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A Skeleton (Pride) Parade!

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The sense of freedom you experienced as you pulled past the “Welcome to Ebott” sign was one of the most captivating sensations you’d experienced in your life. You sat in the back seat of a small compact car, your long-time best friend Grace and her girlfriend Sarah in the front, chatting as a monotone GPS voice announced you were close to the end of your trip. As Grace pulled into the town of your road trip’s destination, you spotted a large banner strung between two lampposts: “Ebott’s First Annual Pride Week.” You felt a wealth of excitement and nervousness bubble up in your stomach, causing you to swallow hard.

Ebott’s First Pride. Your first pride. You felt yourself grin as wide as your mouth would allow, unable to mask your joy.

A short time later, your friend pulled into the hotel room you had managed book last minute. It was by no means a swanky place, and had been expensive—but it was right by the beach, and not too far away from town, so more than worth it. As soon as she had parked, you quickly unbuckled and flung the car door open, eager to get out on the town.

All too slowly, you checked in at the front desk and made your way to your assigned room (416) with your luggage. Upon walking in, you assessed the space: a medium-sized living room with a couch, a couple of loveseats, and a tiny TV (more than the three of you would really need or utilize); a bedroom on either side of the living room (barely enough space to walk around the queen bed, but at least it granted some privacy between the couple and you); and a surprisingly decent bathroom. It was by no means a dream getaway, but you figured you’d only be there to shower, dress, and pass out, so it was fine.

It took some exertion to pull the luggage onto the bed of the room you picked; you were a bit of an overpacker, but wanted to be ready for anything. Grace, alternatively, had managed to cram her clothes into a single backpack, while Sarah had a bag just as large as yours. You took a brief moment to refresh and change into some better walking clothes, eager to get to the main area. Ebott had beautiful landscapes, but they ranged from the now famous Mount Ebott to small sections of coast (such as where your hotel was located), so there tended to be many hills. You had packed your best hiking boots and athletic sneakers in anticipation. You selected some of your everyday shorts and athletic shoes—and, with a tinge of nervousness, you pulled out a shirt you had bought for this weekend. It was a gray tank overlayed with pink, yellow, and blue gradient lettering:

More Pan than Peter and Twice as Magical.

Although you were out to most of your friends, your family and co-workers definitely didn’t know, and you certainly had never proclaimed it so openly before. With a breath, you pulled off your old shirt before pulling the tank on. Finally, you pulled out some rainbow heart sunglasses—maybe not your normal choice, but cute enough. Sarah had also insisted on purchasing matching rainbow flower headband crowns, which felt a little out of your style range, but you placed it on your head anyway. The week was about getting out of your comfort zone, so what the heck?

The three of you set out, climbing back into Grace’s car to drive out to the main center of town. It was only a five minute drive, but you figured it good to have easy transport if needed. Parking was tough, but eventually you found some paid parking in a street just off the main drag.

People were everywhere. And, more jarringly, monsters were everywhere. Now a few years out from the initial liberation of monsters, you had seen some in your town here or there, but certainly not in such force. You supposed it made sense—Mt. Ebott being their original (er, not ‘original, but certainly long-term) home—but the sheer variation in front of you overloaded your mind for a moment. You felt an elbow in your side, and looked to see Grace nudging you.

“It’s awesome, isn’t it?” Grace noted. In all the time you had known Grace (which was the majority of your lives), she rarely spoke; the broken silence lent great weight to her words. You couldn’t help but agree while surveying the hundreds of different kinds of humans and monsters, together, celebrating themselves. You felt your heart swell up for the second time today. You were distracted, however, when you felt Sarah link arms between the two of you—bouncy, sociable, and verbally opinionated, she was the extrovert north to Grace’s quiet south.

“Let’s go eat!”

Your trio made your way through the crowds, going to each and every store, café, and restaurant that looked like it had anything enticing to offer. Both Grace and Sarah were vegan, but the multitude of monster foods (decidedly vegan, made of naturally forming magic) provided your group with a wealth of options to choose from. Grace was mostly interested in going into the shops, Sarah was interested in finding good drinks, and you were most interested in the food. It seemed like each food you tried became your new favorite, and by the time a few hours had passed, you felt like you had gained 5 pounds. Just as you were about to suggest taking a break and resting so you could nurse your full-term food baby, Grace pointed towards a shop.

“They have pretty cool stuff in there,” she stated. “I want to get a postcard.” Grace had very rarely pushed your group in any one direction, so you figured she really wanted to go in. One more stop certainly couldn’t hurt.

The shop was tiny, all of the shirts, postcards, and books hung up or stacked directly against the walls. The prints on the t-shirts were notably different from the other shops you had seen; it seemed like nearly every store sold the same exact merchandise, down to the same prices, so the store was refreshing.

“Oh my God,” Sarah exclaimed. Confined in the small space, you had to peak around her to see what she was gawking at. Standing before her was what appeared to be a skeleton, just about the same height as you, decked out in gray and vibrant baby blues. The outfit was… a little strange, with what looked like armor shoulder pads and a cape, but was far from the oddest thing you’d seen walking the streets today. “Y'all are literally the cutest thing I’ve seen all day!” You couldn’t help but snicker; Sarah reverting back to her southern accent was a tipsy habit of hers.

“MWEH HEH HEH!” the monster laughed, placing skeletal hands on hips confidently. “I AM GLAD YOU HAVE GREAT TASTE, HUMAN!” You laughed again, this time a little bit louder. You had never really talked to a monster yourself before, but this one seemed sweet as heck. You then noticed the monster’s eyes fall on you before the pupils changed—they were literal stars, and the stars seemed to double.

“YOU! HUMAN!” The skeleton reached around Sarah, grabbing your hand and tugging you forward. “YOU TOO HAVE MADE ASTOUNDING CLOTHING CHOICES TODAY! YOU SHOULD TAKE A PICTURE WITH THE MAGNIFICENT SANS!” You flushed, looking down. What did he like about it? The shirt? And who was the magnificent Sans?

The small skeleton then looked around the store, searching. “PAPY?! WHERE DID YOU GO? I NEED YOU!” Although the monster seemed friendly enough, you felt increasingly uncomfortable that he was still holding your hands—

“right here, bro,” came a voice right beside your ear. Sarah shrieked loud enough for the two of you, whereas you jumped and felt your soul nearly leave this mortal plane. You moved into the direction of the short blue skeleton, nearly knocking him over in the process. He steadied you with his hands on your arms, his grip surprisingly firm for someone so tiny.

PAPY, YOU SCARED THE HUMAN!” Straightening yourself, you looked back at this “Papy”—also a skeleton, but much taller, dressed in an eye-bleedingly bright orange sweatshirt and some cargo shorts. He looked thoroughly unfazed by the smaller skeleton’s complaints, merely shrugging.

“sorry, bro. did you say you wanted a pic?”

At this, the shorter skeleton brightened. “WHY YES!” He then grabbed you around the waist, pulling you in close to his side, before posing with a peace sign. To you, he almost seemed like he belonged in an anime about magical girls. “HUMAN! GIVE YOUR BEST POSE!”

You gave a weak smile, holding up a peace sign in return and moving your hip towards his. The taller skeleton held up a phone, snapping a few pics before lowering the phone and giving a thumbs up. The shorter skeleton bounced over, grabbing his cell back before browsing the photos. After a moment, he nodded decidedly.

“THIS ONE! IT CAPTURES OUR NEW FRIENDSHIP PERFECTLY!” He then looked up to you, his face hopeful. “CAN I POST THIS ON UNDERGRAM, PLEASE? DO YOU HAVE AN UNDERGRAM? CAN I ADD YOU ON THERE?”

You were a little overwhelmed by his enthusiasm, but declining a connection like that sounded on par with kicking a puppy. You nodded, pulling out your phone. “Of course you can add me! We’re… photo friends, after all?” You knew it sounded lame the moment it came out of your mouth, but the skeleton practically exploded with joy.

“OF COURSE! THIS IS MY PROFILE!” He tapped on the phone, his thumb… bones? making light, but audible, taps on the screen. He then turned the phone around, revealing his profile: @themagnificentsans.

It took you a moment, then dawned. Oh, you thought, I’m dumb. He was speaking in third person. You beamed at him, chuckling under your breath as you quickly pulled up his profile and added him. He immediately returned the gesture, before his eyes went double stars again—magic was always a little tough to get used to—and you started to feel your phone buzz. He was going through and liking all your photos. You couldn’t help but laugh at his eagerness, it immediately endearing.

“IS IT ALRIGHT IF I POST THIS PHOTO? AND MAY I TAG YOU IN IT?” At this you hesitated, rubbing the back of your head, feeling an immediate flip of your stomach.

“Ah…” You began, unsure of quite how to form a rejection, “Please feel free to post it. I’d rather not be tagged, though.” You flushed, unable to look him in the eye.

“not everyone wants to be seen as a monster lover, bro,” came the voice of Papy beside you, his voice several notes lower than it had been before. He was clearly not in favor of you. As you watched Sans’s smile begin to fall, you immediately intervened.

“No! No. It’s nothing to do with that, it’s…” You then looked down at your shirt pointedly, trying your best not to sound embarrassed. “Uh, not everyone knows.”

Papy stared down at your shirt, clearly not having noticed it beforehand. You tried to ignore the fact he was staring at your chest.

“oh. oh.” He had enough decency to look abashed for a moment before resuming his composure, shrugging. “i s’pose that makes sense.”

I don’t have to defend myself to you, you thought. You were half-tempted to get snarky with him, but turned to his brother instead. He was looking at you with an odd expression, looking somewhat confused. “Maybe we could take a picture later when I’m changed? Just so I can prove to my friends I met such a cool guy?”

His face immediately lit back up, and he bounced on his toes. Oddly enough, his cheeks were tinged with blue. “YES! YOU SHALL EXCHANGE NUMBERS WITH THE MAGNIFICENT SANS, AND WE CAN GET TOGETHER LATER! I HAVE THE BEST TACO PLACE TO SHOW YOU!” He took your phone out of your hands and began to put his number in.

“Well aren’t you smooth?” Sarah said, eyeing him. “Gettin’ her digits in the first convo, you little devious skele.”

“WH-WHAT?” He looked startled, and… surprisingly a little guilty. He handed you back your phone. “NONSENSE. FRIENDS CAN EXCHANGE PHONE NUMBERS. AND TACOS ARE THE BEST WAY TO KINDLE A FRIENDSHIP!”

“Or, y’know, maybe something mo-” she began, but was cut off by Grace tugging her away by the arm. Sarah let out a yelp, grabbing onto your arm and pulling you with her. You laughed, giving the two skeletons a wave as you were dragged out of the store.

“Baby, listen, I was just trying to-” Grace laughed, leaning up to give Sarah a sweet kiss, shushing her as a result.

“Why don’t we go get a drink?”  Grace suggested. Sarah nodded happily, dropping your arm to give Grace’s a squeeze.

“You know me so well.”

The three of you walked aways, looking for a place that had good drinks (surprisingly, for the afternoon, it looked like many places were serving). You only felt a little like a third wheel on a date, but Grace had been your best friend practically since birth, and Sarah had been a great new friend to make, so you didn’t mind too much. They were the ones that had encouraged you to come in the first place and had assured you steadily along you weren’t interrupting anything for them.

If you were being honest with yourself, you felt Sarah had invited you to make up for when you first met—she had mentioned she didn’t believe bisexuality existed. You almost didn’t say anything at the time, as the sentiment was one you’d heard before, but Grace’s expression when she had said that must have given it away. Sarah instantly knew she misspoke, and you ended up coming out to her as pansexual that day. The two of you had a long discussion about it, and she seemed to be more accepting, though… definitely still struggled at times.

But if treating you to your first week of pride celebration was a way to make up for it, then that was more than fine with you.

“Oooh! How about here?!” You suggested, practically drooling at what you saw. There appeared to be a café of some kind with a fenced-off patio out front, decked out in different tones of purple, with small tables outside. A large sign advertised boozy shakes and different pastries and desserts, and the prices weren’t too bad. It also seemed to be monster-made, so it would likely be vegan. Grace and Sarah quickly agreed, and the three of you sat down outside. The table already had menus on it, and you three perused them for a moment.

A waitress came over decked out in all purple. She listed some specials, before taking your order—you went with something called a “dirty banana.” After taking your order, the waitress motioned to the inside of the café.

“I’d encourage y’all to check out the desserts we have in there; I promise you it’s the best you can find in Ebott.”

You instantly stood and turned to go inside, food baby abruptly forgotten. “I’ll be back!” You could hear Grace and Sarah chuckling after you.

The place was crowded, and you hoped that indicated it was truly good. You spotted a large—you couldn’t help but gulp—spider monster behind the counter, her hands whirling all kinds of ways as she served people. If you could get past the spider bit, it was amazing to see how fast and precisely she worked—she was paractically a sparkling figure skater, zooming around the other employees with grace.

You looked over at the desserts she was handing out and oh my god, did they look amazing. You impatiently waited your turn, eventually getting close enough to the display case to see what was inside. There was a monster blocking part of it, their face practically pushed against the glass.

Peeking around as best you could, it seemed to be another skeleton monster. Three in one day? You wondered if they were as numerous as the bunny monsters and just didn’t happen to be in your area. From the little you could see of their face, they looked more menacing—their teeth were pointed, all fangs. Less frighteningly, they appeared to be drooling against the glass.

“SANS! STOP YOUR SALIVATING!” you heard someone yell from behind you. A long, red-gloved arm reached past you and yanked the monster by the hood of his sweatshirt. You took a long stare—no, that definitely wasn’t the same Sans you’d just talked to. This one was taller, portlier, and definitely much less cute. Weird you'd hear such a unique name twice in one day.

“get ya mitts offa me, ya fuckin’ prick!” the skeleton growled. You looked at the prickly Sans’s captor—they were a tall, slender, gaudily dressed skeleton. You figured he must be here as part of the BDSM scene based on the leather and colors of his outfit.

“I WILL NOT BE MADE A FOOL OF BY YOUR EGREGIOUS BEHAVIOR.” Definitely a dom. “IF YOU MUST INDULGE, DO IT QUICKLY, AND LET US BE ON OUR WAY.”

“i'll take however fuckin’ long i want,” Sans grumbled, huffing as the taller skeleton set him down. Despite his words, he seemed to settle back in line as the other skeleton disappeared out the front door. You couldn’t help but give a chuckle.

This was a mistake.

“ya got a problem, toots?” the skeleton then growled, swiveling around to give you a hard stare. You noticed, unlike the other skeletons you'd met, his teeth were more like fangs: all pointed, with one golden canine flashing at you. His eyelights were red, and one seemed to be almost glowing. You held up your hands and gave a an apologetic smile; despite his appearance, it was a little hard to be intimidated when you saw he had such a sweet tooth. Maybe it was a hint of nervousness, or defensiveness, or  maybe just your good mood—but you found you a joke at your lips before you could stop it:

“Nah, man, as one with a sweet toots to another, I get it.”

He stared at you a criticizing moment before his brighter eye seeming to lessen in intensity. He turned back around, his voice a low grumble, edged with a touch of ire. “yer lucky i like terrible puns.”

The spider monster took his order—tough to hear over the din of people, but it sounded like something chocolate-y—before she leaned over to you.

“What’ll it be, dearie?” she asked, her eyes surveying you. You quickly scanned the display, realizing you had forgotten to even pick, before choosing the first one that stood out. Glancing back at her, you attempted not to stare at her fangs and chose instead to look at one of the sets of her eyes.

“I’ll-“ you began, then coughed, realizing your voice was an octave higher than normal. I’m contrast to the skeleton, you felt a twist of actual fear go through your gut, an instinctual arachnophobia alarm going off within you. You attempted to suppress it with a clearing of your throat, and tried again: I’ll have the ‘Mount Cream Puff,’ please?” You pointed to it in the display. The dessert was several layers of puff pastry and cream, decorated with berries and drizzled lightly with chocolate sauce, made in the shape of Mount Ebott. You were all about some berries and cream.

“Coming right up! Please stand over in the receiving area.” She motioned with one of her hands towards the far end of the counter, where your not-quite friend was standing, looking impatient.

“Thank you!” you said as you moved over, doing your best to give the skeleton as much space as you could in the crowded patisserie (which wasn’t much, but at least you made the effort). You did your best to ignore him, instead watching the spider monster, mesmerized by her. It was a little bit easier at a distance. You caught a flash of a nametag as she whirled around someone—Muffet. You couldn’t help but laugh under your breath. Like little Miss Muffet? Cute.

“whatcha laughin’ at?” you heard the skeleton monster grumble next to you.

None of your business. For the second time today, you considered getting sassy with a skele, but shrugged instead. “I wish I was her, with all those sweets everyday. My dream is to find a mountain of sweets, eat my way to the middle, and sleep in there. Wouldn’t you want to?”

“throw a broad in there, and ya got me.” He then gave you a noticeable, if not suspectedly exaggerated, side glance. “think i can join ya in yours?”

You felt your cheeks heat up instantly, and you heard him chuckle. Muffet laid a bag on the counter. Sans approached it, and you saw numbers flash on the screen without Muffet moving her hands—at first you thought it might be magic, but then you noticed a few spiders jumping up and down on the register's keys. You felt your skin crawl. Sans spoke to them a moment—you were too far away to hear, and to be honest, didn’t really care—before placing some money on the counter. You lost interest, figuring that was the end of your conversation, and instead looked back at the glass display. There was so much you wanted to eat: giant slices of chocolate cake, tarts, delicate pastries with intricate decorations iced on—

Suddenly, black and red obstructed your view. Instead of walking out the door like you imagined he would’ve, Sans moved towards you, a swagger in his step you hadn’t noticed before.

“here-” he said, reaching into the bag before presenting you with a clear container. You recognized your Mount Cream Puff. “-get started on that mountain for me, sweetie.” You stared at him, stunned, and he gave a good laugh—rumbling, but not unpleasant—and walked away.

You stared after his retreating image for a moment, before looking at the puff pastry in your hands. You then looked to the counter. You realized he must’ve paid for you.

You couldn’t help but give a small smile, feeling a slight warmth bloom within you. So the prickly skeleton is sweet in more than just his tooth. Huh.

Chapter Text

You moved with your dessert outside, heading back out to the table your friends were sitting that. Your shakes were already there—Sarah had already made a third of the way through hers, while Grace had abstained entirely since she drove the three of you there. You sat down, opening up your plastic dessert case. Would you probably die of sugar in this sitting? Sure. Was it worth it? Hell yes.

“How is it?” You asked, taking a berry off of your puff and tossing it in your mouth. It tasted fresh.

“Ah-mazing!” Sarah said happily. “And that looks great! Is it made of magic too?”

You inspected it closely. Magical items tended to have a small shimmer to them, but from what you could tell, it seemed like non-magic ingredients. The berry tasted it, at least. You shrugged, deftly sticking a finger in the cream filling and tasting a little.

“girlie, ya already got me sold, no need to seduce me more.” You jumped slightly at the sound of the gruff voice. Looking over, you saw prickly-sans leaning against the patio fence, his dessert still in hand.

“Oh!” you exclaimed, unceremoniously wiping your hands on your pants. “I didn’t get to thank you for the dessert. So, uh, thank you! That was very kind of you, and it’s delicious.” You smiled widely at him in thanks, and you saw his cheeks tinge with red. Was… Was that a blush? “I figured you’d left already.”

His look instantly soured. “my fuckin’ brother papyrus took off, the dick. and, o’course, if i leave he’ll be ripshit.” He then scrunched up his face, his voice going up an octave and taking a snoody tint. “‘oh, sans, how dare you leave the establishment without my permission.’” He looked away in the distance, glaring.

“Your name is sans too? Is that a monster thing?” Sarah asked. Grace elbowed her. “Ow! What? I can ask!”

Sans’s head snapped, eyes narrowing. Maybe Grace was right to stop her. “is what a monster thing?”

“Sorry if that’s insensitive to ask,” Grace spoke up. “But we met another pair of skeletons earlier, and one was named Sans. The other one was Papy, not Papyrus, though, so it must just be a coincidence.”

His eyes only narrowed further. “yeah? what'd they look like?”

“Sans was the cutest!” Sarah said. “He looked like a little superhero. Papy just looked high.” This earned another elbow from Grace. “What?! It’s true.”

“ugh, those two,” he said, a skeletal hand coming up to rub his face. “well, I guess that’s the best case scenario.” He then looked up at the three of you. “uh, yeah, it’s a monster thing,” he said, his voice flat. “we’re kinda related. th' other sans usually goes by blueberry, papy usually goes by stretch. my brother usually goes by edge, and i usually go by red.” He then made a disgusted face. “well, not usually. just when i have to put up with seein’ their ugly mugs.”

You raised your brow. Sure, they weren’t twins or anything, but he at least looked similar to… Blueberry, was it?

“Well, you can come and join us while you wait for your brother, if you’d like, Sans,” you offered. You’d probably refer to him as Red in your head—just to keep things straight—but if he preferred his real name when alone, then who were you to deny it to him?

He grinned wide, his smile looking quite full with those pointed teeth. “don’t have to ask me twice, doll.”

As Red rounded the fence, you felt your phone buzz. You did your best to discreetly read it, not wanting to be rude. It was a text from Sarah, to your group text with her, Grace, and yourself.

Sarah Tyler: I don’t like him.

You saw Grace instantly texting back.

Gracie Dinarte: Why? He seems fine.”

You put your phone away as he walked towards you, not wanting him to accidentally see the messages. He sat at the fourth chair on the table, between yourself and Grace, before placing his dessert down and popping the container open. It looked like one of the slices of cake you’d seen, but had that slight glimmer to it, meaning it was likely magical. He took a piece of cake with his bare hand and popped it in his mouth, chocolate staining his fingers, as well as some of his teeth. He was clearly a messy eater.

 “never seen a guy eat before?” he asked. You realized you were staring.

“O-oh, no, it’s just…” Where does it go? “It looks really good. I’m a little envious.”

“yeh?” he asked. Suddenly, a bright, almost fluorescent red tongue appeared in his maw, licking chocolate clean from a tooth. “of me eatin’ the cake, or the cake being eaten by me?”

You felt a blush start at your chest and work its way up.

“How lewd!” Sarah said, covering your eyes. “Listen, this is my sweet babyangel, and she startles real easy. You have to be gentle on her.” You laughed, moving Sarah’s hand, taking a long sip of your drink. Red leaned forward towards you, placing his chin on his hand.

“maybe she likes lewd,” he said, his eyes focused on you. “and i promise to go as gentle as she wants, though i prefer rough mys-”

In a moment of déjà vu, a hand reached out, grabbing Red by the hood, knocking his chair over as it pulled him away.

“whatcha doin’, you fuckin’ dickbag?!” Red exclaimed angrily. “i’m talkin’ here!” Edge held him up to eye level, his brother’s feet dangling as he struggled. Edge said nothing, but Red suddenly cowed. “b-boss, listen, i stayed put like you wanted. i was just chattin’ up a broad-”

ENOUGH, SANS. WE HAVE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO THAN SOME SIMPLE FLIRTATION WITH A HUMAN. LET US BE OFF.”

“b-but boss,” Red complained, softer this time. “i wasn’t jus’-”

“SANS,” Edge said definitively. Red lapsed into silence, and Edge began to walk away with his brother in tow.

He looked so defeated, you felt the urge to call after him. You stood up from the table and cupped your hands around your mouth, not wanting your voice to be lost in the crowd. “I’ll save your cake for you!”

“i'll call you! or find you!” he yelled back, his voice barely discernable as his brother stalked away with him in large strides.

“But he doesn’t have my phone number,” you mumbled aloud. Grace laughed, while Sarah looked concerned.

“Okay girl, number one: finish your shake before I end up finishing it for you, ‘cause it looks real good.” Her southern accent was in full effect by this point, so you knew she had quite a buzz going. You sat back down and took another long sip. It was perfection, and definitely not worth wasting. “Two, what is with you and skeleton monsters? A least the shorter ones.” She then waved her hands in the direction the two had went. “Them bigger ones don’t seem to want nothing to do with any of us, but it’s like you’re a magnet to the shorties there.”

You shrugged in response. “It was only two; that was a coincidence. The other one just wanted to be friends.”

Hardly,” Sarah drawled. “I’m tellin’ you, that little one has a dark side to him.” She took another sip. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s still cute as fuck, but I can tell that he’s covering somethin’ a little deeper down.”

You shrugged again, taking a bite of your cream puff mountain, having to stifle a groan in the process. Strawberry and cream was your favorite flavor combination, by far. “I dunno, he seemed cute as heck to me. Besides, everyone is probably hiding a lil’ something.” As you spoke, you made sure to pack up Red’s cake, placing it in the bag he had left so you wouldn’t forget it.

“Fair girl, fair,” Sarah agreed, holding up her glass up. “Now, this is nearly empty, so y’all better catch up to my level.”

The three of you spent the rest of the day continuing your rigorous routine of eating, drinking, and shopping. By the time you hit dinner, you were at the tipping point of drunk, which made you pause your alcohol consumption. You wanted to at least remember pride, even if through alcohol-tinted lenses. You knew if you went into drunkland there was a large chance it’d turn into the infamous way too drunk land.

Grace took your group back to the hotel, both so you could exchange her car for an uber, and so the three of you could get dressed in clothes for going out for the night. The three of you took your time (Sarah and yourself in particular making sure to drink a lot of water during your rest), showering up before figuring out what to wear. Grace stayed in the same shorts, tee, and sneakers outfit she had on earlier, you chose a simple fit-and-flare casual summer dress with flats, and Sarah dressed in a chic top and skirt with high heels.

“Guys, we’re practically a rainbow of feminine traits in this room alone,” Sarah said. “We are gonna rock this. Are y’all ready?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.” You opened the small fridge the hotel had provided, eyeing Red’s cake that sat there. What are the chances that we’ll ever speak again? You wondered why you said he’d call you when he didn’t have your number—maybe he misspoke? There was no way he could find you in a place as crowded as Ebott during Pride week. The other Sans—Blueberry—had also said he’d text you about tacos, but hadn’t responded to the text you had sent him earlier so he could have your number. Maybe he’d typed his number in wrong?

You shut the fridge and picked up the small purse you’d brought along with you, brushing it off. Worse comes to worst, if you didn’t happen upon either of them tonight (which, really, the chances of that with all the people in town were incredibly slim), you could at least message Blueberry on undergram. It was also possible he didn’t want to talk—and that was alright with you; you were still basically strangers, after all.

“Let’s get going!” Sarah called, half-hanging out the door. You gave your dress one last smoothing down before nodding, following her out the door.

 

Red

Edge had dragged Red all around town, doing all kinds of stupid errands. They were supposed to be on vacation, for starssake! They’d gone to get Edge new boots (not needed in the last—the guy had about forty nearly identical pairs at home), a new leash (Red had ditched the one Edge had brought on the trip, but it looked like he wasn’t getting out of it this time), and a new collar (okay, Red had to admit at least this one was a little comfier), among other things they could have just as easily done at home. After the fifth or sixth shopping adventure, Red was nearly crawling out of his bones.

“boss, what th’ fuck are we doin’ all this for?!” Red growled. “i dragged ten damn different suitcases here, we don’t need this shit.”

“I SAY WHAT WE DO OR DO NOT NEED,” Edge said. He then regarded Red critically, doing up the buttons of a dark purple vest he had been trying on. “WHAT IS YOUR RUSH FOR ANYWAY? DON’T TELL ME YOU SO DESPERATELY WANT TO GO BACK TO THAT SNIVELING HUMAN.”

kinda, Red thought, i'm hungry for some cake, and i wouldn’t mind a side of that human to go with it. His mind involuntarily conjured up images of eating cake with you in a way that was much more pleasant than sitting at a table. He had to shake the thought away in order to focus.

“nah, boss. but i think it’s best we be addressin’ that those starry-eyed chumps are here when they’re not supposed to be? we shoulda told ‘em to fuck off hours ago.”

“THIS, FOR ONCE, IS A GOOD POINT,” Edge said thoughtfully. He took off the vest, tossing it unceremoniously at the poor clerk that had been attending them. “WE CANNOT ALLOW THEM TO THINK WE ARE WEAK IN OUR TERRITORY. SANS, FIND OUT WHERE THEY ARE AT ONCE WHILE I FINISH HERE.”

“got, it, boss.”

Normally Red would’ve grumbled about any sort of work forced upon him, but did get a little thrill out of tracking people. Of all his selves, he knew he was the best, even if that level-headed freak version of him (who refused to go by anything else than Sans, and somehow got away with it) wouldn’t admit it.

He took a beat to concentrate, feeling the flow of magic pulse and ebb all around him. It was tough with so many bodies concentrated into one area, but he was good. Plus, it helped that the frequencies he was looking for were almost the exact same as his own.

It took him a good few minutes of randomly teleporting around the town, but eventually he found the one he was looking for: a near-perfect copy of his own magical fingerprint not too far away.

He teleported just in front, looking to give a scare—before he was the one that reeled back.

fuck, you too?!”

“nice to see you too, red,” Sans—the asshole freak that didn’t have a nickname—said evenly. Red glowered at him, rage quickly building.

“listen, ya fuck, you’re not supposed to be here. you know that. i know that. boss wanted me to round up the berry and stretch and get ‘em out, so you better hit it too.”

“oh, i already got em for ya,” he said, tilting his head in the direction of the beach. “half a mile east down th’ beach. see ya there.”

“why don’t ya just fucki-” Red began, before Sans was gone. Red growled loudly in frustration, getting some curious looks. He quickly shortcutted away himself, figuring no option but to follow after.

Instead of going towards the beach, he went to the store where Edge was. He spotted Edge checking out, taking back a black card from the cashier. “ya better come with me, boss,” he said, earning a look of relief from all of the various staff he could see in the area. “it’s not just berry and stretch, that lazy motherfuckin’ creeper is there.”

“SANS?” Edge asked, making Red cringe. He hated it when Edge called anyone but him Sans. Man, boss knew how to cut deep.

Red gave a nod. “yeah; one’s a coincidence, two might as well be an infestation. let's go ream em out ‘fore they go missing again.”

“LET’S,” Edge said, dropping the shopping bags he hand accumulated in Red’s arms.

“sure boss, let me carry it, i'm just doing all the fuckin’ work here.”

“WHAT WAS THAT?”

“nothin’, boss.”

Red led Edge through the shortcut, going just about where Sa- where that asshole said he’d be. Sure enough, he could spot Blueberry in the distance, playing in the water—hard to miss with an obnoxiously bright inflatable donut around him. Red took another quick transport over there and found four culprits total—Blueberry, Stretch, the asshole, and the asshole’s brother. If he was being honest with himself (which he almost never was), he’d admit that he didn’t mind thinking of the asshole’s brother as Papyrus. That one seemed like what he always wished his Papyrus was like, at least.

“WHAT DO YOU ALL THINK YOU’RE DOING HERE?” Edge said, arms folded and voice full of venom. Unlike Blueberry, the other three skeletons were resting on the sand—Stretch and Papyrus laying down, and Sans sitting upright.

“AH!” Papyrus said, lifting up some sunglasses to stare at Edge. “WE, MY FRIEND, ARE AT THE BEACH! ENJOYING THE SUNSHINE! WATCHING THE SURF!”

Stretch's eyes were closed as he chimed in. “come here to join, edge? you don’t look dressed for it.”

“yer eyes aren’t even open, ya dick,” Red growled, dropping the bags. From behind him, Blueberry gasped.

“LANGUAGE, PLEASE!”

“i'll use whatever fuckin’ language i want!” Red barked. He hated being around these guys. “look, when this all happened, we decided we’d stay around ebott since edge works here, and you’d all go live your lives in the world. we wouldn’t have to see one another, wouldn’t risk people finding out about us.”

“BUT I LIKE SEEING YOU, RED,” Papyrus chimed in. It was enough to silence Red’s retort. Edge rolled his eyes and sighed.

“STILL, IT IS FOR THE BEST. WE CANNOT ALLOW ANY ONE INDIVIDUAL TO MEET MULTIPLE VERSIONS OF OURSELVES AND START ASKING QUESTIONS.”

“c’mon,” the asshole piped up, “as far as i know, it’s just us six. the chances of any two of us meeting the same individual during a crowded week like this are astronomical.”

“it’s already happened, ya fuck.”

Red took sweet, sweet delight in the look that played over the asshole’s face. It was short-lived, however, as he saw Blueberry’s expression turn to one of horror out of the corner of his eye.

“WHO? I BARELY TALKED TO ANYONE TODAY!” Blueberry exclaimed. Stretch laughed dryly at this, causing Blueberry to pout. He stomped his foot, causing a splash in the water. “I HAVEN’T! I’VE MISSED SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR FRIENDS, YOU’VE BARELY EVEN LET ME SHOW OFF MY BATTLE ARMOR TO ANYONE!”

“not just one person, ya idjit, but three.” Red held up three fingers for him. Blueberry stared for a moment, racking his brain, when—ding ding!—his hands flew to his mouth in horror.

“YOU DON’T MEAN THOSE GIRLS? NOT MY UNDERGRAM FRIEND?! I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO TEXT HER BACK YET!”

“ya already got her number, ya sly fuck?”

 Blueberry stared at him dumbly. “YOU HAVEN’T?”

Red was nearly seeing red as he heard the signature chuckle of the asshole behind him. “i woulda fuckin’ been in bed with her eatin’ post-fuckin’ chocolate cake by now if boss hadn’t pulled me away for a fuckin’ shopping spree y’ little psychopath!” Red was two seconds away from ringing the little fucker’s neck-

“clearly you gotta stop talking to her. both of you,” the asshole said calmly. His demeanor only enraged Red more, but before he could go off, Edge put his hand on Red’s shoulder.

“I BELIEVE HE IS RIGHT, AS MUCH AS I HATE TO SAY IT.”

or, they could fuckin leave, and we could continue to do as we want. this is their fault, not ours.” Red then folded his arms.

“EVEN IF THEY LEAVE, YOU’LL STILL HAVE TO STOP TALKING TO THE THREE OF THEM. IF YOU’RE NOT THERE, THEY CAN’T ASK QUESTIONS.”

“they just think we’re fuckin’ related or somethin’. i told them it was a monster thing, and they didn’t question it at all!”

“why do you want to talk to this human so badly?” the asshole asked. Red turned and glared at him.

“i don’t give a shit about no fuckin’ human, i give a shit that yer fuckin faces are tryin’a tell me what to do.”

“WELL, I LIKED THE HUMANS,” Blueberry piped up, his expression forlorn. “THEY SEEMED TO WANT TO BE FRIENDS. BUT…” Blueberry looked to Stretch. “IF IT IS WHAT I MUST DO AS A PROTECTOR, I WILL.” Blueberry then turned to Red, looking at him pleadingly. “IF I PROMISE NOT TO MAKE ANY MORE HUMAN FRIENDS, CAN WE PLEASE STAY? THE HUMANS WOULDN’T LET MONSTERS INTO THE OTHER PRIDES.”

The four other skeletons then turned to Red, looking at him expectantly. Normally they left the decisions up to the asshole, and Red could feel his ego inflate for a moment since they seemed to be letting him decide. Even Boss was looking to him for a reply.

“ugh… fuckin’ fine, just don’t go fuckin’ it up for all of us. and don’t go talkin’ to them three, especially that dame.”

“what about you, red?” the asshole asked.

“me?” Red said gruffly. “i need a drink.”

Before anyone could say anything, Red shortcutted away. Moving around, it was only a few teleports before he found a hotel nearby that advertised a bar. Judging by how close it was to the beach, he imagined this was where the stupid other selves were staying. It looked on the shittier end of hotels, but if Blueberry had been honest (which he almost always was), they probably had to book it last minute when they got rejected from wherever they went before.

He’d never admit it, but Red would feel pretty crummy if he messed up things for his other selves—and, if you or your friends did figure it out, it could easily be the end of you three. Although Red didn’t give a fuck about their secret, the rest took it pretty damn seriously.

Besides, you really were just some girl. It was true, now there was the whole “forbidden” element, and you did have his cake, and love for sweets, and appreciation for bad puns… But really, if he could stop himself from tracking you, the asshole was at least accurate—the chances of him finding you were ridiculously small.

He entered the hotel lobby, moving towards the reception so he could ask where the bar was. However, before he could take a few steps in, he froze in his tracks—he faintly heard the sound of a recognizable voice, dancing on the edge of his hearing. Senses perked, he moved quickly through the lobby before peaking around a corner. With what he saw, he felt himself instantly grin wide, all impulse control going out the window.

sorry, guys, he thought, watching as your drunken figure retreated down the hallway, stumbling and laughing with your friends. He could feel magic surge through his bones as the more base-version of him began to chant, begging him to initiate a hunt. guess this is a sign: game on.

Chapter Text

↝ You ↜

The three of you got picked up by an uber, driven by a very...odd monster. Sarah had a attempted some conversation, but they seemed to begin almost every sentence with "Tra la la." They also spoke a lot about...pants. This quickly cut the conversation short. You decided to go to a restaurant first in the heart of the downtown area, settling down a small café where you had some appetizers. Per Sarah’s extensive questioning of the poor waiter, the three of you eventually settled on a bar that met your needs (drag show, female-friendly, cheap drinks) and had a good reputation.

After paying, the three of you took a leisurely-paced stroll towards your destination. It was somehow even more packed at night than it had been in the morning, a pulsing amalgamation of monsters and humans all talking, yelling, and setting off towards their various destinations. The continuous stream of neon lights on the buildings made it feel like you were inside of a futuristic circuit board, both disorienting and exciting you in a way you had only felt a handful of times in your life.

Sarah, Grace and you chattered pleasantly as you walked. The summer air was a little chilly, especially for this time of year, causing you to shiver now and then. Maybe it was from the cold air, or maybe from your disintegrating buzz, but you began to feel…watched?

Which was ridiculous, because there were hundreds (if not more) of people, all dressed dazzlingly, so any one person probably never had their eyes on your for more than a split moment. You rubbed your arms, trying to take the chill away.

“Jeeze, it’s chilly. I can’t wait to get a drink to warm up,” you said. Grace hugged your arm, and Sarah moved to the other side of you before following suit, her taller frame draping over you. You laughed, doing your best to hug the both of them back as the three of you stumbled forward.

“Don’t worry girl, tonight we’re gonna get out drink on! Time to celebrate how far we’ve all come!”

The three of you cheered and picked up the pace, eventually making your destination: Crown & Trident. The sign in the shape of the Monster King’s head, a screaming hint that the place was monster-friendly. As you approached, you noticed the building itself looked classy, which made you wonder if the waiter was accurate in his cheap assessment. As you went to walk in the front door, however, Grace stopped you.

“I think it’s the downstairs,” she said, pointing to the corner of the building. The door was open, and some people and monsters were hanging around, smoking cigarettes and chatting. They also looked much less steady on their feet, which was a good indication. Man, Grace had a good eye.

“Good thing y'all caught that, or I’d be dancing on tables people were tryin’ to eat off of,” Sarah laughed. The three of you made your way to the door and down the exceedingly long and narrow set of stairs, stopped at the bottom by a cat monster with a security tee on. It took everything in you not to squeal and pet him.

Judging by the miserable expression on his face, many people with less impulse control had passed him by already. “ID’s?”

The three of you showed him your ID’s, and he let you in with a wave. You did your best to give him a sympathetic look and a genuine thank you as you passed, but it seemed lost on him.

Entering the club, it was definitely less swanky than upstairs. The place was surprisingly large, but clearly still a basement converted into a club, the floor and walls plain and the entire area dark. The ceilings were surprisingly high, which likely allowed for the building of the wooden stage in the back. Some smaller, circular stages were set up seemingly at random throughout the dance floor with dancing poles attached. Humans and monsters, male, female, and indeterminate, were already dancing on them in the dark, and there were many people in the club already, despite it being still early in the night.

“I need several drinks,” you stated plainly, suddenly feeling nervous. It was far from the first time you’d been in a club, but just the sense of so many people being out, and happy, and free to do whatever… You felt your anxiety creeping up on you, a nagging feeling telling you that you didn’t belong here among them.

The three of you went to the bar, buying a couple shots as well as some longer-lasting drinks (yours being a diet coke and whiskey, your go-to drink). The three of you downed your pair of shots before taking the bigger drinks with you, cringing as you felt the sting of alcohol hit your stomach and turn to warmth in your veins.

“Let’s get a spot up by the stage!” Sarah called over the din of music and talking. “The show should be starting soon!”

Your group snaked their way through the crowd, eventually making it close enough to the front for Sarah’s satisfaction. The three of you danced, and drank, and had a good time, your anxiety slipping away from you with each new song that came on (and drink that came into your hand). You even danced with some of the strangers around you—both humans and monsters—and even managed to make friends with a cute monster lesbian couple. Personality wise, they seemed to be the monster version of Sarah and Grace, and you all hit it off famously. By the time a spotlight came onto the stage, you were fully having a good time.

Sarah nudged you as the music died down. “You’ve never been to a drag show before, right? You’re supposed to tip if you like what they do; they’ll usually come around with buckets or take it out of your hands.” You, in your anxiety, had read up about drag shows beforehand—but nodded in thanks at the advice, fishing your purse out that held your phone and money, wanting it close by. You had even saved up one dollar bills in advance for this occasion.

A security guard—the same defeated one you saw beforehand—came over and placed two microphones on the stage and began to walk off. Drunk, and with your impulse control lost in at the bottom of a glass of whiskey five drinks ago, you began to shout:

“Whoo! Security, you rock!”

Sarah and Grace immediately joined you, and before you knew it, various people in the crowd were cheering on the security guard. His brown fur bristled, and somehow, you could see a pink blush form, almost as if above his fur. Magic is so fuckin’ neat, man.

He gave a little wave as he walked off, resulting in another wave of cheers from the crowd. The music then started up again, and another monster walked onstage, shiny and metal with hot pink and black—

Mettaton.

The crowd went crazy. Mettaton was such a huge performer, and for him to be here, in a smaller sized town, performing in an underground bar was nearly unthinkable. Various security monsters had to physically and magically hold the crowd back from the stage. You were immediately rushed, pushed in on all sides, and felt like you were back at your old rock show days.

Grace looked extremely uncomfortable, whereas Sarah was losing her damn mind. “It’s the Beyoncé of monsters, it’s the Beyoncé of monsters!!”

Mettaton held up a hand, and the crowd quieted as he grabbed a microphone. “Darlings, I am so happy to see you all here, and what a warm welcome!” The crowd cheered again, earning a chuckle from the robot. “This is the first official monster-human pride week in this world’s history-” another cheer from the crowd “-and you know I had to start off the very first monster-human drag show.” Mettaton winked, and for the third time, the crowd went nuts.

He then waved his finger at the crowd, pouting. “Sorry, darlings, I’m merely playing the role of emcee tonight,” he said, and the crowd returned with a chorus of disappointed noises. Mettaton then straightened. “My first performance of the week will be at the parade, so you better not miss out! You know I’ll be worth waiting for.” He gave a wink, and the crowd cheered again, appeased. “That being said, I’d like to introduce the first-ever monster performers of the overworld monster dragshow, the Lust Brothers!”

The crowd eagerly cheered as the spotlight swiveled to the side of the stage, where you saw two figures emerge. They had giant feather boas, one mainly dressed in black and hot pink, and the other in blues in purple. Sarah’s head blocked the view for a moment, but you managed to catch a glimpse of their faces—

They looked like motherfucking Blueberry and Stretch. You nearly had a heart attack, when you realized that they weren’t quite the same. They both had one white… pupil in the center of their left eye, and one neon-colored pupil in the center of the other (it looked heart-shaped?). The smaller one had a purple eye, and the larger had pink. Both seemed to glow in the darkness. You gulped.

“That cannot be those two before!” Sarah yelled to the two of you above the din. “I knew that shorter one had a secret! He’s kinky as fuck!”

“No, I don’t think so,” you said, pointing to them. Now that you were assessing, they were the most different-looking out of the ones you had seen so far—though that might have been, in part, from their demeanor. “From what I can see, the shorter one with the purple eye is skinnier than Blueberry, and a little taller. And the taller one with the pink eye is shorter than Stretch. Look, those two are just a few inches apart.”

At your pointing, the skeletons looked your way—and you felt your heart stop, hoping they didn’t misunderstand your pointing as something critical. Luckily, they looked away just as quickly, walking up to the microphones.

“WELCOME ONE AT ALL TO THE FIRST ANNUAL PRIDE!” the taller one announced, grabbing the microphone. “I SEE WE HAVE A CROWD OF SOME DELECTABLE SNACKS UP IN HERE.” He then looked to the shorter skeleton. “WHAT DO YOU THINK, SUGAR PLUM?”

“well, razzy, i think,” Sugar Plum said, his eyes half-lidded as he scanned over the crowd. It seemed to pause on you—or at least in your direction—as he spoke again: “i wanna fuck every single one of you sexy motherfuckers.”

The crowd went wild again, hooting and hollering. Although there were no explicit laws against human-monster relationships, there was a certain part of both monster and human populations that seemed to frown on them. Some humans protested it for religious reasons, stating it was “like laying with beasts,” whereas some monsters protested it for historical reasons, saying that being with humans was siding with the oppressors. For the pair of skeletons to make such an open and public statement on monster-human love, well... it was refreshing. You supposed that was what pride was all about, anyway.

Their drag show was amazing, seeming to have it all—joke segments, lip syncing, dancing, and just encouraging everyone to have a good time. Their humor was explicit and raunchy, but in such a good-natured and positive way they managed to not make it feel creepy. One of the two—Razzy?— had even picked up Grace at one point and twirled her around with ease, and even her, queen of the introverts, didn’t seem to mind it. The other one, Sugar Plum, even went up to you at one point during a song and pulled you in like he was going to kiss you—before moving away, leaving you breathless. You had put the majority of your ones into his bucket after that.

After their set (which ended with a better skeleton education segment than you had ever got in anatomy class), a set of human drag queens came on stage. You and your friends were on high at that point, continuing the drinking well past the point of no return. You were headed back with your sixth (maybe seventh? eighth?) drink from the bar when you bumped into someone, drinks spilling down your dress.

Damn, this was one of my favorites.

“OH STARS! I AM SO VERY SORRY, HUMAN,” you heard a voice exclaim. Something about the tone of voice made you want to look slightly downwards. You found only chest, so instead, you had to look up. You were greeted with another. Damn. Skeletal. Face.

Okay, so they must all really just be like the bunny clan, and I’ve just missed them all so far somehow until today.

“It’s okay!” you said, doing best to keep from slurring your words. “What’s a few drinks between friends, eh?”

He didn’t seem so impressed by your pun, but his face lit up at the word ‘friend.’

“WOWIE! I’VE NEVER MADE A FRIEND BY SPILLING DRINKS ON THEM BEFORE! I’LL HAVE TO TELL UNDYNE ABOUT THIS!”

“Oh!” you said, your drunk brain managing to make a connection, “Undyne the blue monster? I just met her a bit ago, she’s the best!”

The skeleton put his hands to his face, his eyes going almost anime-like. “YOU’RE ALREADY FRIENDS WITH UNDYNE? I DON’T HAVE TO HAVE YOU BOTH DO COOKING LESSONS? THIS IS TRULY THE GREATEST NIGHT EVER!”

“It really is!” you agreed. You had no idea what in the world he was talking about, but he was happy, and you were happy, and your inebriated mind figured that was good enough.

“How did you like the show?"

Papyrus looked thoughtful for a moment. "THEY DID A VERY GOOD JOB ENTERTAINING!" He announced. "THEY WERE VERY COLORFUL AS WELL. THERE... WERE ADMITTEDLY MANY THINGS I DID NOT UNDERSTAND," he paused, giving a thoughtful look. You wondered how he couldn't understand such blatant innuendos and wondered if he didn't have the... experience to understand. It seemed impossible in this day and age to at least not know from the internet, but maybe he stayed away from that. You mentally shrugged it off. "HOWEVER, I WANTED TO SUPPORT MY FELLOW SKELETAL BRETHREN IN THEIR ENDEAVORS."

It took you a moment, but you could feel the neurons in your brain slowly connect. "Is... Your name doesn't happen to be Papyrus, does it?"

"OH! MY! STARS!" he exclaimed, his eyes going comically large once again, "HAS IT FINALLY HAPPENED? HAVE I FINALLY BECOME POPULAR ENOUGH THAT WORD OF MY GREATNESS HAS BEGUN TO SPREAD?"

Saying no was unthinkable. You nodded. "Yes! Although you're even greater than I imagined!" it was true; he was one of the sweetest skeletons you'd met so far, possibly even surpassing Blueberry. Not that you had really met that many to begin with.

He seemed to vibrate in happiness, and looked at you pleadingly. "I AM TRYING TO LEARN TO ASK BEFORE I ACT, SO MAY I PLEASE GIVE YOU A HUG, HUMAN?"

You nodded your consent, and the giant skeletal monster picked you up as if you were as light as an infant's teddy bear, hugging you sweetly as he laughed. Unlike yourself (which probably smelled like booze and sweat), he smelled faintly of cinnamon, and wasn't as... hard and pokey of a hugger as you'd thought he'd be. Is he literally a cinnamon roll?

"NYEH HEH HEH, COME! LET US TOAST TO NEW FRIENDS!"

"Let's!" you agreed, laughing as he set you down. You stumbled a little and he helped you stay upright—he seemed to have some kind of odd gloves on, you realized, almost like boxing mitts. "Maybe I should just stick with water," you said sheepishly, and he nodded.

"I TOO SHOULD REHYDRATE; I HAVE BEEN 'LETTING LOOSE,' AS THEY SAY, AND DRINKING FAR BEYOND MY NORMAL QUOTA FOR CARBONATED BEVERAGES."

You giggled, thinking he was making a joke, but he actually seemed serious. You shrugged it off as you made your way to the bar with him, getting yourself a couple of waters. As the cool liquid met your lips, you suddenly realized how hot and parched you were.

"Hoo boy, it's warm in here," you said, fanning yourself. Papyrus looked at you with concern.

"YOU DO SEEM QUITE SWEATIER THAN THE AVERAGE HUMAN," he commented. You tried not to take offense. "WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO ACCOMPANY YOU OUTSIDE FOR A BREATH OF FRESH AIR?"

You considered this; while he did appear quite nice and innocent, your brain was still alert enough to not go somewhere far alone with a stranger.

"That sounds like a good idea; let's stick close by though, in case my friends come looking for me."

"THAT SOUNDS PERFECT! LET US-OH,” he said. He had turned around in the direction of the door, but seemed to be stopped by someone. You peered around. Razzy and Sugar Plum were standing there, blocking the way. “OH, HELLO YOU TWO! MIGHT I CONGRATULATE YOU ON SUCH A WONDERFUL PERFORMANCE? IT WAS VERY… ENTHUSIASTIC!”

“OH, AREN’T YOU JUST THE SWEETEST,” Razzy said, reaching up and grabbing Papyrus’s chin. You noticed Sugar Plum look past Papyrus and set his eyelights on you.

“and just where were you and this delectable-looking human off to?” Sugar Plum said, approaching you. Despite his complimentary words, you felt an edge to his tone, as if he was upset with you. You took an instinctual step back.

“WE WERE GOING TO GET A BREATH OF FRESH AIR; THE HUMAN SEEMED A LITTLE OVERHEATED, AND I SUGGESTED WE STEP OUTSIDE TO COOL DOWN.” Papyrus seemed immune to the tone. Razzy seemed visibly annoyed at Papyrus’s lack of response to his touch.

overheated, huh?” Sugar Plum asked. He overtook your distance quicker than you could back away, slinging his arm around your shoulders. “well we can certainly help her with that, can’t we Razz?”

“OH, THAT WE CAN,” Razzy said, moving towards you. He took your hand and lifted it, his eyes roaming you as if inspecting you. You were quickly becoming uncomfortable. Razzy then dropped your hand and looked to Papyrus. “METTATON WAS REQUESTING YOUR PRESENCE IN THE BACK, BUT IF YOU WERE GOING OUTSIDE INSTEAD-”

METTATON, THE MOST POPULAR OF MONSTERS, WANTS TO SEE ME?!” Papyrus asked excitedly, his eyes the biggest you’d seen yet, a glowing orange blush coming to his cheeks. He then seemed to grasp himself, looking at you, his excitement instantly deflating. “AH; PLEASE INFORM HIM I MUST DECLINE. I HAVE MADE A PROMISE TO A NEW FRIEND, AND I MUST UPHOLD IT.”

Despite your discomfort, your heart warmed. “No, Papyrus, it’s fine, I promise. Go see Mettaton!”

“ARE YOU CERTAIN?” Papyrus asked. Despite the clear want in his eyes, his voice was steady; he really would stay for you, a perfect stranger, instead of meeting the biggest celebrity the monster world had to offer. You nodded with certainty.

“don’t worry, pap, we’ll take good care of her,” Sugar Plum said. Razzy moved to your free side and mirrored his brother’s positioning, casting his arm over your shoulder as well.

THE VERY BEST CARE. WE’LL MAKE SURE TO COOL HER OFF,” Razzy assured. You were immediately aware of just how close the three of you were, their bodies fully pressed against you. You attempted to move, but found their grip surprisingly strong and steady. Your eyes widened, and you immediately regretted your promise. Nononowait I don’t care if it’s Mettaton, don’t leave me Papyrus you sweet cinnamon roll please-  You attempted to give Papyrus a desperate look.

“OH, HOW EXCELLENT!” he said, his expression sweet and oblivious. “I DO HOPE WE SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN SOON!” He gave a little wave before walking off quickly in the direction of the stage.

Before you could move, you felt Sugar Plum lean in close to you.

“now, baby, just how much did you like our show?”

Fuck.

Chapter Text

You immediately shook your arms free, and to your surprise, they let you go. You stumbled forward somewhat before turning around to look back at them.

“I’m, uh, I’m just gonna go outside,” you said, pointing a thumb in the direction behind you. You took a step back, bumping into someone. Turning around to apologize, you saw Sugar Plum behind you, his heart-eyed stare and leering grin suddenly much more intimidating than you imagined it could’ve been. How in the fucking fuck did he move behind me? How drunk am I?

“just like you were with papyrus? what were you two gonna do out there, exactly?” His words were more accusatory than suggestive, as if you were the one up to no good.

“Uh, breathe in cool air? What else?”

“SWEETHEART,” you heard purred in your ear, Razz hovering behind you. You just about jumped out of your skin. “YOU CAN’T PLAY A COUPLE OF PLAYERS. YOU GAVE YOURSELF AWAY AS SOON AS YOU POINTED AT US WHEN WE CAME ONSTAGE; WE KNOW WHAT YOU ARE.” He then took ahold of your arms again, leaning in a little closer. “IT’S A SHAME, TOO; FROM WHAT I CAN FEEL LIKE YOU’D BE FUN TO PLAY WITH.”

‘Feel?’ You can tell I’d be good to play with my by arms?

He then paused, and you felt him move away from your face. “SHALL WE, SUGAR?”

“let’s, razz.”

Before you could even open your mouth to scream, Razz pushed you forward, and you fell—almost face down. Catching yourself, you stood up, and looked around.

You weren’t in the club anymore.

“What the fuck?!” You asked aloud, looking around. Had you blacked out from alcohol for a moment? Had they drugged you? You spun around, and the two of them stood, looking unfazed. It was just you three in an alleyway; silent, save for the pulse of music beneath your feet. You wondered if you had headed upstairs without remembering it. You felt your pulse begin to quicken, as you held your hands up, backing away from them. You looked behind you and saw that you were at least not facing the end of the alley—there was wide open freedom behind you, an easy exit.

“Look, I don’t know what you guys want, but I promise you I can scream really loud. My friends will come running.” I hope.

“I’M SURPRISED YOU DIDN’T HAVE THEM WAITING OUT HERE ALREADY, SWEETHEART” Razz said evenly, all mirth gone from his voice. “ISN’T THAT HOW YOU DO IT? LURE ONE OUT, THEN A BUNCH OF YOU JUMP AND DUST?”

“Jump and…?” You echoed, trailing off before it hit you. “You think I was going to kill Papyrus? Why on earth would I want to kill him? Why would anyone want to kill him?”

“don’t play stupid,” Sugar said, though he seemed… concerned, his stare searching your face. “we saw you pointing, whispering to your cohorts. you’re not the first to scope us out, thinking that just because we like to lay, we’d be easy.” He then paused, considering his words. “to kill, at least.”

“AND THEN, INSTEAD, YOU SPOT THE MOST NAÏVE AND TRUSTING OF US AND TRY TO GET HIM ALONE,” Razz said. His eye began to glow a little brighter, anger seeming to build. “I KNEW SOME SICKOS ONCE THAT TOOK ADVANTAGE OF MONSTERS THAT WERE SWEET AS PAPYRUS. I’M NOT LETTING THAT HAPPEN AGAIN.”

You took a step back, shaking your head, the adrenaline in your veins doing a decent job of sobering you up. You half-considered bolting, but you weren’t honestly sure if you could outrun them. If they were going to corner you, why give you such an option to leave? “I-I didn’t, I wouldn’t. Papyrus is the one that spilled his drink on me, and he’s the one that suggested we go outside when I said I was hot. And the only reason I pointed was because I met some of your family, and my friend mistook you for them, since you all look so alike, and I was just pointing out that you were different people-”

This, at least, seemed to stop Razz from advancing towards you. “FAMILY?”

“she means us, y’ idiots.”

You nearly jumped into Razz’s arms, the voice coming from behind you. You spun around, and another motherfucking skeleton was there, one you hadn’t seen before, leaning against the brick that made up the club. The streetlamp was behind him, leaving him largely in shadow—you could only really make the glow of a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of half-finished whiskey in the other. He seemed to be casually watching the three of you.

Had he seriously been just standing there doing nothing to intervene?

You peered at him, trying to make him out in the darkness of the alleyway. He appeared only to have one eyelight—a white half-moon, staring back in the darkness. He raised his whiskey-holding hand and gestured at the three of you. You could make out a hole in his hand, light from the streetlamp peeking through the circle in his palm. For some reason, this image alone set you back on edge, the sight thoroughly unsettling. “y’know, us. family. y’ said that red had mentioned we were family to the girl he met, right?”

There seemed to be an inflection behind his words, but it was lost on you. Your attention did perk at the mention of Red, and you jumped on it. You nodded at the stranger quickly, glad at least he seemed to believe you.

“That’s right! I met Red, and Blueberry, and Stretch, and—oh,” you had looked back to see if the two were buying it, but they were… gone. You looked around. “What the fuck? Where did they go?”

You looked back at the stranger, and he shrugged.

“they scrambled back inside when y’ back was turned,” he explained simply. He then looked you over and gave a small grimace. Rude. “y’ look like y’ could use a drink, kid.”

You rubbed your face, trying to dispel the haze from your thoughts. “I feel like I’ve used enough drinks this round,” you muttered. He chuckled, and you could hear the rasp of steps on pavement as he walked towards you. You looked up, and noticed for the first time how different he looked from the others—still a little like the various Sans (Sanses? Sansi?) you’d met, but definitely taller than them all. You could make out a dark jacket (possibly leather?) lined with a white-furred hood, a white sweater underneath, full-length jeans, and dark shoes—possibly boots, hidden under the jeans. You didn’t know how he wasn’t sweltering in the heat, even with the nice cool breeze that passed by now and then.

“you and me both,” he said, placing the bottle down pointedly. He then dropped the dying stub of his cigarette, rubbing it out with a quick scratch of his shoe, before digging around in his jacket. He then pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lighter before proffering the open pack in your direction. “smoke?”

“I don’t smoke,” you said, doing your best not to stare at the hole in hand. 

“mind if i do?” he asked. You shook your head.

“Not at all,” you said sincerely. Your stomach was feeling a little off, and for some reason, the light scent of smoke often calmed your stomach. He selected out a cigarette, put away his pack, and cupped his hands around it as he attempted to light it in the breeze. He turned his head, trying to get downwind, and moved enough so that you could see his face in the light.

The sight caught your breath. Two cracks ran across his skull—one from the top of his head, down to his darkened eye socket, the other from the edge of his mouth up to his other, functioning eye. You wondered if he was like that from birth, or if someone had done that to him. An attempted ‘jump and dust,’ maybe?

“some consider it rude to stare,” he said, smoke curling out of his mouth. You blanched, abashed that you got busted gawking. He moved to catch your gaze with his own, giving you a reassuring smirk. “if y’ didn’t have such nice eyes, i’d mind a little more.”

You felt yourself flush, both at your rudeness and his flirtation. “sorry, it’s just so... different from the rest of them, so it caught me off guard.”

“‘s pretty bad, isn’t it?” he said, his smile turning a little grim. You cursed your mouth.

“No, you’re actually quite attractive,” you said aloud. You immediately cursed your mouth a second time, this time with a stream of internal expletives, stepping back from him. Where had that come from? Did you mean that? And how much more insulting could you be? “Uh, sorry, that—I didn’t mean actually attractive, not that you aren’t actually attractive, just that I shouldn’t say actually like it’s a surprise you are...” You put your hand over your face and moved fully away from him, leaning against the wall of the building that lined the alley. “Don’t mind me, I’m just gonna go dig a grave for myself over here and jump in,” you mumbled.

You heard a low chuckle from him, and looked up to see him move over to you, joining you in leaning against the brick.

“don’t worry about it, darlin'; i appreciate the sentiment, even if they’re not sober words.”

Drunk works speak sober thoughts, your mind chimed in. You shook your head, attempting to focus—you were pretty certain you hadn’t thought of any of the skeletons (or any other monster, for that matter) in that way. You considered yourself pansexual, sure, but… did that include monsters? It was true that you personally were less focused on a person’s body, but... from what you heard, monsters had less of a body and more of a manifestation of magic. Did that really matter?

He cleared his throat, startling you out of your thoughts. He then flicked some ash from his cigarette, before looking at it, watching the smoke curl and disappear. “are y’ sure y’ don’t want a drag? it usually helps sober me up a little.”

You realized you probably seemed out of it. You re-focused in on the offer: you’d never tried before, and though it felt foolish to start, if it took the edge off of your anxiety it might be worth it.

“After what happened with those two, I’m pretty sure I’ve sobered up more than I’d like, but sure—what the hell.” He chuckled as he handed you the cigarette, and you studied it for a beat. Can I get sick from sharing a cigarette? Do monsters have diseases? Did they even have germs? It also seemed like an oddly intimate gesture to do with a stranger, but...

You looked back him. He seemed to be watching your reaction, his stare steady, unreadable. With an inner “fuck it,” you brought it to your mouth and took a small inhale.

Unexpectedly, the paper of the cigarette tingled where it touched your lips in a pleasant manner—but was otherwise disagreeable, your already dehydrated throat feeling rough and scratchy against the smoke, making you cough. You handed the cigarette back to him, feeling a slight buzz kick to your brain, dizzying you. You placed your hand against the cool brick to steady yourself, and he lightly put his free hand on your arm to help.

“woah, darlin', i didn’t think y’ meant y’ never smoked before,” he said, chuckling. “probably shouldn’t have done it when y’ had a bit to drink then, my bad.” You looked up to him, giving a weary smile. He smiled back with a lopsided smirk. You couldn’t help but find it charming—but maybe that was just the buzz of nicotine. 

“how was it?” he asked. You realized his hand was still on your arm. “judgin’ by y’ reaction, i'd say y’ not gonna get hooked soon.”

“It’s not terrible,” you acknowledged. “The smoke itself was grating, but the nicotine buzz is pretty nice, and the tingle at the beginning was very pleasant.” You then looked down at the cigarette. “Do monster-made cigs do that? I’ve never heard of normal—er, sorry, human—ones making your lips tingle.”

“tingle?” he echoed, looking confused. He then raised the cigarette, inspecting it. “these are human ones, and they aren’t even menthol’s.” After a beat, he looked to you—at first, your face, then the cigarette, before, finally, your lips. His eyes seemed to pause there for a beat, and you could practically see his mind processing something.

oh,” he said simply, his tone indecipherable. He then chuckled lowly—and before you could ask what was funny, you felt his hand cup your face, and his mouth pressed to yours. The kiss was surprisingly soft for someone without lips.

You were barely able to process it before he pulled away. You felt your hand drift to touch your lips lightly.

Oh.

It… tingles.

You looked up to him. His eyes were half-lidded as he studied you, and for a moment, you forgot how to breathe. He laughed quietly, his face still close enough to yours for you to feel it.

“sorry, kid, prob’ly shoulda asked first,” he said, straightening up. “admittedly… that felt pretty different than normal, but a good diff-” He began to step back, and before you even knew what you were doing, you grabbed him by his jacket, pulled him down, and kissed him again. He seemed stunned for a moment before responding in kind, (hopefully) dropping his cigarette before snaking his hands to the small of your back, pulling you to him. You felt a tongue—he had a tongue?—gently brush against your lower lip. You parted your lips, and the tingling sensation quadrupled, a rush in your veins leaving you feeling more than half-drunk again—

Girl!” you heard shouted behind you. You jumped, breaking the kiss as you spun around. Sarah and Grace stood there, both looking shocked. Grace then pumped her fist in the air.

“Yeah, get it girl! Whooooo!”

Sarah whacked her—Grace must have been pretty drunk to holler like that. Sarah marched closer to you. “Girl, you cannot just go off like that on your own! And who is this tainting our sweet lil’ baby angel?”

“Uh,” you began eloquently. You attempted to shake yourself free of his hands, but he gave a pause, his stance almost protective for a beat before he finally relinquished you. You took a fair step back, smoothing your shirt out. “These are my friends, Sarah and Grace. Guys, this is-” your brain then faltered.

“y’ can just call me g,” he filled in, his hands now in his jacket pockets, his expression now neutral. Meanwhile, your brain was exploding. I didn’t even know his name. Well, I guessed it was Sans, but how do I know he isn’t Papyrus? Or was named differently? Or if he hates that name?

Sarah took advantage of your silence, grabbing your hand and tugging you away.

“Okay, say goodbye to your makeout buddy; it’s time to get you and Grace out of here and I get you two drinking some water.”

You looked back towards G, shooting him a desperate, apologetic look. His face still held neutral. You gave him a little wave, feeling badly—and, just before you turned away, you caught it: he gave a small smile.

You attempted to stifle your own grin as Sarah pulled you along.

“We need to talk about you and this new skeleton thing you got goin’ on,” Sarah said.

You opened your mouth to deny it, before promptly shutting. As she pulled, the air hit your sweaty skin, causing you to shiver. It felt nice.

Maybe I do have a skeleton thing, after all.

 

↜ Gaster!Sans ↝

It had been… a weird night.

Pride week hadn’t been his first idea of a good time, but Pap had insisted, saying that this was “A HISTORICAL EVENT THAT COULD NOT BE MISSED.” For a brief moment he had wondered if Pap had other motives for coming, like finally finding a romantic partner—but, true to form, he had spent most of the time in his books, or sitting and observing the public without much interaction. Pap had actually received multiple attempts from potential suitors (of various genders) attempting to make contact. Pap never seemed to notice or acknowledge, and all appeared to get discouraged and leave him be after some attempts.

And now Pap had dragged him to some club, insisting on watching the first monster-human drag show. The… licentious versions of himself and Pap had even allowed Pap access to the backstage area, allowing Pap to observe from a distance.

G, meanwhile, had chosen to get blitzed drunk (his favorite pastime). Although he wouldn’t have minded going down to the bar on a normal night, a club wasn’t exactly his style, especially with the drinks so expensive. He’d found the nearest package store, grabbed a bottle of his favorite whiskey and a pack of his favorite cigarettes, and found a quiet little corner to smoke up and drink the night away. happy pride, indeed.

He had killed about half a bottle when he’d heard the distinct voices of Sugar and Razz in the alleyway next to the club, along with a much more distinctly female voice. That voice also seemed terrified, and drunk.

He strolled closer to the voices, listening for a while. Although Sugar and Razz seemed over the top, he knew that they were lovers, not fighters. If they were attempting to intimidate you and scare you off, you probably deserved it-

Until he heard you speak of the others, and he realized that the brothers were just being idiots. He understood to some extent why they were on edge: all of the monsters here (despite their happy demeanors) held a tension, not knowing if there would be some kind of retaliation to their presence this week. Of course, that didn’t excuse jumping to conclusions and frightening some poor girl.

 So he stepped out to intervene, and laid eyes on you…

…And he just didn’t get it.

For some reason, based on what the lust brothers reported (which, admittedly, they were also hearing secondhand from Blueberry), you were the talk of the group. Sure, you were cute, but Blueberry had apparently made it seem like you had roses sprouting from the ground you walked on. From what he could see, you just looked drunk, and sweaty, and a hot mess.

which, to be fair, is just my type after half a bottle of whiskey—but not blueberry’s.

The lust brothers had vanished as soon as they realized, probably not wanting to face the wrath of the group if they were found to be interacting with the one person they were instructed not to.

He probably should have done the same, but... In that moment you had looked so unwell and deeply disconcerted that leaving you was unthinkable. And sure, you were honest, sweet, and interesting to chat with—but that could have easily been just drunk behavior. Nothing special.

Until, at least, he had gotten close to you. He had assumed your lack of reaction to his marred skull was some sort of politeness, but up close, he knew it wasn’t a lie. Moreover, you had trusted him to smoke, trusted him to hold you, trusted him to be so close… And then you had mentioned the tingle on your lips. The feeling of his magic on your lips.

He was sure he should’ve asked beforehand, but for a moment, it was like he lost his mind—and not in the way that made him feel he was destined for a terrible end, but like there was no conscious alternative. As soon as he pulled away, his hands were itching to spring back on his bottle, wanting to drown out his mistake...

But you kissed him back.

...And he got it.

damn it, blueberry had been right.

 

“oh g~!” a voice rang out. G realized he had been standing there for a full few minutes after watching you go. As soon as his mind identified the voice, he sighed, pinching the space above his nasal gap in preparation for the coming headache. He felt an arm snake around his middle. 

“what do you want, you two?” he asked wearily. Instead of moving away, he felt another arm move around his shoulder.

“just wanted to know if you wanted a replay for your own personal collection,” Sugar said, holding up a phone so G could see. On the phone, shaky camera footage played of G and you talking, and then him leaning down to kiss you-

“you can’t be serious,” G said, his voice deadpan. Sure, G himself was a reckless flirt at the best of times, but these two were on a whole different plane. Although it would be (admittedly) nice to have something to remember the events in the morning... without your consent, it seemed creepy, and he was doing a good enough job of that without their help.

“oh, my rugged little peanut,” Sugar said, reaching up to pinch G’s chin. what the fuck does that even mean? “we are very serious. and we were thinking that it would be very terrible if this ended up in the hands of red, and he found out that you were playing around with the human.” With a couple taps on the phone, he pulled up a message to Red with the video attached, thumb hovering above “send.” He felt Razz move close to his ear.

“WE WANT YOU TO-“ Razz began, before G reached forward and hit “send” on Sugar’s phone.

The two brothers froze, allowing G the chance to easily step out of their grip.

“i couldn’t give less of a fuck what red does or doesn’t know,” G said, fishing in his jacket for another cigarette.

“WE JUST WANTED YOU TO HELP US APOLOGIZE TO HER!” Razz exclaimed. Sugar was furiously tapping at his phone, attempting to get it to not send. “WHAT DID YOU DO?!”

“y’ both are the worst bluffers,” G said, lighting up. He then turned back to the two of them, and they both seemed... more concerned than he would’ve expected. “heh. what’s with the scary faces?”

“THEY... WERE CONCERNED THAT THE HUMAN WOULD FIND OUT ABOUT US,” Razz said slowly, as if attempting to find the right words. “THEY AGREED THAT, ON THE OFF CHANCE THE HUMAN SHOULD MEET MORE OF US, THEY...” Razz trailed off.

“they’d do away with all of three of them so no one would find out about us. and, if i had to bet, they'd get red to do the dirty work."

G felt his stomach drop. 

"and ya'd be right," a gruff voice announced behind them. G had a great poker face, but even he jumped at the intrusion. With a great sense of dread, he turned to see Red standing there, holding out his phone and looking at the screen with mock admiration. "heh, ya move even faster than i do, g. and that's sayin' somethin'." He then turned his head, as if studying the phone. "and ya even got 'er to kiss you. that's pretty skilled for someone with sucha mean mug."

"y' one to talk," G said, his tone even and neutral expression reestablished, doing his best to hide that his mind was now racing to find some kind of solution. Sure, you didn't mean much to him—but that didn't mean that he wanted you killed because of him, either. "how'd y' find us, red?"

"i could follow the smell of booze comin' from a mile away," Red said haughtily, waving his hand. When G failed to react, Red rolled his eyes in irritation. "fine; i was already followin' the dame. makin' sure she wasn't getting into too much trouble. had ta stay outta th' club though so horny and hornier here wouldn't spot me."

"but red, weren't you just saying you loved our visits just a couple weeks ago?" Sugar prodded, hand on his hip. Red growled, looking embarrassed.

"listen, ya fucks, ya should be tryin' to get in my good graces, not irritate me."

G opened his mouth to give another retort, but Razz spoke first. "SO YOU'RE SAYING THERE'S A WAY TO HAVE YOU NOT... 'OFF' THEM?"

Red's shit-eating grin returned. "for a price."

Under any other circumstance, G would have told Red to fuck off by this point (or just left himself), but a vision of you, looking terrified, flashed in front of his eyes. He decided to bite.

"what is it?" G asked. Red's easygoing expression hardened into something more serious.

"no more talkin' to th' broad. if any of those three actually figure out what's goin' on, i won't be able to save 'em."

The three stood in silence for a moment; for Red, this was practically a gift on a golden platter. G couldn't help to be suspicious as to why he was being so generous with his demands.

"and what if she talks to us?" Sugar asked. "i think it'd be more suspicious to just vanish if she approaches."

"then chat about the fuckin' weather for a minute an' then poof," Red growled, quickly reaching his limit for deliberations. "use ya fuckin' skulls. just know i'll be watchin', 'cause ya clearly can't be trusted to follow some simple fuckin' directions. don't make me regret bein' so lenient."

"y' mean soft?" G asked before he could keep his mouth shut. maybe i shoulda drank a quarter of whiskey instead of a half.

Red stalked up to him, seething, and got as close to G's face as their height difference would allow. It took all of G's effort not to wince from the acidic smell of mustard and cigarettes on his spiky double's breath. "listen up, ya broken motherfucker: i know ya wouldn't have stuck around if ya didn't have some kinda interest. if ya think i'm too soft, i'll go to that hotel and kill 'em all before ya can even think the word sorry."

G was struck silent, but not from the threat. If there was anything his other selves were good at, it was detecting a lie.

And Red was lying.

now, why is red so invested?

Red mistook his silence for acceptance, and backed off. "i'll see ya assholes later. remember what i said."

With that, Red vanished, probably to follow you back to your hotel and keep an eye on you.

"well, i've gone unlaid for far too long. shall we get back to the club, razz?" Sugar asked. Razz nodded, and gave a wave to G before they disappeared.

G took a long drag of his cigarette before picking up his whiskey bottle. He studied the bottle in his hand for a moment, watching the liquid move back and forth. This was his traditional way of grounding himself, of not letting the center of himself slip away. This, or harder substances, or one night stands—all for the same purpose. Some worked better than others, and he medicated as needed.

He thought of you, and placed touched his digits to his mouth for a moment. He smirked.

He placed the bottle on the ground again. 

He would probably buy another bottle tomorrow when the effects of you wore off—just as they always did—but for now, he'd donate the bottle to the next person desperate enough to take it. He then vanished himself, leaving the alleyway desolate.

Chapter Text

↝ You ↜

For whatever reason, you found yourself unable to sleep that night.

Between the knockout drinking, walking all over the town in the sun, dancing your butt off, the emotional wear of experiencing pride for the first time, and... that kiss, you should have been passed out for the next 14 hours like you were a young depressed teen all over again.

Something in you felt... restless, and you couldn't understand it. There was no reason to be that way; things were great. You were doing great. Your depression and anxiety had (finally) been doing okay under some proper medication, so a night like this seemed out of the blue. Was your anxiety returning?

You gave a sigh and got out of bed as quietly as you could manage. You couldn't hear Sarah (who was a notoriously loud snorer) through the walls, so it was a good sign they were fairly soundproof—but you didn't want to risk waking them up.

You had changed into some cotton PJ shorts and a tank top to sleep, but out of the blankets, the AC was quite chilly. Rustling through your suitcase, you pulled out your favorite hoodie jacket to wear, a light blue one perfect for the cool summer night breezes.

You grabbed the necessities (phone, room keys, flip-flops), and made your way out the door, deciding to go for a stroll to ease the stress in your chest.

You headed out the hotel lobby, the night clerk giving a small wave as you passed. As you expected, the air wavered between humid and cool as the ocean breeze intermittently moved through, the smell of salt and sea as refreshing as those opulent vacation commercials always made it seem.

This late at night (or, rather, this early in the morning), there were very few people around—mostly people getting an early run in, couples returning home, or hotel staff wheeling carts of towels to rooms unknown. You moved past the parking lot, past the seasonal homes, and onto the sand—an incredibly short walk. The walk to the water was a bit of a longer distance, a winding trail up and around sand dunes that left you surprisingly short of breath, the sand much less easy to walk on then you remember. By the time you had reached the crest of the final sand mountain dune, the peak overlooking black sky and blacker ocean, you were practically panting for air.

"Fuck, I'm outta shape," you cursed yourself.

"ya look pretty human-shaped to me," a voice came from around your feet. You jumped, startled, nearly falling down the dune. Looking down, you felt the immediate urge to turn around and head back to your hotel.

No. Nonononono. It was no longer funny; this had better be a dream, because things were starting to get weird.

Another. Fucking. Skeleton.

"woah, you okay, kid?" the skeleton asked. He looked like a Sans, if he were from that family. Were all skeletons like that? Two brothers, Sans and Papyrus? Was that ignorant to wonder? In fact, something about him seemed like an average of all the various Sanses you had seen so far, a bit of him in every one. At the very least, he looked the most... normal.

"Yeah, I'm fine, I'm sorry," you said, clutching your heart. "The last thing I expected was for someone to be sitting here at god-knows-when in the morning."

"heh. not exactly what you expected when they told of monsters in the night?" You felt it was a slight (justified) jab at humanity, but the imagery made you smirk.

"Not at all; it's almost like we're all just beings trying to enjoy ourselves. Fancy that."

He snickered. It was a little tough to tell, as his face didn't move much, but he seemed to at least appreciate your attempt at humor. "is that what brings you out here?"

You stuck your hands in your jacket pocket, looking out at the sea. Why had you come here?

You decided burdening a random stranger with your anxiety probably wasn't the best idea. "Yeah; I decided to do a bit of stargazing, enjoy the night air."

"no offense, but that sounds like a lie to me," he said plainly. You looked back down at him, surprised. Okay, so are we just dropping the whole polite stranger thing? "no one comes out at this hour and has nothing wrong."

"So what brings you out here?" you challenged plainly. His eyelights—two, white, unblinking ones—stared at you for a moment.

"decided to do a bit of stargazing, enjoy the night air," he said, a hint of bashfulness to his voice. You coughed out a laugh, a genuine response from deep in your stomach. Again, it was hard to tell, but his smile seemed to widen.

He then patted the space of sand next to him. "i hate to sea a fellow ocean-gazer out here alone. care to join?"

Did you really want to get involved with another skeleton?

"I shore-ly do," you said, deciding without deliberation. You sat down on the sand and brought your knees to your chest, the sand still surprisingly warm from the day's heat. What could it hurt, anyway? He chuckled at your pun as he shifted to make some personal space for the two of you. His voice and laugh were almost comical in itself, but far from unpleasant to hear. He seemed delighted at your response.

"now any chance you want to be more pacific on what brought you here?"

You settled in, resting your head on your folded-over arms, looking at him thoughtfully. Eh, what the hell, he asked.

"Honestly, nothing dramatic. I should be fast asleep in my bed right now; this is my first pride, and everything is going great, and it’s been such a long day…” you then hesitated.

“but?” he prompted.

“But… For some reason, I couldn’t sleep. I just feel… restless, like something deep down isn’t sitting right.” You reached a hand down, digging your fingers into the sand, digits finding a layer of cool sand underneath the warmth. You found it difficult to look at him while talking so honestly, so you instead watched the sand trail off your fingers. Your companion was silent, and you figured he didn’t know how to respond to your odd discomfort. “And what about you? What brings you out here?”

He was silent for a beat more before finally speaking. “would ya believe me if I said the same thing?”

You looked up at him, doubtful until you saw his expression: honest and a little sheepish, from what you could tell. You gave him a reassuring smile. “I’m sure you’re not just baiting me. After all, making that up seems a little fishy.”

He seemed to relax, looking back up at the sky as he gave a low chuckle.

“well, ya certainly took it in tide.”

The two of you exchanged some groan-worthy puns for a while, the unsettling sensation within you lessening as you chatted. Eventually, you moved on from puns, to the history of the sea (what little of it you knew), to the stars, to astrology, and… to other things.

Eventually, you began to feel yourself get tired, the discontent within you fully gone, the skeleton’s company acting as an internal balm. He was in the middle of discussing something regarding the economics of fried snow when you gave a yawn. The sun was now peeking around the curve of the ocean, threatening to spill over. At your yawn, he paused mid-sentence.

“…hey, kid, if ya need to go to bed, i promise i won’t mind,” he said, his voice gentle. You shook your head, giving him a sleepy smile.

“Nah, it’s all good,” you said, yawning again. “Talking to you has made me feel loads better.”

“heh. yeah?” he asked. You nodded, looking at him briefly and giving a smile to show you were sincere.

“Yeah! This has been great. I feel totally calm now. What about you? Has it helped at all?” You turned your gaze to the sunrise, the sky and sea beginning to molt into various colors.

"yeah," he said simply, though it sounded heartfelt. You thought he was going to leave it at that, but after a moment, he spoke again. “my soul feels calmer.”

You smiled, relieved, before closing your eyes. “This is probably weird for one stranger to ask another, but do you mind if I put my head on your shoulder?” Your tiredness had severely lessened your need to be polite, and this hadn’t exactly been the most typical exchange between strangers.

“go ahead, kid.” He sounded amused, but at least gave you the dignity of not outright laughing at you. You scooted over and laid your head on his shoulder gently. He seemed to stiffen for a moment before relaxing, allowing you to settle a little more. His shoulder was hard, but the hoodie he wore helped.

“You have a nice hoodie,” you commented, filter fully turning off for the night, already knocked out.

“i could say the same for you,” he said, and there was tone behind his words you didn’t quite get. You opened your eyes, and looked, the sunlight now coloring your sweatshirts—they were both similar shades of blue. You laughed aloud.

“Great minds, greater fashion choices,” you murmured. He laughed, and there was a nice, sweet moment of silence between you, nature filling in the space with the crashing waves and waking birds chattering back and forth.

You were half-asleep, nearly gone when you heard the gentle rumble from him. “can I also ask something weird from one stranger to another?”

“Sure,” you murmured.

“you mentioned you were here for pride. what were you celebrating?”

“Pansexuality.”

A faint inner voice, distant under the blanket of exhaustion, screamed at you that you should never be so open with someone you didn’t know, you didn’t know how they would react, or if they would judge you, or tell you that you weren’t welcome here-

“cool. me too.”

And the voice was silent.

You felt yourself smile as your inner anxiety was crushed, defeated for the moment. You felt yourself scoot closer to him, your neck demanding a better angle, before you found the right spot and re-relaxed.

You felt the sweet dark nothingness of sleep call you, a song in perfect harmony with the ocean and your own rhythmic breathing. You eventually accepted the siren’s call, the last sensation your mind detected being the soft support of a cotton sweatshirt against your cheek.

It felt like you had only nodded off for a moment when you felt consciousness come to you. You opened your eyes-

-and you were in your hotel room, in your bed.

You sat up quickly, startled. Was that all a dream? You looked down and saw your sweatshirt, but... how did he get you back? There was no way he carried you without waking you up; you weren’t that exhausted. There was also no way of him knowing where you were staying, or what room you were in. Maybe, after you first woke up, you put the sweatshirt on and fell back asleep?

You gave a soft groan of discontent and settled back into bed, face-down. Damnit. Of course, the first great hours-long conversation you’d had in weeks (months? years?) and you made it up in your head. You supposed, in a way, this made sense. What were the chances you’d meet another Sans, let alone in the wee hours of the morning, after a night of partying when you should’ve been all but dead? Especially one that seemed to have a part of all the others you’d met; your brain was probably just taking the common parts and put them together.

You sighed, placing the pillow over your head. Sarah's insistence of you drinking your weight in water helped, but the light was still way too bright. The shelter of your pillow aided you, nearly pulling you back into sleep, when-

"Girl!" rang out outside your door. "Are you decent?"

"No!" you groaned, pulling the cover over you. The gentle embrace of beautiful, sweet sleep had been so close...

"Too bad I'm comin' in anyway!"

You heard the door burst open, and you attempted to tighten the cover over yourself. You then felt the weight of Sarah as she flopped over you.

“Rise and shine sweet baby angel, we got brunch to go get drunk at!”

“Please no,” you said, curling up. “Can’t we just sleep in and take it easy?”

“Oh honey, are you not feeling well?” Sarah asked. You felt the bed cave at the end slightly; Grace must have joined her. You reluctantly peeked your head out from under the covers.

“I’m fine, thanks to all the water you gave me. I just didn’t sleep well.”

“Awww, Girl,” Sarah began sympathetically, before giving you a light smack. You figured she was aiming for your bottom, but ended up hitting your thigh. Ouch. “Normally I’d say it’d be fine, but today, we have plans! We have lots of shopping to do!”

You felt yourself grimace; sure, you had saved up some spending money for your week away, but you didn’t want to spend it all in the first few days. “Spending for what?”

“You’ll see!” Sarah said cheerily, patting you again before getting up off of you. “First, brunch!”

Sarah left, and Grace gave your calf a gentle rub before silently getting up, leaving the room so you could get ready. You say there for a moment longer before sighing, kicking yourself into gear. Your mind felt hazy from the poor sleep, and you felt just slightly nauseous, but you figured Sarah was right; some brunch would likely do wonders. You cleaned up, got dressed in some casual wear suited for a long day of walking, and the three of you headed out.

It was mid-morning by this point and already steaming, the effects of your cool shower quickly wearing off. 

After taking an Uber into the Main Street, You eventually made your way to a neat brunch place by the waterfront. The street was surprisingly empty as compared to the day before— it was now Saturday morning, so it was likely that people were still recuperating from the night before. Despite the nice weather, the three of you opted to sit inside, taking advantage of the AC. It at least had a gorgeous view of the ocean, the restaurant sitting on a tiny square of beach. Grace and Sarah ordered some kind of vegan protein bowl, while you ordered chicken and waffles. The three of you shared an order of large tots. While your main course was good, you all agreed that you should’ve just got three orders of tots—the salt and crunch were exactly what you needed after last night. You also got a Bellini mimosa, trying to take the edge off of your sleepiness. It was sweet, bubbly, and delicious—just what you needed to ease you into the day. Sarah had joined your hair of the dog with a Bloody Mary, while Grace had (probably much more wisely) chose to stick with water and coffee.

By the time you had finished your meal, however, Sarah was looking discontent—almost ready to burst. Grace picked up on this and prodded gently.

“You okay, babe?”

Sarah purses her lips for a moment, as if trying to physically keep her mouth shut, before throwing her hands up in the air animatedly. “Are we just not going to talk about last night?! I love y’all and both of your sweet personalities, but y’all’s gossiping skills are sub. par.

“What happened last night?” you asked, looking at the two of them. Sarah gave you an open-mouth state for a moment, incredulous.

It took a beat, and then connected. Oh. Yeah. That thing in the alley.

“Oh! Right. I was so tired it kinda passed my mind...” you said sheepishly. Sarah continued her dumbfounded look.

“What do you mean it ‘slipped your mind?!’” She then sighed before you could speak, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Look. I want deets.”

You opened your mouth to speak, and then hesitated. There was so much that blurred together and... so much that didn’t seem to make sense. Even odder, you found yourself hesitating to be honest, for some reason not wanting to discuss the... darker parts of the night.

It took you a moment, but you began, choosing your words carefully. You told them of meeting another Papyrus (this one perhaps the best, most kind so far), needing to get air but the Lust brothers stopping the two of you, going outside with you while Papyrus got to meet Mettaton (something Sarah nearly spilled her glass over), before they... threatened you, kind of, because they thought you were after the Papyrus you’d met? G had come in and diffused things, then...

“...Then that all happened,” you finished, feeling your cheeks heat slightly. You were a little embarrassed how out of character you’d acted. “It’s too bad I won’t see him again; he was nice.”

“Nonono, Girl, you are not skipping out on the best part. Was he a good kisser? Did it feel weird kissing a skeleton? Is his skull hollow?”

You felt your blush triple, and you sunk into your seat. “It... tingled? And was surprisingly soft. And... he had a tongue, I think?” Sarah squealed as you sank further into your chair, thoroughly deflated. Grace then stepped in, taking mercy on you.

“Let’s go; it’s getting busy,” she said, standing. Sarah sighed but relented, standing up as well. You drew out a breath, sending out a psychic note of thanks to your bestie.

Stepping outside, the crowd was indeed picking up, the bunches of people beginning to thicken in mass. You looked to Sarah, glad for a change of topic. “So, what’re you shopping for?”

“We are shopping for a very... particular party tonight.”

“You’re joking,” you said fifteen minutes later, now standing in a darkened store. It had very... interesting merchandise.

“Nope!” Sarah exclaimed. “We’re going to a BDSM celebration tonight, and it’s 'proper attire acquired.'”

“I, uh,” you began, carefully choosing your words as you lightly thumbed through a rack of corsets, “didn’t think you were into this stuff.”

“Hey,” Sarah said nonchalantly, “I don’t call her Daddy for no reason.”

You gut-laughed aloud, earning weary looks from the closest shopping clerk. You grinned apologetically as you continued to giggle, Grace smacking Sarah meanwhile, clearly embarrassed.

“Yass Daddy,” Sarah teased, before the two of them erupted in laughter. You shook your head as a warm feeling bloomed within you; Sarah was Grace’s first girlfriend, and you were truly pleased your friend was so happy.

The three of you wandered around for a bit, chuckling as you browsed the items—some mundane, some alien-looking—before you eventually grew a little impatient. "So, this is fun and all, but what are we really doing here?"

Sarah stared at you for a moment. "Shopping for the party tonight. I wasn't joking." You looked at the item in your hand: a whip you had been inspecting, considering whacking one of your friends with it. You immediately dropped it.

"Uh, there's no way I'm wearing some of this stuff." You then surveyed the racks around you. "Correction: most of this stuff. What exactly do we have to dress up in? And... what exactly does this party involve?"

"Nothing major," Sarah said, shrugging. "Someone last night told me about it; it's nothing intense, just a celebration of the community. Apparently the place holding it was very specific about nothing, uh, scandalous going on during it, so it's really just an average party with a specific dress code."

“Including…?” you asked nervously. Sarah grinned wickedly, before shrugging.

“Oh, they just said formal clothes. But I think we should do something with a bit of a flare,” she said, pulling out an outfit that looked like it belonged on the preview of a porno rather than a formal party. “Or at least some accessories to fit in.”

“I literally have zero idea what you mean by that, but I wouldn’t mind a studded bracelet,” you said, lifting one out from a display. The three of you spent a while shopping (likely making fools of yourselves, but doing your best not to be too annoying), and ended up settling on some bare things—Sarah bought a corset and a collar, you bought a corset as well (one made for wearing under clothing) and settled on one of the bracelets you had seen, and Grace bought a leash (she claimed as a joke to go along with Sarah’s collar, but you weren't so sure). One of the clerks had been very helpful, encouraging different styles of collars for the particular party you were going to (Sarah ended up purchasing something called a “trial collar,” though you weren’t really listening in as to what that meant), and giving you a lot of useful information.

Sarah had attempted to get you to join in the collar purchase as a group thing, but you felt a little... claustrophobic having something around your neck. Sarah initially pushed, but Grace stopped her, attuned to when you were uncomfortable.

You put your bracelet on upon leaving the store, studying it as you walked back out into the heat, a light layer of sweat near-instantly forming on your wrist under the leather. It wasn’t that you disliked the idea of it all—but that was just it: it had always been an idea, not anything practiced. Although based on Sarah’s description you knew tonight wouldn’t be anything shocking, you were anxious about the prospect of misstepping and making a fool of yourself.

“I don’t know about y’all, but I wasn’t expecting to do formal here, so I need to buy something decent. Mind if we go find something?”

“Only if we go to at least one cheap place; I need something too, but there’s no way I can blow my budget.” Sarah nodded sagely.

“Looking like Bey on a sugar-daddy-less budget. Gotcha,” she said, quickly typing on her phone. After skimming some reviews, she ended up finding a place in walking distance that seemed to be cheap as you were going to get in the town. The three of you headed there, nearly dripping with sweat by the time you entered the classy-looking boutique. Fantastic.

The prices weren’t great, but they at least weren’t what you were fearing. The three of you browsed for what felt like forever (you’d be the first to admit you were an impatient shopper), but eventually you all began to narrow down your choices. You were attempting to decide between a cobalt blue and red dress; the cobalt one was a little more your style, but the red one was probably more fitting for the party. You were standing in front of a mirror, holding both up to you intermittently, feeling stuck. Both Sarah and Grace were off trying on their own clothes, so you were left to decide alone.

“Both ssseem lovely, dearie~,” you heard hissed behind you, causing you to jump. Looking back behind you, you saw the spider monster—Muffet, was it?—from the dessert shop yesterday, and had to keep yourself from jumping a second time. “I think purple is a better look on you, though! Ahuhuhu~”

“Oh!” you exclaimed, your voice about three octaves higher than normal. You swallowed and did your best to calm yourself. “It’s nice to see you! That Mt. Cream Puff tasted amazing!” You assumed Muffet would be immediately able to tell you were uncomfortable, but she instead looked quite pleased, perhaps taking your loudness as enthusiasm instead of fear.

“Why thank you dearie~” she said, stepping closer to you. You had to resist the urge to take a step back. “You look like you have great tasste yoursself, ahuhuhu~” You stared at her for a moment, before looking down to the dresses. Oh. Right.

“Thanks! I’m having a hard time deciding, though,” you said, looking back to the dresses. The monster took a cool step in, one hand gently turning you back towards the mirror, a second hand taking the cobalt dress from you, a third taking the black dress. Nifty. She held up them back and forth, humming in thought for a moment.

“Hm… This one-” she held up the cobalt “-makess your eyess pop, but thiss one-” she switched to the red “-contrastss with your innocent aura.”

“I give off an innocent aura?” you laughed, looking at her through the mirror incredulously. She nodded.

“Yes, it’s deliciousss. It jusst makess me want to tie you up.”

You felt yourself blush and laugh, shaking your head. She removed her arms from their position around you.

“Perhapss you should get both, dearie?” she asked. “I think they’d both be good in your closset.”

“I, uh, can only afford one,” you said sheepishly, feeling abashed. “But thank you, that did help tremendously. I probably shouldn’t be going for an innocent look at the party we’re going to.” You smiled at her warmly, and she smiled back—surprisingly not as scary as you thought, even with her fangs.

Not completely scary, anyway.

“You’re very welcome, dearie~” she said, her tone thoughtful. She handed you back the cobalt dress of your choice. One of her hands then moved into a pocket in her fanciful red jumper. She pulled out a business card and handed it to you. “Sstop by my patisserie ssometime to show me how the dresss lookss, will you? My number is on there, in casse you ever need my baking sservicess, dearie~”

“Oh! That’s very sweet of you!” You said, taking the card and quickly placing it into your wallet. If there was a chance for discounted food—especially if it was as good as the cream puff—you were all about it. “I’ll be sure to stop by sometime soon.”

“Excellent, dearie. Ssee you around ssoon~” she called. One of her eyes closed, but you couldn’t tell if it was a wink or not with that many eyes. She gave you a small wave and walked off.

“Girl, you are just a monster magnet!”

Sarah and Grace were walking up, bags in hand. It looks like they had already decided and checked out.

“Did they just give you their number?!”

“No—well, yes, but not like that,” you said, pulling out the card. “It’s a business card. The bakery we went to with the frozen drinks was hers, I’m pretty sure. I think she just wants me to come back and buy more. Hopefully at a discount.”

“Girl, this has her cell number on it,” she said, pointing at one of the numbers. “I don’t think this was just a business thing.”

“Well,” you said, gesturing to your stomach, “maybe she could tell I have a big appetite for sweets.”

You brought your dress to the front to pay, but the clerk waved you off.

“It’s been paid for,” the cashier said cheerily. She then handed you a bag. “This as well. Would you like me to bag that one up?”

You looked inside the bag, and saw the red dress inside.

Girl you got yourself a sugar momma!”

Chapter Text

By the time you finished shopping, the heat outside was oppressive. You preferred the cooler weather, and the heat of the late afternoon made your skin prickle and crawl unpleasantly.

“Guys, can we please go for a swim or something?”

“Yeah!” Sarah said, pulling out her phone. “Hm… We could grab an early dinner, head back, grab a quick swim, and then get ready for the party. Sound good?”

You and Grace agreed, selecting a nearby place that advertised mainly vegan dishes with some non-vegan add on options. You opted for zucchini noodles with chicken—not the most filling choice, but you figured would at least be good to tide you over and not make you feel sluggish later. The three of you then caught an uber back to your hotel, grabbing your bathing suits and towels and heading to the beach.

You began making your way to the beach, the trek long and arduous. As you clambered up and around the sand dunes, something felt… off. This nagged at you, all the way until you began to hear the ocean, a large dune in front of you—

This is exactly like the dream.

The realization made you stop in your tracks. Sarah and Grace moved past you, joking as they walked, reaching the top of the dune. As Sarah reached the top, she yelled, and if there was a skeleton up there your head was going to explode.

“The ocean!” Sarah called excitedly. The two began to run down.

You shook your head, trying to knock some sense back into yourself. Okay, time to relax. Many beaches have rising dunes. It’s fine, it’s not weird.

You took a breath and made your way over the dune, taking a nice breath of air before descending. There were a few people here and there on the beach, but it was less busy than you expected; people were likely headed off to dinner at this point.

You spent a nice time with your friends, getting a nice swim in that was cool and refreshing—exactly what you needed. By the time the sun began to go down, you were invigorated, ready (or ready as you could be) to face the party.

Coming out of the surf, Sarah grabbed a towel and checked her phone. She then let out a yelp. “Shit! We were here way longer than we should’ve been! We gotta get back!”

“Why?” you asked, toweling off your hair. “It’s a party; can’t we show up whenever.”

“No! Like I said, this one has explicit rules, apparently, and I was warned not to show up late.”

It seemed weird to you, but you decided not to fight it, instead hustling to pack up your stuff and get on your way. You were left with no time to shower, and could only put some product in your hair so it wouldn’t frizz from the seawater, along with some basic makeup. With no time to deliberate, you picked the first dress bag you saw to wear—it ended up being the red one. As hot as it was, you decided to wear your corset underneath, trying to feel a little less self-conscious of your figure. You finished with some red lipstick (borrowed from Sarah—again, red wasn’t your style). Sarah wore the corset as a top with a flowy skirt, while Grace wore a button-up shirt and shorts.

The three of you hustled out of there, getting an uber (thankfully) fairly quickly. Half-way through the ride you realized you’d left your purse back at the hotel—Sarah brushed this off, stating you could get her back for drinks. You felt a little uncomfortable with this but attempted to relax. You’ll just get one drink and pay her back in the morning. It’ll be fine.

You ended up making it just in time, a line of fancily-dressed individuals lined up at the door. When you made your way to the front, a bodyguard stood out front. Sarah fished in her purse for a moment before pulling out an invitation. Woah, this is legit.

“I thought this was a celebration party?” you whispered to Sarah as you headed in the door. “Why’s there an invitation?”

“I guess to make sure it’s only for serious people,” Sarah whispered back lowly. You gave her a confused look.

“Then how did you get one?”

Sarah grinned wickedly and didn’t answer, giving a flippant shrug. “Those who don’t know can’t be held responsible.” She then moved away from you, grabbing Grace’s hand and speeding up into the venue.

“I don’t think that’s accurate!” you hissed after her. You followed her retreating figure into what looked like an alcove before the main area. There was yet another wait (but this time, at least, broken up into multiple lines). Your friends got ahead of you, so by the time you got to the front, they were already inside. A human-shaped monster, made of flame, held out a multi-paged document secured by a clipboard silently to you. You wondered why it didn’t burn up in his hands. Then again, he was dressed (sharply, you might add, in a formal vest, buttondown, and dress pants, and even had a white ribbon attached to his vest lapel), and his clothes didn’t seem to burst into flame either.

“Ah, thank you,” you said, taking it from him. He responded with only silence. You looked over the document briefly—it looked almost like an official document, with a summary at the top, followed by a lengthy list of rules and expectations. You had no idea whether the host of the party had drawn this up, or if it had been at the behest of the venue owners in fear of what might happen. The flame-monster prompted you, offering a pen in your direction.

“O-oh, thanks,” you said, taking the pen, flipping to the back, and signing quickly. There was additionally a ‘Hello my name is’ sticker paperclipped to the final page, with instructions to write your title (whatever that meant), pronouns, and name. You quickly scribbled on it and tuck it to your dress.

Seems a little out of place in a fancy party, but whatever.

He took the clipboard from you and gestured to a table behind him. On it laid several dozen collars and ribbons of various colors, sizes, and styles. You eyed the document in his hand, realizing you probably should have read it for clues.

“Uh… No thanks,” you said. He gave you a confused stare (from what you could guess, anyway—he didn’t have eyes), but you brushed past him quickly before he could question you further.

The venue was larger but less fancifully decorated than you expected. It was also quite decently packed, and conversation seemed to roar around you, despite people only talking at an average speaking volume. You noticed certain individuals—a mix of humans and monsters, all wearing blue ribbons—wind in and out of the crowd. You (thankfully) spotted Sarah and Grace after a moment and quickly hurried over to them. It appeared Sarah had the collar she had bought earlier on, while Grace had chosen a silver ribbon to wear on her shirt.

Sarah gave you a confused look. “Girl, why don’t you have a collar or ribbon on?”

“I don’t know, what’s it for?” you asked.

“You… Did you read the rules?” she asked, seeming flabbergasted. You gave a shrug.

“I was trying to catch up to you guys, so no.”

‘Ugh, girl,” Sarah sighed, exasperated. “Grace and I really can’t leave each other, as part of the rules,” she enunciated, “and you’re really supposed to pick one before entering. We’ll go try to steal one, as well as a copy of the rules.” She then grabbed you by your shoulders, looking you in the eye. “Do not talk to anyone. If someone attempts to talk to you, you can decline. Just say something like ‘I decline at this time.’ Make sure to be respectful, and sound bougie as fuck while doing it, but decline.”

“Oh.. kay?” you agreed hesitantly. “You’d said there would be no funny business here, though.”

“Yeah, you’re not in danger or anything…” Sarah said, though not thoroughly convincingly. “Just... It’ll be fine. We’ll be back soon. Hang right here.”

The two left and you stood awkwardly alone. Why couldn’t you have just gone with them? Was there a thing against walking in pairs? And what happens if you talk to anyone?

“Miss,” you heard to your right. You looked over, and a woman—dressed in clothing similar to the flame monster out front, but wearing a blue ribbon instead of white—gestured a tray in your direction. “If it pleases you miss, I would like to offer you some champagne on the house.”

I don’t think this is what Sarah meant; I think this is just a waiter. This should be fine. “Ah… Thank you, that would please me greatly?” You asked. She eyed you oddly, but your response seemed to be acceptable enough for her to lower her tray. Hey, a free drink! You took the glass and nodded in thanks, and she thankfully left you.

You took a sip absentmindedly, grateful to have something to distract you, before the sensation at your lips startled you—it buzzed, just barely, in a way that was more than the normal champagne. It was also blue.

Hm, magic champagne... You couldn’t help but think of the buzz of magic on your lips when G had kissed you, and felt a gentle warmth come to your cheeks.

“doll?” you heard a gruff yet familiar voice announce behind you. You quickly turned to find Red standing there, looking… quite nice, actually. He was dressed in black slacks, black vest, black shirt, and red tie—a stark difference from the messy, disheveled outfit you’d seen earlier. He did smell noticalby of booze, however. He looked dumbfounded. “what’re ya doin’ here?”

Someone next to you cleared their throat, and Red practically groaned, gripping his face for a moment before bowing slightly. You blankly stared at him for a beat before he spoke. “wit’ respect, miss, may i speak wit’ ya?”

It took every ounce of your politeness, respect, and self-preservation not to burst out laughing at him. He noticed, and glowered for a moment, so you spared him by responding. “Yes, you may.” As soon as you spoke, you remembered Sarah’s words, but shrugged it off—people you knew were alright, right?

Red began to rise, but seemed to freeze when he was about chest-level. For a moment you worried he was blatantly leering, but instead, he looked up at you sharply.

“doll, why don’t ya got anything on?”

“What?” you asked, looking down at your dress, before realizing what he meant. “Oh, like a collar or ribbon? I…” You then hesitated and lowered your voice. “To be honest, I don’t even know what they’re for, or why I can’t have one. I didn’t read the rules, and Sarah just kinda dragged me he-”

you didn’t read the rules?” Red asked, and there was an edge to his voice that stopped you. He then facepalmed for a second time, giving a deep sigh.

“Sarah went to get me something,” you said meekly, feeling a bit like a scolded child. Red shook his head.

“grillby got eyes lika hawk and will know if one goes missin’,” Red said. You realized Grillby must’ve been fire monster by the table. I didn’t know he had eyes at all. “so where the hell am i gonna get you…” He then paused, and his grin slowly expanded. He then looked at you—or rather, your neck— with an expression you couldn’t quite decode, but you did not like the looks of. It was… predatory.

“doll, come with me, will ya?”

You hesitated. He clearly had some kind of plan, but you didn’t like the way he was looking at you. And yet… he seemed to be at least concerned, and wanted to help, so how bad could it be?

“Uh, okay, we just need to be back quickly in case Grace and Sarah come back.” He nodded, but you had the feeling he wasn’t really listening. He placed his hand on the small of your back, leading you through the crowd at a face pace, practically pushing you forward. You moved to an area separate from the main hall, a corridor that held some unmarked doors and a coat check area. Red moved to the coat check and hit a small bell sitting on the counter. You noticed you were the only two in the hallway; everyone had likely checked their belongings in by now. You took a long sip of your drink, attempting to steel your nerves.

An employee came out, and when you saw who it was, you gave an excited note of surprise.

“You were security last night at the Crown & Trident, weren’t you?!” you exclaimed. Although now dressed much more formally, it was impossible to mistake the “dead inside” look of the cat monster from last night. He seemed taken aback by your accusation.

“Y-yes,” he admitted, looking nervous. You tried to give him a reassuring smile.

“I was the girl that started cheering for you when you were onstage!” you said, before realizing that was probably embarrassing for him. You rubbed the back of your neck. “Ah, sorry if that wasn’t a good thing, y’know, drunk idea…”

“N-no, it was nice,” he began, that same embarrassed blush forming above his fur. “Mettaton never lets me go on the stage-”

Red suddenly slammed his hand on the table, startling you both. He then held a ticket up.

“sorry, kitten,” he said gruffly. You thought it was kind of rude for him to refer to the adult monster as a kitten— “and sorry, pal, but i need this jacket, and she needs ta get back before her friends lose their minds.”

Wait, which one of us is kitten, and which one of us is pal?

The cat monster nodded dimly and took the ticket from Red. You felt badly—he seemed to be in two equally thankless jobs. He returned a few seconds later with a jacket and handed it to Red. Red fished out some money from his pocket and handed back. As the monster began to turn, you gave him a small wave and an apologetic smile. He seemed to brighten, even if just a little, and waved back before returning to the room he had come from.

 “ok, doll, problem solved,” Red said. You turned back to him, and he held up a collar. The spark in his eye was now back, his pupils almost seeming to glow in the dim hallway. “now, doll, we gotta do it all proper like,” he said, an… eagerness to his voice you hadn’t heard before. “so i need ya consent.” He then cleared his throat and stepped closer to you. For a reason you couldn’t place, you felt your pulse began to quicken. His stare suddenly seemed a little more serious. “would ya—sorry, would you do me the honor of accepting this collar?”

“Yes?” you said, before remembering you were supposed to be doing this by the rules (whatever those were), “-I mean yes, I do accept.”

He looked at you like he just won the lottery. You tried not to focus on how menacing his smile looked, or how alone you two were. This is just for show, right? You noticed he swallowed hard. “i-i gotta put it on ya, kitten. is that okay?”

You nodded your assent, and he stepped behind you, moving your hair gently out of the way, and hesitated for a moment.

“uh, k-kitten,” he said, his voice heavy, “i gotta mark ya with my magic s-so, uh, people don’t think ya didn’t just steal it. that okay?”

“Uh... Will it hurt? And is it permanent?”

“nah, kitten, i wouldn’t hurt ya unless ya asked me to,” he said, chuckling darkly. Normally you would have brushed off the innuendo coming from him, but with him so close, it made your insides twist. “i-i can do it in a way that should at least last the next hour. would have to, uh, r-redo it after that if ya wanted to keep it on.”

“I guess?” You hazarded. As long as it wasn’t permanent, you assumed it’d be fine-

You then felt something hot, slimy, and horrifically tongue-like lather up the back of your neck.

You gave a small shriek, goosebumps lacing your skin from your feet to the top of your scalp. Oh god, it tingles.

“Sans literally what the fuck,” you hissed, squirming. He laughed again.

“sorry, doll, probably shoulda warned you,” he said, in a voice that didn’t sound sorry in the least. He then slid his hands over your shoulder, and across your neck, his digits brushing against your skin as he passed an end of the collar from one hand to the other. It instantly made your heart pound, and you had to force yourself to take measured breaths, aware that this could easily lead to a panic attack.

“there,” he said, his voice surprisingly low, both in volume and octave. “now let’s see.”

He gently turned you around by the shoulders, keeping his hands there as he seemed to evaluate you, his stare lingering at your neck. You quickly grew uncomfortable in the silence.

“Ah, Sans, are you feeling okay...?” you asked. “You seem to be sweating.”

This seemed to snap him out of it, and he shook his head, before wiping the side of his mouth. Was he…drooling? He was a funny guy, but that seemed a little too… comical.

“sorry, babydoll, let’s get back,” he said distractedly, looking out to the crowd. Babydoll? That’s a new one, too. “ya should be good now; nobody’s gonna bother ya with that kinda collar on.”

“Kind of collar?” you asked. You attempted to look down in vain. “There are kinds of collars? And what do the ribbons mean?”

He stared at you for a moment before shaking his head, leading you out with a hand on your back once again. “it’s a good thing i got to ya before anyone else, kitten.” He then leaned closer in as you remerged with the crowd, trying to keep his voice quiet. “that there’s a protection collar. it's to let people know ya might not belong to anyone for good, but for now, ya got someone watchin’ yer back.” He then paused, reaching over to touch the golden ring at the front of your neck. “that ring in partic’lar means it’s someone ya really don’t wanna fuck with. ya can’t just buy ‘em; in this community, that’s earned.

“i got one m’self,” he said, gesturing to the collar around his neck. It looked, admittedly, like a fancy dog collar—but you’d never say that out loud. “there’s ones for lifelong partners, ones for testing the water, ones for occasions like this, and some for at home-”

“And the ribbons?” you interrupted, not quite wanting to cross the bridge into the territory of what might go on in a home with these. If he noticed your diversion, he made no tell of it.

“the ribbons are for a few different things,” he said. “like the blue ones, those are for… servers, les’ call ‘em. they wear ribbons so they can keep their collars on but still be easily able to tell what their role is.” He then made a gesture in the direction of the front door. “white ribbons, like the one grillby was wearin’, is for what’s called a major domo, who is like…” he seemed to search for a word for a moment, then slowly continued. “the one coordinating the submissives. the major domo could be a submissive or a switch,” he said, seeming to evaluate your reaction, as if him saying the words might bother you. Okay, you really weren’t that innocent.

“And silver?” you asked, remembering the one Grace wore.

“that’s for doms,” he said, which caused you to chuckle under your breath. “and there’s also gold-”

“FOR THOSE HIGH ABOVE YOUR STATURE,” a harsh tone rang out above the two of you. You looked up and saw Red’s brother, Edge, standing above you, looking down at the pair of you with disdain. Edge was fully decked out in formal wear—almost the same as his brother, except with a red shirt and black tie instead of the reverse, with a fitted suit jacket. He also had a cane—which you would laugh at if you were a little more foolish. You noticed he had a golden ribbon fastened to his jacket.

“I… thought you were supposed to ask before speaking to anyone?” you said hesitantly.

Edge seemed to bristle, his eyes suddenly growing bright with (what you assumed was) rage. You looked to Red, and he seemed to be as uselessly frightened as you were, his eyes wide and red sweat beading on his forehead. You resisted the urge to hide behind him.

“uh, b-boss,” Red began, but fell silent as Edge more directly turned to you, his eyes surveying your figure. He then, to your great surprise, gave a bow.

“WITH RESPECT, MISS, MAY I SPEAK WITH YOU?” Eye level, he was even more intimidating. You noticed the scar across his eye, the intense red glow of his stare, his jaggedly sharp and triangular teeth—much like his brother, it was like he was made to scream “danger.”

“No-” you began, before you felt Red’s fingers sharply dig into your hip where his hand had been resting. You coughed out to cover your note of pain. “Uh, I mean, yes, you may.”

“A WISE CHOICE,” Edge responded. He then began to straighten, but paused as he caught sight of something, his eyes narrowing. “WELL WELL; IT APPEARS THAT I DIDN’T NEED TO REQUEST YOUR PERMISSION IN THE FIRST PLACE. THIS COLLAR IS, AFTER ALL, TO MARK MY PROPERTY.” He then slid his bony digit in the golden ring on the collar and pulled sharply, tightening it around your neck as his finger pressed against your windpipe. An instant burst of panic burst in your chest.

NononononononoNONONO-

The digit suddenly disappeared—you looked and saw Red gripping Edge’s wrist, and he looked as shocked as you were. He instantly released Edge’s hand, and held his hands up defensively.

“n-now b-boss, remember we’re atta party-”

Edge suddenly gripped Red by his vest, holding him up off the floor.

“YOU ARE LUCKY THIS PARTY IS HIGH-PROTOCOL,” Edge hissed, “OTHERWISE YOU’D ALREADY BE A PILE OF DUST UNDER SOMEONE’S HEELS. AND JUST YOU WAIT UNTIL WE GET BACK.” You felt terrible for Red, and opened your mouth to intervene-

“b-but boss! i uh, i d-did this for you!” Red exclaimed. “the broad’s a gift.”

What.

“A GIFT?” Edge said, his glance moving back to you. He seemed to analyze you, looking thoughtful. “A GIFT OF A HUMAN…”

 He then dropped Red unceremoniously and stepped back over to you. So much for feeling bad for Red.

“HUMAN. DID YOU CONSENT TO THE COLLAR?” he asked.

“Ah, well yes, technically-” you began, but Edge held his hand up, stopping you.

“NO NEED TO BE SO SHY; THERE ARE MANY THAT COVET THE HONOR OF BEING UNDER THE OWNERSHIP OF THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE PAPYRUS,” he said, holding his chin haughtily. He then moved over to grab your chin, tilting your face back and forth.

You felt your anger begin to overtake your fear; Red wasn’t being serious, right? You tried to look down at him, but Edge’s hold made it impossible.

“I SUPPOSE RED COULD HAVE PICKED A WORSE GIFT,” he said, as he let you go. “YOU… WILL DO.” You looked closer at him. Was he… blushing? There was a dim but present red glow at the crest of his cheekbones. That tsundere motherfucker.

“COME, LET US GET YOU PROPERLY TRAINED AT ONCE.” He then grabbed your hand, but you immediately yanked it away. Before he could snap, you spoke up:

“Listen, Boss, Red is the one I consented to,” you said, before you realized how inaccurate that sounded. “Well, I mean, he said he could give me a collar, and-”   

“IS THIS TRUE?” Edge asked, looking to Red. Red was still on the floor, not having gotten up yet, and looked as if he wanted to crawl away.

“a-ah, well boss, I thought… we could train her together?” He looked up at Edge hopefully, his response more of a question than a statement, an obvious lie. “y’know, ta give ya more free time, so yer gift wouldn’t be a burden.”

“HM… I DO SUPPOSE IT WOULD BE UNWISE TO HAVE THE BURDEN OF TRAINING SOMEONE ALONE,” he mused. What?! He seriously believed that?! “BUT I WANT—I MEAN, I THINK WE SHOULD AT LEAST BOTH TRAIN HER. YOUR TRAINING COULD NEVER HOLD UP TO MY STANDARDS.”

You looked to Red as he stood up, hoping for a wink, a sign, something to assure you that this was just an escape tactic.

Instead, he seemed to be looking at you thoughtfully. “y-yeah, boss, i think we can share,” he said, wiping the corner of his mouth. He was definitely drooling whatthefuck. “i could live wit’ that.”

Oh. Oh no. He’s seriously considering this.

“Red..?” you called, hoping to snap him out of whatever he had going on in his mind. His eyes seemed almost hazy. “Uh…”

“sorry, babydoll,” he said, his voice thick as he stepped up to you. “this is too good an opportunity to pass up. but don’t worry; we’ll only be doin’ what ya beg us to.”

Fuck.

Chapter Text

You gripped your glass tighter, prepared to throw it at Red and book it for the door, when a strident voice derailed you.

“YOUR SLAVE IS CLEARLY UNCOMFORTABLE.” The voice—despite being loud and crass—was distinctly not the voice of Edge. You looked over, and…

No. Nope. Nuh-uh.

It had been two days, and you had seen—you took a moment to mentally count—eight skeletons, plus the one you dreamed about, plus the one standing in front of you—and, yes, sure enough, there was an additional taller one standing behind him. Both were wearing all black, from their shirts to their jackets to their ties. It was actually kind of cute how they were matching. The shorter one was sporting a cane similar to Edge's (admittedly much shorter), and had a purple ribbon pinned to his jacket. Purple?

You tried to take a breath. Okay. They’re family, of course they’d hang out in the same area. One big happy LGBT family, sure, all hanging out, being supportive-

YOU TWO,” Edge hissed. “BLACKBERRY AND MUTT. GET YOUR DREADFUL NOSES OUT OF OUR BUSINESS.”

Okay, maybe not such a happy family.

“OH, BUT IT IS MY BUSINESS,” the shorter one said. “MUTT! YOUR COPY OF THE RULES.”

“yes, m’lord,” Mutt said. He pulled out a familiar lengthy document from his jacket; you were amazed it fit.

“AS YOU’LL SEE, ON THE FINAL PAGE IT STATES THAT THE HEAD OF THE EVENT—WHICH I JUST SO HAPPEN TO BESHALL BE THE KEEPER OF THE PEACE AND INSURER OF STANDARDS FOR THE DURATION OF THE PARTY.” His eyes narrowed at Edge. “YOU ARE VIOLATING BOTH.”

You took an instinctual step away from Edge, expecting him to be on the warpath from his displays of temper so far, but he was surprisingly calm. He straightened some, tilting his head to maximize a haughty look down to the shorter skeleton.

“YOU, BERRY, ARE CLEARLY JUST JEALOUS THAT I HAVE A HUMAN AND YOU DO NOT.”

Blackberry’s expression turned instantly acidic. His eyes fell to you, obvious rage set in your direction, starting a sweat on your skin that envied Red's. Your eyes darted around—there were plenty of onlookers. He was supposed to be the keeper of the peace, right? He wouldn’t do anything to harm you, right? Right?

“MUTT,” Blackberry said, his voice laced with venom, “FETCH.”

“yes, m’lord.” Mutt set his sights on you, his expression lazily assessing you before he began to take a step forward—

“no ya fuckin don’t, no magic!” Red said, stepping in front of you so quick you didn’t see him move. “both of ya’s know better than that!”

Mutt shrugged before continuing to advance. “fine, no magic.” Red placed an arm out to shield you. From what you could see (Red was blocking most of the view), it seemed like Mutt was just walking towards you—what was so dangerous? Couldn't you just book it?

“listen, ya dramatic fucks, this isn’t the time or place.”

Mutt seemed unfazed. “sorry, red, gotta do it.” 

“I WILL HAVE THAT HUMAN,” Blackberry commanded with a stamp of his cane. For someone who seemed so prestigious, he was acting like a petulant child.

Red, Blackberry, and Mutt began to bicker as Mutt slowly advanced, Red shouting something about them all being idiots—but you were distracted by someone suddenly grabbing your hand.

It was Grace. You could practically hear a chorus of angels behind her, and it took all your internal effort not to hug her. She put a finger to her lips before tugging on your hand. You ducked behind Red and the two of you wove through the crowd, staying low and as hidden as possible.

kitten?!” you heard exclaimed from far off, and you and Grace made doubletime, getting out the door and into the open air. Freedom.

“C’mon girls we got to go!” Sarah said, holding the door open to a taxi. You practically jumped in, followed along by Sarah and Grace, squeezing in the back.

“What. Did. I. Tell. You. Not. To. Do?!” Sarah said, her words each accentuated by a light smack of her clutch on your arm. You laughed, almost maniacally, feeling so relieved as the adrenaline began to lessen in your veins.

“Man, what the fuck,” you laughed, giggling for a full half minute before you took a few sobering breaths. You felt the humor dying within you, and disbelief settling into its place. “What the fuck.”

“What happened?” Sarah asked. You recounted the whole thing, the taxi driver probably thinking you were fucking nuts. You even still had the glass of blue champagne in your hand. When you finished, you tipped your head back, and finished the drink.

“Well… Maybe that party was a little over our heads,” Sarah said. “I probably shouldn’t have stolen that invite.”

“You did what?!” you exclaimed, hitting her (lightly) back.

Well,” she said, laughing, “I know it was probably bad, but that guy kept chatting about the history of BDSM in pride, and how it was a classy as fuck event, and I just wanted my girls to have a good time.” Sarah pouted. “Plus, he was gloating he got two invites, so I didn’t feel bad.” She then paused, and reached over and squeezed Grace’s cheek. “Plus, I knew Grace would look hot as fuck.” Grace laughed, blushing, and you shook your head.

“I need a drink,” you sighed, rubbing your temples. “But if I see another skeleton, I’ll scream. Can we stop at a package store or something?”

“Sure, your dime,” the taxi driver said. “Sounds like you three had a rough night.”

“Brother, you have no idea.”

He pulled over to a package store just off the main street. Sarah and you hopped out of the car, Grace staying behind. Sarah made a straight line for the wine aisle, disappearing behind a large rack of reds. You quickly moved over to the whiskey aisle, your go-to drink, and browsed the selection as quickly as you could. You were looking for the cheapest option-

“darlin’?” you heard behind you, and you froze. Nonononono. Please. No. You turned around and your eyes confirmed the sight of G. He looked just as surprised as you felt. 

You streamed a row of curses in your head.

“Hey, G,” you said meekly. He relaxed visibly and gave a smirk.

“so y’ remember my name,” he joked. “i wasn’t so sure i wouldn’t just be a blank spot for y’.” You gave a small laugh, feeling very weary. True, if it had to be a skeleton (as it appeared the world was making it be), you were glad it was G right now. He seemed the most... even keel.

“hey, y’ feelin’ okay?” he asked, his smirk fading. He then seemed to be struck by a thought, and shifted in his stance, looking a little uncomfortable. “uh, kid, if y’ rather leave last night at last night, that’s fine-”

“No!” you said, a bit quicker than you probably would’ve liked to. So much for playing it cool. You chuckled and rubbed the back of your neck. “Uh, no, that’s fine. It’s nice to see you again. It’s just been… kind of another rough night,” you said, smiling at him meekly. “Do I look that bad?”

“nah, darlin’, y’ look good,” he grinned. You felt your face instantly heat. He leaned on a shelf casually. “y'know, i was thinkin’-”

“Girl, c’mon, that meter is running-” Sarah rounded the corner, wine bottle in hand, then gasped. “You,” she said, accusation in her voice. You facepalmed as G turned to look.

“hey,” he said simply, giving a little wave, appearing unaffected by her acerbity.

Girl,” Sarah said simply, walking over and grabbing you by the elbow, dragging you away from G for the second time. You gave him a mirror apologetic wave goodbye, this time a little relieved—again, nice to see him, but not what you needed right now.

“hey!” you heard G exclaim, catching you off guard—he hadn’t raised his voice once before, so this startled you. Sarah, too, actually paused. G then reached down to the bottom shelf and grabbed a bottle, before offering it to you.

“good, cheap whiskey. y’ll thank me later.”

You took it from him and grinned. “Thanks, G.”

“don’t mention it,” he murmured. For some reason, something in your stomach tightened, but Sarah pulled you away before you could dwell on it long.

Sarah quickly dragged you up to the checkout, only one person in line (thankfully). As you waited, G came and stood next to you in line, a bottle of the same whiskey in his hand he had suggested to you. You gave him a questioning look.

“cheers,” he said, knocking bottles with you lightly. You laughed, rolling your eyes. Okay, maybe he wouldn’t be bad to spend some time with right now, either. You couldn't help but imagine how nice knocking back a few glasses over quiet conversation would be right now.

Sarah gave her bottle to the cashier, and you handed yours up as well, a twinge of guilt going through your stomach as you were pulled out of your drinking-buddy fantasy. You tried to think away your anxiety: It’s fine. You’ll pay her back tomorrow, she’s your friend, she doesn’t mind-

You suddenly felt G take your free hand, starling you out of your thoughts, and slide a piece of paper in. He then put a finger to his lips and blinked—or was that a wink? It was hard to tell when he had just one working eye.

“Okay girl, time to go,” Sarah said, receiving the bags from the cashier and handing the one with whiskey to you. You took the bottle, then looked at G, deliberating for a moment—while you wanted to invite him, you knew you should really take some time for yourself and your friends tonight.

“Bye, G, see ya around,” you said, immediately realizing you were bad at goodbyes that you weren’t being dragged away from.

“heh. see y', darlin’.”

You smiled all the way out the store, clutching the bottle as you quickly moved out towards the street where your taxi was parked. Sarah went in first before you jumped in, the door barely having time to shut before the cab took off again.

“Okay, Grace, Taxidude, listen, this motherfucker saw another one of those dudes in there,” Sarah said. Grace laughed in disbelief. “I kid you fucking not; this girl has a Halloween curse in the middle of June.”

As Sarah spoke, you looked in the paper crumpled in your hands. A simple set of numbers were listed, with just an initial at the bottom: “G.”

You chuckled, smiling wide and shaking your head. It was cheesy, but… charming.

“Whatchu laughin’ at?” Sarah asked nosily and leaned over you. You attempted to hide it, but too late. “Are those his digits?! Girl!”

The three of you made your way back to the hotel, setting the plan in motion to get roaring drunk. Sarah tried to get you to promise not to text G, as the mission of the night was to forget about skeletons, but you revolted—well, at least a little. Compromising, you settled on texting him briefly:

You: Hey, G, just texting you my number. I’ll be MIA for the rest of the night—we’ve had a consensus of no drunk texting.”

G: heh. i cant promise the same.

G: but i guess you’ll see that in the morning.

You: I’ll be looking forward to it. Night, G.

G: night, darlin.

You couldn’t seem to tear away the smile cemented on your face. Sure, quite a few of them seemed awful—Sugar and Razz, Mutt and Blackberry, Edge and (ugh) Red—but G seemed normal. He seemed nice. He even seemed… kind of hot?

You groaned at yourself, blushing deeply at your own internal cringe, burying your face in your lap as you sat on the couch in your hotel room. It was only day two and these stupid skeletons were wearing you down. But did you really want to get involved? You took a breath, trying to prioritize. Papyrus had seemed genuinely nice, and even creepy Razz and Sugar attested to how pure he was. Stretch you didn’t really know, and Blueberry seemed nice, even if he never texted you back. Maybe you should try to reach out-

“Nuh uh uh,” Sarah said, grabbing the phone. “We agreed: a text to give him your number, and that was it. Time to stash the phones away for the night.”

“Nooooooo c’mon,” you laughed, reaching out for her, trying to grab a hold of her. You caught leg, and she shrieked as she tried to pull away from you. She tossed the phone to Grace, who jolted away into your room, laughing as she made her escape.

“You kinky motherfuckers, you had your fun, let me have mine!”

The three of you ended up succeeding in your night of drinking yourselves silly (this time, taking extra precautions with plenty of water chasers per drink), watching terrible late-night TV and chatting about your lives. It was beautifully normal, and just what you needed, resetting your soul for a night. By the time you passed out (a graceful sight, halfway undressed and almost three-quarters on the bed), you had dropped into a deep sleep, blissful nothingness surrounding you.

 

↜ Red ↝

Red had spent the larger part of the day getting ready for the stupid BDSM party. Sure, he didn’t mind a little rough-and-tumble (okay, that was what he preferred), but he didn’t need a reminder of the hellhole he came from. The underground (or at least his version of it) was sick: the “owning” of someone, the hierarchical ordering of people, the pain and depravity were all a matter of survival. Humans topside did it as part of pleasure, or romance—this he logically knew, but to see it paraded around so proudly just made his magic crawl.

There had been virtually no time in the past day or so to fully ensure you weren’t ending up getting yourself in trouble or running into other skeletons—from he could tell, though, it seemed you were having a tame day. In just a day of hunting, he was much more attuned to your frequency—even as difficult as humans were to track. It was especially difficult being around so many monsters, like trying to single out a whisper during a stadium-sized concert.

Still, he was able to find you here and there when he had a few spare minutes to sneak away from boss—at brunch, in an Uber heading somewhere, at the beach (that one he lingered at—he still had the drool stain on his sweater). He’d lost you for a little while, meaning you were likely somewhere in a crowd of people—but hopefully you’d be okay and not run into any of his idiotic other selves. He'd just have to leave you be for a bit in order not to face Boss's wrath.

The worst part about the party was probably having to get all dressed up—he felt like a prize pooch on display. Edge was at least being generous, letting him off without a leash. Red had thrown a fit about wearing his new collar, so Edge had been compromising. sucker.

Since they’d been topside, Edge had slowly been getting... lenient (Red knew better than to even think the word “soft”). Red reminded himself that meant Edge was just as likely to have a big blow up sometime soon; usually the longer between explosions, the bigger the blast. He had to start playing it a little cool around boss so he wasn’t the one on the receiving end.

The party had been such a snoozefest, all keeping up appearances and the usual fanfare. Logically, he understood—even in the BDSM world, which had been so intertwined with humans and their weird discrimination of other humans with different genders and sexualities and the like—there was sometimes still some discrimination, so having a dedicated party for LBGT folks was important. but that didn’t make it just as lame as the others.

He’d decided to get drunk to pass the time, and was more than halfway there when his spine suddenly crawled, a subconscious alert that his tracking was picking up something important. Focusing in (or doing his best to, anyway, through the alchoholic haze), he registered a familiar sensation-

He hadn’t sensed you until you were practically on top of him—either due to his drunkenness or the crowd, he wasn’t sure. You were standing there, a glass of champagne in your hand, with a secret smile on your face, blush at your cheeks-

He might've been drunk, but was he also dreaming?

"doll?" he asked aloud before he could stop himself. It might've been wiser to track, watch and wait for a bit, before speaking—but too late for that. "what're you doin' here?" Then someone cleared their throat, and he remembered where they were at—with all of their stupid rules and regulations. He could see the barely-contained humor in your eyes as he bowed, and to his own surprise, he didn't want to tear your throat out.

But then he had seen your throat, bare, and with no ribbon to boot.

He felt an immediate rush of confusion, indignity, and panic. Walking into a place like this with nothing on was like an open invitation, and not a pleasant one at that. There were collars for those owned, collars for those unowned and not looking, collars for those unowned and open for exchange—but wearing nothing was stating like you were an open door for anything, no matter how perverse or potential to harm. That was dangerous in a place like this, with dom's like this, even in a high protocol party.

If you were into that, it was more than fine with him—but a dull horror in his gut told him something was wrong here.

And it turned out he had been right; you didn't even read the rules walking into a high protocol party. He couldn't imagine what you had been thinking—or how you'd gotten here in the first place if you were rookie enough to make that kind of mistake. He knew he couldn't leave you alone, and had to think of a plan, quick-

And then it came to him. He still had his old collar in his jacket, ready to change out of his new one as soon as they left. An image flashed in his head of you, wearing his collar...

He had to swallow to stop the drool that had suddenly pooled in his mouth.

Consumed by the image like it was his soul (heh) purpose in life, he dragged you to the coat check. You were getting chummy with Burgerpants of all people, and he found his very limited patience being tested. But then he had the collar in hand and you actually accepted. His hands had been shaking as he moved your hair to place it on. He then remembered that he needed to mark you—maybe not really necessary, but man, was he okay with taking the precaution. When he licked you, your skin tasted of seawater and sweat—maybe it was just the alcohol, but he swore it was the best thing he’d tasted in his life. Clearly, you hadn’t had been able to shower after the beach, and his mind ran through a thousand scenarios on how he’d like to help you get clean—especially if they involved hearing that tiny shriek again.

Then, finally, he was able to slip the collar around your neck. He would exchange every gift in his life (as limited as they were) to replay that moment twice. He knew it wasn’t really collaring you, not in the way his fantasy desperately clamored it to be, but man, was this close enough for now.

just imagine how it’d feel if you bit her instead...

He was half-crazed by this point, feeling his impulsivity starting to overtake his senses. He attempted to remind himself not to fuck it up, to stay with it so he didn’t overstep and do something you’d never talk to him again for. c’mon, red, keep it together; slow and steady gets the prey.

Things went fine and steady for all of fifteen minutes. He’d taken the time to explain things, to ease you in gently—and you seemed to be responding fine. He was even about to go into details of his brother—how Edge was one of the most well-known and recognized people in the whole scene—but Edge had to come and fuck everything up. He could’ve murdered Edge if he thought Edge wouldn’t take him down just as easy. But in his fear, he’d come up with a lie—one that his idiot brother believed. His conscience screamed at him to stop it, that you'd react badly to it, you'd end up hating him... But another, deeper part of him chanted so low the mantra soaked through his bones: mineminemineminemineminemine. How better to keep you safe? Edge would be protecting you instead of potentially harming you, the blue-hoodie wearing asshole wouldn't be able to take on both Edge and himself, and you'd be able to do whatever you wanted without him having to worry and watch all the time. plus... Flashes of the future practically consumed him: keepin’ ya at home as kitten, teachin’ ya a little more about bdsm (after all, ya were here, so ya had to be into it, right?), sharing lazy afternoons eating sweets with you, and sweeter nights eating-

But then Mutt and Blackberry had come in, derailing his hypnotizing fantasy. Even though it was one of the pairs he liked the least, the interruption of the two was actually a blessing, saving him from that deeper part taking over. although, judgin' by the look on your face, it might’ve already been too late.

Then shitty Blackberry and his stupid Mutt had to take things way too far with Edge, turning the party into the royal court of fuckin’ drama queens. Knowing those two insane motherfuckers, they’d keep you locked up in some basement until Edge met some kind of demand, which Edge never would out of pride. They were psychotic.

not that boss an’ i are much better, but still...

He’d turned around mid-argument, trying to ensure you were safe from the reach of Mutt—when he realized you were gone.

He felt practically heartbroken for a brief flash—had you not trusted him to protect you? Did you not think he was strong enough?

He couldn’t sense you in this crowd, not with all these humans and monsters around. It took him a moment to process through the alcohol, but he realized there’s only one place you would’ve gone, just like any prey would do—straight to the exit, to freedom, away from the predator.

He shortcutted outside (the very thing he’d yelled at Mutt for attempting to do earlier), only to find you practically stage-diving into a car that took off just as quick. With a curse under his breath, he considered the option to follow: cars were the hardest to tail. He could keep jumping ahead of them, but he’d wear out quick, and if they took a turn he didn’t see he was fucked. Watching the taxi go, his mind raced. He had no way of know where you were going...

...But he did know where you’d eventually end up.

Chapter Text

Red shortcutted to your hotel and waited, sweat beading on his brow, on the back of his vertebrae, on his hands. Every minute felt like an hour. Finally, you three showed up with brown bags in hand. Clearly, the three of you were prepping for a long, drunk night. He exited just in time, you nearly catching him off guard when you rounded the corner, his anxiety overpowering his watchfulness. As soon as you entered, he popped back into the hallway and ruminated outside your door.

Okay, good, you were fine. That anxiety was out of the way. But now... How would he make things right?

He took a breath after a few minutes of panic, trying to calm himself. steady, red.

He listened in, seeking a distraction, and heard you and the taller one—susie? sarah?—talking to you, practically ordering you not to text someone. He felt his irritation raise—who was she to be telling you what to do or what not to do-?

wasn’t i just drooling over the thought of doing the same an hour ago?

The inner voice sounded alien, and he realized that was his conscience peeping up for the second time tonight.

huh, that guy usually doesn’t show up twice in a year.

He was about to back off to consider the internal intrusion when he heard Sarah speak up again—and mention who you were texting: G. Red found himself instantly back at the door, his fingers gripping the wood hard enough to splinter.

that motherfucking, cheap ass, psychotic drunkard bastard had slithered his way into gettin’ kitten’s digits?! After Red had said he’d kill her if G kept at it? despicable.

Red, despite not being able to stand the guy on a personal level, had actually thought of G as a decent guy morally (aside from when he went a little... out of it). But this changed things. G was seriously playing with this girl’s life.

Red was beyond angry, his soul practically visibly thrumming beneath his shirt, desperate for a battle it couldn't find. He knew it was time to up the ante.

He sat outside your door, waiting for the three of you to fall asleep. It felt like forever—his anxiety and anger rising as his buzz died down, the alcohol his sole protection at what had happened tonight. He was aware he might’ve lost you for good after the stunt he pulled. Should he even bother with trying to get you away from G? Did he really care what ended up happening to some broad he only just met?

A memory flashed before his eyes: you, with his collar on, looking sweetly embarrassed with your face flushed, those eyes staring up at him, trusting a murderous monster like him to be so close—

He groaned. The thought of those eyes being terrified, of you being dead—he definitely couldn’t kill you at this point, but he couldn’t trust the others not to do the same. For the brutal monster he was, you had him wrapped around your finger in a day.

Which was precisely why, a few hours into your drunken giggling, he nearly burst down the door when he heard you mention his nickname. He did his best to control himself by keenly listening in.

“Red?” Sarah asked, to whatever you had initially said (Red had been zoning out at the time). “Girl, y’know I gotta say I told you so. I knew from the second I saw him he was bad news.”

Red all but growled, knowing he had to stay quiet, his grip once again tight on the doorframe. He was going to end up paying for a new door if he didn’t relax. ya think ya know me, ‘girl’? i'll show ya how little ya know-

“I mean… I dunno,” you said, the slur in your words now evident. “At first I really think he wanted to help me, like I really still believe he started out with good intentions of trying to keep me safe there.” Red had to keep his mouth clamped shut from shouting out. you get it kitten! i was just trying to keep ya safe! 

“Yeah, but… I don’t think what happened after is something anybody could come back from,” came the voice of your quieter friend. You were silent, and Red felt himself still, waiting to see if you had a response.

“I don’t know,” you sighed after a moment. “For some reason, I expected better from him, but I guess I barely know the guy. He really scared me.”

Red felt like someone had just sapped all the magic from his bones.

i scared kitten?

The moment you said it, it seemed obvious—of course you were terrified. He’d sold you up river, sided with Edge, even agreed to share you. And even now, even with how shit-eating horrible he felt, he couldn’t promise that if he got back into… that state of mind, he wouldn’t just go over and do the same thing all over again.

maybe me an’ g have more in common than i'd like to admit. maybe that’s just the kind of monster i am.

He deliberated for quite a while longer, and before he knew it, your hotel room had gone completely silent. By the time he was certain you’d all be passed out, he knew exactly what he needed to do.

He popped inside the common area, the living room dark and largely silent. He listened carefully—one loud snoring and some shorter breaths signaled two people in a room to his right, and another, single rhythm of steady breathing coming from the room on his left—most likely you. More telling, though, was the feeling of your resonance, his instincts screaming at him your direction.

After some further listening to be sure you were sleeping, Red shortcutted into your room. He had to lay a hand over his face to keep himself from bursting out laughing—you were half-on half-off the bed, fully passed out, your face buried into the sheets. He stepped a little closer, his eyes adjusting to the near-blackness-

for stars’ fuckin sake is that a corset.

Red felt himself break out into an instant sweat. It looked like you had managed to only get out of your dress (for the most part, that is—it was still hooked around part of your arm), but had given up on undoing the corset entirely before passing out. Hell, you were going to be sore in the morning.

A myriad of images flashed in his mind, each one worse than the last—but he managed to shake them away. Sure, he had been just as ready to kidnap you away with Edge—but, even then, he wasn’t considering doing anything you didn’t or couldn’t consent to. Other than the kidnapping, that is.

He decided it was probably not the best idea to try to undress you, as much as your organs would likely appreciate it in the morning, and opted to cover you instead; the AC was blowing pretty hard, and you’d likely get chilled by morning. Sole act of heroism complete, he reset upon his actual mission: finding your phone.

He carefully searched around your person for a while before he remembered something Sarah said earlier about “stashing phones for the night.” After a harrowing few minutes searching the drawers (why the hell were drawers so loud), he finally found it. It was stashed in your (heh) underwear drawer, and he had to resist the urge for a five-finger discount, deciding he was already greatly exceeding his creeper limit for the night.

He gently pressed the fingerprint reader to your thumb to get access before scrolling through your phone. You had a selection of social media apps, a lot of pictures and songs, and a few games. It was too bad the two of you couldn’t get to know each other better—he would’ve loved to crush you on a few of the ones he played himself, like Snail Race Xtreme. A piece of his soul mourned the loss of that future, as simple as it was.

He moved onto the messages app, pulling the one up with G. It was mercifully short—it looked like you had just exchanged numbers recently, possibly today. He took a breath and looked at your sleeping face. You were drooling.

atta girl.

He returned his focus to your phone, and sighed. Should he be doing this? It was now—he glanced at the phone—Sunday morning. You three were probably just here for the weekend, likely checking out today after you woke up. This, he realized, would likely be the last time he saw you again—and you probably wouldn’t see G before you left. In fact, after today, you’d probably never talk to G again.

but what if you did?

You’d never know he’d been willing to risk your life just to flirt with you. You’d never know how little he actually valued you. He was such a smooth talker, and you were so trusting, you’d probably fall for him— 

He typed out a message to G.

You: busted, ya busted motherfucker

G:

G: red?

You: ya thought i wouldnt be watching?

You: im hurt ya underestimated me g

You: looks like theyve been drinking shitty whiskey. brand seems familiar.

You: all three of them are passed out cold.

You: shes real cute, g. its a shame.

G: c’mon, red, stop it. i know you wouldn’t kill some innocents.

You: then ya don’t know me, buddy. did ya forget where i come from?

You: although, ya do make an interesting point. maybe she’d be better alive, all tied up where she couldn’t go blabbin. at least that way she’d be useful. i know edge wouldn't mind havin a little pet, neither.

G: you wouldn’t be talking to me if you’d decided to off her already. you would’ve just done it. what do you want?

You: i don’t want nothin, g. this is just a final warning—and i mean it. none of this secretive shit. im monitoring everything—ya try this shit again, they’re all gone. i won’t be doing ya the fuckin courtesy of a warning text next time.

You: we can’t risk everything just for a few broads.

Red knew this would get G, but his own word made him pause. that’s exactly what i’m doing.

G: alright, red, i’ll quit at it. you win.

You: you better mean it, ya fuck, or the next time ya see her face itll be on a missing poster.

Red waited a little while, and when G failed to respond, he made sure to delete all of the text messages they’d exchanged. He then replaced the phone and closed the drawer before surveying the room, making sure he didn’t move anything else in his stay. Once certain his presence wouldn’t be noticed, he moved back over to you, studying your face.

Dead to the world you slept peacefully, unaware of how much misfortune you’d narrowly avoided. He was sorry you got wrapped up in this, and even sorrier he’d have to let you go. You likely hated him by this point, anyway, so maybe your leaving was for the best.

“maybe next life ‘round, kitten,” he murmured softly, before leaning down and giving you a light kiss.

hm… it tingles.

He breathed out a small sigh before standing—one final thing to take care of.

He shortcutted away—but not out of the hotel, at least not yet. Instead, he went into the kitchen and opened up the fridge as silently as he could. He then spotted it: his chocolate cake. He took it out, shut the fridge gingerly, and took a shortcut back home.

 

↝ You ↜

You woke up feeling surprisingly okay, despite the amount of alcohol consumed last night. The wonders of hydration.

You did have some odd dreams, but felt them slipping away as you woke—something about chains, and spiderwebs, and red standing at your bedside...? You swore you could still smell the scent of mustard in the air.

You shook your head and sat up—or tried to, until you realized your sides ached. You looked down and realized you were still in your corset and cursed yourself, undoing the metal clasps. Your organs felt like the last bit of toothpaste in a rolled-up roll, and your skin burned from the pressure where the clasps had been. You attempted to rub the feeling back into your skin. What I wouldn’t give to have undone that.

You rubbed the grit away from your eyes before reaching over for your phone—and realized it wasn’t there. You then dully recalled Grace running into your room to hide it last night before the drinking started. You gave an annoyed groan and began to search through until you eventually found it—in your underwear drawer. Thanks, Gracie.

You quickly opened up your phone, excitement stirring in your stomach—until you saw you had no new messages. G hadn’t texted you back at all? You felt a little disappointed, but figured he’d probably decided against drunk texting as well. You wondered if you should play it cool and not text him—but figured you weren’t cool, so why pretend?

You: I am somehow alive. How’d your night of drinking go?

You put down your phone and sighed, forcing yourself to get ready for the day. Being Sunday, you knew it would be a much quieter, relaxed day—most of the tourists would be leaving today, having just taken the weekend away. The town’s website had deemed the day a “family Sunday,” with some more leisurely activities planned throughout the town. There didn’t seem to be many kids around, but you figured it nice that they had taken the opportunity to recognize that it wasn’t all just partygoing youth here.

You pulled up the website, looking at the first item of the day: Breakfast Buffet on the Beach. It at least sounded fun. The beach seemed to be a little bit farther than your normal comfortable walking distance, but you figured a cheap (only five dollars?!) breakfast might be worth it.

You went to Grace and Sarah’s room, knocking on the door.

“Anyone naked?”

“Go, away, we’re dead,” Sarah groaned. You laughed and busted in, jumping on the two of them, earning a chorus of painful yelps.

“Listen, don’t make me regret saving your ass,” Sarah said, her voice raspy. You gave her a solid poke in her side.

“They’re doing a $5 breakfast on the beach,” you said. Sarah immediately sprang up, nearly flinging you off of her in the process.

“Beach? Breakfast? Five dollars? Girl, why aren’t we there now?!”

The three of you quickly got yourselves together, wearing your bathing suits and bringing towels just in case. The trek seemed to take forever, the heat already beginning to simmer the pavement as you walked along the road, trying to cut across closer to your destination. By the time you reached your destination, you were sweaty and significantly less perky than when you began.

That was, at least, until you saw the breakfast. As it was so cheap, you had expected a continental-type breakfast filled with mediocre food—however, it was everything but. There was a series of tables set up with meats, and cheeses, and omelets, and French toast, and pastries, and pancakes.

You made an immediate line to the pancakes, potentially knocking over several children and adults in your path (you couldn’t recall; you blacked out for a moment). The pancakes were huge and fluffy, and with giant bowls of fruits, candy toppings, whipped cream and syrups to accompany them. You made a stack of strawberries pancakes (with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles to top it off, just to take it up to the supreme level), taking probably more than your fair share of each.

You sat down at one of the fold-out tables with umbrella stand they had sat up, immediately digging in. You practically moaned at the taste. Sarah came over and sat down by you, some fruit and a few (likely) magical items on her plate.

“Girl, are you sure you want to eat-”

“I think you should choose your next words very carefully,” you interrupted. It would’ve sounded more intimidating if your face wasn’t stuffed with pancakes, but it seemed to do the trick, Sarah lapsing into laughs. Grace joined you shortly after, and the three of you ate and chatted until you were stuffed. You leaned back in your chair and murmured to yourself a solemn prayer. “Remind me to sell my soul to whoever made these.”

“Iss that a promise, dearie~?” You heard from above you. You glanced up and saw Muffet, dressed in a purple 20’s style bathing suit with an apron tied over it. She looked…cute, actually. 

You really need to stop adding ‘actually,’ that’s rude, you chided yourself internally. She was just cute. So much so that you forgot she was a spider, if only for a second.

“Oh! Muffet!” you exclaimed, sitting up. For some reason, you felt yourself begin to blush under her stare. All multiple pairs of it. “This is from you? I thought you were pastries and desserts only?”

“We’re ssstarting to expand,” Muffet said proudly. One of her hands waved a spatula. “I figured thiss would be a good way to get it out to the public. And I’m sso glad I did.”

There was an inflection to her words that made you squirm.

“This was amazing! I can’t believe you made it,” Sarah said. “We’ll have to check out the shop for sure.”

“Oh thank you, dearie~” Muffet said, seeming delighted by the compliment. “Let me know when you sstop by. I have quite a few additionss to the menu.”

Sarah and Grace gave a chorus of thanks, before a pause fell on the conversation. Sarah, the best filler of silence you knew, looked out towards the ocean. “Are you going to be able to go into the water? Or do you have to stay by the food?”

“I’m not much of a sswimmer,” Muffet said, waving with one of her hands. “Pluss, I need to be attending the buffet. I jusst wanted to come ssay hello to my favorite customer~,” she said, sending a glance your way. You laughed, blushing a little deeper.

“Well," Sarah said, standing up abruptly, "Grace and I are going to get a head start on swimming, see you two later!” Sarah said, grabbing Grace’s hand. Grace barely had time to wave before Sarah yanked her away.

Sarah no please I’m so awkward, you internally whined, staring after their retreating figures. You stood, wanting to make a quick exit.

“Ah, I never really got to say thank you for the dresses. So, uh, thank you; that was incredibly kind,” you said, biting the inside of your lip. You were a little uncomfortable with such a gift, but damn if it didn’t help your budget. Muffet took a step closer to you.

“Oh, no worriess dearie~. I bet you looked gorgeousss.” You cursed your face; you probably looked like a firetruck by now. You rubbed your arm awkwardly.

“Ah, I guess I should follow them before they drown themselves,” you said, sticking your thumb in the direction of your friends. “I’ll make sure to stop by the shop so you can see the dress!”

“It’ss a date, dearie~” she said, and one of her eyes closed out of unison from the others—that definitely was a spider wink oh my god.

She gave a wave before leaving, sauntering gracefully back to the tables. For a second, you wondered if Sarah was right—was Muffet really interested in you? Or did she just want more business? Were you being egotistical?

You shook it off for the time being, grabbing your towel and making your way closer to the shore. You recognized Grace and Sarah’s towel and clothes on the beach and placed your own towel down before beginning to take off the sundress you’d worn over the bathing suit.

“Hey!” came the voice of Sarah from the water. “Look who we found!”

You looked up and tried to focus on the water—the sunglare was pretty intense at this time of morning—but made out the faces of the nice monster couple you’d met at the club. You waved back with enthusiasm.

“Hey! Be right there!”

You quickly peeked into your bag for your phone, touching it to have it come to life-

No texts. Huh. What’s it with skeletons and not messaging back?

You shrugged it off, figuring him the type to sleep in, especially after a night of drinking. You tossed your bag down and made your way to the water, trying to brush off the small tinge of disappointment in your stomach.

“Come on in, the water’s great!” one of the couple called—what the heck was her name? Undyne?

You stuck a foot in the water, feeling instant goosebumps on your skin—you were not prepared for this. You forced yourself in against the tide, doing your best to keep the smile on your face from turning into a grimace as your teeth chattered. Getting closer, you saw Undyne was with her girlfriend, whose name you couldn’t remember for the life of you. Undyne was some kind of fish-looking her monster, her skin a deep blue hue, while her girlfriend was a vibrant yellow. Undyne wore a sporty boyish yellow bathing set, while her girlfriend wore a deep blue one-piece suit. Cute.

“Y-you l-lied,” you said as you shivered, crossing your arms to cover up your center. Undyne only laughed.

“C’mon, punk, just dive in and it’ll be fine!”

“That’s what she told us,” Sarah warned, covering her chest. “It’s still freezing! My nips are so hard I feel like I’m smuggling diamonds.”

You burst out laughing before shaking your head. “I r-really don’t remember it b-being this b-bad before. Why is it so c-cold?”

“I-I think there’s a c-current c-coming from the n-north,” Undyne’s girlfriend chimed in. She must’ve been just as cold. “Th-there’s b-bad storms up the c-coastline f-from a f-front moving in. H-hopefully w-we’ll m-miss the w-weather.” She then ducked under the water a little more, surprisingly. “I-it should be g-gone b-by tonight, if I-I r-read the w-weathermaps correctly.”

“You can figure that s-stuff out?” you asked, your body slowly becoming more adjusted to the temperature. “That’s amazing!”

“N-not r-really,” Alphys said, sinking lower into the water, a light blush forming over her cheeks.

“Are you kidding? You’re darn right it’s amazing! That’s why Alphys is the royal scientist!” Undyne said proudly. You felt yourself go nearly starry-eyed.

“Woah! The royal scientist?! That’s so cool!”

Alphys was now nearly submerged, blowing bubbles out. Undyne picked her up, seemingly unaware of her discomfort.

“Yep! And I’m the head of the royal guard!” she exclaimed, Alphys tucked under her arm like a sack of potatoes. Undyne then sighed. “Or, at least I was. Now it’s really just a title.”

“Y-you’re still p-part of the king’s bodyguard,” Alphys encouraged. “A-and you know h-he comes t-to you for advice.”

“You’re right!” Undyne exclaimed. You looked back at Sarah and Grace. For however enthusiastic and timid your friends were, Undyne and Alphys seem to quadruple that. “Thanks, Alphys! You always know how to cheer me up.”

“O-oh, U-undyne, you’re welcome,” Alphys said, her blush now returning. Undyne brought her face-to-face and gave her a kiss on the cheek, turning the monster from yellow to red.

“Awww, y’all are so cute!” Sarah exclaimed, hugging Grace to her. “Baby, I wanna pick you up like that!”

“I’m pretty sure you could,” Grace laughed. Sarah was the definition of tall, and thick, and curvy—whereas Grace was short, thin, and looked like you could knock her over with a breath. Sarah took Grace up on the challenge, swinging an arm under Grace to pick her up bridal-style, earning a laughing shriek from Grace. Your heart warmed once again at the sight. Sarah turned to you, and caught you staring.

“Girl, we need to get you hooked up,” Sarah said. If the water wasn’t so cold, you’d sink into it yourself. “How’d things go with Muffet?”

“M-muffet?” Alphys asked, her eyes widening. “The s-spider monster? I kn-know her, she’s uh, v-very… intelligent.”

“I’m pretty sure she just wants me to buy from her,” you said, thinking it over. “I get the sense she’s very business-driven.” This was true; there were very few monster business owners, as there were still many legal roadblocks in the way. She must have had incredible perseverance to make it through all of that.

“Well, it sounded like a date to me,” Sarah said. “And, no offense, but I think a better match than any of those skeletal brothers.”

“Sans and Papyrus?” Undyne asked. You felt the urge to ask which one¸ but before you could, you saw the look on both Alphys and Undyne’s faces. “Papyrus is the best! And Sans, well, he’s a little lazy, but he’s nice…”

There seemed to be something unsaid, and Alphys filled in. “I, uh, have n-never seen Papyrus d-date anyone, and he doesn’t s-seem interested in anyone so far.” You thought about this: none of the Papyrus you had met seemed really interested, except for Razz, who seemed interested in everyone (without any sincerity behind it, perhaps). That didn’t really clue you in. “A-and Sans is quite a joker. H-he seemed to get along with T-toriel very well.”

Wait like Queen Toriel? No, that couldn’t be. You tried to imagine Red, or G, or Blueberry flirting with the queen—it didn’t seem likely, but you supposed it was possible. “Though, n-not to g-gossip, but the Queen and K-king s-seem to be p-possibly making a r-reconciliation. So w-who knows, th-they might n-not be d-dating after all.”

Oh. So she’s trying to tell me Sans may be taken. Well, fantastic. If it was G, you’d be rather upset, especially with how he had kissed you. Red you’d pretty much murder, though you had felt that way beforehand. You guess you really couldn’t fault Blueberry, though; he’d been innocent as ever.

“Aw, girl, don’t worry,” Sarah said. “I mean, we were only here for a week anyway, right? So maybe it’d be good to go on a date or two and just enjoy your time here.”

“Yeah!” you said, trying to bring enthusiasm into your voice. “I mean, hooking up wasn’t my aim in coming here, so if it happens, it happens. I’m not really seeking out anything; I just want to have fun with you guys”

“Aww, girl!” Sarah said, and tried to give you a hug while holding Grace, leading to her dropping her in the water. The two of you laughed, but Grace instantly began to shiver again.

“O-okay, I’m g-going in,” Grace said, rubbing her arms.

“Awww, I’m sorry babe,” Sarah apologized, hugging her. “Let’s go get you in a towel.”

“I th-think I’m g-gonna head in t-too,” Alphys said, looking up at Undyne. Undyne nodded.

“Sure thing!” she said, carrying Alphys off, still underarm. Sarah looked back at you.

“Coming, girl?”

“I think I’m gonna stay in; I’m used to it by now, and I want to get some swimming in,” you said. Sarah and Grace bid you goodbye, and you set off, taking advantage of the alone time to relax your mind. You swam some laps, making sure to stay parallel to the shore, not wanting to go out too deep. You focused in on bodily sensations—the sound of your heartbeat in your ears, the muted crash of waves breaking against the shore, the feeling of your fingertips slicing through water. By the time you grew tired, you were totally devoid of thought, your mind at ease. You decided to float for a moment, catching your breath, laying in the cloud-covered sun as you closed your eyes and drifted.

Unfortunately, this meant you were unaware of the world around you. A sudden swell caught you on your side, tossing you over and under a cover of seawater. Normally, this would have been no problem other than an ear filled with water—but suddenly, inexplicably, you found yourself unable to swim up.

You instantly panicked, doing your best to see through the brine—but found nothing around you. Were you caught on a fishing line? Stuck in some force of current? You flailed, trying to get yourself free, but you couldn't find anything you were stuck on, yet couldn't seem to swim up as much as you flailed—

It felt then like the divine hand of god pulled you, a sharp tugging on your arms that set you free. You instantly gasped for air once you breached before sputtering out.

You looked around and found nothing and no one. Down into the seawater—murky, but nothing (aside from your frantically kicking legs) were discernible.

What the fuck?!

Chapter Text

You quickly made your way to shore, your heart pounding as your mind attempted to make any sort of sense of what had just happened, adrenaline in your veins. You'd spent nearly all your time in the water as a kid, but never felt anything close to that. What had kept you down? What had pulled you up? Neither felt like the work of currents—but, then again, you’d never been stuck like that before. Was that what they meant by riptide?

You staggered onto the beach, still coughing, before making your way to your friends. You kneeled down once you got to them, your legs feeling like dead weight.

“I-I think I almost just drowned,” you said, beating your chest.

“Oh my god, are you okay?!” Grace asked. “You look pale.”

“Yeah,” you said, shaking your head. Your ears felt waterlogged. “I’m fine, I think. I just… I’m trying to process.”

“Oh, babyangel, I’m so sorry, we shouldn’t have let you swim alone,” Sarah said, coming over and giving you a towel. “Maybe we shouldn’t do the beach anymore this week; I’m already pretty cooked and it’s only day three.”

“Nonono,” you said. “It was fluke thing, I’ll be fine. I love swimming,” you said, though you felt you were half- assuring yourself. Right now, you couldn't even look at the water, but hopefully that would fade with a little distance. “Maybe just for today, though.”

“Well, I know they have a lot more things planned for today,” Sarah said. “I think next is a picnic? Why don’t we go back to the hotel, kick back for a while, and get ready for that?”

“Yeah, but maybe in a bit? I don’t think I’m ready for that hike back,” you said, smiling wearily. The thought of trekking back on hot asphalt, sizzling in the sun, made you feel like about to be a grilled hamburger. You weren't quite ready to take that on.

“Alphys and I can take you!” Undyne offered. “We drove here.”

You could have kissed Undyne—even with her row of razor-sharp teeth. “That would be amazing, thank you.” Normally you would've felt badly for putting them out, but fuck, you were not in the right headspace for that.

Your group gathered your things and packed up, lugging your belongings to Undyne’s car. Before stepping into her almost comically tiny car, you cast one last weary glance to the ocean—Not today, ocean Satan. Not today.

 

↜ Blueberry ↝

Blueberry had been having a very rough couple days. He had been so excited to capture many a human (OR THEIR HEARTS, AT LEAST!) this week. But now he was on the equivalent of lockdown, unable to make any new friends. How would he become the most popular royal guard of all time if he wasn’t allowed to meet anyone?

Papy had been with him 24/7—which normally was the case, but now he had been acting like a babysitter. As if the Magnificent Sans needed anyone to chaperone him! It was true, he had attempted to sneak off once or twice, but that didn’t mean he deserved to be watched. He just-! Just…

He just wanted some friends.

Still, he had to remember that he was getting some quality time with his best friend—Papy! Despite living in the same apartment, they both worked much—which resulted in them not getting to see each other often anymore.

I MUST MAKE THE MOST OF THIS VACATION FOR PAPY’S SAKE! So Blueberry had done his best to enjoy their days together, trying to put full force behind his enthusiasm as per normal. And the town had put on the perfect day for the two of them—a family day! WHAT BETTER WAY TO GETMY MIND OFF OF THINGS THAN TO CELEBRATE FAMILY TIME!

His morning had been going quite swimmingly (MWEH HEH HEH!), and he and Papy had been the first to arrive at the beach, punctuality being one of the Magnificent Blueberry’s specialties. He had even gotten to try a “breakfast burrito,” which to him signaled the start of a magnificent day! By the time they were setting up their spot on the beach, Blueberry was all but care-free.

That was, at least, until he saw you and your friends had arrived.

“PAPY!” Blueberry whispered (or at least as much as he was able to manage. “TACTICAL HIDING MODE, ACTIVATE!” Papy grabbed him and shortcutted away behind a sand dune without question. They hunched behind the seagrass, spying on the breakfast through the reeds. “TACTICAL DISGUISES, ACTIVATE!”

Papy fished in his sweatshirt for a moment before producing two of the human's most devious disguisal inventions—so-called Groucho glasses—before the pair promptly put them on. Properly disguised, Blueberry stood.

“THE HUMANS WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE US NOW! ANOTHER CONCRETE PLAN FOR THE MAGNIFICENT SANS!”

“th’ humans?” Papy asked, still hunching down. “wait… you don’t mean th’ three humans? th’ ones we’re supposed to stay away from?”

“YES! PRESCISELY!” Blueberry said, hands on his hips. “NOW, PAPY, LET US GO BACK TO OUR BROTHERLY BONDING DAY AT THE BEACH!”

“…’kay,” Pap said after a moment of hesitation. He then stood, and the two of them walked back down to the beach. “maybe we should stay a little ways away, bro?”

“BUT OUR DISGUISES ARE PERFECT! AND NOW THAT THEY ARE IN RANGE, WE SHOULD BE WITHIN SURVEYING DISTANCE!”

“why, bro?”

At this, Blueberry felt himself falter. “TO… ENSURE THAT THEY DON’T GET CLOSER TO US!”

Papy stared at him for a moment, before giving a sigh. “ya got it, bro.”

The two of them settled a reasonable distance away, sitting down on the sand. Blueberry patted himself, looking. “OH NO! IN OUR HASTE, WE FORGOT OUR TACTICAL BAG! HOW WILL I SURVEY WITHOUT MY BEACH BINOCULARS?”

“i gotcha bro,” Papy said, reaching his arm forward—before it suddenly vanished. A moment later it returned to existence, this time with bag in hand.

“MWEH HEH HEH! YOU’RE THE BEST, PAPY!” Papy ruffled through it a moment, pulling out a pack of cigs, before handing it to Blueberry. The shorter skeleton gave a small huff of disapproval, but said nothing, choosing instead to dig out his binoculars. Papy laid down, taking off his sweatshirt, revealing a black tank underneath. He used is sweater as a pillow, laying back and lighting up before closing his eyes. Blueberry meanwhile sat next to his brother and pulled the googles to his eyes, searching around and focusing in—before eventually spotting you.

You had a plate full of delicious-looking pancakes in front of you, topped with fruit, cream, and… rainbow sprinkles?! SHE’S APPRECIATES A WORLD OF COLORS LIKE I DO! You were also talking to a spider monster that, if he wasn’t mistaken, was a version of this world’s Muffet. She looked so… different.

You looked uncomfortable, and your face was several shades darker than normal. Were you hot? Sick? Were you blushing?

Blueberry felt something unfamiliar stir within him, and it didn’t settle well. Before he could assess the situation further, you stood, said a few more words to Muffet, and left. You made your way down to a spot where a few towels were; probably your friends’ things. Blueberry swiveled his goggles to the ocean, and—AHA!—there they were. With Undyne and Alphys, no less! It looks like you all had made such good friends…

Blueberry swiveled his goggles back to you. You were in the middle of leaning down, before you suddenly lifted off your sundress, revealing a swimsuit underneath…

Blueberry felt magic sizzle at his cheekbones.

“find anything important, bro?” Papy chimed in, startling Blueberry, resulting in him nearly dropping his goggles. His eyes were, thankfully, closed.

“N-NOTHING YET!” Blueberry said. “BUT I SHALL CONTINUE TO KEEP SURVEILLANCE!”

“sounds good, bro,” Papy said. Blueberry took a breath to steady his soul and lifted the binoculars back up.

You were standing there, bag in hand, and searching for something. You picked up your phone—and a look of defeated disappointment took over your features.

The sight nearly broke Blueberry’s soul. He let down the binoculars, feeling magic pool at his eyes.

“P-PAPY,” Blueberry sniffled. Papy instantly sat up, looking at him with wide eyes, alert. “SHE… SHE WAS CHECKING HER PHONE AND LOOKED SO SAD. SHE MUST BE WAITING FOR ME TO REPLY TO HER EXTENSION OF FRIENDSHIP!”

“aw, bro, c’mon, it’s okay,” Papy said, putting a comforting hand on his brother’s shoulder. “you’ll make other friends, and so will she.” This only doubled the magic pooling in Blueberry’s eyes. He sniffled. “i-i mean, if you’re really friends, ya gotta do what’s best for her, right bro? ya gotta be tough for her.”

“Y-YOU’RE RIGHT, PAPY,” Blueberry said, wiping his face on his sleeve. “AS THE MAGNIFICENT SANS, I MUST WATCH OUT FOR MY FRIENDS WELLBEING.”

“you’re the best, bro,” Papy said, scooching over to Blueberry before putting an arm around him.  “never forget that.” Blueberry hugged his brother close, giving a small squeeze.

“HOW COULD I FORGET MY OWN GREATNESS?! ESPECIALLY WITH A BROTHER LIKE YOU.”

“aw, shucks bro.”

The two of them sat on the beach for a while, enjoying the sun and chatting—well, mostly Blueberry chatted, while Papy listened. Blueberry was in the middle of going through the stages of his latest trap, when he trailed off mid-sentence.

“PAPY?” he asked, earning a jolt from his brother, who appeared to be nearly asleep.

“wuzzat?” he asked, rubbing his eyes and sitting up.

“DO YOU… FEEL SOMETHING STRANGE?” he asked slowly, attempting to assess the sudden disconcerting sensation within. Papy opened his mouth to reply, but then hesitated.

“i… maybe?” he asked, his voice quiet. The two brothers shared a confused look for a moment, before Blueberry picked up the goggles. “maybe the burritos were bad?”

“BURRITOS ARE NEVER BAD,” Blueberry asserted, looking around. Your friends were on the beach, but you were nowhere to be seen. He looked towards the ocean—and spotted you, floating on the water, totally fine. He blew out a sigh of relief, and saw a wave crash into you, quite comically. It didn’t look that big, so surely you’d be fine…

More than a minute passed, and you didn’t come up.

“AH, PAPY,” Blueberry said, an anxious waver in his voice, “HOW LONG CAN HUMANS STAY UNDERWATER FOR?”

“about two minutes, i think, unless it’s an emergency situation, in which it’s like thirty seconds. why? how long’s it been?”

“ABOUT A MINUTE AND A TWENTY FIVE SEONDS,” Blueberry said, panic now evident in his voice. “NOW A MINUTE THIRTY. SHE GOT HIT BY A WAVE, AND-”

“on it!” Papy said, springing up with (surprising) agility. He spotted you, and after a moment, half of him disappeared, as if the upper half of his body had been evaporated. Blueberry could barely contain the anxiety in his soul, and felt himself shifting from foot to food while he waited. A few terrifying moments later, and Papyrus was back, the upper half of him now soaked through. Blueberry sought you out in the water, and found you sputtering at the surface—alive, and swimming. Papy coughed out.

“PAPY! ARE YOU OKAY? WHAT HAPPENED?”

Papy beat at his ribcage for a moment before shaking his arms free of water. “i'm fine, she’s fine,” he said. Blueberry handed him a towel, and he began to dry himself off. “it was… weird. it was like there was nothing pulling her down, but she really wasn’t moving, and pulling her up was tougher than it should’ve been.”

“MAYBE IT WAS SOMETHING YOU COULDN’T SEE?” Blueberry offered. “OR MAYBE YOU NEED TO DO MORE STRENGTH TRAINING; PHYSICAL MATERIAL IS MUCH HEAVIER THAN MAGIC.”

“you must be right, bro,” Papy said, though he didn’t look convinced.

Blueberry watched you stumble onto shore and make your way to your friends. They seemed concerned, and helpful, like good friends. Like he should have been. Papy took off his tank and rang it out, dispelling the majority of the seawater before putting it back on. He then picked up his sweatshirt.

“maybe we should head out, bro? there’s the picnic up next. you said you wanted to go to test out some new recipes, right?”

“YOU’RE RIGHT,” Blueberry acknowledged. “WE SHOULD BE OFF.”

Blueberry could no longer find it in himself to bring the enthusiasm to his voice.

 

↜ Stretch ↝

It had been a rougher couple days for Stretch than he was used to. Seeing his brother so… unenthusiastic nearly broke him, especially when he had been so initially excited for the trip as a whole. You just had to come along and ruin things for them.

Logically, Stretch knew it wasn’t your fault. What were the chances that in this universe, with a celebration this populous, you’d come across any two sets of them? Let alone interact, become friendly enough to find out their names? They were all so different, despite being the “same,” it seemed totally illogical that any one person make friends with multiples of them. All of them (with the exception of stubborn Red and Edge), had uprooted totally and moved off to different parts, all to protect the very secret you threatened. It was hard not to dislike you.

Still, he wasn’t as callous as some of the other versions of him had proved to be—he wasn’t going to let you die. Besides, for whatever reason, his brother had fixated on you after your initial meeting—you dying would have made him inconsolable. So, as soon as his brother said you were in trouble, he knew he had to act.

He figured it’d be a cinch—maybe you’d got the wind knocked out of you, or got turned around when the wave knocked you, or, at worst, hit your head and needed to be dragged out. You hadn’t been in there that long, so you should have been fine.

He shortcutted just part of himself, a skillset he alone knew how to do (at least as far as he knew), and was immediately crushed by the water around him. It was an extremely odd sensation—one half of him standing in wavering heat, the other half of him soaked and weightless. It took nearly all of his concentration not to kick his legs to swim.

He was just above and behind you at a diagonal position, caught sight of the edge of your face—you looked terrified. You were wriggling desperately, but despite your movements… you didn’t move, as if you had an invisible anchor tied to your leg. Stretch instantly hooked his arms around yours and pulled, the feat taking much more strength than he could have imagined. It did the trick—you were free of whatever was around you, and you rose to the surface.

He instantly broke back to his brother, his world back in one. As much as he was proud of his little shortcutting trick, he didn’t like to do it for long, at the risk of things getting…unstable.

He did his best to cheer his bro up, he really did. He knew that he’d come around eventually, but the wait was always so… troubling.

So they packed up and left, taking a shortcut back to their hotel room. They’d sprung for an en-suite kitchen, just so Blueberry could cook when he wanted. They had prepared for this the day before, picking up all the groceries needed—normal things like magical baguettes and cheeses, as well as some… unorthodox ones, including quesadilla and burrito fixings, honey, and a large kettle for tea. They packed it up, putting it in a large basket tactical bag they had brought for beach trips missions.

It was now just a minute or so before noon—punctual, as always. Stretch stepped up to Blueberry, basket in hand.

“ready, bro?”

“YEAH,” he said, before seeming to catch himself. Another stab to Stretch’s heart. “I MEAN YES! WE MUST BE ON TIME!”

They shortcutted through, arriving at a large and pleasant park. From what Stretch could see, the park extended all the way until an abrupt rocky overhang, providing a gorgeous view of the ocean. The pair found a nice spot to sit before laying out a small blanket and putting their picnic basket on top. There were a couple grills nearby, and a couple of vendors setting up different wares—small jewelry shops, crafts, coloring for kids and the like. While Blueberry set up their spread, Stretch moved out to a grill, getting it alight before placing his kettle on top, ready to make some tea to go with his honey.

By the time he finished his tea, Blueberry had finished setting up, the display looking amazing. “nice job, bro,” he said, grabbing the honey before pouring a healthy helping in.

“IT IS QUITE NICE, ISN’T IT?” Blueberry asked. not quite his normal fanfare, but better than before.

“it looks great. why don’t we-”

“OH MY STARS PAPY THERE’S FACE PAINTING!” Blueberry said. He began to hop up and down excitedly, stars appearing in his eyes for the first time in a few days as he pointed to the already-forming queue. Stretch, eager to capitalize on a moment of opportunity, nodded.

“sure, bro, let me just set this down and we can-”

“OH,”  Blueberry said, and the tone was enough to make Papyrus freeze. You were there,  sitting on a canvas chair, getting what looked like a rainbow painted onto your cheek. You looked really happy, in full bloom.

“P-PAPY,” Blueberry said, his eyes welling up with magic again, “M-MAYBE WE SHOULD GO EAT INSTEAD.”

aw, screw it. what’s the chances a human would even guess any of it?

“bro,” he said, taking a breath, “i think i'm gonna go get my face painted.”

“PAPY?” Blueberry asked questioningly, sniffling. Stretch grabbed his mug and motioned with his head over to the line, and began to walk over. Blueberry instantly stuck close to him, nervously wringing his gloves. He then lowered his voice the best he could. “WHAT IF THE HUMAN SPOTS US?”

“no worries, bro,” Papy said, and reached into his cargo shorts before pulling out two familiar pairs of mustached glasses. “tactical disguises, activate.” He placed a pair on his brother’s face before placing one on his own. This got an instant bout of chuckles from Blueberry. They made their way in line and stood, both standing at attention, looking anything but casual. Your facepaint was complete moments later. You stood, paid, and walked past them—before stopping short and backing up.

“Uh, Blueberry? Stretch?”

“HOW DID YOU SEE PAST OUR TACTICAL DISGUSE?!” Blueberry exclaimed. “YOU TRULY ARE A MASTER OF THE ESPIONAGE ARTS.”

“Ah, thanks!” you said, seeming a little confused, but appreciative anyway. “They were… very good disguises; definitely not something I expected.”

“DID YOU HEAR THAT, PAPY? SHE DIDN’T EXPECT A THING!”

“What were you hiding from?”

Blueberry’s expression instantly fell, freezing up guiltily. Stretch stepped in.

“practicing,” he said simply, shrugging. You looked at him, giving a small, disbelieving smile, before looking back to Blueberry. well, looks like you weren't totally gullible. You had also seemed a little... hurt, and he felt a small twinge of guilt in his soul. sorry, honey, but we're trying to do this for you, not for us.

“Well, it’s nice to see you both! I’m really glad you’re enjoying yourselves.” You then gave a little wave. “I’ll see you guys around!” Stretch figured you’d mention Blueberry’s promise to text you (and lack thereof), but to your credit, you said nothing.

As you walked away, Blueberry looked up to Stretch, his eyes full of heartbreak-

you’re killing me, bro.

“hey!” Stretch called. You paused and turned. Stretch realized he had nothing to follow it up with. He scratched the side of his skull distractedly. “my bro needs some face-painting suggestions. care to help?”

“BUT…” Blueberry began, before Stretch smiled at him.

“don’t worry, bro. the magnificent sans and his bro won’t let anything happen to a friend, right?” Blueberry’s wide-eyed stare came back, and he nodded enthusiastically.

“RIGHT!”

 

↝ You ↜

You were, admittedly, a little hurt that Blueberry and Stretch had been trying to hide from you. Had you misstepped somehow to offend them? Was it from Stretch not liking you? Stretch had seemed a little... biased against humans initially, but largely neutral. Would he try to keep you away from his brother just because of that?

Well, whatever the reason, they were under no obligation to be your friend, so you were ready to drop it—to just say hey, and move on. Just as you were seeking to rejoin Sarah and Grace, however, Stretch had called you back. For someone with such a soft and smooth voice, it was odd to hear him yell.

You initially hesitated to return; you had little to no interest being friends with someone who didn't want to be friends with you, and certainly didn't want friendship out of pity. After a moment of deliberation, however, you decided it might be good to give Sarah and Grace some alone time--they'd seemed quite cuddly on your picnic blanket. You walked back up to them, feeling just a little uncomfortable, but attempted your best to seem casual. "Are you sure? I mean, I went pretty cliché with my choice, so I don't know if I'd be the best help." Right; give them an easy out.

"THE MAGNIFICENT SANS IS ALWAYS CERTAIN!" Blueberry said heroically. "PLUS, THAT RAINBOW IS THE PERFECT CHOICE FOR THIS WEEKEND, CLICHE OR NOT. RAINBOWS ARE THE BEST! AND IT COMPLIMENTS YOU PERFECTLY!"

You felt yourself blush at such a direct comment, giving a laugh. Okay, I'm sold. "Alright, then I'll try to do my best for the Magnificent Sans!" Your gaze then shifted to his brother. "What about you? Are you getting painted too?"

He gave a shrug. "sure." He then stuck his hands in his pocket. "i was thinking maybe a jar of honey, if they could do it."

"Honey?" you asked. "Why honey?"

"BECAUSE HE'S SO SWEET!" Blueberry exclaimed cheerfully. You couldn't help but laugh.

"That's not hard to bee-lieve," you said back, earning a huge smile from Blueberry. Even Stretch grinned.

"heh. thanks, you two." Your group shuffled forward; you were now almost at the front of the line. "what about you, bro?"

"UHM," Blueberry hummed thoughtfully, an almost anxious resonation to his voice. "I DON'T KNOW! THERE ARE SO MANY CHOICES!"

"What do you like most?" You asked. His stare grew serious as he analyzed internally.

"I LIKE... FRIENDS!" He decided. "AND THINGS LIKE BURRITOS AND TACOS!"

"Maybe something like two tacos holding hands? Or is that too-"

"I LOVE IT!" Blueberry cut off excitedly, his pupils forming into stars again. "THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT MY SOUL WAS SEARCHING FOR! YOU CLEARLY ARE A WORTHY EQUAL OF THE MAGNIFICENT SANS IF YOU ARE ABLE TO READ ME SO EASILY."

"Oh, why thank you! That's a great honor," you said. The sentiment might have been a little over the top, but it was honest; he was such a nice guy that you took it as quite a compliment. The child that had been in front of your group in line finished, a vibrant butterfly now on their cheek. "I think you're up!"

"EXCELLENT!"

Blueberry was able to get his tacos (they looked a little wonky, but whatever), and Stretch was able to get a little honey pot with a little honey pot wand.

“You both look great!” you said. They both looked adorable, but you didn’t want to accidentally offend them.

“thanks, honey,” Stretch said, grinning. Blueberry jumped up and down.

“PAPY, YOU STOLE A PUN I COULD’VE MADE! THAT REALLY STINGS!”

The three of you tittered as you made your way out of the line. There was then a drop in the conversation, and you decided it was the perfect way to make your exit. “Well, I suppose I should be getting back. Thank you guys for letting me help pick!”

Blueberry cast a gaze to Stretch, one that you couldn’t understand. Stretch then turned his gaze back to you.

“we should be the ones thanking you. care to join us for a picnic?”

Initially, you opened your mouth to accept, but you felt something in you pause. You looked back in the direction of your friends. Was this wise? Sure, Blueberry and Stretch seemed leagues more trustworthy than Red and Edge, but after last night…

“That’s incredibly nice of you to offer,” you said, attempting to give a reassuring smile. “Let me go check in with my friends.”

“WHY DON’T YOU INVITE THEM TOO? THE MORE THE MERRIER!”

Stretch didn’t look quite pleased at this, but the look only lasted a moment—a brief flash of dismay.

“Uh, I think they were really eager to eat what they made, but I'll definitely ask! Be right back!"

You quickly hurried off, moving across the park to where you had originally set up, on the other side of the vendors. Grace and Sarah were laying on the blanket you had set out, and were hugging each other, asleep in the shade. They both looked so peaceful, and so happy... You bit your lip and hesitated long moment, wondering if you should interrupt such a nice thing...

Images of the night before popped into your head. Yeah, okay, I need to be smarter.

You gently nudged Grace. Her eyes fluttered open quickly; she must have just been dozing.

"I'm going to go on the other side of the park," you half-mouthed, half-whispered. "Blueberry and Stretch are here. I'll have my cell on me. It's close to the face painting stand."

Grace gave you a thumbs up before nestling back into Sarah. You felt some tension lift from you. See? It's okay, she didn't mind. Now they know where you are, and who you're with, and it'll be better. You were better, and it would all work out fine.

Chapter Text

You moved back to where Stretch and Blueberry had been. They were now both sitting on the blanket, unpacking a basket that looked filled to the brim with food—much more than two people alone could eat. As soon as Blueberry spotted you, he waved enthusiastically. You moved over and sat down on the blanket with them, the thin material only slightly shielding from the ground below.

"YOU CAME BACK!" Blueberry said. You gave him a confused look.

"Of course I did, I said I was going to. Sarah and Grace were napping, though, so it's just me."

"a nap sounds nice," Stretch said. He grabbed his bright orange sweatshirt and laid down, propping it under his head as a pillow before closing his eyes. Blueberry frowned and paused mid-setup, baguette in hand.

"DON'T YOU WANT TO EAT WHAT WE MADE, PAPY?" Stretch opened a lone eye. Although bone wasn't the most expressive material, you could tell how exhausted he was.

"'course. i just want a little snooze first. you guys can go on ahead and eat if you want, though."

"HMPH," Blueberry pouted. "THAT WOULD BE QUITE RUDE, AND THE MAGNIFICENT SANS COULD NEVER BE SO RUDE!" You looked longingly at the food. After such a filling breakfast, you shouldn't have been hungry for a while, but it really did look amazing. You wouldn't have minded being a little rude... "WE'LL GIVE YOU A FEW MINUTES TO NAP, BUT AFTER THAT, WE SHOULD EAT!"

"sounds like a deal," Stretch said, laying an arm over his face. You realized you had never seen their bare arms before, and being so close it was... a little weird, to be honest. You realized you had forgotten they were skeletons for a moment, and seeing the bones on display so close up was a stark reminder.

You felt your hand being gripped, making you jump. Blueberry put a finger to his mouth and gave a tug on your hand. You got up with him and the two of you moved away as silently as you could, Blueberry leading you away from the center of the park. As you walked, a thought struck you, and you remembered to pull out your phone and shoot a quick text to Grace that Blueberry and you were going for a walk. You gave yourself a congratulatory mental pat on the back. Look at me, being all safe and responsible. It's almost like I'm acting my age.

Blueberry moved to where a large colony of golden flowers were growing, the petals almost glowing in the afternoon sun. Blueberry paused in his walk, and you stopped with him. He was looking thoughtfully at the flowers, silent.

"Uh," you hazarded. "Blueberry?"

"HM?" he hummed. You gently pulled your hand away, and his cheeks lit up. "OH! SORRY!"

"It's okay!" you reassured. "These flowers are gorgeous. Did you want to sit here?"

"THAT SOUNDS LOVELY," he said, though his voice lacked its usual enthusiasm. "HAVE... YOU EVER SEEN FLOWERS LIKE THESE BEFORE?"

"Yellow flowers?" you asked, looking down at them as the two of you sat down. You weren't the best at identifying flowers, but they seemed fairly generic. "I've seen one like these, I suppose, but maybe not these specifically. There are so many different kinds of flowers, and I don't have the best green thumb, so it's hard to tell." You then looked at him. The yellow of the flowers reflected on his face, tinting it a light yellow. His gaze still had a certain faraway look. "Why do you ask?"

"NO REASON," he responded. You, even with your naïvety, could tell this was a lie.

His eyes then shifted back to you, and he seemed to focus back in, a smile returning to his face. "WOWZERS, THE FLOWERS ARE TINTING YOUR SKIN! YOU LOOK MUCH MORE YELLOW!"

You chuckled, a little relieved he was acting normally again. "So do you!" He took off one of his giant blue gloves and put his hand out. He watched the glow reflect onto his hands, his face mesmerized for a moment, and then laughed. You couldn't help but grin wide, his cheeriness infectious. "What should we do while we wait?"

"HM..." Blueberry thought for a moment, staring once again at the flowers. His gaze then shifted back to you. "DO YOU KNOW HOW TO MAKE FLOWER CROWNS?"

"No, I don't, but I'd love to learn!" You picked out the closest flower to you by the base and handed it to him. "Would you mind showing me?"

He fully brightened as he took the flower from you. "THE MAGNIFICENT SANS WOULD BE HAPPY TO TEACH A FRIEND!"

Blueberry took his time instructing you, probably taking a little longer than necessary, but you appreciated his enthusiasm and dedication to proper instruction. And, honestly, you did learn very quickly—he was surprisingly patient and gentle—a large contrast to his usually brash expressiveness. In no time you had made several crowns, each one more structurally sound than the last. By your fifth crown, your fingertips were stained green, but the quality rivaled your teacher's. He leaned over to you, inspecting your work.

“WONDERFUL! YOU ARE AN EXCELLENT STUDENT!”

“A student is as only as good as their teacher,” you said, putting your most recent crown on his head. “And no one is better than the Magnificent Sans!”

He blushed a bright cyan, and returned the favor, placing his crown on your head.

“Y-YOU’RE RIGHT! WE MAKE A GREAT TEAM! AND UNDER MY TUTTALAGE YOU CAN BE JUST AS MAGNIFICENT AS I!”

You laughed, a warm feeling bubbling up within you. Blueberry's constant positivity was like a wave that washed over you; your stress seemed so distant from here. "I can only hope so." The two of you shared a moment of silence, and you idly picked up an extra crown, for some reason suddenly unable to look at him. "Do you think we should go check on Papy?"

Blueberry seemed to hesitate a moment but then nodded. "YES! HE SHOULDN'T SLEEP TOO LONG, THE LAZYBONES. LET US GO BACK."

You both stood, and Blueberry grasped your hand once again and began to lead you away. You considered telling him you didn't need to be led, but you honestly didn't mind it. The two of you walked back together, extra crowns in hand. By the time you walked in eyesight of the blanket, you could see Stretch wasn't alone. Moving closer, you spotted two people with him—Sarah and Grace!

"Sarah and Grace are there!" You said excitedly. Blueberry practically jumped up and down.

"WOWZERS! THIS IS PERFECT! THE MAGNIFICENT SANS WILL FINALLY BE WIDENING HIS FRIEND GROUP!"

"Let's go-" You began, but before you could finish, Blueberry was tugging you along, running at a much faster speed than you were accustomed to. The distance was mercifully short, but by the time you reached the blanket, you were huffing and puffing for breath.

"Babygirl!" Sarah said. Her eyes then shifted to Blueberry holding your hand and seemed to linger there for a moment. Feeling a little self-conscious, you let go of his hand. "And little cutie, hello."

As you panted, you handed her a crown. "Here, my loves." You handed a second one to Grace. "Sans here taught me how to make them!"

"PAPY, I MADE ONE FOR YOU TOO!" Blueberry said, leaning down to place one over his brother's head. Stretch was still laying down, his eyes closed, and for a beat you wondered if he was still asleep. He then, however, opened his eyes and smiled groggily.

"thanks, bro. i love it." He then rubbed his eyes for a moment before sitting up. "you guys wanna eat, or-"

"Yes," you answered immediately. Grace laughed and picked up a few grocery bags that had been sitting by her feet.

"We brought a bunch of sandwiches and stuff if you guys want some." She pulled out a PB & J. You looked at everything they had—it paled in comparison to their spread. "Please feel free to take whatever."

"SAME! PLEASE HELP YOURSELF TO ANYTHING YOU LIKE," Blueberry offered graciously. You grabbed a sandwich out of your bag and sat down, unwrapping it from the plastic. As nice as their food looked, you knew you couldn't be so rude as to-

"Yass amazing monster food!" Sarah exclaimed, sitting down quickly and taking a big hunk of baguette.

"Sarah!" You hissed, whacking her. She laughed, defending herself with the rest of the baguette.

"What? They offered."

The five of you had an incredibly nice afternoon, chatting and joking together. It was exactly what you needed after last night: incredibly calm and simple, a restful respite. Blueberry seemed to be elated to be surrounded by so many people, as if he was starved for attention. This seemed odd; he was such a friendly and outgoing person, it seemed impossible he wouldn't have made a hundred friends by now. Stretch, on the other hand, seemed coolly reserved—in an almost untrusting manner. He seemed to be watching the interaction between you all closely, staying out of it for the most part.

Maybe he's just exhausted? You were sitting in between him and Blueberry, and couldn't quite study his face without being obvious about it. From the quick glances you stole, you could tell he was still exhausted, even after his nap. By the time you were all finished and stuffed, you were about ready for a nap yourself. The air was getting a little muggy, the afternoon sun hot even through the shade of the trees, your full belly sending a wash of content lethargy through you...

You felt your eyes begin to close, the talk of your friends sounding a little hazy and distant. You felt safe, and full, and not too warm...

Just as you were about to succumb to unconsciousness, you felt something hard hit your shoulder. You jumped, awakening instantly.

Stretch was fast asleep with his head on your shoulder, seemingly unperturbed from your jolt. You were frozen for a moment; was he really so exhausted he would fall asleep on someone he didn't trust? It was difficult to see, and you didn't want to wake him, but from your position he looked fairly peaceful. Given his height, you couldn't imagine it as very comfortable, but he looked like he was out cold.

You looked around, and Blueberry was staring, looking equally surprised. You gave him one half of an "I-don't-know" shrug. Blueberry moved over to him, inspecting him for a moment, before giving a shrug himself. He then seemed to hesitate, nervously looking from his brother to your free shoulder.

Aww, little dude, you thought. You patted your free shoulder and smiled reassuringly. He blushed, looking bashful, but sidled up to you and gently rested his head on you. You smiled wide and leaned your head on top of his, getting comfortable with the least amount of movement possible. With nothing but the sun, full belly, and friends in your mind, you drifted into a restful nap.

You felt the tendrils of a dream begin to reach out to you, visions of the ocean began to float in front of your eyes-

But then you felt a weight lift off of you, the physical sensation sucking you out of your vision. You opened your eyes and looked over to the disruption. Stretch was sitting upright, pulling out a pack of smokes. He seemed to be avoiding your stare as he lit up, but at least gave you the courtesy of blowing the smoke in a different direction. You attempted to o shift in order to get a better look at his face, (after all, what was he hiding?), but felt the pull on your side. Looking down, Blueberry was dozing peacefully, and you immediately cursed yourself for forgetting he was there.

You attempted to still yourself, but it looked too late—his eyes fluttered open, before setting on you. You smiled at him by way of silent apology, feeling badly for rousing him. He seemed to process you for a moment before his eyes suddenly grew to stars. For reasons unknown, this made your heart skip a beat.

"Morning sleepyhead," you said, chuckling. You once again felt yourself looking away from him, and felt heat rising to your cheeks. "Looks like we're all a bunch of lazy bums today." Blueberry moved his head off of you, his look instantly growing indignant.

"I WILL NEVER BE A LAZYBONES LIKE PAPY!" He said, folding his arms and huffing. "I WAS JUST... STRATEGICALLY RESTING. YOU CANNOT MAINTAIN PROPER FORM IF YOU'RE NOT FULLY RESTED!"

"Hey, nothing wrong with a little laziness" you said, rubbing your eye drowsily. You then yawned, covering your mouth by your arm. "S good for the soul."

"couldn't agree more," Stretch said, turning his face up to the sun and closing his eyes, looking as he was about to fall back asleep mid-cigarette. Blueberry stood up quickly.

"I CANNOT BELIEVE MY NEW HUMAN FRIEND HAS SUCH LOW MOTIVATION! IMPOSSIBLE!" Blueberry quickly began to tap his feet, attempting to reconcile his two ideals. If you were honest with yourself, you tended to be a very low-energy person. Sure, on vacation you made the effort to get out, try new things, have fun—but you normally preferred to stay in by yourself, the only way you really re-energized was by having some alone time, lazing around. "AHA!" Blueberry suddenly exclaimed. "THE MAGNIFICENT SANS MUST HELP HIS FRIEND REACH THEIR ULTIMATE POTENTIAL! THAT IS WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR, OF COURSE!" He stood proudly from his conclusion, resting his hands on his hips. "LET US BEGIN RIGHT AWAY! THERE ARE STILL MANY ACTIVITIES WE CAN DO HERE BEFORE THE NEXT EVENT, SO LET US NOT DAWDLE!"

As you internally groaned, preferring to relax as you had been, Blueberry looked around. "WHERE DID YOUR FRIENDS GO?"

You looked around yourself. Sarah and Grace were, indeed, missing. "They must've gotten a head start on us and decided to walk around. Let's go find them."

There were quite a few vendors around—mostly food, but a few activity-based ones. There were a few (basic) informational booths as well—but noticeably less explicit than some you had seen set up on the main street before, likely aimed at being more family-friendly than normal.

Blueberry seemed mainly interested in the carnival-style games—particularly the whack-a-mole. As soon as he laid eyes on it, his eyes lit up like a supernova, and he practically full-sprinted to it. He got about four steps, however, before Stretch suddenly caught him by the back of his shirt.  You hadn’t even seen the taller skeleton move. How fast were these guys, exactly?

“woah there, bro,” he said, holding him back. “remember, these give out prizes. no usin’ magic to cheat.”

“THE MAGNIFICENT SANS WOULD NEVER CHEAT AT A GAME!” Blueberry exclaimed, though his cheeks lit up as he struggled against his brother’s hold. “NOW UNHAND ME! THIS IS MOST UNSIGHTLY FOR SOMEONE OF MY STATURE.”

Stretch let him down, and he smoothed out his clothes with a look of indignation. He then walked to the game, looking away from his brother. Moving up to the game, he haughtily opened up his wallet and produced a coin similar to the one you had seen Red give to Muffet. In the sun, it glittered. He handed it pointedly to the dog monster running the booth, who took it without hesitation.

“it’s our currency,” you heard next to you, causing you to jump. No better than a crow, you’d been so immersed in the shiny piece you’d forgotten Stretch was there beside you. You looked up to him, watching him watching Blueberry. Despite the earlier warning to his brother, he seemed at peace, if not amused.

His eyelights then shifted down to you. It took a beat, but you realized he was waiting for a response.

“O-oh, wait, monster gold? I thought that was all exchanged and stored up somewhere? So the market wouldn’t crash?”

You watched as Blueberry gave the gold to the monster running the booth.

“not all of it,” he said, looking back to his brother. “no we have our own thing, just trading between monsters. strictly no humans.”

“Makes sense,” you said, watching as his brother waited for his turn. Blueberry clearly wasn’t the best at patience, tapping his foot as a couple of human teenagers were having a go. “I wouldn’t trust the government’s instructions either if I were in your position.”

“so,” he said and paused for a moment. You looked up to him—and found his stare intense back at you as if he were attempting to see through you to the back of your skull. You were as intimidated as you were confused. “is that why you’re hanging out with my bro?”

“Uh…” You said, taking a personal step back. He hadn’t moved closer to you, but the stare alone made you feel like you needed more space. “I’m hanging out with your brother because I don’t trust the government?”

“don’t play a fool,” he said lamely. He took a step towards you, and you felt your pulse hitch.  “you’re so nervous, it’s written all over you: gold. if that’s what you're after-”

“Okay, hold on a second,” you said, taking another step back. “First, I’m nervous because you’re a very tall dude, looking at me like you think I murdered the royal family, while taking steps closer and closer,” you said, holding your hands up. “Second, that makes no sense. Monster gold is supposed to be locked up. If I somehow convinced anyone into giving me any, what could I do with it? I couldn’t buy anything myself, couldn’t exchange it for cash. There’s literally no point.”

He at least seemed to consider this for a moment. You took his momentary lapse to interject again. “Also, third, just… What? I mean no offense, but do you give all of his human friends the tenth degree? I like you, Stretch, but I don’t get where this is coming from.”

He was silent for a moment. He looked a little hesitant, but still not thoroughly convinced. You felt unsettled. What made him think this of you? Was it something you did? “Listen, if there’s something that I said that made you think that-”

“we don’t have any human friends,” he interrupted. You were stunned for a moment, then served him back a disbelieving look.

“Okay, there is literally zero chance of that. Blueberry is like magic sugar sweetness, there’s no way-”

“kid, i'm not going to go into the details,” he said flatly, no longer looking at you. “just… if you’re in this for any reason other than being a friend, i'd back out, right this second. i'll make up a reason why you left that doesn’t hurt him too.” You felt anger in you bubble. Really, dude? “he’s been hurt enough. if i find out you’re messing with him… well, you’ll have to be worried about more than a little intimidation.”

You gaped at him. Was he really threatening you right now?

You took a breath, trying to calm yourself. Remember, monsters have been through hell. He’s saying this for a reason. As mad as you are, try to empathize.

You warred with yourself internally for a moment, your anger and empathy battling for control of your mouth, before you sighed out. “Stretch, I’m trying to be understanding here. I know you’re just trying to protect your brother, so I’m going to try to not think about the fact you just threatened me.” You looked off to the side, surveying the park—humans and monsters alike, sharing space together without incident. You knew this town was the exception, not the rule, and probably not even all year round. This time almost felt like it was cut out from the rest of reality altogether, a brief hiatus from the rest of the world.

You looked back to Stretch, who seemed to be avoiding your stare again. “I like your brother. I like you, or at least what little I know of you. Regardless if I’m the first or fiftieth, I’d like to be your friend. The both of you.” Stretch stood in silence for a moment more, before finally shifting his eyes to you. You stared back at him, stubborn. “If you don’t want my friendship, fine; it’s too bad, because I think you’re a cool guy, but I’ll accept it. But I can tell Sans wants to be friends, and I’d like to take part of that as well.”

You then looked to Blueberry, who was now whacking away with glee, oversized hammer in his hands. He seemed to be having the time of his life.

“I’ve been terrified of being rejected since I got here,” you then admitted. You weren’t expecting yourself to say that, and felt a nervous, embarrassed sweat on your skin. You rushed to continue. “I'm not really... out to people back home, and I've had bad experiences in the past, even from people in the community. But when I came here... I just decided to put myself out here with that shirt and hope for the best. And then, practically the first thing, I meet Sans, and he complimented me right away on my shirt, the very thing I was nervous about. It really opened me up to this week, so I have a lot to thank him for. On top of that, well... from what I've seen from him so far, he’d really be an amazing friend to have.”

“the best,” Stretch agreed, his tone now less harsh, sounding thoughtfully distant. You chose not to comment, and the two of you stood in silence, watching Blueberry in his prime. Even without magic, it looked like he was going for the high score, his motions fierce, fast, and efficient.

“y’know, my brother really likes riddles. i got one for ya,” Stretch suddenly announced. The sudden change of pace jarred you.

“Uh, sure,” you said. “Shoot.”

“the less of me you have, the more i'm worth. what am i?”

You mulled it over for a moment. Crap. You sucked at riddles. This seemed important, though, for a reason you couldn't place. You also found yourself wanting to impress him... but your brain came up empty. What's worth more to me the less I have? “Uh, food?”

He mulled it over for a moment, then chuckled, the laugh deep and genuine. “well, at least your answer wasn’t money." You saw his glance shift to you out of the corner of his eye. "it's friends.”

“Oh,” you said, feeling yourself flush. You then looked to Blueberry, partially so you wouldn’t have to face Stretch while embarrassed. “Oh.” That was… sweet.

“alright. i’ll do my best to make sure my bro and his new friend are happy.” You stared. How can you make sure of that? Why would you need to? “let’s go see how he’s doing.”

You had kind of hoped to have cheered Blueberry on, but by the time the two of you walked over, he was already holding a prize that was larger than himself. You looked to the monster running the booth in surprise; weren’t these things always rigged?

You didn't know dog breeds that well, but the dog monster running the booth looked like a giant, upright Jack Russell Terrier. They looked to be smoking a cigarette—but a second, lengthier glance made you realize they were smoking a bone. Okay, kind of neat, but maybe not the best thing to do around children.

You noticed they were tearful. “I-I thought I was best at this game. It’s based on things that are always moving. I had the high score.”

You cast a confused look to Stretch, who then leaned over (really bent over, with your size difference) and whispered lowly.

"uh, if i remember right, he can only see things that are moving. i think it's some kind of neurological disorder."

The dog monster then sniffed. “But… He moved so fast… He got them all.” He then lifted up the string, and showed the hammer—it was nearly broken clean through, hanging by a splinter of material. “H-he even broke the hammer.”

“AND LOOK AT THE PRIZE I GOT!” Blueberry said, lifting it (as much of it as he could, at least) above his head. It was a giant banana with sunglasses. You couldn’t help but laugh.

“Pfft, Sans, that’s great! Why did you pick that one?”

“BECAUSE IT IS CLEARLY THE COOLEST! LOOK AT ITS SUNGLASSES!” He pushed it towards your face, as if you’d miss it. “THE COOLEST GUY NEEDS THE COOLEST PRIZE!”

“i'm surprised you didn’t get it to give to your new friend, bro.”

Blueberry froze, his eyelights blank as the thought struck him. You resisted the urge to elbow Stretch; if you were closer, he’d be clutching his side by now. Blueberry took a moment to process this before rebooting. “W-WELL, OBVIOUSLY THIS VENDOR HAD NO PRIZE THAT FIT OUR NEW FRIEND! WHAT KIND OF COMPANION WOULD I BE IF I GOT THEM ANYTHING LESS THAN DESERVING OF THEIR STATURE?”

“I guess you’re right, bro,” Stretch said amusedly. He then took a look around. “i think this is the only one with real prizes, though.”

“It was,” the dog monster chimed in. “Until you broke the hammer.”

You looked around. The monster had a point, sure, but it was clearly an accident. Blueberry looked down, lowering his Banana.

“I-I AM VERY SORRY. I GET A LITTLE TOO ENTHUSIASTIC.”

“Sorry won’t fix my game! What's wrong with you, being so harsh on someone's property?! It was one of the few games I could see!”

You felt your irritation begin to prickle. “Alright, he said he’s sorry. Couldn’t you just not use the mallet?”

“What?!” Doggo said. You were getting the feeling he was a guy usually on edge. “Then what are we supposed to use? He ruined the game!”

You looked around, before getting an idea. “Hold on, stay here.” You moved back to the shaded area of the park, before picking up a sizeable stick. As you brought it over, the monster’s ears immediately perked.

“Stick?! Fetch?! Are we gonna play fetch instead?!”

“Uh, no,” you said, before giving a demonstrative tap against the machine. “People can hit them with this. I suppose it might break too, but you could always get more. Alternatively, I suppose people could just use their hands-"

“No! People use stick! Toss broken sticks! I fetch more sticks! Best game!” He was practically yapping by this point, his eyes alight. “Forgiven! Have! Good! Day!”

You give Stretch and Blueberry a confused glance before nodding. “Uh, okay, thanks?”

The three of you made your way away. Once at a safe distance away, far enough the monster couldn't hear you, you stood. “Well, that was… something.”

“I’M VERY SORRY MY ENTHUSIASM CAUSED YOU TROUBLE,” Blueberry stated, still looking down. “SOMETIMES I FORGET TO TONE MY GREAT STRENGTH DOWN.” Despite his self-compliment, you could tell he was disturbed.

“don’t worry about it, bro,” Stretch assured. “it worked out, didn’t it?”

“THAT DOES NOT EXCUSE MY BEHAVIOR,” Blueberry countered. “I REALLY SHOULD-”

“Aw, c’mon, who would want anything less from the Magnificent Sans?” you interjected. It hurt you to see him be anything less than fully self-assured. “The game was about strength, anyway. It's not your fault his hammer couldn't handle your incredible strength! He was probably just jealous."

"JEALOUS...?" He echoed, looking up. You nodded.

"Yes! Who wouldn't be jealous of such a cool, strong guy?" He finally seemed to brighten, and you relaxed.

"YOU'RE RIGHT! WHO WOULDN'T BE JEALOUS AFTER SEEING MY PROWESS?" He stood tall (or, as tall as he could), hands on his hips. "THAT POOR FELLOW COULD BARELY CONTROL HIS ENVY! PERHAPS NEXT TIME I WILL LECTURE HIM ON THE ART OF GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP."

"good thinking, bro," Stretch agreed, looking at his brother warmly. His stare then turned to you, and he gave you a smile. You took this as a small win in the battle against Stretch's coldness. "let's go find another game."

Blueberry nodded excitedly. "LET'S!"

The three of you spent some time together doing different activities. Sarah and Grace eventually joined in, and the five of you spent the rest of the afternoon chatting, and laughing, and just... enjoying your time. This is the kind of thing you came to do, the stress of your "real" life fading behind you. Your group snacked and ate your way through the afternoon and into the early evening; by dinnertime, you were all pretty full. You felt like your stomach was appreciating the non-heavy meals for a change (as was your liver likely enjoying a break from the alcohol). By the time the sun was setting, you felt as free and healthy and unworried as when you were a little kid. You wished this week was endless.

Chapter Text

"Did you guys want dinner?" Sarah suggested. You all were sitting on the edge of the park, legs dangling off the rock wall that separated the grass from the cliff below. The sun was practically blinding as it set, but at least it was beautiful. You shielded your eyes to look at her.

"I think, for once, I'm all set. But I don't mind sitting and chatting if any of you guys are hungry."

"I think we're good," Stretch said, as he looked up. He had another cigarette lit--it was the third you'd seen this afternoon, even with Blue's discouragements. You wondered if he was a pack a day smoker. "there's a movie night in a little while in the town center. are you guys interested?"

You were surprised he asked, but a look past him to Blueberry's nervous fidgeting. Clearly Stretch was asking on behalf of someone else.

“I’m down!” you said. What a more perfect way to end a chill day? You looked to your Grace and Sarah. “What about you guys?”

“Yeah!” Grace said, kicking her feet with a bit of excitement. Grace seemed as jazzed about a relaxing night as you were. Sarah, on the other hand, made a face.

“Do you know what movie they’re playing?” she asked. “I’m not so sure.”

“C’mon, I bet it’ll be all LGBT movies! It’ll be great! Plus, it’ll be romantic,” Grace said, hugging Sarah’s arm. You’d never seen her attempt to be so persuasive before, but it seemed to work; Sarah instantly caved. For however spearheaded Sarah was, Grace seemed to instantly take all fight out of her.

Alright," Sarah heaved a faux-dramatic sigh, "if you want to baby, let’s go. Maybe we could stop somewhere for snacks.” The five of you had picked through most of your combined food by this point.

“good idea. i know a pretty cheap store nearby, though it’s in the opposite direction of where we’re headed.” He then looked at you pointedly. “i could go and pick up whatever you guys want, but i would need to use an extra hand. wanna come with?”

“Uh,” you hesitated, casting a hesitant look to Grace and Sarah. They shrugged.

“Sure!”

“WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO COME, PAPY?” Blueberry volunteered. “YOU MIGHT NEED SOMEONE OF SUPERIOR STRENGTH TO CARRY THE PROPER AMOUNT OF SNACKS!”

“i think we got it, bud,” Stretch said. He then leaned over and whispered something to Blueberry; even at a close distance, you couldn’t hear. That's not odd or anything. Blueberry nodded.

“RIGHT! SHOULD WE MEET YOU TWO BY THE CENTER?”

“sounds like a plan.” Stretch stood up, swinging his leg over the wall. The rest of you followed suit.

“Give me a call when you get there so I can pick from what they have,” Sarah said, a loaded inflection to her tone. You knew she was trying to be covert, but she might as well have held up a sign: Call me to let me know you’re safe! I don’t trust him.

You resisted the urge to eyeroll, reminding yourself of your record being alone with skeletons so far this week. Stretch began walking away, and gave a wave to your friends before following, doing your best to fall into step with him. His legs were much longer than yours, and it was a little difficult to keep up, but his pace was at least leisurely. The two of you walked in silence for a minute or so.

“So…” you hazarded, “why did you really want me to come?”

Stretch’s stare swung to you. Although his expression was always so relaxed—cigarette half-hanging out of his mouth, forehead untensed—something about his eyes in your direction always made you a tad uneasy, like he was assessing your every movement.

“what’cha mean? i told you: just needed another pair of hands.”

Despite your intimidation, you weren’t ready to let it go, something internally nagging at you. “Doesn’t your brother have hands?” It came out a little more mean than you meant it to. His stare returned forward, hands moving into his pockets.

“snark isn’t a strong suit of yours,” he muttered. Sure, you hadn't meant the attitude, but you felt mildly insulted. I can be snarky if I want. “but… i guess i wanted him to have some free time with your two friends there. after today, i’m trying to get a little more trusting of him being around other people.”

A weight held to his words; despite saying “people,” he clearly meant human people. You could easily understand why.

“That’s fair,” you acknowledged. You were still wondering why he didn’t want you with his brother in particular (couldn't he have just gone alone, in that case?), but decided to let the subject drop. “It’s too bad; I was hoping you’d say we were on a super-secret spy mission or something.”

“nah,” he said with a small smile, “gotta make sure you’re not a spy for the humans, first.”

The two of you traded conspiracy theories about monster-human relations as you walked. For how serious he could be regarding his brother, he was surprisingly fun and easygoing to talk to.

You’d fallen into a comfortable silence after a while, the two of you enjoying the night air and the rhythmic sound of your steps. A small convenience store fell into view, and you assumed it was the one he was thinking of.

"That it?" you asked, breaking the silence. Stretch nodded.

"yeah; it's good, and cheap." The two of you lapsed into another silence as you walked towards the building. However, just feet from the enterance, Stretch stopped you with a tug on your arm. "hey," he said, before pausing. You stared, a little discomforted by his grasp. It wasn't tight, but given the largely hostile (on his part, at least) relationship you'd had thus far, the contact unnerved you.

"Uh, yeah?" Your voice was an octave higher than normal in your stress, and he at least noticed this, releasing you with an apologetic look. He then rubbed the back of his neck.

“sorry. uh. how would you react if my bro asked you on a date?”

He might as well have slapped a tomato in your face for how fast your cheeks burst into red. Where did that come from?

“just curious,” he responded. Did you say that out loud?

“I don’t really think you need to worry about that, given I’m not from here, I don’t really do the long distance thing, and I don’t think he’s exactly interested.”

“why don’t you think he’s interested?” Not the response you were expecting, but answerable.

“Well, I mean...” you didn’t know quite how to phrase it without sounding needy or overanalyzing. “This might sound..." You then sighed, figuring you might as well be out with it. Stretch seemed like a guy that appreciated frankness. "Well, whatever. He just didn’t message me when he could have, after we swapped monstergrams. If I was into someone, I'd message them ASAP-“ This then struck a small chord in you. G hadn’t messaged you back, had he? Maybe he wasn’t sincerely interested, either. Maybe he just got your number for a booty call, or something. The thought unsettled you.

“well, maybe he’s just trying to play it cool.”

For a second your heart froze—what is this mind-reading black magic fuckery?!—but then you realized he was just talking about Blueberry. Your heart restarted.

“Sans? No offense, but I can’t imagine your brother playing hard to get. Then again, I’ve known him all of twelve hours.”

“hm...” he seemed to think your words over. “you might be right, but he also could surprise you.” You looked up to Stretch curiously, but he offered no further explanation.

"Well... You certainly know him better than I do." You then rubbed your arm, swallowing. If someone asked you if you'd be talking about your dating habits with Stretch a few hours ago, you'd think they were crazy, but here you were. "But yeah, if it was like a date just for the fun of dating, I'd definitely say yes; he... seems like a really great guy. But, again, I imagine we live aways away, so if he was looking for something more serious, I'd probably have to decline in order to not get his hopes up."

"hm," Stretched hummed thoughtfully. He stuck his hands in his cargo shorts pockets, and turned his stare towards the store. "and what if i asked you on a date?"

Your mind just about broke, the question feeling as if it severed the hemispheres within your brain.

"Uh," you replied, your voice cracking halfway through the note, strangled, "I guess the same answer?"

You had legitimately given very little thought to Stretch in any kind of romantic capacity, but... aside from his overprotectiveness, he seemed to be... nice? A little sarcastic, a little dry, but legitimately caring and clearly passionate about his interests.

His eyes moved to you, and he barked out a laugh. Your expression probably looked like he'd doused you in cold water.

"good to know," he said, his voice notably lower than before. Is... Is he seriously not going to ask me after that? Your mind began to race, anxiety taking the reigns. And 'good to know?' Is he not actually interested? Was he just pulling my leg? What kind of person asks about their brother being interested in you and then says they're also interested in you? He has to be trying to get a rise out of me.

You deliberated on this point for a moment. That seems to make more sense, considering we've only spoken on friendly terms for maybe 20 minutes now. His head was turned back in the direction of the store so you couldn't see his expression, but with the good poker face he had, you doubted you'd be able to glean much information anyway. "why don't we head in?"

"Uh, sure, right."

The two of you made your way inside and began perusing the different snacks. He talked to you as comfortably as he did during your walk to the store, as if nothing had happened. He didn't seem nervous, nor flirtatious—just making small jokes here and there about the different human and monster snacks available. You, on the other hand, had an awkward sweat on the back of your neck, hypersensitive to every movement you made and word you said. The more he talked, however, the more your brain persuaded you out of your initial reaction.

He was probably just joking. Relax. He's so protective of his brother, would he really risk hurting him by asking out someone he likes? He gave a thinly-veiled threat just for me trying to be friends with Blueberry. That wouldn't make sense.

At this thought, you took a breath, feeling your shoulders untense. Right. Once relaxed, you began to chat with him again as normal, eventually making your selections.

You had selected a few things and were waiting in line when your phone began to ring. "Shoot," you cursed, juggling your items as you attempted to take out your phone. You heard a chuckle from Stretch, and he leaned over, grabbing your selection from your arms. You mouthed a quick "thank-you" before picking up the call and holding it up to your ear.

"Hello?"

"BABYGIRL ARE YOU DEAD?!" blew out your eardrums through the phone's speaker. You held it a distance away. You forgot to call Sarah. Oops.

"Uh, no, sorry girl. It... just took us a while to get here. Is there anything you want?"

"Hm? No, I'm full. The movie's starting soon, so hurry up!"

You opened your mouth to ask if Grace wanted anything, but she cut you off. "Thankyouloveyoubye!"

The phone gave a double beep to signify she'd cut off the call. You looked at your phone, then Stretch, before shrugging.

"Thanks, Papy," you said, stuffing back your phone into your pocket before taking back your things. He gave a small huff of laughter.

"gotta be honest, a little weird to hear anyone but sans call me papy," he commented, fiddling idly with a pack of chisps in his hand. You bit your lip, your stomach tightening at your misstep.

"Sorry, uh, I'll stick to Stretch-"

"nono!" Stretch rushed, before you saw a dim sherbert-orange glow rise to his cheeks. "it's... not a bad thing."

Woah, you thought, looks like he's not totally immune. For some reason, this thought made you feel relieved.

Your content, however, was short lived. "And what exactly do you two want?"

Your attention snapped forward. A wiry, pale clerk stood behind the counter, his expression sour. You and Stretch exchanged looks. Had you been holding up the line or something?

"Uh, sorry, here," you said, dumping the items from your arms onto the counter. The clerk, however, failed to begin to scan your items. Instead, he pushed your things to the side, before placing his hands down on the counter firmly, leaning a little towards you. You took a half-step back, bumping into Stretch as you did so.

"I think you two should go," he said. He then motioned towards a small, glossy sign in the back: "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." You felt your anger instantly begin to boil in your stomach.

"hey, man, we didn't do anything," Stretch argued, his voice surprisingly level, if not unbothered. "i came here before; you guys served me then." Despite Stretch's calm—or perhaps because of it—the clerk's anger visibly doubled, the pale quickly turning into red.

"We serve monsters but not... this." He gestured to you. Stretch and you exchanged another set of confused glances. What? Humans? Females? Short people? Noticing your confusion, he rolled his eyes. "Monster fuckers."

There was a beat of silence. Maybe you'd been the kind to watch too many action movies, but for some reason, you expected Stretch to immediately get upset at this. He, however, just sighed, placing his bag of chisps on the counter, as if in defeat. Blast the clerk, Stretch's lack of outrage flicked the switch to your anger.

"alright," Stretch said, "but we're-"

"We're not dating!" you interrupted, turning back to the clerk with a sudden heat searing through your veins. "But if we were, I'd just about get on my knees and blow him in this store on the off chance it'd make you vomit. Are you really so stupid that you'd live in a hotspot for pride and have that attitude? How well do you think that will serve you? How much business do you think you're gonna have-"

The man began to speak over you. "Listen, you can get out, or I'm calling the police-" You, however, refused to be interrupted mid-stream.

"Please call them! I'd love to file a report for discriminatory charges, and you certainly aren't worth the waste of my phone's battery-"

"c'mon, let's go," Stretch interjected, tugging on your arm. You wheeled to him, feeling betrayed he wouldn't be backing you up-

But then you saw the barest note of anxiety in his face, and you couldn't help but relent. He began to lead you out of the store, and you couldn't help but yell out as you followed.

"You're gonna be sorry, you dick!"

The humid, cooling night air awashed your skin the moment you stepped out of the store, forcing you to notice how hot the anger made your skin. You didn't get angry often, but you didn't handle it well when you did. It took everything in you not to misdirect it at Stretch.

"Why-" you started, but took a breath to lower the severity of your tone, "-why did you pull me out of there?"

Stretch merely shrugged in response—the casual answer like a flood of gas to your flame of anger. To his credit, he seemed to sense this, and quickly interjected, his voice now even to the point of being monotone. "for several reasons: he's not worth your anger. we're late for the movie. i am tired of engaging in those situations and refuse to put any more energy into them. i nicked serveral packs of cigarettes while you were ranting and would like to go before he notices and actually calls the police." He then lifted a pack of cigarettes from his pocket in show.

You stood, stunned for a moment, before laughing, a loud one right from your gut.

"I can't believe you stole!" He then shrugged.

"i consider more of a prank."

You shook your head, still laughing as you felt your anger ebb from your veins. "The cigarettes were behind the counter! How in the world did you-" you began, before the shop door suddenly opened. You looked, and it was the clerk-

Without a conscious thought, you grabbed his lifted hand, cigarettes wedged between your palm and his, before tugging on it. "Book it!"

Your feet instantly took off. You figured Stretch, with his long stride, would have easily overtaken you—but just tens of yards in, he began to lag behind.

"damn," he huffed, "don't," huff, "ever," huff, "smoke."

You couldn't help but laugh—but in your inattention, you must've caught your shoe on the pavement, as you felt yourself lurch forward—

But thankfully Stretch must've had quick reflexes, pulling you back without breaking much stride. Not too long after, you began to recognize your surroundings as being close to the town's center. Man, adrenaline really made this seem a much shorter run back. You slowed yourself, your heart thudding in your ears as you half-gasped, half-laughed. Stretch too stopped, doubling over with his hands on his knees.

"You-" huff "-don't even have lungs!"

"and yet here I am," he rasped, "holding a pack of stolen cigarettes with every intent to smoke them."

You two managed to share a look before bursting out laughing again. The two of you straightened after your chuckles subsided, taking a deep sigh.

Anger, adrenaline, and relief subsided, you felt a small tugging at your conscience. "I'm really sorry about that, Papy," you said, rubbing your arm. "I, uh, should've asked you before going off on that guy. That could've caused a lot of trouble, and I shouldn't have forced you to deal with it in a way you didn't want to." You'd found yourself unable to look at him but now forced yourself to meet his stare, trying to show your sincerity. "I'm trying to be better about being less thoughtless in my actions. And I'll try harder, I swear."

"consider it forgiven, honey," he said. If you didn't know better, you could detect the smallest note of affection in his voice. "i'll admit: it was nice to see the look on his face." Stretch then put his hand on his face, shaking his head as he practically giggled. "when you said you were gonna blow me, i thought his head was about to fall off."

Despite your face heating in embarrassment, you felt a surge of pleasure in seeing Stretch so animated and unguarded in his reaction. Unfortunately, he seemed to notice you staring, and the look was quickly gone.

You weren't discouraged, however. Something within you became determined to get him to make that expression again.

"Let's get back!" You announced, a small spark of confidence now alight in your step.

Stretch and you walked back, your face stuck in a grin as you came down from your adrenaline high. Upon reaching the square, you could see they had decorated for the occasion—there were fairy lights strung up between fenceposts, small painted billboards placed in front of the main road advertising the event, and couches and chairs set up on the lawn in front of the town hall where a large screen had been set up. A few vendors were selling things like popcorn, ice cream, and snacks in antique, almost circus-like carts. You felt like it was taken out of time. People seemed to be gathering on the grass and settling in, suggesting that the movie was about to start soon.

"Looks like the movie's about to start," you observed. You then pointed to the booths. "You want anything? My treat." Although you still weren't really hungry, you felt you at least had to get something to symbolically replace your lost snacks.

"i think i'm good, thanks though." He stuck his hands in his pockets, looking around distractedly. "oh, there they are," he motioned with a nod towards the middle of the crowd, and you spotted your group of friends easily (especially with how brightly colored Blueberry was). "wanna head over?"

The scent of popcorn in the air was practically dragging you over. "I think I'm going to grab something first; I'll meet you over there." Damn you, enticing popcorn. Stretch nodded and made his way over to your group.

You began to peruse the snacks—ice cream sold by a tall blue bunny monster, popcorn by a gray bunny monster, cinnamon bunnies sold by another bunny monster (the number of bunny monsters was really no joke). You then spotted another, familiar monster.

"Do you literally have ten jobs?" you asked, approaching the familiar cat monster. He was filtering money into a register drawer and jumped as you spoke, dropping some change he had been holding. You instantly cringed. "Uh, sorry!"

"No-" he began, then was interrupted with a whack of his head against his open registrar drawer as he tried to stand. He knocked his hat off. You felt worse. "Rats," he muttered, rubbing the top of his head. He then put his hat back on—an old-school 20's style flat cap. "U-uh, how can I help you today, M-miss?"

You gave him a confused look. Did he not remember you? Why was he being so formal?

He then gave a pointed side glance, his eyes quickly darting to the right and then back to you. You followed the direction of his eyes and saw a camera attached by a claw-like mechanism to the side of the cart, clashing with the antique theme. Who the hell was watching a cart vendor?

"Uh..." You looked over the menu. It was mostly foods that you'd think would need a grill (burgers? steaks?), but you could see no grill apparent. It was all stuff heavier than your appetite, anyway. "No, I think I'm all set, thank you. If you get a break though, and want to sit with my friends and me, we're just over there," you motioned behind you, to the center of the crowd. At this, however, his nervousness only seemed to double.

"An MTT employee would never be so lax as for a break, ma'am, but have a..." he visibly grimaced, "sparktakular day!"

You gave him a sympathetic look before moving on. The next cart was a food cart with desserts. Sweet, chocolatey, sugary goodness-

"Not thinking of cheating on me, are you, dearie~?" you heard called. You looked down the line of vendors, and saw Muffet standing not too far off in front of her own dessert cart.

"Oh! Two events in one day?" you asked, walking over. One of her miniature spiders gave you a little wave. It was impossible to tell if you'd seen it before, but you gave it a smile anyway. "You all must be exhausted."

"Ahuhuhu, well thiss week iss known for being the most profitable week of the year! It'd be foolish not to capitalize." She gestured to her cart, which was now mostly empty. "I've had to have to resstock twicce already! What a perfect way to sspend a night~."

You could probably think of several thousand better ways to spend a night than working, but you were glad she was happy. "Well, I hope you get to take some time for yourself too. I'm certain you deserve it with all the hard work you and your... uh, employees have been putting in. You guys deserve some fun!"

"Oh~? And what kind of fun do you ssuggest, dearie~?"

Something in her tone made a blush begin to form. You found yourself stuttering under her stare. "U-uh, well, a movie is a good place to start," you suggested. Her eyes seemed to alight.

"Oh, are you assking me on a-oh," she said, her eyes flicking to the movie screen behind you. She seemed disappointed for a beat, but then resumed her stride. "Ahuhuhu, I'd join you if I could, dearie, but I have to watch over the cart. Unfortunately ssome of your kind will jusst walk all over my ssmaller employees." She then motioned to the tiny spider that had waved at you. It nodded sagely.

"What, do they steal, or not pay correctly?"

"No, dearie, I mean they literally walk all over them," she corrected. "Humanss can be sso cruel."

You felt a dull horror wash upon you as you looked down at your own feet. You can't remember the last time you watched where you were walking. Had you...?

"Ahuhuhu, not you, dearie~," Muffet assured, "they're very good at sstaying out of the way. The only people that have hurt them are thosse that have intended to."

"That's horrific." You felt your insides churn. If you hadn't met Muffet, would you be one of those people?

Muffet sighed, bringing her hand out to the small spider. It crawled onto her hand, and she brought it to her shoulder. "Well, we jusst do our besst to take care of one another, dearie. We're not entirely defensselesss." Her gaze then shifted behind you. "It sseemss like your movie is about to sstart. Would you like anything?"

"Right! Yes, absolutely. Anything you'd recommend?"

"The sspider donut," she said immediately, reaching one out from the display case. As good as it looked, (and as cheap as it was, compared to some of the other desserts) there were surprisingly many left. "Made by sspiderss, for sspiderss, of sspiderss."

It took you a second to understand. You looked at the tiny spider on her shoulder. It nodded again, apparently okay with this.

You had many questions.

"Uh, it's made of spiders," you repeated. Muffet nodded. Uh. What. "Are... you sure that's something you'd want me to eat?"

"We conssider it an honor, dearie," Muffet said. "The highesst a customer can give."

You half-felt she was pranking you, but she seemed sincere. You fished out your wallet and gave her money, and took the donut in return. Your hand brushed against hers in the exchange, and you realized it was slightly...fuzzy, with tiny cilia. A chill went down your back, and you did your best not to show it. "Well! Uh! I'll know you have good taste, so I'm sure I won't be disappointed."

"I'd love to ssee your tasste, ahuhuhu~" Muffet said, leaning her face on one of her arms, her elbow resting on the cart as she leaned towards you. Your eyes couldn't help but to find their ways to her fangs.

You swallowed hard. "Well! I'll let you know how I like it! Thanks! Bye!" You made an abrupt exit, turning about face stiffly with the donut in hand. Something about Muffet (okay, the spider something) made you make the most ungraceful exits. You could hear her odd, bouncing laugh follow after you.

You quickly made your way over to your friends, the four of them all settled on a picnic blanket. There seemed to be an opening between the pairs of human and monsters, so you took it, placed snuggly between Blue and Grace.

"Oooh, what's that?" Sarah asked. "It looks magic! Can I have some?"

"I, uh, don't think this one happens to be vegan," you said, staring at it. Nope, definitely not. "Sorry."

"most humans won't eat that," Stretch commented. "i'm honestly surprised you would."

"Me too," you murmured. You looked over to the direction of the vendors. From your spot on the ground, you couldn't see her, but you still had the feeling your actions were being watched. You sniffed it. It smelled like a normal donut.

"Why's that?" Sarah asked. Before you could answer, the screen then lit up, the studio credits beginning to play.

"I'll... tell you later," you said, though you weren't sure if you'd be willing to actually admit why. You stared at the donut as the fairy lights dimmed, then shut off. It looked normal. Appetizing, even—pink-purple frosting with little webs drawn on.

Ah, fuck it. You took a bite.

It was, surprisingly, delicious. You were expecting something with a crunch (the thought alone made you shudder), but the texture and taste were nothing abnormal, as far as magical items went. As the opening flickered to life, you settled in, taking a moment to appreciate the single comfort of being surrounded by people who accepted you, who carried the burden of your secret without blinking. This was really, truly, a great trip.

Chapter Text

The first movie was Happy Feet—you supposed it at least had themes of being not accepted and was as kid-friendly a movie as was widely available. The quickly went into more PG-13 territory, moving onto The Color Purple and The Birdcage. They then gave a warning that any kids left should be off to bed; the R-rated movies were going to begin playing. By this point, Blueberry was passed out and Sarah wasn’t far behind, the two spread out and not-so-softly snoring. They gave time for intermission, and you wanted a chance to chat with your friends—but unfortunately neither Grace nor Stretch were the talkative type.

You sighed, deciding to get more food. You’d asked if either one of them wanted to come with, but they both said they weren’t hungry. Not talkative, not hungry, what’s a girl supposed to do?

You abandoned the cause, getting up on your own and making your way to the food. It looked like a few carts had closed after the start of the movies, but there were still a selection available. You ended up opting for a burger from a cart that actually had a grill next to it, the cart labeled Grillby’s. It had a young-looking green flame monster operating it—kind of a cool selling point.

“You lucked out,” the flame monster commented, her voice raspy and lithe, but not unlikable by any means. “I was just about to pack up. I have school in the morning, so I have to get to bed.”

“Wow!” you said. You’d forgotten it was a school night. “That’s some incredible work ethic for you to work when you have to get up in the morning. I didn’t even know the school year started this early.”

“It is for us monsters,” she said with (to her credit) only a slight grumble. “They took forever to figure out what we’d have to learn and what we wouldn’t. But, to be honest, I don’t mind.” She then shut off the grill and took off her apron. “It’s nice to not have to navigate puzzles on my way to school everyday. And, my dad pays me really well for the work, so I always have money to spend when I’m with my friends.”

“That’s awesome!” You said before taking a bite of the burger. It was warm, and filling, and flavorful. For a high schooler—hell, for any kind of cook—she had a real knack for cooking. “And this burger is amazing! I hope your dad knows how well you’re doing.”

Her face flashed into bright yellow, and she murmured a thanks in response. “You can tell him yourself; he’s coming back now with the cover for the grill.”

She pointed behind you, and you turned around, compliment in your mouth-

It died there, however, as you realized the flame monster quickly approaching you was the same one checking in the monsters at the BDSM event. You felt your throat wither, unable to speak, and your brain attempted to calculate the most socially acceptable exit. He appeared far too fast, however, his long strides moving faster than your jilted brain could catch up with. It didn’t help that he was, again, in a formal vest and shirt outfit, as if he had preemptively prepared to humiliate you.

“Dad!” the flame monster said behind you, “she said I made a really good burger!”

You had literally no way to tell (why does his daughter have eyes, but he doesn’t?), but it seemed he was giving you a questioning look, his glasses turned in the direction of your face. You assumed he was waiting for some confirmation of this.

“Uh! Yep! She made the best burger I’ve had in a long time! And! Uh! Bye!”

You quickly turned at a 90-degree angle and rigidly (but quickly) noped your way out of the situation, hurrying back to your friends. Though increasingly distant, you could distinctly hear the daughter’s voice whine:

Dad, you always intimidate the humans!”

You made a b-line for your place on the ground and immediately sat, dead silent.

“you alright there, honey?” Stretch asked (softly, likely so as not to awake the others) after a minute or so. You turned to him. How did he know?

“Uh, yeah, why?”

“You’ve been staring at that burger for the last minute and a half.”

You looked at the offending partially-eaten burger as if just noticing it for the first time. “Just… savoring it,” you murmured, looking away from him and taking a bite. He gave a soft chuckle.

The screen flickered back to life, saving you from further conversation. They ended up showing Hedwig and the Angry Inch and finished the night off with the crowd favorite But I’m a Cheerleader. By the end, you were half-dozing yourself, your head resting on your knees as you listened. By the time they turned back on the fairy lights, you were admittedly glad it was over—the mosquitos were out and a chill from the cooling air had settled on your skin. You groggily and somewhat sorely stood up—everyone, except for Stretch, was out for the count.

The two of you exchanged sleepy smiles. For how exhausted he seemed earlier in the day, you were surprised he too wasn’t dead to the world—maybe he was just more of a night owl?

You pulled out your phone—still no messages—before pulling up the app to schedule an uber. You gingerly stepped over Blueberry to get in whispering distance of Stretch.

“Do you guys want to carpool with us? I’m requesting an uber now.”

Stretch, to your surprise, shook his head. “nah. my bro prefers to walk, and it won’t take us long. thanks for the offer, though.”

“I’d like to let them sleep until it comes,” you said, sitting down carefully next to Stretch. “We were up so early today, I imagine they’re gonna be dead to the world when we get back.”

“same for him,” Stretch acknowledged. “he burns up everything he has and then just snuffs out like a flame.”

You giggled softly, looking over at Blueberry’s sleeping form. Even asleep, he was unbelievably adorable. Hadn’t they made a skeleton monster the mascot of monsterkind? Watching Blueberry, you could easily see how, and were surprised he wasn’t it.

“he’s a really great guy,” Stretch said. You looked at him, and realized he was watching your staring. You felt your cheeks heat up.

“You both are,” you said, giving him a gentle elbow to the side. “I’m really glad to have met you both.”

You felt your phone buzz, and quickly looked—a notification that the driver was close by. You put your phone to sleep with a sigh, mentally preparing yourself to get ready. You then looked to Stretch and felt your stomach twist as an idea hit you. You weren’t the best at making friends—Grace had practically been your friend since birth, and Sarah’s friendship came naturally when they started dating—so any attempts at making friends felt foreign to you. You took a breath, and decided to dive in.

“Do, uh, you mind if I get your number? I don’t know when you guys are leaving, but I’d like to hang out again-”

“sure,” Stretch said simply, pulling out his phone and offering it to you. You’d prepared a long monologue of why your request wasn’t creepy or exits out of the conversation if he wasn’t comfortable doing so, and his instant acceptance derailed you.

You took his phone, inputting your number in quickly. You took the liberty of giving yourself a nickname—Partner in Crime. He took his phone back and chuckled upon seeing the name. He then tapped on his phone a moment-

Your phone began to ring loudly. You fumbled, nearly dropping it on Blueberry as you attempted to stop the call. You got it silent, but too late—you saw Blueberry’s eyes open and heard a small groan from Sarah.

Blueberry’s eyes moved to you, and you grinned sheepishly.

“Sorry, guys! I didn’t realize my phone’s sound was on.” You looked back to the phone. “Sarah, Grace, our uber driver is going to be here any second, so let’s get our stuff ready.”

The three of you tiredly gathered your things, and soon after, your phone buzzed again that the driver was here. Sarah and Grace waved goodbye before quickly making their way to the car. You, however, hung back for a moment.

“We’re here until next Monday, so if you want to hang out before then, just shoot me a message,” you said, unable to keep a note of hope from your voice. They were good guys to hang out with. “It was nice hanging out today. Hopefully I’ll see you two around.” You gave the pair a small wave and turned towards the car-

“WAIT!” Blueberry commanded. You turned back, and you saw his cheeks were tinted with blue. “DON’T FRIENDS HUG EACH OTHER GOODBYE?”

You tended to value your personal space quite highly but found yourself unable to resist his request. You gave him a nod, and Blueberry sprang over, giving you a joint-popping squeeze. You couldn’t help but laugh, doing your best to hug him back under your crushed arms.

“B-Blue, I need to breathe,” you commented, and he thankfully let you go. You heaved a deep breath before turning to Stretch. He failed to make a move.

“Uh… Hug?” you offered unsurely, raising your arms. He raised a brow, for some reason seeming surprised, but then nodded. You moved over and hugged him, and found yourself unsure in your pressure—how hard was too hard?

You did your best to convey a warm hug, and he gave a hesitant, but firm, squeeze back. Upon releasing him, you noticed the slightest hue risen on his face.

“Well, uh, see you guys!” you said, waving. Blue gave your fleeting figure a huge, fast wave, as if wishing bon voyage to a ship.

“BYE, HUMAN FRIEND! PLEASE HAVE SAFE TRAVELS!”

“bye, honey.”

You made your way to the uber and quickly got in, flashing an apologetic smile to the driver in the rearview. The ride home was fairly silent, with Grace and Sarah dozing in the back. Upon getting to the hotel, Sarah and Grace headed straight to their room, quickly closing the door behind them. You immediately afterward heard the sound of bodies hitting mattresses—clearly they were out for the count.

You figured you’d quickly follow suit, yawning as you trudged your way into the bathroom, finished your night routine, and went into bed. You, too, collapsed, ready for your exhaustion to sweep you away…

You saw the ocean. At first, it was only in front of you, but suddenly, it was around you, the water line rising up past your cheeks, past your open eyes—you saw it rise above you, felt the water cling to your scalp as it covered you-

You awoke with a start, anxiety clinging to your chest. What the fuck? Sure, you’d had nightmare problems in the past, but it’d been months since you had a dream vivid enough to wake you up. And me? Fearing the ocean? Sure, today was rough, but you didn’t feel particularly afraid of the water, even with the sensations of the dream lingering on your mind. In fact, you wanted nothing more than to douse yourself in cool water to console the clamminess on your skin.

You sat up and forced yourself out of bed. You were so tired but didn’t want to run the risk of falling back into the same dream. You shook your head as you forced your limbs to pull on your flipflops and grab your phone and keys. You decided you’d go out, sit on the beach for a while, cool yourself off, and go back to bed. Easy.

It took every bit of willpower you had to push one foot in front of the other as you walked. You half-stumbled your way to the beach, nearly having to crawl over the final dune that led to the view of the expanse of beach and ocean below.

You collapsed there, laying back with a mix of stars and ocean extended in your view. The air was light and cool—just what you needed, drying the sweat to your skin, mixing with the salt of the sand underneath you. You glanced at the inky void. The only true indication of it being water and not an extension of space was the sound of the dull rhythmic thrum of waves.

You closed your eyes and imagined yourself dipping into the water. Just like before today, the idea brought you nothing but the sensation of peace. In fact, the anxiety was suddenly all but dissolved. Maybe just the thought of going for a night dip brought you peace? Maybe, if it happened again, you should just go for a nice night swim...

That was the last thought you had, however, before you fell back into sleep. Oddly enough, you dreamt of that skeleton that you met on the beach again—though this one was notably more dream-like than the last one (at one point, you were pretty sure you were floating?). You weren't sure how long you slept for, but you felt yourself drift in and out of consciousness...

Wait. I'm on the beach, alone. Someone could have taken my things.

The thought had you instantly awake, springing up-

But you were in your hotel bed again.

"What the fuck," you said aloud. You looked—your keys were on your nightstand, your phone plugged in. You wiggled your feet—you were flip-flop free under the sheets. You were under sheets. You could have sworn that you weren't sleeping when you went to the beach. You turned around looked at the sheets—you weren't even sandy. You should have been sandy from when you laid down on that dune. Hell, you should have still been there, maybe waking up with a sunburn, hearing little kids and seagulls...

You rubbed your face awake. Okay. Okay. Maybe I'm just having intense dreams again. Those felt real, right?

You didn’t really find yourself believing your inner rationalization, but you decided there was little point in debating it. Maybe you were so deliriously tired you walked home without remembering it, or maybe you were sleepwalking, or maybe you were just losing it—either way, there was no point in dwelling while being able to do nothing about it. You hopped out of bed, the sun shining through the cracks in the blinds. You stretched enough to make your joints pop, sleepiness still dragging at your limbs as you forced yourself upright and through your morning routine. As far as you knew, there was nothing planned for today, so you could at least be leisurely in your movements. By the time you were finished, it looked like Sarah and Grace were just awakening. You were in the middle of making yourself some coffee with the blessed complementary coffee maker when Sarah and Grace went into the living area.

"Morning!" Sarah announced. You gave her a tired smile, and her face instantly turned into one of horror.

"Babyangel! You look worse than when you were hungover. Did you sneak out for a night bender or something?" She put her hands on her hips. "I gotta be honest, I'll be incredibly offended if you didn't take me along with you."

"Just didn't sleep well," you croaked out, before taking a long sip of coffee. It was hot, and without cream, but you only barely winced, your body accepting it like medicine. "Whatever we do today, I'd really love a nap to be scheduled in at some point."

"Of course! Girl, you know me, just give me some rosé and some sun and I'll be out like a light with you." You could've kissed her. "I did have something I saw online I wanted to do for tonight though—a sunset cruise."

"Oh! Sounds... fun!" And expensive.

"Yeah! Champagne, hors-d'oeuvres, the works—I saw a nice groupon for it and I figured we'd have to take advantage." Oh thank God.

"Cool," you said, with a sigh of relief. Sarah was a great, fun friend to have, but you knew as much as she that her bank account (and yours) suffered for it. You'd had to work long hours—double shifts, weekends—in order to save both money and earned leave to take this break. You appreciated her taking your bank account into consideration.

"Maybe we should go to the pool today," you suggested. A bit of free fun to balance your budget out. "I've been having a dream of sipping frozen drinks by a pool for months now."

"Agreed!" Sarah said. "Let's go get some breakfast first, then go right to the pool. I want to maximize my tan time."

"Sweet."

The three of you finished getting ready before heading on out. As much as you wanted to go back to the last place you'd gone for breakfast, the three of you decided you wanted to try as many places as possible. You'd ended up settling on a homey-looking cheap restaurant called Mama's, located just on the edge of downtown. You had figured it was one of those places that had a long-established tradition, the original "Mama" long passed away—but, much to your surprise, as soon as you entered the door a large, portly woman who looked like the epitome of every grandmother you'd seen came to greet you. Before you could even process it, she was grabbing your face, giving you large kisses on either cheek, before moving to Sarah and Grace.

"Ciao! Come stai le mie figlie, benvenuto! Siediti e lasciate che la mamma vi dia da mangiare."

You and Grace shared a look; Grace knew how you felt about unannounced touching, especially around your head, but you gave the best reassuring smile you could manage. Sarah, on the other hand, was enthralled. You actually knew a very minor amount of Italian from a semester your freshman year of college—had she called you her daughters?

“Sit wherever you like,” an unaffected host said. She must’ve seen this a lot. “Someone will be with you shortly.”

You began to scan the restaurant for available tables before you spotted a familiar face—one that had you taking the lead of your group and moving towards the back. This half-surprised yourself; you'd rarely be willing to approach someone so freely, but your warm feelings overrode your normal anxiety.

"Papyrus!" you greeted cheerfully. For a half second, you were worried he might not remember you. But his face instantly alit as he saw you, his excited gaze looking at you as if you were a long lost friend.

"HUMAN FROM THE CLUB! HOW NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN! I WAS QUITE WORRIED ABOUT YOU AFTER YOU DIDN'T COME BACK FROM GETTING SOME AIR THAT NIGHT!" He stood in greeting, and you'd realized just how tall he was—just how drunk were you to miss that? "I DO HOPE YOU ARE FEELING BETTER."

"Very much so, thank you!" you said, grinning widely. "And how was meeting Mettaton?! I have to admit, I was really jeal-"

"What?!" came the voice of Sarah behind you. "You met Mettaton?!"

Papyrus blushed, poking his... boxing gloved (curious, but you weren't going to question it) hands together.

"WHY YES! I HAVE WRITTEN METTATON NUMEROUS LETTERS, AND IT APPEARS HE HEARD I WAS PRESENT. HE WANTED TO THANK ME FOR BEING SUCH A GREAT FAN!"

You and Grace exchanged glances again, but you decided to tactfully ignore the obvious question. Sarah, however, had other ideas.

"Did you sleep with Mettaton oh my god."

You expected Papyrus to look mortified, or flustered, or really anything besides the confused, curious look on his face. "IT WAS INDEED QUITE LATE, BUT WE DID NOT SLEEP! WE HAD A VERY NICE CONVERSATION."

This time, you didn't have to look at your friends to know you were all hit with the same thought: Is... Is he serious? Does he not know...?

Your mouth decided to fill the blank void of thought from your rebooting brain. "Uh, well, that sounds great! It was really nice to see you. We should let you get to your..." Your eyes moved downward, the power button to your brain re-slammed. Is... Is he eating a giant plate of spaghetti for breakfast?

"AH! I CAN SEE YOU ARE ADMIRING MY NUTRITIOUS BREAKFAST! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS IS THE ONLY RESTAURANT IN THE TRI-CITY AREA THAT WILL SERVE SPAGHETTI AT THIS HOUR?"

"Uh," was the only thing you could find yourself able to respond with.

"WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN ME FOR BREAKFAST? TO BE COMPLETELY TRANSPARENT," he leaned in as if telling a secret (despite his still-boisterous voice), "I WAS HOPING TO FIND A COMPANION OR TWO TO SHARE A PLATE OF FRIENDSHIP SPAGHETTI WITH. HOW FORTUITOUS THAT YOU THREE WOULD COME ALONG!"

Oh. You felt it difficult to swallow. Papyrus was clearly one of those rare, few people you meet in life that was so legitimately sweet and good-natured down to their soul that disliking them was like defying gravity. It took everything within you not to hug him.

"Of course!" you said. "As long as you're certain we're not interrupting."

"NOT AT ALL! THIS IS THE VERY MAKING OF A MEAL, NOT AN IMPEDIMENT OF IT!"

You found yourself instantly sitting down; the pure radiation of friendliness blanketing your social anxiety. Sarah and Grace quickly followed suit. A waitress came over, handing out menus to the three of you.

"MIGHT I SUGGEST THE SPAGHETTI?"

You looked down at his meal. It did look good, though the thought of intaking so many carbs wasn't the ideal way you'd like to start off your day. You looked back up to Papyrus, and opened your mouth to interject an excuse—but he looked so happy. You were nowhere near that heartless.

Oh, what the hell. You were just going to lounge by the pool all day anyway. It'd put you in a nice food coma.

"That sounds great!" You said as you folded up your menu. You could see Grace and Sarah give you looks, but you decided to ignore them in favor of watching Mama trapeze around the restaurant. Guests and waiters alike were enchanted by her as she delivered food and checked on tables. As if sensing your glance, she suddenly altered course and made her way to your table, spouting more Italian with a large smile on her face. "Mio figlio qui è così magro! Ma apprezza il cibo come dovrebbe fare un bravo ragazzo!" She moved over yo Papyrus, and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. Papyrus's cheeks illuminated as he grinned sheepishly.

"GLI SPAGHETTI SONO MERAVIGLIOSI, SIGNORA! GRAZIE!"

Your mouth fell open.

"E guarda mio figlio qui! Circondato da donne così adorabili. Mio figlio deve essere così bello."

"QUESTI SONO I MIEI VERI AMICI, SIGNORA!" Papyrus then gestured to you. "IL MIO AMICO PIÙ SPECIALE VORREI PIACE UN PIATTO DI SPAGHETTI.

"Una partita perfetta per mio figlio, poi! La mamma ti aiuterà a conquistare il suo cuore, allora con la mia cucina!"

You'd lost the conversation just a few words in, but as you notice Papyrus begin to blush, you wish you had tried harder to keep up.

"S-SIGNORA, CHE NON È NECESSARIO-"

"Senza senso! Adesso, anche agli altri piacerebbero gli spaghetti?"

Papyrus then turned to Sarah and Grace, who looked just as stunned. "WHAT WOULD YOU TWO LIKE TO EAT?"

"Uh..." Sarah began, "could I have the muesli al latte di mandorle con macedonia di frutta." Mama nodded, then looked to Grace.

"...Same," Grace said simply, flipping shut her menu before the three of you passed them forward. A silence fell over your table as Mama trounced away. You cleared your throat.

"Uh, so, that's pretty cool that you know Italian," you commented. Papyrus brightened.

"OH, YES! AS THE MASCOT OF MONSTERKIND, I MUST BE READY TO COMMUNICATE WITH ANY HUMAN-"

Sarah was mid-sip as he spoke, and let out a spray of water, coughing up. Grace pat her back concernedly. Man, for such a sweet, innocent guy, Papyrus left you open-mouthed for the majority of your time together.

"OH GOODNESS, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?"

Sarah nodded as she continued to cough, Grace patting her back gently. You, however, were instantly enraptured. "Papyrus, you're the mascot for monsters?! That's insanely awesome! Though I'm not surprised, with how sweet and outgoing you are."

A light, rosy hue returned to his cheeks. His look turned to one of pure confidence.

"WHY THANK YOU, KIND HUMAN! I AM GLAD THAT MY EXCEEDINGLY GOOD SKILL OF MAKING FRIENDS HAS BEEN PUT TO GOOD USE!"

"I am as well! I'm sure monsterkind is very proud." You put your hand over his gloved one, trying to make sure he knew you were sincere. Papyrus's glow doubled.

"So!" Sarah said, her voice so abrupt it made you jump. You hadn’t even noticed she’d stopped coughing. "Papyrus, what brings you to pride week?" Papyrus had an expression on his face that you couldn't understand, but it quickly flickered to a polite, yet interested one.

"OH! THE MASCOT'S PRESENCE IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT DURING SUCH A HISTORY-MAKING WEEK! THE KING HIMSELF REQUESTED MY PRESENCE!"

“Wow! Papyrus, that’s awesome! I can’t imagine talking to the king of monsters!”

Papyrus seemed elated by the comment but nonchalantly waved you off. “OH, THE KING? HE’S, WELL, A BIG OLE SOFTY! AND SOMEONE AS GREAT AS THE GREAT PAPYRUS HAS NO PROBLEM TALKING TO THE FINEST OF DIGNITARIES!”

“So, no other reason you’re here?” Sarah said, her voice even. You did your best to nudge her under the table, but couldn’t quite reach her. “So you’re not gay?”

Too late. You facepalmed. “Sarah! You shouldn't ask, not everyone wants to answer that-“

“OH, DO YOU MEAN AS TO REQUEST MY PREFERENCE FOR A DATING PARTNER? I HAVE NONE!”

Sarah looked at you briefly. “So... does that mean you’re bi? Pan?”

“AH...” Papyrus said, his brow furrowing in thought. “SO FAR, I HAVE NOT MET ANYONE THAT HAS CAPTURED MY EYE! I DID GO ON A DATE, ONCE, AND I HOPED FEELINGS WOULD BLOOM DURING OUR ENCOUNTER! BUT, ALAS, THAT DID NOT TURN OUT TO BE THE CASE. I HAD TO LET MY DEAR FRIEND DOWN QUITE GENTLY SO AS TO SPARE THEM.”

"Maybe you're aromantic?" Grace suggested.

"You could also be asexual, or demisexual," Sarah added. Papyrus seemed to take this under consideration, taking a long sip of water.

"PERHAPS YOU TWO ARE RIGHT! I MUST ADMIT, IT WOULD BE NICE TO KNOW FOR SURE, BUT I SUPPOSE WE SHOULD CONSIDER MYSTERIES AS THE SPICE OF LIFE!"

"I'd thoroughly agree," Sarah said, leaning back in her chair. You noticed she seemed... relieved? You didn't dwell on this too long, however, as you were surprised by your own slight feelings of disappointment.

You stared at Papyrus as he chatted along pleasantly with Sarah about his royal duties, trying to reason through your own feelings. Was I developing a small crush on Papyrus? His personality did seem to... sparkle, in a way, and his genuine niceness was so heart-warming it was difficult to decipher if you simply had friendly feelings or more. It was even harder to discern your physical attraction to him. Do I think he's cute? Honestly, do I find any of the skeletons genuinely attractive?

Your mind turned to images of G, and Stretch, and Red, and Blueberry, and Edge, and Razz and Sugar Plum...

You felt your cheeks began to heat. Okay, yeah, I find them attractive. Fuck. You took a moment to examine Papyrus. You'd describe him as more sweetly handsome than anything else, but could certainly find yourself being interested in him. You blew out a sigh. Ah, well, maybe I shouldn't think about it; if he's not interested, no need daydreaming.

You felt a slight tug of resistance in your chest at the idea, but quickly stuffed it down, distracting yourself with the image of Mama coming towards you with visibly steaming plates of food. Despite the odd timing of the pasta, you instantly felt yourself begin to salivate.

She placed it in front of you, and Papyrus gave you a starry-eyed smile, watching on expectantly. You took a bite, before giving him a thumbs up. Papyrus and Mama both gave a cheer, before Papyrus spun a forkful of his own spaghetti and knocked it against yours in a celebratory gesture.

"BUON APPETITO, STELLINA!"

Chapter Text

The four of you spent the rest of your time chatting and slowly consuming your meal. In your exhaustion, you’d ordered cappuccino after cappuccino and ended up slightly hopped up on caffeine. By the time you were all done, you were practically bouncing in your chair.

“Hey Papyrus! We’re gonna go to the pool soon! Want to come with us?” You asked as a waiter brought over a check. Papyrus seemed conflicted as soon as you asked.

“I WOULD LOVE TO, HUMAN, BUT I AM AFRAID I HAVE PROMISED MY BROTHER SOME TIME TOGETHER AND AWAY FROM MY ROYAL DUTIES.” Papyrus raised a glove to his face worriedly. You instantly waved him off.

“No worries! We’ll have to have a raincheck, then. We’re here for another week, so I’m sure we’ll be able to catch each other sometime soon.”

“THAT SOUNDS MOST EXCELLENT! HERE, LET ME GIVE YOU MY PHONE NUMBER. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME ANYTIME! I AM ALWAYS HAPPY TO CHAT!”

You gladly handed over your phone so Papyrus could input his digits. You, in the meantime, fished out enough money for your part of the check. As you were doing so, you caught sight of Sarah’s expression—she didn’t seem too pleased. You shot her a confused look, but she simply looked away, saying nothing to it. You opened your mouth to question, but Papyrus’s gloved hand (how’d he type with his gloves on?) pushing your phone back in your direction stopped you. You looked at your phone and saw he inputted his number, along with his name: THE GREAT PAPYRUS.

“NYEH HEH HEH!” he cheered. “NOW WE ARE FRIENDS IN THE MOST OFFICIAL MANNER!” He stood and gave a wave. “PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE MY NUMBER! FOR NOW, THE GREAT PAPYRUS MUST BE OFF! IT WAS A DELIGHT TO EAT WITH YOU ALL AND MAKE THREE NEW, GREAT FRIENDS!”

He gestured heroically before taking off, you and Grace bidding him goodbye with a wave. The three of you stood as you quickly sent Grace and Sarah a text of his contact info. You were in the middle of walking out and sending a text to Papyrus so he could have your number when Sarah gave a huff.

“I guess I’ll be the one calling an uber, then?”

You looked up from your phone and exchanged a look with Grace. The two of you had been friends for so long you could easily know what she was thinking with a glance. This time, despite very little detail on her face betraying her thoughts, you could pick it up easily: Oh no. Sarah’s getting into one of those moods again.

“Uh, I can call it if you want! That’s no problem.” You motioned to exit your text app, but Sarah waved you off with a sigh.

“No, it’s fine, I’ll do it. Let’s just go.” You exchanged another look with Grace. Okay, I failed. Your turn.

“C’mere babe,” Grace said, hooking her arm with Sarah’s before pulling her down to give her a quick kiss. “You know I don’t like doing it, since I don’t like talking on the phone if they choose to call, but I’ll gladly do it for you if you want.”

“Aww, babe,” Sarah said, hugging Grace close. "That's okay; I got it." You blew out a small breath, glad Grace knew how to dodge Sarah’s random moody storms. You finished your text to Papyrus before shutting off your phone.

The three of you waited in the quickly rising heat until the uber came and took you to the hotel. The three of you got prepared, taking your time, before heading out to the Hotel’s outdoor pool. It seemed almost a little silly to have a pool so close to the beach, but after your debacle yesterday you were thankful. Plus, I mean, it has a full bar, so there’s that. The bar wasn’t open quite yet by the time you got there (which made sense, it still being before noon), but the three of you took over some seats fairly close. You weren’t that interested in tanning, and thankfully a couple of them were shielded by an umbrella, while one was entirely in the sun. Sarah immediately took that one.

“Look at you two nerds, staying out of the sun. Y’all are practically some vampires.”

“I don’t really need to tan,” Grace said. Grace had always been naturally tan, much to the envy of some of your fair-skinned beach bum friends. “And I was hoping to get a little reading done in the shade.”

“And I get way too hot too easily,” you explained, throwing down your towel before taking off the dress you’d worn over your suit. You then pulled out your phone, checking the weather—it was supposed to stay pretty warm and humid all day. “Which is why I plan to go straight to the pool. Are you guys going to come in? 

“Hm?” She asked distractedly. With the sunglasses, you couldn’t tell if she was looking at something or simply had her head turned. “I don’t know. Maybe in a bit,” Sarah said, leaning back in her chair before lowering her sunglasses. “I want to get an even start, then come in to cool off.”

You noticed another annoyed, odd edge to Sarah’s voice. Figuring maybe she was just tired or in a random grumpy mood, you decided to remove yourself and instead went to the pool. You'd felt badly for intruding on a potential nice couple scenario to begin with, so this would likely be the perfect time to give Sarah and Grace some space to be together. You edged yourself slowly into the water, giving yourself time to adjust and make sure you felt no anxiety as it in. Just like the day before, you tried to focus on the physical sensations—the cool water inching up your calves, knees, and thighs, the splash of water from fellow swimmers, the stinging smell of chlorine—all reminders that you weren't in the ocean.

You eventually fully dipped yourself into the water, taking a deep breath as you did so. You experienced a small wave of flashback, your chest tightening as you remembered the sensation of being dragged downward, but it quickly passed. I'm fine. I'm alive. I can breathe. 

Luckily, there was only one other couple in the water to potentially witness any freakout you had: two guys, appearing to be romantically involved, splashing each other as they joked around. You gave them a polite smile as you swam by, trying to push down any self-conscious feelings you had about being in a bathing suit. It certainly helped that they were primarily focused on each other and not on you.

You dunked your head under the water, and after a moment of deliberation, swam down. As usual, the sensation was peaceful: quiet coolness swathed you in the most familiar of sensations. It was nice. You were fine. After that moment, you knew you and your old pal the ocean would be okay. You took your time enjoying the water, getting the only kind of exercise you really enjoyed. By lunchtime, you were actually feeling more awake than when you had started. 

You'd just come up for a breath of air after a dive on the deep side of the pool when you felt water splash in your direction.

"Hey, little fish," you heard above you. Looking up, Sarah was standing on the side of the pool. "Bar's open. Care for a drink?" She seemed to be in a better mood, her tone more relaxed, even maybe a little apologetic. Perhaps she'd realized she'd been grumpy earlier.

You hoisted yourself up with the help of the nearby ladder and nodded. You decided to respond extra-enthusiastically to show the two of you were good. "Girl, always! Time for that frozen drink I've been dreaming of. And speaking of fish, are you fried yet?"

Sarah laughed, extending a hand to help you stand. "Not even close to as fried as I want to be. I'm gonna need a lot more oil for that."

The two of you made your way to the bar where Grace was already standing, the bar attendant mid-craft of some kind of cocktail. It looked tropical and slushie-like. As soon as the attendant was done, finishing it off with some pineapple slices and cherries, you pointed to it. "Can I have that, please? All of it?"

"Same!" Sarah said, before shoving a card. "And this round is on me."

"Aw, girl, are you sure?" you asked. Sara nodded.

"Yeah, babyangelgirl, you know it."

By the time your drinks were made and you were sitting back at your chairs, you felt thoroughly relaxed again. The three of you chatted pleasantly throughout the course of your first, second, and third drinks (they were made surprisingly strong; thank you bartender), and you took a moment to revel in the peace of the moment. You and your two friends, lounging by a pool with frozen boozy drinks, catching a nice buzz with all being right in the world-

"I think we need to talk," Sarah said, putting her glass down. You felt a nervous twinge going through your stomach. You set your empty glass down next to hers.

"Are you breaking up with me?” you joked. The alcohol took off the edge of your anxiety, but you still braced yourself, knowing Sarah had a habit of airing dirty laundry while drunk.

“No, I want to apologize, because I know I’ve been hella snappy this morning.”

“Uh, that’s okay, consider it forgiven-“

“-But I was honestly super annoyed with you, and I really wanted to talk about it.” You took a breath, trying to quell instant feelings of defensiveness that rose. Sarah sat up in her chair. “I just feel like you’ve been spending the majority of the time with those Skeleton guys, and like, we’ve barely had any time to hang out together.”

You felt a defensive anger instantly rise. “I mean, I'm trying to see your point, but that doesn't seem exactly fair,” you said, trying to select your words carefully through your drunken fog. “Because, like, it’s not like I’ve been purposefully seeking these dudes out, and like 99% of the time I've been with them I've also been with you guys." Sarah pressed her lips tightly together, while Grace looked clearly uncomfortable with the conflict. Sober, you might've not challenged Sarah as much, but in the moment you couldn't seem to press your mouth shut. "Plus, like yesterday you didn't want to get your face painted with me, you and Grace just wanted to nap. Which was fine! I know it's tough to have a third wheel, and I have no problem giving you space. But I feel like you can't be mad if I choose to hang out with others during that space-"

"Listen," Sarah interrupted. "I can be whatever I want to be, whenever I want to be." You held your hands up to try to pause her.

"Okay, wrong word choice. What I mean is that-"

"If you want to hang out with them, then just go hang out with them. I don't care what you do. You're right; I think Grace and I need some alone time." Sarah leaned back in her chair, putting her sunglasses back on.

"C'mon, babe, you don't mean that," Grace said, tugging at Sarah's hand. Grace's brow was furrowed—you knew this was a Grace equivalent of a full-on panic attack.

"No, Grace,” you interjected, “it's fine. I'm going to go and cool off. Sarah can text me when she sobers up enough and wants to talk it out like an adult."

As soon as the words were out of your mouth, you regretted them, but instead of apologizing you pushed your feet away, grabbing your dress, wallet, phone, and shoes. You roughly tugged on your dress and slammed your feet into your flipflops as you left the pool area. At least your suit was dry enough from being out of the pool that you didn't have to walk with wet clothes on.

You had just closed the gate when a thought hit you: you forgot your bag with your room key and towel. At least you'd had the foresight to grab your phone.

Well, shit. There was no way in hell you were going back for it all just after storming off; You knew you were being childish, but fuck, so was she. The last thing you wanted was to fight on your trip, but you knew that Sarah didn't seem to like them for some reason. That wasn't fair to them! And it certainly wasn't fair to you—you should be able to make friends whenever you wanted, and hang out with whoever you wanted!

As you padded on, unsure of your destination (but knowing you just needed to get away, somewhere), you felt something nagging at you. Something about your conversation... didn't seem right. Sarah was one of the most independent people you knew. Since when did she care if you went off somewhere? When you've gone out before, she was the one chatting up people, going off to dance on tables or poles, making tons of friends wherever she went. Why would she care now if you were spending time with others?

Eventually, you began to notice your surroundings change, taking you out of your more tumultuous thoughts. You were walking up quite a hill, finding your breath beginning to become belabored from the incline. From your slowly expanding view, you could see an increasing spread of the beach and ocean. As you climbed, you realized that the shoreline stretched far eastward past your hotel, while the western beachline (the side you'd not yet explored) slowly curved inwards, leading towards rocky cliff face. The road also became slightly more residential, with opulent, large houses dotting the road. Clearly, people shelled (heh) out a lot of money to get views of the ocean.

You saw a restaurant not too far off, sitting on the edge of the dropoff to the water. It looked quite ritzy from the outside (which likely meant expensive) but decided maybe you could just order a coffee and have a quiet place to sit, sober up, and think properly. Plus, it'd be a nice way to kill some time while the two of you calmed down.

You combed a hand through your drying hair, hoping you looked less like a drowned rat and more poolside-fresh, before stepping into the restaurant. White-washed met immaculate flooring, with lone vases or sculptures dotting the area, achieving a minimalistic, cold, and elegant atmosphere. Yep, fancy as fuck. Cool air immediately blew over you, at least somewhat helping with your alcoholic flush as you approached the hostess.

"How may we help you?" she asked, looking bored, but polite enough. You did your best to put an equally unconcerned expression on.

"A table for one, please," you requested, looking around. The restaurant was mostly empty; surprising, but you figured you'd arrived at just the tail end of the lunch rush. There were plenty of seats available. "By the windows, if possible."

"If you'd like," the hostess said, only a slight bit of annoyance in her voice. She picked up a menu and walked you over to the other side of the restaurant. You took a seat—the view was gorgeous, the windows displaying ocean and nothing else before you. You felt as if you could just lean past the glass and fall right in-

"What can I get you, miss?" came the voice of a waiter, startling you. You clutched your heart, swallowing hard.

"Oh my god, you scared the daylights out of me," you laughed, feeling your heart pound underneath your fingertips. The waiter chuckled.

"I'm so sorry; I'm a silent walker," he said, giving an apologetic grin. "Do you know what you'd like to drink? Maybe a cocktail to steel your anxiety after the heart attack I gave you."

"Nono, I think I'm all set on that," you said. "Even though you definitely just woke me up, I think I'll get a coffee and a water, and just that for now, please."

"Certainly," the waiter said. He turned away, and just a moment or two later came by with your coffee and water. He was blissfully fast. "Please, don't hesitate to wave me over if you would like to order anything else. My name is Rami."

"Thanks, Rami," you said, and he turned away. You appreciated him not giving you sass about just ordering a coffee. You did feel a bit hungry, the spaghetti meal somewhat diminished by this point. You sipped your water (waiting for your coffee to cool) as you opened up the menu-

You didn't do a spit-take, but came close to it, choking on your water. You coughed it up as quickly as you could. This coffee costs ten dollars. Ten dollars? TEN dollars! It better be the best damn cup of coffee you'd have in your life. It better get you promoted, raise your children, let you gaze into the future-

"Are you alright, miss?" Rami asked. You nodded, patting your chest.

"Yeah," you croaked out, before clearing your throat. It almost worked. "Just thirsty, drank too fast." You took a long sip of water, trying to restore your speech.

"Thirsty?" he asked, a barely-concealed chuckle behind his voice. You didn't get the joke. "I'll get you some more water."

You nodded, before taking a breath. Just like before, he was back in a flash, filling up your cup. Damn fast service, for sure. Maybe that's what the ten dollars are for.

Rami disappeared, helping out another table, giving you time to think. You gingerly cupped the coffee, taking the time to feel the warmth in your hands, trying to concentrate.

Okay, Sarah. You've been apart before, you've made new friends before. What's different? Why's it such a fucking issue for you now? What's different about this scenario from the ones before?

You mulled the thought over. What was different? Well, for one, there were monsters involved this time. At this, you frowned; Sarah definitely didn't seem to like the guys as a whole, but she liked other monsters, right? She seemed to have no issue or animosity towards Undyne or Alphys—she seemed as pleased as all to have them around while you guys were swimming. So what else?

You thought back to that initial encounter with Blueberry and Stretch. She seemed fine, then. She didn't seem offput at all when Blueberry came up to her to comment on how nice she looked-

It then hit you. Is Sarah fucking jealous of the attention? You felt a dull shock as things seemed to fall into place. She didn't get suspicious of Blueberry ("devious little skele") until he asked for your information and not hers. She only said she didn't like Red after he made it obvious he liked you. She didn't like G after seeing you two together. She even tried to take away his number after he gave it to you, and didn't want you to text him! And she only acted annoyed and suspicious of Stretch after he wanted to go to the store with just you. Papyrus, too! Innocent, pure Papyrus! She didn't like him once he gave just you his number!

It seemed to all click into place, but you found yourself still warring with the idea. Sure, Sarah likes attention—I know that, she knows that—but would she really be jealous just because I was getting attention too?

The thought didn't sit well with you. You poured your cream into your coffee distractedly, bringing the coffee to your mouth-

The taste was startling. You took a sip. Then a longer sip. Okay, it's good... But it's still not ten dollars good.

You closed your eyes, savoring the taste as you went in for a third sip-

"AH, THE HUMAN! I HOPED I WOULD TRACK YOU DOWN."

You coughed for a second time, spitting out some of the coffee as you did so. You looked down at the now spattered table. What's that? About thirty cents gone?

Instantly recognizing the tone of voice, you couldn't be mad, and opened your mouth to cough out a hello-

It's not Papyrus. It's not Blueberry.

You felt your stomach forcefully drop to your feet. It was that damn Sans! The one from the BDSM party! The one that tried to kidnap you! What the hell was his name? Lingonberry? Boysenberry?

He was dressed less formally and more... officially than when you'd last seen him, his outfit reminding you (with a shudder) of a smaller version of Edge's outfit. He had a red handkerchief in his gloved hand and was practically pushing it in your face. It took you a moment to realize he was offering it for your sputtered coffee.

Instead of taking it, you made a point of wiping your mouth with your arm. He gave a disgusted grimace before letting his hand fall. You felt your anger flare again—you were either too drunk or too sober to deal with him, but either way, he was quickly going to find himself in some shit if he didn't leave. It's not like he can try to kidnap me in a room full of people, anyway.

"Give me one reason why I shouldn't have you forcibly taken out of here," you said evenly. Whateverberry seemed to be studying you, as if considering if you were bluffing. Did you have any idea if you could make that happen? No, but you felt certain you'd be able to come up with something.

After a moment, he seemed to make up his mind. He folded his arms, and for a second you thought he was going to challenge you, but he instead looked away. 

"...VERY WELL. WE, AND BY WE I MEAN MOSTLY MY CRASS BROTHER, WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE TO YOU FOR OUR ACTIONS THE OTHER NIGHT." You peeked around him. His brother (what'd they call him? Puppy? Dog?) was indeed standing there. Upon seeing your stare, he gave a silent wave. The Edge mini-me stepped into your field of vision. "WILL YOU HAVE LUNCH WITH US SO WE MAY DISCUSS THESE MATTERS?"

"Yeah, uh," you began, before taking a casual sip of your coffee, doing your best to look less shaken than you'd just felt. "Normally I'm easy to forgive, but I think I'm going to have to make an exception for you two. Do you comprehend how thoroughly insane and messed up that situation was? I'm not even sure I understand the full extent, and I have a pretty messed up imagination." You set your coffee down on its saucer, before looking at him more directly. "Plus, I have to admit I'm offended, Mr. Strawberry. For you to think that my forgiveness could be bought by a lunch is pretty insulting."

"MY NAME IS NOT-!" he began, his face turning red enough to match the name you'd given him. Hm. I thought they only colored when they blushed. Look at that. He took a visible breath, glove going to his face before sighing, trying again. "MY NAME IS NOT STRAWBERRY. IT IS BLACKBERRY." His voice was much lower in volume (relatively speaking), but you could tell he was only barely concealing his anger. "AND I DO NOT OFFER THIS IN ANTICIPATION OF YOUR FORGIVENESS, HUMAN. I AM MAKING THIS OFFER BECAUSE I AM ALMOST NEVER IN THE WRONG, AND YET I SUDDENLY FIND MYSELF HAVING ACTED SO BENEATH MY STATURE THAT I MUST APOLOGIZE TO A HUMAN."

Yeah, nice way of convincing me, dude. Just condescend a little more.

He must have seen your expression, for he cleared his throat, seeming to regroup. "REGARDLESS, IT WAS AN UNACCEPTABLE WAY FOR US TO ACT, AND THOUGH I DON'T EXPECT IT TO MAKE AMENDS, I WOULD LIKE TO AT LEAST OFFER TO BUY YOUR LUNCH IN EXCHANGE FOR YOU HEARING OUR APOLOGY." It sounds like I've already heard it, Mr. Strawberry. "YOU COULD ORDER EVERYTHING OFF THE MENU TWICE OVER IF YOU WANTED, AND THERE WOULD BE NO CONDITION OF ACCEPTING OUR APOLOGY OR FORGIVING US. I WILL LEAVE THE CHOICE UP TO YOU."

You thought back to the menu. Is he serious? He'd potentially pay more than my monthly mortgage just to grovel for a bit?

You regarded him. He seemed to be giving you time to weigh out your choice, so you stared at him as you thought. Up close, he still looked pretty menacing, but you couldn't find it in yourself to feel afraid of him in that moment. Does he deserve a chance to apologize? You thought back (as best you could) to that night. He said he just wanted you—he didn't insinuate what that entailed or what he would do. He saw you as an item, one to use to piss off Edge. The very Edge and Red that definitely insinuated some fucked-up shit, who you definitely disliked way more than them. Maybe the enemy of my enemy can be my friend? You then thought about this some more. Well, maybe not friends, but the enemy of my enemy can at least plea and beg forgiveness over an expensive lunch. 

"Alright," you sighed, as if belaboring some great burden, "I suppose I'll hear your apology. But I swear, if there's the faintest hint of funny business, I will utterly end you both in this restaurant." If sober, you probably wouldn't have had quite so much sass, but you were certainly enjoying it. To your surprise, the shorter skeleton didn't seem annoyed—he merely nodded. You too could see his brother, moving closer, looked more surprised and amused than anything else. The two of them pulled up seats across from you, the shorter one sitting directly across, while the taller one sat diagonally from you. A red glove pushed the menu in your direction.

"UNDERSTOOD. NOW, HUMAN, FIRST: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO EAT?"

 

Chapter Text

Hey everyone!

 

I’m about to do the Q&A! Please feel free to ask anything if any character or myself! 

 

Uh... that’s it! Hope to see you there!

Chapter Text

As much as the suggestion to order two of everything off the menu was a tempting offer, you weren't one to waste food. That being said, you did want to stick it to them. Perhaps one top-of-the-line steak, likely at a high expense, would be enough to put a stumble in their step?

You opened up the menu and turned to the steak section. They had "Japanese A5 Wagyu Sirloin." You had no idea if A5 was better or worse than A4, but six ounces of it cost 185 whole United States of America certified dollars what the everloving fuck. 

Could you be that mean?

"SEE ANYTHING YOU LIKE?" Mr. Strawberry asked. He hadn't asked to look at your menu and was instead resting his chin on his gloved hands, looking at you thoughtfully.

"I have some things in mind," you said. "What about you? Will you be eating?"

"YES, WE WILL. I WILL BE GETTING A MAGIC-INFUSED VERSION OF THE WAGYU, WHILE MY MUCH LESS REFINED BROTHER PREFERS A BARE SCAMPI."

You somewhat deflated. "You come here often, don't you?"

"REGULARLY," he replied with a bare nod. You inwardly cursed; clearly, you couldn't intimidate him by monetary means. You sighed, resigned, and picked up the specials menu. You decided to just look for what you might actually want to eat instead-

Oh. You spotted something delightful on the seasonal menu. You had to grit your teeth to force yourself not to smile. That'll work.

"I see you have company. Will you be ordering anything?"

"YES," Mr. Strawberry nodded. He then looked to you. "WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN ME IN ON SOME CHAMPAGNE? I ASSURE YOU, THE QUALITY IS EXCELLENT."

You looked at your coffee. Weren't you supposed to be sobering up? You took a brief mental assessment and decided one glass couldn't hurt—after your walk, you had definitely dealt with most of your alcoholic haze. You nodded.

"ALRIGHT. WE WILL HAVE THE 2002 JEROBOAM CRISTAL MEDALLION AND THREE GLASSES. MY BROTHER AND I WILL BOTH BE ORDERING OUR TYPICAL FARE."

"Excellent choice, as always," Rami said. Clearly, Rami was just buttering him up, but you saw Mr. Strawberry look quite haughtily pleased with the compliment. Rami then turned to you. "And for you?"

"Hm," you said, opening up your menu. Rami was thankfully standing just by your side, allowing you to point. "If you don't mind my pointing, I would like this-" you flipped a page "and this."

"Certainly," Rami said. He gave you a somewhat questioning look, but you merely smiled wide. Rami visibly stifled a smile and left, taking your menu with him.

"NOW," Mr. Strawberry said. "AS FOR OUR APOLOGY-"

"Let's wait until I get my appetizer," you said. "I'd like to eat as I listen." You then took another sip of your coffee, fully enjoying it this time now that you knew you didn't have to pay for it. You then looked at the two of them curiously. "May I ask you some questions while we wait?" You figured he somewhat had to accept in his position, but you supposed the deal was a lunch for the chance to apologize, not a lunch for a chance to ask questions.

"BY ALL MEANS," he said, leaning slightly back, though his posture was still upright and at attention.

"I know last time we didn't meet for long, but I got the sense you don't like Edge. If so, why don't you like him?" Your eyes then shifted to Mutt. You had no idea his feelings on Edge and Red, but he seemed to be not listening to the conversation, his gaze distantly staring out at the ocean.

"ACTUALLY..." Mr. Strawberry began, then stopped. "WELL. TO BE BLUNT, EDGE IS ENTIRELY TOO SNOOTY, TOO BRASH, TOO OBNOXIOUSLY ORNATE." You gave him a questioning glance. Was he describing Edge or himself? "AND THAT RUNT, RED-" he shivered "-IS ALL THE WORSE. AT LEAST EDGE HAS SOME TASTE, WHILE RED IS SO CRASS IT'S ENTIRELY UNBEARABLE." He then looked away, mimicking his brother's gaze out the window. "THAT BEING SAID... I THINK IT'S LESS DISLIKE AND MORE COMPETITION. DESPITE BEING WILDLY DIFFERENT IN OUR PERSONALITIES, OUR TASTES DO, OCCASIONALLY, ALIGN. AND FOR SOMEONE AS WONDEROUS AS MYSELF, JEALOUSY UNFORTUNATELY ABOUNDS WHEREVER I GO."

This guy has literally zero insight. None. "Ah," you decided to neutrally respond. Your gaze then turned to the taller brother. "And what about you? Do you also dislike the other two?"

Mr. Strawberry scoffed. "NATURALLY-"

"actually, m'lord, I kinda like the other two," he spoke up. Mr. Strawberry, again, turned red.

"HOW COULD YOU LIKE THOSE CONDESCENDING-" he began, only to be cut off by Rami, coming around with the champagne. Rami's face held no acknowledgment or alarm of the shouting—clearly, he'd seen this type of behavior from Mr. Strawberry before. He held it out for the shorter skeleton to inspect. "YES, YES, FINE." He seemed to be annoyed about being cut off from his tirade, but seemed to let the subject drop.

You gazed at the taller brother. He seemed to you to be a lot more like Stretch than anyone else—but where Stretch seemed to pretend to be relaxed, this one seemed to actually not give a fuck, his eyes looking distant, almost dream-like. You wondered if he was high. Can monsters smoke physical weed, or do they have their own magical weed?

The quick pop of the champagne cork startled you out of your thoughts, causing you to physically jump. Rami seemed amused, but Mr. Strawberry seemed too self-absorbed to notice.

Rami poured out three glasses evenly before setting the bottle in a chilled stand next to the table. You looked at it curiously. The bottle looked fancy as hell, but the champagne itself looked quite normal.

"IT'S NOT POISONED." You looked up, and Mr. Strawberry had the glass in his hand. He took a small, demonstrative sip. Mutt, conversely, tossed his back like a shot.

"Can never be too careful," you joked as you took a sip, though Mr. Strawberry nodded as if these were sage words.

"QUITE RIGHT; I APPRECIATE SOMEONE WHO TAKES PRECAUTION AT EVERY STEP. DEFENSE IS SOMETIMES A GREAT BATTLE TACTIC." You couldn't help yourself, giving a small giggle. No wonder he was dressed so officially; he was so serious about his battle tactics, it was a little comical. If they hadn't been so creepy, they'd be entertaining to spend time with. At your laugh, however, he seemed to narrow his eyes. "WHAT IS THERE TO JEST ABOUT THAT?"

You were about to apologize, when you saw Rami, carrying out your appetizer. Again, you found yourself unable to suppress a smirk.

"I find it quite humerus that you think defense is my only plan."

He gave a questioning look, opening his mouth before Rami placed your plate in front of you. With it, whatever Mr. Strawberry was going to say was obviously lost to him.

In front of you was apparently a new special of the house: Roasted Beef Marrow Bones. You picked up a fork, before giving the two of them the most sickeningly sweet smile you could manage. "If you like, you can start your apology now."

Mr. Strawberry was silent, his face and eyes blank—precisely the stupefied look you were dreaming of, albeit a little creepy. His brother looked at him and barked out a laugh before covering his mouth—certainly the most expressive you'd seen him since you'd met. Mr. Strawberry, to your surprise, didn't get mad. To your much more alarmed surprise, his eyes turned to... stars?

"That's..." He began, his voice quiet, before coughing. His face turned red again—but this time only at the cheeks. As he turned his head to look away from you, you felt your stomach drop. What the everloving fuck. "RIGHT. THE APOLOGY. HUMAN." He then turned back to you, his cheeks still hued, but his stare intent. "I AM... SORRY FOR HOW WE ACTED THAT NIGHT. AS SOMEONE WHO IS A TOP REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COMMUNITY, I SHOULD HAVE ACTED OF BETTER ACCORD AND NOT STOOPED TO THE LEVEL OF THOSE CRETINS. I ASSURE YOU, WE MEANT YOU NO HARM, NOR DID WE MEAN TO FRIGHTEN YOU. FOR THAT, I AM SORRY."

"Is that all?" you asked in a deadpan, placing your fork down. Mr. Strawberry shook his head.

"NO. MUTT, YOUR APOLOGY?" he asked. When Mutt failed to respond, Mr. Strawberry sharply hit him with his elbow.

"what? oh. ditto, m'lord."

"MUTT, THAT IS NO APOLOGY-"

"And yours was also lacking," you commented. Mr. Strawberry turned his eyes to you.

"AND WHY IS THAT, HUMAN?"

"You forgot the part where you apologize for treating me like an object instead of like a person, or for trying to kidnap me, or whatever you had planned on doing." You then looked to Mutt. "And you, too. I know he's the one that ordered you, but your complacency doesn't let you just get away with a 'ditto.' If you guys are really sincere in asking for forgiveness, you'll have to do better than that."

Mutt opened his mouth, but Mr. Strawberry lifted a hand, silencing him instantly. "I WILL ADMIT YOU WERE INVOLVED IN A FEUD THAT DID NOT BELONG TO YOU." He dropped his hand. "HOWEVER, AS I AM CERTAIN YOU KNOW, PER THE RULES OF THE PARTY, WE WERE ACTING WELL WITHIN OUR RIGHT."

Oh, shit. He knows I wasn't supposed to be there, doesn't he? Mr. Strawberry let you sit in your guilt for an uncomfortable beat before narrowing his eyes at you once more, frowning tightly. "AND ON THAT NOTE: RED, AS VILE AS HE HIS, PATHETICALLY ATTEMPTED TO LECTURE US AFTERWARDS ON YOUR BEHALF. AS IF HE WOULD KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT DECORUM." He rolled his eyes and folded his arms before returning his stare to you. "HOWEVER: HE INFORMED US THAT YOU WERE NOT AWARE OF THE RULES OF THAT PARTICULAR EVENT. I FIND THAT VERY INTERESTING, BEING THAT WE MANDATED THAT PEOPLE SIGN A COPY OF THE RULES SENT TO THEM BEFORE THE EVENT, AS WELL AS A COPY THAT THEY MAY REVIEW AT THE TIME OF THE EVENT BEFORE ENTERING."  

You swallowed, feeling like a bit of a scolded child. You took a long sip of your champagne, feeling suddenly very fidgety in your seat.

"Fancy that..." You murmured. "I didn't expect to be eating crow today."

"I DO NOT SEE HOW YOUR FOOD CHOICE IS RELEVANT," he said. You didn't have the energy to correct him. "REGARDLESS, MY POINT REMAINS: SHOULD YOU HAVE BEEN PROPERLY INFORMED, IT IS LIKELY THE SITUATION WOULD HAVE NOT OCCURRED IN THE FIRST PLACE. YOU, THROUGH YOUR NEGLIGENCE, PUT YOURSELF IN THE POSITION OF OBJECT. AND I CANNOT APOLOGIZE FOR THAT."

Damn. Yes, he was obnoxious, and yes, you'd been put in the middle of a fight you shouldn't have, and yes, Edge and Red were definitely still creepers (especially Red), but you definitely had fault in entering a world you didn't understand of your own choosing.

"You are correct, Blackberry," you acknowledged. Now less mad at him, you decided it wouldn't be best to mock him with his hated name, even internally. "And I guess, for that, I can acknowledge your apology was adequate. I suppose it's Edge and Red I should really be mad at, then." Rami came by with the rest of the orders—their steak and pasta, and the thing you actually wanted to eat.

"CAKE?" Blackberry asked, looking at it curiously. "THAT CERTAINLY DOESN'T LOOK LIKE CROW."

You chuckled, shaking your head. "No, you're right, it isn't. My mistake."

The three of you (well, mostly you and Blackberry, really, though Mutt did throw in an input or two) had a surprisingly nice time chatting. Apparently Blackberry had been commissioned by private security companies for several lucrative contracts since the monsters had gone topside, earning him (and his brother, by association) a much wider and faster kind of integration into human society. He declined to say exactly what that entailed, but he seemed quite proud of the work he did. Something about the way he talked still seemed a little... unstable, for a reason you couldn't quite put your finger on, but you did your best to push the feeling down.

The three of you ended up finishing your meal but took your time with the rest of the champagne. You did your best to keep your own drink slowly paced, making sure not to consume your way past a pleasant, easy buzz. Upon finishing your drink, Blackberry stood.

"WELL," Blackberry said. "I BELIEVE OUR LUNCH HAS CONCLUDED. ALTHOUGH I WOULD LIKE TO STRESS, AGAIN, YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO, I MUST ADMIT I AM INTERESTED: HAVE YOU ACCEPTED OUR APOLOGY?"

You gave a belabored sigh, as if accepting a great burden. You weren't about to, say, go for a slumber party with them, but you couldn't say you were actively angry or upset by them either. "Yes, I suppose I accept your apology. Just... Please. Try not to be creepers. I can't take any more creepiness."

"I HAVE NEVER ONCE BEEN CREEPY IN MY LIFE! MENACING, CERTAINLY—BUT NEVER SOMETHING AS LOWLY AS CREEPY! IS THAT NOT CORRECT, MUTT?"

"...yes, m'lord," he replied, in a tone that might've well said that bacon doesn't come from pigs. This was not reassuring.

Blackberry pushed in his chair as Mutt stood. You looked towards the direction of Rami, who was dealing with other customers. They looked like they were about to leave, and you hadn't received the check yet. "Uh, we're not dining and dashing, are we? 'Cause I don't think this sassy attitude I have going today could keep up in jail."

"m'lord has a tab," Mutt explained, texting distractedly on his phone. You looked around. This place would run a tab?

"Uh, guess I'll have to trust you on that one," you said, standing with them. You pulled out your phone, wondering if Sarah or Grace had texted you to see where you were. To your surprise, Sarah was the one to send you a message. You opened it up, assuming it would be some kind of "sorry, I was drunk" apology-

Sarah: Grace has your shit.

Sarah: Let me know when you're ready to apologize.

You could've slammed your phone. How rude and bitchy can she get?! If anyone should be apologizing, it should be her-!

"i hope you're not considering taking back your forgiveness," Mutt said, startling you out of your thoughts. "you look like you're gonna murder someone."

"Right now, I can't make promises against murder, but it won't be either of you," you said gruffly, shutting off your phone before tightening your fist around it. You then took a breath and gave Mutt a tense smile. "At least not yet. Let's see how the afternoon goes."

"VERY DARING, HUMAN! COURTING YOUR ENEMY WHILE KEEPING THEM ON THEIR TOES. A PERFECT STRATEGY TO KEEP THEM OFF BALANCE." Uh. What. "SPEAKING OF WHICH, DO YOU HAVE PLANS FOR THIS AFTERNOON?"

"Uh," you began. You certainly did not have plans this afternoon, and although you somewhat enjoyed their company, you knew you needed to get good and sober and reanalyze before deciding to spend more time with them alone. You looked to Mutt for help, getting a sense he was the more sensible of the two. His gaze was distant for a moment, so you'd figured all was lost, but he seemed to notice the pause in conversation, as well as your panicked expression. He then leaned down to his brother's height.

"m'lord, i hate to interfere, but we have that dinner tonight, and we've yet to-"

"AH," Blackberry sighed with a wave of his hand. "I SUPPOSE YOU'RE RIGHT. AT THE VERY LEAST, HUMAN, WOULD YOU LIKE A RIDE BACK TO YOUR ORIGINAL LOCATION? WE CAN TRANSPORT YOU."

"You're not driving, are you?" you asked, placing a hand on your hip and looking at him critically. "Listen, I don't want to speak for you, but I know I'm tipsy, and I've just watched you drink a good portion of that champagne-"

"I WOULD NEVER CAUSE SOMEONE HARM THAT IS NOT OF MY OWN DESIGN," he said dismissively, walking towards the exit. You weren't sure what he meant by that exactly, but didn't have the best feeling about it. "MUTT HAS TAKEN CARE OF IT ALREADY. SOMEONE IS COMING TO PICK US UP, AND SHOULD BE HERE MOMENTARILY. WOULD YOU LIKE THEM TO DROP YOU OFF AT YOUR RESIDENCE? IT WOULD BE NO PROBLEM, I ASSURE YOU."

"Uh, I guess that'd be fine," you said. Even in your tipsy haze, your mind knew this wasn't potentially the safest scenario—but, then again, neither was walking down the street on your own, even in broad daylight. Which was the lesser of the two evils?

Well, pick the devil you know, I guess. You followed the two outside, the early afternoon sun blinding after being in such a cool atmosphere. Besides, I could get their plate number beforehand, have 911 ready-

"AH. HERE OUR RIDE COMES," Blackberry said, his gaze set down the road. It was a black convertible, though the top was up, which seemed like a crime in this heat and sun. "AND HUMAN, I MUST ADMIT, I HAVE TO APOLOGIZE TO YOU ONCE AGAIN."

"For what?" you asked, shielding your eyes as you looked at him. You were suddenly a little too acutely aware of Mutt standing next to you, his height a sudden commanding presence next to yours.

"YOU SEE, I DO SO HATE OWING ANYONE ANY KIND OF FAVOR. IT IS MY OWN PERSONAL CREED NOT TO BE INDEBTED TO ANYONE, LEST THEY USE THEIR DEBT AGAINST ME. I CONSIDER IT MY OWN PERSONAL HONOR CODE."

"Well, uh," you said. Without a clear reason, you felt your heart begin to pick up pace. "I mean, like I said, I accepted your apology, so our debt is clear." Blackberry was still not looking at you, his gaze set on the car approaching. The car then pulled up to the three of you, before stopping with a small cloud of dust in its wake.

"NO, NOT OUR DEBT," Blackberry said simply. The door to the convertible opened—its door singing a jaunty tune—before out stepped the driver.

“HELLO, HUMAN.”

Edge.

↜ Edge ↝

Edge considered himself someone you absolutely did not want to order around. He gave orders, he stood as the top pillar of his community, he was the final defense between monsters and humans. But ever since he and his useless excuse for a brother had ended up in this topsy-turvy universe, he'd been struggling to assert himself in his rightful position. What kind of universe valued kindness and compassion over displays of raw strength and power? How do you know who is on top if you want everyone to be treated equally? What kind of senseless  cotton-candy logic was this place running on? BAH, WHAT A MISERABLE FUCKING UNIVERSE! 

Like a true soldier, he would make the best and adapt to this logicless world he suddenly found himself in. He'd been doing his best to blend in, ascend the ranks, assert himself into his own corner. And, of course, his brother was constantly mooching off of him:he barely worked, was lazy as ever, and had a terrible loudmouth to boot. Red was never thankful nor obedient.

The one time Red had offered any glimmer of redemption in his life was when he had finally offered some restitution for everything Edge had done, in the form of a gift of a miserable, lowly human—and that turned out to be a lie! A farce! And what's more, that Blackberry (the most obnoxious dickhead skeleton he'd ever had the displeasure of meeting) ended up ruining it all, and scared the puny human half to death!

Red, to the nearly-nonexistent iota of credit he deserved, had contacted the four of them to explain what had happened (by phone, as Red likely knew he would have been physically reprimanded for his actions, the coward). There was nearly a second all-out brawl after Red's deception was discovered, but somehow through his incoherent bumblings he'd managed to calm things down. Blackberry, obviously, admitted his fault in things—he shouldn't have let things get so out of hand as the head of the event, nor should he have acted so barbarically in his position, nor should he have stuck his worthless nose in someone else's business.

So for that, he owed Edge. PAH! Sure, Red was quite the chatterbox when he wanted to be, but for Red to get Blackberry to accept to such a thing was, if anything, an admittance of Blackberry's own ineptitude. Finally, a chance to make Blackberry pay for all the indignities, all the challenging of the great and terrible Papyrus's clearly superior stature-!

And yet, somehow, Edge found himself driving towards a restaurant, using the single most advantageous gift his adversary (if you could dignify the little whelp with that title) could have given him on the chance to apologize to some human. The very human who had made a mockery of him at the most important social event of the year!

For a moment, as he drove up the scenic hills that ascended the coastline, Edge faced a stirring of doubt in the back of his mind. Was there any way that Red could have somehow bamboozled Edge into feeling... regret for his actions?

The thought was so ludicrous, however, that he instantly banished the thought. Red, the most inept sentry in the history of the underground, getting one over on the infamous Papyrus? NEVER!

It was likely just... the surprise of being texted by Mutt that they were with the human, yes. Red had seemed so certain that the human had left, so Edge was merely caught off guard! He was certainly not worried for the human, even being with those two! He only accepted the suggestion from Mutt to meet them because he was in the area, and... Well, that human was under the protection to the Terrible Papyrus, if only for a moment! What would people think if a protected individual of a famous guardsman, be it past or present, got damaged by their adversary? Unthinkable!

Edge did suppose it would be nice to see that human again. She had acted so terrified, so overwhelmed and starstruck by his very presence, surely the act of an apology would bowl her right over! Maybe he could even convince the human to surprise Red, and Red would finally treat him with the fear, dignity, and obedience he so deserved-!

Edge’s mind was swimming in fantasies as he stepped out of his car and greeted the human. For a moment, the human looked just as terrified as the last time they’d seen each other. JUST AS PLANNED! NOW, FOR MY SURELY WEEP-INDUCING APOLOGY-

“I’m out,” the human said simply, much to Edge’s surprise. She deftly maneuvered around Mutt, her walk nearly a jog as she steered herself directly down the hill. Edge was stunned only for a second before he wheeled on his far less superior skeletal companions.

“LISTEN, YOU FUCKS, OUR DEBT IS NOT SATISFIED UNTIL I GET MY APOLOGY,” he hissed lowly, before turning back to the retreating human. “HUMAN! I KNOW YOU ARE INTIMIDATED BY THE TERRIFYING MASTER PAPYRUS, BUT YOUR FEAR IS UNWARRANTED!” Edge then paused for a thoughtful moment, and then added: “AT LEAST IN THE IMMEDIATE SENSE!”

"MUTT," Blackberry snapped. "IF YOU DON'T INTERVENE, WE'LL BE FOREVER INDEBTED."

"me, m'lord?" the bumbling halfwit asked. How Blackberry could stand to be seen with him, Edge never knew. Red might have been disobedient, but at least he was smarter than that mongrel. "what could I do?"

"FETCH, MUTT!"

"yes, m'lord." Edge wondered if sometimes Mutt just played dumb so Blackberry would make that pun, but knew that the fuckwit could never be so clever.

In an instant, Mutt was just behind the human, before he stepped around her. She'd made quite a distance down the hill, and jumped in surprise at Mutt's arrival. Edge expected the lackey to simply transport her back, but he instead talked with her. DOUBLE PAH! AS IF THAT WOULD SOLVE ANYTHING! The two of them went back and forth a bit, the human exclaiming wildly, arms waving animatedly, before Mutt gave a simple, casual retort. Edge was growing impatient, a hair's width from stomping over himself, when he human suddenly turned around and began walking back up the hill, Mutt following shortly behind.

THAT WORKED?

The human walked up to Edge without looking at him. She folded her arms, looking out at the beach.

"I'll hear your apology, but like I told Mutt, that doesn't mean I'll accept it."

Edge was indignant for a moment. THAT PUNY HUMAN, ALLEDGING THAT AN APOLOGY FROM THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE PAPYRUS WOULD NOT BE ENOUGH-

Blackberry cleared his throat, clasping his hands behind his back before giving Edge a pointed look. AH. RIGHT. Blackberry had fulfilled his end of the favor, so now was the time for Edge to take advantage, regardless of how stubborn the foolish human was acting.

"VERY WELL, HUMAN," Edge said simply, before gesturing to his car. "WOULD YOU LIKE TO TAKE A DRIVE INSTEAD OF STANDING IN THIS MISERABLE HEAT? I ASSURE YOU, REGARDLESS IF YOU ACCEPT THE APOLOGY... OR NOT, YOU WILL BE RELEASED BACK AT A LOCATION OF YOUR CHOOSING."

The human seemed to deliberate for a moment, before looking up at Edge, examining him critically, her eyes staring into his sharply. Edge was not used to this, to someone looking at him so intently in the eyes and not away in fear. Although Edge could not admit it consciously, he felt a slight prickle of sweat at the back of his skull.

The human then nodded. "Alright. I just need to do one thing first." The human took out her phone before walking around to the back of the car, holding her phone up to the license plate for a brief moment, before returning. "Okay, I'm good. Shall we?"

 Edge nodded, moving around to the other side of the car before opening the front passenger door open for the human. "LET'S."

Chapter Text

 ↝ You ↜

 

 The last thing you wanted to be doing with a nice sunny day was taking a drive with Edge, but at least there was a convertible involved. You figured the deafening sound of wind should help drown him out (if only a little). You hadn't exactly wanted to sit up front with him, either, but you supposed it would be a safer choice—you could at least access the car's door lock functions from your seat instead of being stuck in the back and at the mercy of the moody skeleton's whims.

As you stepped in the car (Edge shutting the door with an all-too-final-feeling thud), you shot a quick text to Grace.

You: I'll be back in a while. I'll give you another text in an hour if I'm not back by then. This is the license plate of the car I'm with.

You attached the photo of Edge's license plate you took before sending the message. As Blackberry and Mutt got into the back you realized you'd forgotten the original purpose of Edge's arrival was to give them a ride home. You didn't see Edge as much of a willing driver for others, so you figured this had been a convenient set-up. As Edge got in the car, you felt your phone buzz repeatedly in your lap.

Grace: That's not ominous at all.

Grace: Come back, I miss you.

Grace: I'm sorry Sarah was being a butt. She was just drunk.

You buckled your seatbelt, then sent out another quick text before storing your phone.

You: Not your fault. I'll be back soon.

Edge started the car before taking down the convertible's top. This, at least, helped you somewhat with your claustrophobic feelings. Worse comes to worst I can just jump out. I wonder what the slowest speed is to safely jump out of a moving car?

Edge put on a pair of black aviator  sunglasses, and you had to stop yourself from laughing. Very fashionable of you, Edge. Edge pushed the power button on the radio, revealing he'd been listening to some sort of alt-rock station. For however much he creeped you out, seeing him in such a... mundane way humanized him, however little.

"ALLOW ME TO GET ON THE ROAD BEFORE WE BEGIN," Edge said, putting the car in reverse. He twisted his torso, putting his arm behind your car seat. In your panic, you'd hadn't realized he was in the most casual wear you'd seen on him so far: a v-neck shirt that cut off at the elbows, with some dark pants, possibly even jeans? For some reason, this disturbed you. The only reason you'd noticed in the first place was that, as he turned, you could see his clavicle up close, peaking out from his shirt. They were deeply marred and cracked.

You felt the blood began to drain from your face. That's not normal, right? I know they're not human skeletons necessarily, but I don't think it's supposed to be like that, either. That looks as if it hurt like a sonofabitch.

Edge turned away as he drove forward out of the parking lot, blocking your view of your ogling. You did your best to smooth your hair down as the wind from the open car whipped it around. "HUMAN, YOU LOOK POSITIVELY PALLID. I KNOW IT IS QUITE INTIMIDATING TO BE SO CLOSE TO THE MOST FEARSOME MONSTER TO COME OUT OF THE UNDERGROUND-" you heard Blackberry give a small "tch" behind you, "-BUT I GIVE YOU MY WORD: DURING THIS TIME YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR."

You rolled your eyes, turning and looking out the window. You noticed he was going in the direction away from your hotel, but you weren't too alarmed, knowing that he wanted to drive and talk. The area was surprisingly lush with trees for being so close to the coastline, and you found your view of the water quickly blocked off.

You realized Edge was waiting for you to respond. "Yeah, Edge, that's fine. I'm not worried." Not enough to jump out yet, anyway. "So what are you sorry for?"

"I..." Edge began, before hesitating. You wondered if he even had prepared anything to say, or if he knew what he should be sorry for. You took a breath, trying to be patient. "THE GREAT AND TERRIFYING PAPYRUS, MASTER OF THE ROYAL GUARD, TAKES PRIDE IN THE TERROR AND FEAR HE STRIKES INTO OTHERS. HOWEVER..." You stared at him, so far unimpressed. "HOWEVER, IT TAKES TRUE VALOR TO ADMIT WHEN ONE IS MISTAKEN FOR THEIR ACTIONS. AND, FOR THAT, I WILL ADMIT THAT IT WAS UNFAIR YOU WERE CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF MY BROTHER'S DECEPTION, AND BETWEEN THE FEUD BETWEEN MYSELF AND SKELETONS LESS THAN I."

Edge paused, looking thoughtful. You noticed his gaze turned briefly in your direction, and you found yourself looking away. The density of trees vanished as you suddenly came upon a stretch of rolling farmland, cows dotting the landscape.

"I AM SORRY, YOUNG HUMAN. TO BE SO TERRIFYING IS A GREAT BURDEN TO CARRY, AND IN THIS INSTANCE, I DID NOT MEAN TO SCARE YOU. IF I HAD KNOWN RED WAS BEING DECEITFUL, I WOULD NOT HAVE ACTED IN THAT WAY."

You noticed, at least, a slight bit of emotion to his voice. This was likely the greatest amount of sincerity you could expect from him.

"I'm not going to say it's fine, but I understand," you said. "You didn't know either. Red is really the one to blame."

"YES, THAT FOOLISH MISCREANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN BEATEN WITHIN AN INCH OF HIS WORTHLESS LIFE. HAD HE NOT DISAPPEARED LIKE A COWARD, HE'D LIKELY BE DUST BY NOW."

You chuckled. Certainly, there was no way Edge would really kill his brother. Right? But imagining a little violence towards Red was not unwelcome. "Well, if you find him, let me know if you're going to beat him; I'd like to watch."

"AH, A FELLOW APPRECIATOR OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, I SEE. HOW UNEXPECTEDLY DEVIOUS OF YOU." You were silent for a moment. He knew you were joking. Right? "MY BROTHER, HOWEVER, WILL LIKELY NOT BE SEEN FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS, AT LEAST."

"Why?" you asked. "Where will he be?"

 "PROBABLY IN A DUMPSTER BEHIND A LIQUOR STORE," Blackberry grumbled from the backseat. You looked to Edge, expecting him to dispute this, but he remained silent. You turned in your seat to look back at them. Neither one of the pair seemed to be smiling.

 "You're joking?"

"I AM AFRAID HE IS NOT," Edge said. "MY BROTHER COULD NEVER BE THE HEARTLESS TYRANT THAT I HAVE BECOME, BUT HE DOES TRY. HOWEVER, WHEN HE ALLOWS HIS WEAK CONSTITUTION TO BE TAKEN OVER BY GUILT, HE ENDS UP SO..." Papyrus paused. "SO FUCKING WIMPY."

"LANGUAGE!" Blackberry chided, surprising you. You noticed Edge rolled his eyes.

"OH, WHAT KIND OF TYRANT CAN'T TAKE A SIMPLE FUCK YOU-"

"IT IS MOST UNCOUTH! IF YOU CAN'T STRIKE FEAR INTO THE HEART OF OTHERS WITHOUT RESORTING TO FOUL LANGUAGE, YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE AS SOFT AS-"

"SOFT?!" Edge yelled, turning back (or as much as he could with his seatbelt), likely trying to strangle them.

"Road!" you exclaimed, grabbing the wheel to keep the car straight. Edge turned back with a huff, grabbing the wheel again. In doing so, he placed one of his hands over yours, and you noticed the rough texture as you quickly drew your hand away. Looking at his hands, you saw they were similar to the bones of his torso—chipped, slightly cracked in random places, especially around the knuckles.

Uh... He really was just joking about beating up Red. Right?

You decided that, if you had to question the violent quality of someone three times in a row, it was probably best to end an afternoon drive with them early. "Maybe it's time we should head back."

"i think you have the right idea, pet," you heard Mutt say. You looked back, and he appeared the most expressive you'd seen him, eyes wide and hand gripping his seatbelt.

"'Pet?' Was that a pun, Mutt?" you asked. He gave the barest whisper of a smile, hands still curled tight around his belt.

"NO PUNS IN MY CAR!" Edge growled, his hands tightly gripping the wheel. Your eyes stuck close to the road, in case he reacted harshly and you had to intervene again. Yeah, definitely time to go home.

"wouldn't dream of it," Mutt muttered.

You weren't the most comfortable with the three of them knowing where you were staying, but you supposed you were only staying there for another week, so it'd likely be fine. You gave Edge the name of the hotel ("WHAT A STUPID NAME!"), and he turned right around. The ride back was, for the most part, silent, with the occasional comment here and there about the different things in town. It wasn't half as awkward as you'd thought it'd be. As Edge pulled up to the hotel, you felt pretty relaxed and at ease if you were being honest.

"Well," you said, as Edge pulled to a stop by the front entrance. "Thank you for finding me to come and apologize. You certainly didn't have to for some stranger, so I think it's quite nice of you to."

"THE TERRIBLE PAPYRUS IS A LOT OF THINGS, BUT I DON'T THINK NICE IS ONE OF THEM," Edge said, his glower set on you for a moment. You found you didn't know how to respond; he clearly wasn't the most moral individual, but from the little you'd seen from him, he at least was willing to reconsider his code. He then suddenly stared away. "THANK YOU, THOUGH, FOR BEING WILLING TO LISTEN. YOU DID NOT HAVE TO." He seemed genuine in his words, his voice a little thicker than his normal trill shout. You couldn't pretend you liked him, exactly, but he was at least trying to make amends. For that, you could stand him.

You took a breath and pushed through your intimidation, reaching over to place your hand over his, giving it a small pat. "I-"

"N-NYEH?!" He jumped in his seat, clearly not expecting this, earning a loud snicker from Blackberry behind him. He turned around to glare—likely to yell—but you quickly interrupted him.

"Sorry, my hand is probably sweaty and gross from resting on this leather. I just wanted to say that I accept your apology. However, I have a favor to ask in return."

"W-WHAT IS IT, LOWLY HUMAN?" he asked, clearly still thrown. You gave a comforting smile.

"I just ask that you don't tell Red I'm still here. I don't want to listen to an apology from him—if he even would want to give one, that is. He really scared me, and I don't want to have to go through that again."

Edge looked hesitant, but then nodded. “I SUPPOSE, HUMAN, IF THAT’S WHAT YOU THINK IS BEST, I WILL AGREE TO IT. I AM IN NO POSITION TO DECLINE SUCH A REQUEST.”

“Thanks, boss,” you teased affectionately. Edge smirked, and although his grin was terrifying, you felt this was a more natural phenomenon than a purposeful thing. A shark couldn’t help it’s smile, certainly, and neither could he.

You turned and have a small wave to the pair on the backseat. “M’lord, fellow punner, it was nice to see you and talk to you under better circumstances. If I don’t see you before I leave, it was nice to meet you and have a good chat. I hope you continue to enjoy your fancy meals and champagne.”

“IT WAS... GOOD CONVERSATION,” Blackberry said, folding his arms as he looked sideways. Mutt gave a tired smile.

“very bubbly talk. nice meeting you, pet.”

You snickered and gave a small wave, exiting the car amidst the two louder skeleton's groans. You shut the door behind you with a solid "thunk," glad you'd navigated through that situation without any real incident. Things were on the up and up as far as you could see! You confidently strode into the hotel, a definite pep in your step. Your buzz was fully dead at this point, but after your conversation clearing the air, you felt incredibly light. You had no worries, the stress from the past few days gone-

That was, at least, until you were about to put your key in the door when you remembered your fight with Sarah. You closed your eyes, heaving out a sigh. It's okay. She's still your friend. It's just a small, stupid argument. Don't let it blow up, don't get too angry, try to listen and understand. Your friendship isn't worth it. You opened the door, attempting to swallow down the tension that suddenly had closed up your throat. Upon opening the door, you saw Grace, who came over to you immediately, giving you a hug.

"I'm glad you weren't kidnapped," she said, doing her best to envelope you in her tiny frame. "Sarah's napping right now, but I think-"

"BABYANGEL!" she said, running out of her bedroom, practically tackling you. Grace too got caught up in her massive hug. "I'M SO SORRY I DRUNK FOUGHT WITH YOUUUU!" She then took a deep breath, as if preparing for a sob. "I promise I didn't mean it you can befriend whoever you want and hang out with whoever you want as long as you don't love them more than me it's fine I'll never be needy like that or push you away again I'm so sorry."

You couldn't help but laugh as she gasped for a breath, doing your best to hug her back in the tangle of limbs. Maybe if you hadn’t just spent an afternoon accepting apologies from people you thought you detested, you wouldn’t have been so quick to forgive her, but this seemed easy by comparison. "I'm sorry I was a butt. I know I was unnecessarily mean, so I'm sorry for that."

"It's okay my sweet baby girl, all is good." She was still crushing you, so you gently wiggled your way out of her vice grip. She pulled out her phone, distractedly moving onto the next thing. "So! We have a bit before our fancy as fuck sunset cruise! Are you hungry? We could probably grab a quick snack or bite or something."

"Uh, no, I'm sorry, I found a place to eat while I was away. If you guys are hungry, I'm happy to come with, if you'd like," you said, doing your best to make the final part not sound catty or sarcastic. Sarah waved you off, tapping distractedly on her phone with her free hand.

"Ugh, girl, of course we'd like. Grace and I worked up an appetite eating in, though." There was a hard beat before Grace seemed to implode, her face breaking out in red as she smacked Sarah. Sarah gave out a loud laugh, defending herself as you clutched your side in laughter, leaning against the kitchen's column for support. You'd literally never seen your best friend so expressive, and it warmed your heart to see her break out of her shell so much.

Once safe from the blows, Sarah resumed her search as you rifled through the mini fridge, looking for a bottle of water you'd bought earlier. "I guess we can just wait until the cruise. There doesn't seem to be anything quick on the way. Where'd you eat?"

"Oh, this fancy-as-fuck place. It was way more expensive than I was expecting, so I wouldn't recommend it unless you're looking to splurge."

"I'm surprised you stayed, to be honest; you're like the best budget queen I know." You knew this was Sarah's kindest way of calling you cheap, which you were fine with. It was true. "And Grace told me you sent her a picture of the license plate of the uber you were in. I have to say, even though I was still mad at the time, I was proud you were making good decisions."

"Uhhhhhhhh," you began, gripping the water bottle before shutting the fridge, doing your best to walk past her quickly. You weren't the best liar.

"Babyangel, why are you giving me your Tina Belcher impression?" Sarah asked suspiciously. You made a quick route to the bedroom, shutting and locking your door behind you before Sarah could follow. You could hear Grace laughing in the background. "Babyangel? My sweet babyangel I swear to god if you tell me one single skeleton was involved I swear I'll-"

"Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," you replied, resulting in a stronger laugh from Grace and a frustrated scream from Sarah.

"You have got to be kidding me!"

 

You spent your time getting ready, recounting your afternoon in the best light possible (through the locked door; you were no fool) to Sarah and Grace. Really, it was fine. They were fine. Just Red was the creep, and he wasn't even there! Sarah didn't seem the most impressed with what had happened, but given how apologetic they were (and given your recent fight, probably), she seemed to let you off without too much lecturing.

By the time you finished getting dressed (you went with that cobalt dress Muffet had bought you, plus some silver-toned makeup at the advice of Sarah), Sarah's ire had all but subsided, and you figured it was safe to come out. Sarah was in the living room, standing in front of a mirror, her hands in the middle of placing an earring in her ear. She had a flowing white and tan striped dress and looked gorgeous with her hair in a loose updo—like she was made for classy yachting. You were in unabashed awe of her style.

She noticed your presence and gave a squeal as she looked at you. "Aw! Babygirl, you look fantastic! Hold on two seconds; I have the perfect necklace for that, I just bought it." You watched her disappear into her room, Grace brushing past her meanwhile. Contrary to her girlfriend, Grace looked like she was more ready to be a deckhand: cargo shorts, button-up tee, sneakers.

"Ugh baby we're gonna look like the most cliche lesbian couple there," Sarah said, brushing past her and moving over to you. Sarah had a silver necklace in her hand, which she deftly placed around your neck before clasping it for you.

Grace gave a shrug. "I mean, as long as we're a couple, that's all I care about."

"Aw, baby!" Sarah squealed, leaving you to give Grace a loving smooch. "You know I love it when you say romantic shit like that."

Grace merely giggled in reply against Sarah's lips. Damn, Grace, you're becoming a smooth motherfucker.

You took the moment to inspect the necklace Sarah had given you. It looked new, certainly—it glittered underneath your fingers. Dangit, Sarah was good.

The three of you finished getting dressed and ready. It was probably a good idea you decided not to eat; by the time the three of you (or, really, Sarah and her hair) were all ready to go, there was no time to eat anyway. The three of you jumped into an uber before it sped away eastward, heading presumably towards the docks. During the ride, you found yourself playing with the necklace Sarah gave you, looking out the window at the clouds changing hue in the approaching sunset. In your free hand held your phone; it startled you as it buzzed.

It was a text from... Grace?

Grace: Nervous?

You smiled. She was sitting next to you, and you gave her a small affectionate nudge with your elbow before typing back.

You: About being on the water? Nah. A little intimidated to be stuck on a boat with fancy folk, though. How about you?

Grace: Oh, I'm good. I just want to make sure Sarah has a good time.

You: Aw, my Gracie, such a sweetheart. Look at you being all romantic.

Grace laughed, tucking her phone away. You spent the rest of the ride in relative silence—until the boatyard came into view. Sarah leaned over you to point at an especially large catamaran.

"Holy shit look at that!" she exclaimed. "If that's the one we're on, I'm gonna freak, that's the best damn Groupon I ever spent!"

The uber let you out close to the end of the marina, a mix of salt and seaweed instantly hitting you as you opened the door. You coughed as your sinuses tried to get adjusted to the hanging odor of fishing bait. Ugh.

"Okay, I'm gonna spew, let's get going quickly," Sarah said, putting her clutch in front of her nose protectively. The three of you quickly made your way over to a small building. A perky attendant stood at a small window. Sarah pulled out her phone, presumably to pull up the e-tickets. "Alright, I don't mean to be rude, but if I don't get away from this smell, I'm gonna upchuck. We have tickets for a sunset cruise."

The attendant nodded knowingly, scanning Sarah's phone. You imagined they were used to the smell as well as ill guests by this point. The attendant handed Sarah three pieces of paper that simply had "Dock B" printed on them, and Sarah practically dragged Grace down the dock. To Sarah's extreme excitement, the boat in question was that huge catamaran you'd seen.

So I guess a small intimate gathering of people is out of the question...?

You were by no means an expert on boats, but from what you could guess, it had to be a fifty-footer at least. You were a little early (due to foregoing the food stop), but thankfully there was already someone there, taking tickets and letting a few people on board. Sarah thrust the tickets into their hand and you and Grace followed her aboard, doing your best to walk quickly on the rocking metal gangplank.

Sarah gave an exasperated gasp as soon as she was on board. "Oh god, I was holding my breath as much as possible, that was horrific." She leaned against one of the glossy fiberglass sides of the boat. "At least this is bougie as fuck; for the price, I thought it was going to be a little wooden dingy."

Sarah was right; the boat was sleek and polished, exuding class. You supposed, for the size, they could make back the cost with the number of people they could charge for rides. "How long is this anyway? Like an hour thing?"

"Girl, do I look like a seacaptain? All it said was that we go around the bay, so however long that takes."

"Fair, fair," you said. As you were peaking around the ship, you saw the glimpse of a bar through a porthole. "Are you guys up for drinks?"

"Do you even have to ask?" Sarah teased, hooking her arm around Grace's as you made your way over. The catamaran was double-decked, and the lower hold had an enclosed space. Making your way inside, they'd continued the classy theme, tan plush chairs and tables arranged on the side with a large bar in the middle. Some attendants were passing out trays of hors-d'oeuvres.

"I think we get one free glass of champagne, then they charge you," Sarah said, phone back in hand. "But the food is free, so that's nice." You were already ahead of her, mid-stopping a waiter to pick up a small cup of something off their tray. In the cup were little pale crab-shaped items.

"Sauteed crab apples in cinnamon sauce," the waiter informed you. You took the little fork that accompanied it and popped a slice into your mouth, before feeling a familiar tingle on your tongue. Mmm, magical sweetness. "I think it's magic, guys."

"Oh, sweet!" Sarah said, grabbing one for herself and Grace. The three of you quickly finished them off before moving to the bar and ordering the champagne. To your surprise, the champagne was blue, similar to the night of the BDSM party. You leaned over to the bartender, who was pouring out more glasses.

"Excuse me, what's the name of this? I had one a similar color before," you asked. 

"This is Sea Tea champagne, but there's also Echo Champagne that's also that nice blue," they said, distractedly tossing the bottle away. "Personally, I think Echo Champagne is leagues better, but they really like sticking with the nautical theme here."

"Nothing wrong with that," you said, leaning on the bar. "When I'm on a boat I, too, find myself feeling a little naught-y." You gave the bartender a shit-eating grin. He merely deadpanned back.

"And to think, just moments ago I was considering giving you a glass of the good stuff for free."

Sarah smacked your arm lightly. "Girl, you joked your way out of free alcohol?"

"Aw, shoot! I guess my jokes are for naught. Buoy, it's really sink or swim here-"

The bartender cleared his throat. "I will give you guys another drink later on if you promise to not pun at me ever again."

"Deal!" you said, tapping the bartop enthusiastically. You were about to make another comment (potentially breaking your deal within the first few seconds of making it) but stopped. An odd, but not entirely unfamiliar sensation came over you that you couldn't quite place, like catching a scent from your childhood that you couldn't quite connect a memory to. You then realized the waiter said something.

“Sorry?”

"I said come back in an hour when I know you've had time to get that one through you. I can't have anyone going overboard." A waitress came over with a tray and the bartender began to place empty champagne flutes on top, likely getting ready for another round to be passed around. They looked busy.

“Right. Sure.”

You shook your head as you followed Grace and Sarah away, snaking through the quickly thickening crowd of people. You felt another, odd feeling: that of being watched.

Maybe this particular champagne isn’t my cup of tea.

Chapter Text

Confident you at least still had the mental processes to make very poor puns, you doubled up your focus on the task of trailing your friends. They were headed to the upper deck, likely wanting to get a view before it got too packed up there.

Upon taking in the fresh air, you realized you’d been holding in a breath. You took a pause to shake yourself off.

“Hey, do you want the rest of mine? I don’t like it,” you said, offering your glass to Sarah.

“Don’t need to ask me twice,” Sarah said, taking it from you. “Are you feeling okay?” 

“Yeah! I’m good. This is such a nice view, how could I not be?”

You could see the line of boats at the various docks in the marina. This must have been in the more affluent section, as most of the boats were large sailboats or similar—a stark contrast to the rusted-out fishing trolleys you’d seen growing up. 

“Last call!” a voice suddenly announced over the ship’s loudspeaker. “We will be departing shortly, following a brief overview of safety procedures on the ship.”

The captain of the ship introduced himself before beginning his safety spiel. You did your best to pay mild attention as the three of you took up some real estate against one of the railings on the deck. The people around you seemed to be all having a good time, chatting pleasantly together as they mingled. Watching them, everyone seemed to be so effortlessly at ease and relaxed in this situation. Conversely, these were the exact situations in which you tended to freeze up socially; you were glad you had Sarah and Grace with you, or this thing would’ve been murder.

Sarah was actually already chatting someone up adjacent to your group, her charm melting down the social ice. Grace was more your speed, keeping silent, though she too seemed just as relaxed as ever.

The ship gave a sudden lurch and you realized the captain was no longer talking—it looks like your trip was underway. As your ship backed out into the marina, you passed an oceanfront restaurant. There were people eating out on a deck, many looking up at your ship, some even waving. You felt a small buzz of excitement. Was this what Blackberry and Mutt felt with their expensive dinners, or Edge with his fancy car? You could understand how the finer things could easily go to someone's head. If I ended up with the finer things like this, would I turn into them? 

As the boat sped forward, you leaned on the balcony, listening to Sarah's easy conversation as you watched the water froth and rush below. You felt a sudden melancholy overtake your previous excitement, a blanket of anxiety squashing the butterflies in your stomach. No, I don't think I would. Maybe Sarah could fit into this world, with how easy she talks to others. Or Grace, too, with that cool indifference she has.

As the boat navigated out of the marina and into open water, you remained largely silent, unable to lift off the weight of your self doubt. You tried to distract yourself throughout the chatter, concentrating on the gentle sway of the boat as it cut through the curling waves of the deeper water. The rocking motion was soothing, and as you concentrated on it you started to feel a little better- 

“Baby angel, are you okay?” you heard Sarah asked. You snapped back to attention and opened your mouth to reply, but realized she was looking at Grace. 

Grace’s face was several shades lighter than normal. “I don’t feel so good,” she murmured. 

“Grace, do you get seasick?” you asked, placing a gentle hand on her arm.

“I don’t know, I’ve never been on a boat before,” she said, gripping the railing. You were dumbfounded—the two of you grew up near the water. How was that possible? And how did you not know? 

“Well, the closer to the water you are, the less you’ll feel the rocking. We should go as far down into the boat as we can,” you said. Grace nodded, and the three of you climbed your way down below deck. You had grabbed a waiter on your way down and asked if they had anything for seasickness—they seemed to think so, and said they’d find you down below with what they could find.

Your lower position in the boat seemed to help, but Grace quickly seemed to be out for the count. You and Sarah had put a row of seats together so Grace could lay down, her head on Sarah’s lap.

“I can’t believe I didn’t know,” you said, feeling flabbergasted. What kind of friend am I? I’ve known her since birth, and not known this?

“Me either,” Sarah said, running her fingers through Grace’s hair, massaging her scalp gently. “Baby, I wish you would’ve said you’d never been on a boat before, I would’ve brought stuff just in case.”

“I didn’t want you to be worried. I just wanted you to have a good time. I’m so sorry.”

“Aww, baby,” Sarah cooed, leaning down and kissing her forehead. “You know it’s okay. I just wanted to spend some time with you, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

Maybe it was just your continued anxiety from earlier, or maybe resonance from your recent fight with Sarah, but you felt like you were intruding. You stuck a thumb in the direction you’d come from.

“I’m, uh, gonna go check and see if the waiter found anything,” you said, making a hasty retreat.

“Girl, you don’t have to-“

“I know I love you bye!” you said, running up the stairs before she could stop you. You reached the landing of the open-air deck before you stopped. 

Well, now what? Unlike your social butterfly friend, without a companion you had no idea on how to insert yourself into social situations. Looking around, most of the groups were couples, anyway, which meant they likely didn’t want someone butting in on a romantic night. 

“NYEH HEH HEH!”

Papyrus?!

You could practically hear the angels singing in a heavenly choir as you heard that distinctive laugh. Looking up, you could see the back of Papyrus on the deck above you. Clearly, the universe was sending you some kind of sign-

It was then that you made out the face of another person standing next to Papyrus: a purple cat monster. They were cute as hell, and looked to be getting along with Papyrus very well. You couldn’t say for sure it was romantic, but judging by how close she was, she was at the very least touching his arm. You felt a small bite of disappointment in your stomach. Maybe he found his romance. Maybe the Universe is just telling me to fuck off to forever alone island instead.

You took a breath, attempting to clear your head. Okay, okay, enough with the dramatics. I need to look at this differently—this is my vacation, a chance to relax and a chance to grow. I’ll find a group—not a couple—and just learn how to break my way through. I’ll try to get more comfortable being around others. I’ll be social! 

Just as you were stepping forth to explore the boat, the crackle of the loudspeaker unceremoniously stopped you.

“This is your Captain speaking. Food and drink service are moving sternside in consideration of our current eastern heading. We encourage those of you seeking the best views of the sunset to head towards the stern.” 

A sudden stream of passengers pushed past you, rocking side to side in their steps. Before you knew it, the deck was cleared out.

Or I could retreat back to my life of solitude and enjoy my peace.

Figuring this a sign that the fates favored introverts, you made your way to the open bow of the boat. There were a few people still lingering here and there, but most seemed to be making a strolling exit towards the sunset.

You surveyed the now largely empty deck—small tables were mounted securely to the flooring, but the space was largely unadorned. Between the two hulls hung a thick mesh netting, the holes of which showed the rushing water beneath peaking through. Are people allowed to go on that?

You didn’t see any signage saying people were not supposed to. You didn’t remember the captain saying anything about not doing so in the rules, either. Surely he would’ve mentioned that so idiots like you wouldn’t get hurt trying to step on it, right?

You vaguely recalled memories of seeing videos of sun-soaked people lounging fabulously in similar netted-bow catamarans, and assumed it was fine. You approached it before placing a foot gently on it, testing your weight. You gingerly moved onto it little by little before laying back fully. The netting seemed to barely move under you, so you figured it secure, the matieral tightly and strongly strung.

Above you lay a pastel watercolor portrait of gentle hues, a small number of clouds dotting the sky. It was incredibly lovely, and you felt good with your decision. As you placed your arms behind your head, you allowed yourself to focus in on that gentle rocking and the sound of the water beneath you. Once again, you felt peace overcome you, almost curling around you along with the warm breeze, loosening all the tension in your muscles. You stretched, yawning, feeling as if you could melt through the netting and fall into the ocean below.

Still, you found a small kernel within you troubled.

You took a moment to try to process your day. Man, my emotions have been so all over the place today. Maybe even all this week? I don’t think I’ve ever been so quickly up and down. Even now, going from that anxiety to this level of peace so fast is just... bizarre. I wasn’t like this when I came here. What’s it about this place that’s making me so off balance?

“hey.” 

Your eyes flashed open as your heart restarted. You had expected to see a deckhand or something, ready to chide you for your inappropriate resting place, but instead saw a stout, familiar skeleton  standing above you.

"You!" you accused, "I thought I dreamt you."

“yeah?” He seemed greatly amused by this, the corners of his eyes creasing as he chuckled. "that’s hilarious. am i that much of a dreamboat?"

You gave a loud laugh, rubbing your eye with the heel of your palm tiredly. You hadn't fallen asleep while resting on the net, had you? This certainly felt real. "I mean, I was so shore I'd dreamt you, so it's hard to say." A thought then hit you. "Wait. How did I get back home after we met, then?" 

"oh," he said, and there was a brief, odd pause. He seemed hesitant. "you don't remember? i helped walk you back."

You felt your cheeks burn. Had he seriously helped you walk home and you didn't remember it? You remember feeling totally sober by the time the sun came up, but maybe you'd just blacked out. How embarrassing—and dangerous. "Uh, no, guess not. I'm really sorry about that. I hope I wasn't super obnoxious then."

He gave another chuckle. "heh. no, trust me, you were fine." Something in his tone made your blush increase. You looked away from him, sitting up fully. "mind if i join you?"

"Not at all," you said, scooting over and patting the netting beside you. He tottered over unsteadily before sitting down. He looked a little nervous. "You, uh, okay?"

"gotta admit, i don't get what people sea in the ocean. the idea of having to sink or swim and hitting rock bottom makes me a little seasick." Despite his punning, you could see what faintly looked like blue-tinged sweat form on his skull. You pulled your legs towards your stomach, doing your best to smooth your dress out.

"Man, I'm so glad I didn't make up that you were the best punner I've ever met," you grinned. He smiled back a litle wider, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.

"lady, too much praise can make a guy puncomfortable," he said, giving you a small, joking elbow.

"Well, I didn't mean to punish your ego," you retorted back. This time he gave an actual laugh.

"you got me there," he said, stuffing his hands into his pockets. His arm was still brushing yours, the cotton of his hoodie as soft as you remembered. You made a mental note to ask him later where he got his. "my brother would probably be keeling over if he heard us."

"Not a fan of puns?" you asked, aghast. "How could that be with such a record-setting punner for a brother?"

Sans shrugged. "who knows. otherwise, he's the coolest dude i know."

You studied Sans for a moment. He was looking out at the darkening sky, the pink-orange light casting his face in an interesting shade. He seemed sincere. "Well, in that case, I'd certainly like to meet him." A royal blue came to Sans's face. Combined with the coloring from the sky, you couldn't help but think he looked beautiful. You weren't able to dwell on this, however, as a sudden thought sparked in your mind. You instantly felt like an idiot. "Wait... Your brother, does he normally wear a white shirt, red scarf, black stocking thing, et cetera?"

The blush on his face faded as he tilted his head. "yeah, how-"

"Oh my God! I met him and he is the sweetest being I have ever met in my entire life! You're so right, he is the coolest!" 

Instead of looking pleased like you'd expected, he looked at you with a mix of puzzlement and concern. "you've met him before? when?" 

"Uh," you hazared, feeling like you just got Papyrus in trouble. "I met him twice, although it was pretty brief. One was that same night I met you, at the Crown & Trident. Then I saw him again this morning at breakfast, at a restaurant called Mama's. Why do you ask?"

"just..." he started, before giving a small sigh. He then turned and looked at you searchingly for a brief moment, before looking apologetic. "uh. sorry, kid. as the older bro, i tend to worry sometimes. i didn't mean to pry." 

"Hey dude, pry away," you said, giving a small elbow nudge, mirroring his own from earlier. "I think it's sweet you're protective. A goodness as pure as Papyrus's needs to be guarded at all costs, so I don't blame you."

He gave another sigh, but this one seemed relieved. "thanks for understanding. not to change the topic, but are you here with anyone?"

"Mhm," you hummed, pointing a thumb over your shoulder. "my two friends that I mentioned before, I don't know if you remember-" 

"grace and sarah? the couple?" 

"Yeah!" you said brightly, pleased he remembered. "They're below deck. Grace got a little seasick and Sarah's taking care of her. They seemed to be having a moment, so I decided to make myself scarce."

"that's pretty nice of you. is it hard vacationing with a couple?" he asked, somewhat gently. You could read the message behind his words: third wheeling it, huh? 

"Honestly, not really," you shrugged. "They're both such good friends. Sarah and I admittedly had a little spat today, but that's because she thought I wasn't spending enough time with them. I'm incredibly lucky to have the friends I do."

"yeah?" he asked. "i know the feeling."

You two shared smiles, before you knocked playfully into him again. "Look at us, being a couple of saps. What made you decide to leave the party, then, and come out here?"

"well, this sap sometimes like a little soli-tree time, if you can be-leaf it," he said, grinning as you chuckled. He then looked away again. "i guess i was feeling a lot of anxiety for some reason again, so i wanted some air. and then, wouldn't you know, i saw my dreamgirl down here."

You felt your face explode, and you gave a laugh, looking down at your hands to distract yourself from the sudden heart in your throat. "Hey, you were the dreamdude, not me." You heard him chuckle.

"oh, sorry, i wouldn't dream of making such a mistake again." You peeked over, and saw his face as blue as yours was red. Maybe he hadn't meant to say that. You took a calming breath, and leaned back on your hands.

"You know, I had a dream last night I was swimming in an ocean of orange soda." You saw him turn to look at you out of the corner of his eye.

"yeah?"

"Yeah," you said, turning to look at him before wiggling your eyebrows. "It was a real fanta-sea."

He burst out laughing, rubbing his face. The two of you took turns for a while, trading jokes and chatting about different aspects of your life as the sky slowly drained into darkness. By the time the sky was fully dotted with stars, you felt incredibly at ease with him. Despite more people surrounding you as they left the sunset side of the deck, you found yourself forgetting other people were there, the world seeming to fade away. Something about him was so relaxing it was just... soothing to your soul. 

By the time you were fully embedded into night, you were deep in conversation. However, the captain interrupted your talk, announcing that the boat would be returning shortly. You pulled out your phone, surprised at the time, and even more surprised Sarah hadn’t been blowing up your phone.

As you put your phone down, you realized there was an unusual lull in conversation. Typically you wouldn’t have minded, but there was a certain thoughtfulness to his pause. 

“Something on your mind?” you prompted. The sea air was starting to give you small goosebumps and you rubbed your legs in an effort to get some heat to them. He seemed hesitant, his eyes scanning you for a moment in silence, but gave into his curiosity.

"...i guess i have a question i haven't been able to ask. i don’t exactly got a ton of human friends, and the kid ain’t exactly a walking encyclopedia.” You realized he was talking about the child that had been the ambassador for monsters—it still blew your mind still that he and Papyrus were so well connected. “what's it with you humans and skeletons?" 

You stared at him, feeling your heart skip a beat. Does he know I've been seeing an inordinate amount of skeletons lately? Do they all talk to one another? Red did say they were family... "What do you mean?"

"i mean, i watched this cartoon the other day that had dancing skeletons in it, and i realized it was supposed to be spooky.” You wanted to laugh in a mix of relief and absurdity at the question, but he seemed genuinely confused. “why? i get that you have a skeleton, but with the exception of monsters like us, they're not living. what’s there to be afraid of?"

You considered this for a moment. You didn’t know how to explain that they were almost a joke fear nowadays, but used to be more serious. "Well, I think there used to be the idea of a human coming 'back from the dead' as scary, like a zombie, or maybe just seeing a dead version of ourselves is an instinctual sign of danger. I don't know. Actually..." You thought on it more, and when a memory struck you, you had a creeping embarrassment crawl up your back. "Well, nevermind."

"c'mon, throw me a bone here, you're the only one i can ask," he nudged. He must've used that one a lot.

"Ugh, all right, but don’t you dare judge me," you said, laughing sheepishly. "Uh, well, my favorite movie when I was younger was called The Nightmare Before Christmas. The lead character was this skeleton named Jack. I had the biggest crush on him growing up."

"really?" Sans asked, his voice at a notable octave higher than normal. You put your hands over your face, groaning in embarassment.

"Yeah, just... Okay," you said, taking a breath. "Let me explain: he was so highly intelligent, but had this romantic soul, and he was joyful and dark at the same time. It was like all these contradictions that made up a really enticing and lovable individual." 

"dark?" he asked, his voice teasingly incredulous. "so lemme guess, it was it a bad boy thing?"

"No, it wasn't bad—he wasn’t bad," you corrected. A small voice in your mind was telling you shut up, you're embarassing yourself, but you couldn't seem to keep your mouth closed. "Maybe that’s why I liked him so much; he was dark, had so much dark in him, but he was never a bad person. I think even before I had words for it, I knew I had... my own darkness. But I saw in him you could have darkness and make mistakes and still be a wonderful person, a person others could still admire, accept, and love. And I wanted to love someone who could understand that, and have me understand them in return." You felt you were literally rambling by this point, your soul withering from embarrassment. Fuck. He’s going to tease me for acting like an emo kid from the 2000’s, for thinking I’m deep just because I’m depressed-

“hey, kid?”

“Yeah?” I’ve definitely been talking too much, revealing things way too fast-

“i’d really like to kiss you right now.”

Your head snapped to him. Was he joking? For a guy that didn’t seem to change much expression on his face, something about his stare was the most sincere you’d seen. You felt your face re-explode into blush. 

“O-okay.”

His hand carefully reached out, fingers grazing your cheek in an almost comforting way, as if he were afraid he’d frighten you off. You leaned into the steadiness of his hand, letting him guide his mouth towards yours. The kiss was sweet, and sincere—now more assured about what the experience would be like, you let yourself be awash in the pleasant sensation the kiss brought forth. You felt your stomach twist pleasantly as a sense of euphoria came with his clear, simple message: I like you.

As he pulled back all too soon, you felt dizzy, almost high. Your lips tingled.

“geeze, kid, i-“

“HUMAN!” rang out, loud enough to make both you and Sans jump. “I SEE—Oh, shoot.”

You turned and looked at Papyrus, who had clearly just caught on to the intimacy of the situation.

“I AM SORRY BROTHER, HUMAN, I DID NOT MEAN TO INTERRUPT. PLEASE, RETURN TO YOUR CANOODLING.”

Papyrus quickly then turned away, hurrying out with long strides and into the thickening crowd of people.

“bro, wait-“ Sans began, quickly getting up. He then hesitated, and looked at you for a brief pause. He then frowned for the first time since you’d met him. 

“sorry, kid.”

Sans quickly walked off, disappearing behind the nearest group. You stood, wanting to follow- 

But he was gone.

How did he do that?

Chapter Text

 

 ↜ Papyrus ↝

  

Papyrus, the dearest member of the royal guard, had never been so excited to return to Ebott City. Although many monsters had left to explore the world, many had stayed and settled in and around Ebott, and Papyrus was surely missed by his many adoring fans and friends! News that they were being sent back on a diplomatic mission could not have come sooner—despite his international colleagues, Papyrus was (DARE HE SAY IT?) feeling a little lonely!

His normally lazy brother, too, had seemed a bit out of it—despite being free from the barrier and richer than sin, Sans seemed to be working all hours and on edge all the time. To be a top Royal Guardsman, you also had to be a great detective, and suss out the truth at a moment's glance! Papyrus could tell something (though not quite what yet) was wrong. Papyrus had been hoping that this trip would be a good reprieve for his older brother. Initially, it seemed to be working! Sans seemed to be more of his old self, the increase in his relentless puns being a sure sign of his relaxation.

That seemed to change, though, after he heard about the human who had met too many of them and their... doubles? Sans had been very... aloof in his explanation of it, for a reason unknown to him. Papyrus had a sneaking suspicion that Sans withheld information from him, although the idea seemed ludicrous. Papyrus was a royal guardsman, for the King's sake! There was nothing that he couldn't handle!

Papyrus would admit that he couldn't understand why the rest of them were so concerned about the human knowing about them. Certainly, the human would not find out about their mysterious relation—and even if she did, she could simply keep it a secret! That way they could all be friends, and everything would work out! The entire monster kingdom certainly had their happy ending thanks to Papyrus keeping the human child a secret before, hadn't they? It would undoubtedly prove successful again!

And that was why he kept the human a secret from Sans.

No, despite what some of the others thought, Papyrus was no fool. He knew quite shortly after meeting the human that they were the one the others had mentioned—as expected from the Great Papyrus, the master of deduction!

(It did help that Blueberry had shown him a picture they'd taken together, but still! That club was very dark, and the human was in very different clothes!)

Papyrus knew that, if Sans met her, he would realize she clearly meant no harm to them or their... brethren. A fellow pasta lover, after all, could not be bad! That was the friendship food! Plus... If so many of them liked the human, regardless of (or perhaps especially because of) how different they all were, she had to be good, surely. The bright light of her soul would shine through any darkness!

Papyrus knew her soul was bright, even without seeing. Even when they first met, and even though the human was intoxicated. He just knew.

It was not until that morning, when they had shared delightful conversation over pasta, that Papyrus became determined to have his brother and the human meet. Sans would finally get another human friend, and perhaps widen his inner circle, if only a bit. Or maybe he would even learn to trust the humans—despite the continued friendship with the human child Frisk, Sans seemed on edge with every human he met. Or, best yet, maybe this human could even unite all of the doubles back together! It seemed such a shame (even for some of the more... dubious doubles) to go their separate ways. They should have been working as a team of their own!

Papyrus began formulating a grand strategy for the two to meet, creating grand schemes, traps, and even puzzles (TO BE USED AS A LAST RESULT, OF COURSE!) to get them together. Little did Papyrus know, though, that all of his careful planning would be for naught! The world seemed to intervene far more quickly than he expected: he stumbled upon the two companions of the human—Sarah and Grace—and they stated that the human was on the boat that very night! A short search for the human later and he found her—with his brother, no less! And, better yet, they already seemed quite close!

But... Despite this clear record-breaking victory for the Royal Guardsman, Papyrus did not find himself happy.

Was it because he had not gotten the chance to implement a single plan? Because he lost an opportunity to flex his tactical muscles? Or... Something else?

As Papyrus walked away, climbing the stairs towards the upper deck, images of the way the human had looked at him that very morning with those bright, admiring eyes danced in the forefront of his mind. Those same eyes that had been looking at his brother so very fondly before Papyrus had interrupted them. That was what The Great Papyrus wanted, was it not? So why was he continuing to walk away from the two?

Had the Great Papyrus been afraid that she might not look back at him anymore, now that her eyes were on Sans? 

Papyrus stopped dead in his tracks, ready to perform a precise about-face when he felt a weight knock into him. Turning around, he saw his brother, looking panicked, light traces of blue sweat on his skull, and pin-prick sized eyelights darting across Papyrus’s frame.

“paps, i-!“ sans began, before Papyrus leaned down, wrapping his brother up in a warm, sincere hug.

“I AM VERY SORRY IF I HAVE CAUSED YOU WORRY, BROTHER,” he said, giving a small squeeze before straightening. Sans looked stunned, and for once, seemed speechless. “THE GREAT PAPYRUS SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN SO RUDE AS TO NOT GREET A FRIEND! CAN YOU FORGIVE ME?”

“of course, bro,” sans said, confusion still clear on his face, though he was visibly more relaxed. “‘s probably just my manners rubbing off on you.”

“NYEH! WE MUST RECONCILE THIS AT ONCE, LEST WE BOTH BE HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!”

Sans nodded, his grin now returned. “sounds like we really took a wrong turn there, bro.”

“SANS!”

 

↝ You ↜

Literally, what the fuck is with these dudes.

You were now standing alone on the deck, feeling bewildered. You felt badly for Papyrus—the last thing you wanted was for such a sweet being to feel pain—but why was he so upset? Did he not like the idea of his brother dating a human? Did he not like you, specifically? The three of you seemed to be having such a great time together just this morning! Had you accidentally offended him?

What's so wrong with me that literally the nicest person I've ever met couldn't like me?

You massaged your forehead, a headache coming on as your self-doubt plagued you. You took a breath and quickly made your way off the deck, moving downstairs. At least this was all almost over—the boat was in the marina, making its way to the dock, so you'd likely be disembarking shortly. You fast-walked over to Sarah and Grace, who were still on their makeshift couch.

"Hey guys, the boat's almost ready to dock," you said, nodding in the direction of the exit. "How are you feeling?"

"Still not great," Grace said, her face still pale. "The medication helped a little, but not really. Next time I know no boats."

"Aw, dude," you said, giving her arm a gentle rub. "Let's get you off of this rustbucket ASAP."

Sarah and you hoisted Grace upright, trying to keep her steady as possible as you moved your way towards the exit. Just as you walked up, the boat was docking, deckhands looping thick ropes around the cleats. You tugged Grace forward as carefully as you could manage, and ended up being one of the first off of the boat. The three of you quickly moved away from the area (although the bait smell wasn't quite as bad, now that there was a nice evening breeze). Now on stable ground, Sarah took out her phone and quickly set up an uber.

The three of you were now standing by a small closed shop, a streetlight above you cutting out a small area of illumination in the darkness. Being so close to a populous area, it was a little hard to see the stars through the light pollution—but they were still there, glinting out at you as you stood and waited. Grace's color was slowly coming back to her but she still looked nauseated, her cheeks sallow and lips pressed together tightly. The three of you remained largely silent, not wanting to force her into conversation, and instead just listened to the waves and crickets mix in song. A few groups of people (likely from the boat) filtered by you, chatting pleasantly as they appeared from and disappeared into darkness.

Just as Sarah’s phone buzzed, likely announcing the driver was near, you heard the sound of quick footsteps approaching you. The only reason you noticed it at all was that it was so contrary to the leisurely stroll of everyone else who passed. You strained to look, seeing a figure in the darkness-

"hey."

"WHAT THE FUCK-" Sarah screamed, nearly tackling Grace as she jumped. Sans was standing off to the side of her. How had you not seen him pass? Did he go a long way around?

"heh. didn't mean to scare the skin off of you. are you... sarah?"

"How the fuck did you—oh," Sarah said, setting her sights on you as she let go of Grace. You gave a sheepish wave as you dodged her glare.

"Uh, heya, Sans. Guys, this is Sans, the brother of our sweet breakfast-spaghetti Papyrus." Sans took a hand out of his pocket, bony fingers giving a small wave.

"nice to meet ya."

"I love Papyrus," Grace said, giving a small wave back. Sans seemed pleased, and you realized he had small tells you were picking up—the crinkle of his eyes, a small stretch of his grin, the relaxing of his shoulders.

"who doesn't?"

Sarah, who conversely wore her expressions quite clearly, looked unimpressed.

“What can we help you with?”

He seemed to examine her for a moment before nodding in your direction. “i was hoping to talk to your friend here if she doesn’t mind. but let me first apologize: i’m sarah-y if i scared you, so by your grace, i’d like to say-“

“Oh my god, another punner, now I get it,” Sarah interrupted, sighing as she rubbed her head. “Just go, but be quick—our ride is coming in like a second here.”

Sans chuckled, and you could feel another pun coming on, so you quickly tugged on his jacket and moved a fair distance away.

Now alone together, standing in the darkness, you felt a little self-conscious, not know long what to do. He seemed similarly anxious, rubbing the back of his skull.

“uh, so,” he began, looking away from you. You felt a spike of dread. Shit. Does he want to say he didn’t mean to do that, to clarify it was a mistake, spur-of-the-moment thing? “i-"

“Ride’s here!” You heard Sarah yell from afar, giving you guys a wave.

Sans gave a sigh, eyes closed for a moment before he looked at you. You felt yourself involuntary swallow hard. “uh, sorry if this is rushed, but... i’d like to see you again sometime, if you wanted. paps would too. i don’t know how long you’re here for-"

“I’d love to see you again,” you said quickly, knowing Sarah had the patience of an agitated snake. “And Papyrus too. Here,” you said, taking out your phone and pulling up the new contact option. “Give me your number.”

Sans quickly typed in his number and you took your phone back. From what you could tell, he seemed genuinely happy.

There was a brief pause between you two before you heard a horn being honked. You gave him an apologetic smile before leaning in and giving him a lightning-fast kiss on the side of his skull. To your relief, when you pulled away he seemed even happier, the bright blue making a comeback to his cheeks.

“Bye, Sans.”

“bye, kid.”

The goodbye was so simple, but something in his tone made you want to do anything but leave. You forced yourself to give him a wave and put one foot in front of the other, though, heading back toward your waiting friends.

As you ducked into the car, you found your smile mirroring Sans's standard grin, your cheeks almost uncomfortable with the width of your smile as excitement buzzed within you. Oh my god, I feel like I'm twelve and just said hi to my crush for the first time, holy hell. You rubbed your face, trying to reign in the pleasant feelings that twisted your insides. Deciding to ride your confident high, you instantly texted Sans, sending him a quick message ("I wanted to give you my number by texting you a skeleton pun, but I didn't have the guts for it").

You thought Sarah would comment on your meeting, but she was surprisingly silent as the car sped off, and the three of you sat wordlessly together for the majority of the ride. You felt your phone buzz, but to your surprise, it was Papyrus, not Sans.

Papyrus: Hello, Human! This is the Great Papyrus. I am sorry I did not stay to chat earlier. I hope I did not upset you with my absence.

You couldn't help but smile. You still weren't certain why he ran away, but you were glad he was at least reaching out to you.

You: Aw, hi Papyrus! I was sad we didn't get the chance to talk, but I'm so glad you texted me. How are you doing?

You figured that was neutral enough, giving him the option to talk about... whatever happened or to leave things as they were. When your phone buzzed again, Sans's name popped up.

Sans: lol, thats a great one

Sans: im not surprised you had good puns tho

Sans: i could feel it in my bones ;)

You giggled to yourself and noticed Sarah turn to look at you. You looked back at her and gave her a small smile, but she didn't return it, staring at you with a thoughtful expression. You looked to the side, feeling awkward under her stare.

"I think I know what we should do tomorrow," she said, looking back at her phone. You put your own down.

"Oh? I'm down for whatever."

"Good, 'cause I think you'll have a lot of fun," she said, typing something into a web browser before turning her phone away from you. "But it'll be a surprise, so you'll have to wait."

"Lame!" you protested, but she only laughed, snuggling up to Grace and turning away totally from you. You spent the rest of the ride texting Sans and Papyrus, the silence now noticeably more comfortable than it had been.

After a few tumultuous days, you felt at peace—at least in this moment.

The uber let you at the front door, and the three of you made your way inside. You spent the rest of your night watching the hotel TV, lounging together on the couch. Eventually, you grew too tired to keep your eyes propped open, and decided to go to bed, bidding your friends goodnight. You quickly sent your new texting pals a couple of quick goodnight messages before collapsing into your mattress.

Maybe it was just the up-and-down nature of the day exhausting you, or maybe it was how relaxed you were at the end of your night, but you had barely pulled the covers over yourself before you were drawn into sleep.

You dreamed of water again, a rocking dinghy keeping you afloat of a black-and-white sea. 

You awoke, drowsy but feeling fairly light. Your bones popped as you rose, a sign you'd hardly moved in your sleep, a pleasant ache in your joints as you stretched. You rubbed your face as you arose, trying to shake off your sleep—you weren't tired, exactly, but felt like you could've slept more if you wanted. You started your morning routine, getting your basics down before stepping out into the kitchen and turning on the provided coffee machine. You took a second to pause, enjoying the quiet sereneness of a slow morning.

You went and got your cell phone as you waited for your coffee, checking your texts. Compared to your previous days of radio silence, there were now nine unread texts since you’d gone to bed. The first couple were from Papyrus:

Papyrus: Goodnight, human! I hope you get an optimal amount of rest!

Papyrus: Good morning! I hope you are an early riser like myself, and not someone that sleeps in like my lazy brother! I hope you have a good day.

You shot him a quick good morning in return, getting the warm and fuzzies from the sentiment. The next few were from Blueberry, to your surprise.

Blueberry: Hello friend!

Blueberry: I just wanted to let you know how nice it was to see you!

Blueberry: I hope you are having a great week!

Blueberry: It would be nice to see you sometime this week!

You felt yourself smile wide. Aw, finally! And here I was wondering if he didn't like spending time together. You sent a text back, confirming you definitely wanted to hang out again sometime this week before you left. The final few were from Sans:

Sans: morning

Sans: sorry if this makes me sound a little *bone-ly*

Sans: but got any plans for today?

You giggled, typing back as you plopped down on the couch:

You: Morning! A pun is the best way to start the day imo.

You: Sarah had something she wanted to do but wouldn't say what last night, so I'm not sure. I'll let you know as soon as I do, though.

You then paused, unsure if you should be forward or hang back. After a brief moment of indecision, you let out a sigh and texted again.

You: I'd really like to see you again.

You dropped your phone, forcing yourself to leave it so you didn't obsess over the response, and walked to the kitchen. You made yourself a cup of coffee, taking a long sip. Sarah came out, looking groggy, grabbing a mug of her own.

"Morning!" you said brightly, leaning on the counter. You heard your phone buzz from the couch and had to resist the urge to leave and check it.

"Morning, babyangel," Sarah said, yawning as she poured her coffee. Your phone buzzed again. You handed her a sugar packet provided with her hotel.

"How'd you sleep?"

"God, like the dead," Sarah said, yawning and stretching. "I was out in like five seconds flat." Your phone buzzed a third time. You couldn't help but look over.

"Me too," you said, rubbing your eyes. "So, what are we doing today?" Buzz.

"Well, ugh, I don't know," Sarah said. Buzz. "I-" Buzz buzz. Sarah then looked over and rolled her eyes. "Oh my god, just answer whoever that is, please."

You grinned apologetically, walking over. You saw previews of a litany of messages from Blueberry, Papyrus, Sans, and even one from Stretch. You opened it up, and went to your settings, turning the vibration off.

"Sorry. What were you going to say?"

Sarah was silent for a moment, and you realized she was looking at you again. You felt like you were being analyzed. She then put her coffee cup down, taking a breath before she smiled at you.

"There's a lady's night I'd like to go to tonight. I think it would be a lot of fun! Undyne and Alphys are going. It's been a couple days since we really partied, so I'm starting to get an itch to get dance-y."

You nodded. "That sounds cool! I really liked Alphys and Undyne."

"Good," Sarah said, tapping the side of her mug thoughtfully. "I also thought we could have a little bit of a spa day. I chipped my nails yesterday and I want to get it redone, and I figured we could get all prettied up."

"Uh, sure! Sounds fun," you said, this one with a little less certainty in your voice. You weren't the most used to going to salons—plus, it sounded expensive. You started to mentally budget in your head.

"It's a plan then?" Sarah asked. You gave a distracted nod, moving back to your phone, wanting to research the cost of nearby salons.

"Excellent."

 

↜ Sarah ↝

Sarah had been to a lot of pride celebrations, almost to the point where she only went for the special occasions—if a drag performer she especially liked was performing somewhere, as an excuse to go back down south and visit old friends, as a chance for a getaway weekend with a beau, etc. She'd been to just one since moving up north three years ago and admittedly missed it a little bit. When she heard that her girlfriend had never been to a pride, she booked the first tickets she could get. What could be better than a weekend away with the new partner?

But then Grace had mentioned that her best friend had never been to a pride celebration either. Grace had looked up at her with those big eyes, the eyes that never asked for anything in the face of Sarah's admittedly numerous demands, and suggested that her best friend come along. How could Sarah say no?

There'd been a lot of assurance and discussion that there would be no feelings of third wheels or crashed dates before Grace’s friend accepted. To Sarah's surprise, the closer the trip came, the more Sarah was excited for it. Sarah normally, for one reason or another, had trouble in her past getting her ex's friends to like her. She was labeled too flirty, or too loud, or too headstrong, or opinionated—and Sarah refused to sacrifice her strength for anyone.

Grace's friend was the first that liked Sarah in a genuine way. She even forgave Sarah after she put her giant foot in her mouth (as she was apt to do) and mentioned one drunken night that she didn't believe in bisexuality. She wouldn't have even known her error—Grace's friend staying silent—until she saw Grace’s eyes. Grace, who never wore her thoughts on her face, sent Sarah a look she could for once read clearly: Sarah, you idiot.

Grace's friend took it in stride, though Sarah could see her pain. She had then spoken softly about her life—about how she tried to approach the subject once with her mother, who deemed it disgusting; exes who told her she was just confused, or more liable to cheat, or incapable to love them completely; support groups that complained she didn’t belong there, because she’d been dating a guy at the time, and could “pass for straight.” 

Sarah felt like utter shit. Though she knew she wouldn’t be able to change her own mind in a night, she vowed to try. Grace’s friend had smiled—sincerely, from what Sarah could tell—and said thank you, and that she couldn’t ask for more.

That was when she became Babyangel to Sarah. And Sarah vowed to watch over her, help keep her safe. A sweetness that rivaled her own Grace’s, after all, had to be protected.

Sarah had no doubts that her sweet Babyangel liked girls—the three of them worked together, and she saw her become tongue-tied around certain female coworkers (hell, she’d even acted tongue-tied around Sarah when they’d first met, before she and Grace were dating). But she’d never seen her act romantically around a guy—not once in the months that they’d been friends. Sarah was doing her best not to doubt her friend, but…

That was, at least, until this week. Although Sarah didn’t have a problem with monsters, for some reason, her Babyangel seemed to be like a beacon to a bunch of skeleton monsters—and it was starting to royally piss Sarah off. For one, why were these dudes going around at pride hitting on some chick—how did they know she wasn’t a lesbian? Did they not care? Sure, the first day when they met the first couple, she was wearing a shirt displaying her “pansexuality”—but the others certainly didn’t know! Plus, like, why skeletons? They were all so different, but seemed to zero in on her for no good reason! It was strange, and disconcerting, and Sarah just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off about them.

She wondered if her sweet Babyangel was just being pressured into their advances. They seemed to just be there, all the time, regardless of where they went. Someone as shy as her—did she feel okay to say no? Was she only thinking she was into them because they were into her?

Then came along Muffet. Sarah had seen her Babyangel look just as embarrassed, just as tongue-tied as she had before. It was beyond obvious that Muffet was into her, and Sarah just knew that her Babyangel was in return. They would make a great match! But Muffet had been blocked by a skeleton, seeming to interrupt them at every opportunity.

Maybe Sarah just needed to give an opportunity for them to come together, away from everyone else. Maybe, once they met, her sweet Babyangel would forget about the skeletons and focus in on just one someone else. Maybe she would stop looking so sad, or confused, or exhausted once she had those boys’ drama out of her life.

Maybe Muffet and her Babyangel just needed a little push to be happy—and Sarah knew just how to do it.

Chapter Text

↝ You ↜

The three of you had settled on a small salon, just off of the main drag. Sarah has mentioned a coworker’s brother owned it, and that they could get you some good deals.

Despite your thrifty urges being satiated, this made you doubly nervous. You worked in a small town, and a lot of people from work knew your family—what if they mentioned that they saw you there? Would your parents question you? Suspect?You tried to distract yourself by texting as the three of you walked along the main road, your [hands increasingly fidgety after you’d exited the Uber that had taken you there. The streets were desolate this early on a weekday morning, and you alternated focusing on the quiet morning air and the phone in your hands.

“Oh!” Sarah said, startling you while you were in the middle of composing a text to Stretch, “let’s get some coffee and pastries. I’m starved.”

You clicked your phone off, looking at Sarah with confusion. “You are? But we ate before we left,” you said, shoving your phone in your pocket. Normally you wouldn't have asked, but the point of eating at the hotel was to save on money, and you would've felt badly going to a place and not ordering anything. Sarah hummed noncommittally.

"I thought I wasn't going to be hungry, but here we are. Plus, don't you love to eat?" 

You shrugged. "Got me there. I don't think I want anything, though. Where do you want to get it from? I think I saw a place open back there," you said, pointing in the direction you came from. Sarah shook her head.

"Nonono, I know where! Let's go." Sarah took the lead, taking off with a bounce in her step. You and Grace shared a look; Sarah was usually dragging in the morning. What's got her so peppy? Grace shrugged before the two of you followed after her, your shorter legs struggling to keep up. Eventually you found yourself in front of a familiar restaurant.

Muffet’s Parlor? I didn't know you were down for sweets so early in the morning." You looked at a chalkboard outside that listed the daily specials, making a memory rise to your tongue of the dessert you'd had last time you were here. Your mouth began to water. Sarah said nothing to it, dragging you inside by your hand. "I can't blame you, though, this place is great."

Inside, the place wasn't half as packed as the first time you were here, but it was still likely the busiest place on the street. Your eyes instantly were drawn in by the display case, a siren’s call attempting to beckon your wallet out of your pocket. You swallowed hard.

“Deariess!~” a raspy sing-song voice called. You tore your stare away and saw Muffet waving at you from the cash register. She said something to one of her attendants who stepped place in her stead. She then walked briskly over to you, leaning above the display case.

“Hello, deariess~. What a pleasant surprise. Are you here for a little morning indulgence~?” She then rested her chin on one of her many hands, her gaze set on you. You felt a blush start in your neck.

“Uh,” you looked to Sarah desperately, “Sarah was still hungry this morning, and she wanted to go right here. I’m trying not to eat twice, but seeing everything is making it so difficult. It looks great as always!” You realized you were mildly rambling, but you felt you couldn’t stop yourself. Sarah thankfully stepped in.

“Yeah! It’s so nice to see you here. My girlfriend and I are both vegan, and this is by far the best vegan pastries we’ve had. My friend here-” she threw her arm around you “-was the one that convinced us to try. She was saying they were downright magical .”

You felt your blush creep back. You were pretty sure you hadn’t said that, but it was a sentiment you’d agree with. Muffet tilted her head questioningly, looking at Sarah for a beat longer than normal. You looked up at Sarah, but she pulled away from you suddenly, moving towards the display case.

“I’d like this one and this one—wrapped up to go, please.”

“Ssure thing, dearie,” Muffet nodded, the usual singing canter oddly out of her voice. She picked up the two desserts with ease and moved to the register, Sarah following her quickly. You exchanged a look with Grace, who shrugged. This was quickly becoming your usual silent conversation with Grace regarding her girlfriend.

You made smalltalk with Grace (mostly regarding the desserts, since you couldn’t take away your focus) while Sarah rang out. In the middle of your commentary about chocolate, you saw Grace’s gaze suddenly move past you to the cash register.

“What is it?” you asked, the expression on Grace’s face enough for your stomach to feel like you’d fallen through the floorboards. You turned, following her gaze. Sarah and Muffet both had their phones out, and Sarah was saying something to her with a large smile on her face. You felt the color drain from yours. “Uh, she’s probabl-”

“Excuse me for a moment,” Grace said evenly, brushing past you before you had a chance to stop her. You felt your throat close up briefly, resisting the urge to shout. I don’t go for backup, right? This is probably a private thing that I let Grace handle on her own? Oh lord, Sarah, if you were flirting and exchanging numbers…

You saw Grace move up to Sarah, standing tall and sure despite her short frame. Oh yeah, she’s got this. You resisted the urge to be nosy enough to move close enough to hear, but couldn’t stop yourself from watching. They spoke for a moment or so. Muffet, to your surprise, didn’t seem alarmed—just mildly interested at most as she watched the two of them talk. Sarah looked abashed for a second, but then suddenly leaned over, kissing the top of Grace’s head before grabbing her bag. The two of them then walked past you silently, and you followed them out of the shop.

Grace and Sarah paused once on the sidewalk, giving each other looks in an obvious silent conversation. You said nothing, sticking your hands in your pockets uncomfortably, giving them the opportunity to share or drop it. Grace nudged Sarah, who then looked at you guiltily.

“Hey, babyangel, on a scale of one to zero, how mad would you be if I gave out your phone number without your permission?”

You blinked, taking a moment to process. “...I guess that would depend who?”

Sarah tilted her head back in the direction of Muffet. “She said she tried to give you her number before and you never texted her! I was going to tell you before Grace found me out, I swear.”

You stared for a moment, visions of Muffet handing you her card in the store flashing in front of your eyes. Oh. Oops. “Ah, yeah, that’s fine then. Just, uh, don’t do it again. I guess I didn’t… I didn’t know that’s how she meant it.” You rubbed the back of your neck. Sarah rolled her eyes.

“I know you didn’t, babyangel. That’s why I did it.” She then gave a belabored sigh. “But Grace was right; I should’ve asked to be sure beforehand. My wise little nugget.” She gave Grace a squeeze, who was back to her easygoing calm. The three of you quickly eased back into normal conversation as you made your way to the salon. You noticed Sarah didn’t eat her dessert, but you chose not to remark on it.

The salon was in a stout-looking building, packed between a jewelry store and a hardware store in a shopping plaza. You were mid-conversation as you walked up to the door, but suddenly let your sentence fall.

Oh no.

“Uh, so hey guys, can you promise me something?”

“Yeah, what?” Sarah said distractedly, looking at her phone.

“Well, you know how forgiving I am, right? Since I just forgave you?” Sarah raised her head, looking at you suspiciously. You pressed on. “Well, there’s another friend I forgave in there, so I appreciate if you’d be nice.”

“What? Who?” Sarah asked, attempting to look around you and through the glass door. She then seemed to realize. “Oh, come on, you have got to be kidding-“

“Okaygreatthankyouloveyoubothbye!” you said, quickly heading inside. You could hear a muffled, frustrated scream from Sarah outside as you walked up to the front desk. The attendant was looking past you at Sarah, probably from the scream. You couldn’t exactly tell, since the attendant was a monster in the form of a giant hand, but their… palm face ( ? ) seemed to be leaning around you to get a better view. They had beautifully painted nails, at least.You cleared your throat.

“Uh, sorry, I believe we have a reservation for three? Name under Sarah?”

She looked up at you, clearly amused. “Yes, the mani-pedi for three? We’ll be ready for you in a moment; just have a seat over there.” She waved you over to a small, clean area with a few sleek chairs and benches arranged in a small half-square. As far as nail salons went, the place  was fairly standard: muted-color walls, clean floors, stylish but not over-the-top furniture. Your wallet was already thanking you.

On your way to the waiting area, you heard a familiar brash voice call out to you.

“HUMAN! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? ARE YOU STALKING ME?” Edge said, walking up to you. You couldn’t help but grin wide. “I CAN’T SAY I BLAME YOU. MANY A FOE HAS FALLEN VICTIM TO MY CHARM.”

“I guess you caught me,” you joked with a shrug. You then had a flashback to the party, when he was so gullible to believe Red’s blatant lie. Maybe it’s not the best to tease him like that. You cleared your throat. “My friends and I are having a little spa day. What are you doing here?”

Edge held up his hands in display. You couldn’t find anything different with them. He doesn’t even have nails?

Edge seemed to notice your confusion and glowered. “I’M GETTING THEM SHARPENED. CAN YOU NOT TELL?”

“Oh,” you said, tilting your head. They did look awfully pointy. You tried not to think about what they could do in a bad mood. “I just thought they were naturally that sharp.”

“HAH!” he laughed, standing tall. He seemed quite pleased. “OF COURSE YOU DID, IGNORANT HUMAN! THAT’S NATURAL FOR SOMEONE AS FEARSOME AS I!”

You heard the door jingle to the side of you. Sarah came through, totally ignoring you and Edge, and sat down by the door. You resisted the urge to roll your eyes at the dramatics.

“Sarah?” the attendant called. Sarah stood, walking over to her with Grace close behind. You nodded towards the pair.

“That’s us,” you said. You realized Edge wasn’t looking at you--but instead Sarah, his eyes narrowed critically in her direction. “Uh, well, see you later.”

At this, he turned back to you, and you felt a scrutinized under his stare. After a silent moment, his look softened into something more affectionate. You took an uneasy step back.

“GOODBYE, HUMAN.”

What was that about? You had no idea, but decided not to ask on it. You instead gave him a quick wave and a “bye, Boss!” before turning back to your friends. You followed them and the attendant to a set of large massage chairs with foot basins attached. Sarah started for the one on the very end, but Grace beat her to it, practically jumping to sit before Sarah could.

“Fine!” Sarah said, sitting with a huff next to her.

“Jeeze guys, I swear I put deodorant on today,” you joked, taking a seat next to Sarah and kicking your shoes off. Sarah didn’t respond.

You looked back towards the door—you could see Edge’s car pulling away through the large glass windows—and felt a small spike of irritation within you. Didn’t we just go through this yesterday?

You took a breath, closing your eyes for a moment. She apologized yesterday, you apologized yesterday. Do what you can to put this behind you. The both of you.

You felt your massage chair moved, causing you to jump as your eyes flashed open. A worker had turned on your chair for you, and was giving a small chuckle at your response. They then turned on the foot bath, jets pouring in water. You placed your feet inside, the feeling of tepid water against your skin helping you to relax.

You looked to Sarah, who was pointedly not looking at you. Pushing past your irritation, you reached over and placed your hand on hers, giving it a small squeeze. At this, she finally looked over towards you.

“Thanks for organizing this,” you said affectionately. “This is really nice.”

She regarded you for a moment before finally relaxing, giving you a small smile in return. “Of course, babyangel. We’re going to look cute as hell.” She flipped her palm up towards yours and gave it a squeeze in return.

Like the flip of a switch, this seemed to break the tension, and the three of you chatted amicably as you picked out your colors, a large wall of available nail polishes displayed across from where you were sitting. Sarah had gone for an over-the-top rainbow decoration (in honor of pride) while Grace picked out a simple black. You took the longest with your deliberation—there were so many colors, and you had difficulty picking out just one ( Blue? Red? Orange? Yellow? Green?), but didn’t want to copy Sarah’s rainbow. In the middle of your mulling it over, Sarah sat up at attention and pointed to one.

“That one!” she said, pointing to a royal-looking purple. “Oh my gosh, you have to go with that one, it would look gorgeous. Purple is totally your color.” The attendant brought it over from the wall and handed it to you. You studied it curiously. Since when is purple my color? When is the last time I wore it? You shrugged and nodded, giving it back to the attendant.

“If anyone knows fashion it’s you, so I’ll trust your judgment.”

The three of you had a good time as you went through the motions—your feet being scrubbed, toes pedicured and painted, followed by a similar routine with your hands. Contrary to Sarah (who got her nails done regularly, and was clearly in her element), you could tell Grace was uncomfortable with the whole ordeal, but said nothing to it. You similarly felt a little uneasy having such direct attention paid to these minute parts of you while you sat and did nothing in return, but it seemed to make Sarah happy. And damn if they didn’t do a good job, too.

By the time you were all done, it was already getting to be lunch time. Stepping out of the salon, the morning chill had dissipated, a steady breeze the only remnant of the coolness of that morning. The foot traffic had picked up somewhat with late risers, but was still leagues less than it was previously. The three of you decided to walk through the neighborhood, branching out from the main center.

The downside to Ebott (being so close between a mountain and a beach) was that it was hilly as hell and you were nearly breathless after an hour of navigating through the rollercoastering up-and-down streets. Other than the unwilling workout, you loved the area. It felt like the best of all worlds: the forested mountain had largely been preserved among the city, buildings nestled between old looming trees, the serene ocean peaking through leafy cover here and there. You felt like the people living here could choose by the minute whether to be surrounded by people or nature.

In the more neighborhood areas, the houses seemed to be largely historical—Ebott must have been a very old town, with the majority of the houses built in a colonial style, with the exception of a few gaudy mansion-style houses that were clearly built a few decades after the rest (you thought they were a little distasteful, but tried not to judge—maybe you’d do the same if you had that kind of money). There were a final few new houses sprinkled throughout the neighborhood, likely being built for the sudden influx of monster residents. You had heard that monsters had lived in this area long, long ago, before being forced underground. You could see why many chose to stay here after being freed.

You spent your time as you walked comparing houses, each saying what you preferred or didn’t. Sarah and Grace seemed to dance around the topic of one day moving in together, debating between what they wanted or what they could compromise around when buying a house. It was incredibly sweet. At one point, you gave Grace a playful nudge as Sarah went on about wanting many bedrooms for a big family, causing your friend to turn tomato red.

By the time late afternoon hit, you were eying Sarah’s pastries (still uneaten?) in a bad way. Instead of risking a life of crime brought on by pastry theft, you announced to the group that it was time to get something to eat. Sarah tapped at her phone as you looped back around towards the main part of town, saying she wanted to search for a good place to grab a bite. You preferred just to eat at the first place you saw, but Sarah was adamant. You ended up (to your dismay) walking all the way back to where you had started, going to a small cafe you’d barely even noticed before.

It was a human-run shop with only one or two magical items, but at least had a decent share of vegan options for your friends. It was at least decorated interestingly, with well-worn antique furniture and decorations giving it a homey, old-school parlor vibe.

The service seemed to take forever, and normally you wouldn’t have minded, but you were halfway about to try chewing the table (wood has fiber, right?) when the server finally came over.

“What would you guys like?” the waitress asked, their disinterested tone furthering the edge to your growing hunger-annoyance (hungnoyance?). You were sweet, sweet seconds from opening your mouth when a shriek from Sarah interrupted you.

“Oh my gosh, look!” She pointed, and Muffet was walking by. “Hey, Muffet!”

Muffet turned and waved before heading towards you. Your stomach rumbled in defiance.

”Oh~! What a lovely coinccidencce to ssee you three twicce in one day.” Her gaze then flicked to you. “Aren’t I jusst the luckiesst little sspider?”

“Do you want to join us?” Sarah asked cheerfully. She pulled out a seat from your table and patted it welcomingly.

“Ccertainly~” Muffet said, sitting down. “I have time for jusst a little bite.”

“I’ll give you time to look at the menu,” the waitress said. It took all of your dignity and restraint not to tackle her. Luckily, Muffet came to your rescue, holding up her hand.

“No, I know what I want,” Muffet said. “I’ll take a hot tea and a jelly donut, pleasse. Sstrawberry flavor.” Her eyes moved over to you and held a devious glint. You weren’t sure why.

The three of you sat in relative silence after ordering, smooth new-age jazz filling in the space of conversation. You tried not to think about the hunger pang in your stomach, but were otherwise fine with the silence.

Sarah, the quickest to become uncomfortable with a pause in conversation, gave a pointed look to Muffet. ”So, Muffet, what brought you out here today? I figured you the type to work through lunch.”

Muffet seemed confused, for a beat, but then brightened. “Oh! Right. Ah, dearie, I admit I normally don’t, but thiss week hass me running a little ragged. I have to admit, I’m glad I ran into ssuch a good way to use my break.”

“Probably fate,” Sarah said, wiggling her brows for a moment at you. You didn’t get it. Muffet seemed equally amused, but said nothing to it. Sarah pushed on. “What are you doing later on, Muffet? Working all day?”

“Oh, no dearie,” Muffet said with a wave of her many arms. You had trouble keeping track of them. “I finally have a night off—it’ss my first one all week. That’ss not by choicce, though; an event canccelled on me.” There was a noticeable drop of venom in her voice, and she scowled at the thought. When she frowned, her fangs became readily apparent. You gulped. “One of thosse sstupid partiess planned by ssomeone out of town. They ssaid it was a ‘sscheduling thing,’ but I’m pretty ccertain it’ss because they found out I’m a monster. The asssholess.”

“Shit, Muffet, I’m sorry to hear that,” you said. Despite some… discomfort on your part, you placed your hand over the one that was resting on the table. You tried to ignore the odd sensation of the slight fuzz on her hand against your palm. “For whatever little it’s worth, they’re the ones missing out. I know that doesn’t make up for the money or your wasted time, but...”

Muffet’s look of surprise caused your sentence to drift off. You cringed; maybe it wasn’t your place to have said that. However, after a beat of silence, you saw a clear, purple-pink hue rise to her cheeks. You felt your chest tighten in response, and before you could really register what had happened, her disposition changed. It was tough to tell with her pitch-black eyes, but they seemed to zero in on you as she leaned in slightly, an amused, almost teasing smirk on her face taking over her surprised look. She placed her chin on a free hand as she looked at you, her voice lowering to a silky octave.

Trusst me darling, it sseemss to be my gain after all~.”

You felt your face explode into blush. A free hand danced lithe fingers over the back of yours, causing your arm to light up with chills as your heart raced. You resisted the gut-punch urge to pull back from her. Okay I am like 90% sure she’s hitting on me what the heck do I even do here??

You could only find it in you to swallow uneasily. Thankfully, a small god of flustered embarrassment must have taken pity on you, for the waitress chose that moment to come by with Muffet’s pastry, sparing you. You gave her an apologetic smile before withdrawing your hand, though from what you could tell, she didn’t seem to mind. It was almost like she didn’t even notice—her eyes didn’t seem to leave you.

“Since you’re free, you should totally join us tonight!”

You head snapped to Sarah. What.

“Oh? Why dearie, I’d love to,” Muffet said. “What iss it we’ll be doing?”

Sarah gave a wink. If she was a monster, it would’ve been audible. “Ladies’ night. Gonna be a lot of fun. You should totally come.”

As Sarah spoke, you felt… like something wasn’t quite right, which was weird, because the invitation was classic Sarah. Friendly, bubbly, outgoing an inviting—this was the most Sarah you’d seen of her all week. It was also the happiest she had seemed all week, so you tried to brush it off.

“That ssoundss perfect, dearie. I’m in.”

Your group ate and chatted before Muffet said she had to get back and close up shop. The three of you decided to return to your hotel as well to have ample time to do some pre-gaming and get ready. Sarah was in a great mood, practically levitating as she buzzed around your hotel room. You were really glad to have your friend back; this was Sarah at her prime.

When Sarah was happy, she could be incredibly kind, and it showed as you were trying to get dressed. Sarah doted on you like a mother getting her child ready for the first day of school, digging throughout her makeup, clothes, and accessories to help find you the “perfect” outfit…

“Why does it have you be perfect?” You had questioned at one point feeling awkward as you stood there in the living room waiting for Sarah’s decision. Sarah, who had been arm deep into a pile of tops, shrugged without looking in your direction.

“I just… want us all to have the best time tonight. I think this will help.”

Sarah, true to form, dressed you well. You were a little uncomfortable with it, feeling a bit like a dress-up doll, but Sarah was clearly having so much fun it was difficult not to just go along with it. Plus, you had to admit, you looked fantastic. Sarah had lent you a sleeveless lavender plunging blouse that had a zipper down the middle, pairing it with a simple black skirt that went down to your mid thigh. She paired it with some silver jewelry, including a necklace that hung low on your chest and dangling earrings. The outfit was a little out of your comfort zone, so (after some compromise) she’d lent you a cropped leather jacket. You both agreed it only added to the look.

By the time evening around, the three of you were dancing on the edge of drunk. You’d already made the inebriated decision to order room service (your wallet would feel that in the morning), and was halfway through a series of drunk texts to every contact in your phone before Sarah snatched up your phone from you.

“Aaand I think we’re done here,” she said, stuffing it down her bra. You pouted, giving a dramatic huff.

“Graceee! Go down your girlfriend’s shirt for me an’ get my phone.”

Grace only laughed as Sarah shook her head at you.

“You can have this when you’re a little less sloshed. C’mon, let’s get you some water and head on out.” She then smiled wide, her eyes trained on you as she took your half-full cup of booze in your hand. “Babyangel, you’re gonna have a great time.”

Chapter Text

It seemed like you blinked and you were already getting inside the uber, a pattern of darkness and lights hitting your eyes as you drove through unfamiliar streets. When had it become so late? How long had you been drinking for? As you tried to pierce the fog in your head, you remembered Sarah had your phone—you couldn’t check the time. Maybe I pre-gamed a little too hard. I think I should switch to water, for at least the first hour or so.

You found yourself falling asleep in the uber, the ride unexpectedly long—when Sarah woke you, you weren’t sure how long had passed, but you at least felt a little more clear headed. Stepping out of the uber (with a little help from Grace), you couldn’t say you recognized the area; it must’ve been off the main drag by a quite a bit (considering how much of the area the three of you had explored earlier on). You looked up at the brightly-lit lettering hovering above the multistory building.

“‘CORE?’” you read questioningly. The building looked very...mechanical, with large gear works displayed, the building itself slate gray stone. It looked less like a dance-y club and more like a venue for a metalhead rock show. The concrete beneath your feet hummed with vibrations from the music.

“I’ve heard it’s great. C’mon!” Sarah said, tugging you inside by your hand, her grip strong. She practically bulldozed past the security to get inside, hardly giving you the time to stuff your ID back into your bra (maybe not the classiest of options, but the jacket didn’t have pockets, and Sarah had been dead set against a purse with your outfit—so, boob pocket came through in the clutch, as always).

As soon as you stepped in, you were overwhelmed by the heat of the place. Oh no , you thought, alcohol already makes me so warm, this is gonna be a nightmare. As much as the jacket had seemed like a good idea beforehand, you began to tug it off. Sarah, however, stopped you, tugging it back over your shoulders.

“Wait!” she said, knocking your hands away as if you’d just reached into the cookie jar before dinner. Uh, excuse me? “We need pics first!”

“Okay?” you asked, before placing your hand out. “Gimme my phone and we can take some now.”

“But, ah…” she started, before her attention was drawn past you. She stood up on her toes. “Oh! Look! Muffet! Hey, Muffet, over here!” She then waved over your head. You turned and followed her stare—Muffet was indeed there, sitting on a stool at the bar.

You understood why Sarah had spotted her so easily; the bar was illuminated in a bright white, and the lovely purple hue of her skin stood out easily against it. As you stood, you realized she wasn’t dressed in typical club clothes—instead, she was wearing a deep plum dress with silver spiderwebs lacing the fabric. You noticed her hair was let down from their usual pigtails, her sleek dark hair framing her face. She looked elegant, cute, and for an extended moment made you forget she was related to a spider at all.

You realized she had stood, and was making her way over to you while you gawked. You shook your head, trying to reel yourself back in.

“Damn, girl, you look hot as hell!” Sarah said, causing Muffet to wave her off sheepishly as she stopped in front of you.

“Thankss, dearie. You all look perfectly deliciouss yoursselvess~.” Her eyes gave you an appraising look, and you felt your self-consciousness rise. In one of her hands held a drink, which she offered to you. “Here, darling, try thiss--it’ss sspiked sspider ccider. Newesst addition to the menu.”

“C’mon, babe, let’s grab some drinks too,” Sarah said, hooking Grace’s arm. “We’ll grab you another drink, be right back!”

Before you could protest, they were off, swallowed up by the crowd immediately as they made their way to the bar. You internally shrugged and gave a sip—you’d eaten spider donuts before, so why not?

You hummed as you sipped it, the taste reminding you of a cinnamon cider with that extra-tingle magic kick. You handed it back to her with a grin. “Muffet, as always, it’s amazing. Baking, breakfast, booze—you really are great at it all.”

You saw the haze of purple-pink rise to her cheeks, a soft glow against her face in the darkness. You felt your heart stutter. Fuck it, spider or not, she’s so cute. Arachnophobia be damned.

“Darling~, you’re so sweet,” Muffet said, taking a small step closer to you. You suddenly found it harder to swallow with her eyes set on you like that. Something about her just seemed to… draw you in, and it was a little unnerving.

“Here’s your drink!” came the voice of Grace, making you jump. You accepted the drink in a less than graceful manner, giving a small smile in return. Sarah visibly elbowed Grace, who shot back a confused look.

You handed back Muffet’s drink before taking a strong sip of your own. Mmm, cheap whiskey . At this point in your inebriation, the drink didn’t sting, instead filling your mouth with the taste of oak and honey. Comforting. An instant smile came to your mouth as the alcohol pried away the anxiety to your brain. Sarah leaned over.

“Let’s go dance!” she called over the din. You nodded, the siren call of the drunk taking full charge of your bones. Yes. Must. Dance.

The four of you moved deeper into the crowd to get to a good place for dancing, doing so primarily in a group, though you noticed Sarah and Grace slowly edging away now and again. At first, Sarah seemed just as happy as she had been all afternoon, but the longer you danced, the more she seemed… annoyed?

You’d just finished a drink, and Sarah had disappeared to get you a replacement one when the song suddenly cut out mid-chorus. You looked towards the DJ, wondering if they had technical difficulty, when a new song started in with an odd violin intro. The song wasn’t one you’d heard before, you were certain, but at the same time seemed... oddly familiar? Sarah then reappeared, sliding a replacement drink in your hand. She said something you couldn’t quite hear, something about the music, maybe? You supposed it didn’t matter—the song had abruptly picked up with an intoxicating beat and quickly-paced melody that drew you in and drowned out your previous line of thought. You took a large sip of the drink.

Looking over, you distinctly remembered Sarah and Grace being by your side as she’d handed you the drink—but then, as if by magic, they were gone. Muffet alone was the only person you recognized—and, in your intoxication, the only person you could find yourself focusing on. Normally you would’ve been nervous to dance alone in front of someone you thought was attractive, but you couldn’t find yourself caring. Ah, thank the stars for alcohol. She was a great dancer. You wondered if she did that in her spare time.

Before long, you realized the two of you weren’t just dancing adjacent, but with each other. She had a hand lightly resting on your waist— when did that happen? —and she was so, so close to you. You felt like you were totally ensnared by her, your pounding heart leashed to her every movement. You were beyond blushing at this point, almost in awe and overwhelmed by the whole of her.

You suddenly felt a gentle tug on the lapels of your jacket. She was looking at you questioningly. Had she said something?

She leaned in, a hand moving to your shoulder as she steadied herself against you. “Darling, let me remove thiss jacket~. You look sso overheated.”

You could only nod, your voice suddenly lost to you. Graceful hands slid up your jacket before she slid it off your shoulders and tugged it down your arms. Despite the heat, you shivered.

“Oh, darling~,” she hummed lowly, a hand moving on your arm, over your goosebumps. “Now you sseem cold. Do you mind if I… help heat you up?”

The way she was looking at you, with such earnest hunger… It all about stopped your heart.

Before you were even fully aware of what you were doing, you were kissing her, your body overriding all logical thought. As if expecting this, her hands were instantly upon you, pulling you flush against her without a missing beat. True to her offer, your body suddenly felt warmed throughout, a heated tingling sensation rushing throughout your veins, your core. Her mouth was dizzyingly warm and inviting, and you found yourself breathless. She tasted like spider cider.

She pulled back as the song ended. You could really only hear you heart pumping in your ears, anyway.

“Uh, wow,” you said dumbly. She giggled.

“Ahuhuhu~, why don’t we get you another drink, darling~?” she asked, her hand sliding into your free one. You looked at your hand holding the glass—it was empty. You nodded.

Instead of returning to the dance floor, the two of you decided to stick around the bar while your drinks arrived, doing the best to chat over the noise. Muffet was incredibly charming (even while shouting), and you felt yourself hyperaware of every time her hand grazed yours as you chatted. She was sweet, and flirty, and so direct in her attraction to you that if it wasn’t for the alcohol you were sure you would’ve been a bumbling mess. Her bluntness was as refreshing as it was slightly overwhelming.

Eventually, Sarah and Grace rejoined you, as sweaty and askew from dancing as you probably looked yourself. Muffet, thankfully, was wearing your jacket by this point to keep it from getting lost—apparently she didn’t mind the heat. As Sarah looked at you two, she practically glowed, squealing when she found Muffet’s hand resting steadily on yours.

“Ahhh! Girl, look at you and Muffet! What a couple!” She put an arm around you as she waved the bartender over, signaling for some water. Your blush returned full force.

“A-ah, haha, that’s not...” you said, unable to think of a graceful way to respond. Sarah rolled her eyes, though held a teasing smile.

“Oh, c’mon girl, you know we lesbians move fast. From dancing to marriage in a night.”

You gave her a confused look. By we lesbians, you mean you and Grace, right? Maybe she meant Muffet, too. Before you could say anything to it, she bumped hips with you, water for herself and Grace in hand.

“C’mon, let’s go sit out back; they have a lounge area that’s a little quieter. We can talk there.” Before you could respond, Muffet was already taking you by your hand and following Sarah. You couldn’t find it in you to mind.

The lounge was— thank the sweet merciful lord —outside in the fresh night air. You finally felt like you could breathe properly again much to your relief.

The four of you found some seats, the atmosphere much more easygoing out here: only a few couples and groups of people chatting at a much lower volume, the music a mere muffled distant vibration through the wood of the patio. Grace offered you a sip of your water, to which you offered a silent blessing. I owe you my life, my sweet little peanut.

“Uh, thanks?” Grace laughed. You felt your eyes bulge. Oh no, I’ve gone into the danger zone . Taking immediate assessment of yourself, you realized you were far past drunk, and teetering on the point of way too drunk , the kind that had you spilling your guts in both the figurative and literal manner. You immediately put down your glass of booze.

“So!” Sarah said brightly. “Tell me, how are my two favorite lovebirds doing?” You coughed out in surprise, and Sarah wiggled her eyebrows knowingly. “We may or may not have seen you two smooching.”

Before you could groan, you felt Muffet take your hand again. “I am having a great time, dearie~,” Muffet said with great certainty. She looked at you, and you felt yourself blush, a clear memory of her pressing up against you as you kissed in the forefront of your mind-

“So when are you two gonna go on a date for real?”

The burn on your face increased tenfold. “S-Sarah!”

“Ahuhuhu, dearie, that’ss a great idea~. I would like that, very much.” Muffet’s hand squeezed yours gently, her eyes full of mirth as she looked at you. “But only if you like to, darling?”

Did you want to?

You attempted to evaluate the situation as clearly as you could. You definitely had some initial reservations about Muffet—was that fair to her to date someone who didn’t like her at first because she was a spider monster? As much as you had known it was wrong, you also could tell it had bothered you at first. Didn’t Muffet deserve better?

On the other hand… Muffet clearly understood that humans had a particular reservation about spider monsters, and had still been friendly to you, flirted with you, kissed you (or, rather, you had kissed her). You did like her, too. She was cute, and friendly, and there was definitely a spark between you two. Plus, a date didn’t mean dating long term—just a night out together, getting to know one another, having a good time. You could be honest with her about your reservations and we show she reacted. What could it hurt?

“I’d like that too,” you agreed, earning a bright smile from Muffet. She leaned over and kissed your cheek sweetly, grinning from ear to… ear? ( Wait, did she have ears? )

Muffet sat back up straight, turning her smile towards Sarah. “Thank you for inviting me here, dearie. I wass admittedly a little worried before.”

“Worried?” you asked, tilting your head. It was tough to imagine Muffet, as confident as she was, worried about anything. “Why?”

“Oh, you know,” Muffet said, waving one of her hands, “I just ssaw you with that Red character, and I wass worried you were with him, after he bought you that desssert.” You gave a shudder; no, you were definitely not with that creep. “I thought that’ss why you never contacted me. But then Ssarah cleared that up today at my sstore.”

Sarah! ” you said, facepalming with my embarrassment. “I can’t believe that’s what you were talking to her about earlier.” Sarah, at least, had the decency to look guilty.

“Ah, my sweet babyangel, I have another confession: we kind of planned to have Muffet run into us over lunch. But I swear it was with the best of intentions! I know you’re just a shy little sweetheart that wouldn’t have asked her otherwise.”

Sarah!! ” you exclaimed louder. At this, you wanted to be mad, but… You realized you just weren’t. She was right—you would’ve never invited Muffet yourself. Even if you had gotten over the spider thing, you probably wouldn’t have had the nerve to. “I guess it was for the best, in the end.” You sighed, resigned to the fate of your meddling friend-

“I have to admit, I’m ussually a good judge of character, but I wass way off about you and Red,” Muffet said. “I guesss I was jusst sseeing hiss attraction to you, but sstill, I was sso ssurprised when she told me today that you were a lessbian.”

You felt your blood run cold.

“What?”

You looked at Sarah, expecting her to look surprised, or confused, or deny it—but she only looked extremely uncomfortable. Muffet spoke up, her voice sounding less sure, sensing something was amiss.

“Ah, ssorry dearie, wass I not ssuppossed to know? I mean, thiss iss an event for lessbianss, after all.” She let go of your hand, looking nervous herself as she picked up a piece of glossy paper that was on a side table next to her. You’d seen the dark slips of paper all over the club, but hadn’t paid attention to them—clubs had them all the time, advertising future events, the DJ’s of the night, etc… She handed it to you.

CORE Presents: Ladies’ Lesbian Night. One night only!

It was dated today.

You felt like vomiting.

“Muffet, could you excuse us for a second?”

Muffet nodded, clearly uncomfortable with the situation, and moved away from the three of you. Normally you would’ve felt terribly for making the situation so awkward, but all you could think or feel was the heat of anger coursing through your body. With your impulse control already at a bare minimum, you did your best to give Sarah a chance before you exploded.

“Tell me this is a misunderstanding,” you said as evenly as you could. You realized you were shaking.

“I…” Sarah began, clearly trying to process her thoughts before speaking. “...Listen. I love you so, so much. I think you’re a great person, a great friend to Grace. A great friend to me . You’re kind, and you’re sweet, and I think you deserve all the happiness in the world. I think you deserve all the love a person could possibly muster towards you, in a relationship in which you fully give them all of your love too.”

“And?” you prompted.

“And…” she echoed, looking away from you for a moment. She then seemed to make up her mind. “And I don’t think those boys are good for you! Those skeletons, they’re all creepy, and they’re everywhere, and they put you into really dangerous situations! I know people, and I know they’re hiding something! I know you would just end up hurt!”

You stood up, rubbing your face, trying to calm down and suppress the rage building inside you. It’s Sarah, your friend. She’s worried. She’s trying. She doesn’t realize how offensive this is; she just wants to protect you. Okay. You can deal with this.

“Then why tell Muffet I’mma lesbian?” you realized your voice was slurred. Great, drunken fight, yet again. “I mean, monsters are pretty cool with accepting everything, I really don’t think she woulda cared-”

“Because you are a lesbian!”

You stopped, looking at her. She was now standing too, her face red with her eyes on you. After a beat of shocked silence, her expression melted from challenging to… pitying?

“Babyangel, listen. I’ve seen you interact with guys, I’ve seen you interact with girls. Back at work, I could tell when you find someone cute, and I tried to believe you about the whole liking guys too thing, I did—but you never acted the way around a guy the way you did a girl. The way you blush around Muffet, stuttered around her—I can see you like her. It’s not that I don’t believe in people being bi or pan or whatever as a whole, but for you-”

“Fuck off!” you said, your voice now choked in your throat. “You pretend to know people, but you’re so fucking near-sighted you’ve just tried to fit everything into your own worldview. I fucking stutter around girls back home because I’m not used to flirting with them! I live my life there fucking terrified I could be outed, then disowned by my family! And I’ve fucking told you that bef-”

“I don’t buy it!” Sarah yelled back, clearly not one to be bowled over. “Why stutter around Muffet, then? Why act all flustered? No one’s gonna fucking rat you out to your parents here, yet you couldn’t string together two words in front of her-”

“It’s because she looks like a spider! ” you yelled back. You regretted the admission as soon as it was out, but this, finally, seemed to give Sarah pause. She pulled back from her stance, her mind clearly processing. She then looked to Grace.

“But… Grace and I talked about it, and we both thought-” Sarah trailed.

“W-what?” you asked. You looked to Grace, and felt another wave of nausea as she, too, looked panicked. “Grace?”

“I-I didn’t know about all of-”—she motioned to the club—“this stuff! She told me it was a ladies night too, and I thought inviting Muffet was just her being friendly! But, I mean…” Grace said then trailed, looking bleakly uncertain. “Sarah had some good points, and I saw how happy you were the last time you were going around with that girl, and how meh things were when you dated that guy. I just... I thought maybe...”

Oh my god. She doesn’t believe me either.

You felt a full force of shock hit you, followed by the feeling of numbness. You’ve practically known me since I was born. You’re the first person I told, when I realized. I was the first person you told, when you realized. Did you ever really believe me, or did you think I was just confused this whole time? Is that really what you think of me, Grace?

Your heart was broken. You knew it, though shock held off truly feeling it in this moment.

You turned and held your hand out to Sarah.

“Give me my phone,” you said dryly. She handed it over without an argument, vigilantly watching your movements, as if you were going to lash out at her without notice. You merely gave a long, deep breath, before forcing yourself to speak again:

“Don’t contact me.”

With that, you turned and quickly walked away. They didn’t stop you, and although that in itself hurt in a way, you were mostly glad—the shock was wearing off quickly, and you had to get out of here, your eyes stinging as your emotions started to swell.

You managed to avoid Muffet as you left the club, stepping out into the darkness.

What the hell am I supposed to do now?

 

↜ Muffet ↝

Muffet, throughout every fiber of her soul, knew how to get what she wanted.

While the underground was not easy on any of its inhabitants, Muffet had always felt she and her family had received a special kind of bad luck. As much as the monsters despised humans, their above-ground counterparts had always held a kind of...influence on monster culture. Sure, they were able to refute the major stuff—monster horror movies were easy to laugh at, costumes so badly made and cartoonish they were clear caricatures of fools’ fears, books of mythical lore that made little to no logical sense, when you really looked at it—yet there were smaller, insidious ideas that seemed to creep into monster culture.

Even among monsters, spiders were viewed as… creepy .

Spider monsters before her had done much to combat this stereotype: dressing up in tophats or other silly garb to seem less threatening, writing sweet messages in their webbing to charm their neighbors, cower and act demure against more brutish folk to create as non-threatening an image as possible...

...But then along came Muffet, and Muffet had refused.

For as long as she could remember, Muffet knew she could not compromise her true nature for others. Muffet was not nice, but she was also not mean —she was merely a monster with goals. If people were going to be foolishly afraid of her, then so be it; she would use their idiocy to her advantage. She would endure whatever she had to—other monsters’ fear, a disconnect from the larger community, having to support herself and her expansive family on her own—without compromising who she was.

Muffet would persevere.

Reaching the surface made little difference to her in terms of how she viewed her struggles. People would always be afraid. People would always judge. People would always withdraw. The only real difference was now she was more successful, even despite that fear people had—she had persevered, and it had paid off.

You were no different than any other human or monster. She could see the fear in your eyes when you first spotted her, like nearly everyone who met her. She could see you try to fight it, like many of the more accepting humans in Ebott or monsters down below. Originally, she’d just thought you were cute, and flirted with you partially out of interest—and partially to play on your fear.

You had, admittedly, tugged on her soul slightly when you mentioned concerns of money when comparing the dresses. Like all humans, money concerns were not unusual, but… you’d found Muffet in a good mood. She was empathetic. And… for that brief moment, when you were embarrassed, that fear had left you. Even if it was just a second, and even if it was out of self-consciousness, she’d seen you forget.

When Muffet had offered you to come over, she was sincere. You would’ve been a great sight to tease, sitting in her parlor—see when she could draw out that fear, see you try to reel it back.It would’ve been fun.

If it hadn’t been for your friend, she would have probably just left it at that: a nice fantasy.

Sarah had approached Muffet at the beach while you were swimming. Muffet was no fool, and had seen Sarah attempt to push you in Muffet’s direction earlier. Muffet had asked why. What Sarah had said surprised Muffet: that you had an interest in her as well, but were intimidated—not because Muffet was a spider, but because Muffet was female who you liked.

Humans were so weird about that stuff. Some people like Muffet only liked girls, some people like Alphys liked multiple genders, and some people like Aaron flirted with anything that he thought had a pulse, including himself. As long as no one was being hurt, what did it matter? Perhaps humans had too much time and energy on their fleshy hands to concern themselves with the affairs of others. Muffet did not.

Muffet didn’t really believe Sarah’s claim in the least; she knew what she had seen before. But it was when your friend Grace, who had been silent beside Sarah, had finally spoken up that Muffet’s interest was piqued.

“She’s endured a lot, so she has a lot to be afraid of. But she’s always persevered through that fear anyway.”

Of course, many souls (both monster and human) had insurmountable hardships throughout their lives. It shouldn’t have made you special; it shouldn’t have tugged at Muffet’s mind the way it had since that moment.

But for Grace to phrase it in such a way, about you…?

Was that fate?

Although she might never find out for sure, Muffet was certain that Grace’s words were true when you kissed her. All that fear, all that inner warring—and still, just as Grace said, you pushed through.

Muffet had heard just about every word of the fight (it was hard not to, after all, with the way you were all yelling). Although she could not consciously admit it, hearing your confirmation of your fear of her gave her a slight pang of disappointment, though it was one she brushed off with the ease of years of practice.

She debated following you out as you left, but saw your friends make no move to do so. She certainly knew you far less than they did, so decided to copy their example—maybe you were the type to want your space when upset? Privacy, secrets—they were all so important to humans. It clearly wasn’t the time to pry.

That was perfectly fine with her.

Muffet, after all, knew the golden rule: sometimes, to get what you wanted, you just had to sit, wait, and let them fall into the web themselves.

Chapter Text

You couldn’t seem to stop the tears streaming from your eyes as you walked quickly down the street. Your arms were wrapped around your stomach tightly, your footsteps fast—despite the streetlamps decorating the streets, the darkness felt crushing to you, the prospect of a night unknown and alone weighing crushingly on your frantic mind. The liquor in your system didn’t help in making you numb—it just made you defenseless, your venomous dejected thoughts snaking their way down and striking directly at your core. This always happens. Even here, you’re a freak. No one will ever accept you, not the full you. Not the real you. Why open up? Why bother putting yourself out there—because you’re lonely? Grow up, this is the real life—people aren’t going to just accept you magically like a fairytale. You need to learn your lesson about this. You wiped your face, trying desperately to stop your tears. You were just so angry , so in pain, so utterly wrecked-

-That you weren’t paying attention to where you were going, and knocked into someone.

“YOU FUCKING MISERABLE LITTLE—HUMAN?”

You looked up.

Gods, no, please.

“E-edge?”

“AH! HUMAN! HOW FORTUITOUS YOUR PATHETIC LACK OF FOCUS FOUND YOU KNOCKING INTO ME, I...” He then paused, and lowered himself down to face level. Even in the dark (or maybe especially in the dark), his face was terrifying, the jagged crags of his skull illuminated in a dull red sheen by the lights of his eyes.

Those eyes narrowed at you as he gave an audible sniff. “YOU SMELL LIKE A FUCKING DISTILLERY AT MAXIMUM OPERATION. YOU-“ He then paused, his sockets narrowing further at you accusingly. “HAVE YOU BEEN CRYING ?”

This hit the button to restart your waterworks, your eyes instantly brimming over as your heart painfully thrummed. “N-no,” you muttered, the weakness in your voice just adding to your self-contempt.

Edge rose, rolling his eyes. “OH COME NOW, DON’T BE SUCH A COWARD ABOUT IT. YOU COULD NEVER ESCAPE THE MALEVOLENT EDGE’S PERCEPTIVE GAZE.” You couldn’t answer him, your throat choked up as you blubbered. He sighed. “UGH, ALRIGHT, FEEBLE HUMAN, I WILL TRANSPORT YOU BACK TO YOUR HOTEL-”

No!” you yelled. He seemed taken aback, so you quickly spoke again. “I-I can’t go b-back there, I d-don’t wanna s-see them.”

Edge sighed, rubbing his forehead. “...FINE. AS ALWAYS, I MUST BECOME THE HERO AND SAVIOR FOR PROBLEMS THAT ARE NOT MY OWN. FOLLOW ME, AND STOP YOUR SNIVELING.”

He turned and began to walk. You hesitated for a moment, the vague warning of this is a bad idea floating into your consciousness, but you quickly pushed it back down, it slipping easily under the pressure of your darker thoughts. Do I really care right now?

You followed him, having to practically jog to catch up, stumbling as you tried to hurry in your heels. Fortunately, his ridiculous gaudy convertible was not too far away, allowing you to be spared from the embarrassment of falling on your face. He unlocked it and got in, the image of his long body folding over to get into the car a comical sight. You quickly followed suit, trying not to overthink things.

The car was as immaculate as last time. You did your best to dry your tears again, not wanting to earn his ire by dirtying the clearly precious interior with tears and snot. It was tough to stop the flow.

As you buckled up, Edge leaned over you, opened up the glovebox, and pulled out a small pack of tissues. He plopped them in your lap before starting the car.

“IF YOU MUST KEEP UP YOUR WRETCHED WEEPING, USE THE TISSUES. I HAVE ENOUGH TROUBLE KEEPING THIS CAR CLEAN WITH RED’S FILTH.”

“S-sorry,” you said, breaking open the package. You must’ve looked pretty scary yourself, with your makeup a mess and your nose and eyes running.

“YOU COULD NOT LOOK SCARY IF YOU TRIED,” Edge said. Shit, did I say that out loud?  As he pulled out and drove away, you could practically feel your brain swimming in alcohol. You tried to focus on anything else; you were still definitely drunk, and the moving car wasn’t helping your stomach. “YOU ARE THE ANTITHESIS OF INTIMIDATING.”

“Uh, I dunno if that’s a compliment or not.” You managed to let out a chuckle, though it was mostly broken in your throat. You saw him grip the wheel, looking thrown.

“IT WAS ABSOLUTELY NOT A COMPLIMENT! THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE EDGE WOULD NEVER COMPLIMENT A HUMAN WHO LEAVES THEMSELVES SO OPEN TO ATTACK!” he motioned to your clothes with one hand. “AND ONE SHOULD ALWAYS TRY TO APPEAR AS FORMIDABLE AS POSSIBLE!” His voice was high and raspy in anger. An image of Donald Duck while upset popped into your head.

You couldn’t help but laugh again; no wonder he looked so Edgy. He then groaned. “AND THE TERRIBLE PUNS TOO! ALMOST AS BAD AS MY ROTTEN BROTHER.”

Had you spoken aloud again? Shit, you really were drunk off your ass. You saw him glance your way. “BUT I AM GLAD MY CRITICISMS OF YOU HAVE SILENCED YOUR CRYING.”

You blinked and realized that, indeed, your tears had stopped. “I guess they have,” you said, balling up the spent tissue in your fist. If nothing else, Edge was seriously good for some distraction from your feelings. “Thanks, boss.”

His knuckles gripped the wheel tighter briefly. He then visibly shifted in his seat before clearing his throat. What throat does he have to clear?

“I…” He began, before seeming to think over his words. He then shook his head, giving another sigh. “WELL, FUCK IT. WE ARE HERE. WELCOME TO MY FORMIDABLE HOME.”

You blanched; you hadn’t even noticed that the car had stopped. Why are we at your house???

Edge scoffed and rolled his eyes. “PLEASE. AS IF I WOULD BE INTERESTED IN A BLUBBERING HUMAN. I BROUGHT YOU HERE SIMPLY AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO YOUR LODGING DUE TO YOUR PATHETIC PLEA.”

Even drunk brain knew that was a stupid idea. “Well… Maybe we could just-” you began, but Edge interrupted you by getting out of the car, clearly uninterested in what you had to say. You sighed, debating it for a moment before getting out yourself and following him. Okay, you’re drunk. Maybe just go in and chat with him while you sober up, look for a motel or something, call an Uber. It’ll be fine.

You stumbled up the dark walkway, nearly falling over him as you stepped up and inside the house. He flicked on the lights, revealing a large, clean and minimal living room. It seemed cold, like a model home for viewing.

“It’s, uh, fancy as heck,” you said, your shoes clicking against the tiled floor.

“OF COURSE IT IS! AMONG MY MANY TALENTS, I HAVE THE MOST REFINED TASTE FOR INTERIOR DESIGN.”

“So I can see,” you agreed. You hiccuped.

“COME,” he commanded simply, moving into a similar-aesthetic kitchen. The floor, cabinets, and countertops were all white or white marble, adorned with silver, sleek fixtures. A large island counter sat in the middle of the room with a few barstools lined up. There was an attached dining room off to the side, though it looked entirely unused.

Edge moved over to a cabinet and took out a pint glass before placing it firmly on the counter. “HERE IS A GLASS. POUR YOURSELF SOME WATER AND DRINK IT.” You opened your mouth to protest, but the look he shot you was enough to make you comply. You wondered why he didn’t just pour it himself.

“BECAUSE THAT GIVES ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLACE SOMETHING IN YOUR DRINK. YOUR CONTINUED LACK OF SELF PRESERVATION SKILLS SINCE THE PARTY IS MOST WORRISOME.”

I need to stop thinking aloud. You poured yourself the glass and sat down at the island, doing your best to keep your balance on the stool in your inebriated state. “Ya worried about me?”

At this, Edge looked aghast. “W-WELL! YOU WERE UNDER MY PROTECTION, EVEN IF UNDER FALSE CIRCUMSTANCES. WHAT WOULD PEOPLE SAY IF I COULD NOT PROTECT A SIMPLE LOWLY HUMAN?”

You couldn’t help but feel amused. Edge wasn’t exactly the type of person you wanted to open up to about your problems—and you doubted he’d want to listen, anyway—but this was at least entertaining. You chugged down the rest of your water, placing your chin on your hand. “Geeee, thanks, boss.”

He gave a noncommittal grunt, taking your glass and turning around to fill it up again at the sink. You protested with a laugh, reaching for it. “Hey! I thought I wasn’t ‘sposed to let anyone but me fill it up!”

Edge made a show of rolling up his sleeves, turning so you could see him watch him pour straight water into the cup before moving it back to you. “AS IF I WOULD WASTE MY PRECIOUS ARSENIC ON YOU. DRINK.”

Please tell me you’re joking about actually having poison. You took it and sipped this one much slower, your stomach feeling heavy from the water. Edge placed his hands on the counter, his posture relaxing into a casual lean against it. You noticed this was the first time since you met him that he appeared fully at ease. It was… nice. He looked nice.

You noticed a red tint come to Edge’s cheeks. Oops.

You covered your mouth, but Edge mercifully said nothing to it. He cleared his throat again. “W-WELL, HUMAN, AS I WAS SAYING BEFORE YOU STARTED BLUBBERING ON ME, I… I FIND MYSELF IN THE POSITION OF DEMANDING YOUR SERVICES.”

It took you a moment to translate his words into sane-people talk. “Ya need a favor?”

His posture became rigid again, fists balling up on the counter. “NO! THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE EDGE NEVER NEEDS, HE TAKES!” He huffed out a breath, and seemed to calm down again. “IT IS NOT I THAT NEEDS ANYTHING, BUT MY BROTHER.”

You sputtered on your drink and set it down, water dripping onto your lap. Edge made a distasteful face. “Nope-” cough “-nuh uh. I told ya, I didn’t want him to know I was still in Ebott-”

“I DIDN’T TELL HIM THAT! I AM A SKELETON OF MY WORD.” He sighed again, looking exasperated. Clearly, he was doing his version of attempting to keep his cool. “I JUST… AGH!” He grit his teeth and handed you a napkin. “WILL YOU JUST SHUT IT AND LISTEN?”

“Fine,” you huffed. You remembered your plan about leaving, and your fingers itched to get your phone, but you held them back for the time being.

“I AM GOING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING JUST ONCE. I WILL NOT REPEAT IT FOR YOU, AND I WILL NOT ANSWER QUESTIONS. THIS IS SOMETHING WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE TALKING ABOUT.”

Well, this certainly had your attention . You did your best to focus through the alcoholic haze, sitting up some.

“THE UNDERGROUND RED AND I CAME FROM… IS NOT THE SAME UNDERGROUND AS YOU KNOW.” Edge spoke slowly, hesitantly, as if selecting out the precise words individually. “OUR UNDERGROUND WAS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THAN THE FLUFFY, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY IDIOTIC PANSY SHIT THAT MANY OF THE MONSTERS YOU KNOW CAME FROM. OUR UNDERGROUND WAS HARSH AND EXPLICITLY VIOLENT. MONSTERS DIED ON A DAILY BASIS. WE WARRED WITHIN OURSELVES, AND A MONSTER’S WORTH WAS BASED ON STRENGTH, AND STRENGTH ALONE. MY MISERABLE BROTHER WAS THE WEAKEST OF THEM ALL AT JUST A SINGLE HP. ONE ATTACK COULD HAVE DUSTED HIM FOR GOOD.”

He then took a breath. You had so many questions but did your best to keep your mouth shut.

“I ATTEMPTED TO TRAIN HIM TO NO EFFECT. IN AN EFFORT TO PROTECT HIS LIFE, I TOOK HIM UNDER MY STEAD, AS IS COMMON PRACTICE IN OUR CULTURE FOR THE PATHETICALLY WEAK. BLACKBERRY AND HIS MONGREL ARE IN A VERY SIMILAR SITUATION.” He then waved his hand flippantly. “THIS SEXUAL SHIT THAT ALL YOU HUMANS APPLY TO THESE SITUATIONS… WELL, IT EXISTS FOR US, BUT IS NOWHERE NEAR THE SAME.”

His gaze then returned to you. “I FULLY UNDERSTAND WHY YOU WERE UPSET WITH MY DISGUSTING, LICENTIOUS WHELP OF A BROTHER; HOWEVER, I DO NOT THINK HIS INTENTIONS WERE AS NEFARIOUS AS YOU MIGHT THINK. IN OUR CULTURE, ALTHOUGH WE MAY LAY CLAIM TO OTHERS AS PROPERTY, WE WOULD NEVER HURT WHAT WAS OURS. RED WAS, OF COURSE, WRONG IN HIS GOING ABOUT IT, BUT I BELIEVE HIS AIM WAS TO BE CERTAIN HE COULD PROTECT YOU. I DO NOT ASK THAT YOU FORGIVE HIM FOR THIS, BUT I WOULD LIKE A CHANCE FOR HIM TO TALK TO YOU.”

You stared back at Edge lamely. The booze working through your system was starting to hit the coma-inducing stage, and your patience was rapidly depleting. “Th’ only person he shoulda protected me from was himself.”

You thought he was going to get angry at this, but instead, he merely sighed, running a hand over the top of his skull. He suddenly seemed… tired. “VERY WELL. I HAVE DONE ENOUGH FOR HIM, AND I WON’T BOTHER YOU WITH IT AGAIN.”

“Sorry, boss,” you murmured. You laid your head on the counter and pulled out your phone. What were you doing again?  

“UGH. BEING LIQUORED UP DOESN’T SUIT YOU. FINISH THAT WATER.” You heard a glass being shoved in your direction.

“Yessir,” you said, doing your best to sit up and drink. It was definitely bedtime. “Thank you.”

There was blissful silence after this, and you found yourself starting to drift off, your head resting on your propped arm. You yawned heartily.

“HUMAN, YOU ARE FALLING ASLEEP,” came the voice of Edge, though it seemed distant. You did your best to snap yourself out of it, sitting up.

“No I’m not!” you argued, though it came out more as “Nahimnawt.”

“YES, YOU ARE. NOW, EVEN THOUGH YOU THANKLESSLY DID NOT ACCEPT MY FAVOR, I WILL GRANT YOU ONE: YOU ARE TO STAY HERE, FREE OF CHARGE FOR THE NIGHT.”

You blinked your eyes open, though it felt like small gnomes (were there monster gnomes?) trying to pull your lids back down. “Nooooo, no… No way, what if Red comes back? I dun wanna see ‘im.”

You could hear Edge sigh again, but you couldn’t see him. Your eyes were already back to being closed.

“HE ONLY SHOWS HIS SORRY SPINE ONCE EVERY FEW DAYS WHEN ON ONE OF HIS BENDERS. I’M CERTAIN IT WILL BE FINE, AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN WRONG!”

You didn’t believe him. You tried to ask a question, but only managed to come out with a “Wgtzfl?”

You heard Edge give a scoff, but the sound was far away again. You attempted to snap yourself out of it, but you suddenly felt so warm, calm, and light, as if you were floating…

As your consciousness drifted off, the question slipped out of your fingers and into the ether:

How many days has it been since he was last here?

 

↜ Red ↝

The last few days had been a bad, fucked-up blur. It was nowhere near to the worst one he had, not even the top 20—but he knew he was no pretty sight. He’d mostly just gotten drunk, and angry, and broke shit. At one point in his inebriation he’d even called G, too used to the days of having a partner to booze it up with—but, as soon as he heard G’s voice, he remembered that he hated the guy now, and simply hung up. G certainly didn’t bother to call back.

Neither did Mutt. Neither did any of his ex flings. He tried to drunkenly reach out to people, but nobody came.

He wasn’t surprised. He wasn’t even disappointed. He just used it as an excuse to get drunker.

He wasn’t sure how long the bender went but found himself waking up outside of a bar, face down with his skull grating against the pavement. He didn’t remember getting kicked out, but they must’ve tossed him on his ass at some point.

Sitting up, surrounded only by darkness and the edge of a hangover, he wondered if he should call it quits or not. This wasn’t the worst way for a bender to end, and his self-pity wasn’t worth getting locked up in the drunk tank.

He debated going home. He knew this was stupid, stupid to be so hung on your peg. He also knew, deep down, it wasn’t even about you—it was about himself. He didn’t want to be that person anymore, but it seemed to be who he was at his core.

...Maybe he’d hit up a strip club. Give himself something to distract, hair of the dog to ward off a hangover, but nothing too intense. A cool down lap after the race, as it were.

He teleported home.

The living room was silent, likely meaning Edge was already in bed. good. No need to get chewed out yet. He flicked on the coffee maker and went upstairs, heading to the bathroom for a shower. He might’ve been the king of trash, but even he had a limit to how mucked he was willing to get.

He knocked the shower tap on, disrobing and chucking his clothes around the bathroom. Let Edge know he’d dropped by and piss him off all in one fell swoop. Nice.

He waited until the water got bone-meltingly hot before stepping inside, steam clogging up the bathroom quickly. Edge’s room was practically at the other end of the house, so he wasn’t concerned about waking up the ass. He began to scrub himself down thoroughly (even he had to admit he was pretty grody by this point), allowing the beginnings of a song to pass through him to kill time:

babe, there's something tragic about you
something so magic about you
don't you agree?

babe, there's something lonesome about you
something so wholesome about you
get closer to me

no tired sighs, no rolling eyes, no irony
no 'who cares', no vacant stares, no time for me

honey, you're familiar like my mirror years ago
idealism sits in prison, chivalry fell on its sword
innocence died screaming, honey, ask me i should know

i slithered here from eden just to sit outside your door...”

Unlike G (who seemed to be the most musically inclined of his doubles), Red wasn’t much of a singer—but he appreciated a good tune now and then, sometimes even came up with his own lyrics while half in a mug of beer. He cut the song short there, now fully clean, and stepped out. Compared to his primadonna brother, Red kept his cleaning routine short and sweet (unless he fell asleep in the shower, that is, in which case he’d wake up an hour later to Edge dragging him out).

He wrapped himself in a towel and shortcutted to his room, his hand opening his dresser drawer the second he materialized with the ease of secondhand nature.

He wasn’t even paying attention.

He wasn’t even trying.

But he felt you there, behind him.

He froze for a fraction of a second, his soul stuttering, before he whipped around. He saw you there, laying on his bed, looking dead asleep.

He wanted to vomit.

nononono. this has to be a dream, a fuckin’ boozy nightmare. He rubbed his face. This felt real, but he’d had more than his share of nightmares that felt perfectly real. yeah! yeah, just a real-fucking-feelin’ dream. i’m still knocked out in front of the bar. no need to be actin’ a fuckin’ mess.

His bones were rattling.

He took a step towards you, his hand reaching out tentatively, before he stopped himself.

no, ya idiot. even in a dream, ya don’t get to touch her. that’s just askin’ for a dream to go from bad to worse.

He turned back around, rooting in his drawer and grabbing the first clothes that came to his hands. He shortcutted away, back to the bathroom (because there was no way he was going to let it turn into a babybones nightmare about being seen nude), and changed. He did his best to mentally even himself out. ya dumb, drunk fuck, relax. ya call yerself a fuckin’ scientist. think: she don’t know where ya live, edge ain’t exactly invitin’ her over for tea parties, and she wasn’t chasin’ ya to come back. she’s home now, miles away. ya just playing tricks on yerself. when ya go back, it’ll probably be filled with fuckin’ zombie clowns or somethin’.

He took a deep breath and ported back.

You were still there.

“what th’ fuck,” he said aloud. You stirred, eyes opening. It was tough to make your face out in the darkness, but you could clearly see him. You were staring.

“Red,” you said simply. Your tone was dry and held no mirth.

yeah, definitely a nightmare.

“i…” he started, his bones beginning to tremble again. “i’m s-so sorry. i’m leavin’ before this fuckin’ nightmare gets worse, d-don’t worr-“

“Stoppit,” you said, sitting up as you rubbed your eyes. Was… there a slur in your words? “Jus’, please, stop. I’ve had th’ worst night of my… well, in a long fucking time.” Red took a step towards you, doing his best to focus on you in the darkness. The only light came from his own eyes, casting you in an eerie glow as he got closer to you. You clearly had been crying, mascara smudged on your face.

He wasn’t sure what you meant by stop, but he supposed things didn’t have to make sense. Was it his subconscious telling him to stop the bender?

“what the hell happened to ya?”

if she says g, i’m gonna make this the worst nightmare he’s ever had.

To his immediate alarm, your waterworks restarted, an immediate case of the sniffles hitting you. You quickly dragged your knees to your chest, forehead resting against them as you buried your face with your arms.

“shit, no, i didn’t mean ta-“

You shook your head, murmuring into your thighs. It was tough for him to understand what you were saying.

“...I might as well tell ya. I’m pansexual, my friends don’t believe me n’ think ’m just a closeted lesbian. Includin’ my best fucking friend! Convinced by her stupid girlfriend! N’ that stupid girlfriend ‘s apparently been tryin’ to keep me away from dudes and set me up with girls. I don’t… Who th’ fuck does that? This is th’ first time I’ve been out and open in my life, and fuckin’ this had to happen! The only reason I even fuckin’ came here was to fuckin feel accepted for this part of myself for once in my fucking fucked up life-”

“babydoll…” Red said softly. He couldn’t see if you were crying still, but you were shivering up a storm.

Touching you for comfort seemed unthinkable, so he settled for shuffling towards you, his hands flexing uncomfortably. “them fucks might not accept ya, but that doesn’t mean yer not worth acceptin’. i already knew that about ya when i met ya from that shirt ya were wearin’, ‘n didn’t matter ta me. i... i jus’ liked ya ‘cause yer nice, ‘cause ya were cute ‘n fun to talk to, ‘n ‘cause i could see ya were a good person. other people will see ya fer the same. if they can’t accept the kind of love ya got in yer heart, then they don’t deserve it. ‘n they don’t deserve you.”

You said nothing for a long, long moment. Red wondered if you’d fallen asleep during his rambling, but just as he shifted to walk away from you, your voice croaked out again.

“I don’t forgive you,” you said plainly.

Red felt a twinge go through his soul, but he could only sigh. “i know, kitten. i’m still sorry, even if that doesn’t make up for a damn thing.” Red then felt a wave of exhaustion come over him.

fuck. this is real, ain’t it?

“i, uh, ‘m starting to think this ain’t no drunken nightmare like i thought it was. why don’t ya get some rest, kid? i’ll sleep on the couch.” He turned around, wishing he could just shortcut, but forcing himself to walk in front of you.

“...Kid?” you echoed softly. Red paused. He could only find it in himself to shrug, though wasn’t sure if you could see it in the dark. Probably not—but his mouth didn’t seem to be working.

A moment of silence later, and his hand was on the doorknob. You suddenly made an odd, frustrated noise.

“...Don’t leave,” you said, your voice strained. “Stay here with me.”

A thousand different things rushed through his head, the alcohol feeling as if it instantly evaporated from his bones. “d-doll, not a piss’s chance in hotland will i do that. yer drunk, upset, and-”

“Not like that,” you said softly. ”I just… Fuck, I don’t even know what I want. But, just. please..?”

i know exactly what: ya just want someone to be there for ya. i know, ‘cause i always want the same damn thing.

Red sighed, hand dropping from the doorknob. “i’ll tell ya what, kitten: i’ll sleep on th’ floor right next ta ya.” Red’s mattress was on the floor, so the height difference between your sleeping arrangements would have been minimal—but Red knew that it still mattered.

You instantly seemed relieved at the suggestion. “That’s perfect.”

Red grabbed a sweatshirt from his mound of clothes in the corner before he moved back by your side. He bunched it up before laying down, using the bundled fabric as a pillow. You laid back down.

“Hey Red?”

“yeah?”

“Finish the song y’ were singing in the shower.”

If bone could blanch brighter than white, his face would’ve. “ya heard that?”

You made a noncommittal noise, your eyes closed. He sighed. well, might as well end things all-out.

He cleared his throat, grumbling out the words softly:

babe, there's something wretched about this
something so precious about this
where to begin?

babe, there's something broken about this
but i might be hoping about this.
oh, what a sin

to the strand, a picnic planned for you and me
a rope in hand for your other man to hang from a tree

honey, you're familiar like my mirror years ago
idealism sits in prison, chivalry fell on its sword
innocence died screaming, honey, ask me i should know
i slithered here from eden just to sit outside your door.

honey, you're familiar like my mirror years ago
idealism sits in prison, chivalry fell on its sword
innocence died screaming, honey, ask me i should know

i slithered here from eden just to hide outside your door .”

He half mumbled it, doing his best to keep his voice down. There was silence, and he thought you’d fallen asleep again—until he heard you chuckle lowly.

“Man, you gotta quit smoking. Your singing voice sucks.”

Red didn’t even have the energy to get offended.

“Hmm, maybe that’s just ‘cuz you’re mumbling. You sounded nice in the shower. Plus, your talking voice is way better anyway?” you commented drowsily. are ya always this talkative when tired, or is it just ‘cause yer drunk?

You then paused, but he could hear you holding your breath this time, clearly struggling with a thought. Eventually, you sighed.

“I still don’t forgive you,” you said.

“i know.”

What else was there to say?

To Red’s surprise, your hand lightly whacked him on his sternum, then his arm, before finding his hand. You laced your fingers with his.

“..But you’re not a bad person.”

Red was stock still. He didn’t think his mind could fully process the words.

“Red?”

“yeah?” His voice could barely creak the words out; it felt like all magic was being redirected to his soul.

“Don’t call me kid ever again.”

there’s going to be an again?

“Depends on how long you can keep up not being a creep,” you said, a teasing nature laced into your sleepy words. shit, did i say that out loud?

Red had been so, so wrong. It wasn’t a nightmare—it was a great damn dream.

He placed your held hands on his ribcage, just over his chest, a deep chuckle rumbling through it as he closed his eyes. “you got it, kitten.”

Chapter Text

 ↝You↜

You woke up to delicious, overwhelming smells forcibly invading your nose. Your stomach flipped unpleasantly with dual pangs of nausea and emptiness as your brain recognized the scent of breakfast somewhere close by. As you mind slowly rebooted, you picked up a dull creak of noise located somewhere past your feet. With a forced dragging open of your eyes and turn of your head, you caught a blurry glimpse of Edge exiting the room, his hands pulling the door slowly closed with a soft click—likely the quietest he's ever managed to have been. This, surprisingly, did not alarm you; you woke up with the knowledge that you had fallen asleep in Edge’s Home.

You were distracted, however, by a tugging on your hand as you had tried to move. Your hand was draped over the side of the bed—which was odd, considering you didn’t usually sleep on your stomach-

You looked over, and saw your hand attached to Red’s.

You had a momentary burst of panic before the spike of adrenaline poked past the fog of sleep, allowing your memory to pour in the details of the previous night.

You frowned. At least I didn’t drunkenly forgive him.

You rubbed your eyes with your free hand before looking back down at him. It looked like he’d been put through the ringer—probably even worse than you looked right now—but at the same time, in sleep, he looked peaceful.

You looked down, and found the source of the offending pleasant (but way too intense for your nausea) smell. You couldn’t help but bark out a loud laugh.

Edge had clearly cooked you up a hangover breakfast: pancakes, scrambled eggs, strips of bacon and sausage. The items were arranged in a frowny face, with the eggs used as hair. Is that supposed to be me? Edge he even placed the plate, comically, on Red like a table-

Your laugh, however, startled Red awake, his eye lights pinpricks as they flashed open. They landed on you, and he tried to sit up, looking confused.

“No, my hangover breakfast!” you rasped out, laughing again. He looked down, grabbing the plate only in time to save a few items.

“w-what, kitten?” he asked. He tried to lift his hand, only to find he had your palm in a death grip. Remembrance dawned on his face, and he quickly let your hand go, a startled red hue rising to his face. He then looked down. “shit, looks like breakfast’s on me today.”

You couldn’t help yourself as you snorted out a laugh, your throat dry and raspy. You grabbed a sole remaining sausage from his lap, trying to salvage your favorite breakfast meat.

“shit, kitten, if ya wanted my sausage so bad ya could’a said so.”

This joke did not land as well with you, and he could tell, looking immediately regretful. You gave him a deadpan stare and took a vicious bite into the sausage. Red visibly winced.

“You’re already losing at not being creepy-” you began, before the taste of the sausage hit you. It tasted… fine, good even, but your stomach immediately tightened at the strong flavor. Nopenopenope.

You put your hand over your mouth, your eyes bulging as you felt the blood drain from your face.

“take a left outta here, then first door on the right,” Red supplied. You immediately sprung up, clambering over him before rushing out. You only made it by milliseconds to the toilet before vomiting, a mix of alcohol and barely-chewed sausage leaving your mouth. Ugh. You retched a few more times before sitting still, head resting on your arms on the toilet seat.

Not long after, you heard slow footsteps approach behind you. Great. An audience.

“here’s some water, when ya can stand it,” came the voice of Red. You heard a small “tink!” of glass against tile as he placed your water next to you. You retched again, though this one was more of a dry-heave.

“Thanks,” you mumbled out miserably. You heard your bathroom companion shuffle up next to you cautiously. Even without looking, you could tell he felt uneasy. “You don’t have to stay; I know this is awkward.”

“nah, doll, i’m not a stranger to waking up clinging to the business end of a toilet.” He then paused, another uncomfortable stretched silence before clearing his non-existent throat. “it’s just, uh, i know a magic to make ya feel better, but i’d, uh, have to touch yer back.”

You sat in silence for a moment, weighing your options and trying to take inventory about how comfortable you were with Red touching you. Well, we did hold hands all night? He had the opportunity to get—heh—handsy then, but didn’t. Plus, who would willingly touch a vomiting person, anyway?

You shrugged and sniffed. “‘S fine.”

Red hesitated a moment longer before you felt him kneel behind you. You heard the odd, wooden sound of bones clacking together. “uh, sorry kitten, but my hands might be a little chilled to the bone.” You felt your shirt being lifted slightly before his hands slid underneath. You jumped slightly at the contact; he wasn’t joking. He kept his hands there, though, and after a moment you felt a tingly warmth spread through your core, seeping from your spine towards your stomach. He moved his hands up and down the lower half of your back at a snail’s pace. It did help lessen the waves of nausea, though the process was slow.

You could still feel the awkwardness between the two of you. Clearly he felt he was pushing a boundary; you felt his hands tremble, if only ever so slightly. You felt badly despite your urge to stay mad.

“Hey, Red,” you mumbled, “what’d the banana say to the vibrator?” You felt his hands freeze for a moment. He didn’t respond. “Why are you shaking? She’s gonna eat me!”

The punchline was delivered with far less enthusiasm then it deserved, but you heard Red rumble with surprised laughter nonetheless. “yeah? what’s the difference between a boyfriend and a condom?”

“What?”

“condoms ‘ave evolved: they’re not so thick and insensitive anymore.”

You laughed. It helped, both with the awkwardness and your nausea. This only seemed to encourage him, and his voice stepped up in enthusiasm with the next one. “what’s the difference between a tire and 365 condoms?” He didn’t even give you pause to ask. “one’s a goodyear, and one’s a great year.” He then started shooting them off rapidfire, barely giving you time to ease out of laughing at one before rolling into the next. “what’s the sign on an out-of-business brothel say? beat it, we’re closed. what do ya do if ya girl starts smokin’? slow down ‘n give her some lube. whatcha call the useless piece of skin onna dick? the rest of th’ man. whatcha call a guy with a small dick? just-in. whatcha call a guy with a big dick? red.”

That last one literally made you bark out a laugh; you were practically shaking the toilet. There was a brief pause as your laughter slowed down.

“hey doll,” he said again, slower this time. “i’m real sorry to tell ya that yer cat’s only gotta night to live.”

At this one, you paused, your confusion enough to stifle your laughter. You did your best to wipe your mouth with some toilet paper before sitting up and craning your neck back at him. “What?”

He had the biggest, most shit-eating grin you’d ever seen. “yeah, ‘cause tonight i’m gonna murder that puss-”

RED!” suddenly came the voice of Edge, startling you both. He was suddenly standing in the doorway, towering over the two of you. “STOP TORTURING THE PATHETIC HUMAN WITH YOUR VILE PICK UP LINES!”

You were dying laughing, unable to lift yourself up from the floor. Edge did not appear appeased. “LOOK, RED, YOU ALREADY TAINTED THE HUMAN!” He then stood at attention, before throwing a towel from a nearby rack on the bathroom wall at you. “HUMAN, CLEAN UP YOUR DISGUSTING FILTH THIS INSTANT BEFORE YOU STINK UP MY HOUSE A SECOND LONGER.”

“Yes boss,” you grinned. Edge gave a huff before stalking away as Red helped you up. You flushed down your vomit with only a tinge of embarrassment.

“here, doll,” Red said, rooting around in a cupboard before pulling out a new toothbrush and tearing it out of its package. It was comically large, and you stared at it as he placed it in your hand. He then gestured to his surreally large row of sharp teeth. “what? monster-sized toothbrush for monster-sized teeth. what’d ya expect?”

“What, you mean you don’t have toothbrushes for everyone that stays over?” you joked, turning towards the sink as you sought out the toothpaste, running the water as you picked up a tube laying on the counter. Cinnabunny-flavor toothpaste. Mmm.

“trust me, kitten, yer the only one i plan on givin’ a toothbrush to anytime soon.”

Something in his tone made you blush, but you chose to ignore it as you set up your toothbrush. “Yeah, yeah. Close the door on your way out.” You did your best to angle your arm in the best possible way before starting to brush. Good enough.

“what if i don’t wanna get out?” he asked. You could see him waggle his brow(bone?) from behind you in the mirror. You merely turned and gave him a glare with your mouth full of foam, causing him to hold up his hands. “i’m goin’, i’m goin’.”

You turned on the water to the shower before returning to your task at hand. The cinnabunny toothpaste was a tad too sweet for your still mildly naseated stomach’s liking, but the cinnamon part at least kept it refreshing enough to get through the process. Once done, you took as large of a gulp of water as you dared from the glass Red had set out of you and placed it on the sink. You then jumped into the shower, the water pleasantly heated.

I probably shouldn’t have been so friendly to Red like that, you thought. You had forgiven much worse in your past, and you hated holding onto that anger, but… You felt it wasn’t right to just let it go, either. It was hard, though. He was just so… charming, in his own obnoxious way. He didn’t have to stay with you while you puked, didn’t have to use his magic to make you feel better, didn’t have to help you make things less awkward by rattling off dirty jokes with you. Even when it came to the night of the party, you were the one that put yourself in that position, and he was just nice enough to try to help you out.

You knew it didn’t excuse his actions, but it was hard not to see his side of things. You’d meant it when you said he was a good person, just as much as you meant it when you said you hadn’t forgiven him.

You did your best to shake away your thoughts, choosing to distract yourself by selecting what you wanted to use for soap. There was a noticable, huge jet-black and red bottle. You picked it up and read the cover. Spear brand men’s bodywash: ‘Tubo Spaghetti’ scent? You let out a loud laugh, though felt heartily disappointed when, instead of something like marinara sauce, it smelled like a typical male high school locker room.

The only other option was a bar of soap with no label. It was iridescent blue-green, the scent an odd (though not unpleasant) mix of echo flower, sandalwood, and cedar, among other things you couldn’t place. With an inner shrug, you decided the latter would make you smell less like a prepubescent boy. Seeing such random, mundane parts of the brothers’ lives felt a little bit like snooping, but you figured you just had to roll with it. Even yesterday afternoon I couldn’t have imagined myself here, not in a thousand years. What a weird, fucked up week this has been.

You did your best to shower quickly, not wanting to waste the water since you were already taking advantage of their charity. Actually, thinking about all Edge and Red had done for you in the past few hours gave you an amused buzz of warmth. Look at those two—acting all rough and tumble, but all they do is take a drunk crying girl into their home, give her water and put her to bed, cook her breakfast and heal her up. Edge claimed they didn’t come from a nice part of the underground, but that seems nicer than most humans to me.

As you wrapped a towel around yourself and stepped out of the shower, you heard a knock on the door.

“heya kitten, edge is gonna wash what ya got fer clothes. i’mma leave some clothes for you outside the door, and when ya done changing, ya can give it-“

You turned to the door, grabbing your clothes and packing them into a ball before opening it. “Oh hey, thanks,” you said, grabbing the stack of clothes in his hands before handing your clothes back to him.

You took a moment to unfold the pants, which were simultaneously too small and long for you—they clearly belonged to Edge. “Uh, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but there’s not—what did you say last night—‘a piss’s chance in Hotland?’—that these are gonna fit over my fat, non-skeletal thighs.”

You looked up to hand them back, and Red seemed to be staring at your thighs in question. Apparently he’d been doing jumping jacks while you were talking, too, as an obvious sweat had broken out across his skull. You rolled your eyes. “This is literally the approximate same amount of coverage that my skirt gave me; don’t go having a soul attack there, bud.”

“hardy har,” Red said, dragging his eyes back upwards. “well, it’s laundry day for me, so unless ya wanna wear what’s at the bottom of my hamper, it looks like towel it is.”

You rolled your eyes. “Oh, no, however could I live, wearing something as scandalous as just a towel? My name will be forever slandered.”

“RED!” Edge called from down the hall. “STOP TRYING TO TURN OUR GUEST INTO A VIXENOUS HARLOT AND JUST FUCKING GIVE HER SOME OF YOUR CLOTHES.”

“fuckin’ fine, ya dickhead!” he grumbled, snatching the pants back from you. “ya gettin’ what ya get and yer gonna like it.”

He stomped off down the hallway, with you following close behind. Why’s he walking, anyway? Didn’t he just teleport last night? In fact, couldn’t he just teleport to my hotel and grab me some of my clothes?

You debated mentioning it as you followed Red back into his room, watching thoughtfully as he dug around in his wardrobe.

Edge made it very clear last night that there’s things that humans don’t know about monsters—I mean, that’s a pretty huge thing to hide. I could imagine that teleporting magic, too, could be something you’d want to keep away from humans that might abuse it, or treat you like a science project—the power to get from one space to another is a very powerful thing, indeed.

Red shoved a bundle of clothes in your direction, before stomping off and slamming the door behind him. No, Red clearly thought I was sleeping when he first saw me. If he hasn’t done it before, and hasn’t done it since, he doesn’t want me to know. I probably shouldn’t mention anything.

You shrugged and got dressed—the clothes were a little tight in the hips (Red, though much bigger boned than his brother, was still a skeleton after all), but manageable. As you dressed, you noticed Red had found and plugged your phone into a charger for you. Look at these grumpy sweethearts—plugging in my phone, washing my clothes. Regardless of what part of the underground they came from, they’ve turned into good guys.

You picked up your phone, and it was unsurprisingly full of missed calls, texts, and messages. You cringed. Oops. You scanned over the notifications—some texts from your monster friends, some from friends back home, and tons from Sarah and Grace. It looks like the pair had reached out to some of your other friends to try to get into contact with you. Oof. Sorry, guys, for getting roped into this. I was way too mad and too drunk to think about looking at my phone.

You responded to all of your friends from back home except for Sarah and Grace. What do I say to them? Do I say anything at all, or just let someone else talk to them? You knew that at some point, eventually, you’d have to confront them about. Just… you couldn’t manage to bring yourself to it right now.

You gave out a sigh. I can’t make this someone else’s problem. You decided that, out of the two, you wanted to talk more to Grace. You sent her a simple text:

You: I’m alright. I don’t want to talk yet. I’ll talk to you later.

You closed out of her text, feeling your phone buzz with a return text notification as you did so, but resisted the urge to look. You placed the phone back down, recognizing that this could be the lone time to charge it today, and made your way downstairs.

You looked around, seeing the living room for the first time with sober eyes. It was just as cold as you remembered, but there were small touches of personality—a blanket with little cartoon spaghettis on it (which one of them was so into pasta?), a large TV with a carefully organized selection of DVD’s, a lone scratched-up cat tree-

There is a cat here where is the cat I need the cat.

You moved deeper into the living room, craning your head around things, searching for any sign of a potential furry friend.

“whatcha lookin’ at, doll?” came Red’s voice behind you, just as you were looking under the couch. You jumped, nearly hitting your head on the couch in the process.

“Jesus, Red! Next time, warn a girl, jeeze. I was looking for the cat.”

Red chuckled. “doomfanger? he comes and goes as he pleases. he ain’t my cat, he’s edge’s. he kids himself thinkin’ he’s a guardcat protectin’ the house.”

“I HEARD THAT YOU BUFFOON! DOOMFANGER IS BETTER SECURITY THAN YOU COULD EVER BE; HE IS THE EPITOME OF BOTH DEADLINESS AND STEALTH. THE PERFECT COMBINATION,” Edge called from the other room. You pointed towards his voice.

“Uh, shouldn’t we be helping him with the laundry?”

Red shrugged, collapsing onto the couch before putting his feet up on the coffee table. You doubted Edge would like that. “nah, he’s almost done loading it in, ‘n he’s particular about how to do it—guy’s more anal than a proctologist. just take a seat.”

You stood up and heard a sharp intake of breath from Red. Looking at him, though, he was looking distinctly away from you. With a mental shrug, you took a seat in the center of the couch, sitting a respectable distance from him. You suddenly felt an awkward pause coming on. “Uh, thank you for helping me out here. I recognize that you really didn’t have to let some drunk stranger kick you out of your bed.”

“kitten, my bed is your bed,” he grinned, giving you a wink. You rolled your eyes, though couldn’t help but smiling.

“Well, still, thanks,” you said, leaning back into the couch. “I promise I’ll be out of your hair soon, though, as soon as the clothes are done.”

“huh?” Red asked, as if he were surprised you were planning to leave. “whatcha gonna do? did ya already make up with those two?”

You shrugged, lifting up your feet as well. “No, and I’m definitely not ready to yet. I feel like I need to walk around, take some solid alone time and just… I don’t even know. Figure my life out?”

“well…” Red started, looking thoughtful. He picked up a remote without turning the TV on, fiddling with it distractedly. “that sounds more important than hanging out with a coupla bags of bones all day. ‘s too bad, though, i... actually had somethin’ i wanted to surprise ya with.”

“Oh?” you asked, genuinely interested. “What was that?”

“heh, doll, that’d ruin the surprise,” he grinned. “but wasn't until tonight, like nine or somethin’. i, uh, thought it might make ya feel better about all that shit that happened last night.”

“Aw, Red…” You felt badly, giving your arm an anxious rub. That was sweet of him to think of you. “It’s not that I don’t want to hang out with you, please don’t misunderstand; I just really need to be alone today. Is it something we could do tomorrow, instead?”

You expected Red to look upset at your refusal—but, to your surprise, his eye lights were practically beaming as bright as headlights out of his sockets. Why is he so happy?

“nah, doll, ‘s a one night only thing.” He looks back to the TV, finally deciding to turn it on. It looks like they'd last been watching the comedy channel. “but i’ll tell ya what—i don’t have to go in with ya; i’ll just take ya there n’ ya can enjoy it all yerself. i really think it'd make ya feel better.”

Boy, if Red was just doing this to get on your good side, it was certainly working. Is this really the same guy that was looking like he was gonna kidnap me the other day?

You reached over, giving his hand that was resting on the cushion beside you a momentary squeeze. “Thanks, Red. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”

That same bright look came into Red’s eyes, and the intensity of it brought heat to your face. He opened up his mouth to say something, before his gaze shifted—and then became... coy?

“ya mean ya cat tell me,” he said, his grin turning mischievous. Before you could ask, you felt a sudden pressure on your legs.

Doomfanger.

The cat was large, and white, and mean-looking: he had a severe, intelligent stare that clearly read you as nothing more than an oversized mouse. Like a thug with a poorly concealed knife, a lone canine stuck out of his mouth in a constant suggestion of potential malice.

You instantly loved him.

You let out a quiet, high-pitched noise like a muffled kettle as you attempted to suppress a delighted scream. You dared to give him a lone-finger pet on the crest of his head. He allowed it, still seeming to assess whether you were edible, amusing, or both.

I would kill anyone for you,” you whispered in earnest oath.

“bahahaha, doll, what th’ fuck?” Red asked, his laughter genuine.

“CLEARLY THE HUMAN CAN SEE THE VALUE OF DOOMFANGER, UNLIKE SOME FUCKWITS I KNOW.” You could barely pull your stare away to watch Edge walk over to you, sitting down with force on your opposite side. You expected Doomfanger to switch laps to his owner’s, but to your delight he merely settled on yours instead, circling up before laying down. His claws dug painfully into your lap. You were blessed.

The three (rather four, counting Doomfanger) of you spent a serene few hours together, the company unexpectedly as soothing as it was funny. You hadn’t quite figured out Red and Edge’s relationship yet, but you enjoyed their comically terse back-and-forth nonetheless. It was the kind of distracting you needed while you waited.

All too soon, it seemed like your clothes were done to Edge’s severe standards and you were ready to go—you were surprised to find just how much you wanted to stay with them. You decided that was a sign, though, that it was definitely time to leave and get some perspective. You bid them both goodbye with a warm, thankful hug (Red’s was eager, Edge’s reluctant).

Red had offered again for you to stay. Again, you declined. You had no idea what you were going to do, or where you were going to go, or even where you would end up staying tonight—but you knew you needed to figure this out on your own.

You set off, the midmorning air slightly brisk, but bright and welcoming. Edge had offered to drop you off at the center of Ebott, but you’d declined, stating that a walk would do you good. Feeling the sun on your face (even if still somewhat hung over), you knew this was the best decision.

As you walked, you went through your notifications more thoroughly. There were more messages from Stretch, Blue, Papyrus, Sans—all wishing you a good night, then a good morning. You smiled, though felt a small sting carry underneath your warm fuzzies. How could Sarah think they’re bad people? How could anyone?

You spent some time replying to them, going through them by oldest text first. Sans was the most recent one of them all.

Sans: heya. hope ur alive after the night of drinking.
Sans: if u were free, i wanted to take u somewhere tonight.

You gently thwacked your phone against your forehead. If you were honest, you’d much prefer Sans’s gentle company to Red’s, but… You had already kind of sort of accepted? You wouldn’t feel right ditching Red for his cousin.

You: Fuck, I’m sorry, I just saw this now.
You: I really would love to, I swear, but I already promised a friend who wanted to take me out for a surprise tonight.

You then hummed in thought. Today was supposed to be just for you and figuring out you life, but… You did want to see Sans again, badly. You felt your phone buzz in your hand.

Sans: what time is it at?
You: 9, I think.

You sighed, a side of your warring brain winning out. You were in the middle of typing out a message to state that you needed some time alone in the least offensive way possible, when he texted again.

Sans: i have a feeling it might be the same thing. maybe i’ll see you there?

You felt your heart leap. Well, leave it up to the fates, in that case. If it is the same thing, maybe I’m meant to have company. If not, then I’m meant to have more time alone.

You: I’d love that.

Chapter Text

You wondered how truly long it had been that you were alone like this. Even back home, you lived with Grace, talked endlessly with people at work, spent your weekends trying to balance your time between family and friends—true alone time like this was rare.

Nowhere to be.

No one to talk to.

Just… You, and you.

Your steps lead you through the more residential, almost forested areas of the base of Mt. Ebott, and you could only hope you continued to head in the right direction down the winding streets. As you walked, you felt an itch for your hands to pull out your phone, and a thought hit you: even in your brief times alone, time spent thinking and evaluating your life basically didn’t happen. There was always a game you wanted to play, or chores to be done, or a new hobby you were going to try to take up before quitting in a few weeks…

Letting your eyes wander over the different peoples’ houses you passed, you realized for the first time in a long time it felt like you were taking a deep breath.

You decided to start your thoughts broad—thinking about bigger aspects such as work and where you were living. Those things… although not perfect, they felt right for this point in your life. You knew you wouldn’t be staying at your job forever, and while you weren’t thrilled with exactly what you were doing, the income was stable, it allowed you to live and manage your bills with the tiniest bit of wiggle room for saving, and you didn’t live in the worst possible area of your city. You hadn’t moved into your place that long ago, and it was a huge step up from where you had been, so you likely weren’t going to move again for anytime soon. That might be something to revisit in a few years, but for now, that front seemed solid.

Your thoughts were interrupted, briefly, when you found a small children’s playground. Being a weekday, there were just a few parents around, doting over babies and toddlers exploring and stumbling around the brightly-colored equipment. You took a moment to pause your walk and get some water from a bubbler nearby, the early morning air already dry from the impending heat.

Okay, I guess now thinking about kids it is. You were now around the age that your parents (well, primarily your mom) was harping on you about having kids. Again, not something you had put much thought to—you couldn’t even remember the era of your life when you played with dolls, and holding babies made you anxious instead of inspiring baby-fever. You knew, more importantly, that you had some deeper fears about one day becoming a parent if you chose to do so: Would I be good enough? Would I fuck them up beyond repair? What kind of parent would I be? There was also a matter of your poor history of physical health, mental health, and concerns about the world as a whole. Would it be fair for me to bring a child into this world, knowing what I know? Would it be best to adopt? Or would I just mess up someone further? You weren’t sure if you wanted a kid to begin with, let alone all of these doubts. And who knew if you’d have a partner in the future, let alone one that would want—or could have—kids?

You set off from the park, re-entering the cover of trees that lined the suburban sidewalks, taking the edge off of the sunlight. The foliage was just beginning to thin out, signaling you were probably getting closer to the main area of town, as well as the water. A hopeful sign you still had some navigational skills leftover from what your dad attempted to instill into you as a kid.

I guess that finally puts forth what I really don’t want to think about: how will I handle it if I end up with a partner that I can’t have children with—like a monster, or a female? Or a monster female? When thinking about the monster part, you knew you wouldn’t have an issue, or at least not a huge one. Being relatively close to Ebott, your city had quickly become inundated with monsters, and most were accepting (or, really, at least not actively protesting) the new population once they saw monsters meant no harm. You had lost a few friends here and there once finding out they were anti-monster, but the majority of your loved ones were largely pro-monster once the initial shock wore off.

You knew, really, what situation your anxious mind was dancing around: coming out.

In your past, you’d visited and revisited coming out. You were out to your main friends, certainly—but not to your coworkers or family. You knew, logically, your siblings or the few cousins you were close to probably wouldn’t care. As for the larger part of your extended family—aunts, uncles, cousins you never saw—you couldn’t care less what they thought. But your parents…

If you had to make a guess, you knew your father wouldn’t be happy about it, but he would probably continue to talk to you, probably still love you in the same (or similar) way. Your mother, though… She had made it quite clear, whenever you brought the subject up, that she definitely did not approve. There was no question about it.

You and your parents hadn’t had the best relationship, and you’d always been a bit of the black sheep of your siblings from a variety of events in your life. But… you still loved them. In a way, even at your most angry, or sad, or indignant—you couldn’t shake that bond. You didn’t want to.

With a mental sigh of relief, you found yourself back in familiar territory, and your feet fully took over, now sure in their steps as you headed towards the familiar commercial center. Instead of a constant cover of trees, it was now buildings beginning to provide you with shade from the sun, though this far out still the cover was far and few between.

As you navigated, you took a breath and sat with your fear for a moment. Visions flashed in your head of nightmare scenarios—seeing your father’s face twisted in an alien anger so unlike his character, your mother pointing for you to get out of the house. You knew you could lament and panic with these images all day long—all life long—should you allow your mind to.

Instead, you focused back in on how you were feeling. Underneath the fear of loss, there was something… deeper. Something in your soul that burned—not in a strong, fierce flame, but with the gentle presence of a candle, flickering but still there. In this moment, despite your anxieties, you could hear the retaliation of a want deep within you. You wanted to come out. You wanted to live without secrets, wanted to live as who you were. Regardless of the gender of the person you ended up with (if anyone at all), you wanted to stop hiding.

But want was different than need. If it came down to it, which did you need more—your loved ones to see you for you, or for them to be by your side?

You had now reached the center of town, the streets as sleepy as they had been the morning before. Tired, you eventually sat down, finding a quiet little bench outside of a homey-looking library (Librarby?). The bench was partially shaded by a large, old oak tree, allowing you to shift in or out of the sun as you saw fit. It was perfect.

You sat down (on the shady side of the bench, already feeling a little sweaty from your trek) and took a deep breath. You didn’t seem to be coming up with much for answers today, but at least you were processing. You knew, however, that you had one thing left to really think over, the thing that was causing the most immediate discomfort in your chest. Slowly, with much resistance, you allowed yourself to recount the night before.

Okay. Grace doesn’t believe me.

You felt a physical pain stab through your heart, one enough to make you grit your teeth.

That… really sucks, so incredibly much. I mean… Grace isn’t the kind for conversation, but I thought… I thought our acceptance one of another was so deep, it didn’t need to be spoken. Is this all really because Sarah came in and started questioning things?

You felt another stab in your heart as a flashback of Sarah, yelling at you in your face, looking so angry and upset, moved across your mind. You cringed.

No. If Grace really believed me, she would’ve just brushed Sarah off totally. Grace hurts more—a small uncomfortable hot tightening twisted in your chest—but Sarah makes me much, much angrier. I thought… I thought after I poured my heart out to her about those things in my past, she’d get it. She’d understand this isn’t something I’m making up, something I can’t choose. Shouldn’t she understand what that’s like?

You placed your head in your hands. To anyone walking by, you probably looked like the tail end of a rough night. You felt tears pricking your eyes again, but this time did not fight them.

God, if younger me could see this… Would I tell anyone at all? Would it be worth letting people know?

A small echo of Red’s words from the night before filtered through your mind: “If they can’t accept the kind of love you have in your heart, then they don’t deserve it. They don’t deserve you.”

You gave a deep sigh, running your hands over your scalp wearily. You know, before this trip, I would have agreed with him, even with what my parents thought. I thought it was a beautiful gift I was granted to be able to have the opportunity to love such a wide range of people, regardless of their bodies. But now… I don’t know. Maybe I was just deluding myself with false grand ideals. I certainly had trouble with Muffet and her body, after all, and the skeletons weren’t an immediate cakewalk either. Have I been kidding myself? Maybe this whole time, I’ve just been convincing myself I could have attraction for anyone, and the attraction isn’t really there? Some sick grandeur fantasy?

You leaned back on the bench, taking another breath, trying to calm yourself. No. Okay. No. Even if it didn’t start off as well as you’d hoped… you had felt something when you kissed them, male, female, or otherwise. You’d dated both before. You knew.

Still… If anyone would know me, know if I was kidding myself into feeling anything, wouldn’t it be my best friend?

You thought about the relationship between yourself and Grace. A thought suddenly struck you:

When’s the last time I talked to Grace about how I felt about anyone? Another pause in thought, then: When’s the last time I talked to anyone about how I felt about anyone? At least in a romantic sense?

You realized you couldn’t remember when. Grace… had never been the type of person who seemed comfortable discussing romance. Even now, when you attempted to get a sense of how things were going with her first relationship, she always answered with a simple “good,” or at most discussed an argument they’d had. Not how she’d actually felt. And you, similarly, had never talked about how you felt in your relationships—you were always so worried that something might come out wrong, or you might jinx it, or you might just be saying something in anger, or forcing others to deal with things they didn’t care about…

You knew you had bigger, more significant things you’d kept from her. Things that you hadn’t wanted to burden her or others with. But something as simple as this… What was your excuse? How had you not talked to your best friend about this?

You… had done a really shitty job of being a friend, hadn’t you?

God, I’m such a coward.

You stared up at the sky above you, watching the sun filter through the oak leaves, their translucency making them appear like a mosaic of stained glass. A mix of guilt, frustration, and self-anger had settled heavily in your gut, making you feel as if you were nailed to the bench, unable to stand. You decided that you’d had enough introspection for a bit, and needed to take a break. You closed your eyes, focusing only on the pattern of your breath, the sound of the birds and gentle din of chatter passing by…

You’d nearly nodded off when you heard someone clear their throat in front of you. You startled, your eyes opening, panicking for a moment that it could be Sarah or Grace-

It was a stranger.

You had a feeling you could guess their name, though.

“EXCUSE ME, I AM TERRIBLY SORRY,” they said, looking regretful that they interrupted your peace. “WOULD YOU MIND IF I SAT DOWN HERE?”

You stared for a moment longer. Hell, not only could you guess their name, you could probably guess who they were related to, too.

You realized they were waiting for a response, and immediately sat upright. “Ah! Yes, I’m so sorry, of course you can. Please; my bench is your bench.”

You scooted over to give him reasonable, polite space, but that was where you found your politeness ending—you couldn’t help but stare at him. Although his skull was incredibly similar his brother’s—one crack in his skull rising over a deadened eye (though unlike his brother’s, which remained open and black, his seemed to be permanently closed) and a second crack from a working eye down to his mouth—their sense of fashion was incredibly different. While G dressed like he had just marathoned Happy Days for a month and decided to be “the cool guy,” his brother looked like he’d just stepped out of giving a lecture to a group of actually interested students, wearing a smart black dress jacket, a white turtleneck, and slim khakis. There were some… oddities to his wear, including some barely-noticeable white gloves (maybe he had similar holes in his palms?) and black boots. Although not part of what you imagined a professor to usually wear, he somehow made it look seamless.

He even had a book in his hand. My god, he’s just about the sweetest little bookworm I’ve ever seen. Are they really brothers after all…?

“AH, IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG?” You blinked, refocusing in. He looked concerned. “I COULD LEAVE, IF MY VISAGE IS UPSETTING TO YOU.”

You balked. You had been staring and so rude fuck no I’m sorry. “N-no! I’m so sorry, it’s just… Uh, you don’t happen to have a brother, do you?”

He brightened considerably, placing his book on his lap as he turned to face you more directly. “WHY YES! HAVE YOU AND SA—ER, G KNOWN EACH OTHER LONG?”

You breathed out a laugh. It must’ve been annoying to constantly use nicknames when referring to your brother. You shrugged. “No, Sans and I met just earlier this week, a couple times. He seems like a nice guy.” You then looked down to your phone. Well, maybe? Guess I can’t fault a guy too much for not texting back a girl he barely knows.

He seemed bewildered, the cracks in his skull moving into deeper zigzags as his brow furrowed.

“A COUPLE OF TIMES? SANS?”

You nodded. What, does he not run into the same person more than once? “Yeah! Pretty quickly, though. I, uh, chatted with him outside of a bar on Friday, then saw him again the next day briefly.” That feels like forever ago, Jesus.

He stared at you, seeming even more confused. You wondered if you’d upset or insulted him somehow. “He’s really friendly! He gave me his number, even.”

Papyrus’s face might as well have been one big question mark. You really weren’t sure how to explain more at this point.

After a moment of processing, he pointed to his face. “UH, I AM SO SORRY, JUST TO BE CLEAR: HIS FACE HAS SIMILAR FISSURES TO MINE, DOES IT NOT?”

You nodded. “Yep! And holes in his palms. Smokes, seems to like whiskey?”

“AND THIS SKELETON GAVE YOU HIS TELEPHONE NUMBER?”

You nodded, now feeling unsettled. I mean, it’s not like I even asked for his number. Is he not supposed to talk to humans or something? His jaw fell open, then clacked back closed audibly.

“Ah, yes, but we haven’t really texted since that night.” You rubbed the back of your neck. “Uh, sorry Papyrus, I didn’t mean to get-”

“YOU KNOW MY NAME?” he said. You felt like you were just digging yourself deeper, but after a second, realization seemed to dawn. “AH. LET ME ASK: DO YOU KNOW OTHER MEMBERS OF MY… FAMILY?”

You nodded, relieved he seemed to get it. “Yes! I’ve met Red, and Edge, and Blueberry, and Stretch, and G, and you-”

“GREEN,” he supplied. Despite him cutting off your list, you smiled wide.

“Oh! What a lovely nickname. I love the color green!” You were about to ask how he got it, when a pleasant green hue rose above his cheeks. You couldn’t help but feel a small twang of affection go through your chest. What a cutie.

“THANK YOU, MY DEAR,” Green said. He looked troubled, however. He opened his mouth to say something, when his book caught your attention.

“Oh! You’re reading Monster’s Search for Meaning? I’ve only read it once, but I must have read the human version it was based off of ten times! What a great, sweet book.”

His eyes lit up, and like a switch all concern left him as he began to talk spiritedly in regards to the book. You easily moved onto the subject of other novels the two of you had been reading recently. Compared to some of the boisterous Papyruses (Papyri?) you’d met, he seemed to be more towards the reserved side—but talking about literature seemed to bring out a spark in him.

The two of you chatted about various books for a while before you started to feel a slight nagging feeling in the back of your mind. I was supposed to be taking time for myself, not talking to anyone. Figuring things out. As much as this is nice… I don’t think this is helpful.

“... ARE YOU QUITE ALRIGHT?” You figured Green would be so enraptured in his discussion he wouldn’t have noticed. You rewound his last few sentences in your mind—you hadn’t missed a question, had you?

Green noticed your confusion. “ALTHOUGH I TRY NOT TO BE THE BOASTING TYPE, I MUST ADMIT: I HAVE BEEN DOING MUCH RESEARCH ON HOW HUMANS’ DISPLAY OF EMOTIONS ON DIFFERS FROM CULTURE TO CULTURE. AND, IF I MAY BE SO BOLD, I CAN QUITE CLEARLY TELL SOMETHING IS WRONG. DO YOU MIND ME INQUIRING AS TO WHAT?”

You frowned, anxiously biting at the inside of your lip. “Oh, jeeze, I’m sorry Papyru—er, Green. I didn’t mean to be in my own head, I know that’s rude.”

He waved you off. “PLEASE, PAPYRUS IS FINE. AND BY ALL MEANS—JUST BECAUSE I DO NOT HAVE HUMAN EARS DOES NOT MEAN I CANNOT LISTEN.”

You couldn’t help but giggle as he motioned to the sides of his skull. Ah, screw it. “I… got into a pretty severe fight with two of my friends. Like…” How do I explain how bad it was without getting too into it? “I have a secret so deep, I’ve had to keep it a secret for a long time from a lot of people very dear to me. My two friends knew, and they said they accepted it. I found out last night that one didn’t seem to accept it at all, and the other was convinced out of accepting it, kind of.”

You then took a deep breath, running your hand through your hair. You appreciated Green giving you the patient space to collect your thoughts. “I don’t know. I’ve been so sensitive about this secret for so long, and I was just so hurt when they doubted me. One of them also... tried to manipulate me into her worldview, I guess is the best way to put it. She thought it would snap me out of the way I was thinking, or something. I just… I don’t know if I should forgive them or not.”

“AH,” Green said, a long skeletal finger tapping against his chin as he mulled. “A CRISIS OF FAITH AND TRUST, AS IT WERE.”

He seemed to dwell on this for a long moment, his face a clear display of concentration. You thought it was incredibly kind of him to take a stranger’s problem so seriously. “HM. AN INTERESTING CONUNDRUM. ON ONE HAND, A LACK OF SUPPORT DURING A TIME OF NEED IS NOT AN IDEAL QUALITY TO HAVE IN A FRIEND, I MUST SAY.” His gaze then turned to you. “IS THIS THE FIRST TIME THESE FRIENDS HAVE DISPLAYED THIS QUALITY?”

You looked away, trying to search your mind. Grace had certainly always been there for you before, however silently—not judging you, always there to listen when you chose to speak, always putting up with your sometimes thoughtless behavior. She never had a bad word to say about anyone, and helped you see when you were being unduly stubborn or unkind.

Sarah… Well, despite knowing her for significantly less time, you certainly talked to her more often. She and you certainly had a set of similar experiences in your life, so you’d grown pretty close quickly. You had previously felt free to talk about the darker parts of your life, and she had never seemed to judge or think less of you for it. She had also gotten you out of the house and pushed you (without breaking your boundaries) more in the last few months than you had throughout most of your life combined.

She had confided in you greatly, and you knew she thought very highly of you, despite… what had happened. She always allowed you the space to feel your feelings, however ugly they were. This was the first time since you met her that she had disregarded what you had told her, or tried to change you in a way you weren’t comfortable with.

“Yes, this is the first time,” you said, giving a small nod. You took a deep breath, your chest feeling heavy.

“THEN, PERHAPS, THERE IS HOPE YET!” Green said brightly. You looked to him, and he was practically shining with optimism—he reminded you the most of spaghetti-breakfast Papyrus in this moment yet. “ALTHOUGH IT MAY BE TRUE THAT THIS INSTANCE IS INDICATIVE OF A LONG-TERM TRAIT, IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE THIS WAS A MISTAKE! ONE THEY CAN LEARN FROM, AND NOT REPEAT AGAIN! AFTER ALL, THEY DO SAY TO ERR IS HUMAN. MAYBE THIS IS A FRIENDSHIP THAT CAN BE SALVAGED?” You gave a small smile, though couldn’t give much merit behind it. You wanted so badly to agree, but… you were less certain than he was. He studied you for a moment, his lone eyelight searching your face before his bold look softened.

“AH, HUMAN. IT DOES NOT TAKE A MASTERFUL RESEARCHER TO SEE THE PAIN STILL PRESENT IN YOUR EYES. I… “ he began, taking a breath. “I UNDERSTAND THAT FORGIVENESS IS A PERSONAL CHOICE, AND NOT THE RIGHT ONE FOR EVERYONE.” He looked downwards towards his gloved hands.

You reached out, placing your hand over his lightly. He refocused on you, his free hand patting the top of your own lightly as his smile returned.

“Thank you, Papyrus. This was very helpful, and… it means a lot to me to have someone to talk to like this. It’s incredibly sweet of you to listen to some stranger’s problems.” You then glanced back to his book and gave an apologetic wince. “Especially when you probably came out here to read alone, in peace. Whoops, sorry.”

As you looked up you saw the green hue had returned. “N-NOT AT ALL, HUMAN! I AM QUITE HAPPY TO HAVE THE COMPANY OF ANOTHER AVID READER. PLUS, WE HAVE BEEN TALKING FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW! I DO NOT SEE HOW WE COULD QUALIFY AS STRANGERS AT THIS POINT.”

“You’re exactly right,” you agreed, smiling wide. You held out your hand formally to him. “Acquaintances?”

“ACQUAINTANCES, WITH PLENTY OF PROMISE FOR FUTURE FRIENDSHIP!” he agreed, shaking your hand. “AND HUMAN, PLEASE REMEMBER: YOUR GOOD ACQUAINTANCE PAPYRUS BELIEVES IN YOU! IF YOU DO NOT MIND MY SAYING SO, IN THE SHORT TIME WE HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER, YOU HAVE DISPLAYED QUALITIES OF AN INTELLIGENT AND CARING BEING. I HAVE NO DOUBTS THAT SUCH A PERSON WOULD DO WHAT IS BEST IN THIS SITUATION. I KNOW IF YOU LOOK IN YOUR HEART, YOU WILL FIND THE RIGHT DECISION FOR YOU.”

He seemed like he would make a great friend, indeed. You dropped your hand, the warmth of affection overtaking the heat of anger that had been in your chest. “Can acquaintances hug?”

“A-ABSOLUTELY!” he nodded. You smiled wide, and leaned over (a little awkwardly while sitting on the bench, but whatever), and gave him a hug. His embrace was a little more stiff than the other skeletons’, but you could still sense the genuine kindness behind it. You were about to release when you felt him fully freeze in your arms. Before you could question it, you heard a familiar voice off to your side:

“pap..?”

Chapter Text

↜ Gaster!Sans ↝

The moment that G saw you and his brother embracing, G knew rather something was horribly, alarm-blaringly wrong.

His Papyrus had been badgered all week by different people—humans and monsters alike—for a bit of his spare time. A bit of attention, sometimes romantic, sometimes not. Maybe it was his intelligent stare, or quiet, optimistic nature, but even with the cracks in his skull, Papyrus drew people in. He just was that kind of person.

His brother disregarded all of them, though (even if it was in an extremely polite and friendly manner). Papyrus was here to observe, after all, and little could derail him when he had a vision in mind.

Yet, here he was, hugging you.

G was never the type to dwell on things too long. He wasn’t absentminded, per se, nor was he lazy (as much as his brother—and the majority of the other Papyruses—harped on him and his doubles for). His other selves actually worked themselves endlessly towards different pursuits, exhausting themselves constantly. G had a similar tireless work ethic, though his energy went towards a very different end: distraction.

G was a master at distracting himself: he was practically a pharmacist when measuring his alcohol against his moods; knew to the second how long a cigarette would curb his stress; knew if he was on the cusp of a bad episode and would have to invest in something a little... stronger.

But for the last few days, despite all else, you had taken a hold of his mind instead.

Normally he wouldn’t have minded it—generally, the longer the distraction the better—but this seemed… different. Something in his proverbial gut told him so, and it looks like it was proving correct.

But what was it, exactly?

G would never call himself as intelligent as some of his other doubles. True intelligence, after all, was about more than just a quick mind—it was about knowing how to put a quick mind to good use, and G had been rotting away his good mind on a constant dose of poison.

Regardless, G was aware he wasn’t an idiot, either. Even a royal fool could see when an ornery king foamed at the mouth, regardless if that occurred when already being dragged away by the guards. The warning bells in G’s skull—the same deep instinct that had served him all this time—told him he might be getting dragged soon if he didn’t figure this out.

Red had lied about being willing to kill you, Green had allowed himself to become distracted and hug a perfect stranger, and G himself had even given his number to you without a second thought. Even if they were alternative versions of one another, there was no way you were able to quickly connect with all of them. It had been less than a week, for starssake!

G began to wonder if the Sans of this universe had been correct in his paranoia. Were you attempting to get close to them all on purpose? Were you some sort of human spy, trying to learn their secrets? The thought seemed ridiculous, but… they truly hadn’t done the best job of being discreet. Had the humans caught wind of what had gone on?

“Uh” you began, startling G out of his thoughts. He realized he had been staring, “Hey G,” you said. You were doing your best to subtly slide to a respectable distance from Papyrus.

what kind of person would immediately hug guys with mean mugs like ours? even monsters are adverse when they first see us. i mean, i know we’re not as bad as some of the others, but still—a cracked skull is pretty jarring for anyone.

He realized he was still staring, still frowning. If you didn’t consider him scary before, he assumed you would have now. Instead, you just looked increasingly awkward, as if G had committed some kind of social faux paus like venturing outside without pants.

He looked down. nope, definitely wore pants. what’s she so uncomfortable about? being caught?

He stared back up at you, and then it hit him.

i never texted her back. she thinks i ghosted her.

G’s fingers wrapped around the pack of cigarettes in his pocket, fingers itching to tear the cellophane in his anxiety. well, shit.

Papyrus cleared his throat, poorly-concealed guilt still as plain on his face as the cracks in his skull. “WHY HELLO, BROTHER! WE SEEM TO BE HAVING MANY COINCIDENCES TODAY, DO WE NOT? SUCH AS YOU RUNNING INTO ME AND THIS TOTALLY RANDOM HUMAN THAT I HAVE SAT DOWN NEXT TO. THAT YOU ALSO SEEM TO KNOW. UH.” G could see the small traces of green sweat form on his brother’s skull.

“yeah, pap, what a coincidence,” G said, his voice even. His gaze then moved over to you; unlike Papyrus, you seemed to hold no guilt whatsoever. If you had meant to run into his brother, you clearly were good at hiding it.

maybe she just doesn’t feel guilty for what she’s doin’.

“Well,” you said, suddenly standing. “I’m going to, uh, get going now. Papyrus, it was nice to meet you, and thank you for taking the time to listen to me.” You shot him a warm smile before turning to regard G. Your expression was decidedly more neutral, and instead of a smile, you have him a nod of acknowledgement. “G.”

G felt a wave of unease pass through him, his fingers denting the pack of cigarettes in his pocket as his clench tightened. He needed to figure this out.

“hey, sorry to trouble y’, but do y’mind if we go have a chat for a second?” G gave a nod in the opposite direction, away from his brother. He didn’t need Pap getting worried about this.

You hesitated for a moment, your eyes cast down the street (thinking of wherever you had to go, maybe? Or maybe you could just tell he was suspicious?), but then took a breath. “Sure. Lead the way. Bye, Papyrus!”

G’s brother wore a troubled expression, his eyelight darting over you, before heading back to G. G kept his expression as neutral as possible. i can’t reassure y’ that things are gonna be alright, pap, not this time. i don’t know, myself.

After a brief pause, Papyrus gave you a nod. “IT… WAS A PLEASURE. GOODBYE, NICE HUMAN.”

G pretended not to notice his brother’s look as the two of you left.

 

G led you around the closest building for a little privacy, finding a quiet alleyway between a small shop and a much larger apartment structure. He stopped his walk once the din of the noises from the street were muffled by the walls of the alleyway.

G turned to look at you—you were staring back at him, looking expectant but not impatient. He realized he had no idea what to say. hey, mind telling me if you’re manipulating me, my brother, and our doubles on behalf of the human government? or are you just a mage casting some weird human magic on us all to get us to like you?

As much as he never wanted to go back to resets, he had to admit things were much easier when you felt you knew the script.

You were staring, waiting. y’idiot, say something, anything!

“i’m sorry i didn’t text y’ back,” he said, blurting the first thing that came out of his mouth. He then scratched the back of his head, not knowing how to explain himself. i can’t tell her about red threatening me. if she somehow is a spy, then she can’t know that we’re alarmed by her, and if she’s not, she’d run for the hills.

He then was struck by the thought. why would it matter if she does run? maybe that would be safest for her.

You merely shrugged, looking sheepish. “It’s alright, you really don’t have to apologize. Not to sound dramatic or whatever, but I’m not in the habit of chasing after people that aren’t interested.”

ouch. “jeeze, kid, it’s not that…” fuck. “i am interested—i mean, look at you, how could i not be? i just…”

He then paused as he saw your face turn from its normal hue to a bright pink one. can spies blush on command like that?

You then cleared your throat. “You don’t need to explain yourself. We’ve only met twice, after all, and I understand people can get busy. I appreciate the apology, though.”

There was then a silence. G had no idea how to bring up his suspicions, and in his anxiety, broke down and tore through the cellophane. “mind if i smoke?”

You shook your head, and he immediately pulled out his pack and lit one up. It near-instantly dulled the edge to his worry as he inhaled. You were staring again—but this time not at him, instead at the cigarette. You looked sheepish, but then took a breath.

“Do you mind if I ask you something?”

inquiring about secrets after all? maybe this is where you show your true colors. G nodded.

“The last time we, uh, shared a cigarette,” you began, rubbing your arm, “you didn’t really answer the question I asked you. Was that… buzzing, tingling sensation magic? I’ve never felt it before that happened.”

Despite knowing better, G was having a hard time suppressing the urge to tease you. If you were manipulating them, you were doing a good job of it. He decided to take an alternate route.

“hm. y’know, if y’ wanted, i could always perform a little magic on y’. see if it feels the same?”

He looked for any tell you might give—a quick look of having achieved something, an eagerness to your expression, anything—but instead you merely waved him off.

“I appreciate the offer, but I know you guys aren’t supposed to use magic on humans like that. It’s not worth the risk of someone seeing us.” From all G could tell—the tone of your voice, your untroubled stance, the calm ease to your eyes—you were being sincere in your words. He was at a loss; even if he was not the smartest of the bunch, he knew there had to be some reason.

“You know,” you said, your expression soft and contemplative, “I was looking for some time alone today, but I’m really glad I met your brother. He, you, your whole family—they’ve been so nice to me, for the most part. I mean, I don’t really know any of you that well, but your brother pretty much gave me a straight-up therapy session, and Red and Edge let me stay at their place last night, and…” Your voice trailed as you stared up at G. You then visibly swallowed. “Uh, are you okay?”

“w̸ḩat?” he asked back, before coughing again, feeling like sludge was lodged in his throat. He then gave a shake to his head. “sorry, did y’ say y’ were at red and edge’s place?”

Your face flushed again and you held up your hands. “Not like that! It’s, uh, just a long story. They basically just let me stay at their place since I couldn’t go back to mine.”

G felt like his mind needed to restart. red and edge? doing a human—hell, doing anyone a favor without anything nefarious going on? G felt like you had to be lying—not that it was his place to care what you did with them—but, your face once again looked as sincerely honest as Green saying he liked a quiet night in with a good book.

G felt a rare flash of anger go through him. red wasn’t just lying about killing y’; he’s trying to get y’ closer.

“and… y’re fine, right?”

You avoided his gaze for a moment, causing a surge of panic to go through him. He didn’t really think either of them were capable of something truly horrible, but had something actually happened while at Red’s-

“I just… had a fight with my friends.”

G definitely wasn’t thinking about that part of it, but that was certainly just as concerning. what would be so bad that y’d have to find another place to sleep? y’ really are havin’ a rough week, kid.

G scratched the side of his nasal ridge. “not t’ be the nose-y type, but would y’ like to talk about it?”

You gave out another snort. cute. However, you shook your head, looking down the alleyway in the direction you’d came. “No, but thanks. I already blathered to your brother, and I think I need to dwell on it a bit.” Your mouth twitched slightly, your smile faltering as your eyes turned back to G. “You all really are cool people. It’s too bad I’m not here for very long; I would’ve really been lucky to have friends like you all.”

G felt something unfamiliar stir within his soul, and it wasn’t pleasant. “who says we can’t be?”

You gave him a look, but your lips turned up on a teasing smirk. “Hm. Let’s see if we can get to texting regularly first, then we’ll go from there."

G shook his head, the buzz of amusement forcing a grin out of him. He took a deep breath, trying to think, trying to listen to what his soul was telling him. this could all be manipulation, but… it doesn’t feel like it. what’s the answer, then? what am i missing, here?

G tapped off the ash of his cigarette thoughtfully. Maybe he just needed more time with you. That idea felt… right. “well, maybe y’d be interested in getting a drink with me tonight?”

He saw a slight pink hue rise to your cheeks again, and for a split second, he registered a slight stutter in his soul. You, however, seemed anxious, nearly distracting him from the revelation. “I’m so sorry. I absolutely want to say yes, but I already made plans. Could we take a rain check?”

“sure,” he said, though was surprised to find the amount of disappointment within him. The warning bells were louder in his head. “i’ll text y’about it, just to prove I’m good for it.” G found himself smirking, and you let out another snort.

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll hold you to it, loverboy.”

G couldn’t stop himself sniggering in return, a large smile taking the reigns of his mouth. “loverboy, huh?”

You shrugged. “Hey, if you’re lucky you will be, right?”

G choked mid-inhale of his cigarette, causing you to burst out laughing as you leaned over to give him a pat on the back. “Shit! I’m so sorry; I knew I was bad at flirting, but I didn't think I’d kill you.”

G beat his chest before dropping his stub and rubbing it out. He suddenly couldn’t find it in him to feel stressed in this moment, anyway. Whatever was going on, you were clearly innocent of it, and the soundness of that truth within him gave him enough relief to enjoy the moment with you. He stood up straighter, now closer to you as your hand was on his back. “no, love, y’re fine-” G said, a pun ready at his tongue, where it was crushed under the force of something at his nose.

i know that scent…?

G consciously felt the loss of warmth as your hands left him. Something about you was so… sensory, it was overwhelming. He tried to re-focus.

why do y’ smell so familiar?

“Well,” you said, pulling your phone out of your shirt and looking at the time, “before risking your life anymore with another coughing fit, I guess I should get going.” You stuffed your phone back in. G tried not to be distracted by the motion as you looked back at him, this time directly.
“It was really nice to see you again, G,” you said brightly. Again, your eyes held nothing but sincerity in your words. G found himself… relieved?

“it most certainly was,” G agreed. He realized he was being just as sincere, too. “and don’t forget; i’ll be textin’ y’ about that raincheck.”

You blushed again, your darkening hues pleasant to watch. G liked that he affected you like that.

You seemed to hesitate for a moment, before leaning upwards to give G a lightning-fast kiss on his cheek. Before he could react, you were waving goodbye, walking briskly away. “See ya, G!”

G could only find it in himself to call back, his voice without much force behind it

“see ya, darlin’.”

He paused, feeling his cheek. It tingled.

okay, this seals it. something… is so incredibly different here. think, y’ broken numbskull. if she’s not trying to trick y’, how is this happening? there has to be a reason she’s doing this, right? there has to be something more to this-

G felt his mind pause, the warning sirens rooted in his deepest instincts now blaring. He felt he was at the very edge of a precipice—one more small push, and he’d be powerless but to fall right in.

unless…

Despite considering himself to be the least intelligence-forward of his doubles, he knew in this moment—staring at you leaving and feeling the buzz of something intangible beneath his fingertips—that he was the smartest fool of them all.

G felt a horrible, cold twist in the very core of his soul as he realized, his mind quickly processing the logic of it. A rapid, desperate search for facts to debunk the theory came up as dry as his suddenly parched mouth. Finding no flaws (but a few uncertain theories as to certain aspects), his mind then unwillingly assessed for the most likely outcomes.

oh. oh no.  we’re so incredibly fucked.

G started to feel the sweat gather on the back of his skull as you disappeared out of sight.

even you, love.

 

↝ You ↜

You tapped your phone, looking at the time. You were now on a far edge of the town center, where the houses began to give way to larger stretches of beach. Red had asked you to meet here on this boardwalk area, and you were currently leaning against a railing, doing your best to relax as you waited. Red wasn’t late, but it was already five minutes before the time Red was supposed to show up, and… for some reason, you had expected him to already be there when you walked up. Shit, do I have the right place? I don’t know Ebott really… You hummed anxiously, thumb hovering over your phone before letting it fall to black. I didn’t even figure out if I’m going back tonight or not, and I don’t have my charger. It’s probably best to be patient and save the battery rather than calling him or sending a text.

Sure enough, after another couple minutes you heard a distinctive shuffle behind you. Red was there in his usual garb, a lone addition of a backpack slung over his shoulder, looking the brightest you’d seen him since you met. You wondered if he slept more after you’d left; he looked well-rested. The sun was setting, casting him in brilliant golden hue that nearly matched his metal canine. He seemed to smile genuinely as he looked at you.

“heya, kitten,” he said, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his sweatshirt. “how’d yer day of thinkin’ go?”

You smiled weakly, rubbing your arm with a tinge of stress. After your run-in with Green and G, you had finally found some space alone on the beach and had thought in circles about your predicament. You had at least decided you would likely need to see Grace and Sarah at some point, if only to get your stuff. That was going to suck, hard, and likely lead to a conversation you weren’t prepared for—but one that you could probably be never fully prepared for, either. Judging by her text, Grace seemed to want to make amends, but you had no idea if Sarah even wanted to apologize or not, let alone if you’d begin to accept if she did.

“It went okay, I think. I didn’t end up as alone as I’d originally intended, but I talked it over with a stranger for a while.” You then paused. “Actually, you know the stranger. Funnily enough, it was your cousin Green. He’s such a ni… uh, are you okay?”

Red’s grin had gone completely fixed, his eyes as hollow as G’s had been earlier when you mentioned that you had stayed at Red’s place. What’s with these two?

Your voice seemed to snap him out of it, however, the lights returning. There was an outbreak of sweat all over his skull. “yeah, dollface. he’s a real nice guy.” He ran a hand over his skull. You could see the sweat stick to his hand. “did ah… did it help?”

“Yeah…” you said, taking a mental note of that for later. “It did. I think that was what I needed; it helped me process things a bit. I feel a lot better.” You decided to omit that you’d spent the rest of the day an angsty mess, fretting around and killing time as your mind involuntarily played flashbacks of the fights. You felt simultaneously better and incredibly more mentally exhausted, like you’d just finished a final exam but weren’t sure if you got any of the answers right.

Red seemed to regard you critically as he relaxed a bit from his previously tense posture. You chose to avoid his gaze by turning, leaning back onto the railing and staring up at the sky. The clouds (however few there were) glowed in a vibrant cascade of deep purple and pinks above the two of you. Red sidled up next to you with a similar lean and gave your arm a gentle nudge with his elbow. Forcing yourself to look at him through the corner of your eye, he nodded up towards the sky.

“well, ya look at least a little less clouded than when i last saw ya, no offense. though that’s still a pretty cirrus face yer making.”

You couldn’t help but laugh; these guys were a real family of punners. It was hella cute. “Well,” you said, giving him a nudge back, “let me know if my face stratus changes again.”

You heard him give a rumbling laugh beside you. You felt an odd twinge in your stomach, and looked over to Red. The waning sunset was now shadowing a layer of gold hues and light silver shadows over his face, softening his normally sharp features. He looked practically serene; such a deep contrast from his normally firey and agitated visage. You felt your stomach twist again; at first pleasantly, then unpleasantly, like a rubber band winding tightly back and forth. The whole of your stomach then dropped as the band snapped with your recognition of the feeling.

Oh no. Oh nonono. I can’t have a crush on Red. I haven’t even forgiven him fully yet. You turned your head straightforward as your heart suddenly picked up pace with the mental stress, unable to look at him. You had a lump in your throat. Damn you, golden hour of light.

You cleared your throat and stood up, your hands suddenly feeling awkward. You really wished you had pockets—or were wearing anything else. Though the sun hadn’t fully set yet, the air was already cooling drastically compared to the heat of day. Yep. That’s totally why I have goosebumps right now.

“cold, kitten?” he asked. You looked at your skin; were goosebumps really that visible? You nodded.

“Yeah, this outfit doesn’t feel quite as warm when I don’t already have a few drinks in me. I wish I had chosen a better outfit to get stranded in.”

“well, dollface, I know of a way to warm you… heh...” he began, but the sentence died under your withering look. I can’t tell if I can’t handle your flirting now, or if I want you to flirt more as encouragement not to like you. A small sweat beaded on his forehead, and he slid the backpack off of his shoulder, holding his other hand up defensively. “nah, babydoll, i’m bein’ literal. i brought some more of my clothes; figured I’d give ya the option to change if ya were tired of wearin’ that.”

You were horrified at the warm and fuzzy feeling that took over your forced ire. No! Damnit Red, don’t keep being nice like this! You accepted the backpack despite your inner protests, the warmth within you only doubling as you pulled out a pair of long basketball-style sweats, a white tee, and what looked like a pair of totally unused sneakers, slightly too large for you. You appreciated the comfy to the max style.

“That’s incredibly thoughtful, thank you. But aren’t we going out somewhere?”

Red shrugged, gesturing to his own clothes of a similar casualness. “hey, tonight’s supposed ta make ya feel good, kitten. though, if ya’d like me to make ya feel good inna different way-” You cut him off by shoving the backpack in his direction. You expected him to be mad at the action, but he only gave a low chuckle in response.

You decided to ignore this by getting dressed. You draped the tee on the railing you were leaning against before beginning to tug the pants on. You heard a sputtering sound beside you, and when you looked, Red had turned an abrupt 180 away from you. You could see the glow from the front side of his face like a sun’s hue just before dawn.

“what the hell ya getting undressed in public for?!” he coughed out, his voice gruff. You gave a laugh as you shimmied to get the pants up.

“Wow, and here I was just thinking you had no sense of decency to you. You can relax; I’m getting dressed, not undressed. I’m gonna put the pants on before taking off the skirt, and I can just put the tee you gave me over my own and then take the one off underneath.”

You heard some barely-decipherable grumbling from Red as you pulled the skirt down. “ya humans are so weird. ya can’t take a dirty joke but ya will strip right in public.”

“I’m not stripping!” you laugh, your voice slightly muffled as you changed shirts. “Besides, even if I did, it’s not like it’s much different from a bathing suit.”

“it is different-” he began, but you cut him off by tossing your lavender shirt over his head. He growled (monsters actually growled?) and ripped the shirt off of him, whipping around to face you. This guy clearly has a short fuse.

His mouth was open as if to yell something at you, but he fell silent, his bright eye lights examining you. You looked down, but couldn’t find anything of note. I got dressed fine, what’s wrong with him?

By the time you looked up, he had snatched your clothes and was already turned back around, zipping the backpack back up before slinging it over his shoulder again. “we don’t got a lotta time, but do ya wanna grab a nice cream or somethin’?”

Despite his pleasant words, there was something a little… off in his tone. Had your changing in public really affected him that much?

Do I really care if it did, anyway?

You hesitated for a moment, before deciding to take action. You took a quick step up to him and slipped your arm through his. “Definitely.”

It felt a little odd to be so voluntarily close to Red, but it wasn’t a bad kind of odd, either. You could see him look towards you in your peripheral, but you chose to ignore his stare, and instead tugged him forward. You found yourself liking being next to the warmth of his jacket, even with the still-present humidity hanging in the air around the two of you.

I don’t know how to feel about you, big guy, but I’m finding it hard not to like you.

Chapter Text

Hi all!

 

Unfortunately, I just found out someone I’m very close to will be passing away likely within the week. Until that happens, I’m going to be at the hospital when I’m not at work, so I’ll likely not get the chance to write.

I have the next chapter written and largely edited, so I might post the next update, but I likely won’t be able to respond to comments until the update afterwards, whenever that might be. 

I’m incredibly sorry for this, especially with how great and supportive and active you guys have been, and double especially as of late. If you guys can think of any small way I could make it up to you in the meantime, please let me know.

As always, if you need to contact me, you can find me at:

Skeleton Pride Parade’s official tumblr

My main tumblr (most active there)

Or discord, if you use it (@GasterSans#6810) 

 

I love you all, and thank you guys so much for all the support you’ve given.

Chapter Text


↜Red↝

Red was aware he was, perhaps, getting a little bit too into you.

It was hard not to, though. Since coming into this universe, he’d been stuck with his brother as the only familiar thing in this world, and he’d been on edge (heh) ever since. He certainly hadn’t met you in his universe (he was damn certain he’d remember that)—but, all the same, you seemed familiar, comforting, like it was his millionth run talking to the kid at that shitty restaurant in Mettaton’s bougie hotel. He knew, logically, he barely knew you—he knew you liked sweets, dirty jokes, cats, comedy shows, cartoons, and alcohol; that you had a couple of friends you weren’t getting along with; that you had some secrets you kept from your family… and that was about it.

Although he could’ve made some guesses, he had no idea what you were like with friends, or at home, or alone by yourself. You could’ve been a raging bitch, a psycho, a bad person...

So… Why did he find himself thinking so highly of you? Especially after this morning—all the three of you did was sit and watch TV and chat about stupid shit that didn’t even matter, yet he found himself stuck in a glow all morning and afternoon. He had to constantly remind himself that you would be gone soon, and that this was a temporary distraction. It had been especially hard (heh) when seeing you lounging in his clothes on his couch.

Still, it was hard not to wonder—did it really have to end whenever you left? Would you want it to? And when were you leaving, exactly?

Red gave himself a pat on the back after you left for not following you, doing his best to ensure your time alone was actual time alone. You’d gone a few days, anyway, without get yourself killed while not under his watch—you had better survival instincts than he initially thought. He hadn’t gotten any frantic calls from his asshole double from this universe, anyway, so he doubted you’d run into any of the others after he’d last seen you.

...Well, until you mentioned Green, that is.

He considered, in a brief flash of panic, asking you if G had showed up or not. You didn’t mention him, though, and the last thing Red wanted was to bring that asshat up. Red didn’t have a great feel on Green—he was just so damn quiet and introverted as compared to most of the other versions of his brother, Red found himself often forgetting about him entirely. He wasn’t sure if Green would go blabbing to G about meeting you. Something definitely to dig on.

He had to file that as a thought for later though, especially as you talked about your day. You did seem better, but something seemed a little… off. Usually things being off-kilter was a warning sign for Red (such as Edge in a bad mood, or some little shit monster looking to pick a fight), but for once, he didn’t feel alarmed. Something about the air between the two of you as you talked seemed to make his bones buzz pleasantly in an excited way, like a constant first sip of a cool soda on a hot afternoon. It was an addictive feeling.

It only doubled at the thankful and pleased look you gave him for the clothes he’d brought; the buzzing snaked tendrils around his soul at how happy such a simple gesture made you. Especially one that involved you wearing his clothes. You had even flustered him, with your weird ideas of decency, though that part he couldn’t quite admit to himself. And when he turned around, and saw you standing once again in his clothes, looking as relaxed and fitting as he could’ve hoped-

ya idiot, what are ya doin’ to yerself. she’s a human here on vacation. she’s leavin’ in a few days—hell, she could be leaving tomorrow, for all ya know. plus, she aint even here ta flirt with ya—she’s here ‘cause ya promised her ya could make her feel better ‘bout last night. she hasn’t even forgiven ya yet. don’t kid yaself, ya stupid fuck.

He zipped the backpack closed with more force than strictly necessary, stuck in a dark cycle of thoughts. Still not wanting to sour the mood, he did his best to stuff down his inner unpleasantness with an invitation to nice cream. From that first conversation the two of you had when you met, Red knew you liked sweet things, so at least that would help keep your happy mood. He tried not to think about why he was so concerned about keeping a human’s happy mood.

If it hadn’t been for the years spent having to hide his fear, Red would’ve probably jumped a solid foot off of the ground when you took your arm in his without warning. He was close to letting his anger get ahold of his mouth for the second time within a few minutes, when he caught glimpse of the side of your face. You weren’t looking at him, but…

Was there a light blush there?

Red couldn’t possibly stop the surge of magic that rushed towards his soul, but was at least able to force his mouth from suppressing his inner, annoyed groan.

yer fucked, ya sappy idiot.

The two of you started your journey for nice cream; Red knew Nice Cream Guy (or NCG, as Red preferred to call him) would likely be not too far off with his cart at this time of day. You were in a good mood as predicted—so good, in fact, you were exchanging dirty jokes with him all the way to the nice-cream stand. It wasn’t helping Red concentrate. Just watching you be so damn cheery and bright and practically glowing out of your skin because of him was making him sweat up a monsoon. He was miserable.

By the time you made it to the nice cream stand, Red was nearly sweating through his shirt; he was glad he decided to wear black today. NCG looked busy, one of his bright red suspenders hanging off of his shoulder as he served up some kids, with plenty more to go. Red was eager to get served himself; hopefully the cold treat would lessen some of his sweating, just a little. He wiped his brow.

You were in the middle of talking about concerts you had been to (of course you liked rock music, too), and Red was doing his best to concentrate on what you were actually saying. You were practically bouncing as you talked enthusiastically about the last show you had been to, telling some story about getting stuck in the pit. Your smile was so wide, Red couldn’t help but watch your mouth as you talked, wondering idly what your lips would felt like if he kissed you-

And suddenly you were smirking at him. You had a hot smirk. He dragged his vision upwards to your eyes, so bright, and looking at him so expectantly-

“Uh, Red?” you asked. It felt like the world came rushing back to him, sounds filtering back in as he blinked. “I think we’re up to order?”

“what? sorry, shit,” he cursed, earning a look of annoyance from some mother with her child behind them. Red looked over to NCG and coughed. “uh, hey, buddy. whatcha got fer flavors today?”

NCG looked quite jovial today, despite being clearly overworked. He dug around in the bowel of his freezer before pulling out two popsicles, one red, one blue. “Heya! Nice to see you. You’re in luck; we’ve got one Cherry Red left, then after that it’s only Blue Raspberry.”

“Oh!” you said, brightening. “I’ll take the r-”

Before you could act, Red grabbed the red popsicle, ripping off the wrapper before biting into it solidly. no. nope. no fuckin’ way. He literally could not handle watching you eat that now.

You and NCG exchanged looks, but you shrugged and took the blue one from him. You suddenly reached inside your shirt—why were you reaching in there— before pulling out what looked like a phone-wallet combo. You handed over some money to the blue bunny. Red balked.

“hey, kitten, nice creams were my idea-”

“Yeah, but you’ve literally gone above and beyond for me today. Plus, you bought me dessert the first time we met. The literal least I can do is buy you a nice cream.” You looked at the wrapper as you stepped to the side, letting the mother and her child order. “It says ‘you look nice today!’ Aw, sweet! What’s yours say?”

Red stuck the nice cream in his mouth and did his best to un-rumple and piece together the wrapper. He squinted at the awkward writing. “‘love yerself. i love you.’” what kinda hippie shit-

“Aw, Sans, are you making a confession?” you teased, winking. Red felt his face get flush.

“n-no-!”

You laughed, shaking your head, giving him a playful knock with your elbow. “I’m just teasing you, you nerd. Nice cream was a great idea, thanks.”

“You two are real cute together!” Red heard NCG say behind you. Red expected you to correct him, but instead, you held up your nice cream.

“Hey, this nice cream is great! I especially love the messages.”

“Thanks!” NCG said, brightening considerably. “I’ve been running a lot of new ideas by Burgy lately.”

Red regarded the blue bunny curiously. “how you n’ him doin’, anyway?”

“Oh,” he said, suddenly becoming bashful. Red wondered for a moment if they had broken up, but then a light, raspberry-blue hue came to the bunny’s cheeks. “Well, actually, the nice cream has been selling so well, I thought this might be a nice time to save up, and, y’know…”

Red coughed, impressed, though not surprised. Those two had always shined pretty brightly around each other. “hey, congrats, man. he’s gotta say yes.”

You let out a high-pitched noise as it clicked for you. “You’re gonna propose?! Oh my gosh, that’s amazing!” You were practically vibrating. “That’s so exciting, I’m so happy for you, holy shit!” The mother, who was now off to the side eating her own ice cream, cleared her throat. You instantly mouthed ‘sorry’ to her. Red had to stop himself from letting out a growl. like a cuss is gonna hurt yer kid, lady-

“Well,” you said, fishing out another dollar, “give me a second one to celebrate and get you closer to your goal. The sooner you propose, the better.”

“Hey, thanks!” he said mirthfully, his ears upright and at attention. “I have just the one for you!” He dug around in the bin again before pulling out another blue raspberry. It looked identical to the one he’d given you before. You tore it open carefully, before looking at the wrapper.

“Aw!” you said, brightening. “Can I?” The bunny nodded, and you quickly went around the cart, giving him a hug. “You’re the best for this job! The nicest guy selling nice cream.” After parting from NGC, you showed Red the wrapper. It had a poorly drawn illustration of a hug on it.

You and Red bid NCG goodbye shortly afterwards, the two of you wishing the bunny luck on his endeavor. You did your best to eat the nice creams quickly, but the second one was quickly melting as you walked. You were clearly doing your best to not get messy, but the nice cream was now dripping over your hand…. And Red immediately stopped looking at you after that, forcing his eyes straight forward and away from your darting tongue.

c’mon, red. focus. yer tryin’ to make up for bein’ a creep, don’t fuckin’ ruin it before you’ve even made up for the first one. The two of you were getting closer to your final destination now, but to Red, it felt like it was taking forever. Suddenly, bright blue was blocking his vision.

“Do you want this?” you offered. Red risked looking over to you, and you were rubbing your forehead in pain. “I have, like, the brainfreeze from hell from eating the first one fast, and there’s no way I could get through this fucker. I hate to waste food, though.” Red realized he liked it when you swore.

He took it from you wordlessly and took a bite. the cherry was definitely better. The moment he bit into it, you seemed to instantly brighten.

“that brainfreeze left ya fast,” Red commented. You grinned before giving him a wink.

“Well, maaaaybe that was an act. You seemed pretty hungry with how fast you ate yours, but I figured you wouldn’t let me buy you a second one outright.”

Red’s expression froze as his soul twitched in his ribcage. fuck, kitten, this is you with your friends, isn’t it? kind, considerate, playful… Red felt another twitch. Regardless of how pleasant the actual sensation was, he suddenly felt nauseous, wanting to just chuck the nice cream. The sweating was back.

You were now walking towards the venue, and Red was doing the best he could to snap himself out of it. red, ya can’t have a fuckin’ crush. what are ya, 12? this is stupid. yer bein’ stupid. there’s no way ya have an actual crush on her. what would boss say? what would she say—and wait, why should i even care what she thinks? i bet this is all from her bein’ close to me, tryin’ to be nice to me, touchin’ up on me-

“Red, uh, you’re looking pretty warm in that jacket,” you said, looking at him with concern as you walked beside him. You went to touch him, as if to take off his jacket-

don’t touch me with those hands ya magic devil woman!” Red called out, flinching back from your grasp.

Red expected you to look angry, or irate, or hurt—but instead, you looked merely stunned for a moment before breaking into a fit of laughter.

“Hahaha, Red, what the heck? Are you okay?” You then held up your hands in display. “I swear, these human hands have no magic. Unless the right monster wants them too,” you said, wiggling your brows in a clear attempt to cheer him up. He could only groan, running a hand over his face.

You cleared your throat, taking a personal step back from him. “Uh, sorry. Seriously, you okay?” There was then a note of abashedness in your voice. “I know we’ve been pretty much focusing on all me and my problems here, but I swear I’m not normally this self-centered. If there’s something you want to talk about-”

“nah, doll,” he said, a hint of roughness in his voice he didn’t quite mean. He then sighed, doing his best to calm down his inner ire. “just… sorry. ‘m fine, just have a thing ‘bout people touchin’ my jacket. ‘n we’re just about here, anyway.” He nodded forward, towards an old tavern—The Crown & Trident. You gave him an indecipherable look for a moment, but then brightened when looking forward.

“Oh, cool! I went here the first night I was in town. I liked it a lot.”

It took everything in Red to stop himself from accidentally saying i know.

He led you through the door and down the staircase. It was so early in the evening there was next to no line for checking ID’s. Burgerpants, surprisingly, was doing security at the door. That guy was everywhere lately.

Red nearly laughed aloud at the chances. heya, bp. i know something you don’t know.

He noticed you first and visibly brightened, before spotting Red and immediately deflating again. You didn’t seem to notice. “Security buddy!” you cheered.

“H-heya, little buddy,” BP said, eyes shifting between you and Red. He reminded Red less of a cat and more of a cornered rabbit (ironically, considering who he was dating). The guy wouldn’t survive two seconds in his universe. Hell, Red’s Burgerpants (did i really just think of any burgerpants as “my” burgerpants?) barely survived as it was. “ID’s, please?”

“Sure,” you responded, fishing out your cell phone-wallet from inside your shirt. Red noticed BP’s eyes follow your hands, and Red felt an immediate flash of anger. BP seemed flustered as you handed him your ID.

“here ya go, BP,” Red said, knowing the cat monster hated people even referencing his nickname. In a rare moment of introspection, Red wondered why he was being aggressive towards the guy, especially with what he’d just heard from NCG. Plus, BP had never done Red wrong before. You shot Red an odd look, probably confused at the name, but Red said nothing to it—he found himself wavering between wanting to antagonize the guy, and trying to be sympathetic.

Normally spineless people amused Red more than anything else, but something about BP was getting into his bones. Maybe it’s because you seemed to like cats so much? An image of you, cuddled up with Doomfanger flashed in his mind-

You had barely taken hold of your ID before Red was pulling you away by your hand, heading inside. Despite being so early in the night, the place had a healthy (but not overwhelming) crowd to it, the majority packed around the bar. There were a few decorations here and there, the largest of which was a banner that spanned across the main floor, the letters large and visible even in the dim lighting-

“‘Bi/Pan Pride Night?” you read aloud, surprised etched clear on your face. Despite all of Red’s inner turmoil, seeing you like this… It was worth it.

“heheh, ya got it, doll. i thought this might be just what ya needed. i know it’s all clubby right now, but they’re doin’ some live music later, so it should be pretty low-key. i thought ya might like it.” He then shrugged the backpack over his shoulder, sticking his thumb out towards the exit. “‘n, like i promised, i’ll be gettin’ out of yer hair now. text me if ya need a place to crash again, ‘cause i know edge wouldn’t mind-”

“Oh, Red,” you said, turning to him. With a flash of dance lights on your face, he could see the glimmer of tears in your eyes, though you looked the happiest he had seen you yet. “I’m sorry, but… Can I give you a hug?”

Red could only nod.

You crushed into him, hugging his ribcage tightly. He only barely remembered to hug you back, his arms feeling suddenly alien to him as they encircled you. You had given him a hug goodbye before, but this felt… different. It was an action of joy, of thanks, of sharing an intimate, exposed moment. Red was overwhelmed as he tried to process his own emotions, let alone what you must have been feeling. You coughed out a laugh.

“You absolute jerk, this is exactly what I needed,” you said, bringing a hand up to wipe your eyes. Red took this as a signal to let you go, but before you parted, you leaned and gave him a small kiss on the cheek. You then pulled away before he could react, his soul feeling frozen in place. You were still rubbing your eyes, laughing as you shook your head. “Goddamnit, Red, you’re forgiven.”

“ah, b-babydoll, i didn’t do this to be forgiven-” Red said, his voice not feeling as if it were working properly. You waved your hand dismissively at him, looking up, your eyes finally clear.

“Yeah, I know, ya knucklehead. Would you like to stay with me?”

Fighting the waves of magic in him now was like trying to punch the tide. fuck. “a-a’course i do, babydoll, but why do ya keep callin’ me names if yer happy?”

You grinned at him, a devil of a secret behind your smile, before looking away. “Because I don’t think your face could handle all the things I actually want to call you right now.”

Joke or not, Red was bowled over, and could no longer deny it.

fuck it, kitten. i gotta big fuckin’ crush on ya. might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

You took Red’s hand in yours, leading him to the bar. He was absolutely certain he was a glowing mess, but couldn’t find himself caring, stuck on the fact that your hand was in his, he was feeling your skin against his bones because you wanted to make physical contact with him. He couldn’t find himself to concentrate on anything else—the blaring music seemed muffled and distant, the crowded room a void, his feet feeling like he was more floating than walking. Red was practically high, feeling a burst of euphoria in his acceptance-

-before his soul froze for the second time since he got here, and this time in the worst way.

Quicker than he could manifest a conscious thought, his magic had already teleported him away as an instinct, his soul bouncing wildly in his chest. His hands were instantly grabbing for his phone, fumbling with it as he brought up a text with you.

It didn’t matter that you had just seen him teleport. It didn’t matter that he had just fled what could’ve been the best night that he had in a long time.

Red: kitten
Red: whatever u do dont mention me
Red: dont mention i was just here with u
Red: just dont mention any of our family to him ok
Red: i’ll explain later i swear just dont let him know u know us
Red: also whatever u do dont lie to him
Red: he’ll know
Red: just omit the truth the best u can
Red: please kitten

You began to type out a message (those damned three dots dancing tantalizing on the screen, taunting him) but then stopped, and never sent a reply. He gave the loudest growl he dared before reeling himself in.

ok, red. don’t panic. at least she’s seen the texts.

Red took a second to breathe. His soul was battering around in his ribcage so fast, if he didn’t calm down even that witless asshole would be able to spot him without trying. Once calm (or, at least calm enough that it no longer felt like his soul was trying to make a break for it), Red carefully teleported back inside, opting for the backstage area for a bit of cover.

It didn’t take him more than a millisecond to spot his asshole double. sans. the one from this universe.

Sans had already spotted you and was talking to you in the most relaxed nature. That didn’t mean you were safe, though—that freak could stare down death itself with an easygoing grin. Red did his best to try to sense out the soul, get a feel for if there was any anger or malice radiating from him.

Red sensed it easily.

Sans’s soul wasn’t angry. It was shining.

Chapter Text

↝ You ↜


You were, to say the least, confused.


You guess you had been wrong about the teleporting bit—Red was clearly quite fine teleporting in front of you, considering he disappeared out of your damn hand.

Damnit; if you had known that, you would’ve asked him to get your charger before you came here.

Still, why the hell had he done that? Was he really that adverse to ‘the devil woman with the magic hands’ (or whatever the hell he had called you) touching him? Had you spooked him by grabbing his hand like that? Should you have asked first?

You were mulling it over when you felt your chest pocket vibrate in rapid succession. You pulled out your phone and read the cascading texts from Red, each one more alarmingly strange than the last. He makes it sound like the terminator is coming or something.

You were about to type out a text (“Who the heck are you talking about?”) when you felt a tap on your shoulder.

You turned around. It was Sans.

“heya. thought this might be the place,” he said, hands in his sweatshirt pockets. His eyelights then searched your figure. “great minds really do think alike, eh?”

You looked down at yourself, then at him. You were practically wearing matching outfits. You burst out laughing.

“Hey, you! I guess they do.” You grinned wide at him; seeing him at The Crown & Trident was the last thing you expected; he didn’t seem like the club type. “For some reason, I’m surprised to see you in a place like this. Is that weird?”

He shrugged casually. “nah, you’re right; this isn’t normally my kind of thing. i heard they’re supposed to have live music later though, which i like. plus, i had a feeling the company here would be great.”

You felt your heart flip and heat rush to your face as your mind added a sprinkle of flashback, your subconscious clearly bent on antagonizing you as your last meeting came to the forefront of your mind. Whose side are you on, brain? “Clearly seems to be the case. I was just about to get a drink; do you want to join me?”

“sure,” he said, though he didn’t move. “but, uh, i hate to be interrupting anything. didn’t you say a friend was bringing you here?”

“Oh!” you began, before glancing to the phone in your hand. Red… couldn’t have meant Sans, right? This guy looks as gentle and chill as a skeleton could possibly pull off. You hesitated for a moment, before deciding there was no harm in playing it safe for a bit. “I did, but they already left. I, uh, actually had a really rough night last night, and I had planned to spend today alone-”

“oh, shoot, kid,” Sans said, a rare look of concern coloring him, his brows furrowed over his permanent smile. “listen, if you rather i get my nose out of your night-”

“You don’t even have a nose,” you teased, smiling warmly. “And no, I wouldn’t; I’m actually really glad you’re here. It’s really nice to see you again, Sans.” You meant it, too.

He seemed to be able to tell, his grin returning full force as he nodded over to the bar. “me too. let me buy you a drink to cure your troubles.”

You grinned wide, following him to the bar, having to stick close as the two of you serpentined through the crowd. As a thought struck you, you leaned close to him to speak. “Man, it’s been a full five minutes and you haven’t made a pun yet. Why is that?”

He grinned, and flicked the side of his nasal ridge. “hm. nobody nose.”

The two of you eventually struck some real estate at the bar, sliding onto a couple of stools and chatting over a nice drink. Red had been right: unlike some of the other nights you had been to clubs, it wasn’t too packed, the music wasn’t too loud, the air of the place was completely relaxed and non-judgmental, and you felt a comfortable familiarity since you had been here previously. It really was the perfect thing to cheer you up and make you forget all about the night before. You wished he’d come back to actually spend it with you, though.

Not that you didn’t enjoy the time with Sans. He was as sweet, funny, and laid-back as ever. The more you chatted, the more you decided there was no way this was who Red could’ve been talking about. Maybe whoever it was didn’t approach you because Sans had gotten to you first?

You eventually decided, after a couple of hours, to test the waters just a little bit. This decision was perhaps due to the alcohol. You were nowhere near drunk; Sans didn’t seem to be drinking any alcohol whatsoever—so you were sipping at a snail’s pace in order to not make a fool of yourself—but you definitely had a small buzz on. Plus, Sans seemed totally at ease; he was really good at making you feel like it was just him and you in the room despite the slowly growing crowd around you. Maybe, on the slight chance it was Sans that Red had been referring to, he was in such a good mood he wouldn’t mind? And what would even happen if he did, anyway?

You decided to test it out through a topic that always seemed to make Sans happy: his brother. “How’s Papyrus doing? It’s too bad he’s not here.”
As expected, Sans chuckled happily, his fingers sliding idly on the side of his glass. “pap is good; it’s a rare occasion that he’ll stay out late. it’s a weeknight, so that’s pretty much a guaranteed early bedtime for him.”

“Aw, a skeleton after my own heart,” you laughed, taking another sip of your drink. You vaguely noticed San’s hands freeze in place, but didn’t put much thought to it. “I have a lot of trouble sleeping, but what little sleep I get, it’s usually early on at night, especially on a weekday. I’m usually out by ten, up at two.”

Sans gave you a questioning look. “odd sleep pattern, and that’s coming from a broken sleeper right here. why’s that?”

You decided on giving a little, white half-lie. “Genetics, mostly, I think,” you said with a casual shrug, finishing off your near-empty glass. There. An easy enough lie-

“pfft, liar,” Sans said, not looking at you. You froze. Okay, maybe that one was too easy. The first time we met, I said I woke up because I was anxious, after all. “you don’t gotta tell me though, if you don’t want.”

Shit. Well, this is what you get for telling lies.

You studied your empty glass for a moment in deliberation, hoping you’d secretly picked up a crystal ball that would give you the right answer. You weren’t the most… open person, but you supposed you’d shared more intimate details with him that first night you met, anyway. If he can’t handle this, he’s not a person worth talking to, you tried to convince yourself.

“I have nightmares every night, at least one a night. Have had them for years.”

There was a beat of silence, and you couldn’t bring yourself to look at Sans’s face. C’mon, I know that’s not really a crazy thing for someone to have-

“me too.”

You looked over at him, seeking some sign that he was joking or being insincere—but his face seemed as open and honest as ever. You felt simultaneously touched, and saddened, and connected, like listening to an old, nearly-forgotten song of happier times. You clunk your empty glass against his.

“Cheers, then. Sorry if this is too bold, but feel free to text me if you can’t sleep. It won’t wake me up if I’m sleeping already, and I’m happy to lend an ear to a nightmare buddy.”

“not forward at all. same here, and i mean that,” he said, a note of affection to his voice. He then leaned over and signaled for the bartender. “let’s get you cheering properly though with another drink.”

“Trying to get me to make some bad decisions?” you teased, grinning. He looked surprised for a moment, before his easy grin resumed.

“hey, i hear it’s bad luck to cheer on an empty glass,” he said, in what you now recognized to be his classic joke-set-up voice. He winked. “and i might be trying to get lucky.”

If you had a drink, you would’ve spit it out. You cracked up laughing, burying your head in your hands. Between your fingers, you could see the bartender place down some water instead of an alcoholic beverage. You looked at it questioningly, and he shrugged. “not a signal from me to stop drinking; you can make your own decisions about that. just thought it might help prevent a hangover.”

“The me of tomorrow thanks you,” you said, accepting it with a grateful nod. You cheered properly with him this time before taking a large sip.

“Plus, I did need it—after all, you were making me feel pretty thirsty.”

You cringed at your joke, expecting a groan from your bar partner, but instead heard a large sputtering next to you. Soda was leaking out of his mouth as he attempted to cover it up, cough-laughing. You couldn’t help but break into giggles all over again at the sight, the image as bizarre as it was comical.

You handed him a few sympathy-napkins, which he gladly took. Looking over him, you couldn’t help but feel warmth take over the suspicion in your gut. Look at this charming doofus. It can’t be him, and even if it was—really, what would he do? Soda me to death?

You decided to speak confidently, trusting Sans.

“You know, it’s funny, this is where I met your brother actually, my first night here,” you said, your eyes surveying the bottles behind the bartender in a small attempt at self-distraction. “He bumped into me and spilled soda on me, and I spilled my drink on him.”

“paps was drinking soda? that explains why he came home so hyped up,” Sans chuckled. You took another deep sip of water.

“He was! He was so energetic. I’m pretty sure he burns more energy in an hour than I do in a whole week. I knew right away that he was one of the nicest people I’d ever had the pleasure of meeting.” You took a big sip of water before continuing. “I also met some other people you know that night.”

“oh?” Sans prompted, “i gotta say—and not to brag—but i pretty much know most of the underground. who was it?”

“It was, ah-” you began, before the distinct ear-splitting feedback of a microphone cut you off as the club music was cut jarringly short. The two of you looked towards the stage, where some kind of...ice monster was standing at a microphone.

“Welcome to Ebott’s first Bi/Pan pride night!” The monster said, earning a hearty round of cheers from the crowd. Most of them seemed already pretty well liquored up. “We hope you like it and don’t say ‘bi’ to us too soon!”

There was a beat of silence before you and Sans burst out into a fit of giggles at once. The monster had puns worse than your own, and that was saying something. It seemed to encourage him, though.

“Heheh! Yeah! See, I can be an MC!” The monster beamed proudly before shifting gears. “Let’s get a warm round of applause for our first panformer of the night!”

Another burst of giggles from you and Sans as the ice monster shuffled offstage. They didn't even give their own name, let alone the name of the performer, but you appreciated their enthusiasm anyway.

There was a long beat of dead air after the ice monster disappeared, no one coming out for an awkward stretch of time. The club, previously silent, began to murmur. A few expectant moments later, the curtains finally parted.

To your surprise, G stepped out with a guitar case in his hand. Some members of the audience clapped respectfully, a few even enthusiastically. You noticed Sans wasn’t one of them. Looking over, Sans’s face was still smiling, but something about it seemed… off. His lights were practically pinpricks, his grin totally frozen.

Maybe you didn’t know Sans as well as you thought, or maybe your reading of his expression was off. What could be so bad about G being on stage?

“Are, uh, you okay?” you asked, leaning in slightly to lower your voice as the audience’s applause faded. He turned and stared at you for a long moment, his gaze looking more through you than at you. “Uh, Sans?”

He shook his head, the normal brightness of his eyelights returning. “sorry. yeah. ‘m fine.”

“You sure-” you began, before the static of the microphone as G grabbed it cut you off. He was now half-leaning on a stool, a beat-up looking acoustic guitar in his hands, secured around his shoulder by a frayed strap. He leaned up towards the microphone.

“hey, everyone,” he started, his voice simultaneously confident and relaxed, his speech strong and unshaking. “my name is g. i’m honored t’ be the first performer tonight; i’m goin’ to be playin’ a few songs, followed up by shyren and dj napstablook.” G clearly had experience on stage: he was flawlessly taking over for the botched intro of the MC. You wondered how long he’d been performing for. “this first song is a bit of a last-minute addition; it’s called ‘moving mountains.’ i hope y’ like it.”

Before you could sneak a question in to Sans, G gave a small four-beat count with the tap of his boot, then began.

i speak in many tongues of many men,
argue with angels and i always win,
but i don't know the first thing about love.”

Unlike Red’s gravely singing, G had a much smoother, smoky, and at times pleasantly raspy low voice. You snuck a glance at Sans to see his reaction—once again he looked on edge, his face neutral but his hand wrapped tightly around his glass. The bit of suspicion that you’d buried now re-sprouted. Why would he be so tense seeing his cousin? Does he have bad blood with his family? You did your best to stamp down your curiosity and focus on G’s singing, wanting to give focus on a friend putting themselves out there, but it was difficult to ignore your companion’s tense air.

i prophesize and know many mysteries,
all hidden things are opened up to me,
but i don't know the first thing about love,
i don't know the first thing about love...

i have the key to open any door,
give all my possessions to the poor,
but i don't know the first thing about love.

moving mountains ain't no thing to me—
i have faith enough to cast the rest to the sea,
but i don't know the first thing about love,
i don't know the first thing about love...

when all other things fade away,
this love stands alone and still holds sway.
all other things shall fade away
into the dust,
into the grave.

i give my body up unto your flame
and never once will i deny your name,

but i don't know the first thing about love,
i don't know the first thing about love,
i don't know the first thing about love...

For a low-key song being played in a club, G received a surprising amount of enthusiastic applause. He gave a charming, appeased grin.

“thank y’, i’m glad to hear y’ like it.” He then paused, waiting until the applause died down before speaking again. “next one is an old classic, called ‘moment’s silence.’ enjoy.”

Sans suddenly leaned over to you, his eyes still on the stage as whispered during the brief instrumental beginning. “hey, do you wanna get out of here?”

You were now full-on suspicious, but you figured it was family business, not yours. You gave a nod; as much as you would’ve liked to see G and the other performers, it didn’t seem like Red was coming back, and you weren’t interested in either calling it a night or spending time here alone. The two of you stood, both of you leaving cash for your drinks, and began to snake your way through the denser crowd. G’s voice rose out again in the background:

when holed-in hand earns place with man
by mere monstrosity,
alarms are struck and mountain shook
by sheer atrocity.

there’s a cure i know that soothes the soul,
does so impossibly.

a moment's silence when my baby
puts her mouth
on
me-”

You were about halfway through the room when it happened. You weren’t looking at the stage, so you heard it first: a strangled note from G, followed by a large crash and collective gasps from the audience. You instantly turned, and had to peer around another person to see-

Red was on top of G, attempting to wring his neck as G was trying to push Red off of him. Red was practically screaming at him, his mouth in a ferocious snarl. “i’m gonna kill ya, ya fuckin’ bastard! ya think yer gonna get away with this shit-

Red was interrupted by G decking him, the full force of the punch knocking the shorter skeleton over enough that G was able to dislodge himself from his position under Red. Red instantly scrambled to stand, his fists balled. “if it’s a fuckin’ fight ya want, i’ll give ya a fuckin’ fight!”

Even from your distance away, you could feel a swell of crackling, electric magic in the room, something bright flickering in front of G-

You suddenly saw Sans walking onstage at a casual pace. You looked next to you, and sure enough, the space that had contained Sans was now void of skeleton. His hands were stuffed in his sweatshirt unthreateningly, but at his presence, whatever had been flickering in front of G died out. Red looked thrown off, but still enraged.

“listen, this aint any of yer-!” he began, before Sans must’ve spoke—you were way too far away to hear. Someone, suddenly, knocked into your shoulder, moving past you and into others quickly. You realized, reading the large letters on the back of their jackets, that it was the police. What?! How in the fuck did they even get here that fast?

“Sans!” you called out in warning. All three of them turned at your voice—Red looking startled, G looking surprised, and Sans with that unreadable grin on his face. You were surprised they heard you at all with the din of the crowd, everyone talking loudly from the ruckus.

Sans and G seemed to spot the police but made no mark to move. Red, however, looked like he was ready to shit bricks and turn tail. Before he could make a move, Sans seemed to speak again. Red didn’t look happy, but he stayed put.

To your immense dismay, the police were human. You hoped with all of your heart that Ebott (being the monster capital) would have more monster-friendly police than anywhere else, but you couldn’t be sure. You wanted to yell at them to teleport, do something, but only Red seemed to be worried, the other two grinning (Sans) or neutral (G).

The crowd quieted as the two police and the three monsters talked, a tense air present. As much as people wanted the fight to stop, there was a clear worried nature to the faces of the crowd. Fuck, should I go up there and say something? The fight’s over, it’s done, there’s no need for the police to be here.

You steeled yourself and made your way towards the stage, able to fairly quickly catch up through the gap the police had made through the crowd. Just as you were walking up, one of the two police officers were taking out a pair of handcuffs. You felt a flash of panic and practically sprinted towards the stage.

“What the heck are they being arrested for?!” you asked loudly, climbing up the stairs. The other police officer, a stocky woman, put her hand up to stop you.

“Ma’am, this is official business. If you’re not involved, you’re going to have to le-”

she’s with me.

For a second you thought there was some kind of echo, but you then realized that the three skeletons had all said the same thing. Eerie.

“Excuse me?” the police officer in front of you asked, her face clearly disbelieving. Your mind, bolstered by adrenaline, instantly began working your mouth for you.

“Yep. I’m with all of them. Totally. Just, uh, a happy polygamist group of me and several monsters. You know, pride week and all.”

“Really?” she asked incredulously, looking back to the skeletons.

“oh, totally,” G said, his face a mask of sincerity. “red and i were just having a lover’s quarrel-”

i am not yer fuckin’ lover-!

“aw, red, darlin’, don’t be like that,” G said, putting on a heartbroken face. “y’ see, officer, red’s a little too jealous-”

Red began to seethe again, but before he could so much as open his mouth, the female officer put up her hand. “Alright, I officially don’t care. You two can settle this down at the station.”

“But for what?!” you asked, feeling an indignant flare rise within you. “They literally fought for all of two seconds and it was over! Neither of them even have a mark.”

“They’re in violation of disturbing the peace,” the male officer spoke up, moving behind G. “Hands behind your back.”

G said nothing, complying silently. You felt yourself go from angry to enraged. “You’ve got to be kidding me! You know if this was two humans we wouldn’t be having this conversation! This is Ebott during a Pride week—there’s gotta be like ten fights going on by much drunker people right this second! This is a waste of time!”

“That’s not for you to decide,” the female officer said, moving behind Red. Unlike G, who looked quite stoic, Red looked like he was having a very hard time keeping his mouth shut. “You know it’s also illegal for monsters to be using any kind of attack magic, and that comes from their King himself.”

“They didn’t even use magic!” you said, gesturing wildly to the two of them. “Again, one literally just physically attacked the other for two seconds, then Sans broke it up! This is bullshit!”

“kid-” Sans began, before the policewoman cut him off.

“Ma’am, I am not going to argue with you. You are physically blocking our access from taking these two out, so unless you’d like to be arrested too, I suggest you move.”

“Fine!” you said, standing to the side for her. “I’ll move, but this is downright racist, and fascist, and practically illega-”

“Oh, you wanna see how not racist I can be? Turn around; you’re under arrest too, human.”

“For what?!” you exclaimed, your stomach dropping. She physically turned you around and you put your hands behind your back, your anger turning to acidic fear as you felt her hands on your wrists.

“hey! ya can’t fuckin’-” you heard Red begin from somewhere behind you, before being cut off.

“Sir, calm down before I add resisting arrest to your charges.”

“red-” you heard the voice of Sans start. It was tough to concentrate as you felt the shock of metal against your wrist. Is this really fucking happening, oh my god, oh my god- “you have to relax, you can’t make this worse-”

calm down?!” Red roared. “look at you, just fuckin’ standing there while she gets arrested-”

“Alright, enough,” the female officer said. “Let’s go.” As she moved you from against the wall, you turned and could only see the crowd in front of you. People—monsters and humans alike—were holding up their phones, recording you in your finest hour. Great. Just great.

You felt your anxiety take over to the extreme, a thousand thoughts seeming to bypass your mind and instead weighing directly on your chest. Holy fuck, this has to be a dream. My parents are going to fucking kill me. Will I get fired? Will I find a job again? How the fuck am I going to afford a lawyer? Will I do prison time? Will Red and G have to do that too? Has a monster even gone to prison yet? Did I fuck up things worse? Holy fuck, holy fuck-

You did your best as the police officer was pushing you forward to look back, desperately trying to catch a glimpse at your three friends for any form of reassurance. You couldn’t really see G—he had his head down—and Red was being led down the stairs. You could see him tugging against the officer, clearly in a rage. Above them all stood Sans on the stage, easily the most visible of the three. He, for once, was giving an actual, full-on frown, his eyes trained on you.

You didn’t know Sans that well, but… the look was clear: i’m sorry.

Despite your utter panic, you did the only thing you could do to send any kind of message back: you gave him a small, if not weak, smile. It’s okay.

With another push from the officer behind you, you were forced to turn back forward and face your future.

Chapter Text

↜ Red ↝

Watching you and Sans together at the bar, Red found himself at a total loss for what to do. For the first time in a long time, he felt like he was underwater, the reality of the situation now so far out of his grasp that he felt paralyzed. For hours, it was all he could do to sit, and watch, and do his best to negate the panic attack that was circling the edge of his breaths. Slowly, eventually, he was able to reign in his emotions enough to take a deep breath, and try to evaluate.

okay, red. fuckin’ think. lay out the facts about the situation. His eyes glanced between the two of you. clearly, the asshole’s got somethin’ for kitten. and damnit, kitten looks like she’s reciprocatin’. Red felt his teeth grind together in a momentary flash of frustration. fine. that means ya know somethin’ else: ya know, for sure, he doesn’t know kitten is the human we’re supposed to stay away from. that means he at least didn’t spot me, either, otherwise we’d already be in the shit.

Red took another breath, closing his eyes. Red knew that having such a big piece of information was always an opportunity for an upper hand, but… how ? How could he use this to his advantage?

And, perhaps more importantly… to what end was he trying to aim for?

well… first and foremost is keepin’ kitten safe, he thought. In a worst-case scenario, Red knew he’d have to fight the asshole, if not some of the others. Red… definitely wasn’t scared of fighting that asshole, not in a million years. Definitely not. ...But, fighting him also sounded like a lot of effort that could be easily avoided, with a bit of strategizin’.

Red reflected, momentarily, if he also felt jealous about you chatting the guy up. Strangely enough, he couldn’t find jealousy within him, but just… concern. Worry that you were talking to someone who might kill you, and you’d be none the wiser. It was just like with G—he wasn’t jealous, but worried you’d fall in for some asshat that didn’t give a single shit about you, would be willing to risk your life just to mess around with you. You deserved better than that. Plus, what did you even see in that angsty asshole anyway-

“heya, red.”

Red was about two milliseconds from sending a bone attack behind him, clinging to the barest amount of his impulse control left. He wheeled around, terrified it might be Sans—but it was only G, standing there with a guitar. Red put his hand to his chest, trying to slow the panic in his soul.

“shit, the fuck do you want?”

G didn’t seem affected by Red’s tone, only adding to Red’s irritation. He merely motioned with his hand that held the guitar, fingertips clacking around its neck. “don’t want anythin’, red. just here to play music.” He then leaned around, as if to see what Red was looking at behind the curtain. “‘nd you? i didn’t take y’ for much of a stagehand. what are y’ doing here?”

“none of yer fuckin’ business,” Red growled, bristling. G shrugged, putting the guitar strap over his shoulder. A loud, wince-inducing crackle of feedback rang out as Snowdrake began the introduction to the performers.

“‘nd here i thought it might be because of that girl out there,” G said, nodding towards the audience. “y’know, with her talkin’ to sans and all.”

“ya know?” Red asked. “and yer still gonna play?”

G shrugged again. Red swore if he saw one more shrug, Red was gonna deck him. “i’m not worried. he’s not goin’ to know i know her just ‘cause i’m up on stage playin’.”

“yeah, asshole? what if she mentions she knows ya? what then?”

G didn’t shrug, but might as well have with the look he gave Red. He sighed, as if Red was the one with rocks in his skull. “red, y’know, this is the first time y’ and i have really fought since we both landed here. why do y’ think that might be?” Snowdrake shuffled back past them, but G made no move to go onstage, waiting for an answer.

Red hesitated for a moment, but then doubled-down on his anger. If either of them was being an idiot, it was G. “that’s ‘cause i didn’t know ya were the kind of prick that’d risk a girl’s life just ta fool around with her. i ain’t exactly a picture of morality myself, but buddy, that’s a kinda low not even i could sink to.”

G rolled his eye, stoking the coals to Red’s fire. “i know she’s not gonna die-”

“ya don’t know that, ya arrogant-”

“red,” G said levelly, putting a hand out onto Red’s shoulder. Red snarled at him, whacking his hand off. “i do know. y’ might be my double, but right now, y’re the biggest idiot i know.”

Before Red could snap, G turned and walked onstage with his guitar. Red felt like a dog holding his own leash, a bare thread of logic keeping him back from letting his rage free and giving the audience a real show. His eyes immediately went back to the two of you sitting by the bar. Sans definitely looked… uncomfortable seeing G, but not particularly alarmed. You must’ve heeded Red’s advice and not mentioned it. atta girl.

Red had to sit through G’s song. In a past time not too long ago, Red and G would occasionally get together and knock back a few drinks while G played guitar to pass the time, sometimes discussing music he was working on. Red realized he didn’t recognize the song; it must’ve been new.

At first, Red wasn’t listening at all, too focused on watching his asshole double’s reaction for a warning sign that you were in danger. However, the words slowly started to seep in, picking up Red’s interest.

...weird. g’s songs usually aren’t about love; they’re usually about drinkin’, or fightin’, or borin’ political shit, or at most about fuckin’. Red liked those songs. it hasn’t been that long since the last time i heard ‘im play. just how new… is…?

Red’s head swung to G, then back to you, then back to G, just as G was signing his last lines. Was… was that motherfucker trying to woo you, pretending to declare his love?

Red. Was. Seething.

A fading echo of sensibility was crying out in the back of his mind, doing its best to capture his attention. red, ya idiot, ya can’t just go up there and start kickin’ his ass. sans is gonna see ya, she’s gonna see ya, ya probably will get arrested, yer gonna be so angry ya won’t be payin’ attention to what yer doin’ and will get ya ass beat. just keep it under controlthen kick his ass when he gets backstage.

Red’s anger was able to latch onto that, at least. yeah, that’s it. i’ll just fuckin’ kill him when he’s done. fine.

G cast a brief look to Red as the audience applauded, his face neutral—before Red saw it. G fucking smirked at him.

G then started up another tune—another new one, one that started off much bolder, as if G was taunting him with it. The first two lines were fine, neutral enough—but then Red heard it, the clear reason for that cocky look.

a cure i know that soothes the soul, does so impossibly,
a moment’s silence when my baby puts her mouth on me.”

Red snapped. He went beyond red, seeing black as he seized upon G. G was fuckin’ blessed that Red hadn’t immediately gone for a magical attack and blasted him; if it wasn’t for Red’s primal urge to physically rip G’s head off of his neck, G might’ve been dust by now. Red only came to when he realized he was no longer on top of G, but instead on the floor, his jaw aching.

When Red started the magical attack, he knew he would get in trouble. He knew the use of magic around humans, especially in a fighting scenario, was illegal. He knew he was going to get arrested.

He didn’t know Sans was going to be there, trying to stop him. Red felt another wave of instant panic, though his anger was quick to take it over.

“listen, this ain’t any of ya-!”

“heya, buddy,” Sans said, his pleasant tone a stark mismatch to the warning look in his eyes. Red hated when he was like that. “i think the two of you got it wrong; it’s supposed to be stagefright, not stagefight.” Red felt his eye twitch, and opened his mouth to yell back-

Sans!”

Red felt another strange, alien feeling in his soul at the sound of you, seeming to call out to him in such a panicked voice. It made him momentarily forget where he was and what he was doing—until he saw the police.

shit.

“heya red, i know you’re not thinking about make an exit stage left,” Sans said, an edge taking hold in his voice. “it sounds like a lotta effort, running away from the police. especially since we can’t just poof away or anything.

“yeah, yeah,” Red grumbled. “i got it, asshole.”

The police came up to the three of them. Red could tell they weren’t the sympathetic type, both of their faces set into hard frowns. Red bristled.

“evenin’, officers,” Sans said smoothly. For once, Red was happy to have Sans take the lead. “sorry to make ya come out all this way, but i think we’re all settled up here-”

“we got a call that two monsters were fighting and disturbing the peace.”

Sans’s grin hardened, but likely in a way the officer’s wouldn’t notice. He shrugged. “i think the call must’ve been outta proportion. y’know, we might be monsters, but they’re smarter than using magic in such a public place.”

“Well,” the officer began, his face a clear indicator of how smart he thought monsters might be, “unfortunately, for any reports of magic we’re going to have to take them in and process them.” Red saw the police officer reach around, taking out his handcuffs-

It felt like Red had blinked, and he could suddenly hear your voice, talking with the female police officer. When she insinuated you weren’t involved with him, Red felt an automatic response from his mouth-

-which his two other doubles joined in on. shitshitshit. Sans, thankfully, sent his questioning look to G instead of Red, who admittedly had a much better poker face than Red did. The same poker face that instantly broke when G claimed they were lovers—Red didn’t know how to shut his mouth at the best of times, let alone when it was his newest enemy taunting him.

Red did his best from that point on to keep his mouth shut, knowing at this point he was in for it, and anything else that came out of his mouth would just make it worse. But then the officer was arguing with you. While Red didn’t care too much about being arrested (though this was a bigger charge than the counts of public intoxication he normally picked up), the thought of you following suit made him break out in a sweat.

And when, sure enough, you ended up getting caught up too, Red almost lost his cool all over again. All the meanwhile the two assholes next to him did nothing, didn’t protest, didn’t fight, didn’t do a goddamn thing to get you out of there. He got that they weren’t the exact same person as him, but… how could they not do anything they could to keep you safe? How could that be something any version of himself would do?

As Red watched you be manhandled away, he decided one thing: neither of them deserved you.

 

↝You↜

You had definitely not planned to spend your vacation in jail. I mean, I thought if any of us were to get arrested, it would be Sarah. But here I am. Sitting in a fucking jail holding cell with fucking jail slippers on, booked, waiting to talk to a fucking magistrate or whatever. You had great difficulty in accepting this in your reality; despite the time that had passed, you still were in total shock, your mind not really feeling connected to the world around you. Am I separating from the Matrix? Is this it? Where are you, Morpheus? Give me the blue pill, I want to go back.

The holding cell you were in was, unsurprisingly, not that busy (it being a Wednesday night and all; apparently criminals—of which now included you, you guessed—kept things pretty low-key on weeknights). A couple of the women were nodded off, a few were talking (some loudly, some quietly), and some were being silent, such as yourself. You were doing your best to distract your brain, trying to think about anything other than the call you were going to have to make to your parents soon. You weren’t succeeding.

You were just about to give into divulging into your fears (would your mom kill you by choking, or death by slow torture, or-) when you heard your name being called by an officer. You instantly stood up.

“Right here,” you said, waves of anxiety going through you. You had no idea if this was the time to make calls, or to be told what kind of bail you were getting, or-

“Your lawyer is here,” the officer said plainly before turning around. That was probably the last thing you expected.

“I don’t have a-” you began, but he turned around and walked off, clearly uninterested. You resisted the urge to flip the bird behind his back.

Maybe it was just the rubber-band tug of your stress on your mind already pulled taught, but when you saw him, you burst out laughing the loudest you had in years.

Stretch of all people was walking toward you, a briefcase in hand—dressed in his typical orange sweatshirt/cargo shorts, a wrinkled loose tie, and the Groucho Marx “disguise” you’d seen him wear a few days ago. Okay. This literally cannot be real. This is a really fucked up dream, after all. Phew.

"excuse me, madam who i most definitely have not met before,” he said, his stride confident and normally slouched posture now full and straight-upright. It was odd to see how truly tall he was. “a friend of yours has called me in to be your council. my name is reginald gaster the third, esq. please, do not worry, for you will be out of here sooner than you can say-”

“Hahaha, Jesus, Stretch, there is literally no way they let you in wearing that.” You then ran a hand over your face, unable to stop your giggling. You might have been losing it a tiny bit. “How the hell-“

“aw, honey, ya caught me. guess these don’t work as well as they used to,” Stretch chuckled with a massive grin, giving the oversized glasses a small flick. “what do you think’s in the briefcase? i got a bunch of disguises just in case we needed a plan b on getting you out of here.”

“how’d you even know-”

“i got a call. believe it or not, the esquire part of that name is real.”

You gave him a Look. “I don’t believe it. But man, I am glad to see you. Have you already talked to the others?”

He then shrugged, his teeth set in a slight grit of annoyance. “red’s being bizarrely stubborn right now. and g’s got green, anyway, who will probably bail out red too. green’s probably going to take his sweet time getting here, though; he’s an early sleeper, and hates being woken up in the middle of the night. professor’s probably gonna let them sit and stew for a little to try and teach those two a lesson.”

You felt a weight of guilt tug at you again. “Shit, Stretch, I feel like I definitely didn’t help the situation; this isn't just their fault. Can you try to do something?”

Stretch gave another shrug, but this time seemed less agitated. “i dunno, honey. i wouldn’t have dragged myself outta bed in the first place if i didn’t know it was for my partner in crime.”

You barked out a laugh, unable to stop yourself from smiling widely back. It took you a moment, but you did your best to stuff it down and gave him big, pleading eyes, only half-succeeding against that ridiculous disguise. “Please, Stretch? C’mon, they’re your family! Plus, I’ll owe you one—well, technically, two, from coming down here in the first place! Plus plus, they’re now my partners in crime, and-“

“alright, alright,” Stretch said, taking off the glasses and putting them back into the briefcase. “your case should be pretty easy; from what i saw, it looked like they were clearly just arresting you for contempt of cop, which is bogus. the other two are in a bit more hot water than that, but i’ll see what i can do for those numbskulls-”

Despite the good news, you felt your stomach drop out. “What do you mean, ‘from what you saw?’”

Stretch gave you a similarly disbelieving Look. “c’mon, honey. you have to know that by now it’s gone viral.”

Oh no. Oh nonono. No, no, no.

Stretch gave a nervous laugh, putting his briefcase down. “uh, honey, you don’t look so great. really, i’ll be getting you out of here in like two seconds. with that video there’s no way they can actually press charges against you-“

“My parents are going to see that video,” you said, a swell of nausea so strong in your throat that you could taste the acidity of vomit on your tongue. “My work is going to see that video. People are going to think… they’ll…”

You were so deep in your despair, you heard Stretch’s anger in his voice before you saw it on his face. “what? they’ll think you’re a monster fucker?”

You balked at the statement. Looking up to him, his face was pretty neutral, but you could see the distaste in his eyes. You nearly laughed at him. “Jesus, no Stretch. That thing at the convenience store wasn’t an act; I don’t give a shit if people think I’m dating any of them.” You then rubbed your face wearily. “It was a Pan pride night, though, and I lied and said I was in a polygamist relationship with a bunch of dudes. My parents will fucking die if they find out I’m pan, and I can’t even begin to imagine the heart attacks they’d have if they thought about polygamy on top of that. My parents aren’t the most liberal people, and I just… I wasn’t ready to…”

“shit, honey,” Stretch sighed, looking concerned. “hate to say this, but maybe, if there’s any kind of purpose to the world, this is the world’s way of saying it’s time. i know it’s real shit that it wasn’t by your choice, but sometimes ya gotta just let the chips fall where they may.”  

You closed your eyes, putting your hands over your face as a black tar pit of inner turmoil swirled in your stomach. Regardless if fate existed, he was at least right about one thing: you were going to have to accept it, and deal with it, regardless of the outcome.

“let me ask ya this, honey: do you regret what you did, honestly? i wouldn’t judge you poorly for it; it doesn’t look like it would’ve changed the outcome, and it would’ve probably saved you a lot of trouble.”

You took a breath, considering his question seriously. Did you regret it? The officers still would’ve arrested them, you probably could’ve been a better help to them outside of a cell, you wouldn’t be feeling like your life was currently ending…

“... No,” you said, the answer sincere from your soul. You looked up at Stretch, feeling incredibly worn, but at least a little better knowing that answer. “I can’t say I wouldn’t do it again. It was a bogus thing that happened, and… I would’ve regretted holding my tongue.” You were by no means an outgoing person, but you could never keep yourself silent when something you viewed as unfair or unjust was happening. It got you into a lot of trouble with your parents growing up.

Stretch gave you a warm smile and leant down to pick up his briefcase. “then there it is. ‘bound to happen. it’s a good thing you’ve got friends to have your back no matter how it plays out.”

Your pursed your lips together. “I’m actually not talking to Sarah or Grace right now.”

He looked surprised for a moment, but then shrugged. “wasn’t talking about just them, honey. i’m here after all, aren’t i?”

You felt your heart instantly warm. You consider us friends? Stretch had been originally so cold to you—but look at him now, coming out to your rescue in the middle of the night, calling you friends. Clearly you’d done something right in his eyes. You grinned up at him and nodded. “I guess you are. I’m a lucky gal.”

If it wasn’t so dark in the corridor, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the barely-there orange haze that rose above his cheeks. He lifted up his briefcase and tapped it.

“well, say that after i get you outta here. let me talk to them and work my magic.”

You chuckled at that, but reached your hand to stop him before he moved away. “Hey, wait, I have a question to ask before you go.”

He raised his browbone, the glow now gone. “shoot?”

“Uh,” you began uncertainly, unsure of how to voice your doubts. “This is probably an incredibly stupid question, but for some reason Red told me not to tell someone I knew you guys, but he didn’t say who. This feels crazy to say, but it seemed like he was saying not to tell Sans—the one that wears a blue hoodie all the time, I mean—of all people.  After what all just happened, I... I really... doubt...”

You expected Stretch to laugh at you, or maybe even get upset at the idea of suspecting his cousin. You didn’t expect the sober, weary expression that now faced you. He took a deep breath, and sighed.

“y’know, after tonight, i think you’ll come to see how freeing the truth can be.” His look then turned thoughtful. “...but, again, if there’s such a thing as fate—or signs from the world—i think the fact that a real smart guy like sans hasn’t figured it out means he’s not ready to know yet. especially when it’s staring him in the face.” Stretch then shrugged, scratching the side of his face idly. “but then again, not sure what i believe. i’d say go with your gut, honey. it seems to have served you well so far.”

That didn’t really tell you anything at all. “My gut just feels confused.”

He grinned again. “then, honey, that might be your answer right there. now, be right back. i’ll have you outta here before you know it.”

“Excuse me,” a police officer said, walking over to the two of you. “I hate to break this up, but your client’s charges have been dropped. She’s free to go.” He walked over, and you heard some sort of electric lock sounding out before the guard physically unlocked the cell with keys. “Follow me and we’ll set up your discharge paperwork.”

Stretch looked surprised, before shooting you a cheeky look, his brow waggling. “man, i’m the best lawyer ever, aren’t i?”

You laughed, feeling a little bit manic as the guard let you out before re-locking the cell. “Dude, I could kiss you right now. Best lawyer ever indeed. Why’d they get dropped?”

Stretch gave an exaggerated shrug behind the officer’s back, earning a laugh from you as you were escorted out. Stretch followed behind the two of you as you made your way through the hallways, before finally making it out towards the main booking area. Finally, after some paperwork, you were free to go. You never found out what you were even being charged with, let alone why they had dropped it, but you honestly didn’t care. The moment you were officially released, you had to resist every urge not to run to freedom.

The first thing you did do, though, was attack Stretch with a giant hug. He clumsily hugged you back, the briefcase slightly in his way, but it was still just right.

“Thanks, partner,” you said in muffled tones into his sweatshirt, the relief hitting you practically euphoric. You could feel his rumbling laugh through his sweatshirt.

“nah, honey, nothing to thank me for. i didn’t even have to do anything.” As you pulled away from the hug, he looked down to you and gave a wink. “if you ever need a guy to do nothing, though, feel free to call me anytime.”  

You laughed, rolling your eyes at him as you turned towards the direction of the exit to the booking area. “C’mon, coming all the way down here at this ungodly hour isn’t nothing. Like I said, I owe you at least two huge favors for this.” You pushed through a set of double doors that were marked “Main Lobby.” Finally. As you turned around the corner, you spotted a familiar face in the waiting area.

“Sans!”

Chapter Text

Despite already being free, and regardless of all the weirdness surrounding him tonight, something about seeing Sans’s easygoing stance and relaxed smile was an instant comfort. There was a half-wall separating you and him, and you had to resist the urge to vault over it. His eyes met yours, and you could see his lights brighten as he gave you a wave. He looked relieved.

You turned back to say something to Stretch, but he was gone. Hm. Can they all teleport like that, then? And why’d he leave, anyway? To go help Red and G?

...Or, maybe Stretch was leaving your decision about telling Sans up to you. But… Why? Why would Sans mind you knowing them? Sans now knew you at least knew of Red and G after last night. What was so bad about being acquaintances, friends? And what would happen if—or when—he found out?

Seeing him in that moment, you were able to tell just two things about him. First, he held the same weary, drained look of someone who had just spent the last few hours in a highly stressful situation—the same one that you could see on family members and loved ones’ faces in hospital waiting rooms, the kind that said they were put in a situation out of their hands, and the only option was to sit in an odd, alien room and worry. Second, he seemed... so, so happy and relieved to see you . For what little emotion the guy seemed to initially show, these minuscule changes in his posture or smile or eyes made it so you could just...tell.

Would a guy looking at you like this really do something bad to you?

Your gut couldn’t say for sure, but what you did know that, in this moment, you were really happy to see him too.

You booked it around the half-wall blockade and practically tackled him you hugged him so hard. He thankfully didn’t seem to mind, chuckling as he hugged you back. Normally you wouldn’t have been so eager for so much contact, even among your friends, but after tonight… Embracing him felt warm, and safe, and like the only way you could express how relieved and thankful you were to these new friends, too.

You took a breath, forcing yourself to part, not wanting to overindulge in the comfort. You did your best to give him a full smile, suddenly feeling drained. “Jeeze, I’m glad you’re here. I have no idea how or why the charges got dropped, but-”

Sans gave you a wink. You noticed he looked considerably less worn than he had just a few moments ago. “i might have an idea about that.”

You gave a laugh of disbelief. “What? Seriously? How the heck did you pull that off?”

Sans then took a small half step back from you as he rubbed the back of his neck. “ well , i can’t say it doesn’t come with it’s own problems. you could say, even maybe, a ton of problems.”

“Sans…?” you questioned. He was giving you what you were now recognizing as his pun-set-up inflection, but you couldn’t imagine for what. You weren’t sure if you could handle a ton of more problems tonight.

Sans gave another wink, but this one looked more nervous than anything else. He moved over to the exit door of the station. “a… metta- ton of problems?”

He pushed the door open, and for a moment, you wondered if you were witnessing a bolt of lightning, or a weird outdoor rave—before the door closed, and your mind had a second to process. Were those… Camera flashes?

Sans ?” you asked again, your tone now panicked. He gave another laugh. He was sweating.

“heheh, uh, what’s metal and magic and the best way to get you out jail quickly?”

Sa-” you began, before a loud crash across the room nearly gave you a heart attack. You barely had time to look over before you saw-

Darling!” Mettaton called, quickly strutting over to you. Your feet couldn’t move; it felt like you were tied to traintracks and watching a bright light come towards you. If this was a dream, you needed to go back to therapy. Why is the Beyonce of monsters walking towards me after I’ve just been released from getting arrested for being mouthy while defending disappearing skeletons if this is what going crazy is like why didn’t they ever say it was going to be so fucking weird just what the-

It wasn’t until you felt the coldness of metal wrapping around your shoulders that you were able to snap out of your steamroller thoughts. You realized Mettaton had his arm around your shoulder and was talking in high, dramatic tones, his free hand waving about.

“-and when I saw how they had arrested you too despite you complying with the police’s instructions, well, darling, I knew I just had to come down here and just give them a piece of my mind! You would just think that Ebott, of all places, would be more accepting to monster-human romance, but I think it just goes to show you how far we have yet to go, doesn’t it, darling?”

“Uh,” you began with a raise of your hand, attempting to get a word in.

“It’s a good thing one of your beaus contacted me to let me know of this horrific injustice! I have, of course, reminded the mayor of Ebott that should she continue to be interested in keeping my business here, she might want to re-train her officers on treating monsters—and their quite lovely loved ones such as yourself darling, aha—with special care and consideration. Of course, after my talk, they saw how obviously silly the whole thing was and dropped everything.” Mettaton began to walk you towards the door, but didn’t actually push you outside. You were doing your best to dig your heels in against the floor, but protesting against that metal arm was like pushing against a moving car. Nonononono no pictures please-

“Metta-” you began, but he cut you off again. You might as well had been shouting to him from the moon, your actual presence clearly the last thing on his mind.

“And darling, let me tell you, you and those three are just the hottest thing right now. I just had to come here in person—primarily to make sure you were okay and fairly treated, of course, don’t get me wrong—but also to get all those dirty details about your relationship with those three. Sans was such a clam over the phone about it, so I knew I absolutely had to come here in person to introduce myself to our new little starlet before the rest-”

“No!” you suddenly exclaimed. You’d watched too much trope-filled anime to get caught up in this one. “Nope, nope, nope. Coming clean time, right now: We’re not boyfriend-girlfriend, boyfriend-boyfriend, whatever. Any of us. I just said that so I could step in and help.”

Mettaton’s head turned on its axis, slowly, to stare at you, his facial expression frozen in shock. You momentarily wondered if you broke him.

“Uh-”

“Oh!” he started, wheeling on you, startling you. You nearly dove out the exit for cover, but he grabbed your arms quickly, his face… excited? “ Darling! What a plot twist! Human steps in to heroically save monster friends, they, inspired by her act of selflessness, begin vying for their savior’s affection, and our heroine is torn between just who to choose —the drama! Jealousy! Romance! Think of the merchandise! Think of the shipping wars!”

His eyes were now full-on star mode. You, alternatively, were full-on done with this day.

“Mettaton, please don’t get me wrong. I totally appreciate everything you’ve done, and I’m, uh, a big fan-”

Of course you are, darling-”

“-But I think you’re totally misreading things here. Also, I, uh, don’t plan to turn my life into a TV show, or whatever you were insinuating by merchandise. I’d really like to just go to the closest hotel with a vacancy and pass out to end this horrible night.”

Mettaton looked aghast. “But darling! I was hoping to get some sort of interview-”

“buddy,” Sans said in friendly tones behind you. “when i first called you, you said it was rude to interrupt someone trying to get their beauty rest. she’s had a rough night; let’s not torture her here.”

Mettaton looked towards Sans before rolling his eyes. “Oh fine , I suppose you are right.” Mettaton stood you upright and let you out of his pincer grip. “But don’t you think you’re getting out of this either, Sans Gaster. You said you owed me one, and I expect a full story from at least one of you.”

You shot a look of thanks over to Sans, who merely shrugged with an easygoing smile. “a story? no problem; i read paps a story every night. should be a piece of cake.”

Mettaton merely narrowed his eyes. “You know what I mean, comedian.” He then folded his arms, looking perturbed, before suddenly brightening again. Pressured speech, rapid cycling moods, jeeze This is a little too much energy to handle right now . “Oh~! Darling, I have the greatest idea. Why don’t I let you stay at the best hotel in Ebott? That way you can be fully rested for an intervie-”

“Nope,” you said flatly, making your point as solid as possible. “I’m sorry. Again, that’s incredibly kind of you to offer, and the last thing I mean is to sound ungrateful, but this wasn’t for attention. In fact, more attention is what I’m trying to avoid. There’s people back home—my family, work— that… aren’t like you guys. They’re not going to take it very well. So, thank you, but-”

“Darling, before you say no, just think of it: this could be a way to set the record straight. And please, despite my natural talent for theater, I promise you there will only be the truth presented, I will let you edit the final interview before it’s premiered, and I’ll even give you an opportunity to cancel it totally if you don’t like it.”

He let the idea rest for a beat, before putting his hand on his hip and giving you a wink. “As a bonus, I’ll tell you what: you can stay at the illustrious MTT resort with no obligation to do the interview. All I ask in return is that you take a selfie with me; I promised my Glamfans (™)”—you had no idea how he managed to vocalize an audible trademark—“that I’d get proof you were safe and out of police custody. What do you say?”

You looked to Sans cautiously, who gave a helpful shrug. You supposed, out of everything, that this was a weird, fortunate opportunity falling into your lap. Maybe Stretch was right, and fate exists. For the second time in two nights, I find myself in want of a place to sleep, and I land into a solution. If signs do exist, I suppose this would be one, if ever.

You nodded. “Alright! I mean, jeeze, I’d be crazy to turn down a selfie with you Mettaton, and even crazier after all you’ve done for me. It’d be an honor.”

Mettaton practically cooed at you. “Aw, darling! Come over here, my little starlet~!” Mettaton once again wrapped you up and pulled you close to him. He raised his other hand, but there was no phone or camera you could see-

“My hand is a camera, darling. Say cheese!”

You laughed as you struck a pose, giving a small peace sign. Of course it is.  


↜ Stretch ↝

Stretch found himself to be, perhaps, the most unlike his other doubles.

This, in some ways, made sense. In the first days, shortly after the panic of universe-shifting had died down, Stretch and this universe’s Sans had sat behind closed doors and had a quiet chat about the nature of the doubles. It seemed like a majority of the doubles were either an alteration or reflection of this universe, with a few outliers (alterations of alterations, or reflections of reflections). From what the two could tell, Stretch’s universe and Sans’s were the most closely related—almost a direct swap of personalities between different people. In this way, most of the Papyruses were some modulation of the one from this Universe—so, of course Stretch would be the most different; he seemed to be similar this universe’s Papyrus in his body only. There was Mutt (as well as a handful of others), but Mutt… was a bit too off-kilter to relate to.

Still, Stretch would find a few things he had in common with some of the other Papyruses. One commonality was the tendency to fall asleep early (nearly grandpa early) at night. When combined with the common Sans trait of sleeping a lot, Stretch probably slept the most out of all—and that was certainly saying something.

So, when Stretch was awoken by a call so late it was practically early , he was not in the best of moods. He considered ignoring it, but the tiny spike of anxiety that slithered into his brain whispered “ it could be important” enough times that he grabbed it, probably just before it went to voicemail.

whoever this is, you better be actively falling down or dusting. “hullo?” he asked, his voice barely croaking out into the phone.

Collect call from Ebott Central Police Station. Do you accept the charges?”

Stretch groaned, sitting up as he rubbed his face wearily. He heard the dull thunk of an empty bottle of honey fall to the floor from his bed. red or g, who’s it gonna be? “yeah, i accept.”

The line rang for a moment or two before connecting. “which numbskull is this?” Stretch began tugging on a sweatshirt, preemptively dressing for the coming request.  

“hey, why can’t inmates read a clock?” a low voice grumbled out. Red . Stretch sighed.

“why, red?”

“‘cause it’s hard time .” It was a really bad joke, and not even a dirty one. Red must’ve been in deeper than the usual shit. “sorry fer callin’ so early, stretch. i gotta favor to ask ya.”

Stretch sighed, tugging on his shoes. “let me guess: come to the station and bail you out?”

“nah,” Red said. This, for once, surprised Stretch. “don’t waste yer time with it; i got some shit to settle up in here, and they’ll probably let us go soon-”

“who’s ‘us’?” Stretch interrupted. Stretch could hear distant, muffled voices on the other side of the phone.

“argh, yeah, ya fucks, i’m almost done-” Red called off, before sighing gruffly back into the receiver. “listen, bud, i can’t talk. don’t worry about me, just focus on… ugh, ya know what? it’s probably online already. go on monstergram or whatever the fuck and you’ll figure it out.” With that, Red hung up the phone unceremoniously.

Stretch didn’t even have it in himself to grumble; for Red, the phone call was practically him being Mr. Sunshine, so the favor must’ve been important. Stretch pulled on his other shoe as his free hand brought up monstergram on his phone. There was nothing immediately apparent related to Red or any of the others. what should i search for to find them? “idiots”?

Stretch guessed a search for “skeletons,” and buried under some early (or really really late?) Halloween memes, sure enough, Stretch saw not just Red, but G and Sans in a video thumbnail. He opened it up. what’s Red trying to show me? all three of them are in trouble? why should i care more about sans or…

Stretch felt his soul stutter in its near-everpresent hum as he saw you appear. fuck. fuck fuck fuck. did sans find out? why didn’t red sound more panicked? don’t tell me he wants me to take over for his job. please don’t tell me that he actually tried doing it, and this is a fucking attempted murder charge, or… actual murder charge, and she’s... fuck, fuck, fuck, what-

It was then that Stretch saw you being arrested, along with Red and G. For the second time tonight, Red surprised Stretch.

is… red asking me to get her out of jail? why would he do that? isn’t he supposed to be the one making sure we’re not with her?

Stretch dialed Sans’s number, not quite sure how he’d broach the subject of you without making the guy suspicious, but the call went instantly to voicemail, as if the phone were off, or busy.

Stretch sighed, standing up out of bed.

i’m not sure if this is what red is getting at, honey, but this is what i want to do. i really hope… i hope you’re okay.

Stretch didn’t give himself the pause to consider you not being okay would mean.

 

It was easy enough for Stretch to convince the police he was your lawyer: he did have the proper credentials, after all. In the underground, Stretch had taken up law as a joke hobby (after all, what was more funny than seeing a guy show up to court in a hoodie and shorts?). Once topside, many of the professions offered some sort of equivalency processes—sometimes just a test, or a few classes (usually regarding basic skills or health and cleanliness requirements) and then a test. Others had to be re-started from scratch (such as nurses, or doctors, if they chose to double in human health). Stretch (and Green, who had similarly taken up law—though his a much more serious pursuit than Stretch’s had been) had been lucky, merely having to take the US BAR exam in order to be accredited. Seeing the look on the officers’ faces every time Stretch sauntered into the police station was well worth studying the extra laws and regulations.

In your case, a quick word about how this had now become a monster rights issue let Stretch push on through to at least talk to you. He’d watched the video a few times over while packing his briefcase, and while it took a while to decipher the audio, it seemed like an easy enough thing to get dismissed. Clearly, the officer had tried setting you up when saying that you were in the way of taking Red and G out—but you’d moved for her, saving you from any charges regarding that. From what it sounded like, she hadn’t informed you with what you were being charged with, either—likely because there was nothing. Stretch was confident he could get it dropped no problem.

Which was why he strode so confidently into the holding area. You seemed as relieved to see him as he did you—which was, Stretch realized, a really nice feeling, seeing you untense so dramatically when he arrived. Stretch, similarly, felt a great relief—logically, once the police had confirmed you were there, he knew nothing had happened to you, but he didn’t quite fully believe it until he saw you physically there. You were fine. Things were going to be okay.

At least, he thought so, until you seemed to despair at the video. He couldn’t help but doubting you for a moment—you wouldn’t be the first human to make a grand, false statements of monster love just for attention. He hadn’t even considered the fact that your sexuality might play a part of it—humans were so bizarre in what they chose to be concerned about.

Stretch swore to himself he wouldn’t have judged you if you said you regretted your actions; to a certain extent, it was the logical thing to do, and Stretch could never fault—if not appreciate—someone for doing the smart thing. When you answered that you didn’t regret it, though, Stretch found himself unable to ignore the warmth coming from his soul. He might’ve valued logic, but it seemed he valued that kind of integrity even more.

Which was why, when he mentioned friends, he knew he spoke truly: you were officially a friend to him. You’d put up with his suspicions, proved yourself true to soul every time, were friendly with his brother, and fun to talk to. Regardless of it was for the short term or long haul, you were now on Stretch’s good list.

As your Official Friend(®), Stretch was relieved to hear that Sans still, somehow, didn’t know who you were. It was… incredibly odd, given how typically perceptive the guy was. It was tough to tell, but the way Sans had been looking at you as you left on that video… maybe he was willfully ignoring the evidence in front of his eyes?

Something to think on, for sure.

Stretch was glad they released you, though wondered how it happened quite so quickly. Usually, if it was obvious an officer made a mistake, they dragged things out, let the person stay on edge—an exhausted person was less likely to put up a fight, after all. He was distracted from thinking on it further, however—thoroughly jolted that the first thing you’d do was hug him instead of running for the exit. Normally the only the only person that hugged him was his brother, and the sensation was odd, but not unpleasant—especially with how sweet and joyous your voice sounded.

Stretch wasn’t sure how he’d use those two favors, but as the two of you walked, Stretch wondered how he could possibly use it to make you laugh again-

And then you’d yelled out Sans’s name. Without even thinking, Stretch shortcutted away, back towards the holding area. Luckily, no one was there to witness it. Stretch wondered if you were actually glad to see Sans, or if you had called out his name as a hidden warning to Stretch. Either way, Stretch wasn’t interested in opening that can of worms right now. That was something for you to decide, anyway,

Stretch quickly made his way over to the male holding area, now very familiar with it from Red and G’s escapades. It had been quite a while since the two of them had been in there together, though.

It wasn’t hard to find them; he could hear Red’s growl from down the corridor. Red was in a clear rage, looming threateningly over a bored and weary-looking G seated on floor.

“i swear, if ya don’t start fuckin’ talkin’, i’ll fuckin’ dust ya-“

“heya, numbskulls,” Stretch interrupted, wearing his best neutral face. Red, not one to stop midstream, whirled on Stretch.

“i thought i fuckin told ya not to worry about me-” Red began, but Stretch waved him off.

“relax, man, she’s released already.” At this, Red’s anger seemed to lower a gear. Stretch leaned against the bars casually. “now, what i’m interested in is knowing just why you’d call me down to bail out the human we’re supposed to be staying away from.”

A flash of guilt overtook Red’s face for an instant before he looked at G. “well, ya see-”

“-and i’d like to know why you three were around her in the first place.” Stretch’s look turned more stern. “from talking to her, it seems sans doesn’t know what’s up, either. so what? you two trying to get her killed or something?”

“i didn’t know that asshole was gonna show up there!” Red defended, before gesturing to G. “it was this freak that’s been tryin’ to fool around with her, then he was fuckin’ provokin’ me into a fight-”

Stretch gave them both a lame look. “c’mon, red, you’re not a toddler; ya gotta learn to control that anger. you’re supposed to be keeping all of us away, including yourself—not going to some club to hang out with her.”

“i didn’t fuckin’-!” Red began, but Stretch nodded towards G, not interested in Red’s attempt at justifying himself.

“and what about you, G? he’s got the poor impulse control, what’s your excuse?”

“i could tell red was lyin’ when he said he’d kill them,” G said simply. Red turned on him again.

now yer fuckin’ talkin’?! and that doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t, ya fuckin idiot!”

G looked back to Stretch from his position on the floor, his face looking more worn than usual. “lemme ask y’, stretch: did y’ even consider, for a second, not comin’ down here when y’ realized she was in trouble?”

Stretch was struck by the question—he instantly knew the answer, but was trying to dig into G’s deeper meaning. “nah. so what?”

G hummed noncommittally, leaning his head back against the wall. “betcha we coulda called any of the others, gotten the same result.”

It seemed like an innocent enough statement, but something in G’s tone laid a whisper of something significantly more consequential. Stretch couldn’t quite grasp what G was trying to get at, but his bones were suddenly crawling with the unease of staring in front of a great, dark unknown. He shifted uneasily, unsure of how to respond. G sighed.

“guess y’ gonna get it whenever yer meant to, bud.”

hadn’t i just said the same thing about sans? what does g know that i don’t?

Stretch considered it. Red was unwilling to do anything to harm you, G was fighting with Red, Sans had been unable to see the truth in front of him all along...

And what about Stretch himself? Blueberry being so concerned over a friend wasn’t unusual, but for Stretch…?

no. no fucking way.

Chapter Text

↝ You ↜

Mettaton ushered you out of a side exit to the police station and into a waiting cab shortly after he took the photo. You were a bit bummed you couldn’t be visually certain that Red and G were released, but Mettaton gave you every assurance that their discharge was already being processed. To your surprise, as you stepped into the taxi Sans followed you in.

“Hoping to get a room at the inn?” you asked, sliding over to make room for him. Although you certainly did not mind sharing a cab with him, the moment struck you as so odd: again, you were reminded that this was a person you had met all of a few times, yet he had called in a favor to get one of the biggest celebrities to bail you out of jail. Now you were sharing a cab, simple as pie, as if none of that had just happened. Every time I think this week couldn’t get weirder, I end up feeling like I’m in a deeper level of the Twilight Zone.

“nah. just wanted to make sure you actually got to your room with no problem. i imagine the last thing you need right now is to get stranded for the night.” You felt your heart warm over again; it was now practically morning, yet here Sans was, making sure you were safe. “speaking of which… why exactly don’t you already have a place to stay? i mean, i thought i was a poor planner, but jeeze.”

You groaned and rubbed your face, earning a low chuckle from Sans. “‘course, if you don’t want to talk about it, i can get that too. lemme ask this, though: is that why you were looking for some alone time today?”

You nodded your head, leaning back against your seat before giving a great sigh. “Yeah. It’s been a week.”

“clearly,” he laughed, mirroring your position. “same, if that makes you feel better.”

You looked over to him, studying his face as lights came and passed over his skull. Now, in this moment of peace and breath, a cold slap of realization hit you: you had been so, incredibly lucky this week. There were so many points where things could have gone terribly wrong—when you were stumbling around alone and drunk in the dark, getting separated from Grace and Sarah on countless occasions, not having a stable place to stay, getting fucking locked up in actual jail what the fuck . Yet, here again, you found yourself being saved by these new, strange friends who came to the rescue despite barely knowing you.

As shitty as the rest of things might become after this week—with Grace and Sarah and your family and work—in this moment, you knew things could be okay. There was good in the world, and the promise of a potential future good to come… Well, it would be enough.

You reached over to Sans, placing yours over his own resting on the taxi’s pleather seats. He’d been looking out the window, and seemed surprised at the contact. “I didn’t get a chance to thank you. So… Thank you, Sans. For everything. I’m glad this week happened.”

His grin expanded, ever so slightly. A bony thumb hooked around yours. “me too, kid.”

You grinned back, giving his hand a squeeze before letting go, suddenly feeling a little over-intimate. You cleared your throat and sat up slightly. “I didn’t get to ask you about how you’ve been. I swear I’m normally a better friend than this. What’s been going on?”

He slid a hand over his face, wearing a similar expression to the one you’d had moments ago. “ah, not something i exactly want to think about at four thirty in the morning. you still have a few more days before you leave, right? i’d like to see you again before you do—maybe we could chat about how weak our weeks have made us.”

“That pun was the weakest thing about this whole week,” you teased. “But yeah, I’m here until Sunday, maybe early Monday. I’d definitely love to hang out.”

“perfect.”

 

The two of you chatted in soft tones until reaching the MTT resort, located not too far away from your own hotel. It was massive—and likely a massive eyesore for the year-round residents, but it was at least impressive in its grandeur. Even this early in the morning, there were attendants outside, standing alert at attention—well, mostly.

BP?!” you exclaimed, stepping out of the taxi. “Please tell me you’re a twin brother of the cat I saw earlier. There is no way you’re working right now.”

He seemed to cower a bit, a hue rising above his cheeks, before visibly stifling a yawn. He cast a nervous glance at the other attendants, who, seeing that you did not have luggage, were no longer interested. The cat monster shifted uneasily.

“H-heya, little buddy. Welcome to MTT Resort. And no, it’s me.”

Sans walked up beside you. “bp, you’re rivaling me for numbers of jobs here. what’s with the killing yourself with work?”

BP, abruptly less formal, leaned against one of the many carved columns dotting the entrance. He was suddenly smoking a cigarette. When did that happen? “nice to see you too, sans. if you can keep a secret, i’m actually trying to save up a bit of money.” He then took the cigarette out of his mouth, looking a little more pensive. “For, y’know, NCG.”

“aw, congrats, man. still, maybe it’s just ‘cause i’m a lazy guy, but i wouldn’t advise you killin’ yourself. i’m sure he’ll say yes regardless of what ya have in your wallet.”

With that, you put the pieces together. “You’re getting engaged?!” You grinned, bouncing on your feet. “Aw, dude, yes! Congratulations! That’s so exciting!”

BP grinned with embarrassment, his face a blushing mess as his tail curled sheepishly. “Th-thanks, little buddy.” He then straightened. “Ah, anyway, are you guys checking in? Kind of a weird time to… be…” His eyes moved between you and Sans. “Oh. Oh. Uh, well, you don’t seem to have any suitcases. Right. That makes sense. Uh.”  

Sans chuckled good naturedly. “nah, buddy, just the lady checking in. i think mettaton called ahead?”

“Oh!” he balked, his tail wrapping around him as he looked to you. “Oh. I, uh, didn’t know you were a VIP, o-or that you knew Mettaton, I-I’m so sorry-”

You gave a laugh, shaking your head. “Nonono! I’m not. I literally just met the guy, and he’s trying to get me into a favor by shmoozing-” you then cut yourself off, wincing. “Sorry. I don’t mean to insult him, he’s actually been very nice-”

This time BP cut you off, his stare deadpan. “No, little buddy, I get it. Trust me. Let’s get you checked in.”

With that, the three of you walked to the front desk and got checked in. The place was extravagant to the extremes, statues of Mettaton in his various forms and poses decorating the lobby, along with grand-scaled portraits of the star. It was… very creative?

After getting checked in, you bid BP goodbye, taking care to wish him the best of luck with his engagement. The guy was a clear sweetheart; you just hoped his partner was worth all this effort. Sans accompanied you on the long, long elevator ride up.

You were resisting the urge to fall asleep standing up. As much as you had difficulty sleeping, you usually got at least some sleep after a long stretch.

“tired?” he asked, watching you as you leaned over on the elevator wall. You nodded sheepishly, covering your face as you yawned.

“Yeah,” you admitted as the doors opened. Sans let you out first. “You must be just as tired. Are you going to be okay getting back?”

“of course,” he said, walking beside you as you walked down the hallway. You were fairly sure this was the correct floor, but had yet to see any numbers. Sans gave you a wink. “i can get there even when i’m my most bone- tired.”

You laughed, giving him a playful shove. “You must tired; that was terrible.”

HIs wink stayed, however, and he gave an exaggerated shrug. “guess i’ll have to try again to- marrow .”

At this one you outright giggled, running a hand through your hair, your brain officially running on fumes. Finally, you made it to the door. What a weird hallway. You put your card into the door, and sure enough, it unlocked. You tuned to Sans, opening your mouth to say goodbye, when a thought sparked in your mind.

Should I invite him inside?

You felt your breath catch, but quickly dispersed the idea. You were exhausted, he was exhausted, you felt like you had just spent the last few hours in Satan’s asshole, and this just… wasn’t the right timing. He didn’t seem like the type to hop into bed right away with anyone, anyway. I haven’t even figured out how that’s possible yet. Christ, my mind really is a mess without sleep.

You smiled at him tiredly, ignoring the flush that had sparked at your face from the errant thought. “Thanks for accompanying me here; you really didn’t have to do that. But I definitely appreciate it; I can’t say I fully trusted Mettaton not to have this be a set-up for a surprise interview or something.”

Sans chuckled, nodding. “not a problem. in all honesty, i was worried about the same. he isn’t a bad guy, but can, uh, get a little overeager sometimes.”

You laughed. He certainly wasn’t wrong. “Yeah, I can see that. I’m really going to have to think hard about whether I want to do that interview or not.”

“yeah…” Sans hummed, suddenly looking off to the side. He then rubbed the back of his neck. “heya. i know it’s five am, and you’re probably as ready to hit the lights as i am, but do ya mind if i ask you something?”

Your mind, already with its fuel gauge on empty, felt it didn’t have the capacity to even begin to guess what he might ask. You felt a small spike of your near totally-spent adrenaline. “Uh, sure, shoot?”

Those bright eyelights found yours, his grin looking sheepish. “i gotta admit: i’m normally a laid-back guy, pretty lazy and all. but… i don’t know, kiddo. i’ve been running my mind ragged thinking about ya lately.” You felt your face heat, and his similarly brightened with a blue dusting. “i’m also normally not a forward kinda guy; i prefer to let things happen naturally. but since we seem to be under a time constraint and all… i gotta tell ya, i’d pretty sad if i never got to see ya after this week.”

Your mind was going a mile a minute, and you felt you could only stare at him, his eyes suddenly leaving you as he seemed to deliberate on his words for a moment. What are you saying? You want to, like, date-date? Something long distance? Or do you want to just keep talking as friends?

“i’m not trying to put pressure on ya, but i guess i’m just trying to ask…” He then met your stare. “i get that you’re just here for a week, but am i only going to get to know ya for this week, then goodbye forever?” He then looked away again, seeming unsure. “i think pap and i both would be real sad if we lost ya as a friend. i mean, again, i’m not trying to make you answer about…y’know.” He then ran a hand over his face. “man, this sounded a lot better in my head. heh.”

You couldn’t help give out a small laugh, though you felt just as lost. You decided to just speak, your brain giving up on processing anything else today. “Listen, Sans. As long as you and Pap want to stay talking to me, I will 100% always be happy to chat. You guys are literally the best.” You then took a breath. As much as you wanted to simply enjoy your time left with Sans, you knew it was only fair to him to explain you weren’t the type for long-distance relationships. “And, about the other part… Well, as much as I rather not think about it and just enjoy the rest of the week-”

“-then don’t think about it,” Sans said simply. You stared at him in surprise. He shrugged, giving you a wink. “hey, i told ya, i’m a lazy guy. worrying about that stuff sounds like a lot of extra effort to me.”

You grinned wide, shaking your head at him, feeling a buzz of happiness in your stomach. You weren’t sure where you wanted things to end up, but for now, you knew you liked him, and you enjoyed being with him. And, for however odd it was, you liked kissing him, too. You found yourself looking at that grin, thinking back to the last time you kissed-

“i appreciate ya being so polite, but if ya wanted to kiss me, ya don’t have to ask,” Sans said, snapping you back to reality. Your blush doubled-down.

“I definitely was not just thinking about that.” I totally was. Oops.

“oh?” he teased, giving you another wink. “that’s too bad. must’ve just been me.”

You felt your heart stutter, tickling your lips into a wide smile before deciding to take action. The moment you tugged him by his jacket towards you, he was already leaning in for you, earning an explosion of warmth within your mind, your core as you met. Unlike the sweet, gentle way you’d kissed before, this one had a note of hunger to it—his hands were on your hips, and you were ever so slightly pushed against your hotel door as his mouth sought out yours. If this was his version of “not thinking about it,” you were absolutely down to not think about it further.

You felt your hands spark the urge to wander from their innocent hold on his sweatshirt, so with great reluctance, you decided it was time to end the kiss. Your legs felt like they were about to give out, anyway.

You broke the kiss, but before he could step back, your hands moved to cup the sides of his face and you gave him a more chaste brush of your lips on his forehead. As smooth an operator he seemed to be, you could see the plain-as-day blue hue over his face. With the way he was looking at you, it was tough to resist the urge to kiss him all over again. You coughed, looking down, though unable to suppress a wide smile.

“Thank you again, Sans. For everything. Can you text me when you get back safe?”

Sans chuckled as he stepped back out of your space. “sure thing. let me know when you want me to come around and bother you again with more of my hilarious jokes.”

You smiled sincerely at him. “Soon, definitely. G’night, Sans.”

“sweet dreams, kiddo.”

The two of you shared a smile before you let yourself into the room, shutting the door definitively behind you. You leaned up against it, taking a moment to close your eyes and process. What a fucking night.

 

↜ Red ↝

Red was having a rough night.

After whatever fucking cryptic discussion G and Stretch had, G tried to extend Red an olive branch, like he suddenly wasn’t a pile of shit. Red told him where he could stick that branch. He just wanted to leave, especially since finding out you had already been released—Sans could have figured it out by now, and you could be in real trouble. Even Stretch didn’t seem too concerned, though, which was pissing Red off to no end. Like he was the idiot here!

Waiting for release didn’t even carry the normal sense of sweet freedom it normally did—even as he was liberated from handcuffs, he still felt like a dog pacing in too small a cage, his anxiety to figure out what happened to you overriding all else. When the hot-pink metallic garbage that was Mettaton blocked his way, Red had to physically keep his mouth closed to stop from trying to crush him like a can.

It was good that he did, though; just as Red was about to plow past the guy (who the fuck would do an interview right after they got outta jail?), Mettaton mentioned you.

“First her, then Sans, now you —you would think a single one of you would be grateful for setting you free.” Mettaton had his hand on his hip, sighing. “Look, darling, the girl already told me she wasn’t dating any of you. Can’t you give me just a statement ? I don’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t accept the honor of being interviewed by the biggest star now topside, but I’d be willing to compensate you, just like I did for her-”

“she did an interview with ya?” Red asked, stopping in his tracks. “what exactly did she say?” please don’t say she mentioned we were hangin’ out-

“Oh? And why do you want to know, darling~?” Mettaton cooed, a spark of delight in his eyes, clearly feeling he was onto something. Red waved him off, trying to appear as nonchalant as he could.

“i don’t need no fuckin’ human makin’ up more shit about me, that’s it.”

Mettaton evaluated Red closely for a moment. Red couldn’t stop the small beads of sweat from forming on the back of his skull, but thankfully Mettaton didn’t seem to notice.

“Oh, alright. Don’t worry your precious grumpy head off; she hasn’t agreed to an interview, at least not yet . If you can believe it, darling, I had to bribe her to think about it by putting her up in a hotel-”

“and what hotel was that?” Red asked eagerly. Unfortunately for him, Mettaton caught the tone.

“Aha! I’ll tell you that information, darling, if you give me a statement first.” Mettaton was grinning triumphantly. “Although, I must say, I am interested as why you want to know-”

Red growled, his fists balling tightly, his fuse now ashes. “alright, ya fuckin’ bucket of bolts, here is your statement: i don’t even know that fuckin’ human, i certainly ain’t fuckin’ that cracked-skull motherfucker, the fight was just ‘cause he’s a cocky antagonizin’ son of a bitch, and i didn’t fuckin’ use no magic. yer welcome.” Red then took a huff, his eyes narrowed. “now, tell me where she is, or i swear-”

Goodness , darling, aren’t you a little spitfire? Of course I put her up in the very best hotel in Ebott-”

“oh, the ritz carlton?” Red interrupted, his grin failing at feigning innocence for the remark. Mettaton’s eyes narrowed.

No, darling, of course I meant MTT Resort.”

“right, right,” Red chuckled, some of his agitation gone from earning that look of ire alone. “well, pleasure doin’ business with ya.”

Mettaton folded his arms as he finally stood aside for the skeleton. “If you change your mind about a full interview, darling, just let me know.”

“yeah,” Red scoffed, going to push the exit door open “fat fuckin’ chan-”

Red thought he got dusted for a moment, but realized it was only bright lights, and stumbled back. “sweet merciful tits what the fuckin’ everlovin’ fuck was that-”

Mettaton grinned with the satisfaction of a mouse luring a cat into a trap. “Oh, sorry darling, must’ve forgot. You know, tough to escape the paparazzi these days. You might want to take the side door.”

Red grumbled all the way outside.

 

It didn’t take Red long to find the giant travesty that was MTT Resort. If he cared more about humans, Red might’ve wondered how they didn’t put up a fuss regarding the building of the monstrosity. Standing to the side of the building for a bit of cover, Red closed his eyes and sought out any kind of familiarity—

And then he found it: you and Sans. In a hotel. Together. Alone.

Red expected to feel a swell of jealousy thick enough to curdle magic, to foam out the mouth, to unthinkingly go up there and stop whatever was going on between you two-

But there came nothing, nothing but a sickly uneasy feeling. Red realized he didn’t give a single fuck what you were doing up there. He was just… worried. Worried that it was a trap for you, worried that you would make it out okay.

It was a bizarre, sobering realization, the world suddenly feeling surreal around him as he stood in the early dawn, looking up at where he could feel your soul to be. What made the realization all the worse was knowing he couldn’t risk going up there, that there was nothing he could do but wait, and stand, and think, and… And just hope you were alright.

Thankfully, it wasn’t that long until Red felt Sans’s soul move away from yours. As expected, after moving a short distance away the trace left the hotel completely, instead moving to the sidewalk. Red instantly joined him.

“wow, pal,” Red said from behind. To Red’s great amusement, the asshole jumped, startled, before wheeling around to face Red. “ya really do have some low endurance if yer done that quickly.”

Red saw a flash of distaste on the asshole’s face—two tells in one minute, Red was having a real streak—before Sans visibly did his best to regain his composure, stuffing his hands in his pockets.

“heya red,” Sans said, dry of any comradery, “you broke out of jail in record time. what’s the rush?”

For once, Red didn’t rise to the bait, the plan sitting nice in his head acting like a shield to any rise of anger. Finally , he’d have one over on the asshole. Red gave Sans a nice, full predatory smile.

“i think ya know; yer another version of me, so ya can’t be that big an idiot.” Red nodded up, in the direction of the top of the towering hotel, showing he knew exactly where you were. “seems like she’s met more than one of us, bud. so tell me: are ya gonna be doin’ the honors, or is it all mine?”

“well, thanks to you, now anyone with a cell phone has seen three of us together,” Sans said nonchalantly. “whatcha gonna do, take out the whole town?”

“nah. the whole town isn’t up in a hotel room with ya, unless yer a kinkier fuck than i thought,” Red chuckled. “people don’t actually give a flyin’ fuck about it, just five minutes of fame bullshit.”

Sans seemed to consider this for a moment, so Red pushed forward. “plus, i’m guessin’ that human tryin’ to stand up fer monsters means she’s a real touchy-feely dame. i bet she’s tryin’ to ask you all kind of questions. tryin’ to get to know ya, and the like. she’s probably gonna be wonderin’ just why ya intervened with us, n’ how we know you, n’ all about our history together.” Red’s stare turned more serious, attempting to cut past Sans’s wall of nonchalance. “like we agreed before: if they ain’t around, they can’t ask questions. so i’ll ask ya again: are ya gonna be doin’ this, or am i?”

To the untrained eye, Sans’s expression didn’t alter, but to Red, he might as well have been screaming: a small tense of the shoulders, tightening of the smile. got ya, asshole.

“she’s gonna be leaving soon,” Sans said, a small wavering of solidity in his voice all Red needed to pounce on. “barely worth the effor-”

“c’mon, pal,” Red interrupted. “ya practically had signed the warrant fer the broad blue n’ i met last weekend. i’m guessin’ this one’s not gonna leave until the weekend—which means she’s gonna be here fer days . why’s she so different to ya, huh?”

Sans was silent, but Red could see a dotting of sweat on his brow. Red gave a loud, mocking belly laugh, putting a hand over his face.

“this is priceless! i’m the one chastisin’ you fer thinkin’ with the wrong kinda bone-”

“alright, red,” Sans interrupted, his tone more severe. “i get it. look, she’s gonna be doing an interview with mettaton tomorrow, and i told her i’d be there-”

“sans,” Red cut, probably the first time he didn’t mind using the name, “yer not the only one that can tell a lie from a liar.” Sans paused again, but Red gave him a congenial wink, and even put a hand on his shoulder to really sell it. “but i’ll tell ya what: i ain’t a bad guy; i know what it’s like to get it bad fer a broad. i’ll give ya the afternoon’ fer that ‘interview’ with her, n’ i won’t even mention it to the others. but after that, ya gotta stop with her, or else i’m gonna have to give her a time she won’t forget. deal?”

Sans stood silent for a moment longer, his eyelights dim, clearly attempting to comb through panicked thoughts in his head. Red’s smile twitched impatiently. “hey, i’m tryin’ to be nice here, but i ain’t got all-”

“yeah,” Sans said, sidestepping out of Red’s touch. He then closed his eyes, sighing. “i hate to say it, but you’re right, buddy. i shouldn’t be putting everything at risk.”

“alright,” Red said casually, stepping back, doing his best not to show his inner celebration, “i’ll give ya ‘til the second that interview ends tomorrow to wrap that shit up. she can enjoy the rest of her week, then forget about all of this shit. and so can you.”

Sans was looking away from Red, towards the brightening sky. that’s right, ya fuck. ya don’t even know it, but the best way to keep her safe is to keep her away from you.

“sans?” Red asked. The asshole turned back to look at him.

“yeah?”

“ya better know: after the interview tomorrow, i’ll be watchin’. don’t fuck it up.”

With that, Red vanished, taking a shortcut back home. Red felt that if he had ever earned a victory nap, it was now.

Chapter Text

↝ You ↜

After allowing yourself a moment to feel your still-pacing heart, you flicked on the lights.

The place was huge, more like an apartment than a hotel room. There was a living area, kitchenette, decked-out bath and shower, and two bedrooms. What would you even need that for? You walked through the main living area (there were even fresh, real flowers and plants all over the place—that must have been a bitch for housekeeping to keep up), before finding the master bedroom. Again, the bedroom was practically a living room itself, but with a california-king sized bed in the shape of the boxy form of Mettaton. It even had a Mettaton bedspread, made to look like his yellow-panelled face. There were rosepetals scattered on it.

I may never want to sleep or have sex again, you thought, though your body, as if trying to argue, sent a wave of exhaustion through you. You sighed, forcing your legs instead to go to the second bathroom connected to your room. You did your nighttime routine—thankfully they had provided a small toothbrush, which you found unusual for a hotel—and practically crashed into the bed. You weakly shoved some of the decorative pillows and petals onto the floor before sliding under the covers. It was bliss, the already near-perfection bed of your old hotel seeming like a nightmare by comparison. You had little time to appreciate it, however, as you were barely wrapped up in the covers before you passed out.

 

You dreamt of flickering lights, foggy shores, and a hum so loud and deep that it made your bones buzz.

 

By the time you awoke, the sun was streaming through the blinds into your room. Your eyes begging for more sleep. You wondered why you were awake. You wondered why you were alive. Or why mornings existed at all, ever.

You then realized someone was knocking on the door outside your hotel room. Why? What mortal enemy have I made that would do this to me?

Memory of where you were seeped into your consciousness. Maybe it’s check out time. They didn’t give me a time yesterday, and they’re probably here to tell me to get out. Damn. I really wanted to use that massive shower with the rainfall head.

“Coming,” you groaned, forcing your legs to move out of bed. You did your best to tug your clothes in place as you made your way over to the door before looking through the peephole. All you could see were what looked like trays with metal domes on them, one stacked on top of the other.

I didn’t order room service. I would’ve rather slept.

Regardless, you opened the door, figuring this was better than a “get the fuck out” wake up call.

“room service!”

“I didn’t order any—wait,” you said, spying skeletal hands at the sides of the trays. You peered around them, then laughed. “Sans? I’m surprised you’re awake at all.”

Sans lowered the trays to better reveal his face, chuckling. “trust me, i’m two blinks away from sleep. i tried telling papyrus that you had a long night, but he got worried when you didn’t answer his messages, so i said i’d check on ya.” He then paused, before adding with a sheepish tone: “and, i’ll admit, i was a little worried too. yesterday was quite an ordeal. glad to see you’re doing okay, though.”

“Oh, jeeze, I’m so sorry,” you said, rubbing your face. “I’m sure my phone is dead by now, though to be honest, I would’ve probably slept through it anyway. Why don’t you come on in?”

Sans hesitated, tapping the side of the trays he was holding. “you sure? i hate to betray your hospitality by forcing my company on ya.” Despite the joke, you could tell he was uneasy as he shifted slightly, eyelights looking more at the door than at you.

“Pfft, to hotell you the truth, I couldn’t imagine a better way to get woken up.” His eyes instantly brightened as he relaxed, nodding. You stood aside for him, and he stepped past you inside, giving a long, low whistle as he did so.

“wow, mettaton must really want that interview.” He moved over and placed the trays down on a low coffee table in the living room area. You collapsed onto one of the couches.

“Yeah, I can’t say this isn’t helping his case. What’s under there?” you asked, suddenly acutely aware you hadn’t eaten in far too long for your stomach’s liking.

“dunno, was just sitting out in the hallway in front of your door. I’m gonna guess one’s breakfast and one’s lunch.” You lifted one of the lids as Sans sat down next to you, revealing a plate of sandwiches in the shape of...swords? You offered one to your companion, who shrugged before taking one. You moved this tray to the side, and as Sans guessed, you could see a basket of danishes next to another covered plate. You stuck a danish in your mouth as you lifted the cover, a waffle (again, in the shape of boxy mettaton), bacon laid out in an “M” formation, and a pile of scrambled eggs that were slightly… glittery? You covered the plate, figuring you’d stick with the danishes. They tasted edible.

Sans sat back against the couch, his free arm stretching across the seat back. Figuring this an open invitation, you leaned back into him, yawning tiredly as you forced the energy to feed yourself. You could Sans freeze slightly as you rested against him, but before you could consider moving, he seemed to relax again, allowing you to get comfortable next to him. You closed your eyes, the two of you eating in a comfortable, sleepy silence.

You finished your danish, but like a murderous, singing plant, your stomach demanded you feed it more. With a sigh, you went to sit back up, but felt a gentle hand move to your shoulder, keeping you next to Sans. You looked up at him with curiosity, and he gave you a wink and a mischeviou grin.

“why get up for another one when you’re hiding one behind your ear?”

You turned your head towards his free hand, and sure enough, he was holding a danish up in display. You laughed, reaching up and taking it from him.

“Hahaha, oh my god, that’s awesome! How did you do that? That’s the ultimate lazy hack!”

“thanks,” he said, grinning wide. “‘s a magic thing. saw a buddy do it once. took me forever to figure it out, but i finally got it.”

“Oh-” you started, nearly about to mention that you’d seen Stretch do something similar before you paused, cutting yourself off. Shit, wait, I’m not supposed to mention-

“what?” Sans asked, his brow raised. Your face must have been betraying your silent horror at your near-slip up. “dough you not like my pastry trick?”

You looked down at the danish, trying to think of something that wasn’t a lie. “I, uh, heard that there are things monsters haven’t been able to mention yet, or can’t mention for understandable reasons.” You knocked the danish against your fingers. “I’m guessing this is teleportation stuff?”

“yeah,” Sans said, his voice even. Looking back at him, and his stare was… watchful, but not worried.

He’d teleported away from you, too, when the fight had broke out. You hadn’t given it a second thought, since it seemed a matter of an emergency, but… was this Sans’s way of showing he had faith in you to keep it a secret?

“Aren’t you worried I’d tell someone?” you asked. There’s no way you would, but he didn’t know that. He shook his head, looking anything but concerned.

“nah. call it another kind of magic—i’m a pretty good judge of character. and i can tell you’re someone worth trusting.”

You looked back down, touched, an affectionate warmth blooming inside you. “Thanks for the danish. And thank you for trusting me.”

“not a problem, kiddo,” he said, and you re-adjusted yourself closer to him. As much as you wanted to simply sit and revel in the feeling, there was a flutter of guilt that wouldn’t sit still. I’m clearly not trusting him like he is me. I don’t get why I have to hide this, or if I should. Red seemed so desperate that I didn’t tell him anything, and even Stretch didn’t seem to think it was a great idea. But not trusting him feels wrong. Ugh, why is everything so cryptic…?

You mulled over your thoughts as you nibbled at your pastry. By the time you were done, you decided maybe it would be best to probe some more, see what kind of reaction you got—but as you turned to say something to him, you saw his head was back, and he was sleeping peacefully, looking thoroughly knocked out. You breathed out a laugh. Ah, well, it can wait.

Painfully slowly, you rose from the couch, doing your absolute best not to wake him. Once free, you lightly padded around the sofa, pausing in your walk only to place a light, quick kiss on the top of his skull.

You decided this would be the optimal time to take a shower, thankful the place was so large that he likely wouldn’t be woken by the water running from the distance. It was tough not to indulge in the shower for a little longer than strictly necessary—you imagined Sans appreciated the sleep anyway, and the shower was just what you needed to detangle you from sleep.

By the time you were done, you felt finally fully awake. To your dismay, you could hear a TV going, meaning Sans had awoken at some point. Shoot. You quickly dried and dressed, stepping out of the bathroom-

Sans was laying splayed out on his side on the bed, a flower clearly plucked from one of the floral arrangements in his teeth. It looked like he’d even picked up the rosepetals you’d dumped and re-placed them on the bed, including a solitary one perched delicately his head.

You stood, stunned. He waggled his brow bones out at you. You burst out laughing so hard you had to grab onto the doorframe for support.

He spit out the flower, and through tears of laughter you saw him beam. “what in carnation? don’t tell me you don’t feel this budding romance too? i guess i’ll have to back petal until i grow on ya a little more, then we can put our tulips together and you can plant one on me-” you cut him off by taking a decorative pillow and tossing it at his face, weak with the giggles. It barely hit him, and he only grinned larger. “wow, guess it’s time to nip this in the bud-”

You reached for a second pillow and attempted to smother him, but he blipped out of existence. It was the first time you’d seen it up close, and it was bizarre, though your giggle-high took the edge off of the surprise.

“i went and got a charger for ya,” came from the entryway into the living area where Sans was now standing, said charger in hand. “was gonna leave it in here, then i saw the rose petals and just thought: thistle cheer her up.”

“it absolutely did, you dork,” you laughed, grabbing your phone from the nightstand. “and that’s incredibly sweet of you. i’m sorry to have woken you up.”

“nah. i woke up of my own a-cord,” he said, offering the charging cord out to you. Man, he’s punning like no tomorrow for a guy running on little sleep.

You laughed and walked over to him, taking it in hand, and—in a moment of temporary boldness—leaned over and gave him a thankful peck on the cheek before brushing past him. “c’mon, let’s watch tv while it charges.”

By the time you made it to the couch, Sans was already sitting there as if he’d been there all along—the only evidence of your interaction was a faint dusting of blue left on his face. He looked back at you as you approached, giving a wink.

“man, you sure do take your sweet time.” He then raised a remote in his hand. “you’re lucky i got things under control over here.”

You snorted out a laugh as you turned away from him, hunching down as you plugged your phone into a wall outlet. “hey, now that i can see you teleport, would you call it tele-vision ?”

You noticed you didn’t get a laugh. Okay, that was bad, but-

You turned around and looked to him— were those stars in his eyes? You burst out laughing again.

“C’mon, that was my worst one yet,” you giggled, moving over to sit next to him. He shook his head.

“that was your best one yet. i can’t wait to use that on pap next time i go home.”

The two of you traded puns and chatted about your lives in general as you sat in front of the TV, the noise filling up the background rather than actual entertainment. You couldn’t help but feel this had the same peaceful, serene normalness to it that you’d experienced the morning before with Edge and Red. In a moment of silence between you two, you realized this , more than anything else, was how you preferred to spend your vacation: no drama, no stress, just sitting and eating good food with a friend as you relaxed.

You also found yourself wishing, however slightly, that Sarah and Grace were here with you, too.

Eventually, you figured you phone had to be done charging, and left your comfy position to try to turn it on—before it spazzed out and shut off again. The fuck? Did they bang it around at the police station? It doesn’t have any cracks or anything… After a bit, your phone restarted.

And then the notifications came.

“Oh,” you said simply, your phone sluggishly cascading down alerts of text messages, missed calls, e-mails, everything from nearly every social platform you had.

“everything alright?” Sans asked from his position on the couch. You pursed your lips together as you moved over to him, showing him your still-struggling phone. He blinked at it. “ oh.

“Yeah,” you sighed, sitting back on the couch with a thud. “Damnit, I think Mettaton is right. I should probably do that stupid interview.”

Sans was oddly silent, and when you looked to him, he was looking away from you, staring off at the blank wallpaper. You were about to ask if he was okay, when he sounded out.

“this interview… isn’t gonna be easy for you, is it?”

You were slightly confused by the question. “No, I suppose not. A lot of hyper-focused attention, a lot of talking about things I don’t want to, and it likely won’t have a great outcome.”

“then why will you do it?” No longer looking at the wall, his stare was suddenly on you, though it didn’t look like he was fully present. You shrugged.

“Better to get it out now, I guess. I could wait and be anxious about it, suffer for longer, then come to the same result. What’s done is done, so I might as well face the outcome now. Plus, at least this way I’m choosing my reaction, versus waiting for it to happen to me.”

Sans was silent again for a moment, but you let him have his space to mull it over. After a drawn-out moment, he seemed to come to some sort of conclusion, straightening up slightly.

“yeah. hey, do you mind if pap and i come with you? i’m not gonna do the interview myself, but i’d like to be there. and i know pap would really like to see ya.”

“Yeah, of course! It’ll be nice to have you both by side.”

At this, Sans finally looked at you, his normal brightness returning.

“yeah. it’s nice to be by your side, too.”

 

Sans called up Mettaton while you did your best to answer some messages—avoiding the calls and texts from Sarah, Grace, and anyone else that you weren’t close with or didn’t want to talk to. As much as you hated yourself for it, you couldn’t help but give a small smile as you scrolled past a preview of a text from Sarah, freaking out about Mettaton. It was instantly followed by a resurgence of pain, so you quickly moved past it. You, in a great drop of your stomach, realized you had never talked to Muffet again following that night. You certainly didn’t have her card on you, and felt incredibly badly for it. Fuck, this is all such of a mess.

By the time you were done, Sans had set everything up. Mettaton had been apparently very eager to do this as quickly as possible.

“ready to get pap?” he asked, now standing. You nodded, and headed towards the door that led to the hotel hallway. He stood in front of your path, however, unmoving. You gave him a questioning look, and he winked. “nah, follow me. I know a shortcut.”

“You know a shortcut that doesn’t involve the exit?” you asked, but followed him anyway. He walked into the bedroom, which you were about to make a sassy comment over—before you suddenly tripped, and-

- And you weren’t in the hotel bedroom. Or, rather, the bedroom looked very much like a hotel bedroom, but not the one you had slept in last night. It took your brain a moment to process that Sans was steadying you. You looked up at him with wide eyes.

Didwejustteleportholymotherofshenanigansthat’ssocool-”

As Sans chuckled at your freak-out, a much louder voice dwarfed yours. “SANS? IS THAT YOU?”

Sans opened the door and Papyrus strolled in, looking momentarily perturbed before spotting you. Before you could process it, you were already being wrapped up in long, bony arms.

“NYOO HOO HOO! HUMAN! I WAS SO WORRIED FOR YOU!”

“Aw, Papyrus,” you attempted to say, muffled into his chest. “It was just a jail-”

This only seemed to increase his odd cries, and you did your best to free your arms enough to give him a reassuring pat.

“c’mon, pap, how could you worry with us as her friends? you know there’s no way we’d fail at getting her out.”

Papyrus sniffed, lowering you down as he wiped his face with a boxy glove. “OH, I SUPPOSE YOU ARE RIGHT. IF I HAD KNOWN, I WOULD HAVE BEEN THERE AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE! I AM, AFTER ALL, A FORMER POTENTIAL ROYAL GUARDSMEN. I’M SURE AS ONE UPHOLDER OF JUSTICE TO ANOTHER I COULD HAVE CONVINCED THEM TO LET YOU BE.”

“I’m sure of it, Pap,” you grinned, taking his free hand and patting it. It was comically oversized compared to your own. “But look! This way we all get to see Mettaton—and, even better, I get to see you again!” You noticed a light hue rise to Papyrus’s cheeks. Maybe I overdid it a little?

“I-I DO SUPPOSE YOU ARE RIGHT, HUMAN! ANY CHANCE FOR VERY COOL FRIENDS SUCH AS OURSELVES TO HANG OUT IS A WONDERFUL THING, FOR SURE!” He then gave you a small pat on your head. “BUT, NEXT TIME, MAYBE WE CAN SEE EACH OTHER WITHOUT THE POLICE BEING INVOLVED.”

You laughed, nodding. “That sounds good to me, Papyrus. Are you ready to go?”

“THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS ALWAYS READY! BUT, UH-” he suddenly darted out of the room, before coming back with his scarf. “NOW EVERYONE ELSE IS READY TO SEE ME IN MY BEST FORM!”

You snickered as Sans began to walk out the door. You and Papyrus followed him, before you felt that same tripping sensation—and suddenly found yourself in a large, dimly lit industrial-looking studio. Papyrus was the one steadying you this time, though he looked slightly off-put himself.

“SANS! YOU LAZYBONES, WE COULD HAVE DROVE HERE! OR JOGGED!”

Sans shrugged, before giving his brother a wink. “sorry bro, just didn’t want to run out of time.”

SANS!

 

The three of you wandered in, eventually finding some kind of employee who ran off to get Mettaton’s assistant. The three of you chatted quietly (well, two of you—Papyrus was as boisterous as ever), before you saw a familiar monster approach.

“Heya, little buddies,” BP said, holding a clipboard up in front of his face as he yawned. The guy looked wrecked . “Mettaton wants you in wardrobe. Have you changed your mind about doing the interview, Sans?”

“nah,” Sans said. “if i do, i’ll let you know.”

“Alright, sure,” BP said distractedly. He looked like he was about to fall asleep standing up. “C’mon, you can follow me then. You guys can wait over to the left if you like; there’s coffee and the like in the next room.”

“I NEVER DRINK COFFEE!” Papyrus said conversationally. BP visibly winced at the loud tone.

“Probably a good idea, big guy. C’mon,” he said, nodding to you. You followed after him, giving Sans and Papyrus a wave goodbye. They both returned the gesture (Papyrus enthusiastically, Sans reluctantly).

“BP, are you, uh, okay?” you asked, stepping up next to him. “Your eyes look like they’re running a luggage department with all the bags under them.”

BP smiled grimly, rubbing his face. “Yeah, little buddy, I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.”

You were worried though. “Just humor me, please? How long have you been awake?”

He yawned again at the question. “I think… 38 hours now? But, just think: that’s nearly an entire workweek for a normal person in two days. And, after this, I’m done for the night.” He then stopped at a nondescript door and opened it before gesturing inside. “So let’s get this thing wrapped up before Mettaton tries to call me in for something else.”

“Alright, alright,” you said, stepping in. The room was brightly lit, practically a beacon when compared to the darker hallways of the studio. “Just let me know if you need anything! And take care of yourself.”

“yeah, thanks little buddy,” he said distractedly as he left. Stepping further into the room, you noticed a lion in a pretty dress and a ...slightly off-putting monster that was a shambling mass of slime and shadows with one giant eye in its face… area. The only discernible clothes they wore was a pretty red bow around their… neck?

“Heya, hun,” the lion said, turning from a rack of clothes, “I’m guessing you’re our little star for today. Come on in and we’ll get you all set up.”

You somewhat lamented the loss of your comfy clothes, and didn’t quite enjoy being dressed up by someone else—you felt like a little doll. The two monsters, whether picking up on your discomfort or just friendly, did a good job of distracting you from the task at hand by making pleasant smalltalk. Eventually you were set up with some pretty average-looking jeans, a tanktop, and an open flannel, paired with light makeup. I could literally have this in my dresser at home. Not that I mind, but why so casual?

They ushered you out when you were all set, wishing you the best of luck. Before you could wonder what to do next, BP walked up.

“Good, that was fast. Let’s get this thing moving.” The cat monster herded you back towards the main studio floor. As the two of you walked, a curious thought struck you.

“Hey, is BP really your name?” you asked. Tired eyes glanced your way, and you got the sense he didn’t love the question.

“No, little buddy. It’s just an abbreviation of a nickname I hate. But everyone calls me it anyway.”

“Oh,” you said. “Well, what would you rather be called?”

“My name is Felix. But I’m pretty sure no one even knows me by that now.”

“Only one way to start,” you said, shrugging. He gave you a haggard smile as you entered the large open area, a stage standing out in a blindingly illuminated brilliance. There, Mettaton was already waiting, talking with Sans and Papyrus spiritedly. Sans seemed the same as ever, but Papyrus was definitely starstruck. BP sighed next to you, and handed you a form to sign, the paper filled to the margins with legal jargon. You signed it and handed the form back.

“Good luck, little buddy,” he said, flipping to a new document before writing something down on his clipboard. You gave him an affectionate nudge.

“Thanks, Felix. Get some sleep, alright?”

He let out a dry laugh as you left him, walking over to the three. The moment Mettaton saw you, he stopped mid-sentence, his current conversation disregarded. “Oh, darling, there you are! I’m so glad you changed your mind!”

You stood in an open gap between Sans and Papyrus, probably an unconscious move to shield yourself from the stage. “Uh, yeah, I think you were right. This would be the best way to set things straight.”

You felt a hand clap on your shoulder, and it seemed Papyrus had snapped out of his celebrity-haze. “NO NEED TO BE SO ANXIOUS, HUMAN! JUST REMEMBER THAT YOU HAVE TWO VERY COOL FRIENDS THAT BELIEVE IN YOU. I’M SURE IT WILL ALL GO WELL!”

“yeah,” Sans said from your other side, “it’s just talking to a celebrity robot. just be yourself, and i’m sure everyone will be nuts and bolts about you.”

As you laughed, Papyrus sighed dramatically. “SANS, THAT WAS JUST AWFUL.” Sans winked, opening up his mouth to say something else, but Papyrus put a glove over his mouth.

“Come along, darling, let’s get this show on the road!”

You sent the guys a desperate, worried look before following Mettaton, your heart suddenly pounding. They gave you a thumbs-up in unison just before you turned away.

Well, fuck, here goes everything.

As you walked with Mettaton, you did your best to stop the oncoming panic attack gripping your chest. C’mon, girl, you coached yourself, do your breathing exercises. You gotta get through this, so just push through this discomfort. Mettaton is just a new friend, right? So you’re just having a conversation with your new… celebrity… friend.

There were two large chairs sitting on the stage, facing a camera—one that looked like a glam-rock throne, the other a much more plain, sturdy-looking thing. You didn’t have to be told which one was yours.

You sat down in the plain one, doing your best to keep your breaths even. Mettaton smiled at you.

“Are you ready, darling?” he asked. You took a second, but nodded your assent. He then grinned wide and faced the cameras. “Excellent! Action!”

At his command, you felt a shock of cold metal slide around your wrists and feet as a large sign appeared from the ceiling, some kind of theme music blaring while confetti shot out of cannons. Your wrists and ankles could barely move a centimeter from the chair.

Whatthefuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuck?

You instantly struggled against the bonds, a cold sweat breaking out as you reactively tried to to flee. There was also an odd… buzzing sensation against your skin, but it seemed low on the list of priorities to pay attention to. Okay nevermind now is absolutely the time to panic what the everloving-

“Welcome to Interview with a Celebrity Robot!” Mettaton said to the camera. Filtered applause came in from an unknown speaker, but you could barely hear it over your pounding heart. You wondered if you were having a heart attack. “Today, we have a very specia-”

Mettaton what the heck let me out of here!” you interrupted. Mettaton sighed, taking large steps over to you, as if attempting to accentuate his legs for the camera.

“Oh, come now darling, you can’t tell me you’ve never seen me give an interview before. You’re fine!” He then turned back to the camera. “Now, as I was saying, today we have a special guest…”

As he droned on, you looked over to Sans and Papyrus. Papyrus looked totally unperturbed (apparently he had watched Mettaton’s show before), while Sans looked just as panicked as you were. He said something to Papyrus, but you couldn’t hear it over the music and Mettaton’s talking.

“-and, for those tuning in for the first time—aha, like that exists—just know that this is the most reliable interview show to come to TV!” He then gestured to the chair, a long, metal arm wrapping around the back of it. “This beauty, invented by the same brilliant Doctor Alphys that created yours truly, has patented magical lie-detector technology, which makes certain that 100% of what is said here is purely factual. That’s why we’re the most popular interview show on TV!”

More canned applause came out, cheering as your blood turned cold. Oh no. Oh no. Oh nononononononono-

Mettaton spun over and collapsed on his throne, his dramatic mask slipping as his stare, zeroing in on you, suddenly turned hungry. “So darling, are you ready to come clean?”

I’m so fucked.

 

Chapter Text

Mettaton sat up straight in his chair—his body abruptly morphed, a bright suitjacket with sharp shoulderpads enveloping his suit as a small pair of red, pointed reading glasses swiped over his eyes. He looked down momentarily as a small slot in his chest cavity spat out what looked like index cards. He caught them easily in his hands before looking at them briefly, then at you, leaning in with an intent expression. What, your mind thought dryly in panic, barely heard over the sound of your heart thumping in your chest, is this journalist mode?

“Alright, darling, let’s begin. Why don’t you start off by setting the scene for us: why were you at the club in the first place?”

You felt yourself freeze, terror seizing your throat tightly. Your eyes automatically returned to the only safety it could think of in this moment: Sans and Papyrus. The taller skeleton gave you an encouraging thumbs up, clearly not recognizing your stare as a pleading, desperate one. You then looked to Sans. He was visibly sweating, but shrugged and gave a thumbs up as well. You were too distraught to decipher what the fuck that meant.

Holy fuck okay okay okay, think. Alright. It’s not lying if you omit the truth. You’re smart enough. You can do this.

“Darling?” Mettaton prompted. “I know it must be so overwhelming to be here and talking to a celebrity, but just do your best.”

“Alright,” you said, taking a breath. You couldn’t seem to calm the quaver in your voice, your heart feeling like it was trying to escape out of your mouth. Just speak, you got this. “I’d… been having a really rough couple of days, so my friend wanted to take me out. I had said I wanted alone time, but they wanted to cheer me up. The plan was just to go there, then they’d leave so I could have a night out by myself, I guess. I’d been to The Crown & Trident before, and I loved it.” Your speech drifted off, but you then decided to add: “I actually saw you there, Mettaton. It’s definitely a great place.”

“Oh, darling, you’re such a sweetheart. That was quite the entertainment, wasn’t it? Shame I couldn’t perform. But I will be performing, as I’m sure you and our lovely audience knows, this weekend during the pride parade.” Just as you hoped, the compliment let him go off on a tangent. However, your reprieve was short lived, as he switched over to the next card in hand.

At least he didn’t ask more about why I was there. “Next up, something people have been trying to figure out: how exactly did the fight start?”

“I honestly don’t know,” you said, that one easy. Mettaton narrowed his eyes, and you looked pointedly at the chair. “I mean, I can’t lie here. I was about to leave, and I wasn’t even looking at the stage when it happened.”

“Hmm,” Mettaton hummed, his expression a little sour as he flipped to the next card. You felt a small buzz of almost-excitement as you realized you were actually pulling this off holy fuck. “Alright. How did you get involved, in that case?”

“Well, I was talking to Sans-”

"Wait,” Mettaton interrupted, his eyes lighting up as if he had caught onto some gossip. “You were with Sans? What happened to wanting to be alone, darling?”

You attempted to wave off the question, your wrist merely rotating flippantly under the hold of the cuff. “I mean, originally, yes. But then I’d ran into him, and I’d been alone for a good part of the day anyway, and…” You felt your cheeks began to heat, ever so slightly, and you found yourself looking anywhere but at the skeleton brothers. “Uh. It was really nice to talk to him. So we-”

“Darling, I hate to interrupt you, but I think this brings up a good point. Not that I don’t believe you, because of course I do, but I think this is the perfect time to discuss what you told me last night.”

“Oh,” you said simply, feeling a little derailed. Mettaton looked like as if he’d caught you, but you shrugged. “Yeah, that’s part of the reason I wanted to come here. I just said what I said to the police so they’d let me through, and they rolled with it. We’re not in a polyamorous relationship.”

You figured this would satiate Mettaton, but he only leaned in. “So, darling, do you mean to say you’re not dating any of them?”

You blinked. “Uh, I’m a single gal here.”

Mettaton seemed to expect something to happen—what did the chair exactly do if you were lying, anyway?—but when nothing did, he deflated.

“Oh, alright. Please, darling, continue your story.”

“Okay,” you said, gearing up again. “Sans and I were leaving, and-”

Oh my god darling,” Mettaton said, eyes sparkling, “you two were leaving together ? How saucy-”

“Well-!” you said, your face heating up, “not, uh, like that.  I…” You didn’t want to even hint that you had any idea that he might have left because of G. “... I don’t know his reason for sure for leaving. It was definitely getting crowded by the time he asked to leave.” Both of those statements were technically true. “I figured we’d go to a quieter bar next or something.” Also true.

Mettaton sighed, looking utterly crestfallen, before waving you on. “Alright, darling, continue.”

So ,” you said, just wanting to get this out now, “we were leaving. I heard a loud crash, and I see them fighting on stage. Sans went over, but I hung back.”

“And how does Sans know them?” Mettaton asked conversationally. You opened your mouth to say ‘I don’t know’—but that was a lie. You did know.

Your panic instantly arose again, and you hesitated, your throat seizing up on you for a moment as your eyes darted to Sans. You opened your mouth, and your brain filled in the first non-lie that came to mind: “Sans, uh, hasn’t told me yet. I suppose you’d have to ask him.”

Mettaton looked to Sans offstage, who shrugged casually. Mettaton glared for a beat before turning back to you, flipping over to the next card.

“So, darling, why did you get involved, then? Sans wasn’t one of the ones getting arrested.”

“I…” you wanted to say you didn’t know again, but that wasn’t quite true, either. “...I just felt like I had to. I didn’t really think too much about it; I just knew it was stupid they were being arrested. People fight in bars all the time, it was over in two seconds, they didn’t destroy anything, and they didn’t use any magic. Police, in my opinion, are supposed to be there for crimes and emergencies, and what happened was neither.”

“Well said , darling!” Mettaton said, knocking the cards together before tossing them over his shoulder. “Now, we’re just about out of time-” Oh thank the merciful heavens- “But I have one final question for you that isn’t boring and computer-generated. I know my fans will be dying to know, now that it’s out that you aren’t dating all of them...” He then leaned in again, his brows raised.

Fuck, what? Is he going to make me pick one of them? Is he going to ask if I’m pan? What?

Would you smooch a skeleton?”

You stared for a moment, dumbfounded, before bursting out laughing. “Heck yeah, of course I would—if it were the right skeleton, that is.”

A mix of “ooohs,” laughter, and applause sounded off as Mettaton stood. “Well, that’s it for our show! Make sure to tune in next time…”

You looked over to your two pals waiting in the wings as Mettaton talked on. Sans gave you a happy double thumbs up, while Papyrus was… blushing?

You were distracted by the metal holds sliding off of your wrists and ankles. You instantly jumped up, not wanting to be trapped again.

“Well, darling,” Mettaton said, turning to you, “anything you want to have removed before it goes live?”

You stared at Mettaton for a beat, your mind reeling between wanting to throttle him for what you just went through and the pure bliss of relief now that it was over. “...No, I suppose not. When does it go live?”

“Hm…” Mettaton said, looking at a panel on his wrist for a moment. “Right… now!”

“What?! What if I had wanted to edit anything-”

“Don’t worry darling, I could’ve done that in a blink. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be doing a live review of the taping once it finishes airing, and I have to prepare. You’re welcome to stay and watch, if you’re interested.”

“Uh, I think I’m all set, thanks,” you said flatly, stepping off the stage. You heard Mettaton call from behind you:

“Your loss, darling!”

You moved over to Sans and Papyrus, wrapping them up in a huge hug the moment you reached them. Their arms encircled you without hesitation.

“good job, kiddo,” came the voice of Sans beside you. Papyrus then sounded out from above:

“VERY GOOD JOB INDEED, HUMAN! YOU DIDN’T GET SHOCKED ONCE!”

“Shocked…?” you asked, pulling away from the two. He nodded without concern.

“YES! DO HUMAN LIE DETECTORS NOT DO THAT TOO?”

You looked back to the chair, then shuddered. “Ugh, remind me never to do that again.”

”c’mon, let's get out of here,” Sans said, nodding towards the exit. You nodded.

“Gladly. Lemme just get changed.”

You moved back off towards the dressing room, thanking the lion and shambling mass for their help. To your surprise, they said you could keep the clothes you wore as a gift for doing the interview, and presented the clothes you’d come in with in a small bag. They spoke very highly of Mettaton on your way out, but after what you experienced… well, you were definitely more undecided. Okay. Well, that was super, incredibly shitty for him not to clue me in on what was going to happen. He’s also super egotistical —Your thoughts then paused. Wait, was he being serious when he thought I watched the show before?

You then sighed, the empathetic side of your brain rushing to fill in: He didn’t have to bail me out, or give me a chance to talk. Certainly he got something out of it, but he really went the extra mile for me. I’m so mad and honestly terrified still I don’t want to think it, but… maybe he’s not such a bad guy? Clueless, for sure, but at least potentially not bad. You resisted the urge to rub your face wearily as you waved goodbye to the lion and slime. I’ll have to decide on what I think of him when I’ve had some distance from this whole thing, I think.

As you walked out of the dressing room, you could hear Mettaton’s booming voice. “...And what a saucy answer that was! My question is, which skeleton would she want to smooch?”

You rounded the corner to see Mettaton on stage, back to his regular form as he talked animatedly in front of the camera. You could see the feed playing on a monitor off stage as well—it looked like he added a sparkle filter to the whole program. You shook your head as he spoke, making your way over to Sans and Papyrus. Papyrus was watching, enraptured, while Sans gave you a wave, looking bored. “And, darlings, let me tell you I have the inside tip from an incredibly reliable anonymous source that, although she might not know some of those skeletons, at least two of them might want to smooch her back.

You felt your blood run cold and nearly tripped. What? No. There’s no way Red or G would have talked to Mettaton about that. Right..?

Sans was looking at you curiously, and you hurried over to him. He was giving you an incredulous look, and leaned over to whisper to you.

“hey, don’t worry about what mettaton says. he’s just trying to gear up some gossip for views.”

Papyrus shushed Sans. You couldn’t help but lean over to whisper back, anxiety still making your stomach tight. Something felt off. “Hey, can we get out of here? I know Pap wants to stay, but I want to get out of here in a bad way.”

“sure,” Sans said, giving you an instant flood of relief. “i’ll take you back, then come back f-“

Darlings!” Mettaton suddenly called loudly, though when you looked, he wasn’t addressing you. “I have just received the news that we have obtained a new video that will blow your minds. Apparently , our young starlet went back to her hotel—and you know she has good taste, because she went to the premiere MTT Hotel here in Ebott—but apparently she didn’t go alone.”

You and Sans stared at each other, your eyes bulging out of your skull as his darkened.

It was Mettaton’s hotel. He probably has access to security cameras. Fuck fuck fuck, he saw Sans and I!

“Burgerpants! Play the tape!” Mettaton announced with a wave of his hand.

What the hell is a Burgerpants? You looked around in the direction staff were looking—there was a mixing studio set in the back behind glass. You should see a few people you didn’t know, along with Felix-

Does BP stand for Burgerpants? Felix, how the hell did you get that kind of name?

“Burgerpants?!” Mettaton called again. It was hard to see from the dark studio, but was Burgerpants… asleep on the soundboard? A clear look of anger overtook Mettaton’s face. “ Burgerpants!” Burgerpants sat bolt upright, his fur on end as he looked around wildly. Mettaton gave a dramatic sigh, and you heard a sharp sound of static before some kind of elevator music—looking at the feed, it seemed like Mettaton had cut to a “technical difficulties” screen, featuring a cartoon still of a bright slime monster in a janitor's uniform looking down at a tipped-over camera covered in slime.

“Burgerpants,” Mettaton began in a sickly-sweet singsong voice, “a word, if you please?”

Burgerpants immediately hunched down, terror clear on his features. It seemed like he considered running in a brief instant, but then stood up, accepting his fate at the gallows.

You felt the same great, probably stupid swelling in your chest to do something that got you here in the first place. You quickly moved in front of the laser-heated glare Mettaton was shooting his employee.

“Mettaton, uh, why are you mad?” you asked, your brain struggling to piece together something . Mettaton gave you a lame look, sass at maximum percent.

“Darling, I know you’re not idiotic-”

“But, uh, he probably saved the show!” you interjected, something sparking in your mind. “I mean, if you think about it, you wanted people to have boat battles and all that-”

“You mean shipping wars ? What of it?”

“Well,” you said, “if… If you show that tape, the war will already be over! I mean, you’ve already said I’ve gone there with someone , but not who! That way people will think I’m interested, but, uh, argue over who it is?” As if literally anyone cares. This is so stupid-

Darling , you are absolutely right! And I can blame the whole mishap on that halfwit, say he deleted the video-”

“I mean, yeah, and probably give him a raise-” you hoped you could slip that in mid-rant, but Mettaton leaned down to you, his grin shark like.

“Let’s just say he’s not fired and leave it at that.” You nodded, casting a glance back to Felix, who was half-stepped behind a camera. He shot you a thankful, but still terrified, look. Mettaton stood up fully. “Alright, let’s get this back on and salvaged, then we’re done for the day.”

As Mettaton left, Felix hesitantly came up to you, his tail wrapped low around him anxiously. “Thanks, little buddy. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I lost this job.”

You gave him your best Mom Look. “Well, you saved the world from having to watch me kiss someone. But, Felix, you really need to stop working all these hours. If they love you, they can wait a little longer for you to get the ring. You’ll be no good dead tired to them.”

“Y-yeah, little buddy, I guess you’re right. I’ll get some sleep after this, don’t worry.”

“Good,” you said, giving him a warm smile. “Now I’m gonna get the hell out of here before Mettaton changes his mind about airing that video. See you around!”

“See ya, buddy.”

You quickly walked back over to Sans and Papyrus, now feeling worn. “Do you guys mind if we leave, like, now?”

“I DO SUPPOSE IT IS TIME FOR ME TO GET STARTED ON DINNER,” Papyrus said, humming thoughtfully. Who cooks on vacation? Papyrus then looked down at you for a beat, before he suddenly straightened. He looked abruptly anxious, a small dot of sweat on his forehead. It seemed… an odd look for him, considering how constantly confident he had been up until this point. “HUMAN FRIEND! WOULD YOU, AH, LIKE TO JOIN US? FOR DINNER? IN OUR HOME?”

You felt a large twinge in your heart. You wanted to accept so badly. Not accepting felt like teasing a puppy with a treat and throwing it away; saying no was practically a sin. But still…

“I’m so, so sorry Papyrus,” you cringed. “As much as I’d love to, I have some things I have to take care of tonight. Would it be any way possible to do a raincheck?”

“ABSOLUTELY!” Papyrus said. You’d worried he’d be disappointed, but from what you could tell, the rejection didn’t dampen his brightness. “ALTHOUGH, MAYBE WE SHOULD DO A SUNCHECK INSTEAD, AS IT DOES NOT RAIN HERE VERY OFTEN!”

You giggled as he gave a boisterous “Nyeh heh heh!”, glad he was such an sweet, understanding guy. You felt another twang of affection go through you, but tried to force your mind to label it as friendly, not romantic.

“WELL, IN THAT CASE, I WILL STAY BEHIND TO SAY GOODBYE TO METTATON! I HOPE YOUR NIGHT GOES VERY WELL.”

“Thanks, Papyrus!” you said, hesitating a moment before opening your arms up. “Hug goodbye?”

“A-ABSOLUTELY! THAT IS WHAT FRIENDS DO, YES.” He wrapped you up in a giant hug, picking you up as you laughed, holding onto him dearly as your feet dangled. He put you back down before giving you a pat on the head.

“Bye, Papyrus!” you said, waving as you and Sans began to walk in the direction you’d originally come through. He waved back enthusiastically, a bright figure among the studio’s dimness.

You walked with Sans until you approached the doorway you had originally come through. He nodded towards it. “where are you looking to go?”

You hummed in thought, taking a deep breath. You knew where you should probably go first.

“Do you mind dropping me off on Main Street, towards the center? Can you do that?”

Sans winked. “i can go main -ly anywhere, just say the word.” Despite this, he didn’t make a move to walk, his stare thoughtful. You gave an awkward side eye towards the door.

“Uh, you alright?”

“yeah. do you really wanna have dinner with pap and i sometime?”

You were surprised by the question, if not somewhat taken aback. “Dude, of course I would. How could anyone not want to? You and your brother are both great, and I was hoping to see you both again before I leave anyway.” You then felt a tinge of unease, sticking your hands in your pockets. “Uh, but if you don’t think that’s a good idea-”

“nah,” Sans said quickly. “i was hoping for the same, just wanted to be certain before i did something foolish.”

“Foolish?” you asked. “Like what?”

“like missing out on seeing you before you left,” he grinned, giving another wink. You felt your cheeks heat slightly as you breathed out a laugh. “it’s a date, then.”

“A date? With me, you, and your brother?” you asked incredulously, unable to stop your grin. “I mean, I suppose the internet thinks I’m in a poly relationship anyway, so why not?”

“hey, like i said, not worth the effort worrying about it.” He then offered out his bent elbow to you. “shall we?”

You wrapped up your arm in his happily, a sense of optimism in the pit of your stomach that you couldn’t stop from bubbling up. Something about Sans and his brother made you feel… illogically hopeful, like everything would be alright, despite any evidence to the contrary.

The two of you walked through the door together, your bodies close, but not too close.

 

Now expecting it, the tripping sensation wasn’t so bad as you appeared on the main street; Sans barely had to hold you in place at all as the air dramatically changed around you, a sweltering heat enveloping you once again. You were standing in a small alleyway, the walls of the two buildings likely trapping the hot air. You immediately took off the flannel-patterned shirt and tied it around your waist, glad it was now evening and (with any luck) going to cool down soon.

“hey,” Sans said as you tightened the knot. Looking at him, his eyelights looked bright in the descending darkness of early evening. From what you could tell, he looked concerned. “i know i haven’t really brought it up again, but… are you okay, kiddo? i know this probably looks like an empty skull, but i imagine something significant must’ve happened for you to have no place to stay all of a sudden. ‘course, if you don’t want to tell me, I understand. i just want you to know that i can listen, even if i don’t look like i got the ears to do it with-”

“Nono!” you interrupted quickly. You didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. You rubbed the back of your neck, clearing your throat. “No, ah, I’m sorry, I just feel like I’ve talked it to death; I didn’t mean to make it seem like I didn’t want to talk to you about it. In short: it’s just the classic ‘friends take you to pride and then end up being panphobic’ thing. Decided I should make myself scarce for a while until I figured out what I want to do about it.”

“shit,” Sans said. It was, for a reason you couldn’t place, odd to hear him curse. “i’m really sorry about that. i know we don’t exactly know each other that well, and, uh, i know this probably sounds like it has a bit of pretense to it, but if ya need a place to crash, i could stay on the couch, and-”

Your heart instantly tugged. Maybe it was how fucking exhausted you were at all of this, but you felt the dawn of tears begin to sting your eyes. How in the fuck are these people so nice? They say monster souls are made of love, hope, and compassion—but this is above and beyond.

Sans was, for the first time since you’d met him, slightly rambling. It was incredibly endearing.

“-if you were uncomfortable with that, pap is pretty much the best at making pillow forts, if you have the fort -itude to put up with his early bedtimes, heh-”

You cut him off by crushing him in a hug, doing your best to reign in the sudden tugging in your heart. Christ, I feel like I’m in middle school all over again with all these crushes. You tried to remind yourself that you were leaving in a few days, and it was probably best not to get attached, but as you hugged Sans you couldn’t help hear his voice in your head.

“then don’t think about it… worrying about that stuff seems like a lot of extra effort to me.”

Feeling his hold around you, your heart couldn’t help but want to agree.

“You are literally the best, thank you so much, Sans. I’ll let you know about that. But for now…” You felt your cheeks heat up against his jacket as your heart panged with a small note of vulnerability. “I know we have our date, but… can you just promise me we’ll see each other again before I leave?”

Sans stood silent for a longer moment than expected. You felt your heart drop slightly, and just as you were about to pull away, you felt his hands tighten around your back.

“i promise.”

You felt a small burst of relief in your chest as you took the initiative, leaning up to give him a gentle kiss. Before you could pull away, his hands moved to cup your face, letting the kiss linger for a heart-catching moment. By the time you pulled away, your heart was practically thudding out of your chest, your insides feeling aglow.

“Ah, alright then,” you said, feeling high and disconnected from your brain. “I’ll see you soon?”

“see ya,” he agreed, grinning. You felt your heart give another spasm as you gave a small wave goodbye, turning back to the main street. You took a few steps, then glanced back—and, as expected, he was gone. You took the moment of privacy to put your hand over your chest, taking a deep breath as you tried to unwind the happy tension within you.

“Shit,” you laughed, your smile wide. “What has my life even become?”

Once your heart had fully slowed, you took another deep breath and set off for your destination. The sky was quickly fading in light, but the street lamps were already illuminated. You couldn’t help but feel like they were little guidelights, directing you towards what you had to do.

It was time to stop in for some baked goods.

 

You reached the cafe with no short amount of luck; it looked like the employees (both spider and non-spider) were starting to close up for the day. You stepped inside, feeling a rush of anxiety—you hated confrontation, and you figured Muffet would be pretty mad about what had happened.

The place was pretty empty, save for one or two customers lingering with their desserts at a couple of the inside tables. No one (customer or employee) was at the counter, so you swallowed your fear, approached the large glass case, and rang the bell.

Muffet stepped out from the back, initially wearing a slightly agitated expression—likely annoyed someone was coming in right before closing—but all of her eyes widened as she spotted you. “Dearie? What brings you to my parlor?”

“Hi, Muffet,” you said meekly. “I’m sorry for coming here right before closing, but, uh, I was wondering if you had a second to talk? Maybe once the shop was closed?”

She nodded, one of her many hands gesturing to one of the empty tables. “Of course, dearie. Please, have a seat, and once we’re all set here I’ll come join you.”

You nodded and sat down, doing your best to calm the anxiety within you. For someone with so many eyes, she was hard to read, and your mind was coming up with worst-case scenarios for how the conversation could go. The pit in your stomach tightened as you saw a vision of her tossing you out, or lecturing you for how poorly you acted-

“Here you go,” an employee—a human, maybe in her 20’s—said as she set down a plate for you. “On the house.”

You looked down. It was a Mt. Cream Puff, the same thing you had ordered on your first day here.

“Thank you,” you said, touched. Muffet must serve hundreds of people during the summer, and we barely spoke when I was here. I didn’t even buy it, really Red did. But she remembered…?

You watched Muffet chat with her employees as they closed. They seem tired, but happy, without the typical nervous air that some employees had with their bosses. They joked, teased, and worked hard—all with this giant spider monster, making magical items, sometimes with monster dust. Muffet must have been a really amazing boss. She must’ve been a really amazing person.

I’m sorry you got caught up in this, Muffet. I have to apologize to you.

Chapter Text

Hey all!

I’m very sorry to announce there will be another small hiatus. Recently several people have left my department, so I’ve been having to work doubles with twice the workload and too mind-numbingly exhausted to write when I get home. Additionally, since we’re so close to the end of the week, I wanted to write a few chapters ahead to make sure it ends as smoothly as possible.

In the meantime, I’ve written a spin-off story for Mermay, which you can find here (url for those who can’t do links: https://archiveofourown.org/works/18044228/chapters/45138514 )

Additionally, if you see a response to a comment from me for an old chapter, it’s because I realized there were a couple chapters I thought I didn’t get any comments on, but for some reason A03 never sent me emails about them??? So if I haven’t responded to you in the past, I apologize—please know I try to do it for every one. 

If you guys would like me to read any of your fics, please comment a link below! I can’t guarentee I’ll get to them all before the hiatus is over, but I’ll definitely add them to my list.

Unfortunately, I won’t be attending Pride at Ptown this year due to my crazy work schedule, which I’m incredibly bummed about. However, I will be attending Pride at Providence (Rhode Island), so if you happen to be doing the same, send me a message at either of my two tumblrs (url link: https://gastersans.tumblr.com or https://skeletonprideparade.tumblr.com ) and maybe we can say hi!

Finally, thank you guys for all the support you’ve given me. I’m so sorry for the break, and I hope to come back soon. More importantly, I hope you guys are doing well while I’m gone!

Love you guys.  

Chapter Text

You ate at the cream puff, your hunger winning out over the anxious pit in your stomach. It helped that it was so damn good. By the time that the employees left, you’d polished the whole thing off. It was now just Muffet and you remaining. Attempting to discreetly study her, you watched as she finished up the day, writing in some books and tallying up money. You’d never seen her before at such a quiet moment—she looked fully immersed in a genuine peace. You couldn’t say you knew her that well yet, but what you could tell she was kind, elegant, intelligent, outgoing—and absolutely gorgeous, her lavender skin practically glowing under the yellow-tinted lights of the bakery.

I wonder why the hell she likes me. You then winced. Or maybe liked, considering she might’ve changed her mind after that night.

She disappeared into the darkened back room for a couple minutes before coming out with a teapot and a set of teacups. She glided over to you and set them on the table with the ease of secondhand nature, the delicate pottery barely making a sound against the table. She then took off her apron, draping it over the chair before sitting down with you.

“Welcome to my parlor, dearie,” Muffet said, steadily pouring you a cup of tea before repeating the process for herself. Her face was a true neutral—neither pleased nor displeased, but simple, polite interest. “What bringss you here?”

You took a deep breath, staring at the steam rising from the tea for a moment before looking back at her. Your stomach was weighed harsh and tight with your discomfort at a potential confrontation, but you pushed through. “I wanted to sincerely apologize for what happened that night. I imagine that you could probably hear what we were saying, and that you know what happened. I’m so sorry you got caught up in that—that was absolutely not fair to you, and I’m super embarrassed that you had to sit through it. I’m also sorry for leaving unannounced; I haven’t been back to the hotel with them, so I didn’t even have the card with your number to text you. Which is why I came down here in the first place.”

You then ran a hand through your hair, unable to look at her, shame stiffening your spine. “And… regardless of if you heard it or not, I think you should know: when I first met you, I was terrified of spiders. I’m still scared of them, I’m sure. And, logically, I know you’re not a spider spider just as much as I’m not an ape, but still, when we first met I was pretty nervous… So I’m sorry for that. And I’m just as sorry I wasn’t upfront about it, because maybe if you had known that, you wouldn’t have wanted to… get to know me.”

You took a breath, forcing yourself to look back up at her. She still held the same, neutral face, watching you as she calmly held the cup of tea between a pair of palms.

“Are you sstill nervouss?” she asked, the subtle glittering of light in her dark eyes a cue she was examining your expression. You took a moment to reflect, wanting to give as honest an answer as possible. You took a moment to truly look her over: sallow, light purple skin, eyes a deep, almost obsidian purple-black that glinted sharply even in the dim lighting, pointed fangs that stuck out constantly from her mouth…

You don’t think you’d ever really got the chance to study her so up close like this. You expected your mind to be dismayed, but… instead, you could only think how pretty she looked. The lavender color was cool and delicate, her eyes looked more like gems than anything else, and her mouth was always set into some kind of cute smirk or expression. You looked back at her more directly this time.

“Yes, but not because you’re a spider. I’m nervous because you’re an extremely nice, pretty girl.”

She hummed to herself in amusement, taking a sip of her tea before placing the cup down.

“I knew you were afraid of me when I met you,” she said conversationally. You facepalmed; of course it was that obvious to her. “Many humanss are, and it’ss eassy to ssee. To be honesst, when I ssaw all of you too, I wass a little off-put ass well. Monsterss are all pretty different, sso I had a bit of trouble telling individual people apart. Pluss, you were all sso-” she gave a shudder “-fleshy. It’ss not a common trait for monsterss, dearie.”  

You chuckled, glad she was throwing you some kind of bone. You looked down at your tea. It looked like a cup of glowing, purple spiders. You might’ve been making progress, but not that much. You decided not to drink it.

“Well, still, I’m incredibly sorry. I’ve been pretty dumb, and it’s something that I’ll be continuing to work on.” You then smiled at her softly. “Thank you for taking the time to listen to me, and for the pastry and tea. I probably didn’t deserve them, but the pastry was too good to resist.”

You went to stand, but Muffet reached over, placing her cool hands over yours. “Would you care to sstay and have a chat, dearie~?”

You paused in your rise before sitting right back down, finding no ounce of hesitation within you. “Absolutely.”

You and Muffet chatted about many things—about her life underground, the many, many members of her spider family, and what it was like to come topside. She was clearly a woman with high ambitions, a go-getter that endured any setback until she got what she wanted. You admired that kind of drive.

There was a lull in conversation, and you took a moment to examine the delicate teacup that held your untouched tea, the logo of the shop written in delicate, gothic cursive. Muffet’s Parlor. Like everything else Muffet did, it seemed like a lot of thought and care went into the design.

Man, I’m such an asshat.

“Ahuhuhu, ssomething on your mind, dearie~?” Muffet asked, one of her hands on her chin as she watched you. You smiled fondly, tapping the logo meaningfully.

‘Dear friend, what shall I do, to prove the warm affection I’ve always felt for you?’” you quoted. Muffet seemed surprised. “My mom used to read me The Spider and the Fly a lot when I was younger to tease me about my fear.”

Muffet hummed with interest, leaning forward towards you with an amused smirk. “‘I have within my pantry good sstore of all that’ss nice; I’m ssure you’re very welcome; will you pleasse to take a sslice~?”

You laughed, looking pointedly towards your empty plate. “I think I already did that, but if it would make up for my foolishness, I’d eat here every day.”

You noticed a happy hue rise to Muffet’s face, and you felt your stomach tighten. Ohnoshe’ssocute. She looked away in thought for a moment before picking up her own teacup. You’d noticed she hadn’t drank any yet, either.

“I’ll tell you what, dearie: take a ssip of my tea, and conssider all to be forgiven.”

You blinked. “Just like that?”

One of her eyes gave you a wink, the rest seeming to regard you with a calculating stare. “Ahuhuhu, jusst like that~.”

You looked down into the cup, the little fuschia glowing spiders appearing to wriggle in the cup as you tilted it back and forth. They seemed magical, and not real, but you weren’t totally certain: their movements were damn convincing, all little legs wriggling in a sparkling liquid. You resisted the urge to shudder. “They’re not going to feel pain, correct?”

‘Hm?” Muffet gave you a questioning look. “Doess it matter? It’ss jusst one ssip of sspiderss, and you’ll be forgiven in return.”

Her answer was jarring, if not unfitting with her normal sentiment. “What? Of course it matters. I’m not going to hurt a spider just to-” your brain then caught up with your mouth, and you immediately felt stupid. Oh. She’s testing me, right?

Muffet giggled, taking a sip of her own tea. “Ahuhuhu, no, they’re magic. Nice to ssee you wouldn’t hurt an innocent to jusst get what you want, though. You are forgiven, my dearie~.”

You stared, your brain faltering. This seemed to be a common occurrence for you around the spider woman. “But.. “ you started, a hint of confused exasperation coming into your tone, “that doesn’t exactly make up for it, right?”

She merely winked one of her many eyes. “Oh, don’t you worry, pet. I’ll find wayss for you to make amendss—I jusst wanted to be ssure you were worth the effort.”

The test seemed a little bizarre, and you weren’t quite sure how that translated into forgiveness, but you supposed you weren’t in a position to question it. Just for posterity, you took a decent sip of the tea. It was stronger than you expected, the taste of hibiscus and passionfruit with a few flavors you didn’t recognize on your tongue. Thankfully, the spiders didn't feel wriggly going down. Muffet laughed at whatever expression you were making.

“It’s, uh, fruity and flowery. Normally I’m more of a coffee drinker, but this doesn’t make my throat feel dry like other tea does. I could get used to this.” You then looked back down at the spiders, some of them looking like they were crawling as a droplet slid down the cup. “...Eventually.”

Muffet laughed with a dainty covering of her mouth, her voice sweet and delicate. You began to wonder how blind you had to be to be afraid of her to begin with; spider or not, she was sweet as pie. You stood, gathering your plate and teacup, before offering to take hers as well. “I should get going, but I’d like to wash up. Where’s your sink?”

Muffet placed her cup in your hand before standing and grabbing the teapot. “Why thank you dearie~. It’ss in the back; let me show you.”

You followed her around the counter and into the back room, only slightly feeling like trespassing as you entered the “employees only” area. The room was surprisingly large, a full line of large industrial-looking machines, likely used to turn out their product quickly. You couldn’t recognize most of the baking appliances; you could barely make your way around a mixer, let alone these high-end instruments. Muffet circled around them easily, making her way to a large, industrial-looking sink.

The lights were off, but the atmosphere was far from eerie, a gentle glow coming from the streetlights through the large glass windows of the bakery. You wondered if Muffet could see better in the dark than you did; the dim lighting didn’t seem to bother her in the slightest.

She tuned on the tap, then took the dishes from you, her many hands snatching the items before your two could clumsily snatch them back. “Hey! I was going to-”

“Ahuhuhu, no offensse meant, dearie, but I think it’ss besst if I do them.” You blinked for a moment, before looking at her hands work as a quick and efficient team. I suppose I don’t work in a restaurant; I don’t know how they like them to be cleaned. “Why don’t you dry them for me?”

Watching Muffet’s hands—two of them sitting idly on her hips—you had no doubt she could handle the drying on her own, too, if she so chose. It was likely mostly for your pride alone. “Sure; teamwork makes the dream work, et cetera et cetera.” You grabbed a towel hanging from a peg by the sink and received the first dish Muffet had already scrubbed thoroughly. Quick indeed.

Muffet looked over to you, her laugh gentle, if not confused. “I can’t ssay I’ve heard that before, dearie. It’ss cute.”

You were surprised, but supposed not everything reached the underground. The two of you washed and dried in a companionable warm silence, your mind wondering to what else might be lost in translation between you and your monster friends.

As you gently sat down the last piece of dried ceramic down, you noticed the gentle tapping of fingers against the sink. You noticed Muffet looked thoughtful, if not a little tense, the light catching the ridges of a furrowed brow and tight frown. You spoke as you focused on hanging the towel back into place, not wanting to appear like you were staring.

“Something on your mind, Miss Muffet?”

She didn’t answer for a beat, so you looked over to her. The worry lines of her face had only deepend; she looked frustrated. After another beat, she gave a sigh.

“Dearie, I musst be honesst: for once, I find mysself befuddled. I ssuppose I besst jusst come out with it.” You felt yourself instantly tense; Muffet appeared to be a very straightforward person, and while you appreciate the candor, you were more the type to prepare yourself for conversations. You tried subdue the instant defensive anxiety that rose within you as Muffet looked at you piercingly.

“I undersstand that you were much more intoxicated than I had initially asssesssed when we kisssed. Did we only kisss becausse you were drunk?”

You felt your face flash with an immediate heat and a not-so-small spike of indignancy. “No, of course not! I kissed you because I wanted to-”

You cut yourself off as you saw a hue come to Muffet’s face, resulting in your own doubling. Although you couldn’t believe you practically just yelled that at her, she seemed quite pleased. Her eyes, practically black in the darkness, sparkled with glints of light as she beamed at you. Her smile melted into a challenging smirk; clearly, she had ensnared you again. “In that casse, do you want to kisss me now, dearie~?”

You stare flickered towards her mouth as your heart pounded, and you nodded, the answer honest. You absolutely did.  

With that, Muffet’s hands were reaching for you, though their touch was delicate and slow—one hand sliding into your own, pulling you to her, another placed lightly around the small of your back, and two lightly cupping your face, coaxing your mouth to hers. You didn’t hesitate, meeting her lips in a sweet but firm kiss. Your placed her hands at her sides, a light pull of her body towards yours. You didn’t want to rush things, but you attempted to relay your feelings into physical movement as you held her: I like you. Whatever your formincluding this oneI like you. I don’t have a doubt in my mind about that.

Muffet broke the kiss, but instead of pulling away, her fangs gave a light trace against your bottom lip, earning a startled intake of breath from you as a shiver—thoroughly pleasant—raced its way over your skin. Maybe especially in this form. Muffet paused, likely unsure if your reaction was one of fear or not, so you quickly pressed your mouth back to hers, your hands reflexively pulling her closer to you. You felt Muffet smile into the kiss, letting out a muffled giggle as her arms wrapped around your neck.

As you felt her body press fully against yours, you found your mind dissolve into a course of scenarios, all of them involving not leaving here tonight—and the little nagging voice in your head decided that probably meant it was time to say goodbye.

Mentally cursing your higher brain functions, you steadily slowed the kiss before pulling apart altogether. Muffet seemed a little confused, and you gave your best apologetic smile. “Unfortunately, I have to go and have another tough conversation tonight. I’m sorry I can’t-”

Muffet waved her hand at you, a hand rubbing your arm affectionately. “I’m ssorry to ssee you go, dearie, but I undersstand.” She then paused, hands stopping before letting you go. “Will I be able to ssee you before you return home?”

You smiled gently. You weren’t exactly certain—your dance card was filling up pretty quickly for your final few days here—but you did want to see her again. You nodded. “Sure. Hey, Muffet’s Parlor doesn’t happen to have a spot along the parade route, does it?”

Muffet smiled wide, her fangs on full display. “It abssolutely doess, dearesst~. I’ll ssee you then?”

“At the very least,” you nodded back, before digging your phone out. “Can I have your number again, just in case I don't get a chance to retrieve the card?”

Muffet nodded and typed it in before giving you a kiss goodbye. You left feeling slightly dazed, like a teenager after their first date. You quickly arranged an uber (resisting the brief consideration to call Sans as ask for one of his shortcuts), and made your way, finally, back.

 

Surrounded in darkness, you found yourself standing where you had started this week: the hotel where Sarah and Grace were.

You had no idea if they’d be in there, or how it would go, or why on earth you were so anxious. You tried calming yourself as you walked through the lobby, doing your best to internally assuage the flutter in your chest. Okay. Okay. Really, the worst thing you feared happening has already occurred. You’ve gotten several offers from people to stay in various places, and worse comes to worst, you just grab your shit and leave. They… were (maybe still are?) your friends. If they haven’t changed their minds, if they still don’t accept youremember what Red, what Green said. They’re not friends worth having.

You cringed at the thought, but tried to hold onto that pain instead of pushing it back. You knew it would hurt regardless, but maybe it would be a little less brutal if you were already feeling the sting—and you felt you couldn’t afford to get your hopes up, lest you really let their rejection crush you.

You took a breath, fished out your cardkey, and inserted it into the slot. As you watched the door’s lock turn green, you hoped it was an encouraging sign from the universe to go on ahead.

 

The moment you opened the door, you could hear voices from the bedroom, though you were surprised your hearing wasn’t wholly consumed by your pulse pounding out in your ears. You really hated confrontation. As you closed the door behind you, the conversation stopped abruptly, as if curious ears were listening.

You took a deep breath before calling out. “Hey, guys…?”

You heard an immediate stampede of feet as Sarah and Grace came out, Grace first out the door with Sarah shortly behind. For all their rush, there was a moment of silence where the three of you merely stared at one another. The air between the three of you was so bizarre, so foreign that you almost felt as if you’d entered a stranger’s room instead of your friends’.

“Uh,” you began, “hi.”

Before you could process it, Grace had crashed into you, her arms around you in a tight hug. Your normally silent, neutral and solid as concrete best friend was now crying into your shoulder. “I’m so, so sorry. I’m so sorry,” she kept repeating, her apologies muffled into your shirt.

You felt stunned, if not unsure. This in of itself was a weird feeling—although Grace wasn’t the biggest hugger, her hold was normally second nature. However, standing there, your arms felt alien, as if you’d suddenly forgotten how to swim. Do I hug her back? What do I want to do here? If I hug her, does it mean I accept her apology? Does it mean I forgive her? That we’ll be okay?

You felt yourself begin to overthink it, the common surge of anxiety as your mind raced—before you took a breath. You shut your mind off, and instead, decided to do what your heart wanted to do.

You hugged her back, tightly. All at once, you remembered how to swim again, her hold feeling just as natural as ever.

Grace had never doubted you before this. She clearly cared for you so, so much, and you did for her, too. It didn’t make things okay, it didn’t make it hurt less. But you wanted to continue to be best friends, more than anything else. More than the pain you’d felt.

You paused for a beat, closing your eyes as you simply revelled in the moment of familiarity again. Taking a breath, you opened your eyes, seeing Sarah standing at a respectable distance away.

She was silent, still, and distant; compared to her normal vibrancy, you could’ve mistaken her for someone else entirely. Her eyes were puffy. They must have been arguing.

You let go of Grace, who detached from you, rubbing her eyes. There was another silence, and that odd, uncomfortable air reappeared, hanging low over you. You couldn’t quite meet Grace’s eyes (it was incredibly difficult to witness your normally stoic friend cry), but turned to her nonetheless. “Hey, I’m sorry to ask, but can Sarah and I talk alone?”

Grace nodded, stuffing on her shoes and grabbing her phone quickly before exiting without a word. You noticed that she and Sarah didn’t exchange even a look as she left.

As soon as Grace closed the door, you rubbed your chest, the anxiety now molting into a physical weight on your lungs. You moved into the living room, giving Sarah a wide berth, and collapsed onto a chair. Sarah sat down opposite to you on the couch.

Sarah was still silent, her eyes watching you carefully, as if you were about to lash out at her. A part of you wanted to—wanted to be angry, wanted to indulge in your inner fury. You felt lied to, betrayed, manipulated, insulted—it would have been so easy to let that take over.

But, more than anything else, you were just… tired. And hurt. And sad.

Sarah was clearly waiting for you to start. You couldn’t find yourself to meet her eyes either; forcing yourself to confront your pain just created a deep, raw feeling in your stomach. Similar to with Grace, you found your mind desperate to form words for feelings you couldn’t describe—so you decided to let go, and just talk. You closed your eyes, and spoke:

“I… honestly have no idea what to say to you,” you said. Closing your eyes helped; nothing but blackness in front of you allowed you to focus on you, versus trying to analyze her reaction. “I took all this time to think about it, and I still don’t know. I don’t know what you’re feeling, or thinking. I don’t know if you’re sorry, or even think you should be. You’re one of the smartest, most intuitive people I know, so when I say this, I’m aware you already know, but I’m going to say it anyway.

“You hurt me, so much, Sarah. I mean, really—there’s so much in my life I’ve gotten over or around or worked through, and this part of me is the last, biggest thing I’ve really yet to deal with. A past, younger me might hedge my own feelings, wonder if this is even something to make a big deal about, be upset over. But this is important. I can’t stop the hurt I feel, and I can’t stop from feeling like this matters. This involves my future, my family, my love, who I am at my core. And I just…”

You opened your eyes but only focused on the floor, your eyes absentmindedly tracing the patterns of the hotel carpet. “You were supposed to be my friend, Sarah. I mean… Lying to me, pretending you accepted me, trying to manipulate me, Muffet, Grace? If you didn’t believe me, you could have just said. I can’t pretend I would have still wanted to be friends for certain, but at least we could have talked about it. Maybe I would have explained it better, or maybe… I don’t know. Maybe nothing would have changed. But at least I wouldn’t have been lied to. You could have gone your way, I could have gone mine, and neither of us would be sitting here in pain.”

You closed your eyes again, your fists balling as you felt that stabbing in your chest again. Though you knew your emotions were centered in your brain, it felt as if the pain was straight from your chest, your proverbial heart. Tears began to prick at your eyes as that hurt came to the forefront of your attention. “And I do feel pain. Not only because you didn’t believe me, and lied to me, and embarrassed me, and made me doubt—even if it was just for a moment—who I was and what felt... But because I cared about you, Sarah. So much. And not because you’re dating my best friend; even with all of this shit, I know you’re a good person. I respect your opinion. And I love you, so much. The idea that someone I love would do this to me, think so little of me that they assume I don’t even know how I feel about others? It just…”

You breathed out a sigh, your cheeks flushed as you tried to hold the damn to your own emotionality. Flexing your fingers again, you tried to reign it back in. “Like I said, I don’t know if you even care about any of this at all. Maybe you don’t. But it’s how I feel, and I can’t apologize or change that.”

You gave yourself a moment to pause, before lifting your gaze to gauge her reaction. You weren’t certain as to what you expected when seeing her—you feared maybe anger, or annoyance, or indifference.

You didn’t expect her to have tears streaming down her face, covering her mouth as she stared straight ahead. You sat frozen, the sight of her typical headstrong ferocity dissipated was something too out of place for your mind to properly wrap itself around. As hurt as you were, you couldn’t help but feel nauseous at the sight of her so upset, and felt the urge instantly to console her. Before this urge could win out over your judgement, she uncovered her mouth, and spoke:

“I love you too,” she said. “And I’m so sorry.”

Fuck.

You felt your own tears spill over, a relief hitting you from a hope you didn’t even know you were holding onto to. You had to hold yourself from jumping out of your seat and hugging her, your heart wanting to return to your friend. You felt yourself tremble with the rush of emotions that you couldn’t possibly sort through.

“I know it doesn’t excuse anything, but just… I don’t know, just to explain myself? I thought I was helping you. I just… I mean, you know I’m not a ‘gold-star’ lesbian like Grace. I kept thinking back to the younger me, the one that dated guys and told herself she liked it. My mom wasn’t even homophobic, so it wasn’t like I was afraid to come out, I just really didn’t know. I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you about it, but… I guess I just saw myself, and I wanted to save you from what I went through.”

“Well I know,” you said. Sarah opened her mouth, and you held up your hand. “I know, now, that you logically know that, but I want to say it to you, right now, so if you ever have any doubts again, you can think back to this moment. I want you to look me in my eyes right now, and if you see a shadow of doubt within me, I want you to tell me.”

Sarah nodded, so you took a breath, and looked at her directly, doing your best to speak right from your heart, your soul.

“I know. I know me. I have had crushes, attraction, love for men, women, and anything other or in between. I might not always be sure who I’ll love next, or who I’ll end up with down the road—if anyone at all—but I can’t deny the feelings I’ve had in my heart. My love is true to my core, to the very culmination of my being, and nothing or no person—including myself—can change that. Call it bisexual, pansexual, whatever you want—this is who I always was, this is what I am, and this is what I’ll forever be. This is me.”

Sarah nodded again, her tears slowing. Curiously, she looked… relieved?

“I don’t see any doubts. To be honest, even if I did—I know it wouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t have mattered if you were doubting, or questioning. I know I shouldn’t have done what I did, and I see that now.” She took a deep sigh, rubbing her face free of tension as she leaned back into the couch. “But no, there’s no question. I can see you mean it.”

You took a second to regroup, reigning your heart back in as you relaxed slightly, sinking into the chair. You felt drained, but not in a way that you could say you minded, the tension that had been clinging to your soul now finally released. You knew you could go for a really, really long sleep.

“Are… we gonna be friends again?” Sarah asked. You looked over to her, and her stare has returned back away from you.  

You knew, in your mind, you could have deliberated. Apologizing didn’t make up for things; it didn’t excuse the action, didn’t undo the damage, didn’t earn back the trust. But… you meant what you said when you knew that Sarah was a good person. You meant it when you said you loved her, cared about her. Although you knew that that, too, didn’t always mean it was right to make amends—your heart wanted to give it another try.

So you didn’t hesitate when you nodded. “Yeah. Things… might not be the same for a while, but I still want to be friends if you do.”

“I do,” she said, the statement sincere.

There was a beat of tired, heavy silence, though without the awkwardness or tension it previously had. Sarah then sat up some, a smile at her lips as you saw her normal disposition slowly return to her. “Sooo… Does that mean I can have deets on the last couple days?”

You laughed before groaning, slumping over in your chair. “Listen, of course you can, but y’know, my only vindictiveness is that I’m going to make you wait until morning. Especially to hear about Mettaton.”

Sarah shrieked, chucking a pillow on the couch at you. You were too tired to deflect it. “That’s a fate worse than death! I still love you, babyangel, but damn that’s cold.”

You giggled, grinning at her sleepily. “Love you too, Sarah.”

 

Chapter Text

 Hey all!

 

In honor of this story turning 1 year old, I made a discord!  (link for those who can't click urls: https://discord.gg/hT5tSBY ).

Please feel free to come swing by, chat, make new undertale friends, and just live it up! I'll also occasionally be posting sneak peaks of new chapters if that's your thing! 

Thank you all so much, as always, for all your support. I hope to chat with you soon!