecting it- 

>1000pt

> Oooh. You like it like that, don't you babe...

> Using the elevation of the platform, I leapt over the patrol Bee below and into the next room.

> I had to time the next jump, waiting for this room's Bee to turn away before making my way up the platforms.

>2000pt

>hmm. So good

> The next banana was sitting between two moving Bees. To collect it, I would need to move faster...deeper...harder...

>3000pt

>The last room...

>Was different.

>No Bee's or Banana's.

>Just a large, shifting mass of dead pixels-

>Crap.

>I just thought about Error while doing the nasty.

>Bye-bye potential orgasm. 

> I moved forward, studying the object or some sort of clue.

>Connected to the white mass, was a string of light. The only thing that didn't look like it belonged in an eighties video game. 

>My timer was getting precariously low. And I still didn't know how to finish.

>Something had to be done. Anything.

>I'm on the verge of disappointing sex. Also death. 

>Instinct took over.

>I did the thing I always do, when faced with the unknown.

>I threw whatever I had on hand into it.

>Which happened to be the bananas.

>The pixels froze.

>Better yet, the countdown to certain death froze.

> 0:09 seconds to spare...

> I did...win right...?

> Nothing was moving...

>...I swear, If the game is frozen and I'm trapped here forever...

>The victory sign suddenly burst into existence above my head.

>A V A

>I blinked.

>Did it just...?

>With a sharp snap, the string connected to the Boss pixel cloud was severed.

>...Scream my name?

>My surroundings were being consumed by white, pixels collapsing in their like...hundreds...

>Not criticising! Just saying the graphics could have been better...

>Pain exploded in my chest.

>White filled my vision.

> My eyes closed...

Warm liquid dripped from my chin.

...Not exactly an uncommon thing to experience...you know...considering...but my hand still reached up in confusion.

I opened my eyes, peering down to see...red. Blood. Dripping from my nose.

My shoulders shook with the odd huffing sound that rose out of my chest. 

Ha.

I had a nose bleed.

Wobbling, I mumbled to myself in amusement.

"Noses are red, souls are blue... this poetry is awful... I'm gonna spew..."

"...ava."

Also.

There's a massive Bone stabbed through my chest.

I stared...because that was new... dazedly poking at the intrusion.

Ow. Yep. I've been skewered. Feel like I should have noticed that sooner... 

My free hand came to rest on my scarf, right over Sleeper's frozen form...stalling his rampage reaction...

I just saved the universe, thank you very much. No need to undo all my hard work...

Blinking slowly, I tilted my head back to meet the gaze of the Skeleton standing over my kneeling form.

"Well whataya know..." I smiled slightly. "It's Papy. Come to kill my boner. "

The glow of SwapFell Papyrus's flaring eye stared down at me. Dispassionate. 

Sans was just staring. At me. At Papyrus. At this whole 'Assassination out of nowhere' thing we had goin' on. 

A faint crackling sound filled the air as the Flower around us started to disintegrate.

Nailed it. pfft. 

"...s l i m."

Sans.

Did not sound happy.

No one likes being blind sighted...

Murder is also frowned upon, in some circles.

For once, SwapFell Papyrus seemed inclined to explain himself.

"...it's the same." He muttered. I jolted in agony as he yanked the bone brutally from my body.

"inside and out." 

Okay. Maybe not so much.

The magic disappeared from his hand as the tall skeleton took a step back.

"can't be trusted."

I tilted over to lay curled up on the steadily decaying plant...my hand still cupping the small bitty protectively. 

One thing's for sure, I am so taking this right off my list of fun post coitus activities.

Sans made a move to approach me...

But Sleeper didn't want his help. 

A defensive wall of bone burst into existence around me, forcing both Sans and Papyrus to leap back or be impaled.

The bitty was on the brink of snapping, building rage trembling against my neck... and it was my best chance.

Before Papyrus could try to kill me, or Sans could try to stop him...or Mr Sleeper could succeed in killing everyone... I had t... 

Red light burst into existence as my soul trait changed.

I know it caused some panic, a scuffle as at least one skeleton tried to stop me...

But by the time Sleeper's defences were broken down, I sat, uninjured...and a great deal shorter.

...Seriously?

I scowled down at my childish body.

What is with these skeletons and killing me? The first time was cute, but that time didn't interrupt pillow talk...

"...Please don't be mad Mr Sleeper." I tried to sooth, keeping my back turned to the two full-sized skeletons. "...It's standard Papyrus procedure, to subject new friends to awful puzzles and near death experiences."

...He'll come around eventually. 

"i've had enough." Sleeper muttered into my ear, never once relaxing under the calm pressure of my hand. "...we can find your rat alone."

I could see where he was coming from.

Hanging out with these guys was...well, it was going to take a lot of time and patience...to even get to a point where I wouldn't be randomly stabbed. But...

"...I don't think it's that simple anymore." I sighed, climbing unsteadily to my feet.

Sleeper's small hands curled angrily against my neck.

"they can r o t for all i care."

...Wow he sure can hold a grudge . A whole minute later and he's still pissed. 

But there was no time to argue. The Void Flower is on the brink of collapsing from beneath our feet...a distraction I'm pretty sure SwapFell would use to finish what he started... 

"Believing in them might get me killed." I admitted softly, turning to stare at my would-be murderer.

...Who towered over me even more than before...

I tried not to gulp.

"...But I'd rather that..." I watched Papyrus' expression carefully. "...than live in a world that is Kill or be killed." 

Even as he tried to kill me... watched me suffer... SwapFell's expression had never flattered. 

But then it did

And that... kinda made me feel a little bit better about the attempted murder thing.

Not enough to stick around and let him stab me some more, but still...

My soul was blue and my foot planted in his angsty expression before he could react.

Progress.

 

Chapter Text

Good news.

The Giant Void Flower and its infinite Bee army have been vanquished!

...Because that's apparently something that's way easier than it looks...

Not that I'm complaining.

Gift horse and all that...

...I'm sure it'll be fine.

Anyway. Having just SAVED THE UNIVERSE probably, you'd think the only thing I'd have to worry is managing all the cool hi-fives I would be receiving.

Only... when I referred to my list of skeletons who currently wanted me dead... it was actually...kinda long...

Error...Fell...all the Fells really...at least one half of the G-bros...

But! Unlike every other single time in the past... where I had shown up, did my awesome thang and fled the scene...

I was Determined.

To have Ink fix my clothes 

To take responsibility for my actions.

By which I mean Apologise.

Not pay for anything.

...And it was with this pure intention, that I led SwapFell Papyrus on a catastrophic chase through the Underground. Destroying everything that had been left untouched by the random plant invasion + that other skeleton I sent into a mental breakdown. 

It was like Wile E. Coyote. Lots of explosions and goofy gravity. Just about everything you would expect from a skeleton going through a moral crisis. 

For my part, I was super obnoxious.

Made a selfie montage on my phone and everything. Even posted some pic's on my app, for the entire multiverse to see.

...It's not that I resented Papyrus for taking the chance to stab me while I was lost in the throes of passion...

I just needed photographic evidence.

For insurance purposes.

In case I had to explain to SwapFell Sans how his brother got scratched or something.

See...this is me, posing in front of what is left of G-brother's house... and this is Mr Papyrus and me at the MTT resort...and here I am, pretending to be skewered...Mr Papyrus even stopped to hold the camera for that one...

Yeah. He'd kinda gotten into it by the end...

Overall, I had felt pretty optimistic about my chances of resolving things peacefully. 

Sleeper hadn't. 

Sleeper had boned me across the back of the head, ending our cat and mouse with me laying concussed in the snow. 

While I was seeing stars, the Bitty took the time to write, sign and enforce the new restraining order.

SwapFell couldn't come within thirty feet of me without being flung off into the middle distance. 

Which was probably for the best, seeing how that last blow to the noggin pretty much tipped the scales towards me being officially braindead. 

"Mr Sleeper..."

"stop complaining."

I groaned pitifully into the snow, unable to move a single inch without my head spinning.

No more equilibrium for you Ava. You're done. 

"Tell my T.V I loved heeer..."

"i didn't hit you that hard."

"..."

Another small bone bounced off the back of my head. 

"Ow! I didn't say anything!"

"just because the thoughts stay in your head, doesn't mean I tolerate them.

And they say I'm the crazy one.

Unfortunately for me, Sleeper would be in Momma Bear mode until given the chance to sleep it off.  

Though if this is his way of training me out of dying needlessly... it's working.

There came a sudden crunch of soft footsteps in the snow.

Sleeper didn't immediately attack the new arrival, so it had to be someone who wasn't on his shit list....or at least not very high up it.... 

Wincing at the way my head throbbed, I lifted my face out of the snow to see...

My masochistic little heart fluttered.

G-Sans.  

Staring down at me, with a cigarette between his teeth and the coldest 'I'd-make-you-lick-my-boots-if-you-were-clean-enough'  glare I've ever seen.

My phone was up and taking a picture before my brain could point out Now might not be the time...

A boot caught my wrist before it could retreat back to pervert HQ, trapping my arm in its snapshot position. 

Biting back a whimper, I peeked past my phone to see the tall skeleton staring down at me with a raised brow. 

"...hey." 

I blinked back.

"...Hi."

G-Sans' gaze scanned over my body, taking in the changes with a clinical coldness.

"still alive then?"

My head tilted questioningly.

"...Unless playing dead will get me out of this confronting conversation?"

His smile twitched.

"rude."  Still standing on my wrist, the smirking skeleton knelt down to my level. "here i thought you'd be eager for a little heart to heart, given your penchant for attention."

He blew smoke in my face.

"indulge me?"

My gaze narrowed.

If you think I'm just gonna lie here and take this... 

I let my face flop back in the snow. 

"Nope."

"y e s"

"Don't wanna." 

"too bad."

"You can't make me. I know where you live."

A boney hand yanked my head up by the hat, forcing me to meet G-Sans empty eye-sockets.

"you mean that smouldering hole where my house used to be?" He asked.

Oops. 

"...Just let me say, from the deepest reaches of my heart...My Bad."

G-Sans took a deep, soothing breath of his cigarette.

"...just tell me what you k n o w."

I met his solemn glare with a nervous blink.

It wasn't hard to guess what he must be referring to. It was only the worst kept secret in the entire multiverse after all.

But the consequences of revealing too much...

"Fine." I sighed. "It's hidden under the mattress."

You dragged it out of me.

This time, G-Sans was the one shoving my head down.

“not anymore it’s not.” He hissed, all but grinding my face into the snow.

Right. House blown up. Still a sore subject. Gotcha.

When my first response was muffled by the snow, G-Sans stop pressing down enough so that I could blink up at him soulfully.

“...If it’s any consolation, my collection was also recently destroyed. Temporarily, but still.”

As much as I understood G-Sans' frustration... Another nose bleed just wasn't something I could afford at the moment.

The abuse had to stop. 

"Ironically enough." I tilted my head. "...in almost the exact same way."

See? I can be sensitive.

“my condolences.” He offered dryly, studying my expression with an intensity that was…oddly uncomfortable.

He seemed to be thinking deep thoughts, so I tolerated the staring…for maybe a minute before the silence became unbearable.

"You'll break your brain doing that."  I reached up, and tugged my hat out of his hold, and over my face. "Now if you don't mind, I'd like to go back to that very important thing I was doing." 

Not really waiting for a response I rolled away. Keeping my back to him as I curled up standoffishly.

Procrastinating.

Because getting up out of the snow meant dealing with other people, and as it turns out, other people suck.

I now have a new appreciation for soul-crushing isolation. Thanks Multiverse.

When G-Sans spoke again, it was...quiet.

“...you feel familiar.”

I froze. In a completely un-snow-related way.

It couldn't be...

"Familiar...Like that feeling you get..." Cautiously, I peeked back over my shoulder. "...when someone has been annoying you in cruel and unusual ways since the dawn of time...?"

There was a spark of...something...before his gazed narrowed.

“…that's an oddly specific thing to say."

If an expression could “eek.

Mine just did.

Okay.

Maybe...just maybe...I had gone a little bit overboard with the paper planes.

A shadow fell over us as G-Sans leant closer.

“what did you…”

"BROTHER."

G-Sans nearly jumped out of his...well you get the idea... swearing to himself once softly before peering cautiously over his shoulder...

G-Papyrus.

Was not amused.

"THIS IS THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT WE DISCUSSED.” He huffed.

The tall skeleton stood, one fist propped sternly on his hip and a limp bag of bones draped over his shoulder.

“it was like this when I got here.” G-Sans leapt to his feet, backing away from the crime scene with his hands held up in surrender.

“I DIDN’T SEND YOU OFF TO DAWDLE." G-Papyrus tapped an impatient foot. "ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS CLEAR THAT THE HUMAN IS IN DIRE NEED OF ASSISTANCE.”

That...wasn't exactly true...

Not wanting to give the wrong idea, I made the effort to at least sit up and stop looking like a dying lamb.

Meanwhile, G-Sans glanced between me and his brother, sheepish.

“...i was getting around to it."   

Note to self.

Invest in a little "BullShit" Flag.

Rainbow coloured.

Rainbow is the colour of cynicism...

After a moment of radiating pure disapproval, G-Papyrus let out a heavy sigh, pinching the bridge of what would have been his nose. 

"JUST...MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL AND HOLD THIS."

The bag of bones...which I belatedly recognised as SwapFell Papyrus, was dumped into the shorter skeleton's hold...who grimaced, but knew better than to complain. Sleeper for his part, must have been soothed to sleep by my suffering, because the Bitty didn’t react to the return of his No.1 projectile.

Hopefully, he'll wake up in a better/less lethal mood...

Suddenly, a friendlier, yet still terrifying skeleton was kneeling in front of me. 

"I APOLOGISE HUMAN." G-Papyrus spoke softly, making no move to touch me. "MY BROTHER CAN BE QUITE LAZY WHEN IT COMES TO MANNERS AND COMMON DECENCY."  

Over the tall skeleton's shoulder, G-Sans squirm.

Always a treat to watch.

Having faced a surplus of assholery this day, it was kinda hard to adjust to the sudden kindness. G-Papyrus seemed sincere in his concern... but I wasn't really in the right headspace to roll through another betrayal. 

"...It's okay." I tried to wave off his concern. "I have very low standards. Probably from all those years spent in total isolation...yeah. Couldn't get out of an abusive relationship if it were a wet paper bag."

Both skeletons stared at me, the opposite of reassured.

"It’s a problem." I admitted

Papyrus...did an excellent job of keeping his expression steady.

"...SANS TOLD US WHAT HAPPENED." He explained simply, his gaze flickering over my appearance.

Oh yeah. That guy. I was wondering where he'd run off too. 

The Classic skeleton had tried to stop the rampage at first...if holding out a despairing hand as chaos unfolds counts...

Guess I'm not really all that surprised he tapped out.

I tilted my head questioningly.

"That I had an out of body experience with the Void Plant? Or that I got stabbed?"

"...BOTH."

I winced.

The thing they don't tell you about failed homicide, is that it is very awkward to talk about after the fact. 

"Yes...Well. Stuff happens." With a slight shrug, I climbed to my feet. "It sucks to be all short and emotionally unbalanced again, but that's about the extent of my angst." 

To accentuate the point, I held up a hand, comparing our heights... 

My gaze narrowed, insulted.

Even with me standing and him crouching, the freakishly tall skeleton still had a couple of inches on me. 

Despicable. 

I am a force of nature dang it! To be feared and respected by all! How is anyone supposed to take my sexual harassment seriously when I attack a knee height? I want a refund. And something free. I don't know what yet, but customer satisfaction will not be guaranteed until something of monetary value is in my possession! 

Catching Papyrus' concerned frown, I set aside my indignation and gave him a reassuring thumbs up.

"...It's nothing sleeping with Mr Papyrus won't fix."

A muttered growl came from the Sans corner.

Everyone's a critic.

"...IF THERE IS ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO HELP, JUST SAY THE WORD." Ignoring his brother, G-Papyrus laid a massive hand on my shoulder.  "OUR UNIVERSE OWES YOU A GREAT DEAL FOR YOUR KINDNESS."

And that,

Put an end to my surly attitude. 

My hand fell to my side.

...So long Rebellion, it was fun while it lasted...

“Owe? But aren’t you..." Voice tiny, I hunched under the warm hand. "...Mad at me?”

G-Papyrus' serious expression faltered, while his brother went so far as to dramatically clutch his own chest.  

"crap. it levelled up."

Papyrus' hand twitched on my shoulder.

“WHY WOULD I BE?” He asked, not letting irritation enter his tone.

"Your brother has a list.” I mumbled, unable to look up.

Even if he didn't, I knew deep down...the way I had chosen to handle things...was pretty inconsiderate.

At best.

Certainly nothing I deserved to be thanked for.

G-Papyrus must have been sending his brother the look, because the shorter skeleton let out a sigh of pure defeat.

"...it's not that long."  G-Sans muttered.

G-Papyrus shifted minutely.

"...probably doesn't even classify as a list really."

An unsatisfied huff.

"...I WOULD HOPE N O T."

Having someone on my side was nice.

Hurts a bit, but still nice. 

No excuse not to apologise though.

"My...ah...mind. It struggles... with cause and effect." I explained softly, staring hard at the ground. "Like every single choice I make is an isolated event...that could go either way...because I'm too unbiased to judge consequences...It makes it hard to be...proactive."

I rubbed my arm guiltily. 

"So...sorry. About your home...and kidnapping Frisk that one time. In hindsight... A lot of dumb choices could have been avoided...if I relied on you more..."  

Like smacking Error in the face with saliva...Sexually harassing Ink over the phone... Putting Sans in a choke hold...wow. I need to stop trusting my impulses...    

I fiddled with my coat buttons in the following silence, afraid to look up...because I'm angst intolerant.

After weighing my words carefully, G-Papyrus leant forward, body language demanding I meet his concerned gaze.   

"WHAT ABOUT YOU?"

I blinked at him, finger half raised to point at myself in disbelief. 

"Me?"

He nodded slightly.

"AREN'T YOU MAD AT US, FOR OUR ACTIONS?"

I tilted my head. 

"...The puzzle thing?'

"something like that." G-Sans was the one to mutter, refusing to look at me.

"I don't... well, I do like to complain...and bully people who make me feel vulnerable...but it's not like I could ever seriously hate any of you. That's just ridiculous."

G-Papyrus peered intently into my uncertain expression.

"NOT EVEN SLIM?"

I shook my head firmly, pretending not to see the limp skeleton twitch. 

"No. Of course not. Never. Not even if he murdered my marmoset." 

Error had pretty much done something to that effect, and I'd still put him at the lower end of the Okay Person Spectrum.  

"IS THAT SO?" G-Papyrus smiled a very particular smile. The smile all Papyrus' wear, because they know how GREAT they are and how foolish everyone else is for doubting their awesome wisdom.  

I blinked, the picture of innocence.

"How can you stay mad at someone you've seen masturbate?" 

Both G-brothers deadpanned.

"Can you picture it?" I crossed my arms with a slight frown. "Trying to hand righteous judgement down someone you've seen humping a pillow?" 

Preposterous. 

"Seriously kills my rage boner." I concluded.

Without a word, without a single shift in expression, G-Sans dumped the trembling, not-as-unconscious-as-we-might-have-thought skeleton from his shoulder.

Flipping me off with one hand, the disgusted skeleton was gone in the next instant. 

SwapFell Papyrus curled up where he had been discarded, laughing into the snow. The laugh he normally reserves for his brother. The 'I know it’s going to kill me but fuck its adorable' giggle.

Always a good sign.

I met G-Papyrus displeased scowl with an eyebrow wiggle.

"Was it something I said?" 

Chapter Text

The difference between tolerance and acceptance...

It was humbling.

But I couldn't be humble and invulnerable obnoxious at the same time, so I settled for a sort of Dormant Evil.  

That is to say, I was on my best behaviour. Making no attempt to escape or otherwise torment G-Papyrus as the stern skeleton collected up his (other) perverted burden and took my hand. 

Causing trouble would only risk waking up Sleeper...and I didn't really have the heart to put SwapFell through that again.  

Seriously. Not everybody gets the luxury of forming opinions from the comfort of their couch, under zero pressure.

He deserves a break.

Grumbling something about "LAZY BROTHERS" and "TERRIBLE MANNERS" G-Papyrus teleported us back to the Castle.

Ink was there.  

I happen to notice this because, within two seconds of being in the room, I was latched onto his head like a face hugger.

MINE.

"ahhh!" The Creator stumbled under the sudden assault, flailing blindly as a child shaped Avatar glued itself to his facial region. "what are you...?"

"F i x  I t."

I squeezed tighter, causing Ink to panic and dance about as his air supply was cut off.

"fixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixitfixit...."

It was from this glorious position that I caught a glimpse of a stunned Error standing by. Whatever plans he had to murder me, waylaid by the fact I was attempting to devour Ink Sans, starfish style. 

As it was, it took a pair of sharp claws prying me away from my victim for me to become self-aware enough to interact with anyone on an (arguably) intelligent level.

Dazed, I blinked down at Ink, now on all fours trying to catch his breath. 

...probably would have paid to be a little more concise with my request...

Watching the paint-stained skeleton recover...all flushed and teary-eyed...panting...I realised that this premium vantage point seemed oddly familiar...

Finally registering the infuriated voice raging behind me, I put the pieces together and peered hopefully over my shoulder.

"Mr Papyrus!" I twisted to wrap my arms around his neck, surprising both of us. "I knew you wouldn't get eaten!"  

Right. That's exactly why the quiet, terrified hole in my chest was now suddenly overflowing with bubbles and unicorns. 

Pulling back from the embrace, I beamed up at the skeleton.

"...You're far too salty." I explained.

There was a spark of...something...something super edgy...

"YOU-! OF COURSE I DIDNT-! DON'T TRY AND ACT CUTE!" Fell Papyrus became bright red and furious...though made no move to fling me from his personal space.  "YOU'RE THE ONE WHO RAN OFF, AND NOW LOOK AT YOU. PATHETIC."

My happy expression never flattered.

"I got stabbed."

"OF COURSE YOU GOT STABBED." He gritted out. "YOU FUCKING RAN OFF WITHOUT ME." 

"And that wasn't even the worst part." I stressed, eyes wide and hands curling into his scarf. "Mr Sans punned at me. Almost the entire time. It was horrible." 

"...I CAN IMAGINE." Papyrus snarled, sending a dark glare off to the side.

I followed the look to find Classic Sans...

Pinned to the wall. 

The exhausted skeleton gave a small wave, hanging listlessly by his impaled clothing.

"...CAN'T DEFEND AGAINST ONE MEASLY ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT..." Fell Papyrus was muttering, prompting me to shake my head vehemently.

"It's not his fault Mr Papyrus! Even Mr Sleeper was there, and neither of them noticed the attack before I was like, blah..." I maimed getting stabbed in the chest and a fountain of blood coming out. 

...One look at Fell Paps expression told me the demonstration was not appreciated.  

"I would have dodged it myself, but I was distracted by the Void Plant trying to steal my soul for its reproductive cycle..." While I spoke, I wiggled about in his hold, inspecting the tall skeleton for any sort of damage.

"It was weird. I think I ended up severing its weird little soul fraction thingy from...well, I don't know what, but then all the void creatures destabilized and went poof!"  I paused to blink up at him, with one of his gloved hands pulled close for microscopic analysis.

"They...did go Poof, right? Not Ahhh, the pain! It's unbearable kill meee please...!" My head tilted tentatively. "...right?" 

Jaw clenched, Fell Papyrus gave a single restrained nod.

"Good...!That's good. Good job me..." I nodded, resuming my inspection. "...Though it would have been way more heroic if I actually knew how I did it...The instructions I found on Google were kinda vague...But it gave me a nosebleed! I was probably gonna die anyway, even if Mr Papyrus hadn't stabbed me. I even made a bone pun at the time. Like, the worst one..."

Releasing the cleared limb, I shifted about, trying to get at the hand currently supporting me...but Papyrus refused to budge...

...

Suddenly ducking under his arms, I monkey climbed around the tall skeleton's torso to cling to the back of his armour... snatching up the hidden limb as he sputtered indignantly.

The soft fabric of his red glove was torn.  

Somebody ...I don't know who yet... But somebody was about to experience the full wrath of my Smut Empire...

"ENOUGH OF THAT." Papyrus battered my numb fingers away, twisting about to try and grab me. I avoided the hands, scampering down his tall frame to huddle at his boots, blinking the saddest eyes to ever blink in the history of eyeballs.

"...Did it hurt?"

Fell Papyrus crossed his arms and glared back at me. An iceberg of edgy silence, refusing to melt.

"STOP SNIVELING. IT'S A SCRATCH, NOT A SEVERED LIMB."

I bit my lip, gaze falling guiltily to my knees.

Stupid. I brought him here, then just did what I wanted. Ditched them. Upset Error and diverted Ink's attention...it’s amazing no one DIED...  

"...you know..." Startled, I blinked up to find that Ink Sans had joined us...against all sane reasoning...

The Creator winked down at me, wiggling his brush while holding out a hand towards Fell Papyrus "I'd glove to lend a hand."

Face scrunching up in disgust, Papyrus held his injured glove protectively to his chest.

"NO."

"you sure? i'd hate to give your bro something to complain about..." Both skeletons avoided looking at me, staring each other down in a battle of wills.

Until finally, Papyrus shoved his hand out with a huff.

"CHANGE THE COLOUR EVEN A SINGLE SHADE, AND I'LL RIP SOMETHING VITAL FROM YOUR BODY." 

Ink Sans only gave an amused hum, mending the small tear with a flick of his oversized paint brush.  

"there." He smiled brightly. "hardly even a phalange.

"...EXCUSE ME." Stiffly retracting his arm, Papyrus did an about-face. "I NEED TO GO HURT SOMETHING." 

Ink and I watched the fuming skeleton make a beeline towards where G-Papyrus was scolding his brother/ where SwapFell had fallen asleep over the tall Papyrus' shoulder.

...can't save everybody I guess...

"you seem to be getting along well." Hearing his voice right by my ear, I turned to find Ink Sans crouching beside me. Resigned to his fate, The Creator went to work, pulling out a smaller brush to mend the plethora of holes in my raincoat. "i've never seen the edgelord warm up so fast."  

Meddlesome. Lucky for him, I know he's allergic to his own medicine.    

"I am irresistibly charming and pure." I acknowledged, making myself comfortable on the ground.

Might as well accommodate the tailoring...Since he insists...

"oh, is that all?" Ink's smile twitched as he followed my example. 

"A spectacular fashion sense, handsome features and natural modesty? The list goes on and on really."

"no doubt." He responded good-naturedly, shifting closer to murmur conspiringly in my ear. "you didn't hear it from me... but error's been in a terrible mood cause he doesn't like the idea of anyone rivalling the blueberry."

I couldn't help but roll my eyes.

"I'm egotistical Mr Ink, not deluded."

Just...don't quote me on that...

"hmm. how did the story go again...? a showerful force..."

Releasing a sound of pure mortification, I slapped a hand over the Creator's grinning teeth, eyes wide.

"We do not speak of it."

His own eye sockets crinkled up teasingly.

"one of your channels had that hour playing on repeat." The words somehow came out muffled from beneath my hand. "error watched it three times."

"...Resentful bastard." 

A slippered foot was shoved into the back of my head.

"m͢͠y͢ ̸ea͜r̸s ̛҉͞a̵rȩ͢ ͏͟b͢u͏r̴͝n̢i͡n͜g̶͜." 

Geez, I'll end up spoiled at this rate 

"Should have worn protection."

Ink snickered at Error's expense, turning my body so he could start painting the other side of my coat, and effectively removing the foot from my head.

Error stood over us, arms crossed relentlessly.

"m͟ake̴ ͠͡y͏͠o͘u̴r̢̡ p̛ȩ̨s͘͝͞t҉ ͘u̵n̷̕l̴̢o̵͜͝c̕k ͟t̷͢he ͜͠an̨͢t͏i̡͢͝-v̴o̵i̸̴d̶͞

Well, when you ask so nicely...

"Sure, I'll just wake him up...oh. I see, you must have been using Sarcasm."

"t̸̕h͘͜͏e ͘l̶͜҉ong͜er ̧҉y̛o̢̢͜u̸͘ ͟m̶͟a̸ke m͡e ͜s̶̢͡t̕͞a̴͞n̢̧d͠ ̛͡h̸̡er͝e͏̨,̵ ̕͞t͏͠h̢͝͝e̢ ̛͘͡m͝o̴͟r̡e ͘͜͝t͏i̡m̴͢e͢͠ I̸ ͞͏sp̵̢͡e͟n̡d͏͘ ҉͝fa̶n̕͏ta͘s̸̢i̴̶̧s͝i͝ng̷ ͟͜͢a͘͞bou̴t҉ ̶y̛o̢u̶͟r͢͠ m̕͠u̡r͘de̛ŗ̡͜.̛͢" He bent forward to sneer at me." ̧̕i͞'͠m̸̧̨ ͜͝a͞͝t ̨the ̕p͟͠o͜i̶͝n͘͏t͘ ̨w̷ȩr̵̡͢e ̴i̵'m͡ s̷e̵ri̴̡͠ǫ̢͘ư͢sl̡y͜ ͡c̷͞o̵͠ns̨i̷ḑ͢er̡̡i̷n͡g ab̧d͏u͝c̶̢t̸͡į͘n̷g̵͟ ̷̷͢a̕ ͠f̴r̸̸͟i̷͢sk̶̕͘, ͘a̶͠n͏̧d͟ ͢u͏s̕͢i̕͘͜ng̡̨̧ ҉t͏҉h͞ȩ̷į̕̕r ̷̨͟d̸̛e͞͠t̵erm̕͟͠ina͢͞t̡i̛̛͢o̢̨n̨̨͠ ҉̧to͏ ̕e͏̸nj̢͡o̷y̢͘͞ ͡t̨̡͜h͢҉̸e̷͘ ͝e̢̛͟x̕͟p̧er͞͝͝iȩ̸n͢͞c͢e̸ o̶͝v͜͠͏e̴r̕͜ ̕͢͠a̴n̸̢͜d o̵vęr ͡a͏̴̵g͏̷aį̧̛n͘͜."

"Careful. You're meeting all my standards."

Despite my firm seat in the sass-wagon, I reached up into my scarf...feeling about until I was able to tug gently on the small Bitty's foot. 

"You're not going to take the competition lying down, are you Mr Sleeper?"

The action caused him to stir, only enough to mumble something unintelligible.

Completely knackered. 

"Well...I've got good news, and I've got bad news." I blinked up at Error's glitching expression. "The good news is, if he wasn't in a coma right now, he probably would have just said no."

Error, wisely, decided to go take a walk. 

A long walk.

I watched the fuming skeleton storm from the castle, a little stunned that he had enough self-control to not brutally murder me for inconveniencing him... but was willing to put my disappoint aside if it meant I could get my stuff fixed in peace.

While I still had a hand on the sleeping Bitty, I used the opportunity to covertly slip him out of my scarf and into one of my coat's inner pockets. With him safely tucked out of sight, I was free to unwrap the once brightly coloured fabric from around my neck, and hand it over to Ink.

"It was a gift." I explained. "Don't break it." 

The Creator looked between me and the stained fabric. 

His fault.

With steady hands, Ink started painting bright, neat stripes back onto my prized possession.

As he did so, I marvelled over Error's amazing work ethic.

Not just now, but ever since he had returned from the Observatory... The Destroyer had been almost survivable company.

Perhaps he had given up on killing me after the first time...or he just didn't want to start a war with Sleeper... or maybe, he was trying to kick the habit of murdering people compulsively...

But none of that really explained the shift in attitude towards me. As if he wasn't entirely opposed to... not only the idea of letting me live...but interacting with me...on a very limited level...

"...What did Mr Sleeper do to him...?" I stared after the direction Error had disappeared. "...and on a scale of one to ten, how jealous should I be?"

 Ink made a small noise of contemplation, head tilting and colourful tongue out as he made the final touches to the scarf.

"...maybe he had a change of heart?" The Creator smiled brightly, reaching out to wrap the now gloriously florescent scarf around my neck. 

I stared back suspiciously.

"............You screwed him on my couch, didn't you?" 

The Creator denied it...or at least he would have, if he hadn't immediately started coughing up ink.

"w-why would you..."

Leaning back to glare at the broken ceiling (because I had just gotten my scarf re-coloured, so keep your ink vomit to yourself please) I sighed.

"guess not huh...Well, there goes my theory about his aggression being directly linked to sexual frustration..."

"stars." Ink breathed the word like he'd just had a heart attack, pinching my hat off my head so that he could quickly dye it back to its rightful colour. "you're terrifying, you know that right?"

Humbly, I nodded.

"I like to imagine the prudes tell horror stories about me around their campfires."

Every stalker's dream is to become an urban legend...  

Ink dumped my hat back on my head, make sure to ruffle it.

"must be because you're a hot topic."

"Ew." Blinded, I lifted my shoe, foot and all, so that he could access the hole in my sole. "I didn't think innuendo could get more inappropriate, but there you go."

A boney hand took hold of my ankle.

"you're smiling."

I lifted my hat to stare at him

"Physically impossible."

He shrugged, winking one of his flickering eyes at me.

"i've got a keen eye for detail."

"And an even better imagination."

"touché." 

My foot was released and I pulled it back slowly, examining the purple flip-flop for any flaw...

None.

"the colours should be a little more resistant from now on..." Ink reassured. "though i can't make your clothes stab proof...so...ah, avoid that...but you know, these things do happen so...if you ever need something mended...assuming you don't die of course..."

My clothes were perfect.

Apart from being a couple of feet shorter and down a family member...it's like Error and Ink never assaulted me in my own home.

"...Thank you, Mr Ink." I nodded to him once, gratefully. "For trying."

To make things better.

To be better.

Colour burst across his cheeks.

"ah...that's..."

"WHERE THE FUCK..."

The attention of everyone in the room was suddenly drawn to Fell Papyrus who, having been denied his revenge against SwapFell, had been in the process of freeing Sans from the wall. Except, when he went to remove the bones pinning the smaller skeleton, he finally noticed one tiny, itsy-bitsy detail... 

"...ARE YOUR SHOES?"

Classic Sans shrugged sleepily.

"...where do you think?"

Slowly, one by one, I felt the gazes in the room fall on me.

Oh.

"Wow." I blinked. "That is a mystery."

Even to my own ear, that didn't sound convincing.

Papyrus' gazed narrowed.

"HUMAN..."

"Definitely not in my pants. That's for sure."

A deep breath was taken.

"GIVE.

THEM.

B A C K."

Something about his tone and expression and criminal history told me,

He wasn't really asking.

...They're just a pair of shoes.

Nothing worth dying for...

...eh.

Who am I kidding?

My jaw set stubbornly.

There's gotta be something out there that hasn't been broken yet.

"...Can we see what's behind door NO?"

 

Chapter Text

The creak of the front door opening disturbed the perfect stillness of my lair.

Cold. Empty. Impersonal....Home.      

I continued to hang limp from the doorknob, having used my exhausted collapse across the threshold to open the door.

After everything I had experienced in the last few days, one thing was certain.

All the Disney princesses who had ever yearned for something more...were wrong.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

"I should have listened to you Anxiety..." I moaned, trying to summon the will power to travel the last few feet to my couch. "...You were right. There's nothing out there but angst and exercise."

Coming home to sulk recuperate had to be the best decision I had made all night.

Lord knows it wasn't the bright idea to defy Fell Papyrus and run away with Sans' shoes...

Which seemed genius at the time. 

Not only did running away and hiding in a bush preserve the dream of one day having a shine with Sans’ slippers cast in sexy poses… it provided the perfect cover for my kick-ass pity party. 

Like…'Ey. That Ava. Always with the whacky shenanigans. I’d offer up a penny for their crazy thoughts, if porn wasn’t Free.

And it was true. A part of me genuinely wanted to keep those shoes as a hostage...but then there was the thought of being dragged back to UnderFell.

More accurately, being dragged back to the Fell Sans-es... 

And, yeah...As much as it breaks my heart to avoid accountability... Going back to Fell felt too much like backtracking.

“Backtracking” being a synonym for “Slow and painful death.”  

“…Slow and painful death” being a synonym for “Being lectured.”

And having made something like 0% progress with finding my marmoset, I didn’t feel like I deserved such a treat.

At the beginning of this venture, I had been hoping that coming to Echotale would give me some sort of clue. The Bees, the flower... they were made from possibility, like Mo. They had been given some sort of soul, like Mo.

Something I had demonstrated...On camera...  

Practically an instructional video.

...I'd always thought I’d ruin the universe…you know, through hard work and determination…but indirectly works too I guess…

Then there was the fact I’d pushed Sleeper far past his limits, once again endangering the only person in the universe who tolerated me despite everything...only to lose my only lead on Mo...

In the privacy of my bush, I felt it was okay to feel kinda bummed out about that stuff. The idea was to take a little bit of Me time...indulge in some despair and self-doubt while I waited for Sleeper to recover. 

Truly, a brilliant master plan... but there was one little thing I failed to take into account.

"why're we hiding?"

"They wants to takes it from us." I hissed, peering through the leaves. "To steal what is (technically not) ours…" 

Making ominous, perverted noises, I pet the fluffy pink slippers in my cradled arms. "But we refused..."

“...that’s some sick dedication ya got there brah.” The empty bush whispered back.

...after a little bit of mental math (calculating the likelihood of talking plants) I slowly turned my head…coming eye to sunglasses with the Freshest Skeleton in the known Multiverse.

Y O  L O.

Cause that’s just what my pity party needed.

A guest.

Heck, let's bring in a V.I.P

Teach you to have feelings...

“hate to sound like a hater.” Fresh tilted his head in whatever passes as concern for him. “but for a bro who was all up and panic’n over their own radtastic duds, running off with the sans-man’s hip kicks seems super hypocritical, dawg.”     

I don’t know how blood managed to flood my face with my heart stopped.

Just keeping in theme with everything else that didn't make sense, I guess.

My usual response to any sort of judgement is to open my mouth and traumatize someone.

But this was Fresh Sans.

The Master of PC. 

All I wanted was an autograph.

And him inside me. 

Squeaking in mortification, I shoved Sans' Slippers into the parasite's chest. 

F o r b i d e n.

A colourful WH  AT? flashed across his shades as Fresh fumbled with the sudden burden...but there was no time to explain or even excuse myself. I leapt to my feet, startling the crap out of Error...Who had been leaning against the ruin's door, lost in thought...Something like five feet away this entire time...

...I'm an excellent multitasker.

Leaving the two skeletons to what should be an interesting conversation, I sprinted off into the distance at ultimate speed, leaving only dust and awkwardness behind me.

You'd think running away would mark the end of my troubles...

But no. It turned out to be the worst thing I could have done, because a few blind turns later, I ran straight into the last person I should be left alone with.

Alphys.

Who, oddly enough, wasn't really prepared to have a little Avatar plough into her out of nowhere.

Thus, the yellow monster ended up sprawled out on the ground, staring up at me as I straddled her.

...That expression...belongs on a waifu pillow....

I stared back, panting to catch my breath...not really registering what was wrong with this scenario as I held a protective hand over Mr Sleeper's pocket.

The little bitty didn't stir.

...I had mixed feelings about that... 

On one hand, if he woke up and found me like this...

On the other, waking up is the healthy, non-comatose thing all the kids are doing these days.

It was worrisome...but I'm easily distracted.

When Alphys' rapid, panicked speech pattern finally managed to make contact with my brain, I realised.

This is not how you greet a new pal.

"Don't worry." I gave the fretting Monster a soothing pat. "You're not the first Alphys I've sat on. Swap Alphys gave me a piggyback ride when we first met, and she hasn't died...yet."

I crossed my arms, squinting in consternation.

"...So worst case scenario, you still have a few months left to live. Just...make sure to drink lots of water okay? I'll pray for you."

Dear God of sitting transmitted infections,

Be cool.

Sincerely,

Ava.

"P-p-please..." Alphys continued to quake beneath me. Still very not okay with this situation, despite my reassurances.

I sighed.

...Should probably to get off her now.

Yep.

"Excuse me..." I mumbled politely, scrambling up and away from my latest victim. "I wasn't watching where I was going."

And we all know running into someone is only socially acceptable when you have bread in your mouth...

"T-that's okay..." The yellow monster climbed to her feet shakily, unable to look at me as she dusted off her lab coat. "I'm s-sure it was an a-accident..."  

"Indeed." I confided with a serious nod. "I do have terrible judgement, but I'm normally much better at fleeing from my mistakes. Except for that one time Mr Papyrus smooched himself...and now this...yeah. Not a proud day in the history of Ava..." 

I stopped talking. 

Because, as I let my gaze wander over our surroundings, I finally noticed where the royal scientist had been standing...alone and quiet before I ran into her.

"Oh n-no, it wasn't that bad...j-just a little startling and...um...physical..." Alphys fidgeted beside me, blushing and out of breath. "b-but I'm actually glad I ran into you...o-or at you ran into me...heh..."

"It wasn't damaged?"

Alphys startled at the sudden question, looking at me for the first time only to find my attention elsewhere.

Undyne's house. 

...untouched...

"...n-no. Thankfully..."

...Empty.

I glanced over to find her staring at the house. Expression matching her quiet voice.

In this patchwork world...

Some pieces were missing.

I had stumbled into something very...emotional.

Which was bad.

The only experience I've had with comforting people is giving them something worse to worry about...Me. 

...In the rare case where I'm not the cause of the distress in the first place...

...It's an attention thing.

...Also, a control thing.

If we talk about me, then I'm the one deciding what is and isn't hurtful.

Grief was an emotional minefield I wasn't prepared to walk on.

Really. I should have just fled given her some privacy...

"Um...Have you ever..." I shuffled uncomfortably. "...heard of Undynetale?"

...Except privacy goes against everything I believe in. 

The Royal scientist tore her gaze away from the fish-like architecture. "p-pardon...?"

I shoved my hands into my pockets. 

"It's the universe where everyone is Undyne, and Undyne is everyone."

Alphys started to blush.

"I-I d-don't..."

But I was already pulling out my phone, typing in the password and clicking on the search engine.

"They don't have a working machine over there so you probably haven't met them...then again, I'm not sure the multiverse could handle it if they did..."

In fact, I'm like 99% sure that's an automatic game over, as far as life on earth is concerned...

I sided up to Alphys, holding my phone between us and scrolling through the images. "I told Fell Papyrus all about it the other night, and I'm pretty sure he's committed to building a fallout shelter..."

The moment Alphys realised just what she was looking at, her hand flew to her mouth to stifle her reaction.

"Are they...?"

"Yea."

"A-and is that...?"

"Yea. I ship it too."

"OMG..."

I nodded along with her evaluation. 

"It's a really intense universe... were everyone loves anime and kicking butt...See, this is when Undyne decides to conquer Mt Ebbot... and this is when Undyne is attacked by Undyne... luckily she is saved by Undyne...they call each other punk a lot, so it can get confusing to tell who's who..."

Alphys remained quiet as I continued to scroll through the images showing Undyne's journey through the Undyneground...how all the Undynes were freed, and now terrorise the surface...

I wasn't supposed to have favourites, but Undynetale...whimsical as it was...it made me want to smile.   

It is a very kind universe.

"Seeing a world like this... It kinda makes you believe anything is possible...right?"

I lifted my head to blink soulfully up at Alphys.

She was crying.

Very.

Very.

Quietly.

Ava vs Angst.

Angst 1

Ava 0 

"I...ah..." I tried to apologise...or excuse myself...or something...

I settled on something.

"Please...um...don't do that." Using the end of my scarf, I stood up on tiptoe to dab away as much of the evidence as I could. "You'll have all of the Undynes lining up to suplex me. It'll probably only be fun the first four or five times...ten tops."

She giggled...kinda wetly, but I'd take it.

"S-sorry..." She mumbled out, reaching up to wipe away the tears herself. "I j-just never thought it was possible..."

A universe made of pure Undyne? Existing was one thing, but not blowing itself up was another. 

Slowly retracting my hand, I gave a slow nod of understanding,

"...Goes to show, you should never underestimate Reality..."

I tried to smile.

"More importantly, never underestimate Undyne."

She'll find a way to kick your butt across time and space if she has to.

Alphys looked at me strangely for a moment, and I was afraid I'd somehow unlocked a secret level of angst... but she smiled.

Shakily, but still.

"y-yea..." 

I was contemplating doing a victory lap...presenting myself with a medal...maybe writing my own self-help book...when it happened.

A small noise came from my pocket.

A sound more terrifying than any to come before it.

A whimper.

And it occurred to me...

That Sleeper might be having a

N I G H T M A R E.

A portal asserted itself into reality with more force than ever before, flooding the area behind me with light.

Alphys flinched back, suddenly very uncertain...

Might have had something to do with the face I was making.

"Miss Alphys."

I tilted my head slowly, causing the sharp shadows cast by the light to do the same.

"I'm sorry, but something has come up."

With that, I turned, preparing to step through the portal. Though I had no way of knowing where it would take me, I trusted that there wasn't a single force in the universe brave enough to cross me right now.

"w-wait." Alphys reached out to me uncertainly.

"Don't mind me." I sent her one last, blank-eyed stare. "I'm just going home for a quick nap."

Another voice called out in alarm, but I was already stepping through the portal.

Lucky for them.

Eavesdropping is only cute when I do it. 

A wave of tiredness hit me the moment I set foot in my universe. 

Now that it wasn't infested with homicidal skeletons, The Observatory was once again a safe place. 

I just needed to find a place to rest...

Thus, I ended up slumped against my front door, cursing my life choices and trying to get into a less...negative...state of mind.

The best I could do was stay Determined.

"...it'll do."

Dragging myself to my feet, I managed to close my door and lock it...I don't know why. Most of my guests know how to teleport/break a window.

...Home security just isn't what it used to be...

With one exercise in futility out of the way, I stumbled over to my couch...whining because I was too small to just collapse upon it.

For the first time since the attempted assassination, I found myself resenting SwapFell Papyrus.

"...Running around stabbing people all willy-nilly." I grabbed onto the armrest, using it to pull myself up and flop my tiny body across the cautions with a huff. "I'm going to write a letter of complaint to his brother."

Yea. That'll show him.

The compulsive need to Rest hit me, causing my hands to fumble as I reached for Sleeper's pocket.

Who knows what sort of mood he'll be in when he wakes up and... Yea, I'll set him down right there...nice and safe/not next to my vital organs.

Gently retrieving the sleeping bitty, I laid him out on the couch by my head.

The sight of him frowning in his sleep...made me feel like a bad...whatever I am to him.

I should have realised sooner.

My eyes close to the sight of Sleeper curling into himself...and I feel myself slipping into the usual meditative state I pass off as sleep.

Really, I was counting on Dream Sans.

That he knew what was happening. That he would drag me back to the realms of actual slumber.

That he would help me.

Always taking things for granted. 

...I didn't notice the rocking until a gloved hand clasped my shoulder.

My eyes opened.

I was on a boat. 

Meeting worried golden eye lights, I released a sigh. 

"Let's go rescue your brother, shall we?" 

 

Chapter Text

"I'M...AH...NOT NORMALLY ONE TO SAY NEVER..." Dream Sans stood back, phalanges tapping together nervously. "BUT MY BROTHER IS THE INCARNATION OF NEGATIVITY AND FEAR SO... IT MIGHT NOT BE THE BEST IDEA TO...well...CONFRONT HIM WITH A...um... squirt bottle..."

The boat wobbled as I abruptly straightened, holding up said weapon of mass destruction with a look of disbelief. 

"...But it’s got my Sweet Juices in it..."

That is to say, I had just finished filling the bottle up with the glowing "water" from my dream lake. A special formula I was sure would scare away anyone who didn't want to shower in bleach for the next week.

And if Dream Sans were any less of a saint, he might have pointed out how many times "Sweet Juices" have thwarted his brother in the past.

Choosing to spare my feelings, the golden skeleton instead kept his concerned attention on the mystery liquid. 

"...IT'S NOT REALLY MADE OUT OF...WHAT YOU SAID IT IS...is it...?"

"...It should be relatively harmless." I screwed the lid on tightly before giving the contents a contemplative swirl. "...Your Brother is already melting. Technically."

Dream stared at me for a long moment, polite smile frozen in place as his Positivity filter struggled with the implications... before rebooting with denial.

"stars...OKAY!" He straightened, adjusting his clothing as if neatness would prepare him for what was to come. "I'M SURE IT'LL BE FINE!"

I tilted my head at his less than convincing declaration. 

".. Mr Dream, despite me giving you every reason not to... You came to help me."  

And that.

Makes us Wingmen.

"Forget fine."  I held out the hand Not wielding the toxic chemical.  "This is going to be the best Dream ever."

The short skeleton's nervous fidgeting finally stilled, golden eye-lights tentatively meeting my confident gaze.

"r-right..." Dream finally reached out to take my hand. "i-I'LL DO MY BEST!"

I beamed at him.

The warmth of another hand in yours fills you with...

"You and me." I gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. "We're gonna get you that hot date with your bro."

The enthusiasm flattered.

"what?"

The squeeze tightened...restraining...

"I will make him your uke."

A golden sweat-drop appeared as I started to vibrate with DISTURBINATION.

Nobody Tops after picking on my narcoleptic overlord.

Dream was back to being a nervous mess. 

"PLEASE DON'T..."

"Nope. I've decided."

Today, dreams will come true and the ships will sail.

The frazzled skeleton took a deep breath, trying to calm himself into a more positive state of mind. 

"...JUST...BE CAREFUL...PLEASE? I KNOW YOU'RE...YOU... BUT MY BROTHER..." 

"Don't worry amigo." I raised our linked hands to rest over the trusty coat pocket that held my emergency supply. "I've got all your safety needs covered."

W.I.N.K.

Dream blushed violently, expression betraying his internal dialogue.

Don'tPanicDon'tPanicDon'tPanicDon'tPanicDon'tPanicDon'tPanicDon'tPanicDon'tPanic... 

I leant forward with my most charming expression.

"We'd best get going now Mr Dream. While I'm still in a good mood."

He nodded in short, terrified little motions.

Way too nervous. Methinks someone might be having second thoughts...

When the urge to hyperventilate finally passed, Dream summoned up all his courage and we teleported.

Or at least, that's what it seemed like.

In reality, we were travelling through consciousness rather than space...as Dream and his brother were only corporeal on the mental playing field.

Where they had the advantage.

Between one blink and the next, I found myself...

Back in my living room.

"Nope." Abandoning the short skeleton's hand, I immediately tried to bolt. "Didn't sign up for inception...!"

Dream grabbed onto the back of my jacket with a startled protest, stopping me as I very nearly walked off the edge of my couch.

...Walked.

Off my.

Giant.

Couch. 

...Huh.

Tearing my gaze away from the sheer drop to the floor, I peered back at my saviour. 

"...We're in Mr Sleeper's dream, right?"  

"YES."

"...and we're... bitty sized?

He winced.

"PERSPECTIVE TENDS TO DEFAULT TO THE HOST MIND. GOING AGAINST HIS CONSCIOUSNESS WOULD AUTOMATICALLY BE PERCEIVED AS AN AGGRESSIVE ACT AND WOULD DRAW ATTENTION TO OUR PRESENCE..."

So yes.

Ava the Avatar,

Has officially reached new lows.

"...Mr Dream." I held a hand over my shoulder. "Hand me my bucket list." 

Change of plans.

"We’re ticking Giant Skeleton Tentacle Sex Party off it."

Dream groaned, bowing his head in pure embarrassment.

"YOU DO REALISE THIS IS MY BROTHER YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT RIGHT?"

Ah. An excellent point has been made.

"...Make that order an Extra-Large Tentacle Fontcest."

"...right. YOU SEEM TO BE VERY AWARE OF THAT FACT..."

"If you think being this size makes my couch look big, just imagine what it'll do for your bro's..."

Dream Sans yelped, gloved hands flying up to cover his ears...

Which would have been fine...maybe even highly recommended...if I hadn't been depending on him to keep me balanced as I leant over the edge of the couch...

Without his hold on my coat, I promptly fell forward, making sure to flail my limbs as dramatically as possible.

Because I can't do anything without Flair.

"NOOOOOOOoooooooo..." I cried, plummeting to almost certain death...

"...Splash."

Smells like carpet and depression... how does Sleeper know my rug so intimately...?  

"...To be continued."

... 

..

.

"...I AM SO SORRY."

Face down in my rug, I tilted my head up to see Dream hovering over me, hands wringing in remorse.

"Eh? Don't be so hard on yourself. I'm a natural at landing on hard surfaces." The short skeleton offered me a hand up, and I took it without hesitation. 

The ultimate gesture of trust and goodwill.   

"Just ask Mr Sleeper when you meet him..." 

I frowned slightly.

"...On second thoughts, don't do that. Just ah...start apologizing. Immediately and continuously until he loses interest... Better yet..."

My eyes widened. 

"Play dead."

"...LET'S...um, maybe...WORRY ABOUT THAT WHEN THE TIME COMES..."

"Good idea. Great even. Knew keeping your mouth unoccupied would pay off one of these days..." Dusting off my coat, I focused my mind on the task ahead...

"My T.V..." I gasped, clutching at my chest as I caught sight of the object. "It's...it's..."

Massive... Glorious...Cinematic... 

"...BROKEN?"

Well yes. That too.

Once you get past its incredible size and girth...you notice that the screen is shattered...impaled with so much force and intent the bone magic still hadn't faded from existence.

As to Why my T.V had met such a terrible fate... it probably had something to do with the little yellow sticky note that played the bullseye in this impromptu target.

Only one word and a half were still readable on the page...but it was enough to have me immediately covering up Dream's eyes with a protective hand.

-th Mo  

"WHAT ARE YOU...?"

"Ahem..." I cleared my throat, forcing away the sudden tightness.

It's just a game.

"...Before we get into this, I think you should know..."

I pressed closer as Dream continued to fret, making sure he couldn't escape my wisdom.

"Your brother is terrible in bed."

The small skeleton went stiff.

"I D-DON'T..."

"No foreplay. Relies too much on jump scares and disturbing themes...just never lets the tension build up, if you know what I mean...And yeah, it might be thrilling the first couple of times... but the experience quickly goes stale, when you realise it's all about his own gratification."

Not to mention he sleeps around...

I lifted my hand up just enough to peer seriously into one of Dreams eye-sockets... momentarily surprised to find them empty.

"...And I'm afraid to say, you're not much better. Sorry." 

Dream flinched, bright golden eye-lights returning as he seemed to catch himself wavering under the weight of the criticism...

I tilted my head.

"One thing you both need to realise is that no one needs you to make them feel anything."

...And yeah, now that I was paying attention to it, the short monster was losing...something... A dimming of the ever-present glow...

Burning out. 

"Anyone can dream alone..." I lifted my hand away completely, finding the gaze beneath to be tired...braced for the verbal blow... "...Suffer alone..."

And promptly mushed his cheeks between one hand and the squirty bottle, bending over to stare intently into his startled eyes.

"But it takes two to share."

His gaze widened, vulnerable... but something inside him seemed to ease.

A little bit of encouragement can go a long way.

"Compared to how I would have done this alone...well, having you here has already made all the difference...so..."

I offered him my warmest expression.

"You ready to Sleep Together Babe?"

What started out as a meaningful expression between the two of us fell into irritation.

Dream huffed, radiating disapproval even with his mooshed face.

"...DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO PHRASE THINGS LIKE THAT?" 

I narrowed a severe look at his adorable expression.

"Yes."

He reached up, gently removing my hand from his cheek and using it to pull me along as he marched across the giant terrain.

"I SUPPOSE I'LL JUST HAVE TO GET USED TO IT THEN."

I followed along behind the short skeleton, staring at his back.

Ha. Get dunked on Slendermare. 

"Awww, can't you go suck the fun out someone else's hobby?"

Dream didn't even pause in his stride.

"SEXUALLY HARASSING PEOPLE IS NOT A HOBBY."

-99999

"...Don't know what I was worried about..." I muttered, firmly pouting as we left the note on my T.V screen behind. "...You and Mr Sleeper are going to get along just fine...."

As we crossed the vast expanse of my living room, I couldn't help but marvel over how different everything looked at this scale.

I've gone to some extreme lengths in the name of décor before...brightening up the room with some paint or the odd hole in the wall...but this probably takes the cake...

"YOUR FRIEND HAS A REMARKABLE DREAMSCAPE." Dream complimented, offering me a bright smile over his shoulder. "VERY DEVELOPED, AND WELL MAINTAINED." 

I immediately puffed up in pride.

"Of course. Sleeping is his hobby...or maybe being awake is the hobby..." 

Still, I doubt he'll appreciate us coming in here for a perusal...

"Just...um...I wouldn't admire it too closely...If you want to live..." 

I know I'll be turning a blind eye...Just minding my own business...Bet he censors all the fun stuff anyway... 

Finally, we came to a stop in front of the impenetrable barrier/ my front door.

No wonder Sleeper is so grumpy all the time. This is ridiculously inconvenient. 

"Excellent." I tucked my squirt bottle into one of the deepest pockets of my trusty utility coat.  "Always did want to try and gnaw my way through a door."

I shall envy the rodents no longer!

"THAT WON'T BE NECESSARY." Dream cheerfully released my hand, teleporting up to the door handle and using his weight to turn it. Swinging down, the heroic skeleton managed to kick off the door frame with enough positivity reinforced strength to have the giant wooden menace creak open.

Fearlessly, he dropped back down to the ground, resting one hand on the door as he politely "held" it open for me.  

"Well. That's just no fun at all."

Dream smiled at me knowingly.

Cheeky bugger. Bounces back far too easily.

My arms crossed at the challenge.

"Close it again, and I'll do it better."

The short skeleton shook his head, almost teasingly.

I swear, if he tries to call me Adoorable...

"WE CAN COME BACK AND PLAY WITH THE DOOR ANOTHER TIME." He pointed out reasonably.

".......Fine."  I scowled, but nevertheless made my huffy way towards the door. "I'll spare you the agony of defeat, just this once."

No sooner had I passed the first obstacle, that I was met with the next.

Stairs.  

More importantly, the devastation that lay beyond them.

Turns out, this little dream house was an oasis of normality...a sanctuary from the incomprehensible chaos that lay in wait.

A combination of my own universe and many other things...all put through the blender and scattered, floating in a weightless abyss. 

Destroyed.

Had I been in the mind of anyone else, I would have blamed the broken dreamscape on surreal psychology crap. But I knew Mr Sleeper, and I recognised this for what it was....

He lost his temper.

"...That's the other thing about your brother's technique..." I turned to give Dream a very serious stare.  "He always assumes he'll be the one in control."

 

Chapter Text

"Making my way downtown, crawling fast, through the grass, won't make a sound...DA NA NA NA NANA...!"

A small clunk reached my ears.

The distinct sound of a skeleton facepalming.

"...stars."

Dream Sans was standing, like a normal person would, in the waist high grass. 

Where I...the vastly superior life form... had opted to tunnel my way through the lawn... like a lion on savanna....A seamless beast of prey...

"Ooooh!" I shot up out of the grass, holding my latest discovery over my head. "A lost marble!"

How scandalous. 

"...But..." My heroic pose lost some of its Eureka! as the shiny new possession failed to fill the hole in my life where Sleeper's sadism used to be.  "...still no sign of Mr Sleeper..." 

The Watson to my genius Sherlock crossed his arms, frowning slightly in thought.

 "MAYBE WE'RE NOT LOOKING IN THE RIGHT PLACES?"

Blinking in confusion, I hugged the oversized marble to my chest.

...But Sleeper's a monster...and this is tall grass... Pokémon logic dictates he must be here...

"Normally I would say we should follow the trail of destruction..." I mused. "But ah..."

One glance at our surroundings ruled out that option.

"...The destruction appears to be everywhere...?"

Not that I'm criticizing Sleeper's architectural choices...! But a dreamscape that is a little easier to navigate would have been...well, convenient...

It was mostly thanks to Dream that we were able to travel the void-like terrain at all. Teleporting between shattered pieces of earth and broken objects floating in space...the search so far had mostly been a matter of investigating one option after another and coming up empty-handed.

Choosing not to progress is one thing...But being stuck not knowing what to do... trying the same options over and over, desperate to find the one thing missing...

Would only lead to MADNESS. 

Noticing my disheartened slump, Dream waved his hands in frantic apology. "OH NOI.. uh..I SIMPLY MEANT THAT FINDING YOUR FRIEND MAY NOT BE AS... STRAIGHT FORWARD... AS YOU MIGHT THINK."

At my confused blink, Dream rubbed the back of head sheepishly.

"DREAMS TEND TO FOLLOW A...SUBCONSCIOUS LOGIC. IN THAT MOST THINGS ARE THE WAY THEY ARE FOR A REASON. "

I narrowed a suspicious look at our relatively harmless surroundings.

...nope. I refuse to believe Sleeper's subconscious isn't a den of iniquity.  

"Logic...?"

"WELL..." Dream fiddled nervously with his gloves. "WE MIGHT HAVE MORE LUCK... IF WE TRY TO SEE THINGS FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW. THINKING 'WHERE WOULD I HIDE SOMETHING If WERE HIM' … RATHER THAN SEARCHING RANDOMLY..."

So by not straight forward, he means I have to actually put some thought into what I am doing.

"ALL I'M SAYING IS...A MORE PERSONALISED STRATEGY MIGHT BE MORE EFFECTIVE ... ."

I nodded faintly, acknowledging that the optimistic skeleton did have more experience with this sort of thing...so it might be best to set aside my doubts for now and try something different...

"...OR!" I held up the finger of inspiration. "We could try calling out for Marco!" 

A sweat drop appeared on Dream's brow.

"...WOULDN'T THAT ATTRACT TOO MUCH ATTENTION?'

"That's the beauty of Marco-Pollo." My finger shifted into a thumbs up. "No one will know it's us."

Flawless strategy. 

"...that’s...uh..." 

I blinked at him, waiting eagerly for his elaboration on my brilliant plan.

Dream sighed, seeming to wilt a little. 

"ENCOUNTERING MY BROTHER IS ONE THING...BUT YOUR FRIEND IS ALSO IN A VERY...DEFENSIVE STATE OF MIND. HE MIGHT REACT VIOLENTLY, IF WE DON'T TREAD CAREFULLY..."

I stared at him, not really comprehending the problem. 

"...I think that's just Mr Sleeper's personality..."

Dream shifted nervously.

"STILL...IT MIGHT BE BEST THAT WE TRY A LESS...DRASTIC APPROACH FIRST."

Fair enough.

"So you want us to rely on my intimate knowledge and understanding of Mr Sleeper?" 

"WELL...! Maybe not rely so much..." Dream suddenly pumped a fist, eyes burning with pure denial optimism. "I'M SURE WE'LL FIGURE SOMETHING OUT, IF WE JUST KEEP TRYING!"

Wow. He must really not want to run into his brother if he's that willing to board my train of thought...or his brother to run into me... 

"Hmm..." I raised a hand to my chin, carefully considering the suggestion. "Delving into Mr Sleeper's psyche eh...? Well, I do enjoy dawdling...and studying intimate things...invading people’s privacy...fine. SOLD." 

With a bounce in my step, I closed the distance between us.

"Since it would seem that Mr Sleeper is not crouched in the grass...somewhere...taunting me... Our next best bet might be to try looking in the lab."

Dream blinked at me.

"...LAB?"

"Yeah." I pointed up in explanation. "The one that came with that sign."

Dream followed my finger to find that there was indeed a large sign floating amongst the debris above us.

Or at least part of one, with the broken end of a word flickering blue neon in the distance.

-RATORIES.

"Maybe the question isn't 'where would he hide?' " I tilted my head. "but 'what is already hidden?'"

e v e r y t h i n g. 

Dream continued to stare, smile relaxing slightly. 

"how'd i miss that?" Dream said, more to himself than me...

I shrugged anyway.

"Cause you've been staring at my butt?"

His eyes-lights fizzled out as he jerked his mortified gaze back down to mine.

"I WAS NOT!"

The lady protests too much...That is to say, at all.

"Don't worry, I understand completely." I held out a reassuring thumbs up. "Only a fellow lover of yellow can appreciate how smexy my ass looks in this shapeless raincoat."

His hands flew up to cover his blushing expression, too embarrassed to look at me as I posed flirtatiously. 

Duck lips. 

"COULD WE PLEASE... JUST GO NOW?"  

"Sure."

Only because you begged.

"YOU'RE...BRINGING THE MARBLE?" He asked, hesitantly peeking at me from between his fingers. 

 I glanced down at the pure white orb, now tucked firmly under my arm.

"...I need it."

"...DO I WANT TO KNOW WHY?"

Probably not.

"...I might be in the middle of a cold war with the Annoying Dog..."

Who's got the shiny ball now huh?!

Dream stared at me, confused but not really willing to risk the question. 

I sighed.

Of course we don't really have time to go into the intricacies of dog politics, so the next best excuse would have to do. 

"I'm an Avatar." I explained, resting my hand gently on the marble's smooth surface. "I can't just Not pick up and hoard a random object I find lying on the ground...Even putting all those words together in a sentence gives me the heebie-jeebies...just think about it. What if this marble comes in handy in some convoluted way...? Or unlocks a secret...?"

Still, Dream Sans seemed a little hesitant. 

"...IT'S JUST NOT ALWAYS THE BEST IDEA, TO MOVE THINGS...IN OTHER PEOPLE'S HEADS..."

I made a point of not looking at our devastated surroundings.

"...Call it a hunch, but I don't think Mr Sleeper is being very particular about the order of things at this point in time."

The short skeleton huffed, disapproving of my sass.

"...FINE...IF IT MEANS THAT MUCH TO YOU..."

"You hear that Remy?" I cheered, spinning the Marble in an enthusiastic in a circle. "You get to come on an adventure with us!"

Dream sighed the exhausted sigh of sane people everywhere.

"PLEASE DONT NAME IT."

I bent closer to whisper into the marble's ear. "Don't listen to him, you're not a third wheel. He's just jealous...cause you're my precious Marble-Warble oh yes you are!"  

The short skeleton crossed his arms, stern as stern can be.

"I'M NOT STEALING IT FOR YOU IF YOU GET ATTACHED." He warned. 

I pouted.

"I'm pretty sure Mr Sleeper would give it to me if I asked really nicely...or licked it. He's very generous that way." 

Dream's disapproving look twitched, struggling to remain in place as he held out a hand for me to take. 

"JUST...DON'T DROP IT, OKAY? THE LAST THING WE NEED IS FOR YOU TO BREAK SOMETHING..."

I gripped his wrist.

"You do realise my brain automatically filters out the "Don't" in most sentences, right?" 

Dream's smile twitched.

"I HADN'T NOTICED." 

So it was with an eye roll, that the quest for the hidden Lab begun. 

Me, Dream and Remy. On the road. Brought together by whacky happenstance. Overcoming the challenges and discovering the true meaning of friendship.

Probably the most meaningful fifteen minutes of my life.

"Welp. That was easy."

I stood triumphantly in the giant foyer of what could only be...a really creepy lab.

A really creepy, dimly lit, probably haunted lab.

"Didn't even break a sweat."

"WE NEARLY DIED."  Dream pointed out, panting on all fours beside me. 

"Don't be so melodramatic." I waved off his healthy concerns. "Me and Remy would have been fine. You're the one who lives in a questionable plane of existence. Being crushed by falling debris is exclusively your problem."  

Which kinda explained why, the moment we had come across a lonesome, important looking door floating in space, Dream had nearly fallen over himself to get it open and us through it.  

The poor skeleton paused in his recovery to send me an alarmed look.

"...PLEASE SAY YOU'RE JOKING, AND I DON'T HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO YOU THE REPERCUSSIONS THAT SORT OF TRAUMA WOULD HAVE ON YOUR PSYCHE..."

"Fine. You're joking, and I don't have to explain blah blah blah psyche..." I wondered off, already beginning to examine our surrounding with a curious head tilt. "Now...I know it has to be around here somewhere..."

"...stars." Dream moaned into the floor, spending another long moment catching his breath before asking the tentative question.

"what...um...WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?"

"The flashlight."

Duh.

Something must have been lost in translation, because Dream only seemed more confused by this answer.

"We're in a dark, scary building." I waved the hand of elaboration, glancing back at him over my shoulder. "Danger lurking behind every corner. No Escape..."

"BUT THE DOOR IS..."

"N o  e s c a p e."

I gave Dream a severe look... but it was kinda hard to stay stern when he seemed so confused...

"Look..." I sighed. "We just need to find a Flashlight. So that we can read all the documents we come across... and put together what happened here through tiny fragments of information..."

...Now I'm pretty sure he understood what I was getting at...but was too offended to even acknowledge it...

With a shrug, I continued my search in earnest.

What Dream didn't realise, was that I was dead serious about finding that flashlight.

Sorry Sleeper old pal. I'd sooner quit than wonder through your Nightmare infested shadowy secrets without a light source...

"...the dark is the least of your problems."

I froze.

Hugging Remy tightly to my chest, I slowly looked over to find... Dream Sans. Now standing.

Pointing to himself.

"I GLOW."

He elaborated.

Blink blink.

I nearly fell over as my heart restarted.

"....Don't. Do. That!

Dream flinched back at the sudden volume.

"DO WHAT?!"

"Use your Sans voice when my back is turned!"

"...sans voice?"

"That Voice! Right there!" I jabbed a finger at him. "Stop it. It's too dark in here for that shit."

Horror, Error, Nightmare... regular Sans...the only dark place that voice could be tolerated was the bedroom, and even then, it's better to just gag him. 

 Dream stared at me, like I was the one having an irrational overreaction. 

 "you're...YOU'RE NOT... um..." He tugged at his gloves, uncomfortably, "...AFRAID...right...?"

"No."  

Of course not.

Something about the way he watched me tremble in fear made me think he didn't quite believe me.

I crossed my arms firmly.

"...I just have a low tolerance for Theatrical Horror."

Dream stared at me, like he could not believe I was being serious right now.

"BUT YOU DEFEATED THE DESTROYER WITH A SELFIE!"

I stared back at him, equally aghast.

"I did no such thing!" 

"I'VE SEEN THE VIDEO OF YOU IN SWAP! YOU STOPPED THAT THING WITH A BANANA!"

"That was completely different."

"YOU CAME HERE ARMED WITH A SQUIRT BOTTLE!"

"Dude, I could come across a shovel in this place and not be able to pick it up and use it as a weapon. That's what the stress of horror does to people." 

"I-I SEE..." 

...Ever get the feeling you're being laughed at?  It usually accompanies the act of being laughed at. 

Though Dream did his best to hide the impulse, I could see the mirth crinkling his eye sockets over the hand covering his smile...

Yeah.

His Best wasn't all that great. 

I proceeded to pout and scowl to the best of my ability.

Whatever. At least I could count on Remy to protect me against the inner workings of Sleeper's twisted mind...You never know. The Bitty might be secretly weak against Marbles...

"YOU SHOULDN'T WORRY SO MUCH."

I startled, glancing at the skeleton who had reached my side unnoticed.

"I'm not worried."

"IT WON'T BE WORSE THAN ANYTHING YOU'VE FACED IN THE PAST, SURELY? "

"Yes it will be and don't call me Surely." 

He rolled his eyes, holding out a hand towards me.

"COM'ON. THE SOONER WE GO, THE SOONER WE CAN LEAVE RIGHT?"

My gaze narrowed suspiciously.

"I see what you're doing and treating the dark scary lab like it is not a problem does not make it any less of a problem."

Still, I let him take my hand and lead me towards the dark corridor.

Here we go. Deeper into the depths of horror... without a flashlight...

"YOU SAID IT YOURSELF, WE'RE IN THIS TOGETHER RIGHT?" He sent me a warm smile over his shoulder. "SO TRUST ME."

I grumbled out a defiant not-answer.

"WE'LL FIND YOUR FRIEND."

 

Chapter Text

"...don'twantdon'twantdon'twantdon'twantdon'twant...."

"YOU KNOW...THIS IS KINDA THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO IN THESE KINDS OF SITUATIONS..."

"...nopenopenopenopenope...."

"...FOR ONE THING..." Dream tilted his head to give me a disapproving look. "...COLLAPSING ON THE GROUND IN AN INCONSOLABLE MESS DOESN'T HELP YOUR CHANCES OF ESCAPE...."

"I knoooow..." I wailed, curling into an even tighter call of despair. "Just leave me here to dieeeee..."

The short skeleton turned away with a disbelieving eye-light roll. 

"YOU'RE NOT GOING TO DIE."

"I am!

"TRUST ME. I WOULDNT BE DRAGGING YOU DOWN THE HALLWAY LIKE THIS IF I THOUGHT THERE WAS ANY DANGER OF SOMETHING JUMPING OUT AT US."

That is to say, what had initially started out as hand-holding had progressed into Dream dragging my paralysed body across the floor by the ankle. Trusty yellow raincoat squeaking against the linoleum the entire way. 

Sneak 100.

"then again..." The supposedly optimistic skeleton didn't look back at me as he strode stubbornly forward. "...i suspect you're only doing this to get out of walking..."

I chose not to acknowledge the way too observant muttering, burying my face against Remy's smooth, comforting surface.

... it's not like I'm intentionally dragging this out or anything...

A shiver of revulsion passed through me.

Ew.

That's it.

This really is my worst nightmare.

Puns...laziness...the avoidance of conflict...

I'm turning into a Sans.

"UNLESS..." Dream had slowed down, hesitating in his stride as if attuned to my plummeting mood."...IS SOMETHING WRONG...?"

Yes

I slapped a disciplinary hand to my cheek...probably a little harder than strictly necessary...

"Nope. Nah. Nada. I'm good. Great even!"

No more feeling sorry for you Ava! There are plenty of people out there who have to live with being a Sans every day...

"REALLY?" Dream asked again.

No

"Yep. I've got Rest. I've got Relaxation...and would you look at that? I've even got a View." I gestured meaningfully towards his backside. "What more could an Avatar ask for?"

A flamethrower.  

To incinerate my insecurities.

"...IF YOU SAY SO..." The short skeleton resumed his quick pace, kindly leaving me to my crazy thoughts.

Probably for the best. Conversation only leads to things being said, and we all know how that ends... 

Luckily! I am an expert at self-entertainment.

Just give me a dark hallway, and I'll spend hours agonising over what murderous abominations could spontaneously spawn from it.

Cause that's how the Dark works you know.

Dark + Defenceless person = RANDOM DEATH FROM ABOVE!

...Yeah. Should have known all those late "nights" spent watching Horrortale porn would come back to haunt me...urgh...Didn't help that I was just naturally paranoid...Always trying to predict the narrative ...because rejection bothers me-

Okay.

Woah. 

There is a Line. People.

A thin line, where self-analysis goes from being a fun exercise in humility, to interfering with my petty hobbies. 

Namely bullying skeletons.

Let's not cross it...

I took a deep, calming breath, grimly aware I was a stray thought away from unravelling.  

Let’s Just.... tone down the mania a little and Focus.

On the Hallway of Death.

Gotta take the time to smell the roses. See the sights. Bask in the sense of impending doom...

Stress relief at its finest. 

Though...as far as Hallways of Death go...this one was actually kinda...boring?

Not that I'm criticizing...!

...Just that...Besides being Giant...and Dark...and potentially filled with Terror...the only thing The Hallway had going for it was all the locked Doors.

Each one probably leading to unspeakable horror...or like...offices...storage rooms and...stuff.

Either way, bravely confronting the terrifying darkness with a bold stare had me...well...questioning...why I thought that would be a good idea in the first place...

"...Maybe me and Remy should just stay here and keep watch..." I moaned pitifully.

Dream didn't even pause.

"IN THE DARK?"

"...Maybe you and me should stay here, and Remy will go find Mr Sleeper..."

"DON'T YOU THINK YOU'RE PUTTING A BIT TOO MUCH FAITH INTO A MARBLE?"

I put too much faith in a lot of things.

"...Maybe..."

"LOOK, THERE'S A NICE COSY ELEVATOR UP AHEAD. HOW ABOUT WE GET TO IT, AND THEN TAKE A BREATHER?"

Because ten minutes of escorting me through a haunted building is enough to exhaust even the perpetually unconscious.

I peered past the body towing me to see a giant pair of dimly lit doors...which either meant safety... or a cut scene...

Bet we get separated. 

All my money. On me being plunged into the darkest depths of hor-ror...

As much as I wanted to stay optimistic...or at least stable throughout this endeavour...There was just no way two people could walk into a giant metal death trap and have both come out unscathed.

...On the other hand...

I've never had a ride in an elevator before.

"Only..." I bit my lip, glancing nervously between Dream and our final destination. "...If you let me push the buttons."

I die on my own terms babe.

The short skeleton glanced back at me, confused.

"THAT'S NOT REALLY SOMETHING YOU NEED TO NEGOTIATE..."

"I have to beat you to it first you say? Fine." With a sudden twist, I broke out of his hold and rolled heroically to my feet.

"I accept your challenge."

"WEREN'T YOU..."

"OnetwothreeGO." 

And they were off.

Or at least I was off, running at the very edge of human capacity, because screw being eaten.

And yes, being eaten is the only option here.

Because anything that chose to nab me on the cusp of elevator sex would be receiving a formal invitation to bite me.

...........Once again.

Running in Flip-flops.

Never not a Majestic experience.

The noise, I admit, was something I could have probably done without...at this point in my life...but these be the prices we pay for impeccable fashion...

Really, my best hope of survival was to just make it from A to B. No distractions.

Which of course,

Did not happen.

Because, Me? 

Cross a room without losing focus? 

Practically unheard of.

Fortunately, it was not for nothing that I came to a stumbling halt, just short of the welcoming glow of the elevator.

I found a hint.

A clue. A sign from the cosmos...or rather, just as regular sign. A floor plan to be precise... located on the wall by the Elevator.

And at the top of this glorious display of information, were two words.

CORE LABORATORIES.

I blinked. 

...It's pretty much common knowledge, to anyone living in or stalking the Bittybones universe...that the small monsters are artificially made.

A simple process really. Scientists excavate the remains of the Underground. Scientists find traces of Dust. Scientists use genetic blueprint found in Dust to make mini-clone.

Add magic. More importantly, coloured magic.

Depending on what traits are used, in which percentages, you wind up with variations of monsters from all over the multiverse. Cool right?

Cause everyone knows about the whole Reality-is-defined-by-colour-because-Universes-have-souls thing, so it's only a matter of unlocking the right combination...  

That. Or they experimented until they found a way of making money.

Who can say really?

"AHEM. ARE YOU-?"

"Ahh!" I screeched, flailing away so violently I nearly lost my marble. 

Dream stared at me, standing innocently within the safe halo of the elevator. 

When I only stared back, clutching Remy and hyperventilating, Dream finished his question.

"...COMING?"

...Asshole.

Forget Science or Magic. Teleportation is powered by pure Dickertry. 

"...Yep. Sure. Why not." Gradually unlocking my petrified bones, I made my way into the elevator. "I ain't got nothin better to do than to die in a twisted tomb of burning metal and flesh. And I'm not even talking about the elevator here. Mr Sleeper is gonna murder me so bad when he finds out I've been prying into his creepy past. Never mind I brought a tour group with me..."

"I'M SURE IT'LL BE FINE..." Dream gently tried to console me. "...YOU CAN STILL PUSH THE BUTTON...IF YOU WANT?" 

I pouted, glancing up at the far too distance control panel, 

The entire thing screamed effort...but was I really willing to risk Dream pushing the down button and plunging us into an even deeper and darker Hell?

No. No I was not.

The skeleton himself seemed more than willing to accommodate, holding a hand out to take Remy.

"WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO HOLD..."

"N o."

Dream froze, confused eye-lights flickering up to meet my cold stare.  

"I will be the one to collect the Dragon Balls."  I declared, clutching Remy possessively tighter.

And with my wish, I will unlock my genitals!

Meeting my defiant look, Dream's expression became progressively more exasperated. 

"YOU'RE GOING TO BE THE DEATH OF ME, YOU KNOW THAT RIGHT?" He huffed, sounding more amused than anything.  

My own lips twitched with mirth.

"Wow, I sure hope not. Multiversal genocide is a lot of hard work..." I scratched the back of my hat sheepishly. "I'd probably have to take some time off from my TV schedule. Make a day of it."  

Just like that.

All the humour.

Sucked right out of the room.

We stared at each other in the sudden silence.

"...multiversal...genocide...?" He questioned tentatively.

I blinked back in confusion.

Ah. It would seem that my leap in logic has not been followed...

"Yes, well...how else am I supposed to kill someone who plays by the rules of Perception rather than Physicality? And exists in the collective subconscious of every soul within our pocket universe? You're OP dude." I pointed towards myself despairingly. "And that's coming from me. Seriously, when this is over, we should all get together and have our Nerfs done. Chill this thing down before it escalates to anime levels of ridiculousness. "

"multiversal. genocide." He stressed again. For some reason.  

Not exactly my idea of polite elevator conversation, but whatevs.

"Eh? If you can't kill Sleep..." 

I posed heroically, winsome expression in place.

"Kill all the Sleepers."

Wink.

Dream...didn't really have anything to say to that.

Indeed, the short skeleton seemed to be having a hard enough time keeping his thoughts out of his expression...which was probably for the best.

I haven't been in such a bad mood since I lost my Marmoset.  

"...Okay! Good talk." I spun on my heel, tucking Remy firmly under my arm before heading towards the other button in need of pushing. "Always pays to exercise the mouth muscles. Keep the tongue flexible, cause you never know... The Day you must disarm a bomb using only your oral finesse will be the day you least expect it..." 

Arriving at the elevator wall I shifted my soul blue, never breaking stride as I began my vertical climb. If anything, the act of determining my soul trait was slightly easier here, what with a lot of the physical strain being in my head.

Here's hoping it stays this dependable. Losing control over one thing will only lead to another after all...   

"Now..." I said once I reached the buttons, pausing to examine my options. "...which one of these buttons screams 'what are you doing idiot? i've got the situation under control idiot. come here before you hurt yourself idiot...' Aha!" I started forward, moving so that I could place my foot over one of the large round buttons.

"All my training with the remote control has prepared me for this day."

18

"Going up." I pressed the button, causing the elevator doors to close with a shudder. By the time the elevator started moving, I was back at Dreams side, giddy with the thrill of modern convenience. 

Sure, as far as rides go this was no rollercoaster...but being able to leisurely flip off the staircase while slowly ascending to the heavens...

Never gets boring.

Not even by the time we reached the 18th floor. 

In fact...

"Again!" I demanded as soon as the elevator doors opened.

"WHAT?" Dream startled out of his thoughts, giving me an alarmed look. "BUT WE JUST GOT HERE..."

'Here' being a brightly lit and intimidating lab. Giant warehouse style, full of gizmos and glass.

Too much glass. 

"Again!" I insisted, bulking completely at the sight at all the breakables in the room.

Every elevator deserves a second chance, right? It'll kill me for sure this time...

Dream was quick to intervene when it looked like I was about to scale the wall and begin the process all over again, grabbing into my coat and digging in his heels.

"WE CAN'T..." 

"Again!"

"THERE ISN'T..."

"Again!"

"WOULD YOU..."

"Again!"

"AVA!" 

"AGAIN!Againagainagainagainagainagainagainagain...."

"FINE!" The short skeleton threw his hands up in a final declaration of Fuck it. "ONE MORE TIME!" 

So we rode the elevator again. 

Because I get what I Want! When I want it.*

*terms and conditions apply.

By the time the doors opened on the 18th floor a second time, Dream was tapping an impatient finger on his arms crossed. 

"h a p p y?" He wanted to know.

Staring at his grumpy expression, I almost smiled.

"Pssh, Nah." I took the short skeleton's hand, tugging him out of his stiff posture. "I'm not the sort of person who will ever be Happy."

Though according to most Sans-es that's a bad thing.

I led the way forward with a cheerful pep in my step, ignoring every instinct that screamed that this was a bad idea.

Of course it's a bad idea. I have terrible judgement. That's why I need to find Sleeper. Need to have his cool, calm, sadistic voice in my ear... navigating me through my own stupidity… like a sexy GPS system…

Keeping me sane. 

"Gotta admit, I'm not a big fan of the sciences." I offered to fill in the awkward silence. "It's all so bossy... Like Physics. Always telling me what to do...Coming up with logical arguments...Well, I hope that it enjoys being right all the time, because it's gonna die, old and alone."

I sent a look back at Dream, satisfied to see him glowering slightly. 

Such a Sans. Getting huffy over his first love.

"like porn is a better interest." He muttered.

I gasped, ripping my hand out of his to protectively cover Remy's ears.

"We do not speak that way in front of the Marble!" I scolded.

For a moment I thought he would argue against HIM being the bad influence in Remy's life... but after a moment he smiled disarmingly.

"SORRY. GUESS I WASN'T THINKING."

I pouted.

"Just for that, I'm making you go first."  I pushed at him insistently with a single finger. "Make sure to take your time dying, okay? Give me and Remy a decent head start? We're depending on your prolonged suffering."

"...I'LL DO MY BEST." 

The short skeleton accepted his fate with a smile, taking the lead as me and Remy followed nervously behind. 

I felt it before I saw it.

An intense chill, causing my breath to fog the further I travelled into the room. Weaving past building sized machinery until we stood before one of those giant cliché test-tube chambers thingies.

You know, the ones that you should never ever ever ever EVER open, because whatever is inside that thing is gonna kill e v e r y o n e.

This one was filled to the brim with liquid rejection and giving off so much cold it was painful to even stand near it.

"That'll be him." I nodded to myself. 

We couldn't see inside the glass, what with it being frozen and all... but all logic pointed to this being Sleeper's hiding spot.

"My subby senses are tingling."

"THIS...MIGHT BE A PROBLEM..." Dream admitted...studying the glass grimly. "HE SEEMS TO HAVE WITHDRAWN INTO TO COMPLETE MENTAL LOCKDOWN. IF I CAN'T REACH HIM, I CAN'T HELP HIM FIGHT MY BROTHER'S INFLUENCE AND WAKE UP..." 

"Okay! Fine." I threw an arm up. "I volunteer!"

Dream sent me a surprised look.

"volunteer...YOU THINK YOU CAN CONVINCE HIM TO COME OUT OF THERE?" 

I rotated my shoulder, getting myself warmed up for the task ahead.

"Nope." Without further ado, I dumped Remy into the skeleton's arms.

Parting is such sweet sorrow...but this next part is far too dangerous for a little marble.

Dream's eye-sockets widened at the sudden burden, as well as my bold words.

"THEN..."

"If the Bitty won't come to the Avatar..." I took a determined step forward. "Then the Avatar will come to the Bitty."

I refuse to be ignored!

"d o n 't." A skeletal hand caught me by the coat, stalling my heroic feat in its infant stages. I sent surprised look over my shoulder, finding the short skeleton standing, head bowed.

"...this isn't a joke." He muttered after a moment, he lifted his head to glare at me. "if you don't take this seriously, you'll end up worse than dead."

I gaped at him.

"...you know." I turned around, gently tugging my coattails out of his grasp. "The last time I gave someone like you the benefit of the doubt, my universe and its population were cut in half." 

Smirking slightly, I poked him in the forehead.

"Don't waste such a cute face on someone so foolish."

I didn't let him stop me a second time, moving before I could watch his expression settle into something beyond confusion.

And instantly regretted the decision.

Because... Coming from someone who flirts with Sleeper on a regular basis...

This. thing. was. C O L D. 

Even before I touched the glass, I knew the only thing that kept pushing me forward was the need to MURDER HIM FOR PUTTING ME THROUGH THIS.

I turned my soul Cyan, taking a deep breath before diving through the glass.

DARK...

COLD...

CRUSHING...

WATER.

It's only when you find yourself completely submerged in such a thing, that you wonder...

Can I swim?

I experimentally batted an arm, barely able to see or feel the limb.

LoL. Probably not... # Kryptonite?  

I turned my soul Orange, falling through my suddenly intangible surroundings to land on my feet.

Imperious to liquid and gases...Awesome. Now if only I could breathe underwater...

Yea.

Every plan has it flaws.

The light of my Brave soul wasn't much to see by, but I made do...marching forward in my quest to Annoy someone who Really wanted to be left alone.

Making me waste my breath holding talents on something that isn't oral sex...I better get a promotion for this...

At the end of the day, the tank really wasn't all that big. Sure it was giant compared to me, but still not a needle in a haystack situation.  

I found him siting, curled up on the bottom of the tank. 

Skeletons aren't the most buoyant of people after all.

Sleeper didn't acknowledge me. Didn't react to the dim glow that came with my presence.

I crouched, close enough to touch him, but hesitating to do so...

Seeing him on the same scale...vulnerable...was probably the scariest thing I ever encountered so far.

This was the scariest thing I had ever had to do. Ever.

Ultimately, I don't have a lot of courage.

I reached out a hand.

Fortunately, right now I have even fewer options.

My soul slipped back into its undetermined state a moment before I wrapped my arms around him from behind...burying my face into his shoulder as the cold hit.

A hug. The best way of saying I'm here for you. Drowning. By the way.

…Seriously, if he doesn't react to this, I'm sticking my hands down his pants...

Even through the bulk of the water, I heard the sound of cracking glass.

...Geez. Could have let me have my fantasy a little bit longer...

Water and glass exploded outwards, transforming our surroundings in the next instant. Crisp air rushed to fill the space the water had evacuated, carrying with it the sounds of cascading water and awkwardness.

Leaving us sitting in a shallow pool still freezing water...neither one of us knowing how to safely disengage from intimacy.  

"...Scandalous." I mumbled into his back. "Making me rescue you out of your own wet dream...This fishing fetish is getting out of hand..."

The skeleton in my arms was stiff, unmoving.

"what are you doing here?"

Quick, think of an excuse...!

"Ah, but you see, i'm not here. This is allll a dreeeam..."

"ava." The Sans shaped Bitty pulled away, turning to glare at me.

Eye to eye. 

The water didn't seem so cold anymore, as my entire body was consumed by a blush.

I pulled my hat down over my expression.

"...It's complicated."

Lame.

Even without looking, I knew his eye would be twitching.

"c o m p l i c a t e d?"

"...Yeah."

"how so?"

...guess there's no more avoiding it...

"Well, as you can see...."

I pointed over to Dream.

Who stood where I had left him, staring down at the marble in his hand.

Unable to hide how the way his features just wouldn't settle...

"...I have been deceived."   

Sleeper stared at me.

"you d i d n 't."

I blinked back.

"YeahNo. I'm pretty sure I did..."

"...heh."

Sleeper and I turned our attention to the golden skeleton, just in time to see him lift his head.

Revealing empty eye-sockets.

Dripping darkness into a wide, satisfied smirk.  

"you really are an i d i o t."   

 

Chapter Text

Watching Nightmare abandon his brotherly façade...and pretty much guarantee the foreseeable future would be one of complete Suck... I had to sigh. 

Sometimes, I wonder if I am wasting my life...

I mean… I try to stay humble, but I can't help but feel a little overqualified for this Asshole babysitting gig. 

...Just saying, I could have been a paper aeroplane engineer or something...

Bones melted into black, consuming not only the skeleton but the air around him as the darkness unfurled. Expanding upwards and outwards as the malicious skeleton took his true size and form.  

It was whilst I was drooling over this sight, that I was suddenly seized by the scarf.

"how...?! " Sleeper demanded to know, shaking me hard enough to hear the jangling of loose brains. "...could. you. get. them. confused!?

"They are Brothers..." I flopped like a ragdoll in his unrelenting hold, unprepared for the intensity of his interrogation. "...It’s an easy mistake to make...Ack!"

"n o.   i t.   i s n 't."  

The shaking paused as the oversized bitty chose to concentrate his energy into turning my face blue.

"O...k...ay." I managed to squeeze past the ever-shrinking hole that was my windpipe.

"how long have you known you were leading him straight to me?" Sleeper's empty eye-sockets promised me a swift death, if I answered with the tiniest bit of intelligence... 

"...It's hard...to put a timeline...on this sort of thing..."

Meh. 

I'm not in any real hurry.

The shaking resumed, with twice the enthusiasm.

"when i'm done with you, you'll never take the ability to bleed to death for granted again!"

I endured the abuse, quietly moved by his show of passion.

It was like I was seeing a whole new side of Sleeper... Albeit, another angry, sexually repressed side...    

A shadow fell over us.

I dove forward, wrapping my arms around the Sleeper and rolling the both of us out of the way as a giant tentacle slammed down with crushing force.

The world became a rush of water and movement, overwhelming my senses as I used my body to cover the skeleton below me. 

Not that my little bones would do much to prevent smoosh-age...

Drenched and panting from the sudden exertion, I lifted my head in time to see a giant mass of darkness lazily withdrew from its attempt to squish us. 

Don't panic...It could just be the Kraken...!

My gaze reluctantly followed the giant tentacle to its source and inevitably...eye contact was made.

Really awkward eye contact.

The sort of eye contact you make by accident, when both parties have agreed to forget their summer lovin and never look at each other again...

Then Nightmare was smirking down at me, the blue of his single eye-light piercing in the darkness of his skull. At this point, the closed off, cruel expression was a welcome one. 

I don't like pretence.

I don't like lies.

Most of all, I hate Bad Acting.  

My gaze fell to Sleeper, who glared stubbornly through me as I hovered over him on all fours...thoroughly unimpressed with these turns of events.

Which, coincidentally...

Had put me on TOP.

I wiggled my eyebrows.

"...How you doin?" 

Sleeper's gaze narrowed, my soul flickering blue as he attempted to throw me off...Likely into some form of glass while he was at it...

But I refused.

"No need for that."  I murmured, capturing the skeleton's defiant look with a finger under his chin. "If I really wanted to play Dom..."

All but smirking down at him, I leant closer.

"...I'd be making you beg for it." 

...You'd think he'd have realised by now to never give me the upper hand.

Satisfied at the sight of colour flooding his cheekbones, I flipped my soul cyan.

Now to get him alone...

We fell, slipping through the floor beneath us before Nightmare could attack us a second time. At this bitty-scale the drop from one floor to next was rather intimidating, forcing me to shift my soul blue to slow our descent to a feather fall.  

By the time our feet set softly down on the seventeenth floor, my face had a big, red, boney handprint slapped across it.

"Mr Sleeeeper…" I whined tearfully, rubbing at the throbbing mark as the infuriated Bitty stormed away from me. "...So mean..."

"are you coming or are you complaining? because i won’t tolerate both."

Kinky bastard...

"Coming!" I trotted forward to catch up. "You know, I don't think I've ever seen you walk this far before..."

"when i said complaining, what i really meant was talking."

Same difference really.

As we approached the elevator, the doors opened with an inviting ding

Despite my recent success with elevator travel, I had to hesitate.

"...We're not seriously going to trust that..." I pointed towards the harmless mode of transport.  "...right?"

Sleeper returned my nervous look with a bored one. The expression never faltered, not even when there came a sharp snap and the screech of metal on metal.

Even with my gaze locked on Sleeper, I knew that the friendly box of light had dropped out of sight... And a long moment later, when an explosion of heat and sound echoed its way up the elevator shaft...

I was not surprised. 

"...you're welcome to take the stairs if you prefer." Sleeper informed me, walking calmly towards the elevator-turned-safety hazard.

A wet splatter from behind had the hair standing up on the back of my neck.

Here comes the third wheel...

I peeked behind, and immediately regretted the decision as I saw that the walls and ceiling had started to melt into back goop.

".......So we just jump into this fiery pit of death then?" I was at Sleeper's side in the next instant, peering over the edge at the inferno that waited for us. "Sounds easy enough."

A boney hand wrapped around my wrist.

"just move."

Sleeper yanked me with him as he stepped firmly off the edge...just as the darkness started to creep in from my peripheral vision.

"I have questions!" I cried, holding onto my hat as we plummeted towards the increasing heat. "So many questions!"

"yes. your death will be slow and painful."

"...That wasn't one of them!"

The Bitty seemed to sigh.

"distance doesn't work on him." Sleeper glared grimly down at our burning destination. "we have to use the environment to escape him."

"Oh...Yes. I see. And by environment, you mean F I R E."

Sleeper didn't seem to find any point in explaining himself... and probably had better things to do really, as the shadows lining the walls around us came to sudden life.

The grip on my wrist became bruisingly tight as the bitty yanked, pulling me out of the path of death as the darkness decided to try its hand at bug pinning.

That is to say razor sharp spikes started bursting out of the wall, seriously ruining my day.

A sharp clang rang through the elevator as the spike slammed into the parallel wall...and more clangs followed as the attempts to impale continued. 

"turn your soul orange." Sleeper demanded impatiently, causing me to pout.

"What's the magic word?"

"n o w."

You guessed it! 

I did as I was told, and Sleeper decided that this was his cue to teleport us into the flaming Hallway.

My heart nearly stopped at suddenly finding myself surrounded by lethal heat...a death I was in no way prepared to experience... 

Really, I would have been cooked by now, if not for the immunity Bravery gave me...and with Sleeper touching me the effect extended to him, so...

All was hunky dory in the land of Fuck, Lets Never Do That Again. 

"I can't hold this indefinitely you know..." I managed to inform Sleeper past lips stiff with terror.

The Bitty ignored me, focusing his ruthless gaze towards the elevator and the source of the spreading flames. With a sharp click of his fingers, the flames ignited in another explosion...probably singeing the ass of anyone who hadn't escape the elevator in time.

"...if it comes to that, i'll put the fire out." Sleeper informed me grimly. "meanwhile, he's going to have trouble coming close to the light and heat."

"...We're going to have trouble with smoke inhalation." I pointed out

Orange magic has a passive inclusion effect when it comes to breathing, but that only helps you if your surroundings are breathable.

"i'm going to ignore that you said that, because i don't need to be reminded of unhelpful details when it's my consciousness creating the threat."  

Dream logic. Don't try to fill the plot holes. Gotcha.

I tilted my head.

"Hm...well, if we're going to sit here like ducks...I might as well be sitting."

I tugged on Sleeper's hand, now in mine, so that the skeleton was forced to follow as I sat against the hallway wall. 

I want to die sitting down. On my couch, preferably, but beggars can't be choosers...

"So...the plan is just to wait for the Sandman's slimy cousin to get bored and leave?"

"That, or we try to think positive." Sleeper joined me on the floor after a moment, scowling at our linked hands.

...I could see the logic, in trying to weaken nightmare with a better attuite, but...

"I, um...Mr Sleeper. I don't know if you have noticed, but you...as an individual, only have two emotions...which are homicidal and asleep."

Or both, currently. 

The scowl deepened.

"then you do it."

"I need incentive."

"n o  y o u  d o n 't."

"Flash me some rib, that's all I ask."

"shut up before i shove your head through the wall."

"...Counter offer accepted."

Sleeper seemed two seconds away from lunging at me, when a sly chuckle seemed to slither from the dark edges cast by the flames...only to be followed by words.

"mind if I ask a question?" 

Sleeper stiffened, focusing a sharp eye on our surrounding in case Nightmare's voice wasn't the only thing to find a way into the room.

I blinked down at my toes, offering a slight shrug.

"...Shoot."

"what gave me away?"

Somebody wants a critique eh?

"...The lack of puns." I confessed.

Nightmare might be able to act tooth rottenly sweet, but the thought to make someone smile is not one that naturally crosses his mind.

"...figures."

"and you just went along with it?" Sleeper growled beside me.

I let my head fall back against the wall, my eyes closing against the glare of the flames.

"...He knew about the H2-Oh."

"the what?"

"My super-secret weapon."

I could feel the Bitty's gaze burning into the side of my head.

"you have a super-secret weapon?"

...Meh.

"It's a last resort kinda thing."

A sigh of long-suffering.

"and how does him knowing about it change anything?"

Because the only person I've told about the H2-Oh to is the real Dream.

"...I have a soft spot for stalkers..." 

"w h a t?"

Instead of elaborating further, I tilted my head to blink dazedly at Sleeper. "...Any chance we can...um... put the fire out soonish? I'm starting to feel lightheaded."

This news had Sleeper gritting his teeth.

"it hasn't even been five minutes."

"What part of my lifestyle makes you think I have any endurance?"

"i don’t..."

"you might have your little pet fooled." This time, when the voice interrupts, it was hard with a resentful edge. "but i know what that you really want."

I tilted my head, curious.

"...I'm listening."

"ava." The bitty hissed beside me.

"What?!" I shied away from his outrage. "He said I wanted it!"

Sleeper facepalmed.

"do i really have to explain to you why we don't trust sadists whose hobbies include psychological torture?" 

"Relax. It's probably just a blowjob..."

"you wanted to see if i could make you feel something, right?"

"...Definitely a blowjob."

"...but i think..." 

My eyes widened as a sudden sensation seared up my throat.

"...that the opposite might be more fun."

That sensation turned out to be a liquid.

A thick, black liquid, falling wetly into my lap as I hunched over in the next instant, coughing violently.

...Well, would you look at that? Now I'm choking on gross liquid and my throat hurts...

I clutched painfully at my coat with my free hand, trying to think past my drowning lungs and swimming head.

As they say...A blowjob by any other name...

"what did you put in your mouth this time?" Sleeper muttered, and I was surprised to find him hovering beside me, his hand squeezing my own painfully tight.

As the coughing began to die down, I sent him a resentful look. After all, I'm not some fiend who goes about my day licking random objects... 

'who me? I resemble that remark...'

Is what I tried to say... and while the mouthparts delivered on their guaranteed satisfaction, the voice box left a little something to be desired...

Sound.

That is.

A key factor in my harassment strategy.

Blinking in surprise, I tried again.

Sleeper stared back as I silently came clean about the time Mo tried to eat him while he was unconscious... 

...Which wasn't a big deal really. I made him spit the bitty out after all....

As the words continued to fail, my hand scrambled up under my scarf, pressing against my sore throat and noting the alarming lack of vibration. 

It became abundantly clear.

Someone had hit the Mute button.

 

Chapter Text

"enough ava!" Surprisingly strong arms tightened around me, keeping me in place as I continued to struggle. "...calm down!"

But there would be no "Calming down." 

"Calming down" had left the building. 

"Calming down" had been scratched from the dictionary. Removed from the menu. A law had been passed forbidding Calm from travelling in the down direction ... 

"you're not attacking nightmare with a squirt bottle." Sleeper growled in my ear, causing my violent flailing to escalate. 

W A T C H  M E!

... 

...Once upon a time, there was an Avatar.

An Avatar who handled every challenge with arrogance confidence and contempt competence. Nothing anyone ever did phased the Avatar, nope, because they were too cool for hurt feelings and insecurities, yep.

Thirty seconds of forced silence later, and that Avatar is DEAD

Now, there lives only Squirtor! A deranged supervillain hell-bent on melting like...One guy into a puddle and setting that puddle on FIRE.

...Admittedly a flop as far as Marketing is concerned... But what Squirtor lacks in all-around appeal, Squirtor makes up for in heart...

I knew.

Somewhere, Nightmare was laughing at me.

...At least on the inside.

He's more of a sadistic smirker than a chuckler... but still!

I could sense amusement at my expense, and that only served to incense me further...which was saying something...seeing as I was only one clingy Bitty away from clawing my way up a flaming elevator shaft in search of revenge...

I'd given him not one, but two chances to screw me in that elevator, and now I wasn't going to take "No, I might catch something" for an answer!

"what happened to the wilting flower act?" Sleeper grumbled, more to himself than to me. I was too busy waving my squirty bottle violently in the air to remember my fatigue...or much of anything else for that matter.

I hadn't just lost my shit. I'd thrown it to the wind alongside my caution, creating a hurricane of shit and common sense. Something that is right up there with Sharknadow in weather that'll just ruin your day...

The muttering in my ear took on a note of finality as I was rudely yanked back off my feet.  

Normally, Sleeper would have just pinned me to the wall with magic and been done, but the necessity of keeping my soul orange meant the bitty had to physically drag me away from my one-sided standoff against the forces of darkness. 

Not that he didn't still slam me up against the wall...but it was in the more traditional sense.

"e n o u g h." 

I blinked, my manic concentration broken by the sudden violence...and angry skeleton pinning me to the wall.

"i don't care if this tantrum is genuine or not." Sleeper glared up at me, eye-lights still present but icily flat.  "the fact is, we don't have time for it.

right.

While my breathing refused to settle, I did manage a slight nod of acknowledgement.

Between the two of us, we might not have a plan... or any real strategy or team work or ethics or even a mascot. But we do have a schedule. One that was tight on hysterics...grief...just emotions in general really...

Blinking meekly down at the impatient Bitty, I finally noticed the deep conflict underlining his stressed expression.

A part of him was angry, sure.

Horrified at what had been done to me!

...Another part was kinda...maybe...singing Nightmare's praises. Like, a full blown choir affair. 

...Seriously, this might be the best day of his life...

...But also wrong! The nerve of that guy...shutting up the most annoying thing on the planet. A crime is what that is.

...By golly. This is just the worst... 

After watching him struggle for an insultingly long time, I had to deadpan.

What. An. Ass.

Sleeper sighed.

"stop pouting." Seeing my return to reason, the Bitty gave me a bit more space to breathe. "i'm sure you can find other ways to be annoying and make the situation worse."

…hey, that's not very fair... All I'd done was sexually harass Nightmare and insult his professional ability to screw with people...Combining innuendo with criticism...

Okay. I can see how I might have been digging my grave here...

Hand still shaking with supressed anxiety, I forced myself to return the squirt bottle back into its holster/pocket.

The H2-Oh was my last resort.

Using it is the same as admitting Nightmare scared me...

Seeing that I was at least prepared to listen if not calm down, Sleeper continued. 

"as far as i can tell, the only thing that pest wants is something to play with." The Bitty spoke lowly, calm in place of my own panic. "getting him to give up and leave is going to be hard enough without you indulging him."

I winced, averting my gaze to the skeletal hand still curled in my rain coat.

Though he didn't say as much, I knew that Sleeper was losing patience with my passive approach to people trying to stab me. Or him. Mostly just him. 

...Part of it was my indecisive nature.

Part of it...was Nightmare. 

...I don't know if I could describe what it felt like.

The realisation that I wasn't the only one watching the warmth of the Multiverse from the outside.

Never daring to hope that what I had to offer was something...good.

"if you have a plan." Sleeper muttered, very conscious of the fact Nightmare could be, and likely was, listening in.  "i recommend we try it while i still have the patience."

Boredom. Resentment. Loneliness. Invulnerability. Frustration.  An inability to translate empathy into actual people skills. Pun "intolerance."

Nightmare is my spirit animal.

Shoulders tense, I raised my hands. 

Unfortunately for him...As far as birds and feathers go, we're both plucked.

I started signing, reassuring Sleeper that Silence was my first language.

"....great." Sleeper's eye-socket twitched in foreboding. "you can do the creepy Frisk thing."

INTENT.

It’s a key part in the formulation of magic and how our souls interact with each other.

It defines how our actions will affect stats. 

It can also be used to communicate. In an 'ACT speak louder than words' sense.

In a nutshell, I'm using hand signs to define the act of speaking and INTENT to translate the motions into something understandable. 

But sure.

We can call it the creepy Frisk thing.

"...any chance you're not going to make this more painful than it has to be?" Sleeper asked.

I offered my condolences.

"stop that." 

My hands were slapped, as I chose to convey my remorse though suggestive finger scissoring.

Rude. Not my fault my sign language has a bit of a… Frisky accent.  

Hiding my expression under my hat, I politely asked Sleeper to put out the fire.

"then what?" The Bitty scowled at me, not convinced I knew what I was doing.

For good reason.

I predicted Nightmare would seize the opportunity to harass us.

"that much is obvious, i meant what are we going to do."

I made a suggestion.

Sleeper's eye twitched.

"living long and prospering is not a plan."

Everyone's a critic.

I shrugged, offering up my second best plan.

Which was to do what we usually do.

The Bitty raised an eyebrow. "and what is that exactly?"

What we're best at.

"...i thought i made it very clear i'm not in the mood to watch you screw around." Sleeper pointed out blandly.

I shrugged.

Neither was I.

Sleeper stared down at my hands.

"...i don't think this is a good idea."

Probably not.

But the bets had been made. Stakes raised and final stances taken. 

The only thing left to do was to reveal our cards.

Or fold.

With my most reassuring expression in place, I lifted my hands, fingers splayed.

And started the count down.

"don't you dare." Sleeper hissed, watching as my fingers dropped one by one.

...I had tried.

Even if it had been Nightmare playing dress-up all along, I'd accepted Dream's hand. Trusted him as my wingmen. Promised him a hot date with his bro. That no one would get hurt...

Something I couldn't deliver on if he wasn't here.  

Whatever way I chose to justify my actions in the end, I knew.

I just wasn't Brave enough to endure in silence.

Sleeper swore. Snuffing out the fire in the same breath and leaving the hallway a scorched and blackened husk. Before my soul even had a chance to waver the Bitty's tight grip shifted to my wrist, dragging me along behind him as he made a break for the lobby. 

Not running away so much as finding more space to maneuver. The sort of smart thing smart people think of when they do this thing called ‘planning ahead.’

Too bad it was the wrong way.

I dug in my heels, yanking my arm out of his grasp as my soul returned to in a neutral state.

It was too late.

By the time the Bitty slid to a stop, cursing me under his breath, my soul was blue.

And I was falling upwards.

Short of intimidation tactics, Nightmare prefers to attack indirectly. From a distance and never in the way you'd expect.

I was past expectations.

And distance hopefully wouldn’t be a problem for much longer.  

Before I hit the roof, my soul switched to cyan, my upward momentum carrying me through the ceiling in a fluid arch. I flipped with the change in gravity, landing on my feet on the second story. I didn't expect the Bitty to follow me.

If there is one thing we are good at, it's staying out of each other's way.

Simple fact.

You can’t fight the Dark.

Can’t attack what isn’t tangible.

If Nightmare didn’t feel like coming out of the shadows, making himself vulnerable, there wasn’t much I could do…

Except narrow down the possibilities.

By the time I lifted my gaze, my soul was yellow.

Light consumed the air above me, expanding out into a flat wall of gold.

With enough distance, one would be able to see the shape of the heart, and how that heart severed the building into two.

What was below...

And what was in the line of fire.

I offered a spilt second for realisation, tucking my hands calmly into my pockets.

Before A’ Firin Mah Lazer.

The sound hit a solid second late, a crisp crackling then a deafening roar as everything above me was cleanly erased by the pillar of heat and light. My coat fluttered violently in the sudden displacement of air, the only part of me moved by the brutal show of force.

Surprise Sansy.

Mine is bigger.

The blast eventually faded, leaving me blinking up at the pitch black void of Sleeper's dream-scape.

But I wasn't just standing around for the sake of looking cool.

It was taking all my pride to just keep standing.

If I end up collapsing into a puddle of my own vomit, I'm rage quitting. 

A rustle came from my feet, causing me to grimace.

Ah.

So that’s where he was hiding.

A giant hand shot out of my own shadow, goopy fingers slamming me off my feet and to the ground.

“heh.”

The hand was followed by an arm, the air above me becoming darker and meaner as a giant skeleton impossibly unfolded from the small shadow.

“and here i was, starting to get bored.

I coughed, winded by the blow and struggling to get air into my lungs as his hand continued to crush me. Black wetness seeped into my clothing, painfully cold as Nightmare rose to hover over me. 

...sexy.

No! Bad. Very bad...Evil even. Naughty naughty Nightmare. 

The dark skeleton leant forward, grinning eagerly. 

“my turn.”

A sudden pressure exploded in my head, causing me to seize under the weight of his giant fingers.

Something popped.

Then I felt a warmer liquid, bleeding out of my ears.

If Nightmare said something then, I didn’t hear it.

I couldn’t hear anything.

Not even my own breath as it picked up into a ragged panic. My head whirled with how hard my heart was beating, each pump of blood causing my deafened ears to throb. 

Can't...

A gleam of blue light suddenly hit the darkness above me, drawing my attention to the fact my soul had changed trait. 

Without my say so.

I felt the vibration of the impact.

Saw the shock register in Nightmare's expression an instant before as our surroundings were turned into a pincushion of bones. Dozens upon dozens of them, piercing the floor and up through the skeleton above me.

The only place that had been spared was a Bitty sized circumference around my soul. 

Well...that's one way to locate someone and lethally attack them without looking.

Though the attack wasn't enough to seriously harm him, Nightmare was melting more to avoid damage...the hand grinding against me losing its stability as the skeleton snarled in pain.

The magic was already fading.

I wasn't going to get a better chance.

With a silent battle cry of "MOLESTATION!" I shoved through the shadowy suggestion of a hand...

...and crawled up his sleeve.

...

..

.

I know he's the incarnation of Terror, but there was a clear moment of "Oh Fuck" in Nightmare's body language.

That was to say he froze, shivered in revulsion then proceeded to do everything in his power to get it off.

I endured the shaking, the battering and the little jig I'm fairly certain the skeleton was performing as he cursed me out. Half swimming, half crawling up Nightmare's arm like a mad crab high on Determination. 

I would get what I want.

Even if it meant climbing into his most intimate places! Or finding out the true colour of his underwear! Getting a peek, at his Nighty-Tighty-Whities… 

I think the final straw came when I found something semi solid... 

...and bit it.

Nightmare evaporated into shadow to escape, leaving me stranded mid-air.

Which was disappointing...in some ways...but ultimately what I wanted...

Because excluding me from his little vanishing trick meant excluding everything on his person that wasn't a part himself. 

I spotted it mid fall.

The moment I landed on my feet...well, I stumbled like a total loser...but then I shot forward with all my might, catching my prize before it could hit the floor.

YOU PICKED UP THE MARBLE. 

Game over Nightmare. 

I held Remy over my head victoriously, admittedly a little teary eyed.

In fact, I straight up started spinning the marble like we were in a flower field. 

Of course I didn't forget him! Just because I handed him over to Nightmare in a reckless show of trust didn't mean I wasn't going to rescue him. Eventually.... 

At some point during our reunion spin, I noticed Nightmare looming over me.

Arms crossed and glaring like he was very seriously considering murder.

I halted my twirling to flip him off.  

Don't worry buddy, I've got your consolation prize right here.

That's right. It's a bag of dicks.

Don't eat it all at once.

Teeth gritted, the giant skeleton sent out a tendril of darkness to try and pry the marble away from me. Carefully. Neutrally. Like any false move would be his undoing.

Tsk...Always trying to separate us. Either he's jealous...

Smiling my disturbingly wide smile, I switched my soul to Green.

Or he doesn't want me to do THIS.

Nightmare struck fast then, urgently trying to stop me.

Even as the darkness pierced my shoulder I pushed healing magic into the marble in my hands, causing its white surface to flare up with blinding light. 

Warm.

As I closed my eyes against the glare I felt arms wrapped around me, yanking me off my feet and teleporting us away in an instant.

I warned him.

Gave him every chance.

Even went so far as to hand over the advantage.

But in the end, Nightmare just refused to take the hint.

Blinking the white spots out of my eyes, I found myself playing the damsel in the arms of a Very. Angry. Skeleton.

Dream Sans.

Free of his marbly prison! And here to ruin all the fun...

Also at the end of his patience, if the way his trembling hand dug into my wounded shoulder was any indication.

I followed the glare of golden eye-lights to find Nightmare a short distance away. Grimacing down at us like his life had become ten times more difficult.

Deaf to their brotherly angst, I held out my most suggestive thumbs up. 

DATE START. 

Chapter Text

With an expression set in grim determination, Dream started... 

Crying.

Big golden tears, swelling up in glaring eye-sockets and silently spilling over.

Tears, not of fear or angst.

But of pure. Frustration.

Because his brother, the one standing over there in the snark corner, is an unrelenting dick.

Which was understandably upsetting, therefore forgivable.

Sure, the show of emotion may have clashed with my triumphant superiority... but someone needed to be emotionally invested in the outcome of this conflict.

Most of us were too busy not caring about anything except porn and sleep and...well I don't think Nightmare has a hobby... or a life beyond his vendetta against all things bright and beautiful... 

...He just loves his work I suppose...

A passion that was about to backfire! As the dark skeleton had maybe ten seconds to bend over and beg we be gentle with the ass whooping. 

See.

The thing is...

Dream and Nightmare are terrible at sharing.

Blame sibling rivalry, but the two just cannot exist in the same head without fighting over who's driving.

And since they are evenly matched, these fights are usually decided by the environment.

The environment, currently, being Hell Sleeper's mind.

In which case.

Yeah.

Nightmare wins by a landslide.

Hands down.

No sweat.

Just.

Dream lost.

So, so badly.

In his weakened state Dream then, apparently, for some reason, decided to come back and haunt his brother as a marble.

...Makes sense. I guess...Not sure what he was planning to do, if I didn't notice how out of place the lost marble was in Sleeper's psyche.... or how eager Nightmare was to take Remy off my hands...

Who knows.Maybe the feeling of being silently judged by a marble would have gotten to Nightmare eventually? 

Point is, I'm watching way too much T.V. if I'm actually anticipating this kind of crap.

Seriously.

Thanks to the fact I have no life, Dream's futile efforts to stop his brother actually paid off. With my Kind donation of Hp, the forces of Positivity and Negativity have balanced enough to cancel each other out.

...and judging by Nightmares frustrated glare, he knew exactly what that meant.

Neither he, nor his brother, has enough leverage to control the Host.

Who just so happens to be a fri  something... of mine.

Radiating pure smug, I lifted my hand in a cheerful goodbye finger wiggle.

What are you going to do now Nightmare? Fight or Flee?

Turns out. 

It didn't matter.

The moment the dark skeleton moved he was met with a wall of glass, goopy hands slammed furiously up against the barrier. Just as suddenly as it appeared his prison begun to shrink, condensing the raging darkness along with it.   

Everything started going white, transitioning and taking shape like a polarized photograph. 

By the time gravity took hold, dropping the glass jar into a pair of waiting skeletal hands, our surroundings had melted into something warmer. Enclosed and safe where the void had been vast and dark.

A pet shop.

Wait. no... 

A Bitty shelter.

Completely different.

Sleeper stood in the position of size and power Nightmare had just vacated, scowling down at the tiny skeleton trapped in his hand. 

Who, by the looks of things, was already chewing the giant Bitty out. 

...It wasn't a smart idea.

As demonstrated, when Sleeper decided to return the favour...

While shaking the jar.

...It's times like these where I wish I hadn't gone deaf...like...five minutes ago...

Even a second-hand scolding by a giant, angry Sleeper would have been...dang it. I could have died happy.

Regrets... 

I sighed wistfully, swooning my head back in a dire display of resignation.

I has them now.

Alas, I couldn't undo the choices made...and even in hindsight, it seemed like I'd picked a pretty decent strategy. Sure I found Dream fairly early on, but his neutralisation affect gets weaker every time Nightmare attacks him, and he costs most of my Hp to bring into the field. In order to release Sleeper, I had to discard Dream, which sucks because Sleeper is only stronger than Nightmare when Dream is on the field... 

In the end, I just had to believe in the heart of the cards...

The arms holding me shifted nervously, drawing my brain back out of the rabbit hole.

I blinked between Dream and Sleeper, as the two skeletons were now staring very seriously at each other over the head of a sulking Nightmare...

The exchange was...not exactly friendly...

Where I was pretty oblivious to danger in the first place...Dream couldn't seem to decide whether Sleeper becoming all-powerful was a good or bad thing.

...ahh, to be so naïve...

Still, trying to cop a feel now would only get me squished, so I had no real business being in Dream's arms. 

I wriggled, signalling that it was time to release the Avatar back into the wild. 

The movement interrupted the sexual tension caught Dream's attention, prompting him to hastily set me down on my feet.

The bright skeleton was soon beside himself, fussing over my wounded shoulder with a panicky tear stained expression.

Reaching out to touch it...but oh no, he shouldn't...! but first-aid is still a thing people do... but what if he makes it worse... right, he should find a professional medical practitioner...! but what if Sleeper's head doesn't have health insurance...the important thing,  is not to panic...

I huffed at his concern, fending off the fluttering hands with precision finger pokes.

He didn't need to worry.

This was my lucky stab shoulder.

...The last guy who stabbed me in this shoulder is probably gonna get laid one day. 

While Nightmare had done a pretty decent impression... Good enough to fool me...his interpretation of Dream kinda proved he had a brother complex.

Too used to seeing the other's heroic, dutiful side to realise how much the bright skeleton worries. 

The real Dream is attentive to a fault.   

...Just saying, he's not the sort of guy to drag someone across the floor while they're having a mental breakdown. No matter how many times they reassure him they're the opposite of crippled with indecision.

And yeah, the "it's just a flesh wound" excuse wasn't really working here either. 

My two experiences with crying have been mostly graceful affairs, but even I know the waterworks can be kinda hard to turn off once they've started. 

Voiceless... I was currently getting a taste for what Dream had had to endure since becoming a marble. Unable to help anyone...

Except he's actually Good at offering comfort and encouragement...

Sighing, I picked up the end of my scarf and pressed it to his cheek, soaking up the golden liquid as Dream winced under the sudden touch. I kept my expression neutral, conveying calm through gentle body language and steady breathing.

Even if it hadn't been important for the bright skeleton to stay as positive as possible... I only liked sitting back and watching people cry when it was in a romantic sense.  

As far as I was concerned, being stabbed in a dream really wasn't a big deal. My coat wouldn't even have a hole in it when I woke up.

Though I wasn't completely sure how Hp works in the dreaming world... nor what sort of effect it would have on me in the waking one... I wasn't really worried.

Maybe because I have a hard time wrapping my head around the threat of actual consequences? 

...Probably because I'm easily distracted by cute monsters crying.

Dream's hand came up to circle my wrist...but didn't stop me as I moved onto his other cheek. He seemed embarrassed by the attention...and I was staring. Curious about how eye sockets could look so raw and tired.

...How much Dream had managed to see in his time spent as a marble was something only he knew. If he had heard the heartfelt words I had meant for him... 

Well. 

Doesn't matter. 

After finding out I had been deceived by Nightmare, I'd sworn off meaningful conversations for a while.

Really, I should have quit when Sleeper took a nap during my first attempt.  

Even if I couldn't/didn't want to say anything, Dream would figure out it eventually. 

You don't just randomly catch Asshole disease and transform into a goop monster. 

No. Asshole disease is inherited, when you're born a Sans. 

No matter how many times he shot Nightmare in the blind spot with his arrow of love and support... 

His brother was a Sans.

Had always been a Sans.

And will always be a Sans.

The problem lay in the fact that they were both Sans-es, and didn't have enough redeeming qualities between them to co-exist peacefully.

...Okay. Maybe my sagely advice is a little biased... 

Sleeper must have said something, as Dream lifted his gaze and meekly responded.

A moment later something large entered my peripheral vision. Glancing up at the sudden proximity, I found my line of sight completely dominated by an approaching hand. Not knowing what else to do, I held still and let Sleeper have his way with me...

Which wasn't as much fun as it sounded.

Deft fingers pinched away my hat and tilted my head so that the Bitty could investigate my ear.

Pouting, I endured the clinical treatment...watching Dream to try and gauge what sort of conversation the two were having over my head.

The short skeleton looked tearfully apologetic, nervous and not at all hopeful about Sleeper's chances of curing my hearing loss with his newfound godhood.

Because having control over the dream doesn't mean the Bitty could just undo damage that had been done on a spiritual/psychological level.

While it had worked for Dream, I can't use kindness to heal myself. My brand of Green magic doesn't create Hp, just transfers it.  

Determination was an option, but using it while trying to sleep off my last death... 

Better to leave that as a last resort. 

In any case, I had more important things to be doing.

Quickly losing patience with the prodding, I ducked to escape the giant digit...and even went so far as to fight it off with a karate chop.

Don't make me fite chu!

The hand retreated... only to reveal the utterly unsatisfied expression of the skeleton looming over me. 

If Sleeper thought he could intimidate me into submission, he was gonna have to try slightly harder than that!

I huffed and puffed, demanding my hat back with grabby hands and a stomp of my foot.

The Bitty scowled, unimpressed with the bratty display and not wanting to give in to what I wanted.

Because he is a Bully.

A bully who really should have known better than to underestimate the power of the smol…

I stomped towards the kneeling skeleton, rolling up my sleeves as I prepared to climb Mt. Asshole.

Bound to be a very fulfilling challenge...

The hat was dumped back on my head, blinding me in its rough application.

Tease. 

Standing tall, I straightened the accessory into the optimal position with firm efficiency.

Now then....

Even before I finished the movement, my small body was radiating with evil intent.

...Time to take full advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity...

Tilting my head at a decidedly odd angle, my intense gaze fell on the glass jar Sleeper had set down at his side...

Rather...At the poor, vulnerable, helpless skeleton trapped inside it... 

Lonely lonely Nightmare, begging me with his hateful glare to come over there keep him company.

With one trembling step, then another, I advanced on the sulking skeleton.

No matter how much he screams, I will not be able to hear him....

Only to have a giant hand plant down on top of me, pinning me to the wooden floor in a firm declaration of nope.

y o u   n o   t o u c h y.

Yowling silently, I tried to claw my way forward, the weight of the hand on top of me be damned.

It's not like getting Nightmare alone in a compromised position had been my plan all along or anything...but come on! He's right there!

Sleeper's restraining hand didn't let up despite my determination, leaving me no choice but to try and talk some sense into him.

I lifted a hand.

Five minutes?

...While his flat expression said no, the fact I wasn't dead yet said maybe.

I tiled my head.

Please?

Sleeper huffed, shaking his head firmly.

…but I was still breathing...

Sighing seriously, I signed to the Bitty.

Asking if he trusted me.

...He had to think about it.

...At length.

Even when he did eventually scowl and release me, I'm pretty sure the answer was still "not really, but the only thing on the line here is the integrity of nightmare's various holes, so go ahead."

What.

A.

Bro.

I wobbled up and over to Nightmare's jar as quickly as possible, hoping to avoid any more interruptions.

Dream would panic and try to reason with Sleeper first, so that'll give me a head start at least.

The dark skeleton himself smirked at me through the glass, sitting back and waiting for me to try my worst.

So he could laugh at it...

Changing my soul trait felt like dragging my body through mud, but with enough patience, I managed to make my way through the glass. 

The next few seconds would decide who was trapped in here with who.

Head tilting, I stared down at Nightmare...who didn't bother to get up.

Though he made no move to attack me, there was no doubt the sore loser of only a moment ago had been replaced by a confident predator.

Nightmare might be at the disadvantage now, but it would only take an instant to push things back in his favour.

If I screwed this up, we wouldn't be able to wrestle control from him a second time.

Without further ado, I slid down the glass to sit across from him.

Sighing at the way my soul and body ached.

Exhausting myself in sleep. Talk about redundant.

If I didn't know better, I say Nightmare was disappointed... His expression twitched once with surprise...annoyance...before raising a brow at me.

With a shrug, I started signing; Admitting for all the world to see that my pride wouldn't let this end prematurely.

Nightmare had come here on a whim.

Just dropped in to meet the new neighbours. Hopefully piss off his brother while he was at it. 

Except he had lost.

Or at least that's how he saw it.

I stared at him, observing the bitterness that simmered beneath the calm.

Winning this battle would only start a war...

Except I hadn't won.

And that's how I saw it.

Hands moving gently, I told him It was only manners.

To let him finish. 

Still, he looked confused...so under his cynical glare, I raised my hands to cover my eyes in a classic "See no evil" pose. 

I'll even hold still for ya.

I waited...but my eyes didn't melt into black goop. 

Hesitantly, I peeked between my fingers...

And yeah.

Nightmare looked pissed.

Kinda kills the mood, when I just lay here and take it, I suppose...

Half expecting to be slapped for my insensitivity, I let my hands drop.

The Dark Skeleton glared back, a hair trigger away from lashing out.

Lethally.

Seeing that Nightmare was at least willing to give me a chance to beg for my life...I sagged.

Unable to hold his infuriated gaze, I watched my own hands as they weakly explained.

He should give up.

…no seriously.

The idea that I don't have the capacity to feel true fear...or worse, him validating of that idea....

It's...Well.

He'll either get the reaction he wants...or save himself the trouble of trying.

So.

In my personal opinion.

The scariest thing he could do here.

Is to completely give up.

...yep.

...Finished, I let my hands fall.

The moment my hands sunk limply into my lap.

A tentacle wrapped around my throat.

And slammed me up against the glass, hard enough to crack.

My eyes widened as the seething skeleton pressed up against me.

Blue eye-light burning with Hate. Hate Hate Hate hatehatehatehate…

Something slipped into my coat...and for a split second I wondered if the molestation tables were about to turn... 

The tentacle withdrew, coming to hover in the space above us.

Now in possession of the- 

H2-Oh.

My face did something then. An unguarded movement I had no control over. 

Very slowly, my gaze fell from the dangling bottle to Nightmare's expression.

Raw. Hateful. Defiance.

c h a l l e n g e  a c c e p t e d.

Before anyone had a chance to intervene, the dark tentacle tightened on the fragile container.

Shattering the glass.

...

..

.

I woke up on my couch.

Blinking up at the ceiling... I was surprised to find wetness slipping from my groggy eyes.

Tears.

"Mr Sleeper...?" I asked tentatively, half expecting my voice to fail...

"don't talk to me." 

Still alive then. Awake too. Bonus.

I spent another moment blinking, conflicted.

"....I think I'm in love..."

"i forbid it."

"I see..." I tilted my head to see the Bitty lying beside me.

Safe, but not overly happy about it.

I tried to smile.

"...I suppose that's the end of that then."

 

Chapter Text

"just put it in."

"...Are you sure?"

"yes. i'm sure."

"lt just...seems like a lot to take in...all at once..."

"for the last time..." The Bitty on my counter crossed his arms. "i want four teaspoons of sugar. in my coffee. n o w."

Still, I hesitated.

"…Four? As in one-two-three-four? As in I dip my spoon into this jar and deliver your body weight's worth of sugar into that mug... "

The spoon was ripped unceremoniously from my hand, leaving me to watch helplessly as Sleeper did the dirty deed himself. 

Only the brave stand between a skeleton and their sugary liquid of choice... 

"now pour in the hot water." The Bitty commanded.

"…………Are you-?"

"going to throw you through a window if you finish that sentence?" Sleeper stared up at me with empty eye-sockets. "only time will tell." 

...Thus, my first successful cup of instant coffee was born.

Black.

Four sugars.

Didn't catch on fire. 

Another culinary success for Ava the Avatar.

One that ended with me sitting at the table, with my #World's Okayest Avatar mug nestled in hand. Staring silently down my share of the coffee, waiting for it to be drinkable.

...It was a temperature thing.

Also the dirty water appearance thing... 

A plate of sliced banana sat proudly on the table...because that is the one dish I can make without adult supervision...and it only takes me twice as long as a normal person... 

Sleeper sat grumpily across from me, clutching his own Bitty sized mug like it was the Holy Grail. The precious liquid, scooped from my own mug, being the only thing keeping him from committing war crimes upon my person.

I didn't question where he had found the miniature crockery. The Softbones had made no secret of the smuggling of bitty sized objects into my home over the last few weeks. The dumping of odd souvenirs from his travels.

Seashells. Space rocks. Stuff like that.

I didn't mind so long as no dead bodies showed up...and I definitely wasn't reading into it. 

Nope. No emotional strings attached to Sleeper hiding supplies amongst my porn. None whatsoever. 

Despite his refusal to become an official Observatory citizen, The Bitty felt more than comfortable helping himself to my hospitality and food on a regular basis...

But that was most days.

And most days don't involve us waking up unpleasantly sore and awkward after sleeping together.... 

So. Worried over the disturbing lack of calories the Bitty had been exposed to in recent hours (not the awkward feelings of impending rejection in the air), I'd offered to help with breakfast.

...Sleeper had tolerated said Help.

And... here we were. Sharing the rewards of his labour. Unable to look at or speak to each other.

BONDING. 

"...Do you...um..." I started tentatively. "...want to talk about it?" 

Please say no Please say no Please say no Please say no Please say no Please say no... 

Sleeper took a long sip of his drink, refusing to look at me.

"...do you?"

I shifted awkwardly, having to struggle for once to keep my expression neutral.

Because the answer was No. Nope. Not really.

Really not.

...but this mutual agreement to never talk about anything was guaranteed to come back to bite me somehow...or at least, that's how it works in the movies... 

"...I asked first." I responded reluctantly.

"well now you get to answer first."

...Dagnabbit.

I pulled a face, because being immature is my thing...and it wasn't fair of him to fight fire with fire...

Speaking of things not going the way I wanted...

"...It was an accident."

The Bitty reached for a piece of banana.

"knowing that something is stupid but doing it anyway is not an accident."

For example.

Picking a fight with Nightmare.

I winced.

"...A calculated risk that didn't pay off?"

"more like an unnecessary risk that ended in d i s a s t e r."

Okay. Harsh...but kinda deserved...

Bitting my lip, I tried to come up with an explanation that didn't...suck.

"...I, um...Well, I thought Nightmare might...You know...Appreciate my honesty...and go find someone less...annoying.. to bully?"

The Bitty raised a sceptical brow. 

Because this was Nightmare we were talking about, right? The guy with the tentacles and low self-esteem? Has to completely dominate and control every interaction in order to feel okay deep inside? Can't sleep at night knowing someone has half a chance of ignoring him? 

What in the world could be so annoying that even a guy like him has better things to do...

Tilting my head, I continued on in a nasally tone. "Fear of complete desensitization is just mainstream garbage man. I'm only afraid of a very precise form abandonment... you probably haven't heard of it..."

Sleeper nearly did a spit-take with his coffee, a hand coming up to cover his mouth as he glared at me.

That's right. Hipsters ruin everything. Even sadism.

I stared at the flustered Bitty...before quickly hiding my surprise by raising my own cup.

"...Plenty of less conceited fish in the sea...is all I'm saying..."

I took a sip... deciding the liquid was still too hot to be enjoyable.

As far as tastes go, I prefer cold.

"...the h2-oh..." Sleeper hesitated, glaring at his coffee like he really didn't want to ask. "...what was it really?"

I winced guiltily.

To say the liquid was highly corrosive... would be putting it delicately... 

"...It shouldn't stain."

"and you base this on what?"  

"...The delay between me telling you now and you going to sleep and finding out later?" 

The glare turned to me.

"...that's still not what I asked."

He had every right to be concerned.

As a result of Nightmare shattering the glass, Sleeper's mindscape had been flooded within moments...the small squirt bottle releasing far more liquid than it ever could have contained....

A liquid that erased anything that moved...

I mumbled something completely inaudible under the weight of Sleeper's insistent glare...then made a second attempt to explain myself as the weight only grew heavier. 

"…Cyan magic." I finally admitted.

"cyan. magic?" Sleeper repeated slowly, giving me one last chance to change my answer. 

"Uh-huh..."

"i d i o t!"

The Bitty finally lost his patience, ironically enough, jumping to his feet to sling a piece of banana at my head.

"you could have killed me!"

"Brain. Dead." I hunched away from the bombardment of soft fruit.  "Not Dead Dead. There's a difference."

Speaking of people who could possibly be dead...Well...

I'd done everything I could. 

That is, I set the nozzle to stun and crossed my fingers...

Meh. Even if the worst had happened and Dream and Nightmare now slept with the fishes... it would be a long while before anyone noticed the absence of our local dream invaders.

Also no way for the crime to be traced back to me... So all's well that ends well...

"how do you even have access to something like that in the first place!?" Sleeper continued to fume, seemingly debating whether to waste more fruit on bludgeoning me.

I shrugged.

Because the answer to that was the sort to leave me a broken mess on the floor.

"Every Fish needs a Pond." 

"what is that supposed to-"

Luckily, I was saved by the doorbell.

The door...

...bell...

Huh?

Sleeper and I held very still, staring at the source of the cheerful tune.

Because... that has never happened before...

Shouldn't be happening now.

"...Plot twist." I whispered. "...We're still dreaming."

"we're not." The Bitty scowled at the door. "i'd know."

"True... unless..." Still whispering, I pointed dramatically at the small skeleton. "You're an imposter!"

The Bitty blinked at me, like I'm the idiot.

I squinted back suspiciously.

"...That's exactly what an imposter would say if he were an imposter..."

"just go answer the door."

Sleeper disappeared from my table.

Because some people don't have manners...

 "…………………Fine. But only because Nightmare gave me Opening-Door Envy..."

I climbed to my feet, slowly, because my soul was still aching from all the redundant sleep-exercise I've been doing lately.

Could have just stuck with couch yoga but Noooo. Wanted to try something adventurous and modern.

The few arduous feet between my kitchen table and the doorway were spent...regretting my life.

Organic life sucks. Next time, I'm signing up to be a rock. One of those kinky pet rocks, with the googly eyes...always watching...

Steaming mug of hot coffee still in hand, just in case my visitor needed a bath  I got thirsty...I reluctantly pried open my front door.

Only to find Error glaring at me, arms crossed impatiently.

Yep.

I blinked between The Destroyer and the door... before retreating back a wary step.

"...Who are you, and how did you find my secret entrance?" 

It was one thing to have an unexpected visitor. Another for that unexpected visitor to not-

A)Knock Knock.

B)Teleport.

C)Come crashing through my window... 

But before the dark skeleton could answer and/or kill me, a blue blur zoomed across the threshold and nearly barrelled me over. 

"HUMAN!" 

"Hot! Coffee! In my hand!" I yelped, stretching my arm out to avoid spilling any on my attacker. Despite my dire warnings of dirty bean water peril, Swap Sans didn't relent in the slightest as he continued to hug me.

If anything, he squeezed tighter.

I looked to Error for help...I don't know why...

Guess I panicked.

Anyway, while I was doing this, I noticed the third skeleton on my doorstep.

Swap

Fell

Sans

...Very carefully, I reached for the door...pushing it shut, one millimetre at a time...

"...Don't mind me...I'm just gonna close this...nice and easy like..."

Problem was, I got greedy and tried take Swap Sans with me.

The door was slammed open wide by a firm hand and a resounding vibe of n o p e.

"dǫ͡n'̢t̶̸ e͏v̶͏e̢n̢̧ ҉t̶̷r̢̛͜y ͜i͢t."

I gave Error the most suspicious of looks.

Came back for round two eh? Brought your ultimate weapon of destruction to my doorstep eh?  Well, we'll see who gets the last laugh...

"...I think you've got the wrong house." I defiantly reached for my door again. "I didn't order a gang bang..."

The Dark skeleton gave me a final look before storming past me....into my home...over to my couch...Turning on my T.V....switching to Undernovela...And that's...

...that's what happened.

Slowly dragging my gaze away from the home invader...because there was really nothing to be done about that... I met SwapFell's impatient stare.

...

..

.

"...............ARE YOU GOING TO INVITE ME IN-"

"Don't kill me-! I...I mean...Yes!" I stepped aside, so as to seem more inviting. "My answer is yes. Please come in."

He came in.

But he wasn't happy about it.

The armoured skeleton was already radiating disapproval, ignoring me to 'politely' judge scenic my home.

I sagged the moment SwapFell's attention was off me...feeling as though I had lost a couple of years off my lifespan.

Who knew opening the door could be so stressful...? 

Lethal, even. But the downside to not having a government and living in complete anarchy was the lack of emergency services. The closest thing I had to a police-force were my neighbour’s fluffy handcuffs.

Shame really. Some interrogation skills would really come in handy right about now, as I still had no idea why my guests were here... Or even How that was a thing, seeing as Errors' travelling issues were still a problem last time I checked...

Swap Sans mumbled something into the front of my coat, reminding me that the short skeleton was still attached.

At least this one shouldn't cause me any trou...aaaand he's crying. 

Placing a questioning hand on Sans' shoulder had resulted in him looking up at me, revealing misery the likes of which I had never seen in person.

"i'm sorry." He mumbled.

It was around this point I started to truly panic.

The Angst! It's attacking me in my own home now! Abort! Flee! Take only the porn you can carry...!

"...i asked error to...and he..." Swap Sans explained brokenly, head lowered in shame. "...it wasn't fair...and now your precious person..."

Mo.

This was about Mo.

I sent a stiff look back at Error, who refused to look anywhere but at the T.V.

He hates me. He actually, legitimately hates my guts. This is what he has been keeping me alive for. 

"Um...Mr Sans...?" I tentatively place a hand on his head, knowing death would come from every angle if I screwed this up. "That's...ah...It's....You should probably know…I...well, um..." 

Swap Sans looked up at me, hurting...because he is a Sans. Cursed, with the voice of reason.

The sort of voice that forced you to hide behind excuses and promises, because your own judgement was ever rarely kind.  

MERCY LAZINESS 

MERCY  NEGLIGENCE 

MERCY COWARDICE

MERCY SELFISH

After a moment of staring into that angst, I let an arm slip around the small skeleton.

"...I wouldn't be half the semi-okay person I am today… a person capable of having precious people...of forgiving and finding value in others... If you hadn't had the courage to believe in someone who-might-literally-be-the-worst-person-ever-just-saying-no-offence." 

...I think he took offence.

I could feel at least one pair of eye-lights burning a hole into the back of my head.

Then again, this is probably going to be the closest thing to an apology I ever get from Error...

"So...ah, don't apologise for trusting your friend, or wanting to resolve things peacefully...Because between you and me..."

I whispered.

Loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

"...I'm pretty sure even Mr E was trying really hard to do the right thing. In his own way. Which was killing me, in this context, but still... he only enjoyed it a little bit. Not the part where he thought he would be disappointing you or himself, but just like...the lasers and stuff. Totally understandable right? I mean...who doesn't enjoy lasers? No one. That's who."

Did I make a point? I feel as though I may have made a point somewhere in the middle of all that...

"MR. E?" Swap Sans' hesitantly asked, voice muffled from where I was trying to suffocate Him. The problem. No one with my comforting hug.

"There are infinite layers to reality Mr Sans." I explained. "When the potential of attracting a bigger and badder you becomes an issue, then you too, shall have a Nickname..."

I abruptly pulled back, staring down at the sad skeleton with 100% more seriousness.

"Now... If there is any doubt in your mind as to whether or not I resent Mr. E, or feel any need to avenge my marmoset, please know I personally witnessed the Destroyer handcraft a life-sized doll of you. It's dressed in clothes he stole from your house while you were sleeping and he complains to it whenever he thinks you're being obtuse-"

I had to stop when Error bludgeoned me in the side of the head with the remote control.

By the time I recovered, the dark skeleton was standing on my couch screaming abuse me.

"c̡r̴am̛͝ ͘i̶͢t y͞ơ̡u̷̕͠ h͞a͞l͟f̧̨͡-̧b̴a̛kȩ̷d̴ a̡̨͞b̴̧o̸͠m̨͞i̢na̛t̵i͝on! ͝҉͝b̢͡e̵̢fo̶̵͞r̶̵̶e͢͜ ͠i ͢sęw̶̛ ̕y̶̶̡o̕͝u͡r̴͘ ͏fưc͏͏͘ki͘n̕͢g̴̴ ͝͡m̸o̶u̕͞t̡͟h͘ ̷s͢͢h͡u̵͟͟t̵͜!̷̷" 

Needless to say, any progress I had made with Swap Sans' emotional state was undone...

Also, turning my attention back to the room at large revealed that I had not one, but two skeletons were close to tears.

SwapFell Sans was glaring at my fruit bowl like the thing had grabbed him by the heartstrings uninvited and he was going to make that bowl of fruit regret the day it had been born...

 ………pretend I wasn't home.

Is what I should have done.

 

Chapter Text

Something a lot of people don't know about me....

I have a ceiling fan.

...I'm not sure why I have a ceiling fan, as it doesn't seem to do anything but stir cold air around my living space/make a repetitive ticking noise that drives me crazy if I focus on it for too long...

But the fan is there, and never, in my many days of staring at, it have I thought to myself...

Hey, I bet that thing can support my weight. 

....

..

.

...Turns out, I have the strongest ceiling fan in the world.

A fan that has a firm "fuck you that's why" policy when it comes to physics.

A fan that can be depended on when the shit hits and you need somewhere to flee.

Because it's a proven fact that's Sans-es.

Are short.

Really short. 

A shortcoming weakness I must exploit because holy crap I'mclingingtotheceilingfanandit'severythingIeverhopeditwouldbeandmore... 

"THIS IS JUST FUCKING RIDICULOUS!" SwapFell Sans snapped, stomping to his feet after a solid ten minutes of being told 'PLEASE CALM DOWN, I'M SURE THE HUMAN WILL COME DOWN ON THEIR OWN IF WE JUST BE PATIENT...' 

Ha.

Not likely.

There had been a distinct drop in violence ever since I cast my coffee to the wind and ascended to Fantopia. No more tears or anger. Only confusion, and mild awkwardness. 

But the peace was never meant to last....

"I DON'T CARE WHAT BLUE SAYS." Though the room was little more than a spinning blur, I knew disapproval when it was yelled at me from a short, yet unsurpassable distance. "IF YOU DON'T COME DOWN FROM THERE THIS INSTANT, I'M TURNING UP THE-"

"o̶͜͢i̕ c͜he̸r̴ry." Error interrupted, well past the point of caring whether he lived or died apparently. "̢do͢ ̵u͡s ͟all͠ a favo͞u̶r and̵ ͡s͘h̵͢͢ư͏͢t̢ ͟͏̡u͞p͏͏. i̢͟'͜m̕͝ t̷̷̷r̕y̨͡͠in̕g̢ ̛ţ̡͝o͞ ͢͠w̕a̸͜t͜ch̨͡ a̷s͡goro͝ ͡d͝i̛e a̴g̴ain…"

…whenever people ask me, "Hey Ava, do you ever regret your decision to become a ceiling fan hermit?" I say- 

Weeeeeeeeeeee!

But Also.

No.

The ceiling fan is both affordable and well away from the hustle and bustle of batshit crazy skeletons.

"AH YES, THIS AVOIDANCE THING YOU'RE SO FOND OF..." Even with my eyes squeezed shut in terror, I heard each one of SwapFell's threatening steps as he moved to loom over the other skeleton. "AT WHAT POINT DOES IT INVOLVE YOU FUCKING OFF?"

…Dead. Deadeadeadead we're all so incredibly dead...

"t͟ru̴ļy͢, you̸r ͠wit know̴s no͘ ͡b͏ouņds...n͡ow w͢ou̧l̢d̡ y̷ou͜ m͢in͡d͠ ̶m͞ov͢in̸g͟ t̛h̶ȩ ͝one ma͟n͘ p͡a͞rade ̕a lit̴tle to̶ t̴h̸e-̨ş̨̛͟t͢͟a̵̧͟͏r̸̨͜͠s҉̸̨̢͜ ͢͡d̵̵͟͟͠o̷n̸̷̷͝'͏̵͏t̵͢ ̴̵̛͘t̶̢̢͡o̶̴͜u̸͞c̷͘͟͠h̷͟͠͏̢ ̧͘t͏̸̢̛͜h̡͏͏̧a̸̛͘t̵҉!͞"͢͏"

I peeked an eye open to see Error halfway off the couch, a hand extended towards Swap Sans who-

Nope.  

I dropped from the ceiling fan like a dead fly.

"Nope. Nope. Nopenopenope…" I scuttled urgently across the floor...having to take a slight detour up and over the couch as my sense of direction betrayed me. After a few wrong turns, I managed to insert myself between the short skeleton and the carefully categorized bookshelf of SIN.

"H-HUMAN...?" Swap Sans asked hesitantly, still a little tentative from his earlier tears.   

Even with my arms spread wide and back pressed up against the shelves...alas, my poor avatar body was not enough to block the horror from sight...

"Mr Sans..." I whispered, trying to be discreet in the stunned silence. "...I am normally very liberal with my erotica...but um...I was under the impression you came here for business, not for pleasure so..."

Swap Sans was already blushing violently blue.

"RIGHT! YES. I'M SORRY! I SHOULDN'T BE GOING THROUGH YOUR HOME WITHOUT ASKING...!"

"NONSENSE." A clipped voice interrupted. "THAT THING SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO PUT ITS FILTH OUT ON DISPLAY." 

With every word I sunk lower, trying to hide behind Swap Sans as the other skeleton crossed the room towards us.

By the time SwapFell Sans came to stand next to the Blueberry, arms crossed and a look of severe disappointment in place, I was huddled up on the ground.

Cowering.

"CHERRY..." Swap Sans reached out a hand to...have it bitten off I suppose...

"ENOUGH. " The edgy skeleton shrugged off his gentler counterpart. "I DIDNT COME HERE TO CODDLE IT."  

The SwapFell skeleton glared down at me, nothing in his expression holding the slightest amount of warmth.

"AS YOU HAVE MADE NO EFFORT TO BE HOSPITABLE, I SEE NO REASON TO DRAG THIS OUT ANY LONGER."

This was it.

Favourite Death scenario #5.

Surrounded by my possessions and porn, at the hands of a sexy skeleton...

I was seized roughly by the front of my coat and pull up close and personal with SwapFell contemptuous sneer.  

"I AM HERE" He explained softly. "BECAUSE I'M SICK OF YOU THINKING YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, WITHOUT THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF COURTESY TOWARDS THE PEOPLE WHO'S LIVES GET CAUGHT UP IN YOUR BULLSHIT." 

The claw wrapped in my coat curled tighter, threatening to cut off what little air seemed to be making it to my lungs.

"WHILE CIRCUMSTANCES CAN NOT ALWAYS BE HELPED, THE LEAST YOU CAN DO IS COMMUNICATE WITH US LIKE A FUCKING ADULT." 

Burning eye-lights seared into me, promising a pain no words could describe.

"I DON'T CARE WHO YOU ARE. WHAT YOU ARE. THE NEXT TIME YOU DISAPPEAR, LEAVING A WORLD IN SHAMBLE'S AND EVERY IDIOT BETWEEN HERE AND OUTERTALE DESPERATE FOR SOME SORT OF EXPLANATION, I'M GOING TO HURT. YOU. HUMAN."  

By the time he finished, I was trembling bad enough to make my hat rattle.

"U N D E R S T O O D?"

"......Yes sir."

SwapFell Sans went still, something in his expression faltering as he finally realised his mistake.

As I stared up at him in open

ADMIRATION.

"...crap." He said.

Crap was right.

Because now I was attached to his leg. Clinging with the strength with a thousand hero worshipers.

"STARS FUCKING DAMN IT. LET GO!"

"M a r r y  m e."

He threw me through a wall.

And that's the story of how I ended up sitting at my kitchen table. A bag of frozen peas on my head and a lollypop in my mouth...Very contrite as both Sans-es argued about the morality of throwing a deranged pervert through solid plaster.

"YOU PROMISED TO BE POLITE!"

"IT WAS DROOLING ON ME!" 

"THEY WERE BEING FRIENDLY!"

"TOO FRIENDLY!"  

"HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO FIX THE GIANT HOLE YOU MADE IN THEIR WALL!?"

"THAT'S WHAT FURNITURE IS FOR!"

…Surreal.

That's the word I'm looking for.

Ever since the Skeletons had turned up on my doorstep, I've been wracking my brain for some sort of explanation...a motivation or cause for them being here...

But it was almost like...they had entered my presence... voluntarily...?

Intentionally even.

In my dazed state, I failed to notice Swap Sans in front of me... until the concerned skeleton was lifting up the peas as well my hat to peer into my eyes.

I intervened, reaching to cover his sockets.

"You'll get seasick."

"..I DON'T SEE HOW THAT POSSIBLE..."

"Do you think I came on too strong Mr Sans?" I whispered to him self-consciously.

"...PERHAPS A LITTLE BIT." He...didn't exactly whisper back, gently removing my blinding hand. "...I'M SORRY HUMAN. I WAS HOPING TO MAKE AMENDS BY COMING HERE...NOT TO IMPOSE...or assault…"

"Eh? A little bit of violence never hurt anyone..." I waved away his concern, biting down hard on the lollipop. "Besides, if no one attacked me, I would start to insecure in my role as a threatening figure."

Swap Sans sweatdropped.

"...ARE YOU SURE YOU DON'T NEED TO GO TO A HOSPITAL?"

I have a bad personality dude. Not a concussion.

"Pfft. This ain't nothin. When I first met Mr Sleeper, he threw me out that window." I pointed a dizzy finger. "Twenty-three times."

While one skeleton sweat-dropped at this outrageous number, the other tsked... as if disappointed he didn't have the high score.

Heh. Not even close...

"OH THAT'S RIGHT!" Swap Sans jumped with sudden realisation, half turning... "ERROR WANTED TO..."

Only to find the dark skeleton missing.

"...TALK..." 

...Error was gone by the way.

I don't know when exactly he had slipped away.

My guess would be that he had gone off to flirt with Mr Sleeper, knowing the bitty wouldn't be on my person...Not with the recent ceiling fan fiasco. 

...Guess we'll know for sure when the lasers start firing...

SwapFell Sans swore upon noticing the absence, promptly applying a palm to his disgusted expression.

"CAN'T TAKE MY FUCKING EYE OFF HIM..."

"INDEED." Swap Sans huffed, turning to glare at the empty space, hands on hips. "...PLEASE EXCUSE HIS RUDENESS HUMAN. ERROR HAS BEEN VERY EAGER TO SPEAK WITH YOUR... FRIEND..."

He glanced back at my scarf, the need to ask written clearly on his face.

I tilted my head curiously.

"...Alphys really hasn't spilled the beans huh?"

The short skeleton actually blushed, bashful with his curiosity caught.

"SHE SAID IT WOULD BE A TERRIBLE WAY TO REPAY YOUR HEROIC DEEDS..." 

I blinked.

"...Ah. I thought Mr Sleeper must have threatened to tie cement blocks to her feet and dump her in the river." 

Guess I owe them both an apology for thinking the worst...

Both Sans-es were staring at me. Watching my expression carefully for any sign I needed them to call some sort of authority...

"Oh...um...don't get the wrong idea." I tried to back-peddle. "Mr Sleeper is very responsible with his violence. Just ask Mr Nightmare...who is probably still alive...."

 ...If I thought the horrified staring couldn't get any worse....

"...nightmare...?" Swap Sans asked, going noticeably pale...even for a skeleton.

"Ah...Yes. As you can probably tell from my terrible bed hat..." I pointed seriously to the red disarray. "...I've recently been hanging out in the land of unconsciousness. With implied company."

"...HANGING OUT?" SwapFell was suddenly invading my personal space, caging me into my seat with a hand on the table. "ACCORDING TO THAT SCATTERED BRAINED ALPHYS, YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING HOME FOR A NAP." 

I gave him the thumbs up.

"Exactly."

"E X A C T L Y?" 

"Well... One of my many duties is to make sure Mr Sleeper rests peacefully...So when I noticed something was wrong, I did everything in my power to assist. Thusly, I took a nap. Hoping to either draw Mr Nightmare's attention away, or offer assistance to Mr Dream if he was involved."

"WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY ANYTHING?!"

I stared at him.

"........................I was in a hurry." I used my fingers to check off. "Asking for help would have been more trouble than it was worth. I wouldn't have been able to sleep in the company of any threat. Mr Sleeper would have killed me for inviting more people into his head. He might still kill me for inviting myself in..." 

"WHY IS IT?" A clawed hand suddenly captured my chin, forcing me to shut up. "THAT ANY AND ALL ATTEMPTS TO INTERACT WITH YOU ARE DEEMED AN INCONVENIENCE?"

A classic case of not wanting to admit I'm starving for even the smallest scrap of attention.

"...could be the violence." I put out there. Food for thought. "Or the expectation that I'll drop everything and do what you want...hmm...really can't put my finger on it..."

"YOU SHOULD GET OUT OF THE HABIT OF TREATING ME LIKE AN OBSTACLE HUMAN." The bruising hold grew tighter. "I GUARANTEE YOU WON'T ENJOY MAKING ME EARN YOUR ATTENTION." 

I pressed hushing a finger to his teeth.

"If you wanted to bully me Mr Sans, you should have put a ring on it."

His hands transferred to my throat.

Happy to return to familiar territory, I waited for the crushing grip to start squeezing the life out of me.

And waited.

....and waited...

"...Technical difficulties?" I asked, poking at his frozen fingers.

"CHERRY...." Swaps Sans placed a hand on the other's shoulder, tentatively trying to defuse the stranglehold.

"...and what did you do to nightmare?" SwapFell Sans refused to let go, staring at his hands instead of looking at me. "after he attacked your companion?"

Not concerned so much as frustrated...

"...Hurt his feelings, mostly." I confessed, equally quiet.

"you didn't retaliate?" His hands started to shake slightly. "don't you hate him?"

Hate him?

I hesitated, quietly observing SwapFell's hunched shoulders and closed off expression.

"...Mr Sans, I think you should know..." I gently pried his fingers away from my scarf. "...Stalking isn't just my hobby...Something I do to drive away the constant threat of boredom and isolation... Nay. Stalking is my passion."  I stood up on my chair, hand over heart, with one foot propped heroically on the table. "An Artform I constantly seek to improve on and one day...master."

"ARE YOU SERIOUS..."

"For You See. The one thing that separates me from your average, moralless pervert is the pride I take in my work. Look around." I gestured to the vast abundance of porn in my living space. "A lifetime's worth of curiosity and affection lays before you, yet none of you would have known of my burning interest in your sex lives if not for the meddling of the powers that be. This is because the feelings of a Stalker must remain forever unrequited and pure. Unbeknownst to the ones they observe and never interfering in the lives of their prey cious people."

I pointed dramatically down at the unimpressed skeleton.

"So It doesn't matter if I hate Mr Nightmare, or if Mr Nightmare hates me. Inevitably he will lose interest. Become desensitized to my harassment and continue on without me."

They all will.

I stepped up onto the table, towering ever higher with my hands on my hips.

"Fear, pity, curiosity or guilt. Whether you treat me kindly, fairly or poorly. Please know this..." 

 I held their gazes, expression almost accusing in its flatness.

"Hatred isn't what will keep me breathing when you leave me, so don't expect me to indulge in it."

Let me turn the other cheek.

...The two Sans-es were staring up at me. Speechless.

And I realised.

There is like... no casual way to come down from a melodramatic speech.

Seriously.

I was standing. On my kitchen table. Foot in mouth and eyes looking anywhere but at the two skeletons at my feet.

Unless the universe suddenly scene cut away from the weird or...

As my mortified gaze slid over the room, I caught the brief instance where the scene on my T.V. flipped. 

...It wouldn't...

Of course it would.

A portal burst into existence at our feet. Giving us a single second to curse fate before swallowing me, the two skeletons and my kitchen table whole.  

Chapter Text

Ever tried to furniture surf into a new universe before?

For future reference, it ends with you falling backwards, tipping over a garden fence and landing in a rose bush.

.................Deep breaths Ava. In and out. That's it. Breathe away the pain....

"HUMAN!" I heard a concerned skeleton jump the fence, appearing in my field of vision a moment later. "ARE YOU OKAY?"

I've been better.

"...Please extract me from the rose bush Mr Sans." I blinked up at the skeleton standing over me. "In your own time... I can wait."

Wincing, Swap Sans reached out a helping hand.

"SOR-"

"WHAT THE FUCK." SwapFell Sans suddenly appeared, stomping a foot down on my chest and grinding me into the thorns. "...DID YOU DO HUMAN?! SPEAK! WHILE I'M STILL BEING LENIENT!"

Lenient he says.

"...While. You. are. a. delight. Mr Sans." Teeth gritted, I pushed against his boot in a weak attempt to ease the pressure. "Being tortured for information is only fun and/or effective when I have the answers.... Which I currently don't.... So let us postpone..."

"TELL ME WHERE WE ARE OR DIE."

I pulled a face.

"Hmm, well. According to this map...We're about two inches away from the end of my patience?"

"EXCELLENT." Grinning insanely widely, SwapFell summoned a bone to his hand. "I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO THERE."

...guess we'll stop by for lunch then...

"WAIT CHERRY!" Swap Sans finally came to my rescue, seizing the other Sans from behind to stop him from bludgeoning me to death. "GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO EXPLAIN!"

"WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE I'M DOING!?"

...it's not the sort of thing I'm comfortable describing...

The violence likely would have escalated even further, had a small voice not interrupted. 

"Meow?" 

Still upside down in the rose bush, I looked past skeletal legs to find a curious face peering at me.

"...Oh."

Just what this situation needed.

Claws.

"IS THAT CAT?" SwapFell Sans, Multitasker Extraordinaire, was able to deduce even while crushing my ribs. 

".............No?"

The Obviously-A-Cat tilted its head, befuffled to find a group of strangers acting out a BDSM scene in its front yard. 

"...WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO?!" SwapFell snarled, stomping down with even more indignation.

"...I mean...maybe you and Mr Sans should just close your eyes and pretend the cat isn't there because....Or you can go pat it, that is also fine..."

Swap Sans, with stars in his eyes, was already crouched before the curious feline.

Trembling with restraint while holding out a hand for inspection. 

"HELLO THERE KIND FELINE, I AM THE MAGNIFICENT SANS. ALSO KNOWN AS BLUE, WHEN IN THE COMPANY OF MY MANY SELVES."

Though the cat had many reasons to be concerned...it would be impolite to refuse such an animable offering of friendship!

The Cat stepped forward, purring loud enough to make my chest ache as it butted its head against the extended hand.

 

" they’ll tear you the pieces if you let them." 

                                 -Mr Sleeper

 

"SO...Um..." I shifted uncomfortably under SwapFell's crushing heel."...I don't suppose you guys have some sort of policy when it comes to First Contact...? I mean, besides shooting at each other until both sides acknowledge they can't be bothered?"

SwapFell Sans isn't slow.

Easily distracted? Yes.

Willing to sit back and watch you run your mouth? Also Yes. 

Slow?

No.

"WHERE. ARE. WE. HUMAN?" He leant forward, tapping his summoned bone into a threatening hand.

"....CatTale." I finally admitted.

The short skeleton stiffened...then very carefully, looked over his shoulder at the cat.

White. With patches of orange and grey that were disturbingly bone-like. 

Cute red scarf. 

"...NO FUCKING WAY."

I blinked.

"Yes Way Ted."

Next thing I knew I was on my feet...but that was only because SwapFell wasn't tall enough to keep me suspended off the ground. 

Bone weapon discarded, Sans gripped the front of my coat brutally tight; Glaring up at me with a look that promised any attempt to tolerate me would be over if I didn't adjust my attitude.

Yesterday.

"E X P L A I N."

I stared down at him, stomach sinking as I realised I wasn't getting out of this interrogation.

"Well...ah....you see...My universe has a severe case of Randomportalitis." I held up a finger in explanation. "Symptoms include random portals that go to random places....randomly."

"HOW. CONVENIENT." SwapFell gritted out, suspicious because he knows a semi-sentient portal when he sees one.

I stared back seriously.

"We of the Ava clan, do not question this truth."

Prompting a frustrated growl from the short skeleton.

That's right pal. Just because I'm cooperating, doesn't mean I won't be annoying. 

"fuck... FINE. KEEP YOUR SECRETS. JUST SPARE ME THE FUCKING BULLSHIT AND TELL ME EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW."

Well, he did ask...not nicely...but I'd take it. 

"...Cats don't build Machines Mr Sans." I said. As if that explained anything. "They're far lazier than any skeleton you'll ever meet."

SwapFell took the stupidity in his stride.

"SO THIS UNIVERSE HAS BEEN COMPLETELY ISOLATED UP UNTIL THIS POINT?"

I tilted my head.

"...This universe is a lot of things you don't want to know about."

After another long moment of staring meaningfully at each other, Sans and I finally found something we could agree on.

Leaving now would be ideal.

"...BLUE!" SwapFell started to turn towards the other skeleton.

Who had Cat Papyrus cuddled in his arms.

Pretty much bonded for life.

The Fell Skeleton dropped me in order to face-palm.

"...NO."

"BUT..."

"NO." SwapFell Sans was having none of it, marching to stand sternly over to the duo. "PUT IT DOWN."

Both cat and skeleton stared back with sad sad eyes.

SwapFell crossed his arms.

"N O W."

The Cat in Swap Sans' arms made a small sound...that sounded suspiciously like a tentative nyeh? 

The crack in SwapFell's stern resolve was almost audible. 

As was the ping... on the Over-protective-brother radar.

That's when it started raining cat.

As in a singular bastard fell from the sky to land on SwapFell's head.  

"FUCK!"

Who was understandably not a fan of this development.

The chubby feline currently attached to his skull rumbled. Cat language or not, there was no mistaking that Friendly not so Friendly tone. 

Besides, only a Sans could make clawing someone's skull look casual.

SwapFell Sans stiffened like he had been given an electric shock, hands clenching and unclenching as he swore through the pain.

It was at this point I had to look away.

Or risk being asked for help.

If you think Classic Sans is scary, pray you never see him with a floofy tail...

Feeling uncomfortable, I turned away... taking a sudden interest in the state of the sky...

Which was orange.

Or at least partly so. There was still hues of blue, pink and gold. Sunset.

It begged the question.

...how much time had I lost?

It wasn't unusual for Sleeper to snooze for insane durations of time. It could have been hours or even days since I'd disappeared from Echotale...

Oh.

...Soap opera withdrawals.

Explains how Error somehow found a way to my universe against all odds.

"GET IT OFF ME!" SwapFell was demanding. For all his bluster, the skeleton's hands stopped short of ripping the feline from his head and blasting it out of existence.

"PLEASE RELEASE MY FRIEND MR CAT!" Swap Sans had gently placed Cat Papyrus down in order to be of assistance. "WE HAVE NO INTENTION OF CAUSING ANY HARM!"  

Feline Papyrus was offering his own scolding from the skeleton's feet, meowing in clear disapproval.

And yes...While it may have reassured Cat Sans that his brother was unharmed...it failed to suck the fun out of the head clawing experience.

Thus, it continued.     

Content that the situation was being handled without me, I pulled out my phone. Hoping that it could give me some sort of indication of the time...

12 missed calls.

...Nine of which had occurred within the last half-hour. 

All from the one guy in the multiverse with my number in his contacts...

The uneasy feeling that had been plaguing the back of my mind ever since the skeleton trio had shown up on my doorstep revealed its true identity.

"Y o u!" I gasped, like a dead person taking their final breath.

Everyone paused mid cat extraction to send me a confused look.

Clutching my phone like a lifeline, I pointed at SwapFell Sans.

"You have a brother!"

SwapFell met the accusation with a flat look.

No Shit Sherlock.

"...And you !" I gasped again, turning the accusing finger to Swap Sans. "You also have a brother!"

The reminder had the gentler skeleton lowering his gaze guiltily.

Not Good. 

I could barely get the words past my sinking stomach... but I had to ask. 

"Did. You. Tell. Them. You. Were. Coming. To. Visit. Me?"

Cat still attached to his skull, SwapFell raised a defiant brow.

"WE DIDN'T EVEN TELL THEM WE WERE LEAVING."

I threw my phone. 

As hard as I could, over the fence and out into the street beyond.

Phew.

I stood panting, staring after the device just in case my gut feeling was right and it did explode.

...S A F E.

"...AVA?" A cautious voice spoke from behind me.

I turned on my heel, revealing my most refreshing expression.

"...Change of plans everyone." I clapped my hands decidedly. "This is our home now."

Maybe I should change my name...? No, that would just be overreacting...

While Swap Sans and Cat Papyrus stared at me in confusion, SwapFell buried his face in a hand. 

"stars help me..." He dragged said hand down tiredly. "I DON'T NEED MY BROTHER'S PERMISSION TO LEAVE THE FUCKING HOUSE!"

...It's the approaching of borderline sex offenders he's likely to disapprove of....

"PAPY WOULD HAVE INSISTED ON COMING IF I HAD TOLD HIM." Swaps Sans defended his actions meekly. "AND HE...DOESN'T REALLY...GET ALONG WITH ERROR SO-" 

"Who is also going to kill me!" I realised, clutching my hat in despair. "I'm doomed!"

Using the confusion, SwapFell finally managed to remove Cat Sans from his cranial region. 

"DO ME A FAVOUR AND JUST GROW A PAIR HUMAN." He demanded, holding the lazy cat away from himself like it was diseased. 

I gaped at him.

"That is very insensitive to my lack of genitals..."

"THEN BE GRATEFUL THERE'S NOTHING FOR ME TO RIP OFF AND SHOVE DOWN YOUR THROAT."

I dreamed a dream of time g