Actions

Work Header

Warmed to the Marrow

Chapter Text

The howling wind swept mercilessly through Snowdin, icy rain pouring down in thick torrents. Although the storm had only begun, the gusts of frigid air clawed at Papyrus’s body, freezing him down to the marrow. He struggled with Grillby’s door for a few seconds, his shivering fingers slipping against the knob as the wind wrapped his scarf around his head. When he finally managed to squeeze inside, he allowed himself a moment to take in the comfortable warmth of the bar before dragging the fabric from his face.

The orange glow of the restaurant permeated his vision, offering a stark contrast to the bitter scene outside. He could feel the heat seeping into his bones, melting away the sleet that encased him.

And yet despite the solace the bar offered, his soul tightened with dread. He had figured that Sans had been holed up here, as he usually did after a long shift. But his brother was not in his typical spot at the counter. In fact, save for Grillby, the room was empty. The bartender was turned towards the back wall as he wiped down a table with a raggedy washcloth.

Papyrus cleared his throat. “HELLO GRILLBY! ERR… HAVE YOU SEEN SANS THIS EVENING?”

“paps!”

Papyrus whipped his head to the right and saw his brother sitting at one of the booths. “Sitting” was a bit of an exaggeration. His body was lazily slumped on the rose cushions, his head propped precariously on the wall. A bright cyan blush dominated his face as he stared at Papyrus with half-lidded eyes.

“SANS, THERE YOU ARE!” he shouted, unable to keep the relief from his voice. “WHY DIDN’T YOU COME HOME? I HAVE BEEN WORRIED SICK WITH THIS STORM!”

A languid grin stole across his brother’s face as he sunk lower into the booth. “i was waiting – hic! – for you, bro!”

Sans released a series of hiccupping giggles as he slid down the wall, his skull softly hitting the cushion below him.

“YOU’RE DRUNK,” Papyrus sighed as he marched over to the table.

“you got it!” His brother tried to snap and shoot him a finger gunning motion, but his phalanges twisted and slipped, causing him to do little more than make a clenching fist. “wait a sec,” he slurred as he tried again with no better result.

“BROTHER, I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU. I TOLD YOU TO COME STRAIGHT HOME TONIGHT, REMEMBER? THE STORM IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE WORST WE’VE HAD IN YEARS. WHY IN THE UNDERGROUND DID YOU GET DRUNK?”

And why would Grillby serve him? He shot the bartender a contemptuous look, which did not go unnoticed.

“...He came in like this.” Grillby’s words were clipped by his crackling accent, but his tone was unmistakably soft. “...I tried to call you, but the reception is out.”

Papyrus’s face warmed. “OH. I SEE.”

“yeah, i – hic! – tried to get more but grillbz here – hic! – said he wasn’t serving! can you believe that?!”

“WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DRINK MORE? YOU ARE ALREADY WELL AND DRUNK!”

“because it’s fun!” He shakily pushed himself into a sitting position and scooched off the booth. “i don’t know why – hic! – you’re both such killjoys. it’s not like – hic! – i’m gonna get – oof!” As he tried to climb to his feet, his hand skidded across the table. Without the support of it, he fell to the floor in a drunken heap.

“SANS! ARE YOU OKAY?”

But his brother remained crumpled and immobile on the ground. Papyrus bent down, his soul beating wildly in his chest, and shook Sans with quaking hands. His brother responded with a soft snore. Papyrus slid to the floor, his shoulders slumping as his soul beat with a mixture of relief and disappointment.

“...Do you need help?”

Papyrus glanced up and noted the deep concern outlining Grillby’s features.

“NO, I DO NOT. I JUST…” He looked down at Sans again, his face warming. “I APOLOGIZE FOR THIS, GRILLBY.”

Grillby stepped over to them, his flickering flames casting a dancing light over Papyrus’s bones. “...It’s okay, Papyrus.”

“IT’S NOT OKAY. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAS GOTTEN INTO HIM LATELY.” He tried shaking Sans again, only to be met with a louder snore. “EVER SINCE THE HUMAN CAME THROUGH, HE HAS JUST BEEN SO… WELL, YOU CAN SEE WHAT HE HAS BEEN LIKE.” He sighed in frustration. “I AM SO SORRY.”

“...You don’t need to apologize.” Grillby squatted down to the ground next to the two of them. “...Everyone has had to deal with the aftermath of the human in their own way. He is obviously facing some hard times,” he said, nodding towards Sans. “...But you have been there for him every step of the way.”

“I DO NOT KNOW ABOUT THAT.”

“...Really. You have been very patient with him.”

Papyrus focused on his brother’s chest as it gently rose up and down. “I SOMETIMES WONDER IF I AM TOO PATIENT.”

“...Not at all.”

A sudden warmth pushed into Papyrus’s back, prompting him to look behind him. His breath caught as he spied Grillby standing above him, his hand gently pressed into Papyrus’s upper spine. His flames were diminished far more than usual, their brightness softened into a mellow glow. Even the sounds of his crackling flames ebbed to almost a whisper. As Papyrus stared into the bartender’s face, there was no mistaking the tenderness in his expression.

“...I really admire how strong you’ve been. It can’t be easy.”

“Y-YES, WELL!” Papyrus’s face burned. “I-IT IS NOTHING THE GREAT PAPYRUS CANNOT ACCOMPLISH!”

He scooped Sans into his arms and crawled to his feet, his limbs scrambling for purchase against the pine floors. The motion shot tiny tingles of pleasure through his bones as Grillby’s hand gently slid down the length of his spine.

“I-IT WAS GREAT TO CH-CHAT WITH YOU,” he squeaked, trying to ignore the fluttering in his chest, “B-BUT I REALLY MUST BE GOING!”

He zoomed to the entrance, shifting his weight so that he wouldn’t fall to the ground. As he twisted the doorknob, the wind crashed against the door, causing it to fly open with a resounding bang. Tiny chunks of ice pelted against him as he stood in the doorway.

“...Will you be okay? It might be better if you two wait out the storm.”

“NO, NO! WE WILL BE FINE!”

Papyrus stepped onto the stairs, and as he made to close the door, he chanced a glance towards Grillby. He was squeezing his hands together, staring at the pair of them with worry in his eyes.

“BUT THANK YOU,” Papyrus added, yelling over the gale. “FOR EVERYTHING.”

With that, he closed the door, stepping into the shadow. The storm was truly raging now. Soon the path would be covered in a thick coat of ice, and he would have to take care not to slip and fall. Yet, for a moment, all he could do was stand there, breathing in the frigid air as he stared unseeingly into the night. His soul was pounding in his chest, and, despite the penetrating chill, his face burned.

What was wrong with him? He had never experienced anything like this before. Even when the human had flirted with him, his soul hadn’t been racing like it was now. This was ridiculous! And unfitting of the Great Papyrus!

Sans shifted in his arms, groaning softly as the ice storm continued to pummel them. With a quick shake of his head, Papyrus pushed down the feeling in his chest and pressed forward. He could think about this more carefully when they got home.

Chapter Text

Papyrus sipped a long draught of milk from the chilled glass set before him, savoring the light, sweet flavor that filled his mouth. It was late, and he knew that he should head home. After all, he had to attend to his duties tomorrow! But he just couldn’t find it in himself to pull away from the conversation.

If he were to be honest, he wasn’t sure he minded.

“...You’re saying that is how Sans got hurt?”

Papyrus swallowed the mouthful and glanced at his brother, who was sleeping off his drunkenness in the nearby booth. “YES! UNDYNE SAYS HE HAS A GOOD BATTLE SCAR!”

Grillby chuckled as he leaned his elbows against the counter. “...I’m not sure tripping over a katana counts as a ‘battle scar.’”

“IT DEFINITELY COUNTS! THERE WAS A SWORD AND SWORDS ARE USED IN BATTLE, RIGHT?” Papyrus pumped his fist. “BATTLE SCARS ARE SO COOL!”

“...Well, I suppose they are.” He leaned back, a gentle smile playing across his features.

“YEAH!” Papyrus shouted, happy that someone finally agreed with him. “ALL THE ROYAL GUARDS HAVE THEM!”

“...Do you have any battle scars yourself?”

“OKAY, NOT ALL OF THEM,” Papyrus admitted, his face warming slightly. “BUT UNDYNE SAYS THAT IF ANYONE EVER GETS ONE, THEY SHOULD WEAR IT WITH PRIDE.”

Grillby’s smile melted off his face. “...That’s true. Though I am worried that many of us will end up with more than one scar by the time her campaign is through.”

Papyrus fiddled with his glass and watched the condensation pool on the bar counter underneath. “DO YOU REALLY THINK UNDYNE WILL DO IT?”

“...What? Find another way to break the Barrier?” Grillby shrugged. “...Maybe, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Papyrus hunched his shoulders. “I HOPE SHE DOES. I REALLY WANT TO SEE THE SURFACE. IT LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL IN ALL THE BOOKS.”

And he’d never say it out loud, but he really missed his human friend.

“...”

Papyrus sighed, allowing the silence to reign over them while Grillby tidied his bar. His mind was focused on the human and the consequences of their actions. If he had known about Doggo or the Snowdrakes, then... well, he would have had a very stern talk with the human!

Grillby’s mind was clearly elsewhere. “...I heard she was unwell after the human came through.”

“WHO? UNDYNE?” Papyrus frowned, staring at his cup. “YES, SHE TOOK A LEAVE OF ABSENCE FOR A FEW WEEKS. IT WAS NOT SURPRISING, GIVEN ALPH– WELL, GIVEN RECENT EVENTS.” He drew a misshapen bone on the counter using the condensation. “I AM GLAD SHE HAS FOUND A NEW HOBBY.”

“...A new hobby?”

“YES! YOU KNOW! HER EMPRESS HOBBY! I AM HAPPY TO SEE UNDYNE EMBRACE THAT ROLE!”

Grillby set down the glass with a loud thud. “...I’m not sure I agree.”

“WHAT? BEING EMPRESS IS DEFINITELY A HOBBY!”

“...No. I am not happy to see her as empress.”

“WHY NOT?”

Grillby sighed and picked up a dirtied glass. “...There are too many Guards now. I miss the days when we didn’t have to worry about forced recruitment.”

“NO ONE IS FORCED TO JOIN!”

“...I have heard otherwise. My cousin in Hotlands said –” He shook his head. “...Never mind. It does not matter. I do not think I would enjoy working for the Guard.”

“BUT BEING IN THE GUARD IS FUN!”

“...Some monsters are not made for it,” Grillby said gently. “...Besides, not everyone has as fun a role as you. There’s only one… what was your title again?”

“THE MOST IMPORTANT ROYAL POSITION!” Papyrus beamed, puffing his chest out. “IT IS THE BEST JOB OF ALL! I WISH EVERYONE COULD DO WHAT I DO!”

Grillby’s mouth opened in a crooked grin, displaying the brightly blazing embers inside him. “...And what do you do for that again?”

“I GET TO STAND AROUND AND LOOK CUTE!”

“...Well, you certainly do a good job of that.”

Papyrus sank in his bar stool as Grillby flashed him a wink.

“GRILLBY!” Papyrus whined as his face warmed.

“...What? It’s true. The position really fits you well.”

Papyrus returned to his drink, trying his best to look anywhere but at the bartender as he drank up the last mouthfuls of milk in a single gulp.

Chapter Text

“UGH! WHERE IS IT?”

Papyrus dug into the laundry basket, tugging out the black pants he wore last night. After a quick confirmation that his cell phone was not in any of the pockets, he returned the clothing to the receptacle and darted out of his room. If it wasn’t on last night’s outfit, and if his alarm hadn’t woken him up this morning, then it had to be elsewhere.

He flew down the stairs two at a time, his feet stomping loudly on each step. Rays of light streamed from the nearby windows, casting oblong shadows onto the living room walls. The sight did nothing to alleviate the tension in his chest. Oh, how could it already be so late?

As he reached the bottom stair, his soul pounded as he took in the state of the once-clean room. Empty popato chisps bags were scattered across the floor, tiny crumbs spilling into the worn and discolored carpet. The couch was a mess. One of its cushions had somehow ended up at the entrance to the kitchen, narrowly avoiding the series of sticky notes that adorned the wall. The bare half of the couch was covered in crumbs, lint, and other garbage, including a discarded beer bottle. On the other half was a scrunched-up, blanket-covered lump.

He huffed. His brother had never made it to his room last night, even after promising he’d sleep in his own bed for once. And the room was in a disgusting state once again. It was not entirely unexpected given Sans’s recent track record, but it was disappointing.

“BROTHER!”

Sans jerked, beginning their daily ritual. In five seconds, his brother would peek his head from underneath the covers, groan and moan, and then go back to bed. Five... four... three... two... one...

The covers shifted slightly. “ugh. ‘s too early.”

“IT IS NOT TOO EARLY, SANS! WE ARE BOTH INCREDIBLY LATE!”

Already Sans was burying himself in his little sanctuary.

“one more hour,” he mumbled.

Papyrus wasn’t having it this morning. If his brother wasn’t going to take responsibility for his schedule, then Papyrus would simply have to do it for him. He threw the blankets to the other side of the room, revealing Sans’s form. A shiver ran up his brother’s spine, and he wrapped his arms around his torso, as if he were hugging himself. Dark shadows outlined his sockets, giving the impression that he had gotten little sleep... or he had partaken in far more alcohol than Papyrus had realized.

His brother threw a hand over his eyes, blocking the evidence of last night’s escapades.

“paps!” he shouted through gritted teeth. “come on!”

“NO, I WILL NOT ‘COME ON,’ SANS! MY ALARM DIDN’T GO OFF LAST NIGHT! WELL, IT PROBABLY DID GO OFF LAST NIGHT, BUT MY PHONE WASN’T IN MY ROOM, SO IT DIDN’T WAKE ME! NOW WE ARE BOTH LATE!”

“eh, call in sick.”

“I CANNOT AFFORD TO CALL IN SICK! UNDYNE IS COUNTING ON ME!”

“to do what?”

“TO – TO DO MY JOB! I NEED TO MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION FOR THE GUARD! ESPECIALLY WHEN SOME MONSTERS REFUSE TO DO EVEN THE BARE MINIMUM!”

Sans burrowed his face into the couch cushions. At first Papyrus thought that his brother was hiding from the light; after all, his hangovers tended to incapacitate him until he got some breakfast in him. But then he heard Sans’s soft snores.

Papyrus wanted to scream. Why, why, why did they have to go through this every day? It was always the same! Every day he’d give his brother five extra minutes of sleep, shake him awake two or three more times, and finally, finally his brother would drag himself out of bed.

But not today. Papyrus was just too exhausted to go through the motions. Instead, he dropped to the floor, his tailbone thumping against the carpet. Tears gathered in his sockets, threatening to spill out at any second, but he held them back. This was no time to fall apart. He needed to get up, find his cell phone – wherever he may have left it – and get to work. When he got back, he’d deal with Sans.

Could he deal with Sans? He had been trying to get his brother to stop this nonsense, but every attempt ended up a disaster. With his new position in the Guard, and with his nightly visits to Grillby’s, he had been far too busy to concentrate on his brother’s health lately.

Papyrus rubbed his face. All he wanted was for things to go back to normal. Back to Sans telling knock-knock jokes and horrible puns. Back to nights spent watching MTT together on the couch until Sans finally insisted on bed. Back to the two of them being the best brothers the Underground had ever seen.

Why couldn’t it be that easy?

A sudden knock at the entrance stirred him from his thoughts. Wiping off the tears-that-he-definitely-did-not-shed as he went, he hurried over and opened the door. His soul gave a tiny shudder as he took in the visitor.

“G-GRILLBY?”

“...Hello, Papyrus.”

Grillby was not in his usual attire. Or if he was, it was underneath the outerwear that he now wore. It was strange to see him wearing anything other than his bartender’s outfit. But now that Papyrus thought about it, this was the first time he had ever seen Grillby venture outside his restaurant for longer than a few seconds.

He wore a pair of grey gloves, a slate-colored winter hat, and a long, sweeping scarf that accentuated the shape of his face. That wasn’t all. Papyrus’s eyes were drawn to the biggest change in his wardrobe: Grillby’s black overcoat. It was all buttoned up so that, apart from his face, not an inch of his flames was showing. Despite this, the outfit did wonders for him. It hugged his curves in all the right ways, accentuating his nicely-shaped chest and hips. Wowie.

Grillby cleared his throat, causing Papyrus to jolt. Warmth tinged his cheekbones. Oh. He had definitely been staring.

“G-GREETINGS, GRILLBY! W-WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”

Grillby reached into his coat pocket and pulled out something small.

“MY PHONE!”

“...You left it at the bar last night. The alarm woke me up some time ago.”

“OH! I APOLOGIZE! THAT MUST HAVE BEEN QUITE INCONVENIENT FOR YOU!”

Papyrus grabbed the phone and tried to stuff it into his own pocket, only to realize that he was still wearing his pajamas. His pink, bunny-covered, pocketless pajamas. He squeaked and hid behind the door so that Grillby couldn’t see his disheveled state.

Grillby didn’t seem to notice. “...Think nothing of it. Do you always get up that early?”

“Y-YES! YOU KNOW WHAT THEY ALWAYS SAY! THE EARLY SKELETON GETS THE MILK!”

Grillby chuckled, the sound filling Papyrus with renewed confidence.

“...If you get up that early, why do you stay at the restaurant so late? Aren’t you tired?”

“WHAT? THE GREAT PAPYRUS NEVER GETS TIRED! IN FACT, THE GREAT PAPYRUS RARELY SLEEPS AT ALL!”

Especially as of late. It was very difficult for him to sleep without a bedtime story, and Sans hadn’t been cognizant enough to do that for him lately. When his brother did make time for it, the alcohol on his breath kept Papyrus wide awake.

“...Is that why you have shadows under your eyes?”

“I – WHAT? OH NO!” He rubbed at his sockets, attempting to clear them of any signs of exhaustion. “HOW TERRIBLE! YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO SEE THE GREAT PAPYRUS IN SUCH A STATE!”

“...You have been coming over quite often. Perhaps you should get more rest.”

Papyrus huffed. He absolutely detested when others told him to sleep. Didn’t they know how busy it was being him? He couldn’t imagine sleeping when there were so many things to do!

Grillby tilted his head. “...Sorry. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

Papyrus warmed at that, his soul doing loop-de-loops in his chest.

“TH-THAT IS VERY KIND OF YOU, BUT... YOU SHOULD CONCENTRATE ON YOURSELF! YOU HAVE A THRIVING BUSINESS TO RUN!” He narrowed his eyes. “IN FACT, WHY AREN’T YOU RUNNING THAT BUSINESS NOW?”

“...I needed to bring you your phone.”

“YOU COULD HAVE HELD IT FOR ME AT THE BAR. OR HAD ONE OF THE DOGS FETCH IT.”

“...True, but I wanted to. I needed a day off anyway.”

“YOU CLOSED THE BAR? TO DELIVER MY PHONE?”

“...And to check in with you.”

Papyrus squirmed, and he was absolutely sure that there was no mistaking the blush on his cheeks now.

“...Have you had breakfast yet? I could whip something up for you. And Sans, if he is still here.”

Papyrus cast a glance at the couch and confirmed that his brother was still snoring away, ignorant of the conversation. Phew! It would be more than embarrassing if Sans saw the expression on Papyrus’s face right now. He turned back toward Grillby and considered his offer.

“ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE SOMETHING GREASY? I HATE GREASE.”

“...I know you do. I don’t plan on serving burgers for breakfast.”

“WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO SERVE THEN?”

“…Fried potatoes.”

“WELL IN THAT CASE, OF COURSE!” He threw the door open and beckoned Grillby to come inside. “IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL TO LEARN A NEW RECIPE FROM A CHEF AS ACCLAIMED AS YOURSELF!”

“...‘Acclaimed?’” As Grillby walked inside, his coat brushed against Papyrus, forcing him to a repress a shiver. “…Who acclaims me?”

“M-ME!” He slammed a palm to his mouth. “I MEAN... MANY MONSTERS! ACROSS THE UNDERGROUND! THEY ALWAYS TALK ABOUT IT!”

Grillby grinned at Papyrus as he unbuttoned his coat. “...Well, isn’t that kind of them?”

Papyrus nodded distractedly, unable to tear his gaze away as Grillby shrugged his outerwear off. A loud popping noise filled the room, his flames expanding and crawling to the ceiling as they were exposed to the air.

“...But I’m nothing special. Anyone can cook if they put their mind to it.”

While Grillby hung his clothing on a hook, Papyrus clutched his chest, praying that his soul would calm down.