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The day had started like so many others, sans lamented, and it was shaping up to be the last he would ever see. After a fitful night of sleep, Boss had woken him up with a boot to the ribs and strict orders to “GO DIRECTLY TO YOUR STATION, NO DILLY DALLYING AND ASGORE-FORBID I CATCH YOU SLEEPING ON DUTY AGAIN!”. Sans sighed at the pointlessness of sentry duty. He already knew when the kid would fall so why did he actually have to do his job? Not that anyone else was privy to that information, but sans thought he should at least able to doze off! Attacks on him were few and far between, most monsters at least somewhat fearful of what Boss would do if they dusted his...brother? ...pet? Whatever relationship he was now willing to claim they had.

It was with these thoughts in mind that sans allowed himself to drift off, Boss would find something to punish him about anyway, why not let it be something he actually did? Head buried in his folded arms, he drifted off.

Not long after he had settled in came a rustling from the forest across the path.

“Do you smell that my darling?”

“(Smells like bones.)”

“Smells like fun.”

“(Smells like dinner.)”

The No. 2 Nose Nip Champs of ‘98 exchanged feral grins before silently closing in on the sleeping skeleton.

“Smells like…” “(...blood!)” Licking their chops, the dogs circled the worn down sentry station. The skeleton was deeply asleep, despite the uncomfortable-seeming position. The scent of fresh injury was mildly intoxicating.

“Bone pup is sleeping.”

“(Let's chew him up!)”

“Bone Captain won't mind…”

“(The thing is useless anyway…)”

“We’ll do him this little favor…”

“(...and get rid of that mistake!)”

Abruptly, sans found himself thrown back to awareness as he stumbled backwards, stool tangling between his legs. A flash of white-hot pain told him not all of him had evaded the attack unscathed and he noted he was now sans a couple of fingers as he untangled his legs from the fallen stool.

“what the hell? what the fuck do you two think yer doin’?” Sans glared at them as he retrieved his severed fingers from the counter. He could probably reattach them later, if he wasn't already dust by then.

“Hold still and…”

“(...let us kill you!)”

The dog couple reared back, preparing their next attack as sans ported behind them.

“if you give up now, I promise I won't tell Boss about this.” sans taunted with a wink. When his eye reopened, it was glowing an eerie red, smoke-like vapor lazily drifting up into the cold air. Narrowly dodging another swing of the axe, sans ported away from the furious dogs. “oh well, I tried to throw you a bone, guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks.”

“Your Boss will thank us…”

“(We’re doing him a favor!)”

In a flash, the dogs were surrounded by dozens of sharp, red bones. sans held their gaze for a moment before releasing them, most of the bones missing as the dogs countered with their axes. The few bones that did make it through caused minimal damage, their high defense overpowering sans’s fairly low attack. sans bit back a curse as he focused on sending waves of large bones to try to at least slow down the couple. Forced to proceed with caution, the dogs fell behind slightly, giving the skeleton a brief chance to catch his breath.

This was looking worse and worse the longer it dragged on. Already sans could feel the sweat beading on his skull and the slight twinge that signified his magic reserves were running close to empty. He needed to end this now, but how? A blaster was completely out of the question at this point, damn his low stamina. A startled shout escapes him as twin axes just miss him. Unwilling to show weakness, he smirks at the couple.

“you think I'm just gonna stand there and take it? get real!” He taunts as he ports away. The second he steps out of the shortcut he knows he's made a mistake. The air in front of him shimmers slightly, snow encroaching on the edges of his vision. Blindly, he throws himself to the side, the breeze from a passing ax ruffling the fur on his coat. Slowly the world turned nauseatingly onto its side, sans trying to stay upright on it even as his vision cleared marginally.

“We've got him now, sweetness!”

“(Let's finish him together, darling!)”

Together they sprinted towards the sweaty, stumbling skeleton, weapons raised high above them. Seeing the dark shapes flying towards him, sans gathered up as much magic as he could, he could manage one last shortcut but it would leave him completely drained so he really needed to make it count. Gearing himself up, he focused on his destination, back home. Dealing with Boss was way more favorable than dying to the stupidly affectionate husband-wife duo.

Thinking the skeleton was giving up, the dog couple yipped in excitement.

“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?”

The dogs stumbled to a stop, quickly righting themselves to salute their captain. sans breathed a sigh of relief as his legs folded under him, adrenaline chased away by exhaustion. He blearily looked up at his brother.

“heya, boss…” sans’s weak chuckle died out at the withering stare Papyrus leveled him with, “yeah, I'll just be over here…”

“WELL? I DO LOATHE REPEATING MYSELF. DOGAMY, DOGARESSA, WHY, PRAY TELL, WOULD YOU DEEM IT NECESSARY TO TOUCH THAT WHICH BELONGS TO ME?”

“Bone pup was sleeping at his station again…”

“(...so we figured we would punish the slacker for you!)”

“YOUR CONSIDERATION IS TOUCHING YET HARDLY DESIRED.” Papyrus spat out, stalking over to his downed brother. He roughly jerked sans up by the hood of his jacket, the smaller skeleton coughing out a weak thanks once released. “YOU HAVE ATTACKED THE PROPERTY OF THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE CAPTAIN OF THE ROYAL GUARD, PAPYRUS AND THERE WILL BE RAMIFICATIONS. UNTIL THAT TIME, YOU TWO ARE TO RETURN TO YOUR DUTIES AND REPORT TO UNDYNE AFTERWARDS. AND YOU,” His fist made a hollow clack as it connected with sans’s skull, “WHELP, YOU WILL BE COMING WITH ME.”

Chapter Text

The dog couple dashed off as Papyrus jammed three fingers into sans's collar, pulling the leather taught against his vertebrae. Before he could even attempt to protest, Papyrus is dragging him to the main road, back towards Snowdin. Awkwardly stumbling along beside him, sans could faintly hear the threatening skeleton mumbling complaints about the nearly destroyed sentry station and the lack of natural resources. He stifled his snicker when a malevolent glance was sent his way, phalanges twisting in the leather until short, shallow breaths were all he could manage.

This could’ve ended a lot worse, sans’s tired mind mused. He wasn’t dust, so that already was an improvement over his expectations. Too bad it still had the potential to go south real fast. Sans let his mind wander, even as his feet slipped over icy patches and tripped over snow poffs, Boss’s grip on his collar preventing him from falling. Boss had told him not to fall asleep but of course he had fallen asleep, that was nothing new. He didn’t usually get attacked while sleeping, though, so that could change things up for the punishment he was currently being dragged to. Well, he had outright disobeyed Boss’s orders as well as getting a thorough trouncing from the dog couple. Boss wouldn’t be happy at that show of weakness, not at all. As though sensing his line of thought, Papyrus pulls the collar taught, cutting off the air flow completely. This is okay, this is fine, sans chanted in his mind, skeletons can go a while without breathing, right?

Noticing they had finally reached Snowdin, sans made an effort to straighten out. Even the doomed were expected to play their usual part. Vision wavering, sans pasted a sharp grin across his face, dangerous red eyes startling off anyone who dared stare, daring them to challenge him. Hyper-aware of the pulse of his soul, he stumbled closer to his brother, only to be jerked away roughly, though the pressure on his throat eased slightly. Hands in his pockets, he tried to muster up enough magic to reconnect his broken finger bones to the stumps that remained.The bones had been cut just shy of the joint, so it would take some extra convincing to get the rough edges to properly adhere. A few moments of gentle coaxing found the finger reattached...for the most part. A few more healing sessions would secure them, but as long as he was careful, this would suffice for a time. He probably should've cleaned the now dry marrow before putting himself back together but it was too late for that now. He looked up just in the nick of time, the skeleton brothers home looming in the distance. In the blink of an eye, Papyrus was unlocking the multitude locks on their sturdy door.

Before the front door has even finished closing behind them, sans is pressed up to the wall, body dangling limply by the hand around his neck. The pressure on his throat has returned and really isn't it unfair that he needed to breathe at all? It wasn't like he had lungs or any sort of respiratory system. Knowing better than to fight back, he hung bonelessly in his brother's grip as he distantly heard the door lock.

“ARE YOU PURPOSELY TRYING TO EMBARRASS ME OR ARE YOU EVEN STUPIDER THAN I THOUGHT?” He seethed, red seeping from his eyes. sans stayed silent, head bowed as his brother shook him wildly, knowing from past experience that to say anything would only further anger his volatile brother.

“ANSWER ME, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!” sans grunted as his head made contact with the wall, but otherwise said nothing, only daring a quick glance at his brother before fixing his gaze to the others armor. The last time he had tried answering him, he had ended up chained up in the shed overnight with the reassurance that Papyrus not only did not care what he had to say but, in fact, did not actually want to hear it. “ARE YOU SLEEPING EVEN NOW? LET ME HELP YOU WAKE UP A BIT.” In one smooth motion, sans went flying past the couch, body roughly scraping against the carpeting as he came to a stop. Man, friction burns were the pits. Not important enough to heal but hurt like a bitch.

“ARE YOU MORE AWAKE NOW, YOU LAZY IMBECILE!” Papyrus aimed a kick for the smaller skeletons ribs, instead catching his shoulder when he curled in on himself in some last ditch effort at self-preservation. With a small yelp, sans collided with the table, jostling the rock living on top. He'd have to apologize to the rock later, that kind of sudden jolt could really upset a person's lifestyle and the rock hadn't ever done anything to him. In the back of his mind he registered that he should probably pay at least half a mind to what Boss was saying but there was a really distracting sensation of liquid running down his ribs that he really wanted to discover the origin of.

“NOT ONLY DID YOU DISOBEY MY ORDERS AND FALL ASLEEP AT YOUR POST BUT YOU MADE NO ATTEMPT TO DEFEAT THOSE DOGS! YOU REALLY ARE USELESS, AREN'T YOU? IF IT WEREN'T FOR ME, YOU WOULD HAVE DUSTED 20 TIMES OVER BY NOW! PATHETIC!” The volume of Papyrus’s voice still wasn’t enough to pull sans away from his brief escape from reality. Like handling a doll, he propped the wounded skeleton up against the leg of the table, drinking in the spider web of cracks over his skull and the darkened eye lights. His eyes narrowed at sans blatant refusal to look at him and he felt his fury rise again.

To sans’s credit, he had been hit on the head quite a few times now, not that he was keeping count, and he did start the punishment out with next to no magic and, boy, was he tired. He needed to remember to feed the rock. Boss certainly wouldn’t do it and all creatures, even pet rocks and useless skeletons, required food to live. Not that the rock had ever complained, not even during the famine periods, where even Boss had been reduced to one small meal of tiny, limp vegetables a day. Sans was lucky he seemed to be the only monster to like mustard, though it never really satisfied.

“EVEN NOW YOU WON’T DO ANYTHING TO SAVE YOURSELF!”

His claws shredded through fabric and bone alike.

“YOU JUST SIT THERE LIKE A BRAIN-DEAD VEGETABLE!”

Bones creaked and groaned and snapped under his hands.

“THE LEAST YOU COULD DO IS DUST YOURSELF, AT LEAST THEN YOU WOULD BE DOING SOMETHING USEFUL!”

Marrow splattered across the carpeting, dripping over the toe of a shiny, black boot. Papyrus glared down at his prone brother one last time.

“CLEAN THIS MESS UP, YOU FILTHY MUTT.” He stalked upstairs without a backwards glance, leaving the unresponsive skeleton lying in a puddle of his own making.

Chapter Text

It was a long thirty-six minutes before sans was able to come back to himself and convince his body to respond and another seven to actually make his shaky arms push him off the ground. Dim eye lights slowly looked over the nauseating mess he found himself kneeling in.

I suppose he expects me to clean this shit up, too.

Bright red marrow sat atop a layer of browning, dried marrow, the mess splattered halfway across the room, mixing with bits of bone and dust creating a slightly chunky, slightly thick concoction. However, while the amount was more than usual, the mess itself was nothing out of the ordinary, so, dispassionately, sans hauled himself to unsteady feet and wobbled to the kitchen to get the cleaning supplies. Gingerly, he began scrubbing with as much power as his damaged bones would allow.

You gotta be fuckin’ kiddin’ me. He swore as he noticed his broken down sneakers had been trailing the awful mixture behind him for some time. Angry tears welled up in his sockets as he scrubbed the marrow from his shoes. Today had been a long day and if it went on much longer, he was going to lose it. He forced himself to focus on the task at hand. The moment he let himself think about what happened would be the moment feeling would return and that couldn’t happen until he was safe in his bedroom, away from Boss’s claws.

Finally, the carpet was as spotless as it ever could be and sans shuffled off to return the supplies to the kitchen. Suddenly too exhausted to move, he rested his forehead against the blessedly cool refrigerator door, just for a moment.

Just gotta get upstairs and we’re good . His nearly hopeful mood was shattered as a loud slam echoed from above. Boss was coming back. With a whimper, he pushed himself upright and turned to make his way back out, suddenly noticing the trail of marrow from his sneakers had followed him into the kitchen. Too tired to even be upset, he stared blankly at the mess as Boss approached.

“THE LIVING ROOM IS ALMOST SERVICEABLE, BUT YOU MANAGED TO MAKE A MESS IN HERE? I DON’T KNOW WHAT I EXPECTED FROM SOMEONE CLEARLY AS USELESS AS YOU ARE. HONESTLY. I SUPPOSE I WILL HAVE TO CLEAN IT UP MYSELF, AS PER USUAL.” That had almost sounded not terrible, even borderline complimentary. Boss certainly didn’t sound anywhere near as angry as before, but the sudden tight grip on his upper arm said differently. His brothers long strides were impossible to keep up with on a good day, so it was all he could do to not let himself be dragged back through the house and up the stairs. When they reached his room, Papyrus threw a disgusted glance at the mess before tossing him inside, missing the bed by at least a meter.

“...thanks, boss.” sans managed to mutter before the door was slammed shut. You’re welcome, brother, his brain helpfully supplied for him. He stayed on the floor for a long time, too exhausted to move to his bed. He gave his tired bones a break as he attempted cataloging the damage, trying to pinpoint where the worst of it was so he could try to heal it. He already knew his fingers were a bit fucked up, but good enough for the time being. He faintly remembered feeling marrow somewhere, but that would hardly be a good indicator now, marrow painting his body a deep red.

Something was up with his leg. He had managed to stumble around on it earlier, but now it wouldn't accept any of his brain's commands, just lying limply on the floor, crusted in almost dried marrow. The bones didn't look very straight, either his vision was failing or something was broken, who could tell at this point. He eased a sore arm upward to feel at his skull and immediately regretted it when his rib cage as well as somewhere in the shoulder region screamed with fiery pain. Fuck this, I'm going to sleep. He forced himself over onto his stained mattress, what was a few more stains? Maybe with some sleep he would actually be able to tell where the damage actually was. Or maybe he'd just quietly dust in the night, that would help him out a lot. Settling in the most comfortable position available, he passed out within a minute.




It felt like only seconds later that he woke up, choking on a scream with tears pouring from his sockets. Physically awake, his mind sorted through the information and sensations it thought it was still experiencing. The dust sifting through his fingers, the knife in his chest. The hands all over his body. The endless black.

Which had happened? Which had happened this time? Which had happened in tomorrow's that never came? Had any of it happened? He couldn't remember. Was Papyrus dead? Did a human fall? Had Grillby finally collected on his tab? Were they on the surface?

His breathing picked up, panic fully blossomed in his mind. The room was too dark, where was he? He curled up on his side, trying to make sense of what he couldn't see around him. A crash possibly sounded from somewhere potentially near by. A cave in? A car accident? His rib cage was tight, pressing in and expanding outward at the same time. Tears were easily absorbed by the dingy mattress. He was definitely dying, everything hurt and nothing could move. He was already dust.

“SANS!” Who was that? That was his name, right? He'd nearly forgotten. Boss was coming.

No no no nononono .

Boss doesn't come in here. This must be his room. But Boss doesn't come in here. He was dead already, but Boss can't come in here. Boss only comes in here when he's in heat or if sans was really bad and needed to be punished.

The door knob jerked violently and sans’s body shuddered, instinct overriding his usual self-preservation. His tired and overstretched magic gathered, not quite enough but it would have to do.


When Boss threw the door open, sans was gone, new stains on the mattress already dried.

Chapter Text

Sans opened his eyes. And opened them again. And once more. He blinked them shut and opened them again with more force. Something wasn't working here, it was still too dark. He didn't think his room could even get this dark, he didn't have curtains to block out the false sunlight and the large crack in his door did nothing to stop any residual light from their house. He brought a hand up to his face. Nothing. Sticking a finger in his eye socket confirmed that his eyes were, indeed, open and that, indeed, nothing was meant to go in the eye socket. This place really was just that dark.

And quiet. He opened his mouth to say something and found his voice not working. Well, his voice was just a magical construct of sorts, so it stood to reason that if he drained his magic like he had, he wouldn't be able to use his voice until it replenished a bit. Then again his joints were made of magic but he seemed to be holding together pretty well. Not that he could see it. Basic body function used such a small amount of magical energy that he had never actually had a problem with this before. He briskly clapped his hands together, but no sound escaped.

Can't see, can't hear and can't speak? His magic systems must have completely failed.

Except he was awake and thinking and moving, things that should be impossible if he really were that low on magic. So then it must be this place. Maybe it somehow dampened magic? Or it was a type of vacuum and sound couldn't travel here but also it was blacker than pitch?

He hauled himself to his feet and slowly shuffled into the darkness, aimlessly looking for anything he could see. Detecting no hints of light, he occasionally changed directions, hoping he had just been going the wrong way. A sudden chill ran down his spine. If he couldn't see or hear anything, who's to say there isn't something else here? Maybe something that could see and hear him. He spun around, checking over his shoulder, feeling the eyes on his back. With a stumble, he broke into a run. There was nowhere to hide, he could only hope to run away and lose its interest.

Sweat ran down his face and before long he collapsed, exhausted. No fair, he didn't even really have muscles so how could they burn and ache like this? His instincts screamed at him to run, but there was no power left in his body. Unwillingly, he slipped into slumber.

 

When he awoke, it was dark. He opened his eyes again. There was pressure on his rib cage. He moved to push off whatever was sitting on him only for his palms to connect with nothing. He sat up, trying to dislodge the strange sensation.

 

The eyes were back, pressure pushing on him from every direction.

 

He ran.

 

-

 

How long had he been here? It took some thought, but he eventually realized he had been here before. Many times, in fact. But never had he gotten stuck in The Void like this, typically passing through for a fraction of a second. Time passed very strangely here. Everything passed strangely here. He had slept and woken up between twelve and seven and forty-six times, but he never felt hungry, only watched.

The eyes hadn't gotten him yet, but the darkness was a viscous liquid that clung to his bones as he slept. Would he even be able to stand the next time he awoke? Would his bones remain stuck to the blackness around him? Would he be forgotten once he died here?

The eyes pinned him in place, the darkness tugged at his arms. He dropped to his knees tiredly. He couldn't run anymore. Finally, he slept.

 

-

 

“BROTHER! WAKE UP, YOU LAZYBONES! BREAKFAST IS READY AND THEN YOU NEED TO GO TO WORK!” A powerful voice drifted up the stairs, rousing the snoozing skeleton.

“huh, yeah, bro. down in a minute…” He was back asleep before he heard Sans's annoyed sigh.

“FINE! YOU GET FIVE MORE MINUTES AND NO MORE!” The small skeleton said, mainly to himself, knowing his brother had likely already gone back to sleep.

The sleeping skeleton rolled over, pillow somehow pulled over his skull. The human would be coming soon and he wanted to nap as much as possible before then, regardless of their alignment this run.

 

-

 

He woke up again. It was dark. The same dark it had always been. But something was different. He could feel the eyes and the pressure and the darkness but he was already moving. But he wasn't moving at all, body completely inert. His body was being rushed through the darkness, no wind or sound to signify his movement. Abruptly, the darkness in front of him was removed. His eyes burned at the change, mind unable to comprehend the removal of nothingness and then he was hurtled through the gap.

He was in his room and everything hurt. His marrow-coated legs gave in and he collapsed to the floor, jostling his ribs. His panic returned full force, as though he hadn't spent an indeterminate amount of time in The Void.

That's right, Boss was coming. He had woken Boss up on accident. He was in big trouble. He already hurt so much, he couldn't do that again, not right now. Frantically, he looked for somewhere to hide, eye lights finally falling on the bed. He felt his breathing stop, Boss was already inside, in his bed no less! There was no way he could do that right now. He would literally break into pieces.

All at once, Boss spotted him. Boss was moving, saying something.

A cold flush ran through his body and he once again let instinct take over, let the tug on his waning magic build. He distantly heard a high whine over his shoulder.

When he blinked, all that remained on the bed was a large, orange hoodie and a pile of dust.

Chapter Text

sans stared blankly at the hoodie, uncomprehending. When did Boss even get that? That wasn't what he usually slept in, was it? He didn't often see him in bed clothes, but he was nearly certain Boss wouldn't own anything so garish. The distinct sheen of monster dust caught his eye. Oh god, he had just killed Boss! He hadn't meant to! He only vaguely registered the rush of his EXP increasing, pushing his LV up to the next level. Well, the kid would be coming soon, he could probably threaten them into resetting, why exactly did he feel terrible about it? The slight LV high died down at the sound of footsteps.

‘PAPY? IS EVERYTHING OKAY IN THERE? I THOUGHT I HEARD-” To sans’s confusion, the door was flung open, Sans standing in the doorway. The panic that had begun to finally die down started mounting again. The two blinked at each other for a moment before Sans moved closer to him. “HEY, THERE! ARE YOU OKAY? YOU SEEM A BIT...SHAKY?” Concerned blue eye lights look down at him.

Boss was gone now, right? That was his dust on the bed, right? Who was this? He sounded like Boss, almost exactly like Boss, but Boss would never say those kinds of things. And he looked nothing like Boss, he was much too small and...blue. He stared up at the new monster. He seemed to be expecting a response.

“i, uh- ...what?” He stammered out intelligently. Was this a friend of Boss’? He’d never met him before. Uncertainly, he dropped his gaze to his chipped legs. He stuttered out a quiet sorry into the silence.

“HUH, YEAH. YOU SEEM LIKE YOU’VE HAD BETTER DAYS, FRIEND. ARE YOU SICK?” He fell into a squat directly in front of sans, the kneeling skeleton attempting to scootch backwards with a wince, “HEY WOAH! YOU’RE HURT! DON’T WORRY! THE MAGNIFICENT SANS AND HIS LAZY BONES BROTHER WILL HELP! IF HIS LAZY BONES BROTHER WOULD EVER WAke up…?” As he spoke he turned to glare at his brother.

“Bro...ther?” His voice dropped to a whisper, shaky and uncertain, “Papy? This is a very tasteless joke, you can stop now. Your friend is still here, you're not being a very good host…” He trailed off as he approached the pile of dust. His hands hovered uncertainly at his chest, dust sparkling up at him. Unceremoniously, he dropped to his knees next to the bed, pinprick eye lights blurred by unshed tears.

 

-

 

Chara sat up in the patch of yellow flowers. This time they were going to be best friends with everyone! They always had the most fun running around with Sans and Alphys! They pick up a nearby, sturdy stick and swing it around a few times before using it as a walking stick. They couldn't wait to see dad! Maybe this time they would try out a new plan to get him and mom back together! It would be way funnier if they had to see each other die! Chara blinked their big, brown-red eyes at themself, they wanted them and everyone to have their happily ever after, not to die!

Confused, they made their way to the next room, leaning heavily on the stick as a wave of vertigo washed over them.

“hOI! I'm TEMMIE! TEMMIE the TEM! u luk NOT GUD! sumthing rong, frIENd?”

Chara shook their head and took a step back. They just needed to get around Temmie. They could save her later, but for now, there wasn't anything they could do. They had already tried everything. Well, they hadn't tried killing her. Maybe this time would be good to test a theory they had.

Temmie’s face morphed into a gruesome smirk.

“dere u r! lOtsA fun dis time, k, F R I S K?”

“What are yo-”

Chara looked confused for a split second before they dropped the stick in favor of clutching their head. They shook their head, as though hoping to dislodge the sudden pain before falling still. For a long moment, it seemed as though they had stopped breathing, they stood so completely still. Abruptly, they drew breath and rose their head, eyes nearly shut and expression completely blank. Slowly, the child picked the stick back up before proceeding. They would take their time this run, make sure everyone could suffer properly.

A small shuffling sound behind them made them turn around, blank eyes taking in the approaching monster. Right on time.

 

-

 

Seriously, who was this guy? Calling Boss, brother, like Boss was his brother or something. He stared at the other skeletons shaking form, quiet rattles and sniffling filling the room. Was he crying? An intense worry took over his panic. Is it...Was that not Boss? Had he just dusted some random monster? No, no, of course not, he had looked like Boss and Boss is the only other skeleton in...the Underground...Except for apparently this other other skeleton. His mind spun, parsing through conflicting information. The other skeleton turned to him, tear tracks visible on his cheeks but no longer crying.

“Did you kill my brother?” The question was stated simply, in such an uninterested fashion sans wasn't quite sure if he even cared to get an answer.

“uh, shit i- uh- may-maybe? i th-think so?” He manages to stammer out. “i don’t-” He cut himself off when the blue skeletons face morphed drastically. Furious eye lights settled on him as the skeleton slowly approached him. A low whine escaped him as he tried again to scoot away, ending up pressed against the wall.

“WHO ARE YOU? WHY DID YOU KILL MY BROTHER?” What the hell was going on? He killed tall Boss and now mini Boss is coming to take revenge but this was all wrong and now he's coming and oh god he's gonna die now just when he thought he'd finally, possibly escaped and with a small sigh he crumbled against the wall.

Sans stopped in his tracks and stared at the unconscious skeleton. His fiery rage started to burn out as he took in the pile of bones on the floor. Weakly, he made his way back out, mindful not to let any of the dust get scattered. Returning with an empty jar, he mechanically collected up his brother’s remains, careful not to miss a single speck, and lay the sealed jar back on the hoodie. He regarded the still form of the red skeleton for a long moment before coming to a decision.

With cautious motions, he slowly heaved the skeleton up, arranging his limbs so he could hold him more comfortably. He wasn't terribly heavy, and Sans wasn’t an expert or anything, but he was pretty sure the skeleton in his arms was a tad light. He shifted his own weight back and forth, determining his hold to be stable. Casting one last longing look at his brother, he headed downstairs and outside.

Chapter Text

Sans wiped a bit of sweat from his brow. That guy really wasn't heavy but he was also not really a convenient shape for carrying. He looked down at where he had propped the red skeleton against the wall of the shed. The bars were fairly close together and there was a subtle anti-magic field to discourage magic use, so even if he woke up, he wouldn't be able to escape. Necessary for a future Royal Guard member! He eyed the other skeletons drooping head and heavy-looking limbs. That doesn't seem too comfortable . He gently maneuvered the other into a more comfortable-looking lying position. What does it matter if he's comfortable, he killed Papyrus! He doesn't deserve this ! Ignoring the slew of terrible thoughts, he double-checked that there was water in case he woke up and then locked the large, barred door behind him.

We should be having breakfast right now. Violently, he shook away the thought and the tears that had welled up in response. He stomped into the kitchen, hastily turning off the stove that had been neglected in favor of investigating the strange noises from upstairs. The contents of the pan had been scorched black, inedible by his standards. He scraped the remains into the trash, deciding he wasn't all that hungry anyways. He glared at the blackened bits in the trash can. So messy .

He ties off the bag and moves it to the outside bin, noting that the inside of the trash can was sticky with old honey. Trying not to think about it, Sans painstakingly scrubbed it out, then proceeded to clean the kitchen, taking care of all the small nooks and cranny's that he typically skipped. Once under the crisper drawer in the refrigerator had been cleaned, the table legs wiped, and behind the stove had been mopped, every surface sparkled like the gems in the wishing room. With a quick once over, he started in on the living room.

-

It's nearly four hours before he finishes so, exhausted, he plops himself onto the couch. Normally Papy would be here shirking off work ...Briskly, he slapped his cheeks, no thoughts like that, not when there was a strange skeleton chilling ( Oh, Papy would've loved that one ) in the shed. It takes another moment for Sans to register his own thoughts and recall that there was a strange skeleton passed out in his shed. Jolting out of his seat, he was halfway to the shed before he remembered that skeleton had looked injured. After he retrieved the first aid kit, he made his way back to the shed, only to find the skeleton still unconscious. He settled onto a stool just outside of the cage and watched, doing his best to keep his mind off the obvious.

-

“No...Why?”

Quiet as a whisper, Asgore fell to dust. Chara shook the blade, huffing when all the dust didn't fall off, before wiping it on their sweater. Green means clean . They smirked. Nobody was left. They had meandered through the Ruins, dusting every monster they came across and pulling the survivors out of their hiding places to execute them as well. As far as the Ruins were concerned, Nobody could ever come again.

They wanted to do this correctly, so they made one last sweep of Home, eating as much monster food as they could and stuffing even more in their pockets. They would rather eat a stupid piece of candy than stumble around between battles to the next save point.

Pockets fully stocked, they stomped through Asgore’s dust, scattering it across the room. Next up, Snowdin.

-

How long had he been staring at the downed skeleton? Ten minutes? Ten hours? It didn't really matter now, did it? No matter how long he waited, Papy wasn't coming back. His soul hadn't stopped hurting since the moment he spotted his brothers dust, spread across the bed as though he had still been sleeping. Had he still been sleeping? The skeleton before him may have been threatening at one time, but he had been trembling and stumbling over his words, hardly the kind of figure that could coldly cut someone down in their sleep!

Finally tired of waiting, he let himself into the cell, first aid kit clutched between his hands as he approached. Large globs of red-tinted sweat dropped down the skeletons skull. Was he hot or something? It was like freezing in here! Not that they could really feel temperature...Hesitantly, he opened the first aid kit and removed a soft towel, using the water to dampen it. Might as well start cleaning their guy up. If he wasn't a cold-blooded killer, he'd probably appreciate it and even if he was, he'd probably appreciate it and be more likely to cooperate. Maybe.

Not really wanting to violate the guy while he was sleeping, he started gently wiping down his legs. Truthfully, he'd been hoping the guy was wearing tights or something, but as the dark red slowly began to rub off, he was disappointed. His ministrations slowly revealed a multitude of nicks and scratches, as well as scarred over patches of bone that looked like they had once been broken. Speaking of broken, he eyed the other leg, the misaligned bones screaming broken at him. It looked serious, but Sans wasn't sure if he was ready to handle it at the moment, instead continuing with his cleaning, revealing crusted over wounds and darkened patches.

As gently as he could, he cleaned and bandaged the wounds he came across. The other hadn't so much as twitched. Was he falling down or something? Nearly kicking himself for not looking sooner, he Checked the other.

 

Sans

LV 4

HP .5/1

AT 1

DF 1

*just wants to be left alone.

 

Yikes! Taking care of all his wounds would only heal this guy so much, he needed to wake up and eat something! He would heal him but, unfortunately, healing was never his strong suit, either healing very little before exhausting him or not healing at all and still exhausting him. Rinsing the rag out for the nth time, he sighed. His stats were the same as Papy’s. His grip tightened, threatening to tear the cloth, snapping him out of his memories. Take care of the here and now, here and now!

With renewed energy, he started in on the other leg, jolting the other skeleton awake with a cry of pain. Sans leaned back, out of the others bubble, watching him struggle to pull himself upright. He couldn't make out what the skeleton was mumbling about, but it didn't sound like very complimentary language. Making no move to help, he stared as the skeleton settled himself against the wall behind him. Panting from exertion, red eye lights flickered to his face, weak but fairly steady.

“you uh, you didn’ dust me, pal...what…why not? I d-dusted bo- yer b-bro, didn’ i?” He felt like he had been gargling broken glass and probably sounded much the same, but he hadn't expected to wake up again at all so it really wasn't so bad in comparison.

The other skeleton kept staring, mind turning over what little he knew about the situation. This skeleton had expected to be killed. Not taken to jail or put on trial, but just killed. Killed in his sleep, no less.

“YES, YES YOU DID. WHY DID YOU DO THAT? WHY DID YOU KILL HIM?” He questioned as calmly as he was able. As he stared, the other’s sweat began rolling down his face, bones gently clacking together.

“i didn’- i mean, i- i did but i didn’ know, i thought he was...thought he was someone else. i didn’ mean to- to k-kill...oh god...i- i really...i killed him?” His voice broke suddenly at the end, the high pitch nearly masking the words. Sans eyed him critically.

“WHERE DID YOU GET ALL THESE WOUNDS? DID MY BROTHER DO THIS? IS THAT WHY…?”

yer bro? what? no! Boss had to-” He forced himself to stop. Did this kid, who really bore a striking resemblance to him, really need to know the messy details of his life? Hadn’t he already fucked up the kids life? He had killed his brother, what right did he have to unload his emotional baggage on the kid.

“BOSS? WHO’S BOSS?” He questioned.

“uh, my uh, my brother…” What was with all the questions? He wished he would just hurry up and dust him.

“WHY DO YOU CALL HIM BOSS THEN? I MEAN IF HE’S YOUR BROTHER…” Was he saying his brother did all that? Papyrus would never do that to someone! At least, not his Papyrus, if his guess was right. His Papyrus was kind and thoughtful and sleepy and made terrible puns that were sometimes actually clever and he would never, ever hurt someone! Especially not his brother!

“uhh, cuz he’s my Boss, okay? anyway, why aren't you mad? I k-killed yer bro! When’re ya gonna d-dust me? git it over with!”

“...I HAVE A FEELING PAPYRUS WASN’T VERY NICE TO YOU.”  He felt only grim satisfaction when the other confirmed his theory.

“...why do you know his name?” Sockets completely blackened, he fell still.

-

Should they kill Papyrus now, or wait until they got to the Judgement Hall? They had killed Papyrus early in the run before, but never had he been the first in Snowdin to fall. Something about how wonderfully he broke every time he found Sans’s scarf fluttering in the breeze, as though it hadn’t happened before, was just exquisite. Seeing him restraining himself from attacking them as they slaughtered all of his friends made them shiver with excitement.

They stepped over the large branch, preparing themself for when Papyrus snapped it behind him. They couldn’t decide. If they killed him now, how would that affect the rest of their run? They had decided to do it properly this time, but...Could they resist the temptation of not only seeing something new, but still killing everyone? With a start, they looked back at the branch, finding it whole. Grumpy, they wondered if he had gotten tired of his little routine. He must be waiting up ahead, he always tried to predict what they were planning for each run.

They’d kill him now, they decided. Sans’s reaction could prove interesting, and they’d kill them all eventually anyway. This would just give them something new to experience. Decision made, they hurried to the bridge, stopping short of crossing. Rocking on their heels, they waited for Papyrus to approach them. After a few minutes had passed, they turned around unprompted only to be greeted with empty air. He always came. Always. Even when he changed up the script, he still came to greet them. So where was he? They felt fury rise within them, temporarily overtaking their usual apathy.

 

Where...was...Papyrus?

Chapter Text

Sans heaved a sigh. That was what he'd both suspected and been afraid of. No matter what anyone thought about him, he wasn't a child and he was far from stupid. He had heard his brother’s nightmares, of course he had, he was the one who helped him through the aftermath time and again. Hearing his beloved brother crying out for him, crying out for some kind of reset to happen or to not happen had rung a bell somewhere deep inside.

When he had still been in stripes, his brother had been a scientist. He wasn't supposed to, but Papyrus had often talked at him about the projects he and the other scientists were working on, using him as a sounding board of sorts. Not that at the time Sans had truly understood, but it must have helped him in some way as it continued right up until he had suddenly quit. But Sans still remembered some of what he had spoken of towards the end. It hadn't actually been so long since then, maybe seven years or so. And Sans had an excellent memory!

Towards the end, Papyrus had been working on a private project with the Royal Scientist. Something that would allow one to travel through time. Theoretically one could travel back to before the barrier had been built, even to back before the war! Papyrus had often talked about the Many Worlds Theory, a theory that claimed that all past and future possibilities are real and coexist without ever intersecting. Using these other possibilities, they could jump from their own reality to another, similar reality, and using their knowledge of the future, potentially prevent certain events from occurring.

Sans had, of course, needed to fill in some blanks on his own, as Papyrus didn't speak quite so freely once Sans had gotten older, but the combined knowledge made it clear what he was dealing with at the moment. This red and black, edgy, shark-toothed skeleton was him from a reality that had clearly deviated from his own long, long ago. Though confused that he had Papyrus's and not his own stats, the check had clearly called him sans.

Suddenly aware that he had just been blankly staring into sans's empty sockets, he returned to cleaning off his legs, trying to be gentle with the broken bone.

“WE CAN TALK MORE LATER, FIRST WE NEED TO GET YOU FIXED UP!” He attempted to adopt his usual cheeriness, smile only slightly strained.

“why bother,” sans grumbled, dim eye lights back and pointing off to the side, “just dust me an’ save yer supplies.”

“I’M NOT GOING TO DUST YOU, YOU KNUCKLEHEAD! THAT’S NOT HOW THINGS WORK!”

“n-not how- pal, that's exactly how it works!” sans sputtered, “an eye for an eye ‘n’ shit. I killed yer bro ‘n’ since mine ain't here, you kill me!”

“...DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW?” He muttered a quick apology as he realigned the bones with a crack, the other shuddering as he suppressed a more violent reaction.

“fuckin’ ow! warn a guy!” He was not on the verge of tears, definitely not. That totally didn't hurt like a bitch, no way. If the blue skeleton noticed the tears welled up in his sockets, he made no indication, uttering another soft sorry before wrapping the break.

“WELL?” At the blank stare he received he reiterated, “DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW?”

“of course I do, smart guy,” He glanced around the shed for a moment before blinking, “hey, what's the big deal? ya can't just come into someone else's house and change shit!” When had this guy had the time to do such a massive overhaul of the shed? The other skeleton looked, dare he say, disappointed in him? what the actual fuck?

“CHECK ME.” He prompted. Confused, he cautiously sent his magic out to Check him, careful not to trigger the magic suppressors he knew were embedded in the walls.

Sans

LV 1

HP 570/570

AT 12

DF 9

*wants to cry.

sans was now more confused than before. This kid had his name but was significantly stronger but also had no LOVE? And he was looking at him expectantly.

“w-what? so yer name is sans too, whatever.”

“YEAH, MY NAME IS SANS AND MY BROTHERS NAME IS…” He paused, “WAS PAPYRUS AND WE LIVE IN SNOWDIN AND YOU ARE CURRENTLY IN OUR SHED.” The wounded sans seemed a bit dense or possibly had a head wound, best to get it over with like ripping off a bandage. “NOW TAKE OFF YOUR JACKET, LET ME SEE YOUR ARMS.”

In stunned silence, sans did as he was told, mulling over the information. It had been a very long time since he had been a scientist, but this idea that somehow he had ended up in another universe was...actually entirely plausible. He had known something was wrong with his shortcut nearly the moment he had taken it. And all that time in The Void… He came back to the real world with a hiss as his arm was manhandled, the other Sans twisting it about as he cleaned.

“seriously, watch it, pal!” He snarled, eyes flashing.

“OR WHAT, YOU’LL KILL ME?” Sans deadpanned. The other jolted, sweat beading on his brow. This Sans was way stronger than him, was it really a good idea to piss him off? Especially while he's holding a body part sans happened to really like? “I’M SORRY, THAT WAS UNCALLED FOR...I JUST...I MISS MY BROTHER…” The tidal wave of emotions he had been pushing back crashed down around him as tears overflowed.

Arm still trapped in the others grip, sans sputtered a bit before settling on awkwardly patting the other's hand. Must be nice to have that kind of relationship with your bro ...sans wanted to smack himself at the sudden reminder that the monster he had killed, had, indeed, not been Boss but this kids brother. He had killed his brother without a second thought. He had even gained LOVE from the kill. He shuddered, gently trying to tug his arm free of the others grip.

“SORRY, SORRY, I KNOW YOU DIDN’T MEAN TO DO IT BUT IT STILL HURTS!” He sobbed out, “BUT YOU’RE HURT TOO, I’M SORRY, HERE, LET ME JUST-” He quickly resumed cleaning a fresh-looking crack on the others arm, blinking rapidly in an attempt to stop crying.

“uh, it’s okay, i can do it, you should jus’...uh…” sans cursed inwardly, he had to get out of here! Seriously, if this kid kept crying he was going to cry too! Already, he found himself sniffling a little. Fuck having emotions, how was he not totally deadened to the world by now? He focused on his new task, cleaning himself up. He reached for the abandoned cloth only to have it snatched up from under his hand.

“NO, NO, DON’T. I CAN- I CAN DO THIS!” Sans tried to convince himself, even as he sat and sobbed, hunched over the dirty rag.

Aw, fuck. This was too pathetic. sans felt his big brother instincts stirring, something he thought he’d must have lost long ago. Shifting slightly, he held his free arm out with a huff.

“uh, sorry i accidentally killed yer bro…?” He tried to sound as sincere as possible. It really had been an accident of sorts and he did kind of feel bad about it. The guy probably hadn’t done anything to deserve that. He was still really fuzzy on what had happened...God, was that only this morning? But with his Void glasses off now, he could see he hadn’t been approaching him in a threatening manner or anything, he had just been...there. He was pulled from his thoughts when a skull collided with his damaged ribs. Okay, oh god, now he was crying. Pained tears rolled down his cheeks as the other Sans clutched his ribs and spine in a death grip, soaking his tattered t-shirt.

He glanced down at the skeleton shuddering against his chest and felt a faint smile tugging at his mouth. Damn, he was falling fast. Careful of his claws, he lay his hand on the others skull, gently patting him every so often.

Chapter Text

After the last of his tears had dried, Sans slowly removed his hands from where they had ultimately landed, twisted in the other’s shirt, gripping the ribs beneath. He murmured a sorry to the edgy skeleton as he backed away slowly. Sans waved it off, his own tears nearly dried.

“feelin’ better, kid?” He tried to act cool, like every moment the kid had spent crying hadn't made him feel like the scum of the earth. The other nodded, sniffling quietly.

“A LITTLE, YEAH. I’M SORRY, I SHOULDN’T HAVE...WELL...AND ANYWAYS! YOU DIDN'T TELL ME YOUR RIBS WERE HURT! Sorry about the hug and stuff,” He apologized sheepishly, “SO TAKE OFF YOUR SHIRT AND LET ME SEE!”

“hey, woah, i ain't that kind of skeleton, kid,” He winked, earning an exasperated glare, “seriously, kid, I'm not taking my shirt off,”

“BUT YOU'RE INJURED, IF WE DON'T TAKE CARE OF IT, IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE!” He insisted, a pout overtaking his face.

“i told ya, i can take care of it myself. don’ worry ‘bout me, kid,” Fuck this kid was too pure, he killed his brother for god's sake! Had their roles been reversed, he would have dusted this kid long ago...Maybe. Who was he kidding, this kid would never have been able to get the jump on Boss. A shudder ran down his spine, Boss was going to be so angry when he got back. He might as well start writing a will now.

“JUST BECAUSE YOU'VE DONE BAD THINGS DOESN'T MEAN YOU DON'T DESERVE GOOD THINGS TO HAPPEN TO YOU!” He eyed the scarred skeleton, noting the slight shaking of his bones. “HERE,” He gently handed back his jacket, “LETS GET BACK IN THE HOUSE, IT'S COLD OUT HERE,”

Disbelief overtook sans's face as he took back his jacket. This little psychic shit . He struggled to his feet, leaning heavily on the wall to keep his balance. That's right, he'd forgotten he'd basically used up all his magic and was just kind of running on fumes now. He startled when an arm wrapped around his shoulders, hoisting him away from his safe spot against the wall. The other Sans flashed a brilliant grin at him before slowly helping him make his way to the exit. sans returned his grin with a pained grimace of his own, sweat running down his skull as he struggled.

“THE HOUSE IS JUST OUT HERE, WE'LL BE THERE SOON!” sans only grunted in return, too tired to formulate a real sentence. The more bubbly Sans seemed to understand, keeping mostly quiet until he had gotten him situated on the couch, a blanket tucked around him with a promise of food. Feeling acutely exhausted, he made himself comfortable, snuggling into the soft, worn blanket. Like this, he could almost pretend this wasn’t one of the single most fucked up situations he had ever been in. The clatter of pots and pans in the kitchen lulled him to sleep.

 

-

 

He woke up in his room, artificial light flooding through his window, directly onto his face. Disgruntled, he rolled over, futilely attempting to burrow further into his own coat. A moment passed before he shot up like lightning. What time was it? Boss would be furious!

As though summoned by his thoughts, he heard boots stomping up the stairs toward his room. He suppressed a shudder as he tripped over himself trying to stand. His door was thrown open, hitting the wall with enough force to crack the plaster.

Suddenly Boss was in his face, pinning him to the wall with one sharp clawed hand.

“WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?”

“B-Boss, what?”

A gloved fist smashed into his ribs, making him cry out.

“s-sorry, Boss-s,”

The hand around his throat tightened, airway constricted.

“SO USELESS. WASTE OF SPACE PIECE OF SHIT.”

A high-pitched whine escaped his teeth as claws gripped his false ribs, twisting them harshly.

“I SHOULD JUST DUST YOU AND RID MYSELF OF THIS PROBLEM.”

Weakly, he tried to shake his head.

“DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY, STUPID BITCH?”

The hand on his throat eased up slightly and he gasped, gagging as his oxygen-deprived body tried to take in too much air too quickly.

“s-sor sorry, b-b-boss.”

Speaking was even more difficult than usual, his head swimming and throat aching. Tears beaded in the rims of his eye sockets. A hand grasped his mandible, almost gently.

‘YOU’RE SORRY? HA. PATHETIC. I’M SORRY TOO. SORRY THAT A LAZY SACK OF BONES LIKE YOU CAN CLAIM A RELATIONSHIP TO ONE AS GREAT AS I!”

The grip on his jaw tightened violently, claws digging gouges into his face as the bone threatened to crack under the pressure. His skull was squeezed harder and harder, broken wails falling from his mouth as small cracks deepened into large fissures zigzagging up to join at his eye sockets.

‘REMEMBER THIS, YOU STUPID MUTT. YOU ARE NO RELATION OF MINE. YOU HAVE NO VALUE TO ANYONE, NOT NOW, NOR EVER. YOU’RE HARDLY EVEN WORTH DUSTING, SO WEAK I MIGHT LOSE EXP FOR KILLING YOU.”

Ending his rant, he released the smaller skeleton, letting him drop to the floor like a sack of potatoes. The tears that had collected, fell, following the path the cracks cut into his skull. Shakily, he brought a hand to his face, hissing as he touched the fresh wounds.

“IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT, SANS."

A sharp kick struck his pelvis, pushing him painfully onto his side.

“SANS!”

A flurry of kicks and stomps battered his bones as he huddled on the floor.

“SANS, IT’S OKAY!”

Yeah...It was okay, wasn’t it. His brother would be just fine without him, he had risen to the top without the help of his useless older brother. He could finally rest. He could see his own dust starting to collect on the floor. It sparkled in the light from the window. Maybe all he was meant to give to this world was his dust. He let his eyes fall shut, body completely numb.

 

-

 

He opened his eyes. There was a strange, red haze covering the world. He blinked hard and the tears blurring his vision fell, revealing worried blue eye lights mere inches from his face. He jolted a bit in surprise.

“uh, hey there…” God, his voice sounded like shit, what the hell. A glass of water materialized in front of his face.

“DRINK,” The other insisted, pressing the glass to his teeth. He jerked back abruptly, the others hand entirely too close to his face. The blue skeleton frowned, “IT’LL HELP YOU FEEL BETTER, I PROMISE!”

“...c’n do it myself…” sans took the water from the other’s hand, trembling slightly. Most of the water made it in his mouth. He was right, his head felt a little less fuzzy now.

“...DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?”

“...’bout what?”

“...YOUR NIGHTMARE…” Blue eye lights bore into his skull, waves of sympathy practically radiating off of him.

“...oh…” That would explain this uneasiness, “i don’t remember it.”

He didn’t really, he just had vague, unsettling feelings about various things right now. How close the other was to him was really making him anxious. His jaw echoed with phantom pain as the other’s stare intensified briefly before falling all together.

“I SEE...WELL, IF YOU EVER FEEL LIKE TALKING, I’M HERE.” He paused as though to gather his thoughts, “IN ANY CASE, READY TO EAT? I MADE TACOS.”

sans's eye lights drifted downward. Sure enough, a platter overflowing with tacos was sitting on the couch next to him. His nonexistent stomach curled in on itself. Funny how accidentally murdering someone can make you forget how hungry you are.

A taco was already halfway to his mouth before he even registered freeing his hands from their blanket prison. The hand holding the taco paused just short of his mouth. How could he accept this monsters hospitality? How could this monster even offer him hospitality? His eyes burned. He didn't really care if the food was poisoned or drugged, it was what he deserved. Somehow, though, he doubted anything had been done to it.

The blue skeleton came back from the kitchen with more water, eyeing the still uneaten taco in sans's death grip. He sat down heavily, a weary sigh slipping out.

“HEY...UM. SO I KNOW I SHOULD REALLY HATE YOU AND BE REALLY ANGRY AT YOU FOR...WELL, YOU KNOW.” sans sunk into the blanket, but otherwise stayed still. He knew what he would do in his doppelgänger’s place, but...this kid was so much better than he ever had been. “BUT I KNOW YOU DIDN'T MEAN TO.” What?

“waddaya mean I didn't mean to, I murdered your brother without a second thought, why are you even talking to me!” This didn't make any sense!

“MURDER IMPLIES YOU PLANNED TO KILL HIM, BUT YOU CERTAINLY DIDN'T ACT LIKE THAT WAS IN THE PLAN FOR TODAY.” His tone turned sharp, this guy really was dense! Did he really need to spell it out for him? “YOU WERE PANICKING AND WOUNDED WHEN I FOUND YOU. YOUR EYE LIGHTS WERE HAZY AND YOU SEEMED CONFUSED. IT'S NOT HARD TO SEE THAT YOU HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON...YOU WERE TERRIFIED!”

sans blinked at him. Seriously, what?

“A ROYAL GUARD MUST BE PREPARED FOR ANY SITUATION!” Sans said in lieu of a real explanation. “HAVING SAID THAT, I KNOW YOU DIDN'T MEAN TO DO IT AND, IN FACT, PROBABLY DIDN'T KNOW YOU HAD DONE IT UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE AND…” He was rambling a bit, now. Taking a deep breath, he wrapped up his speech, “I FORGIVE YOU.”

sans stared in disbelief, the kid had to be lying.

“NOW, EAT SOME TACOS, YOU'RE STILL NOWHERE NEAR 100%!” He grabbed a few tacos and headed up to his room, the door clicking quietly behind him. Mechanically, sans brought the taco back up to his mouth.

The taste was indescribable.

Chapter Text

Chara kicked the snow sculpture irritably. The snow had frozen until it had basically become an ice sculpture, making it harder to destroy than they hoped. So far there had been no sign of Papyrus or Sans! Everywhere they would normally see the brothers had been mysteriously empty and it was pissing them off.

Having successfully knocked over the snow Sans, they stomped on its head, vindictively imagining it was actually Sans. Bitterly, they slashed through the lump of snow labeled Papyrus with their toy knife. So far, this run wasn't very fun.

They continued on, past Sans's traps until finally, near the outskirts of the town, they heard rustling in the trees. Silently, they approached the sounds. Peeking out from behind a tree, they spotted the group of teenagers. Finally. Knife at the ready, they quietly stalked towards the laughing teens.

 

-

 

Sans sat quietly on his bed. He didn't usually approve of eating on the bed, but he thought he could make an exception for today. It really had been particularly stressful. After eating his fill of tacos, which tasted worse than usual dammit, he gently sat the plate on the floor. With a heavy heart, he stretched out on the bed, quietly thinking.

Had it really only been, he checked his clock, ten hours since Papy had… The mere thought of his brother made his soul clench in sorrow. He knew he should be more upset at sans, but instead, he simply felt grateful he wasn't alone. The guy seemed a bit high-strung, understandable given the circumstances, but this didn't strike him as the cause of his...constant wariness.

On top of that, he was in bad shape. He wouldn't even let him see the full extent of it, only able to patch up a small portion of his arms and legs. And knowing it was his brother that had done that? He wanted the other skeleton to be happy and feel safe and stop stuttering and cowering all the time. But he also wanted his brother back. He wanted to be angry at his brother's murderer but he couldn't because what kind of murderer paints such a pathetic picture? What kind of creature would he have to be to kick this guy when he was clearly so used to it it didn't even register that it could not happen?

Gradually, he became aware of the tears dripping onto his pillow. Quietly, he cried to himself, confusion bleeding into frustration. Motionless, he drifted off to sleep.

Downstairs, Sans was having very similar thoughts, not for the first time. Why the fuck did the kid say that? How could he even consider something like forgiveness? Even in his kill or be killed home universe, he had never killed an innocent, yet within minutes of arriving he had already slaughtered someone! Someone who wasn’t even awake!

Lost in thought, he pulled the blanket closer to him. The scent was a comforting one, a vaguely floral laundry detergent, slightly stale from disuse. The newness of the smell distracted his thoughts. There weren't any nice-smelling, artificial scents like this back home. It served no purpose to scent soaps, so if you had the opportunity to wash your clothing or yourself, well, you wouldn't smell afterwards. He buried his face in the soft folds of the blanket. He hadn't had a blanket back home. Well, he had until Boss decided he didn't need it (SKELETONS DO NOT GET COLD! IN ANY CASE, YOU SPEND MOST OF THE NIGHT EITHER AWAKE OR SCREAMING, SO YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY BE USING IT! He had claimed.) and had taken it. Last he saw of it, it was in Boss’s room, draped over the bed. He let his thoughts drift, enjoying the feel of the blanket against his bones until he was shaken from his musings when he heard his clones steps thumping down the stairs.

“SORRY, I ACCIDENTALLY TOOK A NAP,” He sheepishly scratched his skull as he came to a stop in front of sans's blanket nest, “YOU DIDN'T EAT YOUR TACOS! SANS! YOU'LL NEVER HEAL AT THIS RATE!” His eye lights sparkled in playful irritation. sans glanced down at the half-eaten taco he forgot he was holding. This is how the kid was going to do this? Well, he had a lot of experience with avoidance, so with a with a sarcastic ‘yes, mom’ he stuffed the remainder of the taco in his mouth.

Oh, that's right. The taste was...Well, letting it get cold hadn't done it any favors flavor-wise, but he'd had worse. Sans eager stare bored into him.

“WELL?”

“uhh, it's uh...pretty good. yeah. not too bad,” He tacked on a grin to prove he wasn't lying and the other skeleton nearly exploded with excitement. At least he could feel it restoring his HP and helping to replenish his magic.

 

-

 

Where...were...they???

Chara felt they had been patient enough. Sans and Papyrus still had yet to make an appearance and they had already dusted the teenagers! Well, the Snowdrake had managed to slip away while they were killing Ice Cap. This time they had tried putting the stolen hat in the snow so it wouldn't melt, but it still dusted at the same time as its owner.

Movement just out of the tree line ahead of them caught their attention. It was one of the dogs. For some reason, none of them had been manning their posts. Was it a city-wide Royal Guard day off or something? They stalked after the dog for a few minutes before they felt their body starting to slow. Damn this child's body, always demanding rest and food. They cringed, just when things had started to get fun. But no, they had decided to be extra thorough this run, so with one last glare where the dog had disappeared, they headed off to rest the body.

 

-

 

Despite their flavor, sans was persuaded to eat two more tacos, Sans's bright, expectant eyes following his every motion.

“LETS WATCH SOME NAPSTATON! DO YOU HAVE NAPSTATON IN YOUR UNIVERSE? HE'S JUST THE GREATEST! I'M HIS NUMBER ONE FAN!” He exclaimed proudly as he turned the television on. Almost instantly, sans's ear were assaulted by what he thinks was supposed to be music.

“yeah, no, we ain't got no one like this. we got Mettaton, though. he's nothing like this, though.”

“YEAH? HE’S REALLY COOL, THOUGH, RIGHT?” He questioned, his focus divided between the conversation and the tv program.

“i guess? MTT is way more violent. he ain't my cuppa tea, but his game shows ain't bad. there's this one where people gotta go through an obstacle course, but everything's got like knives and shit and they gotta answer questions at the same time. only seen one monster make it so far.” He chuckled at the fond memory, laughter growing stronger at the horrified look on the others face.

“WHAT HAPPENS DO THE MONSTERS THAT DON’T MAKE IT?” sans tried to rein himself in a bit.

“their dust becomes an obstacle for the next challenger.”

“THAT'S HORRIBLE! EXTREMELY NOT COOL!” He pouted, returning his full attentions to the tv.

They ended up watching tv for nearly three hours. Or, Sans watched tv while the edgy skeleton snoozed in his blanket cocoon. Finally, the native Sans yawned and shut off the tv.

“WELL, I'M GOING TO BED NOW. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SLEEP HERE ON THE COUCH! I WILL SEE YOU IN THE MORNING!”

“uh, ok. night.”

Sans dashed upstairs and into his room, leaving sans alone in the darkened downstairs. He needed to figure out what to do next. Really, he should be figuring out how to get home, but was it really so bad to stay in this peaceful world a little longer? Of course, he couldn't forget how he needed to conduct himself once he got back but...chances are, Boss would dust him before he even had to go out, so it wouldn't really be all bad to stick around.

It was a long time before he was able to fall into a semi-restful sleep.

Chapter Text

Chara sat up with a yawn, stretching out their body with a series of satisfying pops. They hadn't slept that well in a long time, dreams filled with the screams and cries of all the monsters they were going to kill today. Readying their knife, they silently stalked back to the outskirts of town. They'd get rid of the dog squad first, when they attacked together it was a real pain in the ass. They wound their way through the forest, aiming for Doggo’s sentry station.

It took them a few minutes to get there, but soon they were in front of his station and ready. As predicted, ringing the bell brought him out and petting him confused him. Still reeling from being pet by something he couldn't see, it was child's play to thrust the toy knife through his muzzle, though it did require a significant amount of force. Doggo stumbled back in pain, unable to howl and warn the others. Chara reached over the counter and yanked the blade back out, dust trailing through the air. Expression blank, they slashed the knife through Doggo’s neck.

With a short whine of pain, Doggo collapsed backwards against the back wall of the sentry station before his dust spread across the floor.

Chara climbed the rest of the way over the counter and regarded the dust with vague interest before scuffing their shoe through it.

Who's next?

 

-

 

The Magnificent Sans pointedly ignored his brother's door as he bounded out of his room. Today, he would convince the other Sans to let him fix the rest of his wounds and then they could go see Undyne about getting him back home...If that was what he wanted to do. If he decided he didn't want to go back home, well, they would figure something out. But first things first, breakfast! He tiptoed past the couch where sans had fallen asleep sitting up, head tossed back and mouth wide open, red-tinted drool gathered in the corners of of mouth with small, quiet snores occasionally escaping. He wished he had a camera, he was pretty sure it would be excellent blackmail against this guy!

He snickered at the thought as he took stock of what was left in the fridge. He'd need to go to the market soon, but he had enough to make some eggs and toast. Nothing fancy, but it would have to do. Carefully laying out the ingredients, he contemplated the skeleton on his couch. For being technically the same person, he sure acted a lot more like Papy...It might be hard to wake him…He should probably...

“SANS! TIME TO WAKE UP! BREAKFAST IS ALMOST READY!” He cheerfully called out to the living room. Shortly after he was rewarded with a grunt that may have contained words. “JUST A FEW MORE MINUTES SO GET READY AND COME IN HERE!”

“hum, yeah, ok, Boss.” Came the faint, sleepy reply.

“AND DON'T FALL BACK TO SLEEP!” Another, more surprised grunt came.

“‘m not,” He sounded like he was. Sans grinned, yeah, this guy was just like his brother. He sobered at the thought and began preparing the food. He would just go get him when breakfast was ready, same as with- He sighed. What was he going to do?

On the couch, sans slid into a lying position, making himself more comfortable. The other Sans’s first call had initially scared the shit out of him, but, reminded of where he was, he made no effort to get up. He'd probably leave him alone if he didn't show up.

He rolled over, shoving his face in the cushions. He had to go back, didn't he? He couldn't just stay here, hanging out every day with the brother of the guy he murdered. That was really fucked up, wasn’t it? Plus, he couldn't just leave his brother behind like that. He was an asshole, but he was still family, even if the tall skeleton didn't think so.

Besides, he didn't know what would happen if his universe reset without him in it. Or if this universe even had resets. If it did, what would happen to him? Newfound terror gripped his soul. Would he be sent back to his universe? Would he just stay here? Would he...be erased from existence? He felt his panic start to rise. For someone who's ready to die, I'm sure afraid to die, aren't I?

He forced himself to take deep, measured breaths, it wouldn't be the first panic attack he'd had to quash down. A sudden pressure on his scapula made him freeze up.

“HEY, YOU OKAY? I'VE BEEN CALLING YOU FOR BREAKFAST FOR A WHILE NOW…” sans forced the tension out of his body and slowly turned to face the other, who recoiled at his darkened sockets.

“jus’ gimme a minute, kid.” He managed to grit out from behind clenched teeth.

“OKAY…” He stood quietly next to the blanket lump, hand still resting on his back.

“...alone? ...please?” He noticed the other look guiltily to the side, “...really?”

“I DON'T KNOW IF THAT'S THE BEST IDEA...YOU'RE STILL HURT, SO THIS WAY I CAN HELP YOU TO THE KITCHEN!” He recovered brightly.

sans couldn't help it, he stared at the kid, really taking him in. He looked exactly like him if someone had taken an eraser and erased all of his faults and rounded him out a bit. sans knew he wasn't particularly slender, but this Sans’s rounded teeth and curvy body made him look like shitty origami, all straight lines, mistakes, and harsh angles. In his own universe, such an unmarked creature would be highly sought after, though unlikely to stay that way for long. Said skeleton fidgeted under sans's judging stare.

“AAAAANYWAY, YEAH, LET'S GO BEFORE IT GETS COLD?” He gently jostled the other's shoulder. sans groaned theatrically and forced himself up. He couldn't stay here. But he could wait until after breakfast. Sans beamed at his win. The other was looking much better than the previous day, but a little caution never hurt anyone.

 

-

 

“Please! Someone please help! Ya gotta believe me!” The door to Muffet’s flung open as Snowdrake flew into it. He hunched over on himself, panting heavily as the few early morning patrons stared.

“What’s up, kid?” One of the monsters called.

“A human! There’s a human! They killed Ice Cap and J-Jerry an’ an-” Adrenaline wearing off, he starts sobbing, “I t-t-tried to tell p-peop-ple but no one would listen!” He wailed.

Hushed murmurs broke out among the patrons. Was it true? Was there a human?

“Where’re Doggo and the others? We should tell them? That’s their job?”

“When did this happen?” The first voice asked.

“Last night when we were-URK,” Without fanfare, Snowdrake twitched slightly, then stilled, dust raining to the floor. The child brought their knife back to their side. Muffet moved out from around the counter, directing her customers to stay back as she prepared to face off with the human. The child merely cocked their head as the spider approached. They pressed themself against the wall, grabbing something out of their inventory. The spider within range, they flung the empty pitcher at her, glass shards puncturing some of her eyes as it shattered. They knew keeping that jug from the spider cider would help them out.

Spider distracted, they skirted around her, launching themself at the other patrons. The bar was temporarily filled with chaos, screeches and squawks filling the air when Chara managed to dust another monster. Small, white bullets were fired from the remaining monsters, somehow hoping to defeat the human. Almost effortlessly, the human dodged the weak attacks and then lodged their knife in a fish-looking monster’s gills.

Muffet’s eyes leaked a viscous, dark purple fluid, only two remaining functional enough to use. It was painful, but she needed to stop the human, or at least sound the alarm. Vision tunneling, she managed to fire off some bullets at the human, managing to both draw their attention and singe their sweater. She couldn’t quite land a hit on them, so she found herself unable to turn them purple and tangle them in her trap webs. The child abandoned the other monster in favor of diving after Muffet, nicking her skirt as she swerved out of the way. Muffet paused, leaning against a table to steady herself.

The child regarded her for a moment before dashing back to the monster cowering next to a display case. Muffet startled and lunged forward, just in time for the child to swing back around, slashing across her chest and severing one of her arms at the joint. She cried out in pain as she fell to the floor. Without hesitation, Chara leapt on top of her and drove their knife through both of her remaining eyes, one after the other. As she screeched one last time, she hoped the other monster had gotten help.

They had not. Their dust swirled on the floor, mingling with the dust of the others. Chara was still unsatisfied. Papyrus hadn’t been here. Sans hadn’t come. They needed something the skeleton brothers couldn’t ignore.

Muffet’s was on fire.

Chapter Text

“so , i was thinking...i should probably...start tryin’ to uh, ya know, get back to my universe sometime…” Sans tried to breach the subject gently, “i mean, i can't stay here an’ uh, i can't leave Boss like that and well...i mean i… yeah…” So smooth.

The other Sans’s face dropped almost as soon as he had begun speaking, but by the time sans was done, he had mostly recovered.

“OH. YES, I SUPPOSE YOU PROBABLY SHOULD…” His voice was nearly quiet, “HOW EXACTLY WERE YOU PLANNING TO…?”

“uh...i'm, uh, i'm not sure, actually. not really sure how i, ya know, got here in the- the first place, actually…” Sans’s eye sockets squinted as he thought, “i th-think i teleported?”

“PAPY COULD TELEPORT, BUT HE NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT TELEPORTING OUT OF YOUR OWN UNIVERSE…”

maybe

“you, uh got a m-machine here?” He swallowed down his hope at Sans's blank stare. “y’know...in the lab…?” He was really starting to question what made a Sans a Sans and a Papyrus a Papyrus.

“OH!” Sans peeked up at the other skeletons excitement, “THE LAB IN HOTLAND?”

sans drooped once more.

“UH...PAPY WAS THE SCIENTIST, SO I DON'T REALLY KNOW…” He trailed off apologetically. “WE CAN ASK UNDYNE IF SHE KNOWS ANYTHING WHEN WE GO VISIT!”

“w-what would that fish bitch know about a-anything? all she's good for is st-stabbin’ ya in the b-back and lyin’ ‘bout it!” Sans leaned back in surprise. It seemed like there was some animosity between the two.

“WELL, HERE, UNDYNE IS THE ROYAL SCIENTIST AND SHE'S WAY TOO KIND TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT!” It was sans's turn to be shocked now.

“the- the Royal Scientist? shit, how'd fish breath manage that?” He chuckled to himself for a moment, “wait, then alphys…?”

“HEAD OF THE ROYAL GUARD!” Sans confirmed proudly. “I'VE BEEN TRAINING UNDER HER TO JOIN MYSELF FOR A FEW YEARS NOW! SHE SAYS I'M GETTING THERE!” He beamed. sans looked thoughtful.

“a few y-years? isn't that an awful long time? sounds like she isn't really p-planning on-” He cut himself off as screams drifted in from outside. Cries of ‘run!’ and ‘it's coming!’ filtered in faintly. sans turned a curious eye to his clone, who looked just as confused as he did. Joints popping in preparation, he slunk to the door, other Sans at his heels.

Only slightly, he pulled the door open. Outside was filled with smoke, ash raining down, nearly blending in with the snow.

‘fire?’ He mouthed to the other Sans, who merely shrugged, knowing even less than he did. Dropping the stealth act, they went outside and managed to get another monster's attention.

“HEY! WHATS GOING ON? WHY’S EVERYONE RUNNING?”

“Muffet’s is on fire! They say there's a human! We gotta go or we'll die! It'll kill us all!” The monster pulled their paw out of Sans's grasp and ran off, nearly tripping over itself. Sans’s attention was pulled away as the others fingers grasped his wrist loosely, gently tugging him in the direction of the smoke.

“WAIT, WHAT IF THERE'S A HUMAN?” He dug his heels into the snow.

“...aren't you t-training t-to be a Royal Guard? you know what you go-gotta do, right?” The other Sans flushed but shook himself out. With renewed vigor, he took the lead, marching them in the direction of Muffet’s.

It took three long, silent minutes before the ball of fire that was Muffet’s came into view. sans wiped the sweat off his skull, the heat this close was somehow very intense. They stood in awe of the fireball, noting that nobody was trying to put out the fire, only grabbing their belongings and running.

Sans dropped the other's hand and moved around the burning building.

“h-hey! what're you doin’?” sans made to follow him, “h-hey...kid...g-get outta there!” He whispered fiercely, fear overtaking his usual smooth rumble.

“HUH?” Turning around, his eye lights are drawn to the human, “OH! HELLO THERE! THIS AREA IS DANGEROUS, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY GET AWAY!” He offered the small figure a comforting smile. They were obviously too shocked by the fire to move.

“Sans...i need you to come h-here...right. now,” He reached out a hand to his doppelganger, hoping he wouldn’t question him. Today must have been his lucky day, because with nary another glance at the human, he moved back to the relative safety of the other. He started to say something when the figure moved.

what the fuck?

“f-frisk? is that you, sweetheart?” No, it couldn’t be. Frisk was a literal angel in that hellhole he was forced to call home. They would never lay a finger on another, forget charge at someone with a knife raised high above their head.

“shit, k-kid, we gotta m-move!” He grabbed Sans’s upper arm and pulled him out of the path of the knife a split second before the child cut through the air where he had been. jesus, where did this kid get a knife that sharp?

“EXCUSE ME, HUMAN! YOU REALLY SHOULD BE CAREFUL WITH KNIVES, IF YOU RUN AROUND WILLY-NILLY LIKE THAT, SOMEONE MAY GET HURT!” He was poised to continue his lecture on cookware handling when the child swung back around, chasing them as they dodged wild slash after wild slash, “HUMAN! PLEASE STOP! YOU COULD ACCIDENTALLY HURT YOURSELF, AS WELL!” He tried, growing more nervous as the blade snagged on the edge of his glove.

While dodging, sans looked inward, checking his own magic levels. Still not 100%, but he had enough to probably get them out of there and fairly far away. He carefully gathered his magic in preparation to teleport. Sans struggled in his grip.

“NO! WE CAN’T JUST LEAVE! THERE ARE STILL PEOPLE HERE! WE NEED TO HELP THEM GET OUT!” sans felt himself mentally roll his eyes. Off course this guy would want to risk his own life to help others escape. Quickly, he sent out a check on the human kid, who had stopped to catch their breath.

 

Chara

LV 6

HP 36/39

AT 17

DF 21

 

* thinks dust is pretty.

 

sans’s eyes widened, this kids LOVE was higher than his own!

“you’ve uh...you’ve been busy, huh, kid?” Their dead stare unnerved him slightly, “who am i? j-jus’ a friendly skeleton.” Sweat beaded heavily on his skull as he tried to divert their interest. Lowly, he muttered into Sans’s skull, “make sure everyone’s out, i’ll meet you at the house in 10,” hopefully , he added silently.

Eyes wide, he nodded, “GOT IT! I’LL HELP EVERYONE GET OUT AND YOU HOLD THEM OFF UNTIL ALPHYS GETS HERE!........ARE YOU SURE YOU CAN HOLD THEM?” sans looked back at the blank stare focused on them.

“yeah...hold them off…” Large blue eye lights searched his face for a moment before turning and running further into town. Abruptly, the human child took off after him.

“oh no you don’t!” He threw some small bone constructs to intercept them, dodging out of their way as the knife was turned back on him. “huh? Papyrus? why do you kn-know Papyrus, kid? b-been here before?” Receiving no answer, he turned their soul blue and flung them into the tree line.

“k-kid, you sure you don’ wanna give up? be a lot easier if ya did…” This time the knife grazed his radius, knocking his HP down ever so slightly, “g-guess not. guess i gotta g-get serious then…” Suddenly he was extremely glad he had eaten those terrible tacos. He summoned a large bone club to his hands, using it to help deflect the knife and, hopefully, to knock the kid out. He finally managed to land a heavy blow to their shoulder, forcing them to drop the knife and skitter back into the trees. Slowly, he picked up the knife, the keen blade glistening in the false daylight. He listened carefully, straining to hear any noise the human might make, but all was silent.

 

Rapid footsteps crunching through the snow came from behind him. He spun around, blade at the ready.

 

“sans!”

“YOU DIDN’T SHOW UP AND I GOT WORRIED! ...WHERE’D THE HUMAN GO?"

“i...i don’t know...did you get everyone out?”

“OF COURSE! THE MAGNIFICENT SANS NEVER LEAVE A JOB HALF COMPLETED! MWEH HEH HEH!” He preened as sans stared open-mouthed at him. does he really not know the danger everyone was in? “ANYWAY, IF THE HUMAN IS GONE FOR NOW, WE SHOULD MEET UP WITH ALPHYS, SHE’LL KNOW WHAT TO DO!”

“no, let’s go to the lab...Alph- Undyne will have cameras set up all over, we can look out for this piece of shit human there.” Sans looked skeptical, “an’ we can keep a lookout for other monsters and tell Alphys where the human is an’ shit…” There was no way in hell was he going to traipse about hunting a human, not a murdering little asshole who looked just like his little sweetheart. His soul ached a bit just thinking about them.

“.........I SUPPOSE YOU’RE RIGHT.” He didn’t look convinced, but it was as good as he was going to get.

“...hang on, i know a shortcut.”

 

-

 

WHAT. THE. HELL.

First Papyrus doesn’t show up, then Sans doesn’t and now there are two Sanses? One was obviously the stupid, innocent thing that was always trying to be their friend, but the other? He seemed like he may have known who they were, but clearly they had never met before. Chara had never seen a skeleton manage to look so ridiculous, and that included Sans’s “battle body”! But then there’s this guy, dressed like those kids in Anime Club who led each other around on leashes! He even had the collar! Pointy teeth like a ridiculous jack o’ lantern and dirty rip-off chucks? Chara wouldn’t be caught dead associating with someone like that!

They huffed from their position in the forest, watching the two skeletons teleport away.

This run was going to be very interesting. 

….Dammit! He took my knife!

Chapter Text

With a quiet pop, the two Sanses reappeared in front of the Hotland lab, approximately two feet off the floor. sans hit the ground first, quickly followed by his blue counterpart, who managed to have curled himself to a ball of pointy limbs. He groaned in pain as a kneecap found its way to his clavicle, vision fuzzing out a bit as the rest of him crashed into his still tender ribs.

“OH MY GOD! I'M SO SORRY! ARE YOU OKAY?” He jumped up as quickly as possible, “WHAT AM I SAYING, OF COURSE YOU'RE NOT OKAY!” He nearly sobbed in frustration.

“kid, chill, just give me a sec,” He panted out. Under Sans's watchful gaze, he caught his breath and heaved himself up, “huh, usually land on the floor when i do that. guess i need to pay better attention, can’t let this place get the drop on me again.” The concerned look melted off Sans’s face.

“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU!” He huffed, crossing his arms.

“what can i say? i found the situation... humerus ,” He flashed a shark-toothed grin at the other before heading towards the lab.

“UM, SANS? THE LAB IS THIS WAY…” sans blinked owlishly, sure enough, he had been heading back to the outskirts of Hotland.

“...right. okay. this place is backwards,” His face warmed as he turned back, power walking past the other skeleton and his giggles. The other skeleton turned to follow him.

“SOOOO...WHY EXACTLY ARE WE GOING TO THE LAB ANYWAY? SHOULDN'T WE BE TRYING TO CAPTURE THE HUMAN…?” He trotted to keep up with the others surprisingly brisk pace.

“uh, yeah. i guess. Undyne should have cameras all over the place,” A nod of confirmation, “sooo we can see the human there. though i don’t think we’ll be able to capture them...” Or something, this really wasn't his problem.

“OF COURSE WE’LL BE ABLE TO CAPTURE THEM! WE JUST NEED TO TALK TO THEM! AND WITH UNDYNE’S CAMERA’S, WE’LL BE ABLE TO FIND THE HUMAN AND STOP THEM FROM ATTACKING AND THEN CAPTURE THEM!”

“sumthin’ like that, sure,” Hell no, he was just going to talk science with her then skedaddle back to his own universe, “if the human leaves anyone alive at least,”

“WE'LL TALK TO THEM! IM SURE WE CAN CONVINCE THEM TO STOP!” He realized he was being perhaps overly optimistic, but he needed something he had some control over. He had never dreamt that anything like what had happened in the past two days could ever happen. If only Papy were here, he would agree with him.

“GASP! WAIT!” He cried out suddenly as they neared the lab, “I...UM...Can I…” He trailed off, voice growing somber. sans looked at him, prompting him to continue. “I...I want my brother…” His huge sockets filled with tears once again. This kid was going to be the death of him for sure.

“where did you-” He cut himself off. How exactly do you ask the person whose brother you killed where they left their remains? Luckily, Sans seemed to understand what he was trying to ask.

“ON HIS BED. I WAS GOING TO MOVE HIM BUT...WELL…” He blinked the tears out of his eyes, feeling magic coalescing in the air, “WAIT, ARE YOU GOING TO GO BACK?” He couldn’t suppress the hopeful notes in his voice. Surely the human would be gone by now.

“...only for you kid, stay right here, i’ll be back before you can say ‘i think Napstaton is a total hottie’” He blinked out of sight just as Sans yelled in indignation.

“I DO NOT THINK HE’S A TOTAL...WELL...HE IS QUITE ATTRACTIVE, BUT ONE SHOULD ALWAYS BE RESPECTFUL WHEN TALKING ABOUT P-P-POTENTIAL D-DATEFRIENDS!” He felt his face heat up intensely and pressed his gloves to his cheeks to try to cool down.

“what was that about datefriends?” sans had popped back at some point, a knowing grin across his face.

“NOTHING!” He rushed forward to take the jar from the others hands, stopping just short and staring in shock, “YOU...You brought…” His voice broke. The other shrugged sheepishly.

“yeah...i know you won’t really need it here in Hotland, but...in general...an’ i didn’ want that human t-to get their mitts on it so i grabbed it real quick, s-sorry. i didn’ even think, i shouldn’a-”

“NO! IT’S FINE! IT’S GREAT!” The tears were back as he reverently took the hoodie out of his hands. Carefully, he pulled it on, the hem falling nearly to his knees in a manner that would have been comical if it weren’t one of the most depressing sights sans had ever seen. He snuggled into the hoodie, smile soft as he hugged himself. sans clung tightly to the jar, he probably shouldn’t be watching this. He scuffed his shoe in the dirt, pointedly not watching the others grief.

“SORRY...I’M OKAY NOW. THANK YOU!” He gently nudged the other with a sleeve-covered hand. With a snort, sans gently set the jar on the ground.

“let’s find your hands before we do anything else, kid,” He rolled the sleeves up, neatly folding them up to his elbows, “there ya go, kid, got useful hands again.” Sans’s eye lights grew impossibly large as he checked out his new sleeves before looking back up at the other.

“THANKS! THIS IS MUCH BETTER!” sans felt his face heat up again.

“y-yeah...well...c’mon...let’s g-go!” He spun on his heel and stomped off to the Lab. Sans snickered and picked his brother back up.

“SEE, PAPY? HE’S NOT SO BAD. HE DIDN’T MEAN TO HURT YOU. DON’T WORRY, I’M TAKING CARE OF HIM, AND HE’S KIND OF TAKING CARE OF ME TOO.” Sans watched the way his dust caught the light and sparkled, imagining it was his brother reassuring him that everything was going to be okay.

“hey! you comin’? i don’ really wanna go in there without you…” sans called out to him, waving him over. Truthfully, he was still nervous about meeting Undyne. Knowing only the Undyne from his own universe, he couldn’t imagine her being anything but a brutal warmonger, second-in-command of the Royal Guard, and overall bitch.

“Y-YEAH! I’M COMING!” Gently, he shifted the jar into the hoodie’s large front pocket. It probably wouldn’t be well-received if he just marched into the Lab holding a jar of dust. He broke into a jog and caught up with the other, who seemed relieved he was there, despite the sweat rolling down his skull. He grinned at him before pounding his fist on the metal door.

“HEY! UNDYNE! ARE YOU IN THERE? LET US IN!” He called out, knocking all the while. The other sans brought a hand up, poised to stop his loud knocking.

“hey, m-maybe we should give ‘er a chance t-to ans-” The door slid open ominously, cutting him off. sans stared into the doorway, eye lights rushing to adjust. The inside was surprisingly dark.

Chapter Text

“UNDYNE!! HEY! ARE YOU IN THERE?” Sans shouted into the darkness.

“O-over h-here.” Came the weak response. Grabbing sans’s arm gently, he pulled him into the blackness.

Inside, they found there actually was light, the glow of the monitors highlighting a perfect silhouette of Undyne laying on the floor.

“UM...UNDYNE?”

“H-hey, Sans. And...who, who's this?” Unmoving, she looked up at them. Sans looked at the other skeleton, but seeing him make no move to respond and, instead curl into himself, he answered for him.

“UH, THIS IS SANS. HE'S ME FROM ANOTHER UNIVERSE!” At Undyne’s incredulous look, the shark-toothed skeleton scoffed, confidence growing.

“wow, is th-this really Undyne?” His own Undyne was a big, brutish bitch, covered in scars and wearing armor that was as immaculate as the dusty air allowed. This Undyne was a small, waspish thing, curled on the floor watching as the human slaughtered monster after monster on the TV screen. Sans gently swatted his rough counterpart.

“UNDYNE! IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO HELP!” Hey, that was definitely not the reason sans agreed to come see her, “HAVE EVACUATION EFFORTS BEGAN?”

Finally she sat up, staring at the monitors as the human child dusted another monster. She shook her head, a chunk of crimson hair freeing itself from its bun to fall in front of her face.

“N-no, nobody's b-been able to go gather whoever is left…”

“WE CAN HELP! HE CAN TELEPORT SO WE COULD FIND PEOPLE PRETTY EASILY!” sans immediately protested getting involved.

“h-hey! ‘m not a taxi! it t-takes a lotta energy and m-magic to do that!” Sans's grin wavered.

“WELL WE CAN'T HELP GET YOU HOME UNTIL WE HAVE TIME TO WORK ON IT AND WE OBVIOUSLY WON'T HAVE TIME AS LONG AS A HUMAN IS HERE SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL HELP US!” ...Sans had a point, but it was so much easier to just give up and do nothing. That was what he did the few times the kid became genocidal back home, “PLEASE, SANS?” His eyes pleaded with him.

That's just playing dirty. His face must have indicated as much as even Undyne intervened.

“Um, y-yeah other Sans, we can work on g-g-getting you home once the situation has settled here. It's, uh, it's really not-t the time…”

Now he really didn't want to do it but Sans was still looking at him with those horrible puppy dog eyes and of course he's going to give in.

“...yeah, okay, whatever.” He sighed. He couldn't imagine this ending any way besides how it always ended, with dust, heartbreak, and finally his own death.

“The human is at th-the entrance to Waterfall right n-now.”

“DOES ALPHYS KNOW? SHE WILL EASILY TAKE THE HUMAN OUT! AND WE'LL GET EVERYONE OUT TO SAFETY!”

“I'll t-tell her, y-you two g-get to Waterfall and c-clear out the residents. And...please be careful.”

sans resigned himself. He had a strange feeling things wouldn't go as planned.

 

--

 

Alphys was dead. She had put up an impressive fight, even tapping into her natural well of Determination, something most monsters would never manage. Of course, it hadn't mattered. While impressive, the battle had only lasted, at most ten minutes. It seemed like the human had had time to study and practice countering Alphys’s every move. The Sanses had managed to corral a few monsters who had been hiding scared while Alphys fought, but it hadn't bought them enough time to save everyone. The roaring screams from the echo flowers got louder and louder, trapped in a feedback loop as new screams were added.

The kid themself was getting smarter, methodically taking out every camera they found, making it next to impossible to track them. It had been hours since there had been any hint of the child, vanishing after the last camera in Snowdin was destroyed.

 

“WE HAVE TO TRY!” Sans cried, “IF WE DON'T MOVE NOW, THERE WILL BE NO ONE LEFT!” He continued pleading with the other skeleton. “WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!” His voice broke, magic wavering.

“we don't stand a chance, k-kid. we might as well g-give up.” Kid needed to drop it, or else he was going to give in, “‘sides, I don't got th-the juice to keep goin’,” It wasn't quite a lie. He had recovered a bit, but shuttling multiple monsters back and forth between the Lab and Waterfall had taken its toll.

“SO WE SHOULD GO AND LET THE HUMAN KILL US? I THINK NOT! THE MAGNIFICENT SANS WOULD NEVER BACK DOWN! ONCE WE MEET WITH THE HUMAN, WE CAN CONVINCE THEM TO GIVE UP ON THIS TERRIBLE PATH THEY'VE CHOSEN! THEN WE CAN USE THEIR SOUL TO HELP EVERYONE ESCAPE!” Sans was definitely delusional if he thought people could live happily after a massacre like this. Furthermore…

“do you even know how w-we get the s-soul from the human? you'll b-be in the Guard soon, s-so you know all about th-that, right?” Yeah, he was being a bit harsh, but the kid seriously wouldn't take a hint.

“UM..THAT IS...WE BRING THEM TO THE QUEEN AND SHE USES IT!” It came out less confidently than he had hoped. His fingers clacked gently against the glass jar.

“the human needs to be d-dead to use its soul, kid,” Undyne made an aborted motion to stop sans, instead scrubbing the hand over her face, erasing the tear tracks there and heading upstairs to find more entertainment for the refugees downstairs, “once you're in the Guard, it will be your duty to kill humans and take their souls.”

“NO! ONCE WE HAVE THIS ONE WE WON'T NEED TO KILL ANYONE!”

“heh, that's a, heh, that’s a nice thought kid, but the humans trapped us under this damn mountain in the first place. they ain't gonna be happy to see us resurface. humans always act first and ask que-questions later.” Now he really was tiring out, this is probably the most he's talked in his life.

“THEN WE'LL JUST NEED TO ACT FIRST! ANYWAY, I'M GOING TO GO FIGHT THE HUMAN AND NOTHING YOU SAY WILL STOP ME, SO YOU CAN EITHER HELP ME OR STAY OUT OF MY WAY!” His eyes burned bright with fury. He looked like his own little brother, back before their relationship fell to pieces. He was unstoppable. He couldn't deny him anything, even the opportunity to walk into his own death.

With a heavy sigh, he gave in.

“yeah, ok. i'll help.” He bet if he hadn't already killed his brother, the brother would kill him for letting Sans do this. Or maybe he would understand all too well. And then kill him anyway.

Sans cheered, dashing off to tell Undyne their plan while sans stuffed his face with popato chisps, hoping to give them a fighting chance. Since they hadn't turned up on any of the Hotland cameras, they had to assume the kid was probably winding their way back from Snowdin. As long as they moved quickly, they could still cut the kid off at the entrance to Waterfall, keeping all the fighting away from the small group of survivors. Before he was ready, Sans was bounding back, demanding immediate transport. Giving the excitable skeleton a long look, he gently took his arm.

Chapter Text

They reappeared next to the Hotland welcome sign, though now it was powered off leaving the mini light bulbs to catch the light from the magma, throwing eerie reddish reflections across their faces. Distantly, sans pondered how that worked, the entire area was fairly well-lit by the natural artificial lighting.

“NOW WE WAIT! IF THEY WANT TO CONTINUE AS THEY HAVE BEEN, THEY'LL HAVE TO GO THROUGH HERE TO PROCEED! AND WE CAN SEE SO FAR IN BOTH DIRECTIONS, WE’LL DEFINITELY SEE THEM!” Proud of his brilliant plan, he placed his hands on his hips, sans feeling momentarily bereft as the arm was pulled from his grip.

“yeah, sure kid,” They were so going to die right now. Sans proceeded to spend the next thirty minutes pacing, air-boxing and gazing into the distance. sans, however, gave up moments in, sitting and resting against the wall.

“don’ tire yerself out before they get here,” He chided calmly.

“DONT WORRY! THE MAGNIFICENT SANS IS ALWAYS PREPARED!” He posed with one hand on his neckerchief, “UNLIKE A CERTAIN SOMEONE…” He glanced down at the skeleton on the floor who merely shrugged unapologetically.

“so when's the kid gonna get here?”

“IT SHOULD BE ANY MINUTE NOW!” Turning away from sans, he reached into the hoodies pocket, bringing the jar of dust to his face. “YOU'LL HELP ME, RIGHT BROTHER?” He smiled softly as it sparkled in response. “YOU'RE THE COOLEST, BROTHER! WELL, OTHER THAN ME OF COURSE!” He giggled and tucked the jar away, moving to continue watching for the human. sans politely pretended he hadn't been watching, gaze drifting down the other path.

 

They had been here for a while now, nearly an hour by his count. Maybe the kid was taking a break? Slaughtering a restaurant full of people and then backtracking halfway across the Underground would take it out of most people. His gaze wandered back to the other Sans, noting the lines of tension in his body, the clenched fists. He could play fearless all he wanted but of course he was scared, heck he was scared! He knew they couldn't win, two monsters versus an unstoppable human? The kid hadn't died a single time. At least his dust would lie to rest in this once peaceful universe instead of his own shithole.

“MAYBE THEY WENT BACK TO THE RUINS? OR ARE RESTING?” Sans stood in front of him nearly an hour later. The kid definitely should've passed through by now. The feeling of danger had passed long ago, replaced by idle boredom.

“back to Undyne’s to check the cameras?” He halfheartedly suggested.

“YEAH, WE PROBABLY SHOULD. GUESS WE'LL HAVE TO COME UP WITH A NEW PLAN.” He was disappointed that his plan had failed, but sans found himself relieved, even lightly laughing at the pout the other now wore.

 

Grabbing his arm, he ported back into the lab. It took only a moment to see that Undyne wasn't in the main lab. Quickly they made their way to the elevator, Sans slipping and nearly crashing to the ground in his hurry.

He almost didn't look back to see why he slid, preoccupied with creating a new plan as quickly as possible. sans felt the tight grip of fingers on his arm just before he could press the button that would call the elevator. They dug harshly into his wounds, the sharp pain making him stumble.

“what is it, kid? what're you- oh.” In the dim lab lighting, he could just make out a kicked over pile of dust. Like starlight, it twinkled gently at them as they stared in disbelief.

“OH, NO NO NONONO! UNDYNE?” He dropped to his knees, “I'M SO SORRY, I COMPLETELY TRIPPED RIGHT OVER YOU...DIDN'T SEE YOU THERE…” Sans giggled brokenly, startling the other. Kid was losing it, and fast.

“h-heya, kiddo, don't f-fall apart on me now. it might not...might not even be Undyne, it could be s-some other monster that was trying to get downstairs…” He knew he shouldn't give the kid false hope, but he didn't seem equipped to deal with everything that had happened in the past few days.

“...YEAH. YEAH! SHES PROBABLY DOWNSTAIRS, LET'S GO TALK TO HER!” He edged around the dust to summon the elevator, carefully looking only at the doors.

The moment the elevator doors opened to the true lab, sans knew Undyne wasn't there. It was dark and quiet and cold and Sans was running straight to the bedroom where the refugees had gathered. He burst into the room before sans could stop him. He had a really bad feeling about this.

 

Kicked up dust swirled around the room as Sans streaked inside, closely followed by the other.

“hey, maybe you should-holy sh-sh-shit,” He felt his eye lights gut out and instinctively tried to hold his breath.

Dust was everywhere. Spread over beds, scattered across the floor, even floating in the air. Beds were knocked out of place, their coverings shredded or missing. The potted plants had been toppled, one ripped straight out of its pot, leaves singed, the other smashed on the floor, trampled by frightened feet. Even the dog bowl, mysteriously devoid of food, had been toppled and cracked. Sans felt the need to breathe sneak up on him and reluctantly pulled in a breath, immediately choking on the thick air.

Attempting to control his breathing, he pulled his shirt up to cover the lower half of his face and made his way to where Sans had stopped.

“k-kid, you okay? c’-c’mon, let's get outta here,” His voice was muffled but still understandable as he tried to get the others attention. He tugged gently on the sleeve of the hoodie, now noticing that the other had been staring intently at something, sockets dark.

On the bed in front of him, the dust had been disturbed, a smiling face etched into the dusty remains beamed up at them. sans cringed, this human had no respect for life at all, did they?

“WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS?” Sans questioned, no inflection in his voice, “DID WE DO SOMETHING TO UPSET THEM?”

“k-kid, no, no! some p-people jus’...jus’ ain't satisfied bein’ good. they're jus’ evil to the c-core. you didn’ do nuthin’. ‘s why we gotta take ‘em d-down,”

The other finally turned to look at him, small white eye lights finally manifested.

“IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST BE FRIENDS, RIGHT PAPY?” His fingers caressed the jar through the pocket of the hoodie, a distraught look marring his face. sans felt his face contort in confusion before he could school himself. Time to get outta here .

“alllllright,” He gently gripped the hand on the jar, pulling it, and Sans's attention, away from the dust in his pocket, “that's enough, lets go…”

Now that he knew the human could be literally anywhere, he was more hesitant to teleport, hoping to save his energy for when they would really need it. Though he hoped they wouldn't. His hands firmly gripped the others as he started to lightly pull him back towards the exit. Forced to move, Sans jolted back to reality, the shock of this room full of dust finally hitting him.

“OH MY- OH NOOO NO NO!” Panic overwhelmed his senses and he started gasping for breath, only to pull in dust.

“shit!” The other was coughing and choking and crying, he needed to get him out of there. “h-hey, c’mon, it's okay, we're going. c-calm down, kiddo,” He gently tried to steer the now gagging skeleton towards the door, “eas-sy does it, y-yer okay,”

Sans stumbled and tried to follow the other but had to pull away suddenly, retching and gasping on dusty air.

“oooh shit, okay, c’mon k-kid, yer okay, we're leaving, it's okay,” He found himself taking a step back when the other suddenly vomited, sour magic and half processed tacos splattering and mixing with the dust on the ground.

“I’M SORRY, I’M SO- I’M SO SORRY,” Sans gasped and sobbed in between heaves, “OH MY- I'M SORRY,” His hands wrapped around his midsection, cradling his brother in hopes of comfort as he apologized to the dust.

Fuck it.

“hang on t-tight, kid,” He waited until there was a pause in his heaving and, hands firmly holding his shoulders, teleported them back upstairs, away from the dust that was Undyne. He lets the kid heave in the corner as he rubs his back. Before long, the harsh sound died out, replaced by sobs he quickly muffles in sans’s shirt. He let him cry himself out, ignoring the moisture seeping through to his bones before carrying him up to the bed cube. It was conveniently folded out for some reason, so after double checking it for traps, he gently placed the now sleeping Sans on it, taking a seat next to it himself. Someone had to keep watch.

Chapter Text

He slept for much shorter than sans had expected, a few hours at most. Seemed like another way this kid was a bit like Boss, he never could sleep through the night. He had begun shifting as though distressed a few minutes prior until the jar slid out of the pocket of the hoodie and he was able to cuddle up to it. sans couldn't imagine that was very comfortable, but he held it like one might hold a teddy bear, as close to the soul as possible, with one cheek resting on the lid.

sans rubbed at his eye sockets. He was tired but he couldn't let his guard down, not with the human out there and this kid here with him. Though, it's not like there was much left living for in this universe. All the survivors had been hunted and slaughtered and he would bet money the kid hadn't stopped there. He supposed he could do his job in this universe as well, judge the human and then execute them. Though monsters would basically be extinct at that point, only two skeletons and Toriel remaining. For lack of any other ideas, sans decided they would go to Judgement Hall and wait for the human there.

Once Sans woke up and could give his input. He didn’t really want to make any decisions without his input and, heck, maybe the kid would have a better idea...Possibly. sans was starting to get really worried about that kid. So much shit kept happening with hardly any time to process it and he did not seem to be able to work through it, seemingly breaking down at the slightest provocation. Granted, sans had, most likely, seen a lot more murder and dust than this kid so maybe he wasn't a good measure. He had grown up doing this, internalizing shit to maybe be addressed later. He eyed the jar of dust the kid had been calling Brother. Still

Finally the other woke up, bright blue eye lights snapping over to look him in the face. For a long moment, both stared at the other, unwilling to break the silence. Finally Sans unwound himself from around the jar to sit up.

“HEY.” He rubbed his eye sockets, “I FEEL TERRIBLE.” He pouted slightly when the other snorted.

“‘be surprised if ya didn’” He sheepishly waved a hand around, “‘d heal ya if i could but…” Sans stared at him, slightly exasperated.

“YOUR CONSIDERATION IS TOUCHING, BUT HARDLY NECESSARY.” Sans felt a shiver run down his spine, the chill pooling where his stomach would be. “SO, THAT DIDN’T WORK...WHAT'S NEXT?” The moment was over before he could blink again.

“We probably sh-should go to Judgement Hall. if i'm right, y-your bro m-may have b-been the...been the Judge...hell, this place is, is all...backwards ‘n’ shit ‘n’ i'm the Judge back home s-so i f-figure...heh…”

“PAPY’S THE JUDGE!?” His eye lights glowed in excitement, “SO COOL!” He held the jar up, admiring the sparkling dust inside.

“uhm, yeah. s-so we go there an’ w-w-wait and take c-care of the human…unless y-you got a be-better idea…?” This fixation on the dust couldn't be healthy. The other continued admiring the dust, but appeared to be thinking.

“OKAY! LET'S GO!” He had bounced off the bed cube and was halfway down the escalator before Sans realized he had gotten up.

“f-fuck! slow d-down, kid!” Bones creaking, he pulled himself to his feet. He was going to have to teleport them to the Judgement Hall if they had any hope of beating the human there. He hoped the kid was a really good Guard, he’d be needing all the breaks the other could give him at this rate. He caught up to the other, who had stopped to wait just inside the door.

“WE SHOULD PROBABLY EAT FIRST! IT WILL DO US NO GOOD TO GO INTO BATTLE TIRED AND HUNGRY!” He bounced further in, rummaging around for a few minutes before coming back with a few packs of instant noodles, “SORRY, THIS WAS ALL I COULD FIND! AND WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO COOK THEM!” He seemed genuinely disappointed at the thought.

“taste better like th-this anyway,” He grumbled as he snatched up a pack and scarfed the contents. He felt marginally more alert and was happy to feel some of his wounds closing up. Noticing the other finished, he held out an arm.

“let's g-go,” Without another word, they vanished, the gold of Judgement Hall filling their vision.

“WE SHOULD MAKE SURE THE HUMAN HAS NOT ATTEMPTED TO ATTACK THE QUEEN YET!” Sans made to pass through but was stopped by a sound at the other end of the hall.

The human stood, shrouded in shadow at the end of the hall, dusty fingers wrapped around the handle of a wicked looking knife. Seeing that they had both skeletons attention, they tilted their head.

“oh? You were waiting for us? you sh-shouldn't have,” Sans ground out from between clenched teeth. The human made a quick shrugging motion, “yeah, yeah, c-can't ruin a p-perfect run,”

“HUMAN! PLEASE STOP THIS! THERE IS NO REASON TO FIGHT, WE ONLY WANT TO BE YOUR FRIENDS!”

“speak for yerself, k-kid, i'm gonna kill this bitch!” His eye lights flickered out, red streaks floated off one eye as the human ran toward them.

Without hesitation, he threw waves of jagged red bones hurling at the child, ignoring Sans’s pleas for them to stop. Swiftly, the child dodged every last bone, even the trick bones at the end.

“do something!” He hissed over his shoulder at the other. Sans looked torn, unable to attack the human but worried about his new friend. He watched the battle before him, a sick feeling pitting in his stomach. The other sans was having difficulty. The human child was easily able to dodge every attack he sent, no matter how fast or unfair it was. He steeled himself, decision made he strode into the battlefield.

sans panted, he was tiring and hadn't managed to hit the kid even once! Even when he sparred with Boss he was able to land the occasional hit, how did this kid know all his moves already? This battle was going to be over embarrassingly quickly at this rate. Could it even be called a battle? Frustrated, he focused his magic, pulling his blasters from their pocket space and charging their cannons in one swift move.

It wasn’t until the kid had easily evaded all of his blasts that his eyes widened. Loads. The kid was loading. They had to be. But why couldn’t he see it? Feel it? Remember it? Back in his own universe, as few and far between as loads often were, he had been able to remember them, but this? This moved so smoothly he hadn’t even begun to suspect…

Charging up the blasters again, he was terrifyingly aware that neither of them could possibly survive this fight. In front of him suddenly, Sans stood with his arms wide open, offering mercy and a new start. He refused to use violence, not when there was a chance that mercy was the answer. Even as the human ran towards him, he encouraged them to stop, to change their ways, to become more than they were.

“kid! no! stop!” This was probably the fastest he'd moved since arriving to this universe. The human was also rushing to Sans. His blasters fired rapidly, draining the remains of his energy. Just as he considered giving up, he made it, grabbing Sans and attempting to teleport them away with a painful twist of his magic. That having failed, he shoved the other, a shout warning him of the child's arrival.

A second too late he moved to defend, fresh slash dripping marrow and dust. He sputtered and choked, marrow running down his chin and how did that even work? He didn't have internal organs to damage so what was all this drama about. He hardly noticed he had slumped to the floor, dust pouring off his body.

“s-s-sorry...k-kid…” As his vision faded to black, his eye lights managed to focus on the hazy image of Sans's skull rolling through dust and glass toward him.

Chapter Text

He opened his eyes.

Darkness.

He tried again.

Same.

He flared his magic, hoping to use his red eye lights to help illuminate his surroundings.

He was both successful and not. His magic responded to his call, bright red flowing easily into his surroundings. However with nothing to illuminate, the effort was wasted. Even the red of his magic was quickly swallowed by the darkness around him.

Well, at least he knew his eyes were actually open.

He dismissed his magic, no sense in wasting it if it wasn't actually going to help him. He looked around in the darkness again before picking a direction and walking.

This entire process felt very familiar. He walked for what felt like ages before he remembered. He had been here before, many, many times before. This was The Void he passed through every time he took a shortcut. He usually passed through so quickly he didn't even get a chance to look around. Not that there was anything to see, he mused.

This felt familiar too. He felt himself tiring. The darkness never changed or shifted at all. He sat on the darkness below him, this seemed to be the direction gravity dictated to be down. With one last wide sweep, he deemed himself alone and curled up, falling asleep almost instantly.

He awoke quickly, senses screaming at him to escape. Before he realized it, he had already stood up and began backing away from the darkness in front of him. Something was here. Something was watching him.

He remembered this. Running from this darkness. Nothing had attacked him in the end, but did that mean it wasn't dangerous? Without another thought, he turned and ran, the feeling of eyes on his back following him.

He ran until he couldn't run anymore and then ran a bit longer. He ran until his legs gave out from under him and he was sent crashing to the darkness below. Unable to run, he pulled himself forward, inch by inch with his arms. He didn't notice falling asleep.

 

<gOod MoRNinG>

 

He startled awake at the loud voice in his ear. Darkness greeted him when he turned his head to look. The eyes were still on him. But now they whispered. The whisper was a loud roar in his skull, driving away the silence in a way that made him miss the emptiness.

The darkness whispered at him as he stood. He needed to get away but his legs were so tired, bones aching as he forced them to move. The whisper followed him as he stumbled away, never stopping.

--

He was getting very good at sleeping. It wasn't something he had ever thought himself particularly bad at, but the cacophony ringing in his skull had made it difficult at first. He had tried answering it, screaming at it, even attacking it, but to no effect.

The eyes on his back urged him forward, the pressure on his chest pushed him down, but the whisper...The whisper was almost kind. It spoke of everything at the same time, criticizing and comforting, degrading and praising, guiding and restraining. It was a constant, unchanging companion in this constant, unchanging darkness.

It was comfortable. It made him sleepy as it yelled and screamed and hissed and whispered in his ear. Sleeping was good, it passed the time that wouldn't pass otherwise. It was up to him to make it pass.

So he ran and ran and ran and ran and ran until he was so so so very tired and could sleep and make time work again.

He was running when it stopped.

The sound, the silence, the eyes, the pressure, the time, the nothing stopped all at once.

He ran straight into the missing patch of nothing.

--

He opened his eyes. It was so bright it hurt. He forced himself to keep his eyes open and looked around. He was in his room and everything hurt. His marrow-coated legs trembled beneath him and he dropped to the floor, staring at the ceiling in confusion. What happened? Why did everything hurt so much?

With a jolt, he mostly remembered. Judgement Hall. Fighting. The kid. The human. He sat up as quickly as his broken ribs would allow.

Hanging in front of him was a large gaster blaster, eyes glowing orange, laser fully charged and ready to be loosed. The sound of the energy charging echoed loudly in his skull, making him cringe.

He scooted back, wincing as he jostled his leg. The blaster floated closer, the movement giving him a glance at the room behind it.

Boss was here. Boss was on the other side of the room and he looked angry. Boss looked beyond angry. Boss was going to kill him for sure this time, he had no doubt. The squeal of the blaster rang in his ear as he cowered away. He wasn't sure what he had done, but he wasn't ready to die.

“s-s-sorry, B-Boss. ‘m so-sorry. didn’ mean ta...ta...s’rry,” Skull covered, he slurred out apologies. If he was lucky, maybe Boss would tell him what he did wrong this time, “w-what...whatever i’ is, ‘m s-sorry. B-Boss, p-please...don’- don’- please, B-Boss,”

He cowered, waiting to feel the burn of the blaster, its whine pitching in his ear.

What was he waiting for? He trembled in place. It was always better to stay and accept his punishment than to try and run. Boldly, he peeked out from behind his fingers. A small ‘eep!’ Escaped him when he saw the blaster still hanging in front of him, energy rolling in its jaws. Above the din, he was just able to make out the sound of footsteps.

He covered his eyes once more, Boss was definitely going to dust him. Apologies spilled from his mouth, broken and slurred but the appropriate amount of sorry. He heard more than saw the blaster move back, energy not yet dissipating. The sound of clothing rustling in front of him pushed him farther back into the wall, pleas increasing in speed while decreasing in coherency.

“You…” sans tried to quickly make his peace with dying. Boss sounded furious, his normally gravelly voice deeper and smoother, belying the rage sans knew simmered below. A boney hand gripped his own, hold just shy of too painful. It tugged at his hand, slowly prying it away from his face, “look at me you piece of shit.”

Trembling, he raised his eye lights to peer up at the other.

“You-”

“PAPY! ARE YOU- OH! SANS! YOU'RE HERE TOO!” Noticing the threatening aura around his brother, he had to step in, “PAPY, NO! LEAVE HIM ALONE! CAN'T YOU SEE HE'S ALREADY SCARED?”

“Sans! you're okay!” He dropped the smaller skeletons hand like it was on fire and ran to his brother.

“OF COURSE I'M FINE! NOW PUT THAT THING AWAY!” He waved a hand angrily at the blaster that had begun aimlessly drifting about the room.

“But bro! he kil-could be dangerous!” The blaster snapped back to attention, renewing sans’s trembling.

“DANGEROUS? HE COULDN'T HURT A FLY LIKE THIS! PAPY, JUST LOOK AT HIM!” Their voices rose in volume making him light-headed. This floaty feeling was nice, but he couldn’t feel his hands so well anymore and that was extremely inconvenient at a time like this.

“Looks can be deceiving, bro.”

“WELL HE'S NOT! HE'S MY FRIEND!” He gently placed a gloved hand on the others skull. “ARE YOU OKAY, FRIEND?”

“Don't touch him!” Before sans could muster the courage to respond, his overtaxed body gave out and he returned to the darkness.

Chapter Text

Sans flinched when the skull dropped out from under his hand.

“OH NO! PAPY! HONESTLY! WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN?” He huffed as he carefully picked up the cracked and marrow-stained skeleton. Hardly sparing his brother a glance, he carried sans to his own bedroom. He ignored the shuffling behind him as he set him on the bed. “DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT TOUCHING HIM!” He scolded as he ran out to grab the first aid kit.

Papyrus was only a few steps into the room when he got back and sans was still sleeping so he felt it safe to assume nothing had happened. Carefully, he moved past the splintered leg and pushed up the others shirt, snapped and battered ribs greeting him. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Papyrus turning away and decided to take pity on him.

“YOU KNOW, I AM REALLY GLAD YOU ARE HERE THIS TIME, PAPY.” He smiled warmly as he cleaned and wrapped what he could. The other hadn’t let him touch his ribs previously and now he was left wondering how he had been able to do everything he had.

“What do you mean ‘this time’?” He shifted uncomfortably, dread creeping up his spine.

“I...WHEN SANS FIRST GOT HERE...HE...UM…” He found himself stopping to think. He had just arrived and all he did was panic and pass out, so why did he have the feeling he had done something terrible? Seeing the conflicted look on his brothers face, Papyrus tried prompting him.

“Did he do something last time?” If he asked him directly, knowing Sans, there was a chance he would answer without thinking.

“WELL, HE DIDN'T MEAN TO, HE APOLOGIZED LATER!” He wanted to be as honest as possible but he also didn't want to tell such a terrible truth...Or what he thought to be the truth. He wasn’t so sure anymore.

“Oh yeah? what was it that he did?” He prompted again. He felt like a bit of an asshole grilling his bro on something he clearly didn’t want to talk about, but for some reason he felt the need to hear it.

“.....I NEED SOMETHING FROM DOWNSTAIRS!” He squeaked out and bolted out of the room. Papyrus sighed heavily as he spared another glance at the prone skeleton on the bed before following his sibling. He had been hoping he wouldn’t need to have this talk with Sans for a while longer.

 

--

 

“SO...ALL OF THAT WAS REAL? YOU DYING? THE HUMAN? THE LAB? DYING IN JUDGEMENT HALL? IT ALL HAPPENED AND WAS...RESET?” Sans tried to confirm the fragmented images in his head that were, indeed, memories.

“Yeah...look, bro. i’m really sorry. you weren’t supposed to know. you’ve never remembered before...just...of all things to remember, it had to be a bad run…” He trailed off, mostly mumbling to himself by the end.

“UHM. OKAY. RIGHT.” Sans wasn’t sure whether he should feel reassured that the conflicting memories were considered normal in this situation, or horrified that any of it had happened in the first place, “LIKE I SAID, PAPY, HE APOLOGISED FOR IT AND HE PROTECTED ME ALL THE WAY UNTIL THE END!” At least there had been some good out of what happened, he had gotten a new friend.

“Uh, yeah, doesn’t matter bro, he still killed me,” He had only been saying hello when he had been so thoroughly blasted, “and you still died. doesn’t sound like he did a very good job protecting you.” His hands patted at his hoodie pockets and, disappointingly, found no smokes.

“HE DIED TAKING AN ATTACK MEANT FOR ME! HOW IS THAT NOT- NO, YOU KNOW WHAT? NEVERMIND. IT DOESN’T MATTER NOW. THAT ALL WAS A THING THAT HAPPENED BUT HERE AND NOW IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. HERE AND NOW, MY FRIEND IS UPSTAIRS, HURT, AND IN NEED OF MY ASSISTANCE!” He eye lights sparkled, he always felt good when he could help someone, though the circumstances were not ideal.

“Why is he hurt anyway, he like...just got here,” Papyrus tried to play disinterested, but Sans’s skull whipped around so quickly to face him, he knew his ploy had failed.

“HIS...PAPYRUS...IS NOT A VERY GOOD BROTHER…” Before Papyrus could pursue the topic any further, Sans started again, “PAPY? WHY DO I REMEMBER ANYWAY? YOU SAID THAT I’VE NEVER REMEMBERED BEFORE...HOW MANY TIMES HAS THIS HAPPENED?”

Papyrus started to sweat.

“Uh, a few times. not always so bad. usually not bad...we almost made it to the surface once. don’t know what happened there…”

“BUT WHY DO I REMEMBER NOW?”

“‘s pro’lly cuz of m-me…” The two in the kitchen were shocked to see the other sans also downstairs, weight shifted onto his good leg as he leaned against the doorway.

“SANS! WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP! YOU SHOULD BE RESTING! I DIDN’T EVEN GET TO WRAP UP YOUR LEG YET!” He scolded the other gently as he helped him move to a chair, making sure he was securely resting in it before grabbing the supplies he had been gathering before Papyrus had stopped him to talk. “HONESTLY, DO YOU WANT IT TO HEAL INCORRECTLY? HOW DID YOU EVEN MAKE IT DOWNSTAIRS LIKE THIS?”

“i’ve had worse,” He shrugged. Yeah, it hurt like hell but when the sound of loud voices discussing resets had hit his ears, he had made his way downstairs as quickly as he could. Which was actually quite slowly given the condition of his leg.

“What do you mean it’s because of you?” Papyrus interrupted. You can’t just drop a bomb like that then leave everyone hanging. sans jumped, eye lights flickering under Papyrus’s scrutiny.

“uh...well..i mean...i was n-never uh, here. y’know...before...so pro’lly...he c-can rememb-ber cuz i’m here…?” At Papyrus’s blank glare, he stuttered on, “like...i’mma s-sans who re...remembers ‘n’ he’s not so, uh, like...the m-mulitva-. m-m-multiverse,” His brain spun a bit as he tried to vocalize his theory as it was being theorized, “hum...l-like there's only one s-sans to a univ- universe b-but now there's two...s-so…” sans hunched in on himself when Papyrus picked up where he trailed off.

“So the universe doesn’t recognize the presence of two Sanses and instead is treating you two as though you were the same person? maybe. but why? to maintain some weird sort of balance?” He paused as he thought a bit more, “anyways, like you said, here Sans didn't remember, i did. so why do both of you remember now?” Papyrus’s glare was stifling.

“h-hey, man, i dunno...just tryin’a think of somethin’...” He cried out when Sans took advantage of his distraction to re-set his leg with a soft apology. Papyrus patted down his shorts, finding a pack of cigarettes and a lighter sitting inside.

“You know what? whatever. you!” He jabbed a finger at the sans cringing in his seat, “you hurt my brother...you even touch him and you will wish i was your Papyrus.” He leveled the other with a hard stare before disappearing from existence, leaving behind the two Sanses, one frightened, one disappointed.

 

 

Chapter Text

It had happened again. The supply shipment from the capital had been attacked not far from the edge of the city and while the culprits had been caught, the damage to the carts carrying the supplies had been terrible. Of the twenty-three carts that had been sent out, eight of them were damaged beyond repair and a further nine required more expertise than the capital could spare, leaving only six carts capable of delivering supplies to the rest of the Underground.

Snowdin, being farthest away, was always the last to receive any supplies, and with this setback, the next full shipment of supplies wasn't due to arrive for at least another month. In light of this famine, shopkeepers had raised their prices to exorbitant amounts for the smallest item. Boss had been lucky he had been able to get the small amount he did. sans thanked his lucky stars that mustard always seemed to be in high supply, others unwilling to resort to drinking condiments to survive. All the better for him, then.

Boss had returned that evening with a small plastic bag with a few limp vegetables in it. After sealing them securely in the refrigerator with a warning to NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT TOUCHING MY FOOD he stormed out of the house to hand off his report to the next Guardsman.

Two episodes of Metaton’s latest drama later, sans felt his soul pang in hunger and meandered into the kitchen. If he remembered correctly, there were still a few bottles of mustard, he just needed to ration them out carefully. He quickly took stock, mentally rationing the two and a half bottles to last as long as possible when he noticed that Boss had left the vegetables sitting directly under the cooling unit. They'd probably freeze over by the time he came back.

He could've left them. He could've said fuck it and pretended he never saw it. But instead he had to be a good fucking brother and move them to the fucking crisper drawer. As he reached for them, a small yip drew his attention behind him. By the time he had turned back around, the damage had been done. Annoying Dog stood behind him, bag of vegetables hanging from his mouth.

“noooo no no nonononono...hey, c-c’mon you stupid pooch. give those back!” The dog yipped again as it approached him, bag slowly tearing around its fangs, “y-yeah, that's a good...that's a good boy. J-just hand’em over…” He stretched out a hand, bag almost within reach when the front door slammed open, making both the dog and sans jump. Mournfully, sans watched the vegetables tumble to the floor, Annoying Dog vanishing back to wherever he lived when he wasn't ruining sans’s life.

Hastily, sans tried to gather the food and get it back in its bag, but the bag had been thoroughly shredded.

It wasn't difficult to see how Boss had reached the conclusion he had. His worthless, piece of shit older brother cowering on the floor, hands full of vegetables that had been explicitly declared not his.

“h-hey B-Boss...uh...this uh, this isn’ what it...what it l-looks like?” He tried. He was unsurprised when he was suddenly picked up by the hood of his coat. He was surprised, however, when he promptly slid out of the unzipped coat and crashed back to the ground. Dazed, his eye lights drifted back up, settling on Boss’s teeth.

“REALLY, DEAR BROTHER?” He drawled, “YOU WOULD STEAL FOOD RIGHT OUT OF YOUR PRECIOUS BABY BROTHER'S MOUTH?” He nearly spat, “WHY, I THOUGHT YOU CARED FOR ME.”

“B-Boss, n-no! it’s not...it’s n-not like that! i swear! it’s no-ACK,” His protests were cut off as he was lifted into the air once again.

“OF COURSE NOT,” He stormed out of the kitchen and to the front door, “BECAUSE YOU HAVE ONLY EVER HAD MY BEST INTERESTS AT HEART,” He snarled as he hauled the smaller skeleton into the darkness. Sans made no attempt to defend himself, eye lights dim.

The rest of the short walk was silent save for the crunch of the snow beneath Boss’s boots. Once reaching the shed door, Boss pulled a hefty ring of keys from his belt. He closed the door securely behind them and unlocked the cell door around the corner.

“NOT ONLY DID YOU TRY TO STEAL FROM ME, BUT YOU REFUSE TO ADMIT IT. HAVE YOU ANYTHING TO SAY FOR YOURSELF, WHELP?” He tossed sans into the cell, watching as his skull cracked against the cement floor.

“B-Boss...i- i didn’ do n-nuthin’! The- it was the-” The clang of the cell door slamming shut reverberated in his skull, amplifying the headache pulsing around the new cracks.

“EVEN HAVING GIVEN YOU THIS OPPORTUNITY TO REDEEM YOURSELF YOU STILL CHOOSE TO LIE TO ME?” He shook his head as though disappointed as he locked the cell, “SEEMS YOU NEED TO COOL DOWN. A NIGHT IN HERE SHOULD SUFFICE,” He acknowledged the dial on the nearby wall, “MAYBE WE CAN LOOSEN THAT TONGUE WHILE WE’RE AT IT.” sans flinched as he reached for the dial.

“B-Boss! N-no! Please!” He gathered his wits as best he could and threw himself against the bars. Skeletons were only held together by magic. The magic suppressors in the cell were typically set at a sensitivity relatively safe for all monsters to handle, but if that sensitivity was turned up? Especially on a monster composed of as much magic as he was...He really didn’t want to know what could happen, “i s-swear, b-bro, i didn’- i wouldn’-”

Boss’s eyes turned dangerous. He turned to the dial and made a show of rotating the knob, adjusting the sensitivity in one smooth motion. Sans felt the effects almost instantly. It wasn’t quite painful, but it certainly was the strangest thing he had ever felt. Normally he never thought about the magic holding his bones together, but when it was pushed back and caged within his body? He collapsed to the floor almost immediately, bones clattering against each other. He couldn’t move, nothing would respond. The solid joints he once had were made of jelly now, soft and entirely incapable of bearing any amount of weight. His entire everything felt slow. He imagined himself as molasses in a squeeze bottle, the amount of effort required far outweighed the benefit of trying.

A thin wheeze left his throat as he tried to call out to Boss, who merely regarded him.

“SWEET DREAMS, BROTHER,” He turned the dial one more click and the world went dark and silent. And cold. Of all the sensations left in his motionless body, it had to be the cold. He lay, a pile of bones, for hours, unable to shake the disconcerting feeling of his own unresponsive body, the blinding darkness even though he knew there would be ambient light from outside, the utter silence when he knew a snowstorm had been blowing in and all without protection from the biting cold.

All at once, like snapping a rubber band, everything returned. In one blinding flash of sound, color, pain, his body was his own. And it was burning. It burned so coldly and there was such a noise! It needed to stop, it hurt his ears! As his body shut down once again, the noise stopped. Oh, it was me . Firey, magic backlash burned and a soothing, frigid nap called to him, and then there was only darkness.

 

Sans’s eyes snapped open, breathing erratic. He hadn’t dreamt of his first time in the shed in a long time. Roughly, he dragged a fist over his eye sockets, letting the harsh grind keep him awake.

He actually didn’t remember much of what happened after Boss had re-set the dial, only that Boss had definitely not tried to ease the release of his magic. He had woken up again later in his own room, extremely sore and with an upside-down femur. Needless to say, he had been very confused and unsure of how to fix his own leg. Not that it had mattered, he couldn’t really move anyhow. It took time, but eventually he had recovered enough magic for the bone to spin itself back into place. Now that was an odd feeling. It was a solid two days before he was able to move painlessly and another before it became effortless.

Boss didn’t speak to him for a week after that, not even to issue orders.

Sans decided he didn’t like the quiet.

A shout from downstairs drew his attention. That’s right, the other Sans and Papyrus...He was still here with them...He needed to...Do something to help.

He managed to stumble to the door, leg threatening to give out with each step. It felt like an eternity but was actually mere minutes before he made it downstairs.


“BUT WHY DO I REMEMBER NOW?”

“‘s pro’lly cuz of m-me…”

Chapter Text

“...I’M SO SORRY ABOUT HIM, I'LL TALK TO HIM AFTER HE'S COOLED DOWN A BIT…”

“don’ worry ‘bout it...i mean, i did k-kill him...i'd be pretty p-pissed too…”

Sans didn't respond, instead focusing on cleaning and wrapping the others injuries. Was it just his imagination or did they look just as bad as when he had first helped him? But he swore he had seen them heal at least a little…

“SO...ANY IDEA WHY YOU'RE STILL HURT? I WASN'T ABLE TO COMPLETELY HEAL YOU, BUT I KNOW AT LEAST SOME OF THIS WAS...GONE,” He tilted his head up to see the others reaction, or lack thereof. sans simply shrugged.

“i’unno...don’ make a habit’a h-hanging ‘round other universes fer resets…” His shark grin twisted to something vaguely resembling a sarcastic smile. That kind of face didn't suit him, Sans decided.

“WELL, THIS TIME, I WILL PROPERLY TAKE CARE OF ALL OF YOUR INJURIES! OH...WE PROBABLY SHOULD'VE GOTTEN YOU CLEANED UP FIRST…” He laughed lightly as he gently scrubbed at a stubborn patch of marrow. sans snorted, seemed like soon he would be in for a bath time.

“later, doc. ‘m ok.” His stomach chose that moment to let out a strange, creaking wail, “err…”

Sans barked with laughter, “GIVE ME A MOMENT TO FINISH THIS UP AND I'LL MAKE SOME TACOS, ‘KAY?” He hummed a nonsensical tune as he finished wrapping the limb, “THERE YOU GO! ALL BETTER...PROBABLY…”

“k-kid, i told ya, ‘m fine! go make yer tapo’s ‘n’ shit,” He gently shoved the other toward the refrigerator, choosing to stay in the kitchen to hopefully minimize the chance of a confrontation with Bo- Papyrus.

“THEY'RE CALLED TACOS!!” The other admonished, a fond grin settling over his features.

 

An easy silence fell between the two of them, only the sounds of cookware clattering and meat sizzling filling the air. sans found himself relaxed enough that he had started dozing, skull pillowed on his not yet bandaged arms. He watched the other work from the corner of his eye socket, watched the way he bounced back and forth between the refrigerator, the counter, the stove, skipping occasionally. He had seemed to be close to completely losing it during the last run, but he seemed to be doing a lot better now. Maybe it was due to the odd disconnected feeling he himself got when remembering past timelines. Like it had happened but the memory was so distant it was hard to relate to anymore. Maybe it was the same for Sans…

He was woken up suddenly by the others loud voice.

“IT'S ALMOST READY, SO GO WASH UP! NO DIRTY HANDS AT THE TABLE!”

He looked down at his hands and arms, the mixture of marrow and dust still caked on his body from an event that had probably only happened a few hours ago, if he were so inclined to try to talk about time in a more linear fashion. No wonder sans had to really scrub it off, it had practically dried into a clay.

“yeah, yeah. you got a shower or somethin’?”

“NO, NO, NO! I JUST PUT THOSE BANDAGES ON AND I WOULD LIKE THE HEALING MAGIC TO HAVE A CHANCE TO WORK BEFORE YOU RUIN THEM WITH WATER! JUST WASH UP FOR DINNER, SILLY!” Sans flicked a slightly burnt piece of meat in his direction and watched as sans managed to catch it on his tongue. He pulled himself to the door as he chewed through the blackened meat.

“not b-bad, kid. taco’bout good eats!” He dashed away as quickly as he could, stumbling to the bathroom to the sweet sound of Sans's frustrated screeching.

Quickly he realized it would take him forever to wash all the crap off with just his hands.

“hey!” He called back to the kitchen, “you got a rag or somethin’ i c’n use? can’ get this shit off…” He trailed off into grumbles. A few moments later, a rag appeared in his peripherals, “thanks, kid,” Carefully, so as to not drip soapy water all over the floor, he reached for the towel.

“No problem, assface,” Came definitely not Sans's voice. He snatched his hand back, painfully bumping his ribs on the edge of the sink as he moved.

“sh-shit...ya scared the c-crap outta me, man!” Valiantly, he tried to push down his panic. See this is exactly why he had wanted to stay in the kitchen, away from this...not-Boss!

“Whatever, murderer,” He thrust the towel at sans, impassively watching him fumble to catch it, “Wash up, we needta have a little talk,”

Cautiously, sans took the cloth to his arms, confused but wary.

“What's your plan? You gonna wait and kill us in our sleep?” He drawled, pinprick eye lights locked on to sans’s face, “Oh wait, you already did that. What's next then?” His looming presence pressed him down, words sticking in his throat.

“i-i no! i didn't mean ta… it was- it was an acc-accident! 'm s-sorry! really!” Was it his imagination or was it difficult to sound sincere when you were trying to wash your hands? Was washing his hands off really taking so much of his energy that he couldn’t even properly present his own emotions? He felt like he didn't sound right. He was trying to be sincere, damnit. The other snorted.

“Yeah, sure. Like i'd buy that,” He could feel the warmth of the other through his shirt. When had he gotten so close? Was he trying to squeeze himself into the tiny bathroom with him? His proximity was stifling. The marrow had started coming off, he absently noted, “What are you doing here? What do you want?”

“n-nothing! i jus’ wanna...i jus’ wanna get back t-to my own universe!” He managed not to cry out as he struck a particularly mutilated patch of arm. The taller skeleton stared down at him, face unreadable.

“You wanna go home, huh? Good, because we don't want someone like you here. There's a machine in the basement, though you probably knew that. Fix it and get out,” He turned and stalked out of the small room, leaving sans’s legs feeling like jelly.

The marrow was mostly gone, it was probably okay to go back to the kitchen. He slid to his knees. Hands still clutching the edge of the sink, he rested his skull on the cool wood. Man, and to think he had genuinely felt remorse for killing this guy. Sans had made him sound amazing but he was just a total asshole! Water rolled down his arms, snapping him out of his thoughts. Reluctantly, he made his way back to the kitchen, appetite, and good mood, both mysteriously gone.

Chapter Text

A few days passed in awkward quiet, Sans the only one willing to speak with both of the other skeletons. No one emerged from the Ruins, so Papyrus figured the little human must have been getting cozy with Asgore and probably wouldn’t kill everyone. Despite his remarks a few days prior, Papyrus did not notice the other Sans ever go to work on the machine. He had kind of assumed the monster would know what to do with it, and now he was wondering if maybe the others’ Papyrus was the smarter one after all.

Papyrus finally sat up in his bed, stretching to realign his joints with a series of loud cracks. sans number two should be awake soon, and he wanted to be there to keep an eye on him. Murderers can’t change, wasn’t the kid proof enough?

Downstairs, sans woke up on the floor, skull wedged uncomfortably under the edge of the sofa. How on earth…? It hadn’t been the strangest place to wake up, but he had been certain he’d been on the couch when he fell asleep. He blearily blinked, trying to clear the static from his mind. What had he been dreaming about? It had been…not his usual fare.

“Finally figured out where you belong, shithead?” The voice jostled him from his thoughts and he sprung to his feet, face tinted red. He was interrupted before he could even open his mouth.

“PAPY! LANGUAGE! ALSO, SANS IS A GUEST! BE POLITE! GOLLY, I THOUGHT I RAISED YOU BETTER!” He scolded from the kitchen doorway, one hand on his hip, the other shaking a greasy wooden spoon at his brother. Was he making tacos again?

“Pretty sure i’m the older brother, bro,” He swept past them both and entered the kitchen. sans tugged anxiously on his collar as Sans vanished back inside, grumbling something too lowly for him to make out. He had already apologized, what else could he do to possibly make up for something that had kind of never happened? He cautiously made his way to the kitchen and lingered in the doorway, watching the other Sans bustle about. It was a long moment before either skeleton brother spotted him.

“OH! RED! THERE YOU ARE! WELL, COME ON IN! HAVE A SEAT!” He gestured enthusiastically to the table, where Papyrus was suckling from a honey bottle. sans moved to follow his direction and sat down in the seat across from Papyrus before he had really registered what was said. He looked to ask, but Sans had already gone back to plating the food. He shrugged and averted his eyes, focusing on a scratch mark on the surface of the scrubbed-clean table. What could have caused that? Had they found it this way in the dump? Had something heavy sat there and damaged it?

“THERE YA GO, RED!” The plate clinked loudly against the wooden surface, startling him back to awareness.

“uh…thanks…” He heard a scoff from the other end of the table and felt a sudden rage well up in his soul, “it’s called bein’ polite, ya asshole! ya should t-try it sometime!” His fury quickly died down, mild panic replacing it. Shit, why couldn’t he just keep his big mouth shut!

“LANGUAGE, RED!” For some reason he was still holding the wooden spoon, waving it around as he scolded sans.

“Yeah, language, red,” Papyrus mimicked. Was Sans just gonna stand there and take this shit? His eye lights flew to the other, who looked annoyed but not entirely surprised.

“PAPY, HE’S OUR GUEST AND YOU KNOW BETTER!” He set down the last plate and took his own seat, “ANYWAY, RED, I WAS THINKING I COULD GIVE YOU A PROPER TOUR OF SNOWDIN TODAY! LAST TIME WASN’T REALLY…WELL…”

Red found himself nodding, it really hadn’t been the best time for sightseeing.

“Snowdin ain’ new to me, though…” The magic burning in Papyrus’s eye stopped him from continuing, though Sans didn’t seem to notice.

“WELL, YOU KNOW YOUR SNOWDIN, AND WE KNOW YOUR SNOWDIN IS DIFFERENT THAN OURS! THEREFORE, YOU SHOULD GET TO KNOW THIS SNOWDIN TOO!” He took a pause to eat some taco, “AND EVEN IF THEY’RE SIMILAR, THEY’RE DIFFERENT ENOUGH THAT YOU COULD GET LOST OR GO THE WRONG WAY AGAIN, SO REALLY IT’S FOR THE BEST!” He beamed. Papyrus snickered as Red colored at the reminder of his disorientation last time. Maybe a tour was a good idea.

He grumbled his agreement, shoving a taco in his mouth to halt any further attempts at communication. The meal ended in awkward silence. Sans bustled about afterward, quickly washing and drying the dishes before ushering Red to the front door.

“WE CAN TAKE A LOOK AROUND SNOWDIN AND RECALIBRATE MY PUZZLES AFTER!” He nearly toppled over in excitement as he tugged his boot on. Red shrugged, it wasn’t like he had any plans.

“I think i’ll join you two,” Papyrus piped up from behind them, “make sure you don’t get into snowtrouble,” His eyelights settled on Red even as a warm smile lit up his face. Red shuddered.

“OKAY, BUT BE NICE, PAPY!!”

The brief tour would have almost been enjoyable had it not been for the large skeleton looming over him from behind, observing and judging his every move. Which, honestly, wasn’t entirely a strange feeling to him, his own brother had done similar often enough, but he really could’ve done without it. He learned a lot about this universe’s residents as they slowly wound their way through the town center, approaching the outskirts.

Sans had quieted down now as they walked, occasionally meandering off the path to a puzzle he had set up near by. The puzzles were all very well…maintained…though their difficulty level…Well, they were ingeniously designed, at least, even if Red didn’t find them particularly difficult to figure out. It seemed they were designed to stall a human, not necessarily detain or maim or kill them, Sans explained as he worked. The puzzles needed to be fair, he insisted.

Red recognized the path toward his sentry station. They had looked a bit different after all, he idly noted. It was probably a good thing he had the other Sans here, he obviously couldn’t rely on the landmarks his own universe offered.

It was after the made it to the sentry station and decided to take a break that the trip took a turn. Sans explained how this was Papy’s station or, at least, one of them as Red examined the worn wood under his fingertips. The station was old, but obviously well-cared for, lacking the gouges and molding bits his own had. Under the counter was a small army of empty honey bears, an almost adorable image compared to his own pile of mustard bottles.

As Sans prattled on about…something…Red tuned him out. He thought he heard something. Something from the forest behind them. He felt his body tense, his magic coiled inside him, ready for use. The magic rushed to his eye, though he quickly pushed it back and masked it, long since mastering this little trick that had kept him hidden and probably saved his life multiple times.

Stretch shifted behind them, mumbling something to his brother that Red didn’t bother listening to. He heard another crunch in the forest and readied himself for a confrontation.

“Do you smell that my darling?”

“(Smells like bones.)”

“Smells like fun.”

“(Smells like Sans and Papyrus!)”

Two excited voices burst out of the forest, nearly bowling Red over. Quickly, he summoned a large femur to his hand, poised and ready to attack or defend, whichever the encounter called for.

“Put that away, ass wipe,” Papyrus’s voice next to him made him jump, “It’s just Dogamy and Dogaressa,” He strolled over to where Sans was petting the dogs quite vigorously, excited chatter filling the air. Red felt his jaw drop and he lowered his weapon, carrying it loosely in case he did need it.

“AND THIS IS OUR FRIEND, RED! HE’S STAYING WITH US FOR A WHILE!” Sans beamed as he threw a hand out in Red’s direction, bringing the attention to him. He was not okay with that. The last encounter he had with the dog couple had left him in hot water with Boss and eventually got him stuck here! The last thing he wanted was to become the chew toy of that sappy smoochy dog couple in some alternate universe!

“Smells like Sans…”

“(But not Sans?)”

“No, he’s scared.”

“(Why is pup scared?)”

Red bristled.

“i ain’ scared! an’ i ain’ no p-pup!” He cursed himself as he stumbled over his words, bone club clenched tightly in his fist. He had tensed up again.

“Whatever, runt. You’re definitely scared,” Red flinched slightly, “And i said put that damn thing away!” He held up the club as though he had never seen it before before quickly dismissing it. He didn’t really want to find out what would happen if he disobeyed.

“PAPY, QUIT BULLYING HIM! I’M SORRY, RED, IT SEEMS AS THOUGH SOMEONE HAS COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN THEIR MANNERS!” Sans sounded genuinely irritated at his brother. The dogs watched on, confusion evident on their faces. Red’s shoulders rose to where his ears would be, instinctively trying to bury himself in the coat he no longer wore when Papyrus turned his attention his way.

“Someone like him doesn’t deserve kindness,” He stated coldly and promptly blipped away, though Red was sure he was still nearby, watching them. He cringed when all the focus was turned back on him.

“uh…i should, uh, should prob’ly get b-back ‘n’ work on th-the machine…” His eye lights had dropped to the snow, pointedly avoiding everyone’s gazes. That was some nice, fluffy snow. Very white. Looked cold. Probably good crunch factor when stepped on, he hadn’t been paying much attention earlier. No one else spoke for so long, Red was sure he had probably melted some of the snow with the intensity of his gaze.

“…ALRIGHT,” Sans’s voice shook slightly, uncertainty coloring his tone, “I…I WILL HAVE A WORD WITH PAPYRUS AFTER I FINISH MY ROUNDS…AND I’LL MAKE SOME SUPER YUMMY TACOS FOR LUNCH! HOW DOES THAT SOUND?” Once again, Red admired the kid and his ability to bounce back, he could never manage something like that.

“…sounds g-great,” He smiled faintly and started walking back, delaying the inevitable as much as possible.

“Is pup going to…” “(…be okay?)”

He was too far away to hear the response.

Chapter Text

The machine was in both better and worse shape than he expected. Upon arriving back at the house, he had been surprised to find the door already unlocked, he knew he had kept his own lab tightly locked, alarms ready to alert him should someone manage to get in. The machine had loomed in the corner, hidden beneath a heavy sheet, completely masking its form.

Pulling the sheet off had rained a cloud of regular, non-monster dust over him, making his eyes water and tickling his nasal cavity. He was sure the sneezes that followed had re-cracked his ribs.

The machine itself was caked over in dust as well, it seemed unlikely that he would be able to actually work on the machine today. A bit of hunting found him some rags and he got to work scrubbing the filth from the hull, the wires, the monitor, and everywhere else.

It took three hours before he was satisfied with how clean the machine was and now he was coated in a layer of grime. He found himself hesitating at the thought of going back in the house to clean up. He wasn't scared of Papyrus, he just wanted to absolutely limit the amount of interaction they had.

What a fucking baby bones, scared of this Papyrus who didn't even do anything to him. He nearly jumped out of his metaphorical skin when the door opened.

“HEY- OH! SORRY! DID I SCA-STARTLE YOU?” He grinned widely when Red shook his head, “OKAY, WELL LUNCH IS READY BUT...MAYBE YOU SHOULD CLEAN UP FIRST?”

“...yeah...wouldn't want the beanpole to think i'd turned to a...life of grime ,” Sans’s squeal of indignant rage was kind of adorable and Red couldn't help the cheeky smile that overtook his face, “see ya inside!” He ported away, leaving the other raging with the machine.

 

--

 

The ensuing lunch was as painfully awkward as every other meal had been, so Red excused himself as soon as he felt it was safe to do so. He found himself back in the lab, the closest thing to a private place he had in this universe. Nearly on automatic, he started taking inventory of what was damaged, what needed replacing, and what needed to be done. And before that all could be done, he needed to clean the inside.

While he wasn't exactly an engineer, or even really a scientist either, not anymore, this kind of work was something he was surprisingly good at. Plus, using his hands like this was oddly cathartic, something he hadn't been able to indulge in for a long while. Not since Boss had begun maintaining his schedule. Unable to find a screwdriver ( Really? How could there just not be one? ) he just used his fingers to pry at the external panels and their screws, which were mostly not too difficult to remove.

Once Boss had gotten it in his head that he could force him to be more productive by controlling his every minute, Red had to kiss his lab time goodbye. Boss could even feel the pull of his teleportation in the middle of the night, something which had earned him quite a few beatings until he caught on. Just a few more panels to go, the screws were getting harder and harder to pull out. They must've really been rusted in.

He needed to hurry up and finish this, the sooner he did, the sooner he could go back to his own universe. No matter what, he couldn't stay here. Regardless of how welcoming the people here may have been, he couldn't fit in here. He couldn't just stay with the skeleton clones, while the little one probably wouldn't be so bad, the bigger one...He ignored the way his bones were starting to clack together in favor of focusing on a particularly stubborn screw.

And besides, how could he just leave Boss there all alone? To just rot in that hell hole of a universe? Sure, Boss didn't really care about him, at least not anymore, but he still had a duty to protect his br-Boss...As if he could really protect anyone. Boss was right, he was weak, he was useless, he was garbage, a waste of space, a nuisance, a stupid mutt that couldn't do anything right and only deserved punishment. Why hadn't Boss dusted him, he could've gotten rid of him so long ago. It would've been for the better, it's not like he would ever amount to anything. His thoughts spiraled as his fingers scrabbled at the screw.

He couldn't get this screw to come out. Geez, he couldn't even do something this simple? He really was an idiot. His fingers pinched at the screw head, quickly sliding off when he failed to grip it. He couldn't feel the screw under his fingers, there should be a cool, metallic feeling, but his hand only reported some pressure and static fuzz.

Why couldn't he feel the screw? ( He was such a screw-up .) Now that he was thinking about it, all of his fingers were feeling numb and static-y. His breath caught in his throat, this was wrong, there should be feeling but there wasn’t feeling…? Real feeling? Not this non-feeling feeling?

He hardly felt his breath quickening, but he certainly felt that he couldn’t feel his palms so well either. A thin whine twisted from his throat as he stumbled backwards. (He was always tripping over himself.)

 

His hands...He couldn’t….

 

He could see them! They were there!

 

He was gasping for air, his hands were there, he could see them! He tried to flex his fingers, but they were nearly unresponsive. Distraught, he collapsed to his knees. The static grew stronger, inching up his wrists and arms with a disconcerting tingle. His upper body tipped forward suddenly and he caught himself on his hands before they gave out beneath him, a sharp pain blossoming in his jaw as he crashed to the floor.

 

Useless.

 

They were useless.

 

( Just like him. )

 

He was heaving so hard he could see the whiteness closing in. His arms wouldn’t move, they couldn’t support him. ( Just like he couldn’t support anyone .)

A small but growing puddle of watery red caught his eye and he was suddenly aware he was sobbing. He was sobbing and heaving and his arms didn’t work and he needed air and he couldn't get it and he was dying dying dying

 

dying

 

d y i n g

 

And he didn’t want to die

 

But he was dying now

 

He should be happy but he really didn't want to die

 

Not again

 

He continued choking on air, one arm awkwardly folded beneath him, the other resting next to his head. Through blurry eyes, he could see the machine, large metal hull looming over him from across the room. He wheezed thinly, voice trapped and smothered by his airless breathing.

 

The tingles were stronger now, it was hard to focus…

Chapter Text

Sans let out an exhausted sigh. He had finished his after-lunch cleaning duties, self-appointed, of course, and was taking a quick break before going to check on Red. He had been really quiet and distant during lunch, not that he blamed him, not with how Papy had been acting. He really hoped he’d be able to get the two to become friends, they seemed like they would get along really well, were the situation not what it was. While he didn’t approve of murder (especially of his brother!), he knew Red didn’t truly mean to kill his brother. It had all been a terrible sort-of accident. Now it was just a matter of convincing Papy of that.

Oh! Maybe he could take Papy with him to go check on Red! It was Papy’s lab, after all, so he must know some things about...lab stuff! Maybe he could help Red with whatever lab thing he needed to work on! They could...bond over their shared (kind of) hobby! He moved to find his brother, plan set in his mind.

“PAPY!!! ARE YOU IN HERE?” He didn’t think he saw him leave but he could’ve taken one of those pesky shortcuts he loved so much.

“Yea? what’s up, bro?”

Sans spun around. Why did he always insist on popping up right behind him, honestly!

“COME WITH ME TO CHECK ON RED?” It wasn’t quite a request, “MAYBE YOU COULD ASSIST HIM WITH WHATEVER HE’S WORKING ON IN THERE?”

“Bro...look, you know how i feel about that bast...basketball head. He got himself into this mess, he can get himself out.”

“BUT PAPY!” He knew using his shiny, star-shaped eye lights was playing dirty, but he really needed to get his brother and his friend to get along! Sure enough, Papyrus’s eyes softened.

“All right, sure bro,” He sighed as though he were going to the gallows. His little bro always could play him like a fiddle. Sans, on the other hand, whooped with joy, happy fists flailing.

“COME ON! LET'S GO RIGHT NOW!” He tugged on his brother's arm. Papyrus chose to walk far too slowly, so Sans let go and raced ahead. In no time, he was outside the door to the lab, pushing it open.

“RED!...RED? ARE YOU IN THERE? WERE COMING DOWN!” He called in the room below before carefully making his way down the stairs. Red didn't answer and he couldn't see him from where he was, so maybe he was out taking a walk or something... Without telling them. That was a bit worrying. He knew that Red wasn't a baby bones, he could do things without their permission...but Sans couldn't help but worry.

 

He scanned the room, eye lights quickly falling on the small, shivering pile of cloth and bones.

 

“SANS!” The name slipped out before he even registered running to the other. Crouching, he could easily tell that the other was, or at least had been, crying, his face a mess of translucent red. While his eyes were open, his sockets were empty. Rapid, shallow pants were punctuated by quiet, heaving sobs. With all the small noises he was making, it was a wonder Sans didn't hear him as he came down the stairs.

“RED? HEY, RED…” When there was no response, he crept forward. Where the heck was Papyrus? “HEY, I'M GOING TO TOUCH YOU, IS- IS THAT OKAY?” He hesitated, waiting for a response. Again, Red was nearly silent and mostly still, only the unconscious twitching of his bones shaking his frame.

Slowly he reached out, gently pressing a finger to Red’s cheek. The other flinched away, whimpers dying down as he seemed to hold his breath.

“UHM….PAPY! HURRY UP! SOMETHING'S WRONG!!” Papy didn't like him, but he must have a better idea of what to do...He hoped, “RED...HEY….ERRR...SANS?” He gently laid a finger on Red’s hand. This earned him a whine, but Red didn’t pull away or flinch this time. Maybe he could just….He gently stroked the shaking bones of his hand with a single finger and tried to lower his, admittedly, boisterous voice.

“HEY, RED….Hey...It’s okay. I don't know what happened but it’s going to be okay!” He continued murmuring to the lump for what felt like ages but was likely less than a minute. Red’s breathing slowly seemed to be settling, “There you go, you got this! I knew you could do it! Do you think you could try looking at me? ...Take your time.”

Finally, he could hear Papyrus’s sneakers clomping down the stairs. He addressed him without turning.

“FINALLY!! PAPY! HURRY UP AND HELP ME! SOMETHING’S WRONG WITH RED!” The dark sockets had begun sparking, not unlike a dying lighter, as they tried to reignite, “Yeah, just like that. You’re doing great!” Sans encouraged. Papyrus stopped next to his brother, bending at the waist to get a slightly better view.

“Sorry, bro, had to take a quick smoke break. So, um, hate to be blunt , but what’s wrong with him?” He gestured with a foot as he examined the pile of bones in front of him.

“I DON’T KNOW! THAT’S WHY I WANTED YOU TO HURRY UP!” He puffed out his cheeks in indignation, “WHEN I CAME IN, HE WAS SHAKING AND CRYING REALLY QUIETLY BUT I DON’T THINK HE KNOWS I’M HERE!” By the end of the sentence, worried tears had gathered in his sockets..

“Kinda sounds like a panic attack, bro,” He noticed that the others eye lights were almost fully formed and the shaking was lessening. It was probably almost over, he’d probably slide back into awareness soon enough. He squatted down to get a better look.

“BUT WHAT WOULD HE BE PANICKING ABOUT? HE WAS DOWN HERE ALONE!” He rubbed the other's hand more vigorously, wishing he would snap out of it.

“Dunno, what do murderers usually panic about?” A single, hazy eye light focused on his face and there was a flurry of movement and sound. A loud wail slipped out from Red’s clenched teeth as he pulled away from the brothers.

“s-sorry B-Boss...i didn’- didn’- s-so s-sorry ‘s lou- t-too loud ‘n’ i...p-ple-eas-se,” His eye lights, which had been glued to Papyrus's face, fell to the floor. As much as a skeleton could, he paled at the red residue left on the floor, “i didn’...s’rry...m-made a mess...don’-don’ p-please,” As a different panic gripped his soul, the skeleton brothers had more and more trouble deciphering his stuttered and slurred speech.

“HEY, R-, I MEAN, SANS, IT'S OKAY. YOU'RE FINE! THIS WON'T TAKE TWO SECONDS TO CLEAN UP! LET'S TRY TO CALM DOWN, OK?” Red seemed to panic more at his voice.


“s’rry...p-plea-ease….d-don’... n-no m-more p-please...B-Bo-oss… d-don’ wa-wa-wanna,” His pleas continued to deteriorate in coherency, but Papyrus heard the desperate Please don't hurt me as though the sentence had been spoken directly into his ear. He stumbled back a few steps, a sick feeling washing over him before he vanished.

Chapter Text

Papyrus didn't quite understand why he couldn't kill the little shit. Objectively he knew killing was bad, of course, but this bastard had not only outright killed him but, more importantly, he had gotten his precious baby bro killed as well! If he was really the nice guy that Sans was trying to make him out to be, why couldn't he do something as simple as not letting a human kill his brother? ( Not that he had ever done any better… )

So for that reason alone, this cheap imitation sans didn't deserve the love and attention his brother seemed to lavish on him. Unfortunately, his brother seemed to have one heck of a soft spot for the cracked skeleton, so to avoid the wrath of his baby brother, he held himself back. ( But when his brother wasn't around… )

Now, though, he was chain-smoking his way through his last pack of cigarettes, the red sans’s pleading cries ringing in his ears, his cowering, shuddering form burned into his memory.

What do murderers usually panic about?

It seemed like possibly this murderer really had something worth panicking about. Something, or someone, that wasn't him. But also was him, in a convoluted way. Moments ago, he had seemed almost okay, except for the fact that he was curled up on the floor in the basement of an alternate universe's version of his house coming down from one hell of a panic attack.

Then he had looked up. He had spotted Papyrus looming over him and he had been instantly overwhelmed, claws scrabbling against the cement, pushing himself close to the wall behind him, never once taking his eyes off the threat. Not until the threat looked back, at least. Just the sight of him had sent the other into a blind panic. Sans trying to soothe him had only made it worse.

Please don't hurt me.

Yeah, he hadn't been the most welcoming and yeah, he did kind of threaten to kill him at first, but he must know that he probably wouldn't actually kill him...Or hurt him...Probably. He had chilled out a little bit after his initial knee-jerk reaction and he hadn’t actually attacked him since. They had even been alone together a few times, so he must know he probably wouldn’t actually do anything, right? Because Sans would be upset, he wouldn't do it and this other skeleton must know that, right?

Right?

It would probably be best to have another conversation about it. The other sans needed to know his place in this family, and it was not as a family member. But that didn’t mean he was just going to attack him unprovoked.

What did murderers have to panic about anyway? What was that guy seeing in his twitchy, scratched up skull?

HIS...PAPYRUS...IS NOT A VERY GOOD BROTHER…

He remembered his brother saying it, but he had quickly dismissed it in favor of avoiding the rest of his brothers questions, only dredging up the knowledge when it was convenient to him; to help threaten the other. But now he wondered…

What exactly had he meant by not a good brother? He had assumed they fought a lot or something dysfunctional but not necessarily the most worrying...But now...

His fingers groped in the package for another cigarette only to come up empty. He brought it up to his face for visual confirmation, yep, still empty. Now annoyed, he tossed it off to the side and pulled a sucker out of his pocket. He'd have to get some more of he wanted to continue ruminating in his thoughts like this.

Sucker in mouth, he ported downstairs. The sight of the strange skeleton wrapped in the blanket from their sofa surprised him, he hadn't heard them come in. He tried to tiptoe past the sleeping skeleton, but a hand on his arm stopped him.

“PAPY.” His brother's voice was hushed, anger playing across his features, “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”

“Heh...just gotta stop at the shop, bro. be right back…” He tried to wiggle out of his brothers surprisingly firm grip.

“WHY DID YOU LEAVE?” His eye lights drifted to the unmoving lump of blanket and bone.

“...” He shrugged, was it even possible for there to be a good reason? “Jus’...needed some air...that was kinda...intense…”

“YES, IT WAS, BROTHER! AND YOU LEFT ME TO DEAL WITH IT ON MY OWN! LUCKILY HE WORE HIMSELF OUT CRYING AND FELL ASLEEP SO I WAS ABLE TO BRING HIM BACK INSIDE, NO THANKS TO YOU!” Shit, he seemed maybe genuinely upset.

“...Sorry, bro...so...uh, how’s he, uh, doin’ anyway?” Sans's eye lights bored into his brother's face, barely concealed suspicion oozing off him. He couldn't look his little brother in the face, not right now. He shifted his gaze down to the hand on his arm.

“...HE SEEMS AS OKAY AS ONE COULD BE AFTER AN ORDEAL LIKE THAT,” The intense pressure moved off of him as Sans turned to look at Red, an action Papyrus felt obligated to mirror. Only the top of his cracked skull peeking out of the blanket was visible from this angle. He was unmoving, deeply asleep, most likely, and completely cocooned in the old blanket.

“...Huh. yeah…” He actively stopped his wandering hand from searching for the pack of cigarettes he no longer had, “look...i don't really know what happened last run...but you two must've gotten close…? so...uh…” He still couldn't bring himself to truly forgive the other skeleton. He felt bad, but…

He had still let his baby brother die, and that was still unforgivable in his mind.

But…

Maybe Red wasn't as bad as he had been making him out to be. He wasn't wrong, he was still terrible, but...maybe not...so much?

Sans studied his face, and, for once, Papyrus couldn't read what his brother was thinking. The hold on his arm softened.

“WHAT IS IT, PAPY?” He felt the orange blush of shame spread across his face.

“I really need a smoke!” Was not what he meant to say as he tugged his arm back and shuffled to the door, “...sorry, bro.”

“I KNOW, PAPY, BUT I THINK SOMEONE ELSE WOULD BENEFIT MORE FROM HEARING THAT,”

Shamefaced, he nodded once, curtly, and ported away.

Chapter Text

Sans returned to the kitchen after his brother left, someone had to take care of all these tacos he had made that no one ate. Sealing them up, he put them in the fridge, leaving the dishes in the sink to deal with later. Luckily, he had no more duties for the rest of the evening, unlike Papy who definitely was going to skip his own work.

Sans hung his head, a sigh heaving through his entire body. He knew his big brother only wanted what was best for him, but...at the expense of another, it would never be something he could appreciate. Slowly, he dragged himself over to the couch, curling up on the cushion Red’s diminutive frame didn't take up. He stared blankly at the other, taking in the cracks webbing over his skull.

He'd go looking for Papy in a bit, give him a chance to cool down...Or get fired up...Whichever he needed. Maybe he could convince him to come back home before he got too drunk...Or high...Or did something he would regret. He rested his head in his hands.

In some twisted way, this was good, right? Before, Papy would hardly let them be alone together, forget leave the house when he knew they were both there. And he had seemed...Off, in a way. Maybe this terrible event had helped shed light on the situation where Red and himself hadn't or hadn't been able or willing to. Maybe this was a good thing!

He perked up. Yes! This must be a good thing! He should do something to celebrate the first true step of Red and Papy becoming friends! (Or to help Red feel better after that mess...Whichever sounded better at the moment, he supposed.)

He dashed back into the kitchen, the dishes weren't going to do themselves! He wondered if Red liked sweets.

 

--

 

He was literally the worst monster in the world.

He took another long drink from the honey bear as he sat, huddled behind his sentry station. The snow seeping into his clothing wasn't numbing his soul nearly as much as he felt it should be, he could too easily recall exactly how terribly he had been acting recently.

No matter how dumb he tried to make himself out to be sometimes, he knew he was far from it. He was a scientist at heart and the evidence was staring him in the face in a way he was no longer sure the new sans would ever be able to.

If he hadn't made such an ass of himself the past however long it had been, he possibly could have been forgiven for almost killing the other. It wasn't that outrageous of a reaction in his opinion. Now, though...He would really have to work for some measure of forgiveness, wouldn't he? And he loved doing absolutely nothing.

But that wouldn't cut it this time, would it? Who knew how long this guy would be staying here and it seemed like even the resets wouldn't help him out.

For once, he couldn't really afford to be lazy. He was going to have to put a lot of work and a lot of thought into how he proceeded regarding this guy.

He tossed his head back in thought, making it collide painfully with the wooden structure behind him. That wasn’t the only problem he was going to encounter, though, was it.

He couldn’t not notice how much he seemed to scare the other. The very first time, he had thought the disorientation of teleportation had him confused, but the second time? And every time they interacted afterwards? The small skeleton didn’t seem to be seeing him at all. And this panic attack was the final nail in the metaphorical coffin. Just the sight of his face had set him off. His face was the same as the one that had hurt him, he had seen his injuries when he arrived. And this time, he had just been there and...He had really thought he was going to hurt him and wasn’t it fucked up that he hadn’t done anything the whole time he was here which would have made him think otherwise?

The bottle of honey was now disappointingly empty, it’s body cast aside to join the ranks of the bears beneath the sentry station. He needed….He needed to go back home. He needed to fix this...He also needed more smokes. He pulled himself to his feet. He would walk and as he walked, he would think and maybe by the time he returned home, he’d have some vague idea what to do.

 

--

 

The clink and the clatter of dishes from the kitchen wasn’t what woke Red up, but the quiet domesticity of it slowly lulled him back to awareness. He was so tired, it was like whatever energy he usually had had been sapped out of his body and replaced with lead. He could barely shift more than a few centimeters in any direction, so he gave up. Moving took more energy than he currently had available anyway. Instead, he went back to listening to the noises from the kitchen.

It had to be the other guy in the kitchen, his passion for the culinary arts far exceeded that of anyone else he knew. Not that he knew many people in this universe. That’s right, he wasn’t in his own universe. The Blue guy was really kind and didn’t yell at him and made food, of questionable quality but food nonetheless, and he could eat it whenever he was hungry. The tall one...Well, he wasn’t exactly hospitable, but, despite their rocky first meeting, he hadn’t really done anything to him. Call him a few names, nothing he hadn’t dealt with before, a few threats, again nothing out of the ordinary in his universe. But he was still off-putting somehow.

He suddenly realized that he was really far too hot and started squirming again, hoping to wriggle out of whatever hot thing was holding on to him so tightly. A light giggle came from  where he thought the kitchen was.

“NEED SOME HELP?” The voice laughed. He merely grunted, his suffering was not amusing. The blanket wrapped around him was shifted and tugged until it pulled free from his face and was settled over his legs.

“...thanks, Blue…” He glanced at the others face before shifting his eye lights to the kitchen, “so what’s cookin’?” Blue looked delighted.

“IT’S A SURPRISE! AFTER A TOUGH DAY LIKE TODAY, IT SEEMED BEST IF WE EAT LOTS AND LOTS OF DELICIOUS FOOD, SO I AM PREPARING A BANQUET!” His voice rose the longer he spoke until he was nearly screaming. It would have been cuter had he not just woken up.

“heh. w-well, don’ spread yerself too thin. at feast re-remember to relish yer own cookin’.” Red smirked. Judging by the look on Blue’s face, he still had it. Blue, meanwhile, struggled to keep the annoyed look on his face. He was gladdened to see the other bounce back so quickly, even if it meant he had to listen to some terrible puns.

“AND NO PUNS! WILL BE ALLOWED! AT THE BANQUET!”

“so p-puns are the... forbidden fruit of the evening?”

“THAT’S IT, GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN!” The indignant yell was music to Red’s ears.

“h-hey, we shoul’ taco’bout it firs’!”

“THAT’S IT, YOU ARE TOAST !” Bony little fingers descended from the sky and quickly worked their way into every ticklish crack and crevice, taking Red by surprise. Barking with laughter, he tried to resist the fingers, but they were far too agile for him to escape.

Before long he was crying uncle. Finally given a chance to calm down, he wiped the moisture from his eye sockets and relaxed back into the couch, this time with another skeleton leaning against him.

“...wha’ happened t-to dinner?” He had thought the other was busy.

“IT CAN WAIT.” Blue smiled up at him, content to take a short break. He still needed to go find Papy.

Or not. At that moment, the front door opened with a quiet click.

Chapter Text

The bewildered look on Papyrus's face nearly made Red burst into laughter. He had half entered the house, one hand still on the door knob, the other fiddling with something in his pocket when he froze up, wide eye lights stuck on Red’s face.

“Uh...hey…” He fumbled until the door was shut behind him, standing awkwardly in the entryway as his brother made serious eyes at him, “you're, uh...you're awake. good. that's, uh, good. yeah.” Somewhere in his stumbling he had turned away, the weight of both skeletons stares too much. Blue stood, looking between the two of them before coming to a decision.

“I NEED TO MAKE DINNER SO I WILL LEAVE YOU TWO TO TALK THINGS OUT.” Nothing happened for a long moment after he left. Red’s eye lights flitted between Papyrus and a fascinating stain on the carpet.

Was this really the guy he was so scared of? A few days ago he seemed...Much different, but now he seemed more scared of...him? Previously, it hadn’t seemed to really bother him that Red had killed him, but maybe it was something he felt wary of now? The tall skeleton finally shuffled over, nerves apparently steeled.

“C’n i sit?” He gestured vaguely to the area his brother had vacated. Red shrugged and rearranged the blanket on his lap.

“yer house,” Papyrus gingerly set himself on the couch, leaving a gap the size of the Underground between them. Red didn't acknowledge his presence.

“So, uh...earlier, yeah?” Oh stars this was the worst, “uh...you ok?” Good going, Papyrus, real concerned-like.

“been b-better,” This was a terrible idea, Red would never want to speak with him, forget forgive him.

“Yeah...um so actually i wanted to say something…” He watched the profile of Red’s face, waiting for some kind of reaction. No movement, though he hummed quietly in curiousity.

“Uh, yeah. so thing is...uh. i was a total ass before.” A quiet snort interrupted him, “yeah, i know, ha ha. seriously, that was a shit thing to do. i mean yeah, killing me was totally not cool, man, so, uh, don't do that again but...you uh…”

Damn, he had almost managed to get through everything he planned to say while still sounding laid back, but Red had turned and was looking him directly in the eye lights, sweat beading on his brow. He didn't seem to have any strong feelings towards what he was saying, his wicked grin settled in neutral.

“Uh, yeah. i guess your Papyrus was...uh.” Red had frozen, eye lights constricted into tiny, focused pricks of light.

“don’t.” Okay, so bringing up his brother seemed to be, obviously enough, a delicate topic for the other. Cool. Noted.

“Oh...sorry. well…i mean. not just for. i, uh, oh man,” The orange flush had returned to his face as his apology crashed and burned, exploding into a million teeny tiny embarrassing pieces.

“dude, chill,” Red stifled a laugh. Looking at him now, he wasn’t quite sure how he had mixed this guy up with Boss. His Boss would never lower himself to apologizing to him, “i get it, i k-killed you, other shit ha-happened, whatever,” The silence that fell between them didn’t have the same weight as the stifling air that had surrounded them the past few days.

“Sorry!” Papyrus blurted out too quickly and panicked, blinking out of existence the next second. A slight thud told Red he had just gone upstairs. He smirked to himself, this was the guy he was (definitely not) scared of? He didn't even attempt to make himself threatening, it was like all his hostility had just fizzled out. Red chose not to acknowledge the earlier event that may have triggered this kind of change.

“whatever, Stretch!” He called out to the upstairs balcony before moving into the kitchen. He was definitely going to help Blue make dinner. And by help he meant get underfoot and sneak bites of food under the guise of taste-testing it.

Blue darted away from the kitchen door to stand near the sink, arms doing overtime to stir the batter he had definitely not been neglecting in favor of eavesdropping. Just in time, he made it, as Red sauntered into the kitchen looking more relaxed than he had ever seen him.

“so whatcha cookin’ up?” His brow bones rose questioningly at the lack of any clear indication that food was being made.

“THAT! IS A SECRET! COMPLETELY UNRELATED! DO YOU LIKE SWEETS?” He shoved the bowl back on the counter and turned, hands on his hips, successfully blocking Red’s view.

“s’ok. though spicy really hits my sweet spot ,” His brow bones waggled exaggeratedly. Blue only stared at him, not quite getting the joke, “uh...yeah...sweet’s ok,” Damn adorable kid.

“GREAT! THAT IS WONDERFUL! YOU KNOW, IN CASE I NEED TO KNOW AT SOME OTHER POINT WHICH IS NOT RIGHT NOW…” Seeing Red hold in a giggle, he shoos him out, “NO, YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED IN HERE RIGHT NOW, I AM COOKING!” With that dismissal, he turned back to his work, pouring himself into his work, becoming a blur of bones and bowls.

Red backed out of the kitchen for his own safety, he knew how Boss could get when he was particularly inspired. This left him at a loss. Red wasn’t actually sure what he should be doing right now. Back in his universe, there were always available sentry shifts or cleaning demands from Boss. But here, he didn’t have a job and Blue pitched a fit every time he attempted to help him out. He still wanted to bother Blue, but he would wait until some food was actually cooked so he could snatch a bite or two.

He supposed he could take another nap, he was still pretty tired. He settled himself into the blanket on the couch again, leaving some room in case someone else wanted to sit. As tired as he was, his mind wouldn’t slow down enough for him to actually do more than just doze. Stretch had apologized to him. That was...something he really had not been expecting. But still it had happened and now he was a bit torn on how to feel about it. He couldn’t be a hundred percent certain that he was being sincere, he could just be really good at faking it, but Red liked to think he had a particularly well-developed bullshit meter. Which left the idea that he was being truthful, something Red actually wasn’t that familiar with.

He shifted, bringing his hands up where he could look at them. Though they shared the name, this Papyrus was nothing like his Boss. Their faces were different (something he hadn’t noticed when he had accidentally killed the other). Even their voices were different. Now he just needed his mind to remember that. Even knowing the truth, Red knew a part of him was still scared of that tall, thin figure looming menacingly over him. He clenched his shaking hands into fists. People had feared him (or at least the wrath of Boss) back in his universe but suddenly he’s here and he’s so very weak, he wouldn’t be considered a threat to anyone this way and he needed to go back to that. He couldn’t let himself forget how he needed to be.

A small shuffling noise pulls him from his darkening thoughts. Stretch looks at him from where he paused on the staircase before slowly finishing his descent. Red straightens, slightly more alert.

“so, uh...wanna bug my bro for some snacks? his tacos are...well, i’m sure you’ve had them by now, but his salsa is nacho average salsa.”

fajitas it really well?”

“No bistec , it’s great.”

They held each other's gaze for another moment before Red cracked, a cackle escaping his mouth. Stretch wasn’t far behind, breathy laugh lost in his brothers yelling.

“I SAID NO PUNS! AT DINNER!”

Chapter Text

Despite Blue’s obvious disdain for their puns, he puts up with them invading his kitchen for a solid two minutes before shooing them out, declaring “IF YOU HAVE TIME TO BOTHER ME, YOU HAVE TIME TO GO TO THE MARKET AND GET SOME MORE EGGS!” To which Stretch had replied “Don’t you mean if we have time to ‘brother’ you?” which promptly earned him a spatula to the head as Red looked on, cackling.

Egg-cellent shot, bro,” Stretch beamed, rubbing the spot where the spatula hit.

“c’mon, egghead , let’s go,” Red laughed out, already halfway through the door.

Egg-cellent . let’s walk and get in some egg-xercise ,” Stretch darted out the door, nearly bowling Red over, as he escaped his brother's wrath.

“I EGG-SPECT YOU TWO WILL BE BACK SOON!”

“we b-better scramble , then,” Red caught up to Stretch in the living room, putting his shoes on. His own filthy kicks were haphazardly flung across the entryway. He...didn’t recall doing that, although it was something he typically did. Back home. He shook off the thought and pulled his shoes on. These things must’ve been beautiful once, but now they had seen many battles, had trampled through too much dust, their vivid red forever darkened.

“You ready?” Stretch’s voice yanked him from his musings, “or should i leave you to your sole-searching ?” He snickered.

“nah, too t-time con-shoe-ming , yer bro does knot w-want us wasting time, ri-right?”

“That’s true, and we gotta get eggs to boot !”

“I d-dunno if we’re the r-right pair to...to attempt this feet…

“ENOUGH! OF THIS! SHOE ! SHOE ! GET OUT OF HERE!” Blue stormed back out from the kitchen, gently, yet firmly pushing them out the door before closing it behind them, “AND PICK UP MORE FLOUR, IF YOU DON’T MIND!” Was the last Red heard before the sound of stomping moved away from them.

“Well, that was a little…. eggsessive… ” Stretch finally said after a long pause. Red smirked and turned his attention to his surroundings. Was this really the first time he’d been outside since the last run? Everything seemed so gentle...And bright. And in the distance he could see other monsters going about their day. He felt himself shudder and close in on himself. Stretch gave him a look. Waving it off, he moved forward. He had to be prepared.

The two skeletons made their way to the shop in awkward silence, only broken when Stretch had to redirect Red. Each time launched Red into a mumbled rant about this stupid, broken, backwards universe which in turn made Stretch snicker nearly every time. Even while grumbling, Red kept an eye on the townspeople around them. They were all staring at him and it was making him extremely paranoid. In his experience, having so many monsters staring you down at once was a surefire indication of an ambush approaching. The closer they got to the market, the more tense he became.

He nearly blasted Stretch when the other rested his hand on his shoulder, though it was quickly removed.

“You ok, man?” There was genuine concern in his eyes, so much so that Red was taken aback.

“y-yea...jus’ a little...uh...ain’ there a lotta p-people out?” He quickly assessed their situation. There were a few bunnies down the road, a large bear monster across the town center and….some monster he couldn’t make out walking in their general direction. He felt confident he could take out the bunnies and probably the bear, but this mystery monster made his soul tighten.

Stretch glanced around, it didn’t seem like there were too many people out. He’d certainly seen it more crowded in the past. He shrugged.

“‘S not too bad. now the day before Gyftmas. that is a crowd,” Red didn’t seem to take comfort in that.

“...where’s the shop?” Red finally asked after a long pause. Following Stretch’s gesture, he stomped forward, pupils red and flaring. Stretch quickly caught up to him, hesitating a moment before touching his arm, a bit more cautiously this time.

“Hey, man, calm down. you shouldn’t go flingin’ your magic around like that. people might think you’re ready to fight,” He joked, trying to calm the other, “uh...no one’s gonna attack you…” He tacked on at the deadpan expression the other leveled him with. Red blushed slightly, a scarlet hue staining his face. With a fierce mutter of ‘whatever’, he pulled his arm away from Stretch and started stalking towards the shop again, this time with noticeably less agitated magic. With a sigh, Stretch followed him.

 

--

 

Red flung himself onto the couch with an exhausted sigh. He had honestly tried to relax under Stretch’s reassurance that no one would attack them, but he had still been an anxious mess the whole time. It must have been dumb luck that no one tried to talk to him or even approach him while they were out. That or the anxious and dangerous magic he couldn’t push down repelled them. It worked out either way, he supposed.

Listening to the murmuring voices of the brothers in the kitchen was really helping him unwind. He could almost make out what Blue was saying when he suddenly felt the couch cushion sag with the weight of another. Red snapped to attention to find Stretch sprawled out on the remainder of the sofa, tv on low in the background. He must have drifted off for a moment.

“Dinner’ll still be like an hour,” Stretch’s eyes didn’t leave the screen. Red grunted in response, turning his eyes to the screen as well. It was that musical robot, as it always was. Napsterbot? Napaton? Whatever, his music...wasn’t quite as shitty as Mettaton’s, but it still wasn’t his cup of tea. A music video had started playing, bright lights and colors flashing to the beat of the synthesizer. The longer he stared, the more the colors began to bleed together, the edges swimming in a glowing halo he couldn’t tear his eyes from. A veritable eternity passed before he gathered himself enough to blink, and when his eyes re-opened, the screen was part-way through what seemed to be a soap opera. Stretch was gently shaking him, tone tinged with urgency as he repeated his name over and over. He inhaled with a gasp, confused, before pulling away from Stretch’s hand.

“What the- what the hell was that?” He seemed stressed and unsure what to do with his hands now that he wasn’t holding Red’s shoulder.

“w-wha’? i don’-...wha’?” Speaking seemed to be harder than he remembered.

“Dude, are you like...epileptic or something?”

“am i w-wha’?”

“Y’know, like...flashing lights and seizures and stuff?” He sounded genuinely worried.

“s-seizu- no! i jus’...jus’ zoned out a b-bit,” That was all. He just drifted off for a minute or, he glanced at the clock, twenty. No, yeah, that was fine, “c’mon, let’s s-sneak some food o-off yer bro,” He hauled himself to his feet and wobbled to the kitchen, pointedly not looking back at Stretch.

Stretch seemed less worried when he followed him and must have quickly caught onto Red’s plan because when he distracted Blue, Stretch quickly swiped a handful of whatever was in the bowl closest to him. They took turns diverting Blue’s attention while the other snatched up bits of food, tension slowly leaving the both of them. Blue didn’t catch on to their distract-and-swipe ruse until Red tried to make off with a handful of whipped cream, the last remaining bit of food they hadn’t snatched any of.

“AH! YOU- YOU- YOU LITTLE THIEVES! YOU BURGLARS! YOU FILCHERS!” Blue cried out indignantly.

“Uh oh, Red, we bread -er get outta here!” Stretch managed to grab another dinner roll, somehow ducking under his brother’s arm.

“Blue, just lettuce explain!” He attempted to swipe another taco, but suddenly became aware that his hand was uncomfortably full of whipped cream, “woo, t- taco’bout awkward! th-that woulda been a... sticky situation,” Blue whined in (false) frustration.

“YOU THOUGHT I WOULDN’T NOTICE YOU MAKING OFF WITH MY FOOD BUT I AM NOT THE MAGNIFICENT SANS FOR NOTHING! I HAVE CAUGHT YOU TWO! YOU TWO WERE WORKING TOGETHER THE WHOLE TIME!...OH EM GEE! YOU TWO WERE WORKING TOGETHER THE WHOLE TIME!” He entire demeanor changed, fake anger becoming overflowing enthusiasm, eye lights bright, twinkling stars, “THIS REALLY IS CAUSE FOR A CELEBRATORY DINN-HEY!” He smacked Stretch’s hand away as it tried to creep by for more food.

“don’ you mean celery-bratory dinner?” Red snickered and made his way to the table, settling into one of the surprisingly comfortable kitchen chairs.

“Sorry, bro, i’m just berry hungry,” Blue rolled his eye lights.

“BOTH  OF YOU! YOUR PUNS ARE TERRIBLE! YOU MUSCAT BE MORE CREATIVE, HONESTLY,” Red lost it, his snickering blossoming into giggles and finally to outright laughter.

“Bro, bro. i am so proud. seriously, that was grape ,” Red’s fist pounded on the table, his laughter growing strong.

“Guys, g-guys stop it, y-yer kiwi -ing me!” He tried to settle himself, choking as he struggled to breathe.

Stretch finally cracked, dropping into the seat next to Red as his own chuckles overtook him. Blue sighed, though happiness fluttered in his soul. This was much better than he had anticipated! Had it really only been a few hours since the two could hardly be trusted in the same room? Now look at them, teaming up against him. Blue dearly hoped they had managed to work out their issues properly and weren’t forcing themselves. He turned back to assess his cooking.

“GASP! YOU TWO! YOU TOOK SO MUCH FOOD!” Neither skeleton bothered to try to look ashamed, though Red looked a bit sheepish about the whipped cream that was now not only on his hand but had spread to every surface he accidentally touched, “SIGH. I SUPPOSE WE SHALL HAVE TO MAKE DUE!”

“Aw, donut look so blueberry ,” Red seemed overly pleased with himself until, in his giddiness, he slapped himself in the face, whipped cream splattering across his face.

As the three of them crumpled in laughter, Red thought this was probably the most relaxed he had ever been.

Chapter Text

After eating Blue’s bountiful feast, which more resembled a buffet of assorted foods than a cohesive meal, it was decided that they take a walk. Blue had, of course, stressed the importance of not only healthy eating, but also exercise, something Red and, judging by the look on his face, Stretch were not fans of. But he had gleefully grabbed both by the hand the second he was finished with the dishes and dragged them outside, cheerfully chattering away about the connection between healthy eating and healthy attitudes. Red and Stretch had shared a look over Blue’s shoulder before just going along with it.

It really wasn’t so bad, Red had to admit, though his leg was still quite sore despite multiple rounds of healing magic. Blue was very proud to show him the Gyftmas tree, all decked out and lit up, though he was told it was nowhere near Gyftmas yet. Red supposed the lights did look kind of nice in the darker “twilight” hours, if only in a ‘gee if I look too long I might go blind’ sort of way. The tree’s lights cast long shadows across the snow, leaving him feeling a bit unsettled. At least he knew no one could possibly sneak up on him, the shadow would warn him when they were still a mile away. When he pointed this out to Stretch, he went quiet before hesitantly agreeing. That’s right, that kind of thing apparently doesn’t happen here…

Blue’s unhappiness sense tingled, unbeknownst to the other two, and without wasting time he conjured up the most amazing plan. He made sure there would be no innocent victims before he started packing up a hearty snowball. With super stealth and super speed, he snuck up to the unsuspecting skeletons, only announcing himself when it was too late.

“SNOWBALL FIGHT!” He let the snowball fly, hitting Stretch in the side of the face as he turned around. Stretch leveled him with a long-suffering stare before his features morphed.

“So that’s how it’s gonna be, huh? well, prepare to lose, bro!” And promptly blinked out of existence.

“PAPY! NO FAIR!” He whined, frantically searching for the shortcut his brother would pop out of, “THAT’S CHEATING!” He stomped his feet in anger, much to the amusement of Red. At the sound of his snickers, Blue spun around, making the universal hand signal for “I’ve got my eye on you” before dashing into the trees, leaving Red bewildered and alone.

Before he could get too paranoid, a snowball flew at him from the side and he found himself exercising his dodging skills. An indignant wail erupted from the area the snowball came from, making him laugh. Blue was too much, he couldn’t not laugh. In his distraction, he found himself with an eye socket full of snow, courtesy of Stretch.

“what the fuck, man? tha’s fuckin’ cold! right in my eye, shit!” He heard a muffled ‘LANGUAGE!’ followed by a faint, telltale ‘Nyeh heh heh’ as he scooped snow out of his eye, “oh no, yer goin’ down!” He squatted down, making a decoy snowball as he called his magic to help him construct more elsewhere. Making a show of searching for the other two, he quickly tracked them down, fairly close to him but hidden in the woods. “...g-guys?” Sound a little pathetic, pull their attention and…

He was rewarded with twin yelps as his snowballs hit their targets.

“MAGIC IS CHEATING!” After Blue’s declaration, the snowball fight became chaotic, occasionally lassoing in playful passersby, but ending with three dripping, giggling, out of breath skeletons.

“Phew! that was some workout. guess you were right about exercise, bro,” Stretch smiled as he dropped to sit in the snow.

“HEALTHY MIND, HEALTHY BODY!” He proudly confirmed.

“yea, yea, but n-now i’m s-soaked to the bone,” Stretch snickered, but also agreed. Red’s bones were trembling slightly, he noticed.

“Heh, yeah, it’s bone cold out here, let’s head back,” He hauled himself up, clothing weighed down with water as Blue raged behind him.

“you s-said no p-puns at din-dinner, but it’s n-not d-dinner anymore,”

“WELL! YES! THAT IS TRUE! HOWEVER! THOSE PUNS ARE NOTHING SPECIAL! GARDEN-VARIETY PUNS! IF YOU MUST, PLEASE USE SOMETHING COOLER! MWEH!”

It wasn’t long before they arrived back at home, the native brothers quickly retreating to their own rooms while Red dried off and changed into a loaned pajama set from Blue. The matching set was far too cute for him and unnecessarily cozy, but the more he wore them, the less he wanted to take them off, cartoony rocket ship print or no. Awkwardly, he stood near the staircase, not quite sure what he could do without his hosts present. The wait was fairly short as Blue’s excited stomping echoed from above him and made its way down the stairs.

“RED? WHY ARE YOU OVER THERE, COME SIT! LET’S WATCH A NAPSTATON MOVIE!” Red shivered slightly, slowly making his way over. He didn't think he liked that robot so much, he had really zoned out when they watched him earlier. Maybe he could just...not pay attention. He gingerly set himself on the couch.

“got a m-movie in mind?”

“OF COURSE! SINCE THIS WILL BE YOUR FIRST NAPSTATON MOVIE, I THOUGHT…” Red started tuning out, letting out grunts when it seemed appropriate. He turned to the stairs, having heard Stretch’s quiet footfalls, and stared. Maybe if he looked at him enough, he could separate Stretch and Boss in his mind and stop being so nervous around him.

Stretch smirked at the attention he was receiving and threw himself on the couch, in between the smaller skeletons.

“My Dearest Napstaton 3? nice. a classic,” Was all Stretch had to say about their evening entertainment before he turned to Red, winking. Taken aback, Red’s features twisted into a grimace before he shivered again.

“Cold?” The tall skeleton questioned.

“uh...kinda, i g-guess…”

“GASP! WE SHOULD MAKE A BLANKET FORT!” Before anyone else could comment, Blue was already collecting every pillow, cushion, and blanket in the house, heaping them all on the living room floor. Red turned to Stretch.

“m-make a what n-now?” He settled himself into the cozy pajamas.

“Blanket fort. ya know, use like, blankets and pillows to make a little fort ‘n’ you can sit under it and stuff,” Stretch shrugged, “‘s just something we used to do all the time.”

“...huh. n-never heard of i-it,” He rubbed his arms through the pajamas, it was really cold in here.

“PAPY! HELP ME PUT THE ROOF ON!” Blue held up a heavy quilt, using it to gesture to the mess of bedding.

“Kay, bro. i’m coming,” Stretch turned back to Red, “you okay? getting sick?”

“uh...i dunno, m-maybe. just cold fer n-now,” Stretch nodded and tossed an unused blanket on him.

“Just let us know, it’s okay to-”

“PAPYYYYYYYY” His brothers cry brought an apologetic smile to his face.

“Well, yeah. duty calls!” He lazily saluted as he took the quilt from his brother, proceeding to spread it over the half-built fort in a variety of incorrect ways as Blue angrily tried to direct him. Red wrapped himself thoroughly in the blanket. He felt really hot on the inside, but his arms and legs were freezing and, slowly, it felt like his head was filled with cotton or something. Maybe he was getting sick. At that moment, a whoop from Blue pulled him from his thoughts. Bringing the quilt with him, he got up to inspect the building.

“hmm, a st-sturdy roof to k-keep out the elements, windows t-to keep an eye on the outs-side,” He gently wiggled the blanket pile, “seems st-structurally stable, spacious...interior, yea, this’ll d-do,” He jokingly nodded his approval. Blue beamed, smile fully reaching his eye sockets. Stretch slipped past them, diving for a particularly plush pillow section.

“Dibs,” He smirked and rolled over.

“BROTHER! GUESTS GO FIRST! YOU KNOW THAT!” He turned to Red with defeated eyes, “I APOLOGIZE FOR HIM, HE IS IRREDEEMABLE,” Red snorted.

“whatever, man,” He climbed in as well, blanket dragging behind him, “i c-call here,” Blue grabbed the remote control and climbed in last, starting the movie after double-checking everyone was satisfied with their positions. It wasn’t long before they started dropping off, Stretch first, followed by Red, and lastly Blue. Still cold, even in sleep, Red scooched closer to Stretch, something that both woke up and amused the tall skeleton. He spread his blanket over the shivering form of the other and drifted back to sleep.



When Red woke up next it was dark, pitch black, really.

 


He rubbed his eyes and looked again. Still dark.

 


He flared his eye lights.

 


Only darkness.

Chapter Text

Stretch’s eyes opened almost without his consent. What had he been dreaming about? He stared up at the popcorn texture on the ceiling, willing it to shed some light on his confusion. He thought he'd fallen asleep in a blanket fort with...someone, so why was he on his naked mattress all alone in the middle of the night? His eyes drifted shut in thought, missing the two small bodies pressed into his sides. His brain hitched for a moment and he shot up in bed.

“Red!” A slew of memories flooded his mind with almost staggering force. When the swirling mass of memories finally settled down, he began searching. Red was...not on the floor where he usually saw him after a reset. He heard rustling from his brothers room and instantly relaxed. He must be in there, Red was still, unfortunately, significantly more comfortable with his little bro so it made sense. Better check, just to be certain.

He rapped his knuckles gently on the others door. A muffled response had him poking his head inside, giving the room a quick once over.

“Hey, bro,” Seeing no sign of the other skeleton, he turned back to his brother, “uh, you seen Red?” He could see the gears turning in his brothers skull as his own memories flowed back. Blue gently smoothed the blankets across his lap in thought..

“I THINK HE DOESN'T COME UNTIL TOMORROW MORNING. I'VE NEVER SEEN HIM BEFORE HE SHOWS UP IN YOUR ROOM…” He mused out loud, eyes distant as he thought back. Stretch jolted in surprise, “WAIT, WAS THAT A RESET?”

The lanky skeleton leaned his body against his brothers door frame, “Yeah, the kid musta reset for some reason...but where'd Red go?”

“IS IT...STRANGE THAT HE DID NOT APPEAR TONIGHT?” Blue struggled to wrap his head around this situation. Stretch thought for a long moment, idly scratching at his ribs. Was it strange?

“I dunno, bro...never had a universe hopper hang out through the resets before, but it doesn't seem like a good thing...when did you say he should show up?”

“HMM, WELL IT WAS PRETTY EARLY MORNING WHEN I FIRST SAW HIM, AROUND THE TIME I USUALLY WAKE YOU UP…”

Stretch wanted to say he remembered that first time, especially since he had only been around for that run for a short time, but he really couldn't remember much beyond the burning pain of the blaster obliterating him.

“I guess we'll just have to wait then…” He bid his brother good night and went back to his room. To think he had hated the edgy skeleton before and now, here he was laying in bed worried about him.

I shouldn't overthink it, I'm just being a decent person.

--

His eyes were open.

He remembered this time.

There was no point in struggling against the pervasive darkness, his eyes were open and his limbs were unbound, it was the pure nothingness that made him feel as though nothing was real.

It was real, wasn’t it?

That's right, there was something else here. Something with eyes. So many eyes. And the pressure. Always pushing.

And last time…

He thought he had heard something. But that was impossible. There is no sound here, only nothing and the feel of nothing and the sound of nothing.

But he thought…

Soon he would need to run.

It was nice that whatever being liked chasing him through here also seemed perfectly willing to give him time to gain his bearings.

But now…

He could feel it.

The eyes all over him, searching his bones as though he were completely bare. Violating his being without even being real.

He hated it. He clenched his fists at his sides. He needed to get away.

Didn't he?

The darkness shifted and stilled, caressing his exposed bones, still as a statue.

Yup, he needed to get the fuck out of here.

He dashed off, quickly moving in place, the darkness giving no indication of how far he was going.

It wasn't long before he was sweating, more than usual, he thought.

He stopped to catch his breath, but couldn't. There was no air for him to catch. The darkness slithered between his bones again and suddenly the pressure arrived. He found himself pressed to his knees on the darkness under him.

It was touching him.

All of it was touching him.

He rubbed his palms against his legs, trying to push nothing off of him. He pinched and pulled between his bones, tugging the darkness and getting only air.

It was touching him as he choked on non-existent air.

He couldn't get it off.

All he could do was run. He struggled against the heavy pressure keeping him down and broke free, immediately taking off

<WheRe aRE yoU GoIng?>

He thought he heard something again. More clearly than last time. It almost sounded like...speaking?

But it was completely garbled. Incomprehensible.

Thinking so hard was slowing him down, he needed to keep moving. The darkness was lapping at his heels, phantom fingers grabbing at his ankles.

He suddenly tripped, sprawling across the ground face-first. The darkness pounced immediately, a sharp ringing erupted in his skull.

He'd been running for so long he couldn't muster the strength to get back up, but he knew it was important. He tried to pull himself forward, but his phalanges scrabbled against the non-existent ground, darkness slipping through his fingers.

Somebody help me!

Please!

The ringing grew in pitch, drowning out his thoughts and replacing them with static. Darkness tingled along the edges of his sockets, he wanted to close his eyes. He thought he wanted something but the ringing was so loud. He needed…

Scared.

The ringing exploded, taking sans with it.

--

Stretch was already awake when Red popped into existence in the middle of his room. He hurried to stand, but kept some distance between them, remembering the unfortunate outcomes of their last two meetings like this.

“Hey, Red, you okay?” He questioned hesitantly. Red’s eye lights were strangely missing, only blank sockets that gazed into nothing, “Red? you in there, buddy?” He crept closer a few steps only to dash forward when the other suddenly crumpled to the ground.

Stretch quickly scooped him up, settling the smaller body in his lap as he looked him over. All those wounds were back, he noted angrily. They'd never get a chance to fully heal at this rate! Besides the same wounds as always, he seemed okay, just trembling faintly and frighteningly absent.

“Bro!” He turned towards the door, hoping his voice would carry far enough to reach his brother, “Bro, Red’s here, bring the first aid kit!” He looked back down at the silent skeleton in his lap, shaky white eye lights looking gazing through him.

Chapter Text

It hurt.

Everything hurt.

His leg really hurt, but that was normal by now.

His ribs too, but he was getting used to it.

What had he been doing?

He had needed something, hadn't he?

He needed…

Oh, his eyes were closed.

He needed to open his eyes.

No, wait, they were open. He needed to close them, that's right.

No, he needed to sit down. He was tired from running. He didn't feel his legs fold under him nor the bony hands holding his torso upright. The pressure in his chest lightened a bit.

Now it was just a matter of where he was. Last he remembered was...dark. The dark had him surrounded. Was it gone? It needed to be gone.

It took a moment, but his eye lights slowly manifested, blankly staring towards the ceiling.

Dim. It was dim but not dark. That was a good thing, the dark felt ugly. The dim felt soothing, it’s cool fingers a relief compared to the darkness’s claws.

Faintly, he noticed a white blur shift in front of his eyes. Boss?

His eyes focused on his worried expression...Boss?

“ANSWER ME, YOU IDIOT!” His little brother screeched, clawed fingers curled tightly around his arms, punching small holes in his jacket.

Dust fluttered by on the icy breeze, the stale tickle irritating his nasal cavity, but he didn't have the energy to push it away.

“hmmm ‘m’okay, bro,” The marrow dripping from fresh claw marks over his socket begged to differ.

“BROTHER, YOU…” He cut himself off with an irritated huff, “YOU ARE NOT OKAY! WHY MUST YOU ALWAYS DO THIS? YOU HAVE ONLY ONE HP, BROTHER, YOU MUST BE MORE CAUTIOUS!” He studied Sans’s crumpled form before carefully pulling his small brother into his arms, starting the long walk back to their home.

“s’rry, bro. seems like everyone's got a bone t’ pick with me…” Sans huffed in laughter, slowly being lulled to sleep by his brothers walking.

“SANS,” The warning tone fell on deaf ears, said skeleton having already slipped off to sleep, the adrenaline of the attack having already worn off.

But things had changed, right? Suddenly Boss hovering over him was not a comforting idea. He weakly flinched, the urge to pull away unbearable even as his body remained mostly limp.

“Hey, hey, shh, it's okay, Red, it's just me, Stretch. you're fine, you're okay,” Red couldn't make out what was being said, but the constant stream of babbling was oddly soothing. Boss really hadn't been this nice in a long time, it'd be best to try to relax and enjoy it.

Stretch let out a sigh of relief when Red’s eye lights fully met his, the white pricks glowing with more strength now. A soft smile spread across the other’s face and Stretch had the strangest feeling that Red wasn't quite back with them yet. With a small frown, he moved them up onto the bed, doing his best to arrange the Red’s limbs in the most painless way.

“STILL?!” Stretch jolted, not hearing his brother approach until he was directly behind him, first aid kit and bowl of warm water precariously balanced on his arms, “I JUST REBANDAGED THOSE WOUNDS!” He whined, easing himself down next to his brother.

“Yeah, seems like this might happen every time…” while he was glad Red was back, that was the only piece of good news about the most recent reset. He took the first aid kit from Blue, leaving the other to deal with the mess of Red’s legs once again as he moved to work on the ribs. Thankfully, it looked like Red had slipped into sleep, sockets closed, grin softened at the edges.

Quietly, they got to work.

--

When a Red next awakened, he found himself comfortably wrapped and a thick quilt atop a naked mattress on the floor. Drowsily, he blinked at the ceiling before sitting up, body protesting the movement with a groan. This was...not his room? No, this was...Stretch’s room. He hadn't spent much time in here, really, but the sickly sweet scent of honey and cigarettes was unmistakable.

Slowly, he got to work extracting himself from the blanket bundle he was wrapped in, not hearing the door opening nearby.

“Welcome back to the land of the living!” Stretch greeted cheerfully, a plate of tacos in hand. Red jolted in surprise, dropping the blankets back over his lap.

“uh…? wha…? what h-happened?” Last he remembered they were...in the living room?

“There was a reset while we were sleeping, so take it easy, you're all banged up again,” Stretch grimaced in his direction.

“a-again? man, this sucks,” Red pouted, throwing himself back down on the mattress. “...we know w-why the kid did it?”

“Nah, they never came out of the ruins. a bit strange but somethin’ musta happened.” Stretch shrugged, not as concerned right now with why the reset happened so much as the aftermath, “how ya feelin’?”

“same as every t-time. gross and in p-pain!” Red flailed in frustration until his ribs twinged in protest. “th’ bath open?” Blue always did a wonderful job cleaning him up, but nothing could beat a nice, hot shower. He was suddenly struck with the thought that Stretch may have been the one to clean him up and was instantly mortified, though he couldn’t place the exact reason why.

“Yeah, should be.” Taking in Red’s flushed face, he approached, tacos held out in offering, “maybe ya should have a bite to eat first, you don’ look so hot…”

Red snatched the plate away, busying himself with swallowing the cold, but slightly more edible each time, tacos. Stretch, to his credit, tried to look like he wasn’t just staring at the other eat.

“Uh...will you, uh...i mean, you think you’ll be okay? like...in the shower?” It was Stretch’s turn to blush, a vibrant orange that lit the majority of his skull aglow. Red inhaled a large bite of taco, choking for a moment at the implication.

“uh...i-i uh...yea. i’ll b-be o-kay…” He squeaked out. While he had been choking, Stretch had moved in, crouched near his legs and looking at him in a way that could only be described as hesitant worry.

“Yeah? your leg’s pretty, uh, pretty fucked up…” Red snorted.

“ain’ you never t-take a shower s-sittin’ down? ‘s easy, used ta d-do it all th’ t-time.” Stretch’s face was almost comically disbelieving, Red couldn’t help the snickers that snuck out. “i’ll show ya sometime, when ‘m all b-better.” He winked in what he hoped was a joking manner. His body wasn’t always so responsive nowadays, so he couldn’t really tell. Stretch, however, seemed to perk up.

“Nyeh heh, i might have to take you up on that offer sometime.” He offered his own wink in return, both skeletons now unsure of what the other was actually trying to say. “oh, right, you still feeling sick? you seemed a bit under the weather when we fell asleep, did the reset take it back?” Red had to think for a moment.

“eh, i was just real c-cold ‘n’ hot ‘n’ stuff, prolly nuthin’.” Stretch scooted a bit closer.

“Still, we don’t want you getting sick, you should take it easy.”

“dude, i j-just wanna sh-shower. nothin’ crazy. i’ll go right back to bed after. p-pinky promise.” He found his uninjured pinky swept into a link with Stretch’s and barely resisted the urge to flinch back. He wasn’t actually going to promise, but it seemed like he got tricked.

“Pinky promise, bro, gotta honor it.” They’re new position found them leaning quite close together, both flushed, neither moving.

“PAPYYYYYYYY!!!! IS HE AWAKE YEEEEEEEET???” Time was up, baby bro was home.

Chapter Text

Red survived his shower, as expected, and was ushered back to bed once again. He had, actually, started feeling a bit under the weather, but resisted the urge to complain about it to the brothers lest they find it a good excuse to mother him further. He settled into the blankets as Blue closed the door quietly. He had express orders to be a lazybones and he always took orders seriously.

He let his thoughts drift, rolling into a more comfortable position. Usually he could pass out at the drop of a hat, but for some reason he seemed to have more energy than usual. He had the strangest feeling that there was something he needed to be doing, but was far too comfortable to try to figure out what that was. Instead, he lay and thought about his predicament.

It felt like hours later when the door creaked back open, Stretch quietly letting himself in.

“Oh, hey, you're awake. just wanted to check on you. blue’s off checkin’ his puzzles, so it's just us lazybones for a bit,” His smile stretched across his face as he came a little closer. Red half sat up to meet him.

“yeah?” Red wasn't quite sure if he knew what Stretch was insinuating, “you want them-m sh-shower lessons n-now or somethin’?” Stretch’s laugh was warm and rich and stirred something deep inside Red.

“We could do that, yeah,” Red felt his face light up, that had mostly been a joke, “but I can think of some other fun things we could do together…” Stretch trailed off, settling himself on the edge of the bed, leaving Red to fill in the blanks.

“wha’-?” Red sputtered as Stretch’s hand found his own under the blanket, “h-hey! d-don’ just...d-do whatever y-you…” Despite his stuttered protests, Red made no move to retrieve his hand, instead gripping Stretch’s tightly as he drew them out into the open air. Red thought he was blushing earlier, but it was nothing compared to the fire that blossomed on his face when Stretch observed their joined hands.

“Cute, little bones,” He commented, to Red’s mortification, “such a shame…” Stretch placed careful kisses to the damaged fingers, moving from bone to bone until each had been thoroughly attended to and Red was more embarrassed than he had ever been in his life.

“h-hey, what are y-you...st-stop it, ya c-creep!” He whined, burying his face into his free hand as much as he could.

“Do you really want me to?” Stretch’s voice had turned serious, “i will stop if you really want me to, but you gotta tell me,” Stretch’s eye lights were trained on his own with such an intensity that he became flustered all over again, hiding his eyes.

Did he want him to stop? It had actually been kind of nice, if not a bit awkward and out of nowhere. Since apologizing, Stretch had been perfectly well-behaved and had made no indication that he had any of the same inclinations that Boss had.

He...wasn't sure. Did he even like him in that way? What was this even a prelude to? If he gave the go-ahead, what would happen? Red found that he wasn't really scared of the thought, but perhaps a bit anxious. The kind of anxious as when you reach the crest of a roller coaster and suddenly decide you don't want to ride anymore but then it's happening and you're blood is pumping and you feel like you’re dying and also like you’ve never lived before this moment and when it’s finished you’re shaking and panting and terrified and ready to do it again. (Or it would be if they knew what a roller coaster was.)

He had been quiet for a long time now, but Stretch’s fingers hadn't stopped gently rubbing against his the whole time. Red’s eye lights peeked out once again from the gaps in his hand and he nodded, one short nod of agreement.

“Sorry, Red, gotta use your words.” He sounded apologetic, but was grinning like a little shit until Red mumbled out a ‘don’ stop’. Stretch’s grin dropped in shock, eye sockets widening, before he brought the hand up to his mouth and placed one last skeletal kiss on it, “loud and clear...sort of.” He laughed and pulled Red up until his skull lay on Stretch’s sternum, releasing the trapped hand in favor of gently grazing his fingertips across every available patch of bone. Red was certain the other could feel the pulsing of his soul, its rapid beats making him light-headed.

Without preamble, Stretch’s hand found the waistband of his shorts, phalanges gently grazing over his iliac crests. Red sighed, almost melting into the touch, apprehension fading. He felt Stretch’s grin shift against his head and soon his head was being drawn upwards, fingers lighting grasping his mandible, forcing him to make eye contact.

“You okay?” The whispered concern of his question was overshadowed by the hand that suddenly gripped his spine. Red’s answering groan must have not been encouraging enough as he promoted again, “words, please.” What a smug bastard. Red’s free hand moved to the opening of his hoodie, teasing at the bones peeking out there.

“‘m f-fine, jus’ ke-uhnNNG!” Stretch dragged his hand down suddenly, pausing to finger the disks at the base before dragging back up slowly to pay the same attention to each vertebrae. Red closed his eyes, embarrassed at the sounds he was making.

“None of that, look at me.” It took a few gentle tugs on his jaw, but Red eventually peeked his sockets open, looking at the other just in time for Stretch's teeth to make contact with his own. As he watched, Stretch’s eye light sparked orange and suddenly something cool and moist was pressing against his teeth. Red’s eye sockets widened in return before he hesitantly formed his own tongue, opening his mouth to let Stretch in.

As their tongues stroked and prodded and wrapped around each other, Stretch’s other hand set a slow, relaxing pace, each stroke carefully mapping out the nooks and cracks of Red’s spine. Red bit back a whine when the hand stopped briefly, his own hand quickly removing itself from Stretch’s neck and reaching down to grip Stretch’s. He glanced away, unable to look the other in the eye with their joined hands partially down his shorts.

“Having fun?” Stretch smirked as they broke apart, looking down at the red glow coming from Red’s pelvis, his face soon matching. “show me what you like?” His question was accompanied by his hand sliding down to Red’s pelvic inlet, stroking in a pleasing but unremarkable way.

“nnn...ha-harder…” Red whined, shifting to get more pressure.

“Nah, ah ah, i want ya to help me,” His hand stayed gently stroking until Red finally understood. He grabbed the other's hand, pressing it firmly to his pelvis as red magic swirled around it, staticky and heavy between their fingers. Red shifted his grip, clumsily manipulating Stretch’s fingers through his slowly solidifying magic with a high groan. Stretch’s breath was hot on his jaw as he trailed kisses and whispers of adoration down his cervicals, his own low groans buried under Red’s whines.

Red’s magic finally coalesced, the swelling of warm, red flesh pressing their joined hands away from the bone. Red gasped as he slid their hands to the conjured entrance and pressed inside, liquid magic smoothing their passage. He felt Stretch groan against his clavicle and brought his teeth down to plant rough kisses on the other’s skull. Finally, Stretch starting moving his own fingers, swirling about in the warmth of Red’s magic. Red giggled at the strange feeling.

“what the fuck, Stretch?” It had tickled, but was feeling nicer by the moment. His head was clouding over a bit. “dude, what the fuck.”

It wasn’t his head clouding over, it was the world. Everything was looking white and misty.

What the fuck?

Unwittingly, his sockets slid shut. What the-

Where did Stretch go? He was just here. They were talking and then...Red felt the heat spread across his face even before he remembered exactly what had happened. The blankets around him were rumpled and he was sitting partially in a moist spot. He looked around the room, but sure enough, Stretch wasn’t there. A vivid red glow from his pelvis, however, was visible through the blanket.

“what the fuck…” He whispered to himself.

“Woah, what the heck, man?”

Chapter Text

Red gaped up at Stretch’s shocked face for another long moment before he was scrambling to cover the glowing in his lap. The attempt was anything but discreet, making Stretch blush, finally turning his head to avert his wandering gaze.

“dude, wh-what the-...c-can you, uh…” Red’s eyes focused on his lap, making sure every hint of the arousal the dream had caused was hidden. Not that it really mattered, Stretch had, without a doubt, already seen.

“Oh! uh...yeah, i just, uhm, i thought i should...it’s, uh, been a bit and, oh geez. just wanted to check on ya, ya know, see if you were hungry,” Stretch’s blush grew deeper and deeper as his speech got faster and faster, “ya so if yer hungry jus’comedownstairs!” Red looked up just as Stretch dashed away, door closing loudly behind him.

Red sighed and glanced back down at his lap which was, thankfully, no longer glowing. He wished, though, that it hadn’t taken Stretch literally walking in and seeing him to get it to go away. Of course, the real trouble was that the dream had even contained Stretch in the first place. He groaned and rested his skull in his hands, ignoring the twinge of pain the position caused.

Him and Stretch had literally just reconciled and now everything was going to be awkward because he had walked in on him having a wet dream which was, unknowingly to Stretch, caused by him in the first place! And why did he even have that dream? It certainly wasn’t the first time he had had a dream of that nature, but they were hardly commonplace for him. Typically he suffered from nightmares or, blessedly, the occasional empty darkness of dreamless sleep. He threw himself back down on the bed, regretting it with a deep groan as it painfully shifted his ribs.

Red found himself feeling irritated. He was still feeling a bit off, like he was still coming down with something even though one would think the reset would have taken care of that. He had had a wonderful and terrible wet dream about a guy he didn't even like. And now he was starting to feel really hot again! He angrily kicked the covers off of him, whimpering as his broken leg made contact with the sheets. And he still had all these stupid injuries because the world kept resetting and they never had time to heal!

Frustrated tears pricked at his eye sockets. Was it too much to just want to not be in pain for a few minutes? He fisted his hands in the cool sheets beneath him. And adding this most recent humiliation on top of it? You'd think he was used to it by now but maybe it isn't something he would ever really get used to. Maybe he-

The world stuttered before him, everything suddenly expanding and contracting simultaneously, before going black. He blinked owlishly, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the sudden lack of light and sat up. He hadn't realized Stretch’s room could even get this dark.

“Stretch? Blue? wha’ happened? p-power go out? d-don’ keep me in the d-dark here…” He snickered, swinging his legs around to get out of the bed. At that moment, he realized he wasn't in a bed, only sitting on a swirling black pit of nothingness.

--

“What in the world is that kid doing? it hasn't even been a full day?” Stretch rolled his body, letting the joints pop and snap against each other languidly, “sorry, Red, the kid must be having some trouble or something...Red?”

The smaller skeleton was standing where he normally appeared, sockets dark and blank. He was still, not reacting even when Stretch pulled himself off his mattress. All at once, like his strings had been cut, he slumped over to the floor, patella meeting the ground with a muffled clack. Stretch quickly made his way over to the other and hoisted him up, depositing him on the bed. Red had always seemed a bit out of it when he appeared but to this extent… Stretch gently stroked Red’s arm.

“Hey, Red, you in there, buddy? you okay? Red?” Seeing no response, he switched to lightly tapping his cheek, “c’mon, buddy, lemme see yer eyes. i'm not yer boss, it's okay to wake up,”

Even the proclamation of safety did nothing to change the small skeletons state. He scarcely even seemed to be breathing. With a sigh, Stretch settled him back into the bed, tugging the sheets over him before making his way back downstairs to tell Blue.

Even after tending to his wounds, once again, Red made no indication of awareness, his blank sockets focusing whichever direction his skull was facing. Stretch absently patted his pockets, pleased to find a crumpled box of cigarettes stuffed inside. He sent Blue an apologetic glance as he headed to the door, but Blue payed no mind and absently waved him out, distracted by Red’s unresponsive state.

Blue never heard the door quietly click shut, he could only focus on the skeleton below him.

“HEY, RED. Ahem, Red? Hey, it’s okay to come back now. We’re worried about you…” He continued his litany of encouraging words, softly running his fingers along the side of Red’s skull. What was even happening? Ever since Red turned up in their home, things had gotten so complicated. The same day kept restarting over and over and that first time…

Blue knew he had lost it a bit back then. The sudden death of his brother, the massacre of every citizen in the underground and just this strange, alternate version of himself to hold him to reality. He was really grateful to the other skeleton for what he did back then. He had even died trying to protect him. And now these resets kept happening and his dear friend was stuck, confused and in pain without a real chance of recovery. Blue felt tears pressing at the back of his sockets, but he refused to let them fall. Time passed without Blue’s permission and soon enough, he heard Stretch return, clanking in the kitchen telling him his brother was either trying to cook or, more likely, reheating some tacos.

“We’re here for you, so take your time, Re- sans,” He smiled ruefully, “But also maybe hurry up if at all possible. We really miss you, sans.”

“Hey, bro, it’s lunch time, ya hungry? i brought tacos…” Stretch poked his head into the room and, seeing no change with Red, let himself in, “nothing yet?”

Blue accepted the plate with a sad shake of his head, but set it on the floor nearby, not hungry enough to leave Red alone. He shifted as Stretch sat on the mattress next to him, resting a hand on Red’s uninjured leg.

“Stretch is here now, too. He brought some tacos, in case you’re hungry,” His fingers paused for a moment, had he seen a flicker? “Red? Come on, I saw that.” At the excitement in his brother's tone, Stretch leaned past him, searching for whatever Blue saw.

“Yeah, don’t be a lazybones, buddy. ya already missed breakfast an’ ya know how Blue feels about skipped meals.”

“HEY! DON’T LISTEN TO HIM! JUST- Just come back to us?” The flicker of light returned, holding steady for a moment before fading again.

“Whenever you’re ready, buddy,” Red’s eye lights flickered back into existence, dim but steady. It was another moment before they started shifting about, taking in their surroundings before finally landing on Blue and Stretch. His head turned to acknowledge them, perma-grin softening in recognition.

“RED!” Blue tried his best not to throw himself on top of the other, settling for cupping his skull in his hand. Red nuzzled lightly into the hand.

“Hey, there, welcome back, pal,”

Chapter Text

Blue managed to coax Red into eating nearly half a taco before exhaustion took over and he slid into real sleep, not the strange, disconnected state he had been trapped in. Blue and Stretch shared a look before heading downstairs.

“IS THIS...NORMAL?” Blue asked, vaguely gesturing around him. With a sigh, Stretch threw himself onto the sofa.

“Which part? the mystery sans who just showed up one day in my bedroom? the world resetting at the whim of a child? Red not even being here when everything resets? why you suddenly can remember everything? take your pick,” He huffed. The look Blue shot him was scathing.

“PAPY! YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE RUDE ABOUT IT!” He took a calming breath.

“...Yeah, sorry, bro. i just- nothing about this is normal. the kid doesn't usually stay in the ruins so long, evil or no. and resetting so much? with no loads?” Stretch shook his head, “i have no idea what's going on,” The couch cushion sink as Blue joined him, resting his head on his brother's shoulder.

“HMM, WELL MAYBE RED WON'T KNOW ANYTHING EITHER, BUT WE CAN AT LEAST ASK WHAT'S GOING ON WITH HIM! SURELY HE MUST HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH HIMSELF!” Blue’s sigh was swallowed by the obnoxious orange hoodie his brother insisted on wearing.

“Yeah, maybe. once he wakes up, we'll ask him,” He wrapped his arm around his brothers smaller frame, “you okay, bro?” At Blue’s questioning glance he elaborated, “all this business, with the resets and murder child...i was kinda hoping you'd never find out, but since you did…” He shrugged, resting his chin on top of Blue’s skull. Blue was quiet for a long time.

“IT WAS...DIFFICULT...AT FIRST, THAT IS. WITHOUT YOU. YOU WERE GONE AND EVERYONE ELSE WAS GONE AND THE HUMAN COULD NOT BE REASONED WITH...BUT NOW...ITS NOTHING THE MAGNIFICENT SANS CAN'T HANDLE! ...WITH HIS EQUALLY AMAZING YET DISTRESSINGLY MESSY BROTHER, AT LEAST,” He grinned up at said brother, stars twinkling in his eyes. Stretch seemed uncomfortable at the mention of his own death, likely imagining his baby brother living through that hell in his stead, without the small comfort the promise of a reset provided. Blue watched him struggle with his words for a moment before leaning back into his embrace.

“Heh, thanks, bro. you're really the coolest,” Blue held in his sigh of relief, glad that Papy still hadn't asked what exactly had gone on when he was...gone, “hey, why don't you visit Alphys today? i can hold down the fort here,”

“BUT IF- WHEN RED WAKES UP-”

“we'll talk to him after you get back, but you should probably go get some fresh air, you're looking a bit pale,” His mouth said concern, but his eyes twinkled with mischief.

“BROTHER! SKELETONS CANNOT! GET! PALE!” He stood up regardless, “HOWEVER! I THINK I AM SUPPOSED TO MEET HER TODAY ANYWAYS,” He thought for a moment, but not wanting Stretch to worry any more than he already was, he headed to the door, “I'LL BE BACK IN A FEW HOURS, CALL ME IMMEDIATELY SHOULD HE WAKE UP BEFORE I RETURN!”

“You got it, bro. have fun. don't burn her place down again!” He called out as the door shut. A faint cry of ‘THAT WAS ONE TIME!’ Filtered through the door. Stretch chuckled for a moment before letting his good humor die down, sitting in the silent house, lost in thought.

--

Red did not, in fact, wake up while Blue was gone. It wasn’t until well into the afternoon, nearly evening, that he stirred, quiet murmurs falling from his teeth as he slid closer to consciousness. When he did finally resurface, it was to two shining pairs of eye lights hovering over him, scaring the shit out of him.

“w-what the hell?” He coughed harshly, “get away f-from me!” Red shifted away as much as he could, cringing as he shifted awkwardly onto his his hand. The other two skeletons moved back, much to Red’s relief. At least until the smaller one took a seat at the foot of the bed.

“OH, RED! WE WERE SO WORRIED! HOW ARE YOU FEELING?” The little blue skeleton’s voice was entirely too loud and his neck hurt as he craned it to better see the other.

“Still feeling a bit out of it, buddy?” The other one prompted at his prolonged silence. Red shifted to look into the tall monsters face. They both spoke so familiarly to him, but…

“Red? you with us?” His vision shifted, the images overlapping sickeningly before righting themselves.

“...stretch?” His voice was somehow scratchier than usual, it hurt to speak.

“You okay, man?” Red didn’t answer, looking to Blue instead.

“w-what-?” It felt like he had been gargling glass shards.

“THERE WAS ANOTHER RESET. HOW ARE YOU FEELING?” Red’s eye lights swam in their sockets, how did he feel? He gestured vaguely to himself.

“hurts.” Blue held out a glass of water, which Red accepted gratefully, along with Stretch’s help sitting up.

“Better?” He cleared his throat. Well, now it felt more like rocks than glass. He supposed that was better. He nodded in response, a (hopefully) reassuring smile slipping onto his face.

“RED? UM...WE ARE AWARE YOU JUST WOKE UP, BUT…” Blue and Stretch exchanged a glance, “WE WERE WONDERING IF WE COULD ASK YOU SOME QUESTIONS…?” He finished hopefully. Red felt panic welling in his soul. Questions? About what? Though he tried not to seem anxious, the beads of sweat rolling down his skull likely gave him away.

“uh...y-yeah, sure. w-what’s up?” Speaking was definitely easier now. Blue perked up and turned to Stretch.

“Okay, so the resets, right? the resets happen at night, but you don’t turn up until morning-”

“AND WHEN YOU ARRIVE, YOU SEEM VERY DISORIENTED AND THIS TIME YOU WERE COMPLETELY UNRESPONSIVE! IT WAS REALLY SCARY!”

“Uh, yeah, that. so we wanna know like...do you go back to your universe before you get here or…?” Red blinked slowly as he tried to process what exactly was being asked of him. He...didn’t arrive at the same time as the resets? How was that possible? He assumed everything had just lined up neatly, but think about it now, the odds of that happening must be astronomical. He shook his head slowly.

“no...i don’t...i…” The other two looked visibly relieved, but expectantly waited for him to continue, “i-i i think it’s The Void…?” He asked more than told, looking to Stretch for assistance.

“You hang out in The Void during resets? no wonder you’re out of it when you get back, that place gives me the creeps.” Blue pouted, first to Red, then to his brother.

“uh...y’know shortcuts?” Blue’s eye lights constricted, features contorting in annoyance as he glared at Stretch, “yeah...the sh-shortcuts go through there, b-but real f-fast…” Blue looked thoughtful. Red seemed to be done for the moment, so Stretch elaborated further.

“Shortcuts pass through it too quickly to really tell, but once you’ve done it a lot, you kinda get used to the shortcut itself and start noticing what you’re shortcutting past…”

“SOMETIMES, WHEN YOU TAKE ME WITH YOU, PAPY, IT FEELS LIKE SOMETHING DANGEROUS IS THERE.” Stretch approached him with shock plain on his features. He knew, as cute and innocent as his brother seemed, his intuition really was something else. Before he could ask about it, though, Red spoke up.

“th-there is. something in there i m-mean. ‘s freaky, always chasin’ me ‘n’ shit,”

“PERHAPS THAT EXPLAINS WHY YOU ARE SO TIRED UPON ARRIVAL!” Blue seemed satisfied with his conclusion. Stretch, however, watched as exhaustion pulled Red under yet again, and wondered if that was all.

Chapter Text

The rest of the evening passed without any major incidents, though, once Red finally really woke up, he found himself unable to sleep again. Blue had tried experimenting with their dinner tacos, attempting to fry the shells. This only resulted in him making essentially large tortilla chips with toppings, incapable of being eaten as a taco would normally be. Stretch had complimented the attempt, even as he choked down the tortilla slivers. Red couldn’t even try to do the same, grunting ambiguously when Blue asked his opinion.

Now, though, the brothers were in bed and Red was downstairs on the couch, what had become known as his blanket wrapped around his shoulders. The TV was on, though Red paid no attention to it, letting the light and colors wash over him as he thought.

He was starting to get concerned. Normally he felt little concern for himself, but these weren’t exactly normal circumstances. He thought back to the time he had spent in The Void. Really, the place was too dark to be remarkable, but there was something there that wasn’t hindered by that. While he hadn’t actually been attacked, per say, the feeling of imminent danger he felt when he stopped moving was unnerving enough for his self-preservation instinct to keep him going far longer than he thought he could.

However, not even once had he seen anything. Sometimes it felt like there were many things there, sometimes it felt like the lack of anything was what followed him. He wasn’t a poetic kind of guy, but running as fast as you could and being met by loneliness at every turn sounded like some kind of philosophical bullshit. And when he got “caught”, though he used the term loosely, it was...unpleasant but nothing really happened.

It was what lingered after he woke up that really scared him. Waking up in the real world meant reasserting himself in his own body. Like everything that was him had slipped out along the way. He could hardly remember who he was, forget Stretch and Blue. And that was what truly frightened him. Blue and even Stretch had helped him so much, in so many ways that they probably didn’t even know. The hollowness and lack of recognition he felt when he looked at them hurt more than one would imagine.

Speaking of hurt...Red shifted uncomfortably. He guessed he was typically asleep at this point in the healing process, but the bones slowly knitting back together were not only painful, but incredibly itchy. There were very few positions he could be in that weren’t painful and wouldn’t tempt him to claw at the irritated bone. He quietly drummed his claws against the arm of the couch, turning his focus back to the TV. Whatever show was on must have ended, only the rainbow of the emergency test screen remained.

Red found himself watching.

Red found himself listening.

Blue found him on his way downstairs to make breakfast, hours later, eyes fixed on the screen, unresponsive.

--

The next reset, there were no problems. Red was slightly disoriented due to the dizzying darkness of The Void, but he was able to come back from it fairly quickly, going so far as to joke with Stretch within minutes of arrival. His wounds still hurt as though they were fresh, which they technically were, but Red stayed aware and responsive. It was a very welcome change, one that they chose not to investigate too deeply, instead just enjoying the moment of peace.

There was still no clue as to why the resets were happening so sporadically, the human child never seemed to make it out of The Ruins nowadays.

Red had just gotten himself comfortably situated on the sofa when a strong flash of heat flooded through him. Within a minute, he was sweating, shoving the blanket off of him, trying to cool off. His head felt fuzzy and overloaded, magic unwieldy and dense. That stupid illness was still trying to break through, despite the resets. The heat intensified, the burn searing through his marrow, making him groan in pain.

He shifted to his side, hoping it would be more comfortable, but it only made him aware that he was uncomfortably aroused. With a flash of recognition, he startled, rushing to his feet. He had never had it happen before, but he had been made to assist Boss with his own frequently enough. A surge of magic rushed through him, the horrible burning quickly becoming nearly unbearable, making his knees buckle, leg twisting painfully. He didn't notice the crack in his leg oozing marrow on the carpet.

Whenever Boss had his heat, his lust became completely unstoppable, completely out of control. His magic urged him to action, taking everything his smaller brother could give and then some. Red typically found himself battered and sobbing by the time Boss was through, nursing bruises and breaks alike. The only small mercy was that Boss always excused him from work after, giving him a modicum of time to nurse his wounds.

He wouldn't be able to live with himself if he did something like that to Blue or Stretch. His traitorous mind, hazy with lust, conjured up a slew of images, each more revolting than the last. Him taking one or both of the brothers, using them, hurting them, tasting them. He whimpered, feeling nauseous even as his magic pressed outward, looking for an outlet. It had come on so fast, he was certain Boss got some warning beforehand, though he wasn't positive. He'd never done this before and he wasn't sure what to do, he'd never wanted or even thought about going into heat. He knew some of the science behind it, magic levels swelling causes a state of arousal meant to be shared with a trusted partner, some ancient procreation instinct that never died out. But right now…

Now he was scared. Not just scared, he was downright terrified. He wasn't mated nor did he have a trusted partner to help him, so what would happen? He could feel the volatile magic urging him toward the stairs, toward the vulnerable skeletons sleeping in their rooms. He shivered, trying to resist the temptation. Rapid pulses of hot magic had him wavering on his feet, slowly shuffling away from the sofa.

No! He didn't want to! He wasn't going to!

He stumbled awkwardly to the staircase, steps faltering as his magic began to manifest.

He couldn't let these stupid urges win! He couldn't hurt them, not again.

Even as he tried to control himself, he felt his willpower draining, quickly being replaced by the need to be filled. In a flash of terror, he was suddenly so much closer.

His foot touched the bottom-most step and, in a panic, he narrowed his focus and teleported out of the house, as far away as he could, hopefully to somewhere safe.

Chapter Text

Stretch was awakened by someone frantically shaking his shoulders and calling his name.

“PAPY! WAKE UP! PAPYYYY!! RED’S MISSING! GET! UP!” Blue seemed exasperated, like he had been trying for a long time to wake him. He probably had been.

“I'm up, i'm up,” Stretch yawned, “whassamatter?” It took a moment for his sleep-addled brain to process what his brother had said, “wait, what? Red’s gone?”

“I WENT TO MAKE BREAKFAST BUT HE WAS NOT ON THE COUCH OR DOWNSTAIRS AT ALL SO I CAME TO LOOK UP HERE AND HE'S NOT HERE! HE'S NOT IN THE HOUSE, PAPY!” Luminescent blue tears threatened to spill over the smaller skeletons sockets.

“Okay, okay, calm down, let's think,” Stretch had his hoodie back on and was heading down the stairs before he spoke up again, “if he went outside, he probably didn't get very far, he's not really familiar with our Snowdin...and with that leg of his...”

Red’s blanket was on the sofa, pushed down as though it had been kicked off. Stretch glanced around the surrounding area, but nothing else seemed to be awry. Blue examined the sofa and the rest of the living room more thoroughly while Stretch checked the kitchen, but there was no indication Red had been in there.

“PAPY!!!” Blue’s tone rose in panic. One glove was pointing at something on the ground. Looking more closely, Stretch could make out what looked to be a few dried drops of marrow. A little ways away, there were a few more drops. The trail ended suddenly, just short of the stairs.

“Well...it looks like he probably teleported...maybe he suddenly wanted to go out?” That sounded sketchy even as he said it and Blue’s face told him he thought so too, “well, he's still pretty low on magic, so he couldn't have possibly gotten that far.”

“WE HAVE TO FIND HIM! HE'S STILL HURT!” Blue’s hands were twisting and tugging on each other, even as Stretch draped a jacket over his shoulders.

“We'll find him, bro, don't worry. there's probably a good explanation for this,” Stretch doubted his own words, but he managed to get Blue to get his coat on properly.

“I HOPE SO…” Blue’s eye lights had dimmed to modest, blue pinpricks, “LET'S GO, BEFORE HE CAN GET ANY FARTHER!”

--

They had been searching for hours. The brothers had split up some time ago, hoping to cover more ground when they not only couldn't find him nearby but also couldn't find any clue that he had been outside either. Blue had raced off towards Waterfall, checking all the side roads and hideyholes of Snowdin as he went, promising to call Stretch should he find him.

Stretch stayed nearer to Snowdin, checking towards The Ruins and, when that yielded no results, the forest and the river running through it as well.

Well into the afternoon hours and with no luck, they decided to reconvene and make a new plan. Blue began the arduous task of doubling back, a few hours walk now that his energy was running low. Stretch emerged from a portion of the forest he was surprised he had never before seen, considering how surprisingly close to the house it was.

It was as he was making another desperate sweep of the ice tunnel by their home that he had a sudden realization. They hadn't thought to look there as they typically kept the door locked, but if Red was able to teleport, that wouldn't really keep him out, would it? As Stretch pulled himself out of the ice tunnel, he felt himself getting angry. If he was right, Red had been so close this whole time and they hadn't even noticed.

He had to make a quick detour back into the house to grab the key, but within a few seconds he was back, standing outside the door to the shed.

The first thing that hit him when he opened the door was the smell. A not unpleasant, spicy sweet smell hung heavily in the air, making Stretch bring his sleeve to cover his mouth. As he made his way in, small whines and groans also made themselves apparent and Stretch resisted the urge to sigh in relief.

“Hey, Red?” Why was he laying on the floor in the holding cell? If he was still feeling sick, staying inside on the couch would surely be better?

“n-no…” His voice sounded thick, like he was speaking through a mouthful of honey. The light from the barred window fell across Red’s shuddering form, bones clacking together quietly. When Stretch tried to approach, Red flinched weakly, looking like he wanted to curl away but couldn't.

With a puzzled frown Stretch pressed forward, hardly passing through the cell door when he jumped back as though burned.

“Holy shit, man, why are you in there with the magic suppressors on? you could seriously hurt yourself!” He squinted in the dim light at the display next to the dial. No wonder he couldn't move, the suppressor was set way too high considering how much their bodies relied on magic, “Hang on, i'm gonna turn this shit off-”

“no!” The sharpness of the order made him hesitate, hand halfway to the knob on the wall, “g-go away…” It was little more than a whimper, but he sounded desperate.

“...Red? what's wrong? are you okay? are you hurt? i can't check on you with this thing on,” He hoped Red’s eyes were fixed on his face as he turned the dial back down as slowly as he could.

“j-just go, p-please!” Oh shit, he could see dried, red tear tracks staining the other's face. He shuffled slightly closer to the bars, dial slowly clicking closer and closer to the off position, “i c-can't! p-please jus’-” Tears were starting to bead in his eye sockets again, his body once again having the magic to spare. At the same time, the scent from earlier hit him in a wave, nearly overwhelming him. Red squirmed on the ground, returned magic making the heat and the lust almost unbearable.

“Red, what's…” Stretch was actually a pretty smart skeleton, so he felt fairly ashamed when he finally figured it out, “hey...are you-” He was cut off by an abrupt moan, followed by a sob. He clicked the dial to off and slowly entered the cell.

“n-no, i c-can't...you g-gotta,” He whined, an unrestrained high pitched thing when Stretch crouched by him, but managed to not reach out and grab him, hold him down and…

“Red...are you in heat?” Red nearly wailed at the word, curling into himself painfully until he could nearly wedge his claws into the crack in his leg, “hey, hey, no, don't do that, it's okay, Red!”

Red was panting like he had run a marathon, but he still did his best to scoot away when Stretch reached out to him. He couldn't keep himself away much longer, the burning was painful, but the feeling of another body so close was agony. He was going to crack if Stretch didn't leave. His fingers curled into the break, the sharp sting a slight relief from the heat.

“g-go…” He nearly moaned. He could hardly formulate words like this.

“Hey, it's okay. let's get you back inside where it's nice and warm and you can do whatever you usually do or something…” Stretch trailed off with a blush. Red shuddered at his words.

“f-first...i-i c-can't…” He fought to stifle his sobs, but like the rest of his body, it was beyond his control. Stretch’s hand pulled back a bit as he processed Red’s words.

“Is this- this is your first heat? oh shit, uh...you okay to take care of it yourself?” He rested back on his heels. There weren't many options for heats, really. One could have a partner help them or take care of it themselves, if not, they would most likely fall down.

Red was shaking his head almost frantically, smalls whines and moans slipping past his teeth at the extra movement. Leaning in closer, it sounded like he was saying “no” repeatedly. He...couldn't do it himself? Stretch blanked.

“Uh, well, okay. still, let's go inside. i know the cold probably feels good but you don't wanna get for real sick after this is all over.” He contemplated the crumpled, sobbing form in front of him for a moment before sighing and shaking his head, “sorry, Red, but i need to touch you to teleport you inside,”

Red tried once more to scoot farther away, but he was already wedged in a corner. His whines quickly turned into screeches as Stretch reached out to him, then sobbing moans as he gently laid a hand on the arm closest to him.

“Sorry! i'm sorry! just a sec!!” He quickly gathered his magic and, with one last sorrowful look, they both vanished.

Chapter Text

When Stretch and Red reappeared, it was on the floor in Stretch's bedroom, Red’s fingers wrapped tightly around Stretch’s arm. Stretch winced, twisting his arm, but he was stuck fast.

“So, uh, you can't do it alone? does that mean you want help?” Red whined, shaking his head halfheartedly, even as he shifted to grab at Stretch's leg, “uh...mixed signals, buddy...geez, it's gotten you good, hasn't it…” He mumbled to himself. Red seemed to be losing himself pretty quickly, pulling himself closer and closer, eye lights blown wide as his magic surged through him.

Stretch wasn't sure what to do, he should help him out, but he wasn't in any state to really consent to that and he wasn't sure if Red even wanted his help. They were on better terms, yes, but they weren't exactly bone-friends. He let himself think a bit too long, Red’s shaky fingers were climbing up his leg, sliding under his shorts.

“Hey, hey, i don't know how much you understand me right now but i don't wanna do anything you don't want, okay?” At Red’s blank stare and continuing fingers, he sighed, “oh, geez, uh...man, how is this my life?” Suddenly frustrated, he pulled back from Red, a pathetic whimper following him. He just needed a minute to think! But Red was already creeping toward him again. Hopefully this won't bite me in the ass.

“Hey, Red, c’mere…” The dazed skeleton happily crawled closer to Stretch, whimpers and whines escaping him constantly, “gimme yer hand.”

He cradled the hand gently for a moment before starting to stroke the bones softly, making Red’s sockets flutter in delight.

“I need ya to pay attention, kay? i need ya to answer me,” Hazy eye lights stared up at him in adoration, “you hear me?” A shaky nod, “do you want me to help you right now?” A confused look followed by a shaky nod, “can you use words maybe?”

“Sssstrettch….p-pl-ugh. hnng,”

“Yes or no,” He removed his hands from the other all together. Red’s whine was almost all the answer he needed.

“yessssss.” Red managed to hiss out around the suddenly solid tongue filling up his mouth.

He supposed it wasn’t the strangest thing ever, having a close friend or family member helping out during someone’s first heat. It was a time of turbulent changes in a monster’s life and it could be scary going through it alone. Though it tended to strike more towards the pubescent years and less in the adult years, it wasn’t unheard of, but the awkwardness of assisting was exactly the same. Stretch had been hoping he wouldn’t be put in this position for a long while yet. He’d just have to remember what he did to help Blue and what Blue did to help him. Surely there must be a good method there somewhere.

Oh god, this was so awkward.

“Ok, uh, let's get you out of those clothes first...i'm uh, i'm gonna touch you now. lemme know if you need to stop,” Haha, yeah right. He gently removed Red’s hand from his leg, pulling the other upright in the process. Gently, he tugged the other's sweaty clothing off. The small touches earned him an appreciative mewl. Maybe this wouldn't be too bad, it seemed like anything could get him going. Careful to avoid any fresh wounds, he slowly pulled the other closer to him, one hand wrapping itself around Red’s spine.

“ah! hhhaaa…” Red’s skull dropped forward, already overwhelmed at the touch. Gentle, Blue’s voice reminded him, the first time is full of new experiences and sometimes the body can't keep up as well. His brother had been strangely coherent as he guided him, hopefully drawing off of his own experience helping Stretch through his.

His grip slackened and he dragged his hand up and down, letting the bones catch on the ridges of Red’s spine. Red arched into the touch with a breathy moan, bringing their rib cages together.

“This okay?” He didn't really expect an answer, so the shaky nod against his clavicle surprised him. He continued with his languid pace until the smaller started wriggling against him, seeking more contact. He squeezed more tightly, grip now firm and with a cry, Red shuddered and flinched, riding out the sudden orgasm. Stretch made to let go.

“n-no, p-p-pleee-haah,” Stretch smiled down at Red, who seemed slightly more cognizant, but felt somewhat exasperated. He knew it would take more than one time, if just once were fine, it would hardly be a heat. He leaned his skull gently against the others.

“Lemme know if it's too much, kay?” Red shuddered at the warm voice in his ear. The heat that had built up in him had lessened, but only slightly. He needed more contact. He wrapped his arms around Stretch’s back and pulled them flush together. With a small ‘meep’ of protest, Stretch found himself dragged forward.

“Hey, h-hey, let's calm down a bit, okay?” He switched to gently rubbing the other’s spine and ribs while trying to gently remove him from his lap. It seemed to do the trick, Red’s small frame shuddered and became pliant once more.

“This would go a lot better if you had a dick or something,” He half laughed, half whispered to the other, who merely shivered at his voice, “uh, that was kind of your cue…” Stretch added upon seeing no change. Red panted heavily, unable to formulate a response of any sort. He instead pressed his mouth to Stretch’s neck, fangs lightly scraping at the delicate bones there.

“A-ah, this is,” Stretch swallowed thickly, “this is about you, Red,” How did he know his neck was so sensitive in the first place? “I wasn't planning to go much further, Red, but if you keep that up-!” His voice cracked as Red harshly bit down, “Okay, okay, got it!”

Stretch brought one hand up to cradle Red’s neck, the other sliding down to finger at his tail bone. Red let out a sharp wail of pleasure against his neck as the sensations became too much and he tipped over the edge for a second time. Stretch's fingers didn't stop moving, stroking and scraping against the sensitive bones even as Red moaned and whined through the aftershocks. With a quiet crack, a small, red mound had formed between his legs, slick and ready.

Stretch couldn't help the answering glow of orange that had formed in his own shorts, he thought he'd been holding up quite admirably to the heat scent taunting him. It had been getting harder and harder to ignore, but he thought he could manage.

When Red caught sight of the glow, however, his phalanges dug harshly into Stretch's ribs, air suddenly in short supply. He struggled to push himself back, at war with his body’s needs.

“What's up? want me to stop?” Stretch slowly stopped, moving his hands away as Red struggled, muttering and pleading as well as he could manage.

“nonono Boss plea-nostop, p-p-Bo-sto-” Stretch froze. His Papyrus wasn't a very good brother, indeed. He had honestly tried not to think of what exactly that had entailed but he had sincerely hoped it hadn't included…Well, anything of this sort.

Why had he thought he could help? This was obviously a bad idea. Red was obviously still terrified of him. The thought made something in his soul twist painfully. Red had managed to scoot back a bit, trembling slightly.

“You okay? you got it from here?” The noisy clack of bones answered him. He couldn't do this himself, it was only hurting Red more the longer he hesitated, “I'm gonna get Blue, he'll help you, okay? just...stay right here,”

Chapter Text

After a quick explanation, he brought his brother back and cleared out, unwilling to hang around and potentially overhear whatever it was he was pretending was not happening upstairs. He found himself at Muffets, a plate full of pastries and a fresh bottle of honey before him. He settled in, taking a booth rather than having a seat at the bar like he normally would. He waved off Muffet’s concerned look, taking a large swig of honey in a show of normalcy.

Not that anything was truly normal anymore. His thoughts wandered back to what his brother and his doppelgänger were definitely not doing at that exact moment. As much as he could understand the others reluctance, it still stung that he wasn't able to do anything to help the situation. He didn't really understand it, but he had actually wanted to help. He had wanted to make the other feel good, wanted to see him fall apart under his hands.

But he also knew what the other was capable of and part of him was still filled with rage at how quickly Red had ended his life. He hardly seemed like a threat now, but if that wasn't a clever survival technique, Stretch didn't know what was. Despite his teeth and claws, he seemed fairly meek, but if threatened...Well, he did already have some LOVE under his belt.

But this pointy version of his brother really hadn't done much of anything since he'd shown up. Have a panic attack? Bleed on the floor? Hobble around making puns? Stretch smirked as he remembered them tormenting his brother with their combined punning power. Red really was a pretty cool guy...Which made him feel even worse that he had to leave him, knowing he was hurting and needing, yet passing him off to someone else. He choked down a crumbly pastry in one go, coughing as bits of the sweet flew everywhere. He was not thinking of what the two Sanses were doing.

--

Blue was in no nonsense mode, building himself up and preparing for what he was about to do. When Papy had popped up in front of him saying he had found Red, he had initially been relieved, but it was a short lived feeling. Red was in heat and was too scared of Papy to let him truly help.

It wasn't exactly how he was planning to spend the day, but Red was his dear friend, he had helped him when he was all alone and a human was running around so the least he could do was help him in return. He found himself stopped outside of the bedroom door, hands wringing in nervousness. He was going to just go in there and help his friend through his first heat, nothing else, nothing weird, just being a good friend. With no more hesitation, he pushed his way in, instantly smacked in the face by the others scent.

Red was on the floor, curled up with his head resting on his knees, hands wrapped around his legs. His fingers bit into his arm bones, not quite causing any damage but it couldn't feel good. Of course, Blue noticed, he wasn’t doing anything that would make him feel good. His legs had to be crammed up against his chest and his arms must have been putting uncomfortable pressure on his leg. He seemed to be doing the exact opposite of what he needed to be doing. With a heavy sigh, he shut the door behind him and approached Red.

“HEY, RED…” The other startled at the sound of his name, shaky eyelights flicking to his face. “GUESS THIS MAKES A BIT MORE SENSE THAN YOU SOMEHOW GETTING A COLD, HUH?” He joked with a small smile. Red huffed out what probably was a laugh. At least he could still understand what was happening.

“I'M GOING TO GET CLOSER, OKAY?” He slowly moved to sit on the floor next to Red and placed a small hand on his shoulder. “PAPY TOLD YOU I WOULD HELP YOU, RIGHT?” He continued at the miserable nod. “I WOULD NEVER HURT YOU AND I KNOW YOU WOULDN'T HURT ME,” He saw some of the tension leave Red’s frame. “AND WHILE IT WOULD BE NICE TO TAKE OUR TIME WITH THIS, UNFORTUNATELY TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! SO! I WILL START! IF YOU DO NOT LIKE SOMETHING...PLEASE LET ME KNOW!” He smiled in a way that was hopefully comforting and let his hand slide down Red’s shoulder, gently stroking down until he was coaxing the other to loosen his grip. Red still seemed hesitant, but obediently let Blue move him.

Blue turned, trapping Red’s hands with his own and pulling them away from his body before leaning in and capturing the other in a kiss. It didn’t mean anything, he was just helping his friend. Red whined against his mouth, shifting his legs open to let the other get closer. Blue quickly summoned his tongue and ran it over the other's teeth, gently asking for entrance. After a small hesitation, they parted, revealing Red’s glowing red tongue.

They sat like this, exploring each other's mouths, until they needed to pull back for air and Red’s whimpers reminded them that just kissing wouldn't solve the problem. Blue released Red’s hands, instead running his own over the smaller ones bones, gently scraping and rubbing at the uneven textures beneath his fingertips. Small hands twisted in the material of his shirt as their tongues tangled once again. He was just helping his friend, he reminded himself once more.

Before long, Blue’s fingers had begun stroking at Red’s pubis, wringing desperate whines out of the squirming skeleton. With gentle hands, Blue lowered Red to the floor, slowly planting kisses down the other's body. (He’s my friend and he needs help.) Blue hovered over Red for a moment, making sure Red was still okay and, judging by the vivid red blush and the unintelligible babble falling from his mouth, everything seemed to be fine. Blue smiled down at him.

“REMEMBER, JUST LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT TO STOP!” He received a hesitant nod before swooping back down to lick at Red’s pubis, lapping at the sensitive bones as they began to glow. After a few more moments of attention, Red’s magic summoned with a crackle. Blue looked into Red’s eyes as he descended and, receiving no negative feedback, he buried his face between the others legs. Red twitched and jerked as Blue’s long tongue prodded at his clit, swirling and flicking before moving on to tease at the opening below, shallowly thrusting and gently stroking the small opening. One of Red’s hands settled on his head, alternating between pushing him away and pulling him closer as the other flew to his teeth in a vain attempt to stop the flood of lewd noises pouring from his mouth.

Unwilling to drag it out any further, Blue thrusted his tongue as deeply as it would go, bringing his hand up to thumb vigorously at Red’s clit. The constant attentions brought Red over the edge once more, panting harshly as Blue slowly withdrew his tongue. One glance at Red’s face, however, told him all he needed to know. It wasn’t enough.

“ARE YOU DOING OKAY, RED?” He smoothed his palms over the bones of Red’s still spread legs.

“uh...uh huh…” Blue panicked internally. He didn’t want to hurt the other by doing something he wasn’t comfortable with, but he also wasn’t sure how to ask him if it was okay.

“GOOD. I THINK, THOUGH, THAT PERHAPS. YOUR HEAT WILL...HM, WILL NOT BE SATISFIED WITH JUST THIS.” Red nodded hesitantly, “SO I THINK, I MEAN, IS IT ALRIGHT IF I...PUT MY- IF I...PENET- OH DEAR,” Blue’s face was absolutely on fire.

“if y-ya put it in ‘n’ fuck m-me? if that’ll m-make this stop, g-go fer it,” Blue was not only glad to hear he had Red’s permission, but also glad to see that Red’s face was glowing nearly as much as his own. Good. They both felt terribly awkward. As two friends who had been driven to have sex by circumstances beyond their control should feel. He pulled his erection out of his own shorts, it having formed at some point. Red seemed to have gotten his breathing under control, so Blue gently started preparing him.

Slicking up two fingers, Blue pressed inside, slowly twisting and scissoring inside him. It wasn’t long before Red was panting harshly again, grinding his hips down onto Blue’s fingers. Blue gently added a third finger, flexing and feeling around until he hit a spot that made Red absolutely scream. Deciding it was a good scream, he lets his fingers graze it repeatedly as he palmed his own dick, readying to push himself into Red’s moist heat.

“haah, pl- hnn, please, oh,” Red seemed more than ready and, judging by the way his pussy was sucking his fingers in, his body was too.

“OKAY...I AM GOING TO,” He cleared his throat awkwardly, “YES, OKAY…” It was too embarrassing to say. The sooner he got on with it, the sooner his friend would feel better and the sooner he wouldn’t feel so strange about what he was doing. With that thought in mind, he removed his fingers with a squelch, instead, dragging the head of his dick between the soft, red folds. Red’s hips twitched forward, giving Blue the last reassurance he needed to slowly sink into the warm body beneath him.

Red moaned languidly the whole time Blue was pressing himself in, only hitching to breathe when Blue would pause to let him adjust. An eternity later, Blue gently bumped into the back of Red’s magic, making Red squeak sharply in surprised pleasure.

“p-please, pleeaasse, move, god please m-move,” Red pleaded with the unmoving Blue until finally, ever so slowly, Blue pulled back and, stutteringly, set a slow, measured pace. The force of his thrusts ground Red into the floor, the sting on his bones heightening the pleasure. It became too much and not enough and he latched on to Blue’s spine, attempting to draw him closer, faster, groaning at the constant pressure.

Blue smiled fondly and answered his plea, adjusting his hold on the other skeleton and picking up the pace. He shifted, making himself more comfortable, and picked up Red’s legs, new angle making the low, constant noises shift to high wails and moans as Blue hit his sweet spot repeatedly.

“Blue! oh! shi’- hnng, pl-please oh, fas-sster,” Blue tried to speed up, but the movements were oddly stiff and he found himself unable to maintain the pace for longer than a few thrusts at a time. In apology, Blue instead let one leg drop, bringing his hand back to the glowing red mound beneath him and rubbing it gently. Red’s body spasmed at the new sensation and his fingers scrabbled at Blue’s spine.

Blue found himself panting as well. He was just meant to be helping his friend through his heat, not getting off on this himself! But...It was a perfectly normal reaction to stimulation, he couldn’t really be blamed for whatever happened, could he? A particularly vicious thrust had Red’s fingers slipping between his vertebrae, a heady sensation that nearly had his hips halting in their motions. Blue didn’t think he could last much longer and he wasn’t sure Red could either.

He twisted his hand around and let his fingers pinch at the small nub buried between the red lips. He drove himself as deeply as he could into the twitching pussy and when Red finally came, liquid magic squelched out from around his dick, inner walls fluttering and milking at Blue’s magic until he also came, his own release spurting into the skeleton beneath him.

Blue stayed thrusting shallowly while both rode out their orgasms, wringing every last drop of pleasure from Red’s body. When it was through, Red’s conjured genitalia vanished silently, completely spent. Blue dismissed his own as he leaned over to check Red. His bones were cooler to the touch, his face and joints were no longer flushed with magic, it seemed like his heat was over.

He smiled softly at the scarred skeleton. His breathing had evened out and he had managed to drift off to sleep already, likely exhausted from the day's activities. He adjusted his clothing and picked up the other skeleton, he wasn’t about to let him rest covered in filth!

After his bones had been wiped clean and his injuries re-wrapped, he tucked Red into his own bed, wrapping him snugly in his warm blankets. He looked more peaceful than he had in days. Blue placed a chaste kiss on his forehead before heading back into Papy’s room. He’d need to clean up after their, ahem, activities and then let his brother know that it was safe to come back.

Chapter Text

Red woke up to a dark room with a mysterious ache-y tiredness settled deep in his bones. It wasn't the most unpleasant feeling, but he couldn't seem to place how it had come to be. He managed to stiffly roll over, immediately recognizing himself in Blue’s room for some reason. The last vestiges of sleep crumbled away as he forced himself to sit up. His mouth tasted like something died in it and felt about as lovely.

He managed to right himself as he stood, careful with his leg, only then noticing he was stark naked.

What the-

Luckily for him, at that exact moment the door opened, Blue quietly letting himself in. Red stifled a laugh at the gasp the other let out when he spotted him.

“RED! YOU'RE AWAKE! I THOUGHT YOU'D SLEEP LONGER! HOW ARE YOU FEELING?” Blue’s eyes were slightly averted.

That's right, I'm naked. He dove back into the blankets before gathering himself.

“okay, a l-little confused…” Geez, husky. How many packs a day, man?

“HERE! I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT BE THIRSTY, WATER!” Red blindly flailed a hand outside of the blanket until, with a laugh, Blue placed the bottle in his hand, “ARE YOU FEELING BETTER NOW?”

“uh, yeah...what h-happened?” It was probably important if he was naked. And sore. Naked and sore usually equaled sex, didn't it? But he was pretty sure he'd remember-

“YOU WENT INTO HEAT SO WE MAY HAVE HELPED YOU OUT.” Red’s brain stopped for a moment. He'd had a heat? He'd had sex?? He'd had sex with not one but both of the brothers??? Blue must have been able to read his mind, quickly reassuring them, “PAPY GOT ME TO COME HELP YOU, YOU SAID IT WAS OKAY SO I HOPE YOU DON'T MIND!”

Red wasn't one hundred percent sure if he was relieved or not. On one hand, he had had a sexual encounter or two with both brothers, on the other, he'd only gone all the way with Blue...On another hand, he had apparently gone into his very first heat ever for some reason...On yet another hand, he didn't really remember it...yet?

He must have looked conflicted because Blue piped up.

“I AN SORRY IT COULDN'T BE DISCUSSED MORE BEFOREHAND, BUT I HELPED PAPY THROUGH HIS FIRST HEAT SO I KNEW WHAT TO EXPECT...TO A POINT.” That...didn't help.

“s-sorry ya had to do that…”

“IT'S PERFECTLY NATURAL! I ONLY HOPE WE DIDN'T HURT YOU SOMEHOW OR CAUSE YOU ANY DISCOMFORT.”

“uh…’m ok.” Maybe. The more he thought about it, the more disconcerted he felt about having had sex with the monster in front of him. Or really having had sex at all. He'd had enough bad experience with Boss’s heats that he never really found himself wanting to do...that. Though he had the distinct impression that he had enjoyed himself. So that was...good…

“I AM SO GLAD TO HEAR THAT!” He looked it too, “I WAS HOPING THAT WE COULD ALL TALK ABOUT IT DOWNSTAIRS LATER?”

“talk about...w-what exactly?”

“WELL! SOME VERY IMPORTANT CHANGES ARE HAPPEN-PEN-PEN-PEN-PEN-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N

Red felt the air whoosh out of him as Blue’s form flickered and stuttered, speech stuck on a loop. The world around him inhaled deeply, Blue, the desk, the bed, the whole room swelling in size before shrinking rapidly, winking out of existence.

He remembered this. Didn’t this happen before? The world was suddenly replaced by nothing? It was hard to recall everything. There was nothing to recall.

Everything was nothing.

It was so dark.

--

Stretch awoke on the floor next to his mattress. His tired mind took extra long to process what had happened.

“Really, kid? again?” With an exasperated sigh, he hauled himself up on the mattress, absently noting that Red would pop into existence soon. At the thought of Red, a heavy blush took over his face, “aw, shit, is that gonna happen every time?” And he wouldn’t be able to help because he shared the same face as someone who had hurt Red terribly.

A small part of his mind whispered ‘You like like him~’ tauntingly, while a larger portion indignantly replied ‘No i don’t!’ and the more logical side rounded out the argument with ‘It’s just pity combined with a longing for acceptance’. Stretch wasn’t particularly fond of any of those answers, truth or not, and decided to, instead, get the first aid kit and his brother so they could prepare for whatever state Red would be in upon arrival this time.

When he did finally appear, it was both better and worse than they had anticipated. He appeared with the same muffled thump as always.

“HEY, RED! WELCOME BACK! HOW DO YOU FEEL?” The brothers slowly approached him, wary. Red blinked at them.

“’m okay. well, m’ leg hurts like a bitch ‘n’ ‘m real tired but not too bad. why?”

“Red, c’mon, we’re your friends, of course we’re concerned,” Stretch tried not to be exasperated, things had been tough on the shark-toothed skeleton for quite a while now, “come on, come lay down, let us fix your leg up,” Red slowly limped forward a few steps.

“my friends? tha’s you guys?” Stretch’s sockets furrowed in concern.

“RED? HOW MUCH DO YOU REMEMBER?” Red thought it over for a long moment.

“uhhhm…’m sorry...i don’...” There was no recognition on his face. Blue and Stretch shared a panicked look. He had been disoriented before, but he always was able to come back to himself pretty quickly.

“OKAY, WELL, I’M BLUE AND THIS IS MY BROTHER STRETCH. AND YOU’RE RED...YOU CAME HERE FROM ANOTHER...UNIVERSE…?” He confirmed with a glance at his brother, “UMM…”

“Ringin’ any bells, buddy?”

“uhh, brother? like Boss? universe? sorry i-” Red swayed on his feet suddenly. Slightly closer, Blue dashed forward to steady him.

“RED? ARE YOU OKAY?”

“huh? Blue? what’s...oh god,” He lurched to the side, as away from the brothers as he could get and retched suddenly. Shocked by the change, Blue shifted his hold, grabbing the wastebasket Stretch offered and getting it below Red just in time. He gently rubbed the smaller skeleton’s back as he heaved up spent magic.

The brothers shared a sympathetic glance this time, before a terrible noise, not unlike a dying animal, wrought itself from Red’s throat. Their faces shifted to panic, Stretch halfway to dialing Undyne’s phone number. Mixed in with the spent magic dripping through Red’s teeth was a black, tar-like sludge.

Chapter Text

Red was tired and unhappy. Did something bad seriously have to happen every time this universe reset? Just a moment's peace would be nice. But no, now, at least, he wasn't feeling hot and tingly and aroused, he just wanted to vomit up his entire store of magic. And whatever that black stuff was.

Though, to be honest, he didn't mind if he kept vomiting that shit up. It burned like a bitch coming out, but it was so very wrong. It didn’t belong to him. It shouldn't be in his body. Nothing like it should have ever been in his body and he would gladly spend the day purging it from himself if it meant it was gone.

He forced himself to relax, pulling the blanket over his head as a wave of nausea passed through him. Undyne was apparently on her way over, how much help she could provide he wasn’t sure, and Blue was trying to cook something light. Stretch, that angel, had managed to convince Blue that perhaps tacos would not be the best food for a sickness like this and somehow had him making some sort of porridge concoction. Stretch had seemed almost excited when he told Red about the dinosaur eggs inside, though he wasn't sure what the fuss was about.

He took in a deep, stuffy breath as the feeling passed and resurfaced. Stretch had returned and was looking at him with something akin to amusement.

“Having fun in Blanketville?” Red snorted.

“it's jus’ so comforter-ble, i c-could sheet here all day,” Stretch eased himself onto the sofa next to him with a laugh.

“Just don't spread yourself out too far, I need some space for these old bones,”

“i couldn’ throw myself that f-far if I tried,” He stretched his legs out, wiggling his toes for effect, “too fuckin’ sh-short,”

“Yeah,” Stretch agreed, “you're sofa-king short, buddy,”

“WOULD YOU QUILT IT YOU TWO! YOU GUYS ARE THE ABSOLUTE WORST!” Blue came stomping into the room, a bowl between his hands.

“i think we're getting bedder and bedder,” Red snickered as he took the bowl from the other, studying it’s lumpy contents. The white things must be the dinosaur eggs the other had mentioned. It really didn’t look that appetizing, the image making his stomach roll a bit, but the smell was sweet and warm and comforting. Stretch shot an expectant look at his brother.

“LAZYBONE BROTHERS CAN GET THEIR OWN FOOD!” Blue called over his shoulder as he vanished back into the kitchen. Red positively cackled at the look of shock on Stretch’s face.

“Bro, not cool!” He whined as he hauled himself off the sofa. Blue only smiled at him as he passed by again, tossing himself into the seat Stretch had just vacated.

“INDEED, BROTHER, IT'S QUITE HOT! MWEH HEH HEH!” He jiggled the bowl in his brother's direction, causing Red to spit the oatmeal which had been in his mouth, back into the bowl, “EW, RED! THATS DISGUSTING!” He grinned at him anyway, the others oatmeal-splattered laughter more than welcome.

When he came back, Stretch settled himself on the floor in front of the couch, focus on his bowl. Red glanced into his own bowl, finding the weird white lumps had, at some point, became little colorful dinosaurs. Huh. That didn’t seem entirely necessary, but okay. Red noticed Blue’s eye lights drifting between himself and his brother. Before he could question it, Blue held a finger up to his teeth and gleefully pointed at Stretch.

It was a bit hard to see over his shoulder, but Stretch was...pushing the little dinosaurs around in the bowl? He sent a puzzled glance back at Blue who only gestured to his brother again. Shifting to the side a bit, it was easier to see how meticulously Stretch was arranging the dinosaurs by color. Carefully, he dug through the oatmeal to unearth more dinosaurs, looking particularly pleased when it was a red one.

Red looked down at his own bowl, a few dinosaurs scattered throughout. There was a single red one in the mess, which he quickly ate. Mmm, sugar. He looked back to Stretch as he ate slowly, relishing each dinosaur but not touching the red ones. Blue looked like he was about to burst.

“PAPY, DON'T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!” He scolded playfully, though Stretch jumped as though it had been screamed. Seeing that he had both skeletons attention, he smiled sheepishly.

“The red ones are the best,” Red snorted at the explanation, choking when when some oatmeal flew down his throat at the action. Blue thumped him on the back and, taking advantage of the distraction, Stretch finished off the rest of the dinosaurs before mixing the red ones back in with the oats.

“wha’s the p-point of pickin’ them out, ya doofus?” For some reason, Red couldn’t fathom what Stretch had done and why exactly it was so funny, just that he was having trouble speaking through his laughter. Blue was positively vibrating.

“HE SAYS HE DOESN'T WANT THE OTHER DINOS TO TAINT THE PURITY OF THE FLAVOR OF THE RED ONES!”

“This is slander. utter betrayal. i can’t believe my own baby bro would stoop so low as to sell his own brother out like this,” His face has a light orange glow, contradicting the nonchalance of his response. Blue playfully stuck out his conjured tongue, wet bits of chewed up oatmeal and dinosaurs still attached.

“ew, Blue! that’s disgusting!” Red did his best to pitch his voice higher, a poor imitation at sounding like Blue that had them rolling with laughter until a hesitant knock sounded from the front door.

Red’s laughter halted almost instantly. He had honestly forgotten that Undyne was going to be coming over and his stomach roiled anew at the thought of meeting her so suddenly.

Still chuckling to himself, Blue moved to open the door, making Red’s stomach clench suddenly. Luckily, they had placed a trash can nearby just in case. Unfortunately, Red was unable to get to the can before black sludge and oatmeal was seeping through his teeth. Red moaned miserably when he noticed Blue surging forward, Undyne hanging behind, hands twisting in the strap of her bag.

“Uh, uhm, d-did I- Oh, no, sorry. I didn’t m-mean to…”

Chapter Text

Stretch could do little more than laugh at Red’s perfect timing as Blue tried to both reassure Undyne that it wasn’t her fault and help Red get cleaned up again. Every glare Blue sent his way just started the chuckling anew until, finally, Red threatened to barf on him. Stretch helpfully threw a towel over the mess on the floor.

“SO YOU SEE, UNDYNE, HE, UM JUST WOKE UP THIS MORNING, SICK. THIS BLACK STUFF, WE DON'T- WE DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS BUT SINCE YOU'RE A DOCTOR…”

“I’m r-really n-n-not that k-kind of doctor, Sans…” She looked as though she’d rather be anywhere but the skeleton household. A look Red shared, eye lights trained on the fish, suspicion literally oozing like sweat on his skull.

“We might...need to tell her…” Stretch idly ran a finger over the bottom of his grin, “it isn’t really a normal situation, so a normal solution probably wouldn’t work...Red?” He flinched at the sound of his name.

“uh, wuh-?”

“Can we tell her? about the...uh...ultiverse-may avel-tray? an’... i guess the...esets-ray if we gotta.” Undyne did not look amused.

“I c-can hear you, you know.” Her teeth seemed to glint in the morning light, the points suddenly so much more threatening than Red’s own.

“y-yeah, s-sure…” It wasn’t really anyone else’s business, but all the weird shit that plagued him after seemingly every reset seemed to get stranger and stranger and, frankly, it was getting old. Undyne frowned at their poor attempt at secrecy.

“M-maybe we sh-should definitively r-r-rule out the normal stuff first!” Red definitely didn’t flinch at the harshness of her tone, “Vomiting, have y-you b-been sick recently?” Her eyes softened when she noticed his bones rattling slightly. Red looked to Blue for help.

“uhh...k-kinda? m-maybe?” Undyne narrowed her eyes when Blue agreed hesitantly with a noncommittal shrug.

“O...kay...Well...Vomiting in the m-morning, c-could be morning sickness. Any chance y-you might be pr-pregnant?” All three skeletons fell completely silent at the question, Red’s eye lights completely gutted out, “Is...Is that a m-maybe?” Stretch was the first to recover.

“No, definitely not, well, maybe, i mean- no! that’s not- ugh! not the vomiting itself…?” He gestured to the covered pile of sick, “there’s black stuff in there that isn’t his magic. we don’t know what it is! but it’s not normal!” Undyne looked intrigued enough to actually lift the towel and peek under. After a moment of careful study, she returned her attention to the skeleton awkwardly shuffling in place.

“S-so, m-multiverse travel? I suppose th-that means I sh-should call you Sans…?” Red wasn’t ready for the genuine question, only nodding in response. Blue interjected for him.

“JUST CALL HIM RED! AND CALL ME BLUE!” Undyne turned to Stretch.

“Call me ‘The Butt-Sniffer of Lore’” He hauled himself up onto the seat of the couch, basking in the variety of disgusted reactions his declaration received. Red was hunched over, one hand braced on his knee, the other cradling his stomach.

“h-holy shit, man, is that y-yer p-password?” At Stretch’s nod, he gave up on holding it in, surprisingly deep chuckles joining the sharp, disgusted protests of the others.

“Why? what’s yours?” Red couldn’t calm himself enough to say anything.

“ALRIGHT, IGNORING THOSE TWO IDIOTS. WERE CALLING PAPY, STRETCH!”

“Is R-Red’s Papyrus here too?” She looked around, as though expecting him to be hiding behind the sofa. Blue and Stretch traded glances.

“ERR...NO, WE JUST THOUGHT IT BEST WE DIFFERENTIATE…”

“B-but if y-you don’t need t-“

“So! he got here on accident using a shortcut, which passes through The Void. usually it’s...not so bad, but recently-“ Stretch interjected, hoping he could somehow give enough information without needing to talk about...certain topics.

“Usually? Does he g-go back and f-forth?” Undyne, despite her stutter and overall shy demeanor, took no shit, even from an old friend. Stretch sighed, really, he should’ve known better.

“You...might wanna sit down,” He addressed the other skeletons in the room, “why don’t you go upstairs and get Red comfortable, you guys already know this stuff,” Red looked like he was about to protest, “and no, i can see you’re still not feeling well, go lay down, idiot,”

“whatever, beanpole,” He gingerly hauled himself to his feet, brushing away Blue’s hand as they shuffled upstairs together. Undyne and Stretch watched the two as they entered Blue’s bedroom, faintly able to hear the mumbles of a conversation. Undyne rounded on Stretch.

“Well?”

--

Luckily, Undyne, while not a medical doctor, was fully qualified with a Doctorate’s degree and was easily able to keep up with Stretch’s explanation. As a scientist, the idea of resets and travel through the multiverse was fascinating. As a decent person, it was terrifying, and for every excited question she posed, three more terrifying possibilities made themselves known.

“So...You’re saying that there’s a h-human in the Underground and at any g-given moment, they c-could reset and I w-would forget everything you just t-told me?”

“Uh, yeah, pretty much. but these reset’s have been really fuckin’ poor Red up. we were kinda getting used to him bein’ out of commission and a bit spacey ‘n’ forgetful the day of a reset, but this morning he shows up barfing this black shit? and for a bit...i really think he couldn’t remember us...”

Though she longed to theorize the shit out of the reset conundrum, Stretch made sure she remembered he was telling her this out of a desire to help Red. She rummaged around in her bag for a moment, shoving the contents around as she searched for something to collect a sample in. Had she known, she would’ve grabbed a vial or at least a jar…

“I’ll n-need to run some t-tests on the, uh, the black stuff...Uh, d-do you have something I c-could use to t-take a sample?” Stretch looked so stupidly relieved she would help that she almost felt bad for giving him a hard time.

“Yeah, yeah, i think i can get somethin’” As he crossed the room to look for something, Undyne gently grabbed his arm.

“We...Can we- can we t-talk about this? L-later?” He threw a hesitant look to the closed door upstairs before nodding, “G-good...And...I have a question…? Uh, how many t-times have you t-told me this?” Stretch’s face went unreadable.

“Just this once, ‘Dyne.” He moved her hand off his arm and went to get a jar.

Chapter Text

Undyne wasn’t fond of Stretch’s shortcuts, but now that she was hyper aware of the potential time limit she was working with, she deemed it a necessary evil of sorts. Stretch had also agreed, wary, he explained, since the kid had been resetting startlingly often recently. He left her in the lab, her belongings haphazardly stuffed in her bag and a jar of vomit clutched to her chest with a promise to keep him updated every step of the way.

Home was fairly quiet, only the muffled clink of dishes being washed in the kitchen broke the silence. Red was probably asleep, then, if Blue was downstairs cleaning. He stuck his head in the kitchen to let Blue know he had returned before heading upstairs to check on Red. Said skeleton was curled up in his little brother’s bed, starry blankets halfway covering his skull. The normally gruff lines of his face were smoothed over, a loose smile further softening the appearance of his sharp teeth. A bit of translucent, red saliva was pooling on the pillow beneath his mouth. Leaning in closer, he could just hear the faint sound of air whistling through his nasal aperture.

He looked adorable. Not adorable like his brother, adorable, but his own, unique brand of adorable. A pointy, slightly dangerous but probably (possibly) not, kind of adorable. His hand slowly crept forward, acting independently of the body it was attached to. Stretch gently ran a finger along the side of the smaller’s skull, the grate of bone on bone making him shiver. Seeing no reaction from Red, Stretch felt himself get bolder, this time cupping his hand around his cheek bone. With short, languid strokes, he pet the other. After a few passes, Red shifted, nuzzling his face into the warmth cradling him.

Shit, that was really fucking adorable. Stretch came back to himself suddenly. What was he doing? He carefully pulled his hand back. Red let out a quiet huff and settled more deeply into the blankets, one hand emerging to grasp at the pillow. Stretch smiled fondly at the action, something he’d seen his own brother do often enough. For a moment, he lost himself in thought, eye lights fixed on the air somewhere above Red’s false tooth.

It was, of course, at this moment Red decided to wake back up. For a brief second Red panicked, a looming Boss-shape standing over him as he slept, but he quelled the fear quickly. Recently it had been easier for him to separate the elements of this world from the memories of his own. Most importantly, the more he got to know Stretch, the less he confused him with Boss. Granted, Stretch was just as much an asshole as Boss with the right incentive, but his default state was much more lax than his first impression had led him to believe. Still, Red rather prided himself on the fact that he too, was an asshole.

“g-got sumthin’ on my face?” Red grumbled, startling the other into jerking out of his hunched over position.

“Yeah, an attitude problem. was hoping to fix it before you woke up.” He winked, relieved when the other barked out a laugh.

“food t-time already?”

“Nah, jus’ makin’ sure you’re still alive up here. go back to sleep,” Red’s response followed him to the door.

“don’ wake m-me up with yer c-creepy ass stare next time!” Stretch laughed as he gently shut the door behind him.

“No promises…”

It was, surprisingly enough, only a few short hours until Undyne called with answers.

“I’ve r-run the tests over and over b-but...whatever this b-black stuff is, it’s n-nothing I’ve ever s-seen before. I d-don’t...If I didn’t know any b-better, I’d say it w-was nothing.”

“Nothing? so it’s not important?”

“N-no, like...the elements th-that make up this s-stuff don’t exist...Or, r-rather, they’ve never been d-discovered? I’ve n-never seen anything l-like it…” Stretch gave the information a moment to process.

“Do ya think...it could be from The Void? i mean, he said that’s where he ends up between resets…”

“Well I’ve n-never personally s-studied it, s-so I don’t know if…” Stretch waited anxiously when she suddenly stopped speaking, “Actually, l-let me call you b-back,” The call ended abruptly, leaving Stretch staring at the handset, bewildered.

“PAPY, WHAT DID SHE SAY?” Blue had definitely not been eavesdropping on the phone call. He could only hear Stretch’s end of the conversation, in any case.

“Uh, she’s not sure yet. guess she got another idea…” He knew she didn’t particularly like talking on the phone, often choosing instead to ping others on the Undernet, so he felt marginally grateful she had been able to call him at all. Blue didn’t seem to share the same sentiment, huffing in frustration, arms crossed.

“SO WE STILL KNOW NOTHING?” His face dropped, “POOR RED…”

“Hey, he’ll be okay, bro. he’s up there sleeping right now. seems to feel a lot better,” Blue seemed to contemplate this for a moment before letting out a noise of assent.

“AFTER LUNCH, I NEED TO MAKE MY ROUNDS, WILL YOU BE OKAY HERE?”

“Sure thing, bro. you know there’s nothing i love more than skull-king around,” Blue about-faced, marching into the kitchen without a word. Stretch snickered and watched him, sobering when he noticed the others tense posture.

Without being in the lab himself, Stretch had really done all he could regarding the black goop. He felt confident it had something to do with Red’s time in The Void, but what it was or why it was happening now, he had no idea. Thinking back to the first few resets, he felt he could confidently say that this was the first time it had happened. But how many resets had it been since he showed up? How much time had he actually spent in that place between universes? He had so many questions, but no real way to get any answers. The same theories he’d been entertaining for hours continually raced through his mind. He slid a cigarette out of his hoodie-pocket-secret-stash as he stepped outside. He’d wake Red in a bit, but first, he needed to ease the tension he felt building at the base of his skull.

Chapter Text

The world reset before Undyne could come to any conclusions.

Stretch sat up on his mattress, mouth tilted into a frown. Well, that had been a total bust. Though he wasn’t sure Undyne would have been able to help anyway, her field of study having been Engineering. Not exactly something that would’ve helped them figure out this weird Void(?) situation. Stretch scrubbed his hands over his face, they needed to prepare for when Red popped up, chances were it would be similar to last time. Without the barf would be nice, though. It was really quite hard to clean up.

Red couldn’t move. Normally he’d be running but the darkness, the voice, the pressure, the eyes pressed down on him. He struggled in the invisible grip, the darkness oozing across his bones.

It was wrong. It was disgusting. He tried to pull away, only managing a small twitch of his fingers. The darkness licked at his skull, prodding at his teeth, seeking to press itself inside. He grit his teeth further. As though in response, something edged along his eye socket, leaving a slimy trail of unsettling nothingness that threatened to drip over the edge.

Whatever was holding him down must have glued his eye sockets open, no matter how hard he tried, they wouldn’t close. He tried flaring his magic, hoping to at least startle the nothing so that he might get a chance to run, but the magic only sparked before sputtering out completely. The inky blackness ran across his bones, nothing slowly creeping to his most private of places. He couldn’t help the panic that overcame him, the strange foreign matter exploring his body without regard for his revulsion. In fact, he’d almost say it was pleased by it.

<YeS. y0u|| Do.>

There was that strange, indecipherable voice again. Before he could wonder about it, the darkness moved.

His panic spiked, the oily nothing had started writhing and invading all at once. It plunged into his sockets, forced its way between clenched teeth, and wrapped itself around his soul. Red-tinted tears leaked from his stuffed sockets. There was nothing touching him but the nothing was violating his everything. Even Boss had never-

His cries were muffled as the darkness forced its way down his throat, sputtering and choking as best he could manage. The more he wanted to cry, the more acutely he felt the liquid being shoved back in his head, nothing forcing its way into his skull. It slithered silently over his bones, coating each one until he was sure he was as one with the darkness as he could be. But all that fell to the wayside as the coil around his soul began pressing in with a sharp pinch. Even if he were capable of running or fighting, he was certain the intrusion would have had him writhing on the ground. As it was, he could only shudder slightly, too deeply entrenched in darkness to react properly.

The oily darkness was sliding into his soul, a thick, dirty feeling slowly displacing the stagnant magic within. His soul swelled, attempting to fight off the foreign body, but only made itself a more appealing target. As the darkness flooded into him, the pain grew. He wanted to stab through his eye sockets, claw at his bones, tear his soul out of his chest. He couldn’t even be grateful he couldn’t move.

It hurt so much.

It scared him.

It had to stop.

He couldn’t move.

He needed to protect himself.

He needed to escape.

Safety.

He needed-

“Any time, now.” Stretch yawned as he glanced at the clock, “ you ready, bro?”

After a long pause, Blue nodded, hands clenched around the first aid kit.

“Hey, don’t look so down, he’ll be okay. ‘n’ hey, at least the kit refills itself every reset!” He could hardly laugh at his own poorly timed joke, his brothers scathing stare unsurprising, “sorry…”

“I JUST WISH THIS DIDN'T HAVE TO HAPPEN! HES ALREADY GONE THROUGH SO MUCH AND NOW THAT HE'S FINALLY SAFE…” He rubbed his finger along the edge of the first aid kit, “HE'S NOT EVEN SAFE...I JUST…” Blue tears welled in his sockets. Stretch leaned over, wrapping an arm around him, comforting the smaller skeleton when a sound signaled Reds arrival.

“Hey, buddy, welco- Red?” With alarm he stood from the bed. He cautiously moved towards the skeleton on the floor, one hand waving behind him, warning Blue to stay put. Red was crouched on the floor, definitely conscious, but it somehow made Stretch uneasy, “Red? you there, man? it’s me, Stretch. Blue is behind me. can ya hear me?” The edgy skeleton rattled a bit but otherwise remained unmoved.

“SANS?” As though awakened by the sound of his name, Red’s skull shot up, eye socket flaring with red magic, rictus grin bared in threat as he hunched over on all fours. A low growl emanated from somewhere in his chest, though he was sweating profusely. Stretch took a startled step back. This was not what he had been expecting at all.

He kept a hesitant eye on the others posturing, but couldn’t help but flinch when he noticed the black sludge. It seemed to be coming from everywhere. It leaked from his sockets, it seeped from between his teeth, it even dripped from under his clothing, back stains tainting cloth and bone alike.

“Holy shit, what the fuck?” Blue didn’t even try to scold him for his improper language, much too distracted by the vicious glint in Red’s eye sockets.

“RED? SANS? IT’S OKAY, WE WANT TO HELP YOU!” His voice cracked slightly halfway through, but otherwise, he felt rather proud of how calm he sounded. The words, however, didn’t seem to reach Red. His skull merely cocked to one side, splattering black goop on the floor before his growl turned into a full snarl. He visibly bristled when Stretch tried to take a step forward, claws digging into the carpet as he arched his back, puffing himself up as large as possible.

The brothers exchanged a confused glance and Red made his move. With a feral howl, he launched himself forward, claws out and jaw wide open. Only his excellent dodging skills saved Stretch from gaining a few new holes in his bones.

“Hey, man, calm down, it’s okay!” But no comprehension lit in Red’s eyes, only a spark of determination as he lunged again, aiming not for the skeletons, but for the door. Blue had never thought he’d be so grateful to have honed his magic control and reaction times to the extent he had until the very moment he managed to turn Red’s soul blue, pinning him to the floor.

“I’M VERY SORRY RED, BUT WE NEED YOU TO LISTEN TO US FOR A BIT!” The monster growled and snarled as he thrashed on the floor, straining against the gravity holding him down, “PLEASE! DON’T MAKE THIS HARDER ON YOURSELF! YOU’LL BE FINE SOON!” Blue streaks stained his cheeks as he watch the black ooze bubble up through Red’s teeth, the black streaks on the carpet spreading farther.

“You think you can hold him, bro? if we can get him to the lab, maybe Undyne can help him out...or at least knock him out…” Blue’s concentration wavered for a moment as he thought and Red threw himself into his struggles, managing to shake the blue off. The moment he could stand, he launched himself at the window, glass raining down after him as he crashed through.

“Holy fuck,”

“...AGREED.”

They needed to find Red. If he was able to attack them so easily, what would happen to the rest of the Underground?

Chapter Text

The brothers spared a quick moment to patch the window, after all YOU NEVER KNOW IF THIS WILL BE THE LAST RESET before ultimately deciding they needed to let Alphys know. If Red was a threat to even them, monsters they were pretty sure he trusted, the Royal Guard needed to be aware. Blue somehow managed to convince the lizard that the poor skeleton had fallen prey to some obscure skeleton disease and was hallucinating, just in case they found him before the brothers did. They really didn’t want to deal with Red attacking the Guard and the fallout that would surely arise after.

This time, tracking the edgy skeleton was significantly easier. He had seemingly forgotten he could teleport and fresh tracks speckled with drops of marrow in the snow led them into the forest behind their home. Hoping he had just sequestered himself in the forest, Stretch walked alongside his brother, keeping a sharp eye on the abnormal, “four-legged” tracks. Every so often a splatter of black goop sitting on top of the snow reminded them, as though they had forgotten, that time was of the essence.

“PAPY, WHAT’S HAPPENING? WHY IS HE ACTING THIS WAY?” Blue kept his eye lights searching the forest around them. Stretch shrugged, hands making a few aborted gestures before sighing.

“I dunno, bro,” He mentally analyzed a puddle of goop in their path. Whatever it was sat on top of the snow but showed no signs of being affected by the temperature. It was black as pitch, not reflecting any of the early morning lighting. He wanted to touch it, but considering what it was currently, potentially (definitely), doing to Red, he was understandably hesitant.

But the scientist in him begged him to touch the goopy stuff. He sent a quick mental apology to Blue as he crept to a smaller puddle, one finger out and ready.

“PAPY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Stretch jumped as his brothers voice broke his focus, sending his ratty sneaker sliding across the snow.

“Holy sh-“ With a disgraceful plop, he landed in the goop anyway, body seizing at the contact. How could something feel so malicious while also feeling so empty? He pulled his face out of the snow, the strange black stuff sliding down the side of his skull. It definitely didn’t feel cold, it just felt...there. Barely. It felt familiar.

“PAPY! ARE YOU OKAY? I’M SORRY, I SHOULDN'T HAVE SHOUTED AND STARTLED YOU!” Blue reached a hand up to get the slick off Stretch’s face.

“Don’t touch it, bro,” He wiped it off himself, flicking it back into the snow, “could be dangerous,”

“BUT IT WAS ON YOUR FACE! DO YOU FEEL OKAY?!” Blue’s hands were at the ready.

“I feel fine, but i can’t risk my baby bro,” He sent a fond smile at Blue’s huff, “anyway, we need to find Red.”

They walked for what felt like hours, though a glance at Blue’s watch said it had been only 20 minutes or so. The trail just kept going and, before long, they realized it was looping back around, back towards the homes they had already thought to be safe. A strange rustling had them hurrying, following the path with the single-minded goal of reaching the end, no longer worried about other clues. A quick glance at the “sky” told Stretch what he had feared. Ahead was a small clearing, often used by children practicing their budding magic. Blue must have realized it too and they were both running.

They found Red in the clearing, though he wasn’t alone. He had backed himself up to a massive tree, sheltering himself among its roots as he tore a chunk out of whatever he was holding, quickly scarfing it down as though he were starving. To the left of the clearing, a small bunny sat, clutching at its legs as it tried desperately not to draw the skeletons attention with its tears.

In front of Red lay the remains of the bunny’s parent, not quite dead but getting there quickly. Stretch and Blue shared a quick look, nodding before moving. Blue crept to the smaller rabbit, Pepper, if he remembered correctly, trying to subtly draw its attention so it could get away without alerting Red to their presence. Stretch took a more direct route, trying to get Red’s attention and possibly help the poor monster in front of him. He approached carefully, willing the other skeleton to feel his intent, or lack thereof. Stretch felt his magic churn violently, threatening expulsion when he finally got a clear look at the dying rabbit’s leg clenched between Red’s claws, freely bleeding where chunks had been torn out to be eaten. Talk about shitty luck.

As though called by the inappropriate thought that filtered through his skull, Red glanced up. Well, now he had Red’s attention. The other's motions had stopped, his eye lights trained on Stretch. He stopped moving, just close enough for the scent of the rabbits blood to make his non-existent stomach clench. There was no way he wasn’t going to puke before the day was out.

“H-hey, man. you gotta put the leg down, they’re seriously hurt,” Red didn’t so much as blink, pulling the leg, and the rabbit, closer to his face, “can you understand me?” Red made to bite into the leg again only for the monster to suddenly dust in his grasp.

“Dammit, that’s a no, then,” He quickly turned Red’s soul blue, pulling him to the ground a bit away from the fresh dust. The other thrashed in his grip making Stretch wince. The more the skeleton fought, the harder it was to maintain his grip on his soul and manipulate its gravity. His gold tooth, partially red with blood, glinted in the early morning light as Stretch slowly approached. Red was looking at him, but there was no sign of recognition in his eyes. Normally by now he would be fine, almost back to normal, but this time...The black ooze still trickled steadily from his eyes, nose, and mouth, but his gaze, while threatening, was completely empty. The lights were on, but no one was home. He was completely devoid of anything resembling the skeleton he knew. Completely devoid...Stretch nearly smacked himself, he used to be quick and clever, but whenever Red was concerned, his thoughts turned to mud. The Void. The darkness was The Void, which, theoretically the probability of The Void un-Voiding and liquefying itself was fairly low, a near impossibility, but...He had passed through it often enough to know what it felt like and that black stuff was it. And it was in Red. No wonder he didn’t recognize them. He was full of nothing.

As proud as he was of his conclusion, it did very little to help Red, who had never stopped struggling. If he could somehow hold him long enough to get him to Undyne’s lab, maybe she could help him.

Or at least help contain him.

Chapter Text

When Blue finally returned, he was accompanied by two Guard members, likely to assist the injured rabbit. All three seemed equally dismayed to find that they had be switched to dust duty, though Blue got to, instead, help his brother hold Red down. They needed to somehow get him to Undyne’s lab, but while the both of their magic easily held him down, it wasn’t as easy to manipulate his gravity in tandem. Finally, half with magic, half with a lot of kicks to Stretch’s femurs, they managed to drag him all the way to Hotland and into the lab.

“UNDYNE! CAN YOU PLEASE HELP US?” Blue shouted into the darkness of the lab, “RED IS-“

“Bro, she won’t remember who he is,” Stretch sighed as well as he could would a wiggling, kicking, bite-y skeleton dangling from his arms. Undyne peeked around the corner from the restroom door.

“Y-you g-guys? What-?”

“This is Red, Sans from an alternate universe. he’s usually a cool guy but something's happening and now he's like this and do you have somewhere we can stick him so he doesn’t hurt anyone while we try to help him?” Undyne gaped at Stretch’s sudden infodump, frills flaring in both confusion and alarm.

“S-Sans? Another u-universe? What are y-you-?” Stretch cut her off, sending a silent apology to the shy fish.

“We really don’t have time for this, ‘Dyne. there’s a human full of DT who can reset time and they may or may not reset it any second so the faster we can try to figure out what’s wrong the better,” He grunted as one of Red’s heels kicked sharply into his femur. Again.

“PAPY, BE NICE! SORRY, UNDYNE, BUT TIME IS REALLY OF THE ESSENCE,” Blue added on, smile twisted in sympathy. Undyne blinked rapidly, trying to make sense of everything she was suddenly being told.

“R-reset time? H-how can- No, you’re right, if there’s no time, there’s no time. W-we can t-talk later. There’s a t-table through here… We should b-be able to hold him there,” She brought them out to the living area and into the lab itself, gesturing to an examination table off to the side. As the brothers struggled to hold him on the table long enough to buckle on the restraints, Undyne fidgeted, a question hanging from her tongue.

“Y-you said r-reset? S-so this has...happened before and…n-now we don’t r-remember? How many times?” Stretch rested his skull against the restraint on Red’s leg, a sigh rattling his bones. Undyne made to apologise, but was interrupted before she could even take a breath.

“THIS IS THE SECOND TIME WE'VE TOLD YOU. WE WEREN'T ABLE TO FIGURE ANYTHING OUT LAST TIME,” Blue rounded the table to rest a gloved hand on his brother's shoulder, “HE WAS SICK, VOMITING UP THIS BLACK STUFF-“

“It’s The Void.” Stretch broke in, “don’t ask me how, but it’s inside him.” With a glance at the black goop coating his friend, Blue tried to clarify.

“MOSTLY INSIDE HIM. ITS COMING OUT A LOT?”

Undyne nodded thoughtfully, examining the trails of Void were everywhere, smeared across his face and clothes. Another glance at the brothers showed just how rattled they were, magic scorched under their eye sockets like tattoos, an overall sense of gloom radiating from them, even from Blue. Her friends needed her and with another, firmer nod, she started working. She gently set her palm on the bound monsters’ chest, above where his soul would be housed. Sending a silent apology to the mystery skeleton, she released a pulse of magic. The scowling beast below her stilled suddenly before his struggles resumed, leathers straps creaking in the effort to keep him down. The magic pulse that responded to hers felt malicious, twisted in a way she had never felt before. The skeleton brothers watched in abject horror as she summoned his soul, Red’s body stilling as the floating appendage left his rib cage.

The small, upside-down heart was not in the best shape, to say the least. Small, micro-cracks marred its surface, some looking extremely old, others quite new. And it was big. The soul itself was far larger than it should have been. The small crack were pulled tightly around the massive heart, as though bulging at the seams, black ooze dripping from the openings. Patches of the heart were a deep, dark red, but the majority was black. Everyone stared silently at the mutated heart and the still, empty being below it.

“IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE THAT, RIGHT?” Stretch shot his brother an exasperated glance and he shrugged, he wasn’t the scientist here.

“N-no, his s-soul has nearly doubled in size. All monsters souls are the same, same size, same shape, b-barring any cracks like he has. These can come about from any n-number of traumas and are typically benign. What worries me is this… The Void, you said...It’s inside his soul. As you know, souls are the culmination of your being, so if something else gets inside...What happens to the y-you that was there first?” Blue tried to imagine what she was talking about. Undyne tried to think of an appropriate analogy as Stretch thoughtfully reviewed the past few weeks.

“Think of it this w-way, you make a t-taco, lots of meat, cheese, salsa. A big taco just how you like it. B-but someone else comes and, let’s say, takes your t-taco and starts pouring honey into it,” She studiously ignored the snicker and the glare she received, “Now, some of the honey will flow out, but it will also bring some of your taco fillings too. The more honey you pump into it, the less it is your t-taco..Does that make sense?”

“SO THATS...HIS SOUL BUT HE’S NOT IN IT?” Stretch decided to give Undyne a break.

“Sounds like it. so if The Void has been pushing into his soul, then his being has been displaced and...taken over? by what, some sort of animal?” He directed the question to Undyne, “he was biting and growling and running on all fours and he…” Stretch swallowed, he hadn’t really wanted Blue to know, “when we found him he was, uh, eating? another monster?” Blue’s quiet meep told him that he hadn’t figured that out yet, but it had only been a matter of time. Undyne felt her body freeze, but forced herself to think, eyes locked on the soul hanging in her grasp.

“This...Void...is very malicious, like I said, but...There’s n-nothing there. It’s there but it’s empty? There’s no higher thinking happening, not from him or from The Void stuff...so maybe-“

The world stuttered and warped a n d  w  e  n  t   d   a   r   k   .

Stretch woke up cursing the human child. He had a bit of time to plan, but he would need Undyne’s help to work out the logistics. Quickly, he popped into his brothers room, giving him the bare bones of his plan before dashing off to get Undyne’s help. He had an idea, but it would only work if they could move quickly enough. For the nth time, he prayed the kid would stop resetting.

Interesting.

Very interesting.

Not entirely unexpected.

It will work this time.

P-13.4.2 would be a more ideal candidate.

But I suppose I must take what I can get.

S-74.9.1.

Good night.

Chapter Text

This time when Red appeared, the brothers were ready. The first aid kit was present, on the off chance they’d be able to use it, but they were more prepared for a fight. Or to, hopefully, capture Red, as it were. So when he finally popped into existence, they were armed with ropes, blue magic at the ready.

Red was eerily still for a long time, head bowed and eyes shadowed. Perhaps all of this would be unnecessary, Stretch couldn’t help but hope. At the first plop of black goop, however, Stretch felt his face fall. As gently as he could, he reached out and grabbed the over-stuffed soul with his blue magic. Slowly, he increased the gravity on the others soul until he was knelt on the floor, small black rivulets running down his person.

“So far, so good,” Stretch murmured as Blue cautiously approached, rope at the ready. Blue shot him an exasperated look when Red started shifting.

“YOU HAD TO JINX IT, BROTHER!” He made to wrap the rope around the other skeleton, but the other managed to dodge his hands, the shifting intensifying until parts of him were left behind.

“What the-” Stretch blinked with extra force, maintaining his careful grip on the delicate soul. He spared a confused glance at his brother to make sure they were seeing the same thing, but Blue was too focused on Red’s increasingly glitchy body to notice. Like a clip of corrupted video, parts were pixelating, digitizing, even shifting and scrambling. One moment he had two arms, the next, only one, then three, a split second later, back to the regular two arms. As the glitching intensified, a droning static fell from The Void in Red’s eyes, steadily filling the brothers heads nearly to bursting. When Stretch felt the faintest whisper of The Void infecting his own magic, he had to sever the connection, allowing the previously bound skeleton to settle of his own gravity.

As the static increased, the glitching became too much to rationalize and Stretch found himself averting his eyes. Blue was looking at him already and held the rope up in inquiry. Stretch thought for a moment before nodding decisively, they might as well try to continue with the plan, it wasn’t like Red was actually fighting anything. The moment the rope touched Red’s arms, everything stopped, the silence nearly painful in the absence of the nothing that had been there before. Blue paused only momentarily before renewing his efforts. Just as it seemed the ropes were ready to be tied, the red skeleton started moving, prompting a squeal of surprise out of Blue.

The brothers stood next to Red, wary of what would happen next. Black oozed from Red’s sockets, as it had been the whole time. But as Stretch watched, the slime seemed to take on a life of its own, dripping down from one eye and up into the crack above the other. It looked oddly familiar, but Stretch couldn’t place where he’d seen something like it before. From under his clothing, the goop wrapped itself around his bones, filling itself out in a sticky mockery of robes of some sort. Blue suddenly pulled the ropes taut, just in time for the other skeleton to shift again.

Red opened h i s  m  o  u  t  h   t   o    s    p    e    a    k     .      .       .

The next time Red appeared, his body was overtaken by the darkness so quickly, the brothers couldn’t even begin to enact their plan. Horrified, Blue and Stretch watched as the small skeletons face split open around the eye sockets with a series of pops and cracks. Another, more grating noise alerted them to another change, small piles of dust falling from his arms. By the time the sound stopped, two perfectly round holes were carved out of Red’s palms. Stretch jolted in sudden recognition.

“River Person? what-?” A dark chuckle cut him off, Red’s shoulders shaking with barely restrained mirth.

Afraid not, child.

Stretch shook his head at the odd, buzzing sound that filled his skull, only vaguely discernible as words. The voice itself was too high and distinctly not Red’s.

Ah, yes, this is one of the universes in which everything is switched, in a manner of speaking. Most fascinating.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN- NO, WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DID YOU DO TO OUR FRIEND?” Blue held the rope tightly, as though it were capable of protecting them.

S-74.9.1? It is fulfilling its purpose.

This is what I made it for. Truly, this is what I made P-13.4.2 for, but S-74 always was better connected to The Void.

The strange voice sounded disappointed, but not surprised.

“Made? you made him? who the hell are you?” As upset as Stretch was, he couldn’t deny this was intriguing. The Void was speaking to them as though it had a consciousness, a will of its own.

I am Dr. W.D. Gaster, the Royal Scientist. Though, not your Royal Scientist, I suppose.

This W.D. Gaster seemed almost amused at the situation, a certain giddiness in his static-y voice. He seemed civil enough, though, maybe they could convince him to let Red go.

“LET OUR FRIEND GO!” Blue nearly shouted, making Stretch wince, gesturing wildly at his brother.

“What he means to say,” He tried to pacify, “is if there’s anything we can do to help you, we’d really appreciate if you could stop using our friend there,” That sounded like a reasonable request, right? The same dark laughter again.

No, I think not. However I would very much like to keep this body. As such, I suppose I must take care of the anomaly then.

And he vanished in a burst of static and screeching, goop and all. Blue stepped closer to his brother, rope fallen to the ground. He spoke as though he were commenting on the weather, but that was most certainly a threat.

“We gotta get to The Ruins, then! Hold on to my arm, bro, and grab that rope.” As Blue clutched his arm, Stretch could only hope that this Gaster person would come quietly. Once they had him sorted out, they could ask Undyne to make him a body or something, he just wanted Red back.

Chapter Text

Chara lay in the bed of flowers, chest heaving as they struggled to catch their breath. They had won. They had really, truly won! For now, at least. They would need to be extra alert in case Frisk decided to try to steal control back, but Chara figured they had a bit of time while the other recovered.

They knew that they had been a bit reset happy recently and had been persuaded by Frisk to do some pretty terrible things throughout their time in The Underground, but this...Something felt off. Suddenly Frisk had been able to overtake them so easily, as though they hadn’t fought it at all. They had struggled and struggled, hoping to get help from one of The Ruins many friendly residents, but Frisk seemed so much stronger, so much more present than before. They had been practically a ghost. A persuasive ghost, but just a presence lingering in their mind.

Now, Chara was tired of the sight of dust. They imagined their parents would have been thrilled at the prospect of them willingly dusting every day. Had they been decent parents, at least.

Chara rolled over, pushing themself up to sit amongst the yellow blossoms. They needed a plan and they needed it fast. Frisk seemed to be getting stronger and stronger and harder to push back. Maybe...Perhaps they could try to find Undyne. Maybe the scientist knew something about ghosts possessing humans souls?

Probably not. That sounded more like a priest thing...They hadn’t come across any sort of priest in the entirety of The Underground, though...Maybe a Judge would work? Papyrus was also kind of a science-y guy, maybe he could help...Or at least find someone who could.

Then here was that other skeleton. Chara scratched vigorously at their hair, what was even going on with these resets? They had been certain there were only two skeletons in The Underground, but suddenly there’s a third? Their memories of that run were a bit hazy, but it definitely wasn’t Sans. For one, the other skeleton was strong and not afraid to use their strength. The skeleton had easily killed them multiple times in the Judgement Hall, fighting style brutal and unfair and completely unlike Papy’s.

And where was Temmie? Temmie should have shown up by now, just another inconsistency in the timeline. Chara sighed, their usually upbeat mood almost completely dampened by their confusion and mental struggle to keep Frisk under control.

They heaved themself to their feet, they’d start with Undyne, if science could help, she’d have the necessary tools. Perhaps they’d tell Papyrus along the way, if he turned up this time, at least.

Stretch and Blue appeared mere feet outside The Ruins door.

“NOW WHAT?”

“I haven’t been inside, never could get the guy in there to let me in, but somehow we gotta…”

Blue’s face scrunched up in thought. He abruptly turned around, took a decisive seven steps forward before returning, methodically pacing to help him think. Stretch slid down against the stone wall next to the doors, digging through a snow poff for one of his cigarette stashes. Absently, Blue chucked a bone at the door, only for it to harmlessly bounce off. He seemed to expect as much, only continuing his pacing. Stretch felt his nerves settle slightly as he knocked on the door next to him.

“Knock knock,”

“REALLY, BROTHER, IS THIS THE TIME FOR THAT?”

“Who is there?” Came a muffled reply. A bit surprised at how easily that had worked, Stretch thought quickly.

“Lettuce,” Blue rolled his eyes, though secretly wondering where this would go.

“Lettuce who?”

Lettuce in, it’s an emergency,” The voice on the other side of the door laughed hesitantly.

“That was...Not very funny, my friend,”

“It...wasn’t supposed to be. ‘s actually a pretty serious problem.”

“THERESAHUMANINTHERUINSANDOURNEWFRIENDHASSOMEGABSTERPERSONINHIMANDHEWANTSTOKILLTHEHUMANBUTTHEHUMANISODDTOOANDREALLYWE JUST NEED HELP PLEASE LET US IN!” Stretch felt himself blink rapidly. As used to his brother’s enthusiasm as he was, that was nearly incomprehensible. The man on the other side of the door seemed equally confused.

“I apologise, but...Who might you be?”

“‘s my little bro, Sans. the one i told ya about,” Blue looked mildly affronted.

“YOU TOLD HIM ABOUT ME BUT DID NOT TELL ME ABOUT HIM? RUDE!” Arms crossed, he pouted off to the side. Stretch shook his head fondly, there was other business to attend to right now.

“Seriously, i would never ask otherwise, but this is a really big problem-”

“Yes, something about someone called Napster and your new friend and a...human? I have not seen a human in here in many years,”

“Gaster and, uh, yeah, it’s probably good you haven’t met them. they seem to be the...murder-y sort. but we need to get in there to stop Gaster from hurting them!” There was a long pause as the man behind the door thought. Please let this work! If he didn’t let them in, they’d never be able to get there in time to help!

On that note...How did Gaster get in? Or Red? Or whatever he was now?

A shuffle next to him caught his attention, his little bro approaching the door slowly.

“UM...I KNOW WE DO NOT KNOW EACH OTHER, BUT WE WOULD LIKE TO RESOLVE THIS PROBLEM WITH AS LITTLE FIGHTING AS POSSIBLE…” He paused to clear the blockage in his throat, “RED...OUR FRIEND...THIS GABBA GUY IS REALLY HURTING HIM AND MAKING HIM DO THINGS HE DOESN’T WANT TO DO. HE DOESN’T WANT TO KILL THE HUMAN! WE NEED TO HELP HIM! PLEASE!” His voice cracked near the end but he proudly held in his frustrated tears. Stretch quickly enveloped his little brother in a big hug, their combined exhaustion pulling them to the snow in a pile of rattling bones, “Please…”

The silence continued for hours and months and mere seconds as the brothers quietly huddled in front of the door. A sudden cough from behind the door startled them away a bit, just in time for the door to start pulsing with a brilliant, prismatic light. As they sat, awestruck at the light display, a groan echoed from the door as it pressed outward, a gap large enough for them to enter revealed.

“Howdy, friends,”

Chapter Text

Two quick, but polite, cups of tea later found the brothers on their way, searching through every nook and cranny along the paths of The Ruins. Though neither had been inside before, it was common knowledge that this was, somehow, where the humans came from. Beyond that, though, nobody knew exactly where they were coming from. Except the man behind the door who, upon hearing their plight, solemnly told them the humans he found were typically at the far end of The Ruins, or the path somewhere between there and Home.

It was part way through a neatly marked puzzle not so long after the start of their search when they first heard the sound of rapid, uneven footsteps. Ahead, a small human suddenly rounded the corner, feet sliding slightly under them threatening to topple them over before they caught themself and dashed on.

“Sans! Papy! Help me, please!” Chara managed to pant out, making their way to the two stunned skeletons. Stretch was relieved to hear the kids’ sweet voice, Frisk never was much of a talker. Chara just about bowled him over, their tiny body slamming into him in a terrified mess of tangled hair and tattered sweater, his oomph of pain only slightly exaggerated. Sure enough, it won him a tiny smile that was quickly wiped away by an approaching static sound.

“Papy! He’s coming! We gotta go!” The child tugged at his hoodie, tangling their other hand with Blue’s as they tried to pull them back through the room.

“YES! HUMAN, ABOUT THAT MONSTER! WE WERE LOOKING FOR HIM! I TAKE IT HE-“

Oh good, youve caught it. My thanks.

The red skeleton shambled into view, bones quivering with effort. The skeleton brothers stepped forward, protectively pushing Chara out of sight behind them.

Oh, come now. Why do you protect the cause of your misery so?

“THE HUMAN IS OUR FRIEND!” Blue cringed a bit at the statement, as far as he could remember, the human had killed him. But the way this child had approached them...He remembered the child from before. Their empty eyes, their halting stagger. The dusty knife clutched in their filthy hands. This was not the same child, “AND SO IS RED! HE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING, JUST GIVE HIM BACK!”

As stated before, S-74.9.1 was created for this. I made it to function as my body should my own fail, though I a now learning of some...Unanticipated complications...It is of no matter. That human friend of yours is what allowed me to enter your universe.

Stretch looked down sharply at Chara who was shaking their head rapidly, a stray leaf detangling itself from their hair.

“No! I didn’t do anything! I needed to stop Fr- They were fighting and killing and I had to stop it! I didn’t- Who even is this?” Stretch calmed their babble with a hand on their shoulder.

“We’ll talk later, just remember, this is a real monster inside our friend,” Gaster huffed out a laugh in response, the haughty look ill-suited on Red’s face.

Please, spare me the dramatics. Once I kill that anomaly, I will solidify my connection to this universe and finally be free of that wretched Void.

“WE CAN HELP YOU FIND A BODY IF THAT IS WHAT YOU NEED, BUT PLEASE RELEASE OUR FRIEND! IF YOU DO NOT, I AM SORRY, BUT WE WILL HAVE TO MAKE YOU.” Gaster laughed once again before the high whine of a blaster filled the air.

Its a shame you are both so stupid, had this gone differently, we may have been allies.

Suddenly the room was bathed in light, multiple blasters on both sides charging their beams. Blue stopped his command, suddenly recalling his friends low stats. Dusting Red would defeat the purpose of all this. Chara would have to reset again and who knows if they would be able to catch Gaster before he killed the human? And if the human came back as that demon child? Blue let his blaster continue charging, but instead expanded his senses to check the other.

\/V:̸̴̢͟D. G̡͘͡4̷̨͡d5t3r̢͘
LV 4$ERROR4%T#
HP 9.95999969997999979/.10110110101101.10
AT 9.95999969997999979(+DDDtDDDdDDD)
DF 9.95999969997999979(-ERRORRORRORREDERROR)
*is still alive.

Blue was not sure what he was supposed to do with that information but it seemed like maybe he could take a hit? Before he could act, Stretch had already fired. Gaster made to dodge but, despite his arrogant speech, he fumbled, the edge of the blast catching the side of an already damaged leg.

That’s right, the S-series always did have trouble with stamina.

Gaster stumbled forward regardless, the cracked maw of his own blaster finally unleashing its own beam. Blue threw up a bone shield as Stretch grabbed Chara, pulling them back with him.

“We have to hit ‘im, bro. Red should be okay, lookit this guys stats!” He stared down his little brother until he got a nod of finality. Their blasters fired at the same time as Gaster’s before a wave of red bones knocked Blue off his feet with an oomph, “shit, bro!” He ported to the side as another wave of bones rushed at him before throwing out his hand in retaliation, alternating waves of orange and blue bones pummeling Red’s form. He spared a glance at Blue, who had already recovered and was sending his own bone attacks at the goopy skeleton.

Said goopy skeleton panted harshly, a scowl painted across his face. This was not going as planned. These two should be grateful he was willing to dispose of the anomaly for them, they certainly couldn’t seem to do it on their own. Grinding his borrowed teeth together, he focused on summoning red bone attacks, dismissing the blaster. This body wouldn’t be able to maintain the blasters much longer and it wouldn’t do to lose consciousness over something as silly as magical depletion. He felt the tugging on his stolen soul as even just the bone attacks pulled at his magic supply. He was sure he had created this one to have deeper magical reserves than this. Good thing he was more than adept at fighting in close quarters. Feinting to the side, he summoned a normal bone club, dashing for the weaker of the two skeletons, the Papyrus if his theory about this being a Swap universe was correct.

His gait was more of a clumsy stumbling, but it was fast enough to catch the brothers off guard, forcing them apart as Stretch ported just out of his range. Stilling for a wave of blue bones from his side, he shot the bone club away from him with his limited magic, the side of the club catching Blue’s cheek. The small skeleton managed to roll with the blow, though, judging by his wince, it must have at least stung. He allowed himself a smirk as he made to follow through while the small skeleton was still hurting, the odds may have been against him, but he always had a way of coming out on top. He wasn’t The Royal Scientist for nothing.

“Hey, crack-face mc thief-head,” Gaster shuddered to a stop. Never turn your back on an opponent, no matter how weak they may appear. He scrambled to bring his bone club back to himself, but Blue was holding on to it too tightly, magical and non-magical grip near unbreakable. The high whine of the blaster behind him had him pulling deep into his magic, a shield of bones flickering and crumbling in the face of the blast. White static filled his skull as he felt his form crumple to the ground. Blue bones pierced strategically through his bones, pinning him to the ground as the brothers cautiously approached.

Chapter Text

Stretch leaned back, wiping a bead of sweat from his skull as he watched his brother finish tying the final knot. The possessed skeleton writhed and wriggled in its bonds, which, Stretch had to admit, looked a bit strange.

“Where’d ya learn ta tie someone up like this, bro?” Blue flushed his namesake as he gently tested the strength of his knots, muttering something about Undyne and anime. Stretch cocked a brow bone and made a mental note to talk with Undyne at a better time.

“NOW, DON’T STRUGGLE TOO MUCH, MR. GLASSER, YOU COULD HURT BOTH YOURSELF AND RED!” This seemed to reignite the fury within Gaster as he resumed his struggles with more ferocity, rope chafing harshly against the already damaged bones, “STOP! IMMEDIATELY CEASE WHAT YOU ARE DOING! PAPY!” Stretch met Blue’s distressed eye lights.

“Yeah, yeah, let’s get goin’.” He offered his hand out to the cowering child nearby, “c’mon, kid, we gotta take a shortcut,” He offered them a warm smile as they bounded forward.

You would really place your trusin that creature oveonsuch as I?

Blue hefted the goopy skeleton over his shoulder, adjusting carefully when he sputtered and flailed. All the movement sent large globs of black slime down Blue’s back. Stretch held in a laugh at his brothers misfortune, however the small human had no qualms at laughing at the disgusted look on Blue’s face.

“Look who’s tied up and who’s holding my hand, yer smart enough ta figure it out,” He threw a scalding glance at Gaster, “got some questions for ya, too.” He wrapped his arm firmly around Blue’s waist and pulled Chara in close.

Yes, suppose yowould.

In retrospect, pulling something from The Void back through The Void actually sounded like a bad idea and Stretch would have smacked himself if he hadn’t been busy trying to recapture the monster. Though brief, the trip through The Void seemed to have slightly weakened Gaster’s connection to Red’s body and soul, rendering the ropes useless as he deteriorated to a goopy mess before pulling the mass of sludge and bones back together and away, to the brothers shock. The rope landed with a muffled thud as Stretch and Blue both struggled to gain a hold of Red’s engorged soul. Neither had wanted to touch the poor soul, but now that he was slightly less feral, it seemed this may be the only way to keep him down.

And down he went, his damaged leg crumbling under the weight of their combined blue magic. The soul felt wrong in their grasp, pulsing in agitation, inflamed and radiating emptiness. Every instinct screamed to let go of it, but Stretch managed a strained nod to his brother, who inched forward, retrieving the rope as he went. A clatter behind them alerted them to Undyne’s presence.

Unhand me at once and I will give you your answers.

The voice pitched and dipped unnervingly, static cutting in and out sporadically, prompting Stretch to call out to Undyne.

“Hey, little help here? ‘Dyne?” His brow bones furrowed at her hesitation.

“Oh! Uh, of c-course,” She bumbled out an apology before quickly turning Red’s soul green, letting the blue bleed out and the brothers relax. Chara ran to a shocked Undyne, pulling her into an awkward hug before turning back to the center of the chaos.

“So…Now what?” They questioned curiously. There hadn’t exactly been any time to discuss the plan and their curiosity was burning them from the inside out.

“We let you go, so start talking, G-man,” Stretch admired Blue’s newly tied knots. They looked much neater and more…appropriate for restraining a criminal. Red’s crooked grin tightened, its wearer less than pleased with his escape attempt.

One woulhardly considethis as being quote unquote let go.

Hazy red eye lights rolled in exasperation. Honestly, what were they hoping to accomplish by trapping him here? He could answer every question they asked, but this construct was still his and he would use it as he saw fit.

“MR. GRABBER, WE UNDERSTAND YOU WISH TO INHABIT RED’S BODY, BUT RED NEEDS HIS OWN BODY TO…TO….TO LIVE!” Stretch could tell by his little bro’s posture that he had turned on his super intense puppy dog eyes and couldn’t help but chuckle quietly.

It was nevemeant to live on its ownIt was to be a mere shell to housmy owsoul shoulI expire. However, its predecessors showed great promise and thiwas the last version beforigrew a backbone of itown and scatteremeacross time and space.

Was…this guy serious? Would it really be that easy to get their explanation? This Gaster guy must love the sound of his own voice. Stretch could work with this. He gestured to Undyne to begin the preparations before slowly approaching Gaster.

“Across time and space, huh? sucks, man,” Dismissively, he lit up a cigarette, ignoring Blue’s small gasp of disgust, “so how’d ya come back to life?” Gaster scoffed, shifting minutely in the grasp of the green magic.

The P-series always did hear what it wanted to hear. I did not die, you buffoon, became one witThe Void.

“Huh, ya know, that makes a lotta sense. ya are pretty empty-headed,” Before Gaster had time to retort, Stretch pushed on, “then how’d ya work yer way out? teleportation?”

As thougI wouluse such rudimentarmagic.

Stretch smirked. Rudimentary? Really? It was probably one of the most difficult feats a monster could accomplish, most monsters consisting of too much mass to utilize it without seriously injuring themself. Was this Gaster not originally a skeleton? He had just kind of assumed…

Over timI waable to rebuild my sense of self. I wandereThVoid for aeternity before I stumbled across S-74.9.passing throughSo I watched anwaited and, well, ayou can see, asserted myself.

Stretch forced down the urge to roll his eyes.

“Yeah, yeah, we see that,” Undyne re-entering the room caught his attention and he nodded, “so ya jumped ‘im?”

How barbaric. No, it would only be in The Void for mersecondbeforleavingUntirecently. It stayed. First it was for a minutebuthe more it returned, the longeit stayed, letting me slowly replacitartificial soul with my own.

 

Stretch mulled over the information. It clicked nearly perfectly.

“WAIT. PAPY SAID THEIR SHORTCUTS BRING THEM THROUGH THE VOID AND RED SAID BETWEEN RESETS HE WAS IN THE VOID…AND…THEN HE STARTED GETTING SICKER AND SICKER…MR. GAGGER, WERE YOU WHAT WAS CHASING RED?” Blue’s grin twisted as he scowled, the look not matching his normal demeanor. Gaster snarled.

My name is DrW.D. Gasteryou imbecile. And yes, hunted it down and pushed out its essencto assert my own, as was always intended.

“Right, we get it Dr. whatever. it doesn’t really matter, though. we’re getting you out of him right now,” At a nod from his brother, Blue hoisted the immobile skeleton over his shoulder once again, much to Gaster’s displeasure, “we’re gonna take a ride. ‘Dyne, everything ready?” She nodded, determination in her eye.

The five moved farther into the lab, Gaster’s demands to be released ignored. Chara hung back a step before stopping.

“Kid?”

“Is…is this my fault? I…I know I was resetting a lot…But Fri- uhm…they were really strong. I couldn’t control them! I had to!” Chara’s panic mounted when Gaster started chuckling.

Then, anomalyyou havmy thanks. Or should I be thankinFrisk?

Chara recoiled, arms pulled up to their chest. Stretch doubled back and placed his hands on the child’s shoulders.

“Chara, none of this is your fault. they,” He jerked his head at Gaster and gestured to where their own soul was housed, “made their decisions,” He stood and shifted his gaze back to Gaster, “what does that demon have to do with this?” But Gaster kept silent, Red’s infuriating grin taunting him, information willingly withheld.

Chapter Text

Gaster kept smiling, simultaneously enjoying watching Stretch squirm while inwardly running through his quickly shortening list of options. He couldn’t just leave his host body, it was keyed to his magical signature. And he couldn’t just hop into any old body, he wasn’t a ghost monster. But with S-74.9.1’s magical essence still present, his control over S-74’s magic was severely limited. He had already attempted teleporting, not that he would admit that to the skeleton in front of him, and it had been an utter failure. But he couldn’t go back, he wouldn’t.

He was jostled from his musings when Blue started moving once more, following Undyne deep into the bowels of the lab, Stretch’s gaze never leaving his face. He felt a flicker of unease, they clearly had some sort of plan and, if able to enact it properly, he would likely be returned to The Void. He felt his stolen grin become strained, he wouldn’t survive another stint in The Void. It had taken him so long to gather himself, painstakingly pulling the scattered pieces of himself back together. Veritable eons had passed before he had been able to fully seat himself in this body.

It wasn’t until he found himself staring into the empty gaze of an enormous blaster that he began to realize what they apparently wanted to do. He found himself propped up against the wall, Blue standing guard as the other two scientists went about finalizing the preparations. The giant blaster looked much the same as when he had built it, sans a few extra sharp ends. A large, metal-like rope connected the machine to a dedicated power generator, something he hadn’t had in his own lab.

This wilnot workI am not made of determination.

It was a bit of a fib, but they didn’t seem to know who he was so there was no need for them to know that. He did, indeed, have some determination in him, he couldn’t have come this far without it, but should they try to extract it, they’d get a negligible amount at best.

“We’re not gonna pull determination out, genius,” Stretch hardly spared him a glance as he helped Undyne affix a new, large, glass cylinder to the machine, “we’re gonna pull you out, buddy,” Gaster froze as comprehension set in, “tha’s right, thanks to your drippy ass leavin’ trails of Void goop everywhere, we reconfigured the extractor a bit,”

Im sure youlfind the machindoes not work that way.

“I’m sure you’ll find we’re willin’ to go pretty far for a friend,” With a click of finality, the tube locked into place, “you set over there, ‘Dyne?”

“I-I think so. It accepted the s-sample, so we sh-should be able to p-p-pull him out easily,”

You cannot mean to send me back there.

Everything was going wrong, why the hell couldn’t he have popped back up in his own universe, the new Royal Scientist didn’t give a shit about S-74 there. There must be a way to salvage this situation. Maybe…

Do you wanto know how your...human is involved in this?

That caught their attention. The small human crouched down, putting themself at eye level with the Red imposter.

“I said I didn’t do anything!” Gaster conceded with a nod, they really hadn’t, not actively. The circumstances had just so happened to work in their favor.

Let me remain in thibody anI will share my knowledge.

Stretch scoffed, turning away to check the readouts on the machine one last time.

“Yeah, no. nice try though. we will get Red back,” He patted the glass tube, fingertips clinking gently on its surface, “and yer goin’ in here,”

“W-We d-don’t have a body for you, b-but I could probably m-make something…” Undyne offered hesitantly.

You...Both of yoare idiots. That would nowork, and besides, anything you do will revert once your little human resets.

“‘m not gonna reset!” Judging by the flush of red on the human’s face, it was feeling angry, “And...well,” They scratched at their arm, “It sounds like you were in there a long time and it’s really scary in there, so I really do-”

“Wait, you’ve been in The Void?” Stretch was holding the humans shoulders in an instant.

“Yeah, the reset button is there, so every time I...Well, I end up there again,” Gaster thought he saw a glimmer of understanding spark in Stretch’s eye lights.

“So basically what I’m hearing is this was all caused by some kind of feedback loop?” Gaster stared him down, waiting to see if he had managed to figure it out, “whenever you reset, Red got stuck there for some time, which gave smarty mccracked skull a chance to weasel in, and him slowly building a connection between The Void and here in turn, made Fr-the anomaly, who of course is also somehow connected to The Void, stronger, causing you to keep resetting and so on and so forth until...this?” Stretch’s explanation picked up speed and frustration the longer it went on, ending with a glare at Red’s possessed skeleton. Gaster couldn’t entirely hide the smug look on his face, one more reset and he could probably push Red’s essence completely out of this shell.

The small human rocked back onto their heels, tears beading in their eyes and chin wobbling precariously.

“So...All this is my fault?” They tore their gaze from Red’s face to meet Stretch’s eye lights, “I caused all of this?”

“No, kid, no. don’t. none of this is your fault,” Stretch tried to reassure while simultaneously running through the plan again, checking if anything he was theorizing would conflict with it.

“CHARA, PAPY’S RIGHT. DID YOU WANT THIS TO HAPPEN? DID YOU RESET KNOWING THAT THIS WAS HAPPENING?” Chara shook their head frantically, “THEN IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. AND EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT, YOU ARE STILL ASSISTING US IN RESOLVING THE ISSUE AND THAT IS QUITE ADMIRABLE! MWEH HEH!” Chara seemed only a bit reassured, but accepted Blue’s hug of encouragement. A loud clunk pulled Gaster’s attention away.

“All right, time ta get nice ‘n’ cozy in this thing Doctor W.D. Gaster,” Gaster sneered at the derision in the others voice before he was hoisted up once again, this time brought into the small chamber within the skull where a seat-like contraption, complete with restraints, sat innocently. As he was set down and locked into the seat, he felt something he hadn’t felt in ages, if ever. His pride battled with this new feeling, half of him wanting to plead with these skeletons, the other half wanting to stare the skeleton down in defiance.

Once you have me in thacontainer, whado you think will happen?

“Ya know, G, i don’t really care,” Stretch went about connecting the body to a series of monitors, hoping to keep Red’s magic levels and soul stabilized through the procedure.

“PAPY!” Blue scolded before poking his head into the chamber so he could see the bound skeleton, “SINCE YOU’VE BEEN HURTING SOMEONE AND TECHNICALLY STEALING BY TAKING HIS BODY, YOU’LL HAVE TO GO ON TRIAL AND ANSWER FOR YOUR CRIMES. BUT THE QUEEN IS QUITE MERCIFUL, AFTER YOU’VE COMPLETED YOUR REHABILITATION, THERE’S A CHANCE FOR REINTEGRATION!” At least Blue hoped that was what happened, Alphys hadn’t really gotten to the legal part of his guard training yet.

“Not for this guy,” He leveled one last glare at Gaster as he ushered his brother away, “c’mon, bro, we’re getting Red back,”

The door to the chamber shut with a resounding thud, heavy metal bolts locking into place before he was left alone, once more surrounded by pitch black and utter silence.

Chapter Text

Blue tightened his grasp on the sides of his skull, the static and screeches coming from the small chamber grew louder and louder still. He could feel it writhing in his head, despite his attempts to muffle the sound. He would not leave his friend to go through this alone! He would remain vigilant outside the chamber until the procedure was finished and he would help his friend as soon as it was needed. The same strange glitching from earlier had returned, but through it, they could see the viscous black goop slowly, slowly entering the glass tube.

Blue squeezed his eyes shut tightly, his friend was suffering and all he could do was this. Once this was all over, he would make the most delicious meal the other had ever seen! He’d been wanting to expand his repertoire from just tacos, this was a perfect opportunity. He had stumbled across a recipe for something called burritos that seemed similar enough in composition that it wouldn’t be too difficult for his first try but also different enough that it wouldn’t just be a taco variant.

The screams had slowly started losing their staticky sound, ever so slowly sounding more and more like the monster he had come to know. Blue tears streamed down his face and he couldn’t decide if that made him feel better or not.

“It’s working!” Stretch somehow shouted over the din, a long finger pointed at the now halfway filled container. The liquid sloshed about, almost as though it were angry. But the screaming continued.

Blue looked to Undyne, who had paled to a very miserable shade of greyish-blue, as she intently studied the displays filled with lines and numbers, carefully monitoring the monster insides vitals. She gestured to a number that had been slowly dropping and Stretch nodded, a grim yet satisfied smile on his face.

How long had it been since this had started, Blue’s ears were ringing so loudly he couldn’t differentiate it from the screams themselves. His eyes scanned up for the wall clock he had seen earlier. It had been just over thirty minutes. How much longer would it take?

The cacophony from the chamber seemed to reach a peak, wails and screeches overlapping on themselves as the world started warping and twitching around them. The human child curled in on themself on the floor, having stood stoically the entire time. Through the padding of his gloves and the wails in the air, he could hear nothing, but he crouched in front of the child anyway. They were screaming as well, face crumpled up and splotchy.

“PAPY!!!” Blue absolutely wailed at his brother, who was luckily already looking their way. He doubted anything could really be heard over the noise. Stretch, for his part, dashed over to them and scooped the small human up, looking them over for any visible wounds before focusing on their chest. His sockets widened at whatever he saw. Before Blue could even try to ask him anything, he had already taken off, running out of the lab. Blue turned back to the chamber before looking at Undyne, who also seemed confused.

Stretch popped up again a minute or so later, shouting something at Undyne through heaving breaths. Whatever he said had Undyne rushing to her notes, the two of them conspiring over the papers while continuing to monitor Red. Blue returned to his silent vigil, fixing his gaze and ignoring the sickening way the room twisted around him. He could find out what was happening later. For the moment, Red needed him.

It was another short eternity before the screams started dying down, hoarse and raspy, but less pained as well. The room had finally stopped twitching and the container was nearly full of black goop, quietly sitting as a liquid should. Undyne tapped at the numbers again and Stretch nodded. Working in tandem, they started pressing different buttons and fiddling with various dials until finally Undyne was slowly lowering a large dial. One he recognized from earlier. The dial that had started all the screaming.

No more liquid entered the tube and after a very long minute, she slowly eased the dial into the off position and the screams died out all together.

“IS IT DONE?” Blue shouted, a high-pitched whine persistent in his skull, “IS HE OKAY?”

“R-readings are n-normal,” She sounded like she was shouting underwater.

“He’s stable. c’mon, let’s get ‘im out,” Stretch entered a long string of numbers into the display panel next to the door and the lock clicked open. Blue moved to go in first, if it still wasn’t Red, he was better suited to take a hit.

Light from the lab outside spilled into the small chamber, illuminating the slumped form of the skeleton. He was panting heavily and seemed unable to hold himself up, letting the restraints keep him from sliding off the seat.

“RED…? ARE YOU- Um…Sans? Are you okay?” The other flinched at his voice, red eye lights rolling up to meet his own. They were dim and wavering, but present. The were no traces of any of the black goop, but the cracks it had caused still stretched out from his sockets. Red stared at him with something akin to wonder and Blue could almost see his mind trying to jumpstart itself.

“Wha’s the verdict, bro?” Stretch peered over Blue’s shoulder, pulling Red’s tired eye lights up a bit higher. Red blinked with more force than strictly necessary, the red pricks of light steadying more and more each time the sockets opened.

“b-“ Red’s voice crumbled as the sound tried to exit, bones rattling with the force of his coughs, “blue?” His voice was hardly a whisper but it was his.

“IT WORKED! OH, PAPY! IT WORKED!” He whirled around hugging his brother quickly before getting out of the way, letting the scientists carefully extract Red from the contraption.

“Bro, why don’t you get him some water?” Blue nodded and bounced away, he had seen sinks somewhere.

By the time he returned, Stretch was carrying the skeleton into a room full of beds. With both of them working together, they managed to settle Red into one and help him take a few shaky sips of the water.

“ssstrech? wha- wha’appen’d? where…?” His eye sockets were already nearly closed as he slurred out his questions. Red flinched with every movement, unable to find a position that didn’t cause some kind of pain.

“Hey, everything’s okay. go ta sleep, we’ll talk when ya wake up,” Stretch lightly rubbed his hand over an undamaged portion of Red’s skull. Blue started cataloguing Red’s injuries, old and new, almost missing the dopey smile Red gave to his brother.

“sssure thing, Boss,”

Chapter Text

It hurt.

It hurt! It hurt!

ithurtithurtithurtithurtithurtithurtithurtithurt

His soul was throbbing in agony, foreign matter pressing harshly at the cracks from the inside, threatening to pull his very being apart. His everything had been compressed to the tiniest corner of his being, stretched to its limit and then some. It burned as much as it chilled him. What was happening? The world had narrowed to this terrible pain in his soul.

Nearly overshadowing the pain was the hunger. He was so empty. He’d never been so hungry in his life. And he knew hungry. He was intimately familiar with hunger. This was more than that. It compounded with the pain, there was no thought. Only hunger.

Everything pulsed, pain and want and hunger and nothing. The hunger was going away, the pain getting stronger. Then the emptiness again, he choked on the emptiness that had been sated hunger, now useless. He was starving.

Then there was nothing.

Only pain.

Parts hurt. Parts with names. What was a name again?

The nothing was hurting. Flashes of something. More pain.

Bursts of static brought more pain.

Fading. More pain.

Almost gone.

Hurt.

Hurt!

It hurt.

It hurt! It hurt!

ithurtithurtithurtithurtithurtithurtithurtithurt

It felt good.

A good hurt?

Too much hurt.

It felt so wonderful!

The strain was leaving.

The invisible pulling was letting up.

The vice grip on his soul was loosening.

It hurt but it felt a lot better. He could hear again. It was so loud.

It was him. The pain was absolute. Nothing didn’t hurt. What was going on? Last he remembered…

His voice cracked. Right. He was screaming. His voice couldn’t hold up. His voice. It was his.

Then it stopped.

Everything stopped.

He panted in the quiet for an eternity before light pierced his closed sockets. It hurt but he couldn’t move himself away.

A voice. That hurt too.

Sans?

Wait, that was him.

He managed to roll his eye lights up to the source. It was…Someone familiar…Someone…

Another, quieter voice. He studied them intently, fog slowly lifting.

“b-“ He choked, whatever he wanted to say lost to his unstable voice. He tried again, the name falling from his mouth in a creaky whisper, “blue?”

Sound exploded around him and then there was movement and everything was spinning and he couldn’t keep his wits about him, couldn’t tell if he had any wits left. Then he was on something soft and a sweet nectar was running down his throat.

“stretch?” His voice sounded funny, taking too long to make some sounds. That was odd, it made him want to laugh a bit, but the world was getting too fuzzy, “wha- wha’appened? where-?” The more he tried, the more it hurt. He shifted only to wince as he aggravated something. Every shift brought the pain back. He could barely hold in a tired whimper. He couldn’t show weakness. But he was so tired.

Something gentle rested on his skull, not bringing pain with it. He looked up at Boss, who said something about sleep and talking after waking up maybe? He didn’t really understand.

“sure thing, Boss,” His sockets shut easily at the pseudo-command and he slept.

-

“YOU EAT TOO!” The small, pouty face on the little creature was absolutely adorable, he only wished he could see it in better circumstances. The doctor had brought them their meal, but S-74 couldn’t bring himself to eat any of it. He had been feeling weaker recently and his appetite had left him.

“nah, kid, eat up,” He could never quite remember the serial numbers of the P-series, but this was the second one he got to interact with. He wondered if this one had ever met one of the other S-series experiments. Probably not. He himself was the seventy-fourth in his series, this kid was…Somewhere around the twentieth? He probably hadn’t been around to see seventy-three.

Neither of them would probably be around much longer. Well, the doctor had stopped working on improving his series so maybe he would be the last? P-whatever tugged on his arm and pointed at the food.

“EAT!” This one was so compassionate, he couldn’t possibly survive in this kill or be killed world.

“i’ll take whatcha don’ finish, kay? ‘m jus’ not hungry right now,” The kid seemed mollified for the time being. The rhythmic tapping let them know the doctor was returning, so P scarfed a portion of the food and sat back on the cot. S-74 stood. The doctor merely gestured for him to follow.

In the examination room, he was seated on the raised table, as usual, and asked many questions, also as usual.

“S-74, are you quite listening? Are there any changes to report?” S-74 half-shrugged.

“‘m not hungry…jus’ tired,”

“Did you sleep at all last night?” His face suggested that he already knew the answer.

“…not really…” The doctor sighed heavily.

“You are the most successful of the S-series, 74, you must tell me these things,” He rubbed the bridge of his nose, “How long?”

“uh…couple o’ days…” He hung his head. He hated it when the doctor was disappointed in him. The doctor wasn’t exactly kind, but he didn’t do anything unnecessary.

“Then today will just be a detailed status check and some mental training,” S-74 sighed in relief, some of the experiments really took it out of him and a few of them really hurt. But mental training usually just meant studying.

It was at least an hour before either spoke again outside of brief directions and repositioning. Apparently his base HP had dropped, which explained some of the exhaustion, but his magical reserves had fluctuated, currently deeper than usual. The doctor looked conflicted, but brought him back to his quarters with a booklet of exercises to work on as he checked the P-experiment over.

He worked his way slowly through the questions, trying to see what the doctor saw. The S and P series’ were meant to be weapons to fight after the barrier was broken, but the creation of artificial souls was highly experimental and both were decided to be useless for their designated purposes…So they had been repurposed.

The doctor had told him that one day, he would use both S and P to create a new body for himself so that he might continue working on breaking the barrier and freeing all monsters, but he had neglected to mention what would become of them after. They could fight, he had made sure of that…Maybe he’d just let them go? But it was safe in the labs…

The footsteps returned and 74 turned back to his work, the doctor would be cross if he hadn’t finished at least a portion of it.

Chapter Text

Red stayed more or less unconscious for the better part of a week. On occasion he would wake up, but it was clear to Blue and Stretch that he wasn’t always completely lucid during these times, eye lights drifting about following unseen figures and occasionally baring his teeth and growling at air. The brothers had plenty of time to take care of his wounds this time, the human child had stayed with them for the first few days before claiming they had something to do and vanishing. Blue had expressed his worry that the child may reset, but pulling Gaster out of Red and, in turn, The Void, seemed to have made Chara feel more confident they could handle Frisk and Stretch found himself believing the child. Blue was understandably hesitant, but he trusted his brothers judgement.

It was fairly early on the sixth day when Red really woke up. Stretch had been mopping sweat off his forehead, though the other hadn’t seemed to have a fever, when he stirred a bit. Bracing himself for whatever strange behavior the other would exhibit, he smoothed his hand over Red’s brow.

Dim red eye lights sluggishly rolled up to catch sight of the arm above him, slowly following along the length before his hazy gaze settled on Stretch’s face. His sleep soft grin widened slightly upon meeting the honey-orange eye lights. So far so good.

“Hey there, Red,” He smiled down at his friend.

“m’rn’n,” His voice was soft and rough and actually kind of difficult to understand right now, but it was undeniably him.

“You remember who i am, buddy?” Stretch adjusted himself and the small body next to him until they were settled comfortably together on the bed.

“mmhmm,” Red grinned fuzzily, “yer s’rech. c’n’ ferge’” Stretch felt himself beaming. This was the first time in a while he hadn’t accidentally called him Boss.

“Yeah? ‘n why am i Stretch?” The other was at least somewhat coherent, he hoped he could keep him awake long enough to get some food in him, “Bro! bring food!” He called downstairs, they hadn’t thought he’d be so awake so soon. Red shifted, nuzzling into Stretch’s lap.

“cuz yera…yer j’s’a tall moth’rfunner,” He stumbled through the sentence and Stretch laughed. It was better than being called tall motherfucker all the time. He should think of something cuter than Red to call the other, though they showed about the same amount of creativity as far as nicknames went. The door to the room opened, letting Blue and his carefully balanced tower of bowls in.

“RED! YOU’RE AWAKE! THANK GOODNESS! ARE YOU OKAY? DOES EVERYTHING FEEL ALRIGHT? NONE OF THE BANDAGES ARE TOO TIGHT, ARE THEY? OH! YOU MUST BE HUNGRY, HERE!” He nearly tripped over himself to hand off a bowl to Papy before settling on the floor in front of Red’s face, one bowl on the floor and the other in hand.

“…Blue,” He blinked his eye lights to Blue’s face and back to Stretch’s.

“You know how he is, c’mon, eat a bit, okay?” Red looked back at Blue’s face, trailing his eye lights down to land on the spoon being held to his teeth. Red laughed lightly.

“red one’s ‘r th’ bes’,” He told the spoon in a stage whisper before using his magic to pull the food in. He seemed to be having a bit of trouble getting his jaw to open, it was lucky that skeletons technically didn’t need to use their mouths to eat. Blue let out a startled chuckle as he scooped up another bite.

“Of all the things to remember right of the bat,” Stretch laughed, helping the other sit up so he could eat a bit more easily.

“RED…WHAT…” Stretch looked at his brother and nodded. Red seemed pretty chatty, maybe they could get some insight out of him, “WHAT’S THE LAST THING YOU REMEMBER?” Red’s sockets screwed up in thought, the process taking an uncomfortably long time.

“…i was…sick. i was sick?” Red accepted another bite of food, “real hot?”

Blue and Stretch shared a look. Timeline-wize, Red’s heat hadn’t happened so long ago, but a lot had happened since then.

“We got the doc outta him a bit after that, maybe that’s why…?” Blue nodded thoughtfully as he spooned more oatmeal into Red’s mouth.

“doc?” Red’s speech was slurring again, his socket lidding with sleepiness. Stretch hesitated a long moment.

“Dr. Gaster. sound familiar?” Red blinked before nodding, but otherwise stayed quiet, letting sleep slowly pull him under again. Stretch eased himself out from under the little skeleton, grabbing his bowl and his brother and heading downstairs.

They silently cleaned the dishes before settling onto the sofa in silence. Blue visibly gathered his thoughts and turned to his brother.

“IT MIGHT HAVE JUST BEEN ME BUT…OR PERHAPS HE WAS TIRED BUT…HE DIDN’T SEEM VERY WORRIED ABOUT DR. BLABSTER, DID HE?” Stretch was fairly confused as well. Going by what Gaster had said, the two seemed at least somewhat acquainted, though it hadn’t sounded like a particularly happy relationship. Gaster had obviously known exactly who Red was, but Red himself hadn’t seemed particularly surprised to hear the name. He hadn’t seemed particularly anything to hear the name.

“Yeah, maybe when he wakes up again, he can tell us a bit more…” They lapsed into a confused silence until Blue finally headed back upstairs to sit with Red. Stretch groped at his pockets. Finding his pack of smokes, he headed outside.

“Hey! Papyyyy!” A cheerful voice called from down the road. Slowly picking their way through the snow was Chara, looking tired but cheerful.

“Heya, kid, whatcha been up ta?” Chara settled on the step next to him, cuddling into his sweater.

“Um…How’s Red?” The human child tried to deflect, much to Stretch’s confusion.

“He just woke up a bit ago, seems to remember us okay. but what’ve you been doing?” Chara fidgeted, but relented.

“I went back to see Undyne. I thought…Like with Red…How she pulled Gast- the doctor guy out of him…Cuz he was in The Void…So I thought…The other…human child…was connected to The Void so…” Stretch turned to them in horror, cigarette falling from his mouth and into the snow.

“Kid, no, ya didn’!” Chara’s face didn’t change, “aw, kid…”

“I had to, Papy, you know that!” Stretch just shook his head, resigned.

“Well, it’s too late now. what happened?”

“…I think it worked,” They whispered to their lap, “Undyne ran some tests and set it up and did the thing and itkindahurtalot but…I can’t feel them,” Chara looked up into Stretch’s face, “I can’t feel them anymore…I can still save or…ya know, but…I think they’re really gone. Or well, in a tube now…” Chara grinned up at Stretch. Stretch blinked down at them, hardly registering the moisture at his eye sockets.

“Ya really…did all that?” His voice sounded tinny in his ears, hesitant to be hopeful, “‘n… they can’…”

“Yeah, Papy. They can’t hurt us anymore. We can finally…be free,” Their blinding smile blurred through the tears in his vision, though he had a feeling his grin was just as wide.

Chapter Text

Blue watched with distrusting eyes as Chara ran out of the house. They claimed to have something important to do, but refused to divulge what exactly was so important. Blue turned back to inspect his kitchen. Overall, it was clean, but he could see the beginnings of dirt building up in the corners and under the appliances and on top of the cabinets and he couldn’t let that happen. He pulled out his cleaning supplies, mentally taking stock of the chemicals. He should have enough to do this.

On his hands and knees, he vigorously attacked every corner in the room, unintentionally wearing down the paint in some areas. That, too, was unacceptable, he decided and, upon finishing scrubbing every surface twice over, went to find the remnants of paint from when they first moved in to fix up the patchy spots. The repetitive motion of the brush against the wall did little to quell his thoughts.

His brother was upstairs with Red, keeping him company through his recovery even though Red probably wasn’t aware he was there. In a few hours they would switch, giving Stretch some time to rest before they both kept him company through the evening.

What would they have done if they hadn’t managed to stop him in time? What if the extraction hadn’t worked? Blue wanted to be relieved that everything had worked out, but his thoughts kept spiraling to what ifs. What if the extraction hadn’t worked correctly and that was why Red couldn’t wake up? What if Chara decided to reset after all? Would the doctor end up back in Red’s body or would they be able to pretend nothing had happened and everything was fine. Everything was fine. Red was alive and mostly whole. His dear friend had survived and Blue just couldn’t seem to stop thinking about what could have been, what was and what may still come.

He suddenly realized he was shaking, the brush gently tickling the underside of a cabinet as he trembled. He jerkily pulled his arm back, letting the brush fall into the can as he stumbled back onto the floor. Was everything actually okay? Was it really over? What would happen now? Red would still want to get home, wouldn’t he? Would Blue be able to send him back knowing what awaited him? He jolted when a hand rested on his clenched fists, gently loosening his grip so he was no longer hurting himself. He refused to look up at his brother, knowing only pained compassion would greet him.

He gasped wetly as long arms wrapped around his body, holding back the sobs that threatened to escape. His brothers ribs rumbled against him, but he couldn’t hear what was being said. He managed to unfurl his fingers, turning to grip his brothers arms. Papy was alive. If nothing else, at least Papy was alive. If Papy were gone…If Papy were gone again…His fingers dug shallow grooves into Stretches wrists as he sobbed into his delightfully alive brothers sweater. Red was alive too. He had seen him this morning. He was hurt, but alive and, most importantly, he was here. Here where he could hold him tightly and watch over him and keep him safe.

Though he hadn’t been able to keep him safe. His sobs started dying down, but the melancholy remained. He couldn’t protect even one person, how was he expecting to get into the Guard? When they had come across Red in the field, covered in another’s dust, he had been able to do what he needed to but…In the end it hadn’t mattered, he couldn’t protect Papy and he couldn’t protect Red. He couldn’t even protect himself. He really couldn’t save anyone, could he? He couldn’t even clean the kitchen without needing to repaint it due to his mistakes.

The rumbling beneath him continued soothingly as the world dimmed around him. His brothers arms around him held him steady even as his thoughts twisted and his vision faded.

Stretch sighed down at the sleeping skeleton in his arms. They were going to have to address that at some point, but Stretch was nothing if not a master of avoidance. He’d been avoiding dealing with everything that had been happening as well. He uncurled from the protective crouch he had sunk into around his brother, lifting the small body up with him. He tried to exit the kitchen as quietly as possible, but managed to trip over an open can of paint. The brush vanished into the liquid, droplets splattering onto the clean floor. Whoops. He looked at it a moment longer before putting Blue to bed, tucked neatly next to Red.

He couldn’t hold back the need to touch the both of them as much as possible. Everyone was alive, himself included, and the kid seemed more in control than ever. It wasn’t a guarantee, but if he could convince the kid to create a new save, maybe their hard work wouldn’t be undone.

But until then…

He ported away to the door by The Ruins, the door shut and sealed as though none of it had ever happened. He slumped against it, skull dangling between his knees.

“Is that you, my friend?” Stretch jerked, hitting his elbows on the door in surprise.

“Uh. heh, hey. yeah, in the flesh,” He heard a brief chuckle from beyond the door, the other now much more understanding of his penchant for bone-related puns.

“I have been worried, how is your friend? You said he was not himself that day…” Asgore’s voice was warm and worried through the door.

“Yeah, he’s okay. the doc fixed ‘im right up,” He cradled his skull in his hands.

“I’m happy to hear that, my friend. And what of the human child? What of Chara?”

“They’re okay. just a bit spooked, tibia-nest,” He laughed through his nose at Asgore’s short guffaw.

“And you? How are you and your brother?” The voice turned sad.

“We’ll…be okay. Sans’ll bounce back, i’m sure. ‘s just a bit rough right now. we’re still waiting on Red to wake up, but he seems better,” Stretch neatly avoided discussing himself. If he were being honest, he wasn’t yet sure how he was faring. Maybe it hadn’t caught up to him yet. Or maybe he’d been trapped in apathy so long, he just couldn’t care.

“…” Somehow Stretch could hear the displeasure in Asgore’s extended silence, “If you need anything, my friend, I am here,” For some reason this made Stretch feel guilty, so he quickly wrapped up the conversation and moved away from the door, having a quick smoke before porting back to the house to watch over the two small skeletons who had at some point started cuddling into each other. He definitely did not snap a picture of it with his phone.

Chapter Text

Stretch hesitated at the bottom of the stairs, it was time to relieve his brother from watch duty. Alphys was being surprisingly generous with time off for him, likely thanks to Undyne, but Blue was getting restless and had finally come to the decision to make his usual rounds, picking up what work Stretch had been missing. He still hadn’t brought up the other days breakdown and Blue was still pretending nothing had happened. His fingers itched for one last cigarette, but a cherry lollipop would have to make due. He crammed the candy in his mouth before soldiering upstairs. Maybe he’d get lucky and Red would wake up today…Maybe he’d even recognize that he wasn’t his brother.

He quickly quashed down that hope, it was probably best to lower his expectations. Beyond that first time, Red had been in a feverish daze, only dimly seeming to register his presence at all. Blue was practically a blank space in his vision the few times he would wake up.

“Hey, bro, time for patrol,” He poked his head in the door before opening it fully, eyelights warning at the sight of the two skeletons wrapped up in each other. Ever since the other day, it was a common sight to see, one, if not both of the brothers, tangled into a pile of bones with the red skeleton. Red was a regular cuddle bug, something that, for some reason or another, pleased Stretch immensely. And Blue as well, if his softly glowing eye lights gazing at the others sleeping face was any indication, “bro?”

Blue blinked at the interruption, pulling away to eye Stretch in the doorway.

“ALREADY? SEEMS LIKE I JUST GOT HERE…” Blue grumbled as he carefully extricated himself from Red’s grip. Stretch chuckled, rolling the sucker around so the stick could rest more comfortably between his teeth.

“Anything?” He nodded his head to the still sleeping skeleton. He tried not to let his features fall at the same negative reaction as usual, just nodding in resignation as he settled on the bed next to Red, “right. well. have a good day, be safe, bro.” Blue waved shortly and bustled away, off to clean up before heading out. He returned briefly to plant a kiss on both Stretch’s and Red’s foreheads and he was off.

Stretch felt the fond smile melt off his face as he gazed down at Red’s sleeping form only to blink in surprise at the hazy eye lights looking up at him. He quickly shifted, turning fully before addressing him.

“Hey, Red. how ya feelin’?” He couldn’t help it, he found himself holding his breath as he waited for whatever would happen next.

“‘m good, li’l bro,” Red nestled into the blankets, scooting over to make room for Stretch, “red yer new name fer me? i though’ i’s chompy cuzza tha’ guy i bit,” He chuckled, warm recognition on his face. Stretch forced out a strained laugh, this wasn’t the first time Red had mistaken him for his brother.

Red pat the space he made next to him and Stretch awkwardly wormed his way into the opening. Should he play into Red’s delusions? Should he try to snap him back into the present? He seemed genuinely happy as he tugged the taller skeleton close to him.

“yer really gettin’ ta be a tall’un, arencha? gonna hafta fin’ja some bigger stripes soon, bro,” He trailed off, mumbling into Stretch’s sweater, saving him from having to make a decision once more. Red drifted off again, his claws digging into Stretch’s sweater so much so that he was surprised it hadn’t torn.

He stayed frozen for a long moment, looking down at Red’s sleeping face. A bit of red-tinted drool already threatened to drip from his mouth. Why was his magic red? As far as Stretch knew, red magic in monsters was just not a thing. Human souls could be the color of determination, but it just wasn’t a known type of magic, in humans or monsters. Maybe it was some deviation between his own universe and theirs? Not that those kinds of deviations were in short supply. His gaze fell to the sharpened teeth, wondering whether they had been filed or they just grew that way.

And that scar over his socket…He really didn’t know anything about this skeleton. Looking at the shark-toothed skeleton snooze, face, for once, open and relaxed filled Stretch with a strange emotion. He didn’t miss the quick twitches and flinches from the smaller when he moved too quickly or appeared suddenly or started talking to him or really did anything. His soul twinged in pain, he had been such an asshole. Red had apparently forgiven him, but Stretch’s soul still tightened every time he looked at the smaller skeleton.

His eyes roamed over the exposed bone again, once more noting a small multitude of micro-cracks that marred the surface. He’d had plenty of time to stare at Red while he was sleeping, him and Blue both had probably seen him asleep more than awake at this point.

As much as he didn’t like the thought of the smaller skeleton leaving, especially knowing how his Papyrus was…

You will wish I was your Papyrus…

Stretch pushed down the compulsion to vomit.

Once Blue came back, Stretch snuck in a quick smoke before heading into his lab. As much as he hated the idea, and secretly planned to try to convince Red to stay, he would at least try to gather the needed materials to fix the machine. In the corner near the base of the stairs was the remainder of the evidence of Red’s breakdown, a dark splotch on the otherwise tidy floor. Stretch ported back outside. Maybe one more cigarette first.

Luckily it only took a quick once over to realize the machine still only needed the same parts it always needed this early in a reset. Blue leveled him with a grim stare as he announced his intention to head to the dump for the missing pieces, but made a valiant effort to send him off cheerfully. Stretch held his gaze an extra moment longer, waiting. Blue turned away first and Stretch ported to the dump.