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i won't let you leave me

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            He had only seen his soulmate for a few seconds–barely a glimpse and immediately fell in love. That’s how soulmates worked. Your soul had left your body, lighting up your eyes briefly from the brilliantness of it.

            For a few seconds–you smiling at him, him in awe–it was perfect.

            So when your soul was crushed by a car before he could reach it, what little bit of mental stability he had left wavered. He started to feel his soul crack in heartbreak, his body turns to dust with his soul dissipating. Denial coursed through him, determined to prove that you were not dead, that it was not real.

            And for a brief moment, his determination passed Frisk’s, and a glitch reset button made of wingdings flickered for only a second–

            But it was enough. Because with his frantic brain scavenging for any kind of hope–any glimpse that perhaps it was all a bad dream–the idea of having to live through everything again to get back to the surface didn’t bother him anymore.

            Sans couldn’t live in this timeline anymore. Partially because of his magic going haywire and causing destruction, but mostly due to his own selfish need to be with you.

            He was completely, and utterly broken. Unable to accept that you could be dead. That he wouldn’t get to have a soulmate. To experience true happiness.

            Of course. The world was giving him a second chance–most likely gaster–and he wasn’t going to let it go.

            He didn’t care if it took a hundred more timelines for Frisk to bring them all back to the surface.

            He didn’t care that there was a chance for genocide. Because his body was melting, his brain already shattered in dismay and disbelief.

            And he decided, this time, he wouldn’t let you die.

            He would protect you this time, and make use of this second chance he knew he didn’t deserve but wanted.

            “sorry, m’ gonna make sure next time is perfect.”

            Before it could flicker away, he pressed it.

            Everything went black.

            And lit up once again.

            Frisk saved them all.

            Sans failed again.

            Watched you die.

            Watched you crumble into a pile of blood.

            So he tried.

 

Again. And again. And again and again and againagainagainagainagainagain–

 

****

 

 

            At this point, one would have to be living under a rock to not know about monsters. Their bright smiles as they greet the world after hundreds of years, and the small child leading them. It had been almost two years at this point, and everyone had settled and (more or less) accepted the new reality.

            During those years many discoveries and progressions of technology occurred. But the most talked about, and rarest occurring one were soulmates.

            Apparently, before the war that sealed them all underground, human ‘souls’ would be drawn to a monster one (or monster to a monster soul), where an unbreakable bond would match their age expectancy until one died and the other died from grief. Of course, this is extremely rare. The only reason this can happen is compatibility. Certain souls (apparently there were different colors?) would be able to bond with a specific monster’s magic, making that monster more powerful.

            If both were monsters, the same would apply but no boost in magic. It’s impossible for two humans to have the same bond due to the make–up of the human soul.

            It sounds great and all, but kind of odd. It’s advertised as the pinnacle of happiness. A living paradise if achieved (well, according to overdramatic media) and both would live happily ever after.

            Honestly, when you first heard about it, you were skeptical. Sounds like a ploy to get humans to try and interact with monsters more. Which wasn’t bad in itself, but lying wasn’t the way. But once you actually met a couple who were soulmates you realized they were more correct than not.

            It was this odd but pretty fish-like monster who was really shy (whose name you figured out was Shyren) and had a wonderful voice. Her partner was a relatively young man who looked happy as can be. It was a pleasure to meet them despite feeling like you were invading their own little bubble of joy. Interspecies relationships were still frowned upon, but usually, it only happened if it involved the soulmate bond which happened rarely enough in itself.

            So it was a big surprise to suddenly have your soul burst out of your chest and fly across the street. A moment of déjà vu so strong that made you stumble distracted you, but it disappeared once you noticed a car going full speed toward it.

            Everything seemed to slow down and you dejectedly accepted your less than optimal death. Oh well.

            But the impact never came. Realizing your eyes were squeezed shut from fear you opened them slowly, only to feel a pulse of warmth envelop your body. Ah. There was a floating car. The car that was going to hit ‘you’.

            Maybe you did die because a floating car doesn’t seem right.

            There was a moment of silence before you noticed a large skeleton with one eye (pupil?) shining a flaming blue, the same color that covered the car. For a second they looked so panicked you thought something was wrong, but their…eye...turned to you, and you felt everything click into place.

            That was your soulmate. Probably.

            Despite being an actual skeleton, their face was very animated. It went from terror, to shock, to the biggest grin you’d ever seen.

            Unceremoniously the car dropped to the ground with a ‘thunk’.

            “…i did it…”

            You tilted your head, wondering what they were referring too. Maybe saving your soul–oh, it’s green and blue. Well, more light, kind of mint green–Anyways, you were so distracted by your own soul you only reacted once you heard murmurs around you. Some sounded fearful, other’s excited. All around not so great.

            Right. This was making a scene.

            You made your way across the street quickly, ignoring the whispering around you until you stood face to face with the skeleton. Well, more face to chest. Or ribcage? Wait, how did they even move? And why did they have to be so tall? You are kind of short but this was beyond ridiculous. You had to strain your neck to make eye contact.
            They seemed deeply lost in their own world while staring at the mint green soul, and you wondered if theirs would pop out as well.

            Well, no time for that.

            “Hey. Um…thanks for uh…saving me back there, I owe you one.” You scratched the back of your neck, looking up at them sheepishly, “would’ve been pretty bad if I’d actually died huh?” After saying that, you kind of regretted it from the look of sheer terror in the poor skeletons pupils. Yikes. Forgot soulmates are a thing. “I–I’m alive though! So no need to think about that…” Forgot to mention how you had a severe case of crippling awkwardness.

            The skeleton still just kind of stared.

            “Um, here, let me just–” You grabbed their phalanges and (noting how oddly warm they were) dragged them away from the commotion. Hopefully, the guy driving wouldn’t be angry about his car. He almost killed you so you think he’ll let it go. “Okay, now we have some privacy–”

            You blinked. You were…in a living room? You looked around questioningly, forgetting you were holding their hand. A comfy sofa in the living room with a TV, and a kitchen not too far away either. A normal house.

            You turned to look at the monster and realized they were cupping your soul with the gentlest look on their face. Should you feel violated they were touching your soul? Nah. You are soulmates so you don’t think it matters? You’re not sure how this whole soul thing works, just know it’s a pretty intimate thing. Not really sure how any relationships work to be completely honest.

            Oh, now they were staring at you. Well, looking down at you. They were freakishly tall.

You decide to introduce yourself.

            “I’m ________.” You gave your brightest smile, hoping to make them forget about your near death. The skeleton looks down for a second, covering the soul in a bit of that weird blue magic before pushing it back into your chest.  Odd. Did they do something?

            “sans. sans the skeleton.” Oh, so they do speak. “nice ta’ meet cha’.”

            “Well, I’d hope so.” You grinned crookedly, watching their grin stretch bigger. Was that grin just permanent on their face? Hard to tell. A skeleton after all. “Also, don’t know how to refer to you.”
            Sans looked at you questioningly.

            Time for awkward. “I have no idea how to…uh…your pronouns, buddy,” You scratched your neck, “don’t know how skeleton anatomy works.”

            Okay, hysterical laughter is not really what you were looking for, but your heart fluttered nonetheless.

            “oh…oh man that’s the first time someone’s asked me that.” Sans continued snickering, and you narrowed your eyes.

            “Well, I try to keep an open mind. You sound like a guy and kind of look like one, but I wasn’t sure.”

            “oh. okay.”

            You waited.

            “So…?”

            “oh, ya, i’m a dude. probably.” Sans grinned crookedly, shrugging. He seems laid back.

            “Oh, yeah, by the way? Where the heck are we and how did we get here.” All he did was shrug nonchalantly.

            “it’s me and my bros house. and uh…magic.” He did jazz hands and cheekily winked. Ha-ha, hilarious. “yeah just needed to get you–us. us out of there.”

            “Fair enough.”

            Another awkward silence ensued.

            “So…you’re a skeleton.”

            “yup.”

            “And you have a brother.”

            “who is also a skeleton.”

            “Nice.” You decided to plop down onto the couch. You felt eyes on you again so you turned to look at the guy, raising an eyebrow. “You going to join me?” It never crossed your mind you were being impolite. Honestly, you couldn’t care less and Sans seemed okay with it.

            “you’re taking this awfully well. actually, not reacting at all.”

            “Oh, sorry. Is there something I should do?” You asked sincerely, grimacing. Hopefully, you didn’t screw anything up. Getting hit by a car probably would’ve been the biggest mistake ever. He just shook his head, before sitting beside you. You noticed he was taking into consideration personal space.

            What a gentleman.

            “don’t worry bout’ it. i’ll take care of all the specifics.” He winked lazily, leaning back into the sofa. There was a significant difference in this laid-back sans and the one panicking from before. Guess seeing the supposed ‘love of your life’ being almost killed probably shook him pretty badly.

            You should stop thinking about that.

            “Thanks.” You shifted so your whole body was on the couch, and sat crisscrossed so you were facing him. “So now what.”

            “hoping you would know. not sure how human relationships work.” He shrugged again, not seeming to be in any rush.

            Sans was odd. Not just because he was a skeleton, but because he looked at you in this weird way. Like he knows you. Or at least knew you existed. He didn’t seem shocked at all to know he had a soulmate. Most monsters didn’t have one, right? So why did he seem so...casual? He had asked you the same, but honestly, nothing interesting was happening in your life and you were pretty lonely. So any shock was outweighed by relief of finally having somebody to be with for once.

            You weren’t sure if you should ask.

            “Here, how about we just get to know each other. No need to rush, we got time. Starting as friends?”

            “sounds good to me,” Sans shrugged, which you were beginning to understand was a go-to gesture for him.

            “Alright, so can I see you tomorrow then? I’d love to stay longer but I do have to get home before it gets too dark.” You felt a tiny pulsing feeling in your heart at the thought of leaving Sans. Huh. That’s weird. Was that supposed to happen?

            “heh, definitely.” He began walking you to the door with that perpetual grin on his face. Kind of liked it. Kind of wanted to see if his face was malleable.  “be safe ______.”

            “Alright. I’ll see you soon, Sans.”

           

****

 

            It had taken so long, so many resets. So many times he’d begged Frisk to let him try again, to let him do it right this time. Frisk had warned him, and chills crawled up his spine reminding him how close he was to giving into exactly what he was warned of. It would be too easy to take a…different, simpler route.

            He had a whole plan, dimensions, and probabilities, figuring out the best way to do it. He couldn’t outright stop the car due to velocity (and increasing magic was impossible without…you know) and he couldn’t be a second off or else…game over. Heartbreak all over. Mine shattering all over. Uncontrolled genocide from his own lost sanity. He could never get there early and was never late. This was the last time he could do a reset. gaster had warned him briefly when he fell through the void the last redo, that he could only manage to produce one more reset.

            And he did it. He wouldn’t even have to use that reset.

            His soulmate living…you living…that’s all that mattered.

            And he finally heard you speak. He couldn’t believe it. He was in shock. It wasn’t until you grabbed his hand that he realized it was real. And he immediately took you home. He acted naturally, still not grasping this was not a dream.

            Your soul was beautiful. Full of kindness and patience. So pure, and…dull? He quickly looked away to stare into his soulmates eyes. You were just as beautiful as your soul. Absolutely perfect. You were so…alive. Nothing else mattered other than you being alive.

            Quickly confirming a partial marking, he allowed his magic to cover part of the soul before pushing it back into your body. Of course, this wasn’t necessarily the first thing one should do since it somewhat…claims them, that’s why he only did it partially. You didn’t have to do anything but accept your soul back. And you did, obliviously. It’d be fine, it wasn’t anything drastic.

            Besides, you seemed okay with it. Though you didn’t know what he did. Probably shouldn’t tell you right now, but maybe later. You wouldn’t want to date anyone else anyways, so him kind of marking you was fine.

            He was surprised at how ‘chill’ he managed to be while introducing himself and talking casually. You chatted for a bit, and he couldn’t help but just stare in wonder at the animated human being in front of him. You were hilarious and witty–albeit awkward, which he quickly adored. Your smile was bright and kind.

            It was okay now, he thought, I won’t be alone. He wouldn’t be abandoned; he wouldn’t be broken hearted. Already plans for introducing you to Papyrus were slating through his mind. Papyrus would love you. You seemed so open and welcome, not disgusted by monsters in any sense. You were so human…small…fragile.

            Instincts were already kicking in. Monsters always felt instincts much stronger than the humans, obviously, since his soulmate didn’t really look all that affected besides the general acceptance and happiness toward the situation. And again, they hadn’t even bonded which was when everything was really solidified. He would get around too that when you would reciprocate.

            It was perfect.

            After a little talk, you got up to return to your home and waved goodbye, promising to come by the next day. He nodded, walking you to the door.

            He opened it for you to leave with a flourish.

            He watched you step outside of his house into the outside world.

            He felt…

            Wrong.

            After so long he finally had you safe and protected at his side. And you were leaving. Of course, you’d come back but how would he…how would he know you’d be safe? He didn’t want to risk failing and having to use his last chance. What if you walked into the road and inevitably died?

            You turned around again and waved, smiling so brightly.

            No–no–no why were you leaving? Where were you going? Will you be safe? No of course not. You’ll be killed. If not by a car, then other people. The world was cruel–everything was a death trap.

            The world wasn’t good. Everything would hurt you. Something would always happen, right? He couldn’t trust the world, not after it killed you in front of him so many times that it drove him m a d-

            He couldn’t breathe. You were getting farther away. You were going to die. He would lose you again and he couldn’t take it anymore–he couldn’t see you dead especially after finally meeting you. He couldn’t. He couldn’t do it.

            No. You can’t. You aren’t allowed to die. You can’t. Not now. No–not ever, no no no nonononononononono––

            Sans soul beat rapidly. Subconsciously his magic flared to life, lighting up one of his empty sockets. He couldn’t breathe–he couldn’t breathe. You were going to die. You’re going to leave him. You’re going to disappear.

            He felt hot. There’s something fierce and glowing inside of him, like a light or a magnet. His breath catches in his throat and like a flickering flame his eye comes to light–and he wasn’t sure if it was getting bigger or going out. It’s a thirst and he almost felt the need for water until he swallows. He feels like crying. He’s panicking.

            You can’t. You’re going to die you’re going to die you’re going to die you’re going to die you’re going to die you’regoingtodieyouwilldieyouwilldieyouwill–

            “Sans?!”

i can’t do it again i can’t i can’t i can’t

            “Sans, calm down.”

you’ll die you’ll die i can’t you’ll die and you’ll be gone and–

            “Sans! Look at me. I’m fine. I know the car probably gave you a shock but I’m okay. Nothing happened. Breathe. Breathe with me, okay? In and out, slowly. Can you let me go? No? Okay, that’s fine, your magic isn’t hurting me so it’s okay, but I need you to listen to me. Can you hear me? Can you hear me?”

            Mind fuzzy but still able to hear, he nodded.

            “Okay. I need you to focus on my voice. Focus on me, my arms, my breathing, my heartbeat. Focus on anything that makes me alive. Now focus on the nice things we’re going to do after this. Think of the fun we’ll have together.”

            He desperately clung to you and your instructions, following each word.

            “See? Everything is okay. You’re just having a panic attack, but I’m here for you. I’ll always be here, okay? Nothing is going to hurt me.”

            Sans soul flutters at your closeness.

            “Hey, when do I get to meet your brother? He sounds really awesome.”

            “…heh…he is…” He croaks, feeling his frown slowly lift into a grin at the thought of Papyrus.

            “Well, now I have to meet him, huh?”

            “...yeah.” Despite his weakness he still chuckled, realizing he had been sobbing quite a lot. Everything settled around him. You were safe. He could hear your heartbeat. He could feel your breathing.

            “I can’t wait then!” Your soft laughter slowly brought Sans down from his panic hazed mind. “Also, you’re surprisingly warm for being made up of a bunch of bones.” He didn’t care if you didn’t mean everything you’d said up to this point, he was going to take it to heart.

            Silence settled, and it was comfortable. Now he could really hear your heartbeat. It calmed him quite quickly. Of course, you’re fine. You’re fine. He saved you, so you were fine. You’re with him, in his arms, so you were fine.

            He let himself calm for a while, not sure if hours or minutes passed. He didn’t really care. His soul was almost bursting with happiness at the contact. It was kind of embarrassing, being so happy despite having broken down not too long ago.

            “You’re looking a lot better already. Dare I say you look...sans-ational?” You wiggled your eyebrows teasingly

            “pfft. now you’re just tryin ta’ to butter me up, huh?” He grinned lopsidedly, finally able to form coherent thoughts. Somehow they had gotten into his room and onto his bed, with you holding his head right over your heart. His arms were wrapped securely around your waist, and he let them loose for fear of hurting you. You were just so small and precious.

            “Well, you are my soulmate, right?” You grinned right back, winking at him in poor imitation.

            “heh, yeah. i am aren’t i?”

            “You’re stuck with me!”

            He chuckled. No, deep down, he knew it was the opposite. If that feeling would happen anytime you left–then he didn’t think he’d ever let you leave. It was too painful, and despite how selfish that thought was, he couldn’t bring himself to care. He couldn’t let you die anymore, not after finally being with you. Not with his lack of control over the timelines now.

            “yup. guess i’ll havta’ live with that.”

            In the back of his mind, he could hear the murmuring of someone, encouraging him and dissipating the negative thoughts. Telling him this was right. That you wouldn't make it. That it was okay for him to be scared, to want to protect, to shield you from the world. He just didn’t want anything or anyone to hurt you. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t a problem. What’s so wrong with wanting to keep you inside where it was safe?

            It must be okay since you were soulmates. It wasn’t extreme. It wasn’t irrational.

            It only made sense. He would be able to convince you that. You’d have no problem with it. You’re already so kind and patient.

            You wouldn’t mind.

 

            …

 

 

 

            r i g h t?

Chapter Text

            “Sans?!”

            Of course, you’d been pretty shocked when you were suddenly blipped into a room with a sobbing Sans clutching onto you like a lifeline. After the initial confusion, you realized the only way you were getting out of this situation was to calm him the hell down.

            “Sans, calm down.” He was shaking pretty badly. Having a panic attack probably. You felt really bad for him, still not really grasping what caused it. Was it the almost death? Probably, to be honest. You weren’t really surprised that you didn’t react with anxiety, you probably wouldn’t have cared if you died.

            But now somebody needed you, and you sure as hell got nothing better to do.

            “Sans! Look at me. I’m fine. I know the car probably gave you a shock but I’m okay. Nothing happened. Breathe. Breathe with me, okay? In and out, slowly. Can you let me go? No?” You tried to wriggle out of his death grip but realized it was pointless. For somebody made of bones, he was pretty strong. And heavy.

            “Okay that’s fine, your magic isn’t hurting me so it’s okay, but I need you to listen to me. Can you hear me? Can you hear me?” You made it clear you were only allowing this because it didn’t hurt you. Death didn’t scare you, but unnecessary pain? Screw that. Sans didn’t seem like he wanted to hurt you anyways.

            He did end up nodding, so that was a good sign.

            “Okay. I need you to focus on my voice.” Now you just needed to figure out how to comfort him. You dying made him panic, so maybe reassuring him you were alive would work? Seemed reasonable albeit odd.

            “Focus on me, my arms, my breathing, my heartbeat. Focus on anything that makes me alive. Now focus on the nice things we’re going to do after this. Think of the fun we’ll have together.” You kept your voice soothing and reassuring. You’d had your fair share of panic attacks and generally got through them alone, so you dealt with Sans as you would yourself.  Comfort, and a bunch of jumbled sentences in an effort to ease.

            “See? Everything is okay. You’re just having a panic attack, but I’m here for you.” Okay, stating the obvious. Classic. Drawing a blank again. He was much more relaxed and seemed to slowly come back to reality, so you were doing something right.

            “I’ll always be here, okay? Nothing is going to hurt me.” Well, that didn’t come out quite right. You’re pretty clumsy so you’d probably trip on a knife and die by accident, along with your condition being sickly was a given. Probably shouldn’t say that out loud though. Did he say he had a brother? You had to distract him, and he spoke so fondly about his sibling.

            “Hey, when do I get to meet your brother? He sounds really awesome.”

            “…heh…he is…” Sans basically croaked, voice so strained and dry. Do skeletons have vocal cords? Who were you to say? Wonder if he could get strep throat.

            “Well, now I have to meet him, huh?” Sounded pretty similar to the last thing you said, but he seemed to cling onto the different topic.

            “...yeah.”

            He chuckled! It was deep and shook his body and you felt a surge of happiness at bringing his spirits back up.

            “I can’t wait then!” You smiled and laughed softly even though Sans couldn’t see you. It was quiet, and you occasionally felt his hands twitch now and again. It was pretty comfy where you were situated. On a bed.

            in his territory

            Were you in his room? You noticed it was a bit of a mess but the bed was neatly made and clean. It wasn’t anything surprising, just clothes were strewn about. A musky smell was also very prominent. Probably Sans. “Also, you’re surprisingly warm for being made up of a bunch of bones.” Oh. You said that out loud.

            Sans didn’t react though. For a brief moment, you wondered if he was asleep. Your eyes skimmed the room again, and this time noticed a few joke books shoved into a corner. Your brow raised before you resisted the urge to snort. Wonder if he liked puns?

            “You’re looking a lot better already. Dare I say you look...sans-ational?" Then you wiggled your brows.

            “pfft. now you’re just tryin ta’ to butter me up, huh?” So Sans did like crappy puns. Or just bad jokes in general. You briefly scoured your brain for any skeleton jokes but came up blank for now. You’ll tell him some later.

            Sans loosened his grip. Nice, he was coming back to earth from terror–town.

            “Well, you are my soulmate, right?”

            “heh, yeah. i am aren’t i?” Sans’s grin made your heart pump a bit harder, and you almost wanted to say out loud that his smile was great. But kind of permanently on his face. He had to be aware of that right?

            “You’re stuck with me!” You were getting some pretty good banter; he seemed fully grounded now. Maybe you could get him to let you go soon. It was comfy, but your leg was falling asleep and he's hefty.

            “yup. guess i’ll havta’ live with that.”

            Ah, his eye lights (you decided to call them) flickered a bit and dimmed, before lighting up again.

            Odd. Cool, but pretty weird.

            You watched Sans for a bit before shrugging out of his hold. “Alright big guy, you all good now?” Patting his back awkwardly was the best you could do. He looked taken aback for a moment before rubbing the back of his neck.

            “yeah, sorry bout’ that. just got a bit…nervous.”

            Understatement, but you would let it pass.

            “Have you ever had a panic attack before this?” And now you were probing and being nosy. You were soulmates though, so it should be fine. Sans was looking at you oddly, tilting his head cute in question.

            “uh…”

            “You don’t have to answer, just was wondering because that was pretty bad. Reasonable though, I guess. I did kind of almost die right in front of you.”

            He flinched harshly and instinctively reached for you. Yeah, still shouldn’t bring that up. Yet you still do, like an idiot. Poor guy was already anxious enough and you just kept bringing up the source.

            “…heh, well, you did rattle my bones a bit.” Sans tried to laugh it off with a joke, and you noticed his digits clicking together. Was he always this shaky? No. He seemed pretty tough. Plus, he could teleport so what was he to worry about.

            'Somebody got a gun? Poof.

            Annoying bitch? Poof.

            About to trip and fall on your face and embarrass yourself? Poof.

            about to get run over–

            “Teleporting is sick by the way.” But apparently limited.

            Sans looked up, his grin stretching wider.

            “hm?” His tone was teasing, the knowing look in his eyes giving it away. Of course, it was cool, and Sans knew it too.

            “I’ve never met a monster who could do that. You must be pretty strong, huh?” This time his face flushed.

            It was blue?! Oh my god. He looked so flustered and it was adorable.

            “uh…i guess? i’m a boss monster so…” Sans looked at his fingers, shrugging. How did that explain anything?

            “Boss monster? Anyways, it’s cool nonetheless. What else can you do?”

            “lots of things.”

            You waited for an elaboration.

            Okay, now his grin was shit–eating.

            “Will I just have to wait and see because it doesn’t seem like you’re going to tell me anything.” You sighed. You were legitimately curious! Maybe you should throw yourself down the stairs or jump off a building and see if he would use magic to stop you.

             “don’t do anything stupid. i can read it all over your face.” Sans chuckled, and you glared playfully at him.

            “What if it’s just my face?”

            “…mmmmmmm don’t think so.” He teased, winking. How did he do that? How was his skull so malleable? You wanted to touch it. Would that be pushing boundaries? He was just all up in your business but you probably still shouldn’t.

            You did it anyway.

            “uh…uh…” Sans looked so flustered and confused as you began to squish his cheeks around, noting how it was solid, but could be flexible if need be. You were about to touch his eye socket but he stopped you quickly by gripping your hand.

            “buddy,” he looked so unamused, “how would you feel if i just shoved my fingers into your eyeballs?”

            You internally cringed, realizing your mistake. “Sorry, just got a bit curious.” God that’s awkward. Did you almost blind him? That would have sucked. Mostly for him, but it still would’ve sucked. Sans snorted, looking pretty humored by it.

            “heh, s’ fine. don’t mind that much. the kid used to do it all the time.” He looked lost in thought for a moment, grin faltering before regrouping himself. Should you ask who he was talking about? Was it the kid that came up to the surface leading them all?

            Speaking of–that was probably still one of the most surreal moments of your life. Just a kid waltzing out of a mountain with an army of monsters behind them. The kid had looked…tired, if you remembered correctly. Of course, they’d be tired, freeing a whole race and all but–

            They had looked so underwhelmed. So tired and withdrawn. What had happened down there?

             “ya’ still with me, doll?” Sans deep voice interrupted your thoughts, and you tried to ignore the twinge of happiness that came from the endearing nickname. He was studying you with a hesitant gaze. He sure was careful, huh?

            “Yup just got lost in thought.”

            “taking everythin’ in, huh?”

            Not exactly. You were already welcome to the idea of soulmates and such. Having one was super convenient too. It seemed this was the change you needed because if you had gone home you probably would have never met him.

or anyone else for that matter

            “Sure.”

            Perhaps you should keep that a secret. Relationships were built on trust, so you would tell Sans eventually, just not now. Especially after seeing his reaction to your close death. It must have been somewhat instinctive to bring you to his room. He seemed confused before–and still now–about your lack of reaction to anything. Honestly, you were glad you didn’t have to worry about that anymore.

            You should tell him about your…sickness eventually though.

            Ha, that’ll be a fun talk. You can already tell from Sans odd twitching that he was struggling to respect your space. He already showed a lot of protective tendencies–which you didn’t mind–but you weren’t fragile.

            You could take a lot.

             “Hey, I do have to get home tonight, would you prefer bringing me there?” You gently asked, trying not to trigger his panic again. You felt you would have to be careful about this in the future.

             “no.”

            Okay, well, you didn’t expect that.

            “That’s fine, I can make my way home on my own–”

            Sans head shot upwards, his hands not hesitating to grab onto you this time. You weren’t scared–but when his eye lights disappeared you wanted to run from the oppressing tension and atmosphere it created.

            “n o”

            Your heart dropped. The tone was solid, commanding, and heavy. So he wanted you to stay here, you had got that already. You just wanted to see if he would push it. And he would. How could you get him to let you? If you didn’t go now, you wondered if you ever would.

            “Look, I don’t want to leave either,” not a lie, just not the whole truth, “all my stuff is at home, and I have to get some stuff done and take care of other things–” You were just stalling at this point, waiting for him to relax. “I have to go home, but I’ll come back tomorrow for sure!” His grip had loosened.

            “promise?”

            “Absolutely. And I don’t break promises.” He seemed pleased with that but still hesitant, nodding anyways. That was the queue to get out of there.

            You bailed, leaving him with his thoughts. You would come back, but Sans just needed to sleep on his anxiousness right now.

            At this point, you needed to leave the house, some abnormal sense of pulling on your body telling you that you had to.

            You needed to go home–despite never being the type to rush out of situations you were comfortable with. Why were you rushing? You kind of wanted to stay with him anyways. But you felt compelled to leave. Your feet padded down the stairs.

            You left the house, taking a deep breath. You went over the events of the day in your head, feeling a small smile rise on your face after realizing you did have a soulmate. It was life-changing. You felt like you had something to live for now.

            Everything was calm and great.

So…

            Why did you feel more and more like something horrible was going to happen?

            You looked up, realizing you were staring at your feet. You locked eyes with the man behind the wheel whom Sans had stopped previously from crushing your soul. This time you stayed on the sidewalk, waiting for the car to pass. Why is he taking this route? What a coincidence.

            Deciding it was going too slow, you started going across the street, lost in thought. Already happiness was wriggling its way into your mind and for once you let it. You were happy that you found Sans.

            Having someone to care for–and someone who actually would care about you. Who cares if he was a bit anxious? Nobody is free of their own baggage.

            A loud honk resounded in the air, along with wheels turning sharply. You quickly retreated, hoping to make it out of the way in time–cursing yourself for your stupidity.

            Oh–the car was speeding. You had like, no time to get out of the way.

            Well, shit.

            Now you wondered if you were just meant to die. Would make sense honestly. This was probably one of the funniest and saddest things ever. The same guy who almost ran over your soul was now going to maul your body.

            “SANS!”

            Instinctively you screamed, and for a brief moment–just a split second, you saw magic surround the car.

            Relief filled you. He was just in time–

           

            CRASH

           

            Oh. Never mind.

           

 

****

 

           

            Sans felt peace rest in his soul, knowing that he finally saved you from the unfortunate event. He soothed his reflexes, reminding himself it was a onetime thing. He needed to keep himself in check because it was ridiculous to think the world was just out to get you. One night without you would be fine, right? He was glad he didn’t fully initiate anything yet–he’d be going nuts trying to control his instincts.

            After hearing you shut the door, he shuffled over to the window by his bed and opened the curtains. Sans smiled to himself in relief when seeing you walking down the sidewalk, glad to have calmed his anxiety. It was okay now. He saved you.

            Huh. You paused. Why did you stop? He watched you turn, and start backtracking towards his house again. Did you miss him? Sans soul fluttered happily, his grin honest as he quickly scurried out of the house to go and meet you. Before opening the door, he looked himself over, noting the dark bags under his eyes fading already from relief.

            Everything was going to be–

“SANS!”

            Uh.

            What? That didn’t really sound normal.

            Instinctively he went to reach for your soul as he opened the door, body working faster than his mind.

            He turned, quickly, eyes shot open after seeing a car bulldoze through the street. His magic flashed alive as he went to stop it, wondering just why in the ever loving fuck this was happening again

            CRASH

           

            Heh…ha…What?

            His mind fogged over as he realized his magic couldn’t stop the car. It went too fast. He wasn’t strong enough. He didn’t…

            You weren’t…you couldn’t…

 

            “N   O”

 

            Sans won’t accept this.

            This wasn’t…this wasn’t fair. Without even realizing tears uncontrollably began spilling from his eye sockets, eye lights shaking while they shrank and dimmed.

            His magic fizzled out. Why was this happening?

            Why did this happen? You weren’t even near danger a few minutes ago. Yet, blood was pouring from your skull, body mangled and crushed. Your beautiful skin…tainted with the color of death.

            “Sorry,”

            Sans head snapped up. You were alive! You were alive–he could save you. He just needed to get you somewhere safe. He couldn’t focus on the man behind the wheel. He would push his anger to the side just for now.

            “i thought i lost you.” He whispered in relief.

            You were still trying to talk, and despite the sobs wracking his body, he cradled your head, burying his face into your shoulder. You were going to be okay. Hope. He had hope. It was okay–it must have been an accident and it was fine as long as you were alive. He would spare the man because you were…you were…alive…?

             “sweetheart? please stay with me, okay? you’re going to be fine. i’ve got you, everything is going to be okay. please just–oh god please…please just…please keep breathing–”

            Sans watched your soul leave your body, and immediately grabbed it, grin shaky when he lowered it back towards your chest.

            “h–here let me just…”

            He tried to push it back into your chest.

            “c–come on doll just…you’re not going to die so…don't be afraid to reach out.”

            Sans kept pushing it, covering it with his magic to sink it towards you against the repulsive force.

            “hey, look at me, i’m right here…you’re gonna be fine–oh god…oh god–i would never let you get hurt.” His voice cracked as he fed his hope, knowing that this couldn’t be it. This couldn’t be all that there is.

           

            Sans eye lights flickered out.

            Your soul was giving up.

            “i–i can’t do this without you-you don’t know it yet but…i’ve met you before.”

            The mint soul in his hands started to break.

            “do not–oh god–please don’t go where i can’t follow.”

            He shouldn’t have let you leave. He shouldn’t. It was his fault. All his fault. He can’t accept this. No.

            Snapping out of his shock he tried to hold it together with his hands.

            “p–please.”

            Was he not strong enough?

            Pieces started flitting past his grip.

            “i can’t do this again.”

            Why did the world hate him?

            Desperation gripped his very being.

            “don’t…don’t do this…please just…”

            Why couldn’t he be born with more power?

            p–please…just let me  w  i  n…”

            The soul crumbled as he pathetically scrambled to pick up any of the particles before they would disappear. He could only shake when the sound of a shattering soul echoed through his mind, your blood soaking his blue jacket.

            “s   w   e   e   t   h   e   a   r   t?”

            No.

            Sans looked down at your still body, willing you to move.

            No.

            Sans felt a hand on his shoulder.

            “S–sir I’m calling an ambulance–”

            “aaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”

            Before the man could react Sans ripped him apart with his gravity magic, pulling each half of his body in different directions. A sick feeling of joy filled Sans mind at the man’s screams, begging him to just stop.

            “heh…heh heh…”

            Sans shuddered as he slowly ripped the man apart, grin widening at the screams of apology. It became annoying.

            snap

            …

            He looked down at you.

                        howcouldyoudiethiswasn’tsupposedtohappen

 

Why why why why why why why

           

He needed to get stronger.

 

            How could he get stronger?

 

WHAT COULD HE DO?            HE NEEDED MORE POWER.

 

But how? How can he get more?

 

            How can he get better? He can’t train anymore and he can’t just increase through sheer willpower so how–

            “…heh…”

            He could. He could gain power. He knew how. He knew exactly how.

            His grin widened as he felt his body start melting from his tremendous spark of determination.

            The grin turned into an unsettling leer as the idea grew larger and larger in his mind, expanding from all the times he saw death. All the times the world was unfair. This was his last chance. He couldn’t play the nice guy anymore.

            No more mercy.

            His fist slammed on the final reset button.

 

            Sans could play that game too. If people were going to hurt you he would keep you away from people. He would gain so much more magic. The idea wasn’t wrong anymore. Bindings in his mind that kept what was left of his stability cracked.

            He’ll sacrifice everything that he has. There’s nothing left to leave behind. It’ll be like it never happened.

            Frisk told him not too. Frisk told him no more resets. Frisk told him he was losing himself to determination. Frisk said you would be fine this time. Frisk said that they would try to stop Sans before it got out of hand. Frisk said they would protect everyone.

            Everything faded to white, and he felt time churning.

            It would be okay. He was going to protect everyone too. He was going to keep his promise to never hurt a monster.

            heh…heh…

            said nothing about humans

 

 

            “ha…haha…hahahahaha…hahahahaAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHHAHAHAHAHA”

Chapter Text

            Interspecies relationships were still frowned upon, but usually, it only happened if it involved the soulmate bond which happened rarely enough in itself.

            So it was a big surprise to suddenly have your soul burst out of your chest and fly across the street. A moment of déjà vu so strong that it made you stumble distracted you, but it disappeared once you noticed a car going full speed toward your mint colored soul.

            Everything seemed to slow down and you dejectedly accepted your less than optimal death. Oh well.

            But the impact never came. Realizing your eyes were squeezed shut from fear you opened them slowly, only to feel a pulse of warmth envelop your body. Ah. There was a floating car. The car that was going to hit ‘you’.

            Maybe you did die because a floating car doesn’t seem right.

            There was a moment of silence before you noticed a large skeleton with one eye (pupil?) shining a flaming…reddish blue, the same color that covered the car. For a second the skeleton looked so panicked you thought something was wrong, but his…eye(?) turned to you, and you felt everything click into place.

            He was your soulmate. You knew.

            Despite being an actual skeleton, his face was very animated. His gaze was on your soul, then on you once again.

            You expected him to just drop the car, but you were pretty surprised when he lifted it–arm following but gaze still on you–and smashing it into the ground while it crushed anyone inside.

            Oh.

            You glanced sideways to notice a faint outline of a heart start to come from the car before it disappeared. You blinked. You thought maybe you saw the skeleton there for a split second. But when you turned back to where you thought he was he indeed was still there.

            “…heh…”

            He didn’t look right. You weren’t scared, per say, just, uh–shocked? He kind of just killed someone, and instead of showing remorse, the widest smile was on his face. That really didn’t look natural.

            Did you almost dying make him react instinctively or something? That seemed reasonable, but he really didn’t need to smoosh the car. Or kill the person inside.

            Hm.

            Where was everyone else? Wasn’t there people here before?

            You peered back toward the skeleton, who was cupping your soul close to his face. Did his eye lights (you decided to call them) just flicker into hearts for a second? Was that just you? You scurried over, feeling intimidated by his stature.

            You had to strain your neck to look up. “Hey. Um…thanks for, uh…saving me back there, I owe you one.” Your voice wavered slightly, but you tried to keep it steady. He didn’t mean to kill the man. It was an accident from panic.

            He’s too happy for it to be an accident, you thought briefly.

            He looked down at you before crouching so you were eye level, his unsettling smile falling into a more relaxed grin. You saw a brief flicker of numbers in his eyes, before they disappeared. Something about EXP…? It looked to be ascending numbers…you really couldn’t make it out before it was gone.

            You had a feeling it was important.

            He kept staring at you before you saw the blue (and kind of red) magic coat his hands and envelop your soul. It felt nice, warm, and comforting. You feel safe and protected. What was he doing to make you feel so relaxed and happy? This seemed especially intimate.

            The magic around his phalanges went out after some time, but there was still a coating of it surrounding your soul.

            “What was that?” You questioned. It didn’t feel bad, but you also didn’t know what it was. The soul was the very culmination of your being (as you learned from other monsters) so having him completely cloak it with his magic was a little…

            “don’t worry bout’ it, sweetheart. s’ so others know you found me.” He pushed it towards your chest, waiting for you to accept it back. You raised a brow but did so anyway.

            “m’ sans, by the way.” He stood back up to full height, once again towering over you. You pouted, puffing out your cheeks. Why was he so freaking giant!?

            “_______.” You leaned onto your tippy toes, trying to be taller. Sans looked amused, staring at you with this gaze that…felt a bit…he already seemed so, uh, invested? You couldn’t find the word. You knew that soulmates were like, immediately attracted but this was so–so–i-it just didn’t seem natural.

            But what did you know?

            “let’s go somewhere less…vulnerable…to talk.”

            Vulnerable?
            Before you could think too much on it, he put both of his hands under your armpits and picked you up, grinning lopsidedly. What? You weren’t a child! You were just a little bit short! It wasn’t your fault he was so unnaturally large! You huffed, trying to land a kick on his chest. “You can’t just–!”

            Blinking twice, you were somewhere else.

            What in the world?

            You looked around. Sans shifted so now he’s holding you with one arm, supporting you by wrapping it over your back and under your knees. Like a baby. You really didn’t look around long. His house was normal. Boring. Nothing standing out because you were really distracted by how he was holding you. You started squirming, and his grip just tightened, a deep chuckle rumbling in his chest. Your face flushed and you crossed your arms indignantly.

            “relax, sweetheart. just want ya’ to be comfortable.”

            “It’s awkward!”

            And you just killed someone, you were tempted to add that on but decided against it.

            He only chuckled again. So rude. You ignored the way your soul sang happily at the close contact, too embarrassed.

            Sans continued to just carry you, casually plopping down onto the couch and grabbing the TV remote. He adjusted you again–despite your protesting–and rested you right in front of him on the couch. Okay, this was tamer.

            And you spoke too soon.

            The blue sleeves of the hoodie you were now associating with him wrapped around your waist, and his legs crossed over each other to further tuck you into him.

            Why!? A couple minutes ago you were about to be hit by a car and now you’re being cuddled to death on your soulmates couch?

            Honestly.

            The whole soulmate thing was stronger than you thought. You thought that at least you would have to get to know each other before this…peculiar connection was formed. You’re missing something really important. Something just isn’t natural here.

            Sans rested his skull on your head, tucking you further into him. The TV was now playing some random show with a very flamboyant robot posing in random positions. You thought yourself to be pretty uncaring, but Sans must know something you don’t.

            “Whoa, whoa wait for a second what is going on? How did we get here? Why are you so close to me? I know we’re soulmates, which I’m pretty chill with–you seem great–but you at least have to talk to me and explain some things!” Your exasperation was chewed out with every word.

            “mmmm…okay. sure. what ya’ wanna talk about.”

            “Okay,” you took a deep breath, “the first question. Who else lives here?” You’d noticed multiple shoes of different sizes by the door.

            “my bro.”

            “And he is a skeleton also?”

            “yeah, he’s super cool. names’ papyrus.” You were soothed by his deep voice, sinking into the warmness of his hoodie. You felt pulses of his magic. So warm. You were getting really tired for some reason.

            “He sounds pretty cool.”

            “he’s the best. he’s loud and tall and proud.” Sans spoke so fondly of his brother, and you smiled gently despite yourself. Cute.

            “That’s so sweet–wait. Did you just say tall?”

            “mhm.”

            “Like, are you insinuating that he’s taller than you!?”

            “not insinuating. he just is. cool dude.”

            Well, shit. You were just going to be a perpetual midget, weren’t you!? You were not going to feel inferior–skeletons just happen to be obnoxiously colossal sized.  

            You were not being dramatic.

            Maybe a bit.

            “Okay. That is something I will not be able to wrap my head around. Are skeletons just super tall?”

            “dunno. me and my bro are the only two boneheads I know. never met another skeleton, think me and my bro are the only ones.”

            You can live with that. You can accept that they were monsters that just so happened to be mini titans. You were not being dramatic. But you’d seen so many average, and small monsters. Anyways, why were you so tired? You didn’t really know at this point.

            If monsters were made of magic, then the more magic they were born with…wouldn't that determine their development? You didn’t know if monsters were born with a set amount of magic or not, but how would they even gain more magic? You were getting a headache. Did the numbers mean anything? Augh! Why aren’t you feeling scared? He killed someone!
            “So soulmates,” you murmured, “now that we know that, what are we supposed to do now?” You tried to keep your mind from thinking too much. You never really were one to question things that felt good. Plus, you were sleepy.

            Really sleepy.

            “hoping you would know. not sure how human relationships work.” Sans shrugged, his jaw clacking together slightly as he spoke.

            “Certainly not like this. You’re holding onto me quite a bit.” You blurted out, noting the excessive breach of your personal space. Was this a soulmate thing or a skeleton thing?

            Sans stiffened. Huh? He had to know this wasn’t normal, right? There’s no way he wouldn’t.

            “oh. uh, i just uh…” you noticed his phalanges twitching, “got scared cus’ you kinda…almost uh…” Sans sounded like he was about to start hyperventilating. And you figured getting out of here wasn’t going to be as easy as you thought.

            You were just so tired. And you didn’t know why.

            What’s the point in leaving anyway?

So sleepy...

            Sans was your soulmate. He wouldn’t hurt you, so you had nothing to worry about. He just seemed anxious is all. 

            And, honestly? Forcing yourself out of here was not an idea you were willing to even consider. You weren’t stupid.

            You felt his pulse (though you didn’t know where it came from) skyrocket when you questioned his actions. And you had seen a bit of what he was capable of. This was thin ice and you needed to tread smartly.

            There was no room for a temper tantrum because of pride. You just had to figure out some things about him to figure out how to manage the situation. Not manipulation, but something was just so off about Sans and you needed to know how to calm him down.

            “I was kind of scared too, but at least this led us to meet each other.” You cheerfully hummed, noting the tension leaving his bones, and heart rate steadying. Sans curled around you more. Warm.

            “heh, y–yeah. guess it…uh, did. yeah. heh…”

            His voice was shaky. What triggered him? You needed to figure it out so you could get him to let go. Something was up and you were going to get to the bottom of it. But you were so tired.

           “You know…”

            You needed to be careful here.

            “Somehow when I saw you, I knew you were a guy. Don’t know why, since I’m not the type to assume. And I just knew you were my soulmate, despite my inattentive personality. Also, I wasn’t super scared with how you…protected me?”

            Twitch. He twitched again, probably unaware that he was holding onto you tighter. Okay, something definitely was up.

            “heard t–the soulmate thing can…uh…be pretty responsive?”

            Mhm. Yup, he was evading. His voice curved into a question despite the giddiness behind his accent. You ignored your soul reaching out to him.

           So...tired...

            You were feeling very sleepy. Your gaze narrowed. You didn’t know much about souls, just the general knowledge from articles you’ve read and quizzes you’ve taken. Maybe you were overthinking things.

            Of course, he’d be all touchy after seeing you almost be crushed. This was completely…normal

            “ya’ tired? just take a nap–i don’t mind.”

            That sounded very nice…

            “Hmm…?” You yawned, body shutting down before your mind could process anything that was happening. You curled further into the warmth, eyes already closed and consciousness drifting away.

            “don’t worry, doll. i’ll keep you safe.

 

 

****

 

            “adorable.” Sans murmured to himself, happiness blossoming in his soul as you curled into him subconsciously. He moved so his head was lying on the armrest, and back facing the TV. This way you were tucked between him and the couch.

            Mulling over his actions, disconnected thoughts broke off into different routes. shouldn’t do that, he thought, i shouldn’t use that magic on you.

            But those thoughts were drowned out by the happiness at having you so close to him. You were so innocent and naïve, sleeping so peacefully wrapped in his arms with his hoodie basically covering you.

            You were asking so many questions, too. Maybe a part of your brain remembered the resets and caused that weird human phenomenon.

            Sans couldn’t remember what it was called. He’d ask Frisk later.

            You made a cute sound in your sleep, and he began running his fingers through your hair. So soft, he smiled and sighed. Sans couldn’t believe his soulmate was so perfect. You were so willing and accepting of having a monster soulmate. You looked so happy too.

            But something was weird.

            Sans couldn’t exactly pinpoint what was off. It was kind of strange how little resistance you put up against his advances.  Now that he thought about it, you seemed so…resigned…when your soul was about too…about too…

            don’tthinkaboutitdon’thinkaboutit

            “…heh…heh…”

            Sans loved your soul when he saw it. It was a flawless blend of kindness and patience. You were made for him. You…your soul…is perfect...especially covered in his magic…

            …

            It was so dull though. After coating it with his magic he really noticed it. Because Sans fully marked you this time he was more intent and careful. You didn’t know what he did either–but that didn’t matter since you are soulmates so you couldn’t back out now. Now all you needed to do was bond completely then you would officially be together forever

            …

            Your soul was dull.

            Now there’s nothing wrong with it not being super bright, per say, but there was no aura of life around your soul. Sure he could see your colors fine, but they were…desaturated. The only time he saw a soul like that was when…

            ...

            No. No. No. That couldn’t–there was no way–

           oh no oh no oh no oh no

           You weren’t planning on–

           You were fine with his actions because–

            “heh heH…hAha…..hahahhaAaha…” His body started shaking as laughter bubbled in his mind. The world just wanted you to die today. That made sense. The world was getting him to be powerful so he could take care of you in the long run.

            Yeah.

            It made so much more sense!

            Everyone wanted him to kill them…to absorb and…it wasn’t by his own volition at all! He was fine, everything was going perfectly fine. You were snuggled into his arms–soothed by his magic.

            Sans stopped shaking.

            Why didn’t he think of that sooner? It was written in the timelines that you had to die, so he just had to become powerful enough to change it. It explained why after saving you he had to use his last chance–

            …

            “hehheh…” Sans let his fingers start detangling your hair, gently smoothing it down as he did so. He inhaled your scent to replace the iron that he had been breathing before. All he remembered was so much red. Humans were so disgusting and vile and they all wanted to hurt you and kill you and take you away from him

           His own laughter pushed him out of his thoughts.

            …

            “wh y wa a a a s iit so ffunnnyy???” Magic flickered to life in his right eye socket, flashing his signature blue. Sans couldn’t see his left socket, nor feel it start to tint red. He couldn’t just absorb the souls–oh no–he had to…he had to consume them to get higher LOVE. Heh. What a fitting name.

            He wondered briefly if there were any side effects.

            Sans just chuckled quietly.

            You were here and that’s all that mattered. So what if he had to deal with some small side effects? He was still perfectly…fine…

            “there’s nothing wrong.”

            Sans said out loud, letting it bounce off the walls. He continued to repeat it, letting it flow from his teeth over and over and over. A mantra.

            Eye lights dimmed.

            He panicked briefly, before realizing you were still indeed in his arms. He let the magic heating his bones sizzle out, breathing deeply. You were there the whole time. You never left. Why did he think you left? He was holding you.

            Sans looked at you curled into him, a soft expression on your face. His soul fluttered happily as blue flushed his cheeks. He let himself start running his phalanges through your hair again. It was calming.

            You were right where you belong. Beside him. Safe. Not outside. Not where people would–would run you over without a second thought.

            The couch reflected a bloody purple.

            Sans briefly wondered where the color was coming from.

            …

            How many souls did he take again? He probably should keep count. Alphys would probably keep track of his increased stats if he asked. It never crossed his mind as a possibility that she wouldn’t be open to killing humans. He was a vigilante just for you.

            Sans wondered what was so wrong about it. He’d even been against it himself for so long. What changed?

            Hm. He couldn’t pinpoint it.

            Was he even ever against it? He really couldn’t remember. Must not be important then. He’d killed Frisk plenty of times when they were going down the wrong path.

            Oh, he remembered. After his last reset, Frisk kept going genocide but didn’t really seem determined to get past him. Every time Frisk came to judgment they just kept talking to him. Sans really wasn’t amused by it, and it confused him.

            Usually, they’d do that song and dance till’ Frisk got bored.

            But Frisk barely even fought. Just kept telling him to not give in to what they gave into. Sans didn’t and doesn’t know what they mean.

            It doesn’t matter anymore. Frisk finally decided to free them all and let Sans do it right this time. He figures Frisk realized his patience was running thin.

            And he really didn’t want to do something he’d regret.

            “ashes to ashes…dust to dust…”

            Hm. Sans knew something wasn’t quite right. His skull felt especially…empty? Less held down? What did he lose that was there before? It must not be important since he feels great without it.

            He was snapped out of his thoughts when a phone rang.

            Across the room. Far. Too far. Didn’t want to get up.

            Sans was going to ignore it, but it might wake you up. He flicked his wrist, using a bit of his magic to bring it to him instead.

            “speak of the devil,” he chuckled to himself, before answering it.

 

–Sans?

–kid, what cha’ want?

–…You uh… *cough* …sound good?

–yaaaa? what of it?

–N–Nothing. That’s great, actually. I just wanted to make sure.

–uh…okay? why?

–Because this was the last–you know–

–…oh

–Yeah. That’s why I called. I was worried.

–worried?

–Look, Sans, I didn’t know what to think. You could’ve been dead for all I know. Can I assume you saved your soulmate since you are alive?

 

            Sans forgot he told Frisk about that. Must have ranted about it during one of his many monologues. Either way, he couldn’t help the large grin spreading across his face.

 

–heh, yeah, i did.

–OH THANK GOD

 

            He brought the phone farther from his face, surprised by the loud sigh of relief.

 

–uhhhh….

–Oh. Sorry, I just knew you kind of had to do it right this time

 

            Sans adjusted himself so he was laying on the couch, with you resting on top of him. Your head laid on his chest, letting him feel your breathing.

 

–everything’s perfect, kiddo.

–Good to hear. When do I get to meet them?

–uh…maybe i’ll get paps to put together a welcoming party or somethin’. get em’ introduced to everyone.

-That’s not a bad idea.

 

            He heard their name being called in the background, followed by Frisk sighing dramatically.

 

–Sorry, mom’s being overbearing.

–s’ all good with me, kid, tell tori i say hi.

–Okay. I’ll do that.

 

            Sans gets ready to hang up, adjusting to a more comfortable position once more. He was about to click before he hears a barely audible whisper.

 

Sans…just…take care of yourself, becausesomebody really cares about you

 

            Blip.

           The line goes dead.

            Sans held the phone longer.

            His hand trembled.  

            “heh…”

 

 

****

 

            Frisk sighed as they hung up. So Sans finally saved you, huh? Perfect timing.

            “My child, who were you speaking with?” Toriel rounded the corner, hand on her hip in a challenging pose. Ah, Frisk forgot to do the dishes again.

            “Sans. He said hi.”

            “Oh!” She immediately perked up at the mention of the skeleton, “how are the skeleton brothers?” While asking, Toriel wiped her paws on the apron she was wearing, dusting the flour off.

            “Pretty good, actually. Sans just told me he found his soulmate today.”

            “My child, you are not joking?” Toriel rushed up to them, eyes wide and hopeful with stifled happiness.

            “Nope. Sans said Papyrus will probably host a party to get everyone to meet them.” Frisk smirked at the joy lighting up Toriel’s face at the thought of another family member. Before she completely succumbed to delight Toriel paused.

            “But he never had one underground…?”

            “Mom. They’re human.”

            Toriel looked shocked, putting a fluffy white paw over her mouth before giggling. “Oh, of course! This is so exciting!”

            Frisk watched, amused as their goat mother began shuffling about, already planning on making a pie. Since Alphys and Undyne got together there really hadn’t been any news of soulmates in their circle. It was exciting to find out that the one they all least expected found somebody.

            Gives hope for everyone else.

            Frisk decided to keep the darker side of the story to themselves.

            “Oh! I smell burning. I’ll be right back my child.” Toriel rushed off, preoccupied with her thoughts. Frisk’s smile fell slowly, a daunting truth dragging their shoulders down.

            Despite how great it was Sans finally saved you, Frisk knew that wasn’t the end.

            Sure, you were definitely not going to die again.

            But, Frisk also wasn’t dumb enough to think Sans would be fine after all of this. He already suffered enough just from Frisk going through different routes. And after promising to never reset again, Frisk thought everything would finally be okay.

            Of course, gaster would butt in. Somehow gaster managed to use Sans spike of determination from despair to form a knockoff reset buttons. Frisk could understand the good intention.

            But Frisk of all people knew what happened when monsters acquired determination.

            And surprisingly, Sans didn’t melt. No, physically he was fine.

            Reset after reset, hundreds and hundreds of times watching your soulmate die because you weren’t strong enough?

            Physical health really wasn’t the problem.

            If Frisk was being perfectly honest, they were scared. Frisk tired over and over to stop Sans from resetting and failing again and again because Frisk knew Sans would never succeed as he was. Knew that he spent his last reset.

            Frisk especially knew Sans was going down the wrong path before his final reset. He had kept it together pretty well, sure of himself that he just needed to try again. He did succeed. Frisk remembered when Sans told them the whole story.

            How he saved you. How he had you. How wonderful and kind you were.

            And how when you left to go home, you were killed. Mauled. And he couldn’t stop it because he wasn’t strong enough.

            Frisk didn’t want to tell him that it was bound to happen. They didn’t want to tell Sans that because of the universe they were in, his soulmate would never live.

            It seemed Sans already knew that.

            So he did what he knew would fix it.

            Frisk couldn’t believe they fell for it. Sans said he gave up, that he just wanted to go to the surface. Frisk believed him because he hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary. Didn’t dust any monsters.

            Hah. How stupid.

            When they first got to the surface everything was fine.

            Time passed, and it was nearing the day of the meeting. Frisk was prepared for the promise to be broken. They were prepared for Sans to try again and fail and die. Because he wasn’t strong enough.

            The reset never came.

            Didn’t Chara teach them better? Chara taught Frisk consequences, taught them the downfalls of determination. Frisk would never melt. Humans were built to handle increases of determination.

            Sans just…wasn't.

            Sans couldn’t become more powerful just from being determined. All it did for him was make him obsessed, driven, and unable to give up. So over and over he tried, doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.

            Frisk had intervened so many times–trying to stall Sans by doing neutrals runs and genocide runs half–heatedly. Talking to Sans and hoping to reach him.

            It never worked.

            …

            Shouldn’t Frisk be happy? Be overjoyed that Sans obviously, and confidently succeeded? That no more resets would happen ever again and you and Sans would get to live?

            They would be happy. They would. If they were ignorant.

            Sans soulmate was in a bad situation.

            Frisk knew how to gain power. Knew how to increase levels. Knew how to gain LOVE better than anyone.

            Knew how to twist logic into their favor, tricking themselves into justifying their actions. Frisk was able to snap out of it, because of Chara. Frisk snapped out of it because their determination was controllable. Frisk snapped out of it because…because they never lost themselves to despair.

            It was a terrifying thought.

            Sans was still Sans. Still the jokester, still the judge. Still the silly skeleton who loved his brother and lazed around.

            And by the lack of dust flowing in the breeze, and the smell of iron carrying along it was easy to deduce what happened.

            Blood was spilled–and Sans couldn’t find it in himself to care anymore. Frisk had heard his voice, the wobbly tone, and manic excitement. Sans was still Sans. He wasn’t a different person.

            He was just suffering from the side effects.

            And they just so happened to be linked to the soulmate bond.       

            Frisk didn’t know what to do.

            What can they do?

            Pretend everything was normal and fine? Pretend they didn’t know why Sans was finally able to win? Pretend not to notice the missing fragment of his conscience?

            It was sad that it was the best option. All that was left for Frisk to do was hope that Sans soulmate was capable of handling him, capable of being so accepting. It’d take a very special person to put up with his behavior that was bound to come.

            Frisk saw Sans in his darkest moments, spilling his soul out during his Genocide monologue. It’d never changed until the last reset. Frisk had thought they knew everything, knew of his struggle because of the anomalies.

            This came out of left field.

            That pain of loss is crushing–enough to break an emotionally fragile monster’s soul. Now the pain has multiplied with the scene playing over and over, the feelings of failure and guilt added with rage and despair. Anybody would waver under that.

           Loading stopped once reaching the surface–and Frisk resetting will do nobody good now. Despite the fact Frisk couldn’t stop the bloodshed and pain, they hoped somebody else could.

            Frisk’s time in control was done, and so was Sans’s.

            They knew when reaching the surface–just didn’t want to believe it They knew that after trailing Sans to the final meeting that they would see something they didn’t want to. That Sans would break completely.

            Frisk saw the people ripped apart.

            Saw the flicker of thrill when facing the first soul he consumed.

            Saw the man in the car crushed.

            Saw him mark your soul.

            Saw him pick you up and disappear.

            Frisk had to leave everything to you–to hope you would understand despite not knowing of the resets. A small, tiny part of you might remember. A little voice left behind reminding of what’s right.

            Putting hope in somebody was hard. Especially after seeing that dull, colored soul you had.

            Frisk wondered how Sans would react once the realization set in. Once he realized why everything had set in motion for his soulmate to die and shatter.

            No wonder you weren’t scared of the skeleton with the blazing eye, a monster created in a nightmare torn from a fable.

            You've probably faced worse.

            Frisk had a sneaking feeling you would be there for Sans. You had nowhere to go back to anyways. You were planning on dying that day. All ties cut–everyone close to you knowing deep down why.

            Sans will probably be happy about your lack of ties, even while his mind will be in shock from your state of heart.

            Frisk wanted to forget the scream.

            Frisk just…wanted everyone to be happy this time. You needed to live, for the sake of everyone.

            For Sans.

           Frisk couldn’t SAVE him this time.

           …

            But maybe you could.

           

Chapter Text

            Waking up to random laughing wasn’t your average morning. Or, night, you realized from the lack of light in the room. Blearily opening your eyes, you felt around while figuring out where you were.

            “Am I dead yet?” You murmured to yourself half-jokingly, wondering why you were somewhere you didn’t recognize.

            …

            Oh.

            Wait. You weren’t at your place.

            And you weren’t dead.

            Oh shit–WAIT–you remembered. 

            You were wide awake now, especially after making eye contact with your soulmate again. Sans was sitting across from you on the couch, eyes wide and jaw slack.

            You felt dread crawl up your spine.

            Oh shit oh shit. How do you get out of this? Cover it up? He was really pitiful right now; eye lights shaking so quickly they became fuzzy.

            How could you forget? Literally, the only rule was not to mention you dying, and the first thing you say is just that

            “Oh, I was kidding. I always wake myself up like that–I have a dry sense of humor.” You added in a little chuckle for effect, covering up your nervousness. You crossed all your toes and fingers. Please believe it. Pleeeaaasseeeee.

            A big sigh of relief, followed by his normal grin appearing again made you want to cry with happiness. Thank god he believed you.

            “heh, sorry sweetheart. s’ just a…sensitive topic for me.” Sans shrugged, acting nonchalant like he didn’t just shift into panic mode.

            Speaking of–

            “Is that guy okay?” The car was freaking crushed, of course he wasn’t. You just wanted to see how Sans would reply. Maybe cover it up? Maybe be ashamed or guilty? Maybe apologize or cry or something?

            Nope. None of the above. Option Z apparently existed because his response came way out of left field.

            “heh. nope. burning in hell right now probably.”

            Uhhhh…? Okay. Should you be outwardly confused and worried? Or hide it? How does one approach a situation like this? You get that he was mad about the whole death thing but that was a bit extreme.

            A bit.

            “Oh. Uh. Okay, then?”

            How do you respond to that? Sans looked so happy and proud about it too, like he wanted you to praise him or something. What is happening? How is this happening?

            “Won’t you get in trouble?”

            Perfect. Yup. Skip the ethics of murder and jump straight into will Sans or you have to deal with consequences. Classy. Role model. The perfect behavior for an upstanding citizen. Even you were shocked by that being your first thought.

            Sans seemed pretty taken aback too. He was the one who said it in the first place! Why was he surprised? Did he want you to react differently? God. Everything was getting really complicated.

            “…no.”

            “Will I?”

            “no.”

            “Well, that settles that for now then.”

            The most awkward atmosphere to ever exist now settled in the room. You were about to speak up when–

            “SANS? I MANAGED TO FIND SOME INTRIGUINGLY SHAPED SPAGHETTI! THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT SHAPES!” Of all things to expect, a tall lanky skeleton dressed in battle–like clothing with a boisterous voice was at the bottom of the list. Was that Sans brother? There was a distinct difference between them. 

            “oh hey, paps.”

            “SANS! WHY IS THERE A TINY HUMAN ON OUR COUCH???” Tiny? The skeleton looked so confused, looking very ridiculous with large grocery bags in his hands. With all the grace of a thousand doves, he skidded to the kitchen and put everything down. He even did a little twirl with a small ‘NYEH!’.

            Oh my god. He was too precious. Your genetically encoded parental instincts shot through the roof at the goofy skeleton in front of you.

            It only took him about two steps to enter the main living area because of his stature. You gave him the biggest and kindest smile you could muster.

            “You must be Papyrus! I’ve heard about you, of course, all good things.” He posed dramatically, turning now to face you after glowing from the compliment.

            “NYEH HEH! OF COURSE! THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS TOO AMAZING TO BE–” He cut himself off.

            You tilted your head. Why did he stop? He was looking down at you with a weird gaze. Sans obviously noticed too, since he quickly piped up.

            “oh, paps. this is my soulmate, _______.”

            Sans grinned, gesturing to you with pride. Papyrus looked shocked, before looking back at you with so much confusion. “WHAT? HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN?”

            “Just today, Papyrus. Sans saved me from a car crash and brought me here.” Hm. Yup. Why could you not stop bringing it up? You just felt Papyrus needed all the truth because he was a ray of sunshine to be protected.

            You wondered if Papyrus knew he caused these emotions in people.

            “THEN WHY IS…OH.” The confusion faded from his skull, face now turned back to Sans in a…scolding manner? Sans suddenly looked really uncomfortable and sheepish, rubbing the back of his ‘neck’.

            “What’s wrong?”

            It was like they both forgot you were there, communicating through whatever telepathy they had. Did they have telepathy? Should you ask or was that rude? Before you could speak up Papyrus whipped back around to you with a loud ‘NYEH’, shooting Sans one last disappointed look.

            “NOTHING IMPORTANT, TINY HUMAN! WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY THE GREAT PAPRUSES SPAGHETTI? I FOUND SOME NEW SHAPES THAT I THINK WILL BE ABSOLUTELY DELECTABLE!”

            You smiled again, brows still furrowed in slight confusion. What happened there? Was something up? Maybe you should ignore it. Honestly, even if you shouldn’t you would because food sounded great right about now.

            “That sounds delicious, but I wouldn’t want to overstay my welcome.” You politely explained, noting that he kept calling you ‘tiny human’. You guessed everyone was tiny to him so you tried not to take it personally.

            “no!” Sans suddenly burst out, before retracting with blue flushed cheeks. “i–i mean…you could never overstay your welcome…?” He fidgeted his phalanges, shrinking into himself by hunching over.

            “Okay? Then, of course, I’d love to try that spaghetti, oh great Papyrus.” You smiled endearingly, knowing your tone conveyed your sincerity. Right now ignoring Sans weird behavior was probably for the best.

            Papyrus beamed at what you called him, almost skipping to the kitchen. “BE PREPARED TINY HUMAN! YOU WILL SOON FEAST UPON A MEAL SO SPECTACULAR! THAT YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO EAT ANYTHING ELSE AGAIN! NYEH HEH!!!!”

            So cute.

            You turned around only to almost die of a heart attack.

            “Sans?! Don’t scare me like that.” You breathed, trying to calm the shock of him suddenly being right next to you. “At least warn me next time before going and blipping next to me.”

            “s–sorry, doll. didn’t mean to scare ya’.” Sans looked down at his lap, acting like a kicked puppy. How did a guy so big manage to make himself look so pitiful?

            And why was it endearing?!

            “It’s fine, Sans. Just shocked me is all,” you smiled, “your brother is one of a kind.” Sans looked quite pleased after you say that. It was cool how much he loved his brother.

            “yeah. my bros the best.” Sans said so with a sincere grin, no insincerity or mocking in his tone. While you both sat in silence comfortably, you went to grab your phone from your pocket to check the time. Except it wasn’t there. You’ve got to be kidding.

            “Huh? Where did it…” You felt around your clothes, scanning the room quickly. Did you drop it? It wouldn’t be surprising as you lost things pretty often. But you really needed to make sure it wasn’t too late or you might have to crash here.

            You had… ‘plans’ to cancel. Some stuff to hide. To take. To burn.

            “what’s up?” You looked to him, returning his unwavering gaze. With a sigh, you flopped backward, already accepting that it was gone forever.

            “My phone, it’s gone. Must have dropped it, or left it at home. Doesn’t really matter I guess.” You shrugged, not really minding. Anything social you had left was all deleted anyways since you were gonna…well, you know…

             You would need to talk to Sans about that soon. It wasn’t fair to keep it from your soulmate.

            “oh.” Sans sounded indifferent. Probably because you were.

            …

            Oh my god, he was fidgeting so much it was going to drive you crazy. “Hey, Sans? Why are you so anxious?”

            He skull whipped toward you so quickly you thought it’d fly off and hit the wall. “huh? whatcha’ mean?” His phalanges clicked together.

            “That. Literally that action you just did. Everything you’ve been doing. Am I making you uncomfortable?” Okay, you knew that wasn’t the case. He obviously preferred to be close to you, but that was the best reason you could think of.

            “oh, uh…yeah. um…i just kind of…” He wavered, eye lights shrinking almost into nothingness. “i’m just…an…anxious…person?”

            Wow. Real convincing. Of course, it was true but he was hiding something else behind that twitching perma–grin. He wasn’t this jumpy before.

            Oh, wait. Weren’t you guys like, cuddling before?

            More like one-sided coddling but whatever.

            Did it make him less anxious when he did that? You had no qualms about the contact really, just hated being in the dark about things. You were soulmates so you felt comfortable, plus you really weren’t planning on…anything past this point so if all you could do was live for him than you would.

            Might as well be useful, right? Why die when you could live happily with your fated one. That’s why you hadn’t thrown a fit at the off-kilter Sans bringing you to his house. You would pry eventually but now wasn’t the time. You two just met, of course, he's nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Being stuck with someone you might come to despise was a scary thing to think about. Though, usually, soulmates were made to be together so that wouldn’t happen.

            Still. Understandable. You just acted so casually cus’ you had nothing to care about. As long as you were having a good time it didn’t matter to you the specifics. And you were a nurturing person, so naturally, you wanted to help Sans through whatever was plaguing him, because it was something big.

            You could tell when something dark was taking over a mind.

            Even if nobody was there for you in your darkness, you still had compassion. Sans needed you, so you would stay with him. And because you were soulmates he literally couldn’t hurt you without feeling drastically terrible. Soulmates were made to love one another–so a situation would rarely rise where either would become violent with their partner.

            Especially since when one person dies the other goes right along because of the grief. Tragically romantic, you guess. Anyways, you didn’t care. You didn’t have a will to live a few hours ago so really nothing was going to faze you.

            Definitely not normal logic, but you couldn’t care less. Once you aren’t afraid of death nothing is really scary anymore. 

            A thought helpful in situations like this.

            With a big stretch, you lifted your arms and spread them wide, before turning and hugging Sans. He instantly froze, and you wondered if your intuition was wrong. When you went to retract he responded to the embrace by squeezing you to him.

            You felt your soul shudder happily. Despite how weird the situation was it felt right. It was obviously the soulmate thing. But who were you to complain? It felt great to trust someone so wholeheartedly without really knowing them.

            The power of fate you guess.

            “THE GREAT PAPYRUS HAS FINISHED!”

 

 

****

 

            Papyrus knew what he did.

            Sans could feel his sins crawling on his back.

            Thankfully Papyrus didn’t say anything else about it, besides pointedly making sure Sans knew he was disappointed.

            Even still a persistent thought gnawed at his skull, chipping away at his guilt. He had done nothing wrong. There was nothing wrong with what he did. And Papyrus would understand, Sans just had to show him the right point of view. All he did was make it so everyone knew you were his–

            “Papyrus this is super yummy!” Sans snapped out of his thoughts at the sound of your voice, watching you take another bite of dinner. Happiness stirred his bones knowing that you got along with his brother. The whole scene looking like a family dinner.

            “OF COURSE! NOTHING LESS FROM THE GREAT PAPYRUS!!! NYEH HEH HEH!!!” Sans had already finished, just staying at the table to watch over you. Seeing you eating made him happy.

            It seems Papyrus has forgotten about the marking for now. Probably distracted by the prospect of a new friend.

            Sans watched as you had seconds, then thirds. At this point he was confused. How hungry were you? His brother’s food wasn’t that good, though much more edible than before. Never had he seen someone eat so much of it at once.

            “WOWIE!!! YOU MUST REALLY LOVE MY SPAGHETTI!!!” Sans didn’t want to say anything because Papyrus was practically bursting in joy from you scarfing more food down, never seeing someone eat so much of his cooking.

            After a bit you finally stopped eating, taking a big gulp of water than letting out a satisfied sigh. You looked very content. Sans realized he had been staring the whole time and wondered if you noticed. 

            “Thank you so much for the dinner, Papyrus. I thoroughly enjoyed it.” You complimented sincerely, smiling gently. Sans loved how you treated his brother so kindly, yet not patronizingly.

            “YOU’RE VERY WELCOME TINY HUMAN.” Papyrus was glowing. Sans hadn’t seen him this happy in a while. Sans soul pulsed from your presence, eye lights flickering. It was because you were there, wasn’t it? You just made everything better. It wasn’t even a biased opinion or a justification for his actions. It was just the truth.

            Sans felt a part of himself pull away from that contentment into guilt. For some reason, a piece of his mind still felt guilty...?

            That wasn’t guilt. What was it? It wasn’t nice. It felt like his emotions were ripping him apart, tightening the strings of his mind until they strangled him. Didn’t he already decide what he did was necessary? Why was he feeling so weird now?

            “Sans? Can you hear me?”

            “huh?” Sans saw you giving him a concerned gaze, Papyrus now in the kitchen doing the dishes. “oh, uh, ya. just got uh…lost in my thoughts.” Your voice managed to stop his spiral, the worry making him unintentionally happy. You cared about him! You were worried!

            “Oh, okay. Just making sure because I wanted to ask a favor?” His soulmate looked hesitant, fiddling their fingers. Sans felt himself chuckle mentally while he nodded. He’d do any favor you asked of him. He’d do anything for you.

            “Could you walk me home? I’d feel more safe with you there since it’s already night and–”

            “home?” Sans slacked his shoulders. But your home was here. He tried to keep his voice even but felt his ribs constricting in a desperate attempt for comfort. His soul went haywire in his chest and he struggled to keep his magic under control. It's been harder to after gaining LOVE. “why?”

            “Um, yeah. I have some things I need to take care of…if you can’t do it it’s fine, I’ll just go by myself.”

            Sans wavered, thoughts hurdling through his skull.

            “…things to take care of…”

            “Mhm. It’s nothing big and I’ll make sure to be back tomorrow.” You grinned so brightly at him, the promise lingering in the air until it fell on deaf ears. Sans mind was louder than your words at this point.

            Did that mean you still wanted to…

            He thought it was better now? Is that not how it worked? Shouldn’t you feel as happy as him to find a soulmate? Why were you still considering this? He noticed your soul brightening earlier when you hugged him. That had to mean something.

            he wasn’t being paranoid…he was  n  o  t

             “h–how about ya just crash here for the night, ya know, safer that way…?” Sans couldn’t keep his voice box level, nerves shaking his spine. You were fine, and you weren’t going to do anything rash. He knew that. Your soul reflected that now.

            But…but he…he couldn’t…why couldn’t…

            “Thank you for the offer. But I really do need to take care of something important. I really can’t wait until tomorrow.”

            “why?”

            Steady. Keep steady. Don’t think too much. It isn’t what he thinks. He’s being paranoid, you just need to do work or something.

            “Look, I just–I’ll be back tomorrow okay? I’m going to go help Papyrus before I go.” You gave him a weak smile before heading to the kitchen where Papyrus was washing the dishes.

            Why wouldn’t you tell him?

            Are you hiding something?

            Are you being threatened? Maybe Sans wasn’t paying enough attention? Were you giving him cues to not let you go home? Of course, you wouldn’t want to leave. Why would you when you seem so happy? You were so unhappy before so why did you want to leave? He could–he could do so much more than any other human. Did you live with someone?  Why won’t you tell him? You are soulmates, right?! Sans was not being unreasonable. He wasn’t being paranoid. He was fine. You were obviously in need of his help. You probably couldn’t tell him or somebody would hurt you, right? That only made sense, since you were soulmates. you’re probably so scared and he needs to  h e l p––

            “Bye Papyrus, thank you so much for the dinner.”

            “BE SAFE TINY HUMAN!!”

            “Of course. And, Sans? I’ll be back tomorrow. I’ll see you then.”

            no…this was…this is what happened before…everything was repeating…the car will come and hit you…and he will have to see your soul shatter and give up and you die and bleed and he won’t be able to reset this time a n d dd  a  n d a  n   d   a  n d  d . . -

            Gory purple reflected off of the wood table.

           

 

****

 

 

            You were nervous to leave, wondering if Sans would make you stay. He’s kind of unstable, to be frank. He seemed like a great guy, today probably just didn’t do him well. Something else was definitely going on besides this, though. Perhaps you could discuss some boundaries later.

            After helping Papyrus and bidding them both goodbye you were surprised by the lack of protest from Sans. With a mental shrug, you opened the door and waved one more time and–

            Oh.

            You couldn’t move. How…quaint.

            Your field of vision was large enough to see that your body was covered in some weird murky purple color. It must be what was holding you still.

            “S–SANS? WHY Is your magic so…” For the first time today you heard Papyrus waver in his words, voice lowering to a hesitant murmur. Wait, so it was Sans?

            “…heh…” You felt a tug on your chest before flying across the room and into a familiar jacket. Heart beating from the shock you tried to wriggle out of the binds holding you. After calming a bit, you recalled it was Sans.

            “S–SANS! PLEASE UNHAND THE SMALL HUMAN SO THEY MAY RETURN HOME.” Okay, you were now the small human instead of tiny. Guess it was better. You should probably be focused on the more concerning thing happening right now.

            Sans tensed against you. You were about to struggle again before comfort abruptly washed over you. Sleepiness hung in your mind, clouding your thoughts and reason.

            “…no…”

            “SANS! THEY HAVE IMPORTANT BUSINESS TO ATTEND TO! MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHY IS YOUR MAGIC SO WEIRD???”

            So it wasn’t normal? Ugh, focus was really needed right now but your brain was just refusing to cooperate. The topic probably is really important but you could also really go for a nap right about now. And you were so warm and comfy…

             “s’ not weird.”

            “YES, SANS, IT IS. YOUR MAGIC IS SUPPOSED TO BE BLUE. MONSTER MAGIC DOESN’T JUST CHANGE COLOR!”

            Ugh, so loud. How were you supposed to sleep in this racket?

             “SANS YOUR SMILE IS REALLY CREEPY RIGHT NOW. PLEASE JUST LET THE HUMAN RETURN HOME AND WE CAN TALK ABOUT THIS WITH ALPHYS. SHE’LL KNOW WHAT TO DO.”

            Ouch. Could you tap out of a hug? It was getting really suffocating. Too tired to move though, so you would just have to deal with it. At that thought Sans picked you up, holding you how he did when he first brought you here.

             “SANS! YOU ARE DOING THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I TOLD YOU!”

            It was very comfy.

            “SANS STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW!”

            You yawned, eyes closing.

             “SANS! I AM CALLING ALPHYS–”

            …

            And it was quiet.

            You heard Papyrus still but it was very echoed. You struggled to open your eyes to see where you were.

             “shhhhh…we’re in my room. you’re safe. just go to sleep. i’ll be right here.”

            That was your soulmate. Your soul happily curled into the warmth that was radiating from the skeleton, causing you to do the same. You were too sleepy to protest. Maybe just a quick nap wouldn’t hurt.

            “there ya’ go, sweetheart.”

            You sank into a mattress, still curled into the warmth. A blanket was draped over the both of you, and all light in the room blinked out.

            A strange buzzing whispered from the back of your mind. You tried to keep your mind awake to understand it.

            It felt like a fly was zipping around in your brain.

            Didn’t matter, you were too tired to stay awake anyways so sleep muffled out the weird noise.

            “i’ll protect you, so just sleep tight.” Sans voice was the last thing you heard before falling asleep, the buzzing becoming increasingly urgent while you did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

            You woke up. You had to pee. And, you needed to leave.

            While getting up, two iron–gripped arms brought you back down, pulling you closer to their chest. You figured you were in Sans room, fell asleep most likely while he was talking to you or something.

            Anyways, you really had to go to the bathroom, but you had a large skeleton cuddling you and that was blocking the way.

            With a hefty sigh, you pushed up again, only to be pulled back into the embrace. Okay, you had to be smarter about this. Strategically grabbing a pillow from under your head, you quickly used that as a body double so you could escape.

            Surprise, it worked. Sans was now cuddling a pillow and you were free to go to the bathroom…wherever it was. It was quite late outside, you noticed. Careful not to wake the skeleton up you gently tiptoed to the door, shutting it behind you softly.

            Nice. Mission accomplished.

            Oddly enough, you weren’t really bothered by the fact that Sans was practically spooning you while you slept. It was probably the soulmate bond, but honestly, who cared?

            You didn’t, that’s for sure.

            After walking carefully in the dark hall you immediately noticed the bathroom, the opened door letting you confirm that it was one. Why did skeletons need a bathroom…? You shrugged it off, quickly taking care of your business and then washing your hands. While washing them many thoughts slit through your mind, a reminder of the mistake that could be made if you waited too long. How many days do you have left to retract your plan? A small amount, since they should be showing up sometime this week. 

            You met your own eyes in the mirror, seeing a worn out person grimacing back. Ugh, you really needed your meds and you needed to 'cancel' everything before it was too late. You thought about sneaking out to go get them while Sans was asleep but quickly realized that was a bad idea. Poor guy was freaked out enough as is, probably an anxious guy in general. Plus, you were his soulmate, so you should take care of him. One more night wouldn't hurt–they shouldn't show up yet.

            And you’d be fine without your medication for a while. Despite that though, the blurring of your vision and the slight wobble in your step hinted otherwise. You decided to stable yourself before heading back to the room, washing your face and grounding yourself. It would alarm him seeing you collapse with a nosebleed on the floor.

            With a long sigh, you thought about getting them after all. You should probably tell Sans what was wrong so he’d get it for you, or just let you go home.

            Right, he did kind of force you to stay, didn’t he? Your tired mind really didn’t remember much except him using his magic on you and then bringing you both to his room.

            Maybe he wasn’t good at being alone...? But he had Papyrus, right? There had to be a reason why he wanted you to stay so badly. Was it because of the almost accident? Did he have separation anxiety or something? Really, you just wanted to know so you could help him and yourself.

            THUNK.

            You jumped a bit at the sudden sound. You were going to brush it off until you heard a blood–curdling scream.

            What happened!? You rushed out the door ready to run toward the sound. Ah, you moved too fast, and everything was spinning now.

            “s w e e t h e a r t ! ?

            Well, that’s less than ideal. You needed to hurry back before he lost his shit. As you moved you continued to teeter, darkness crawling into your peripheral before almost completely taking over.

            Another door slammed open in the house, and you heard footsteps before feeling yourself being picked up by a much taller being. You blearily blinked, wondering when you got onto the floor. You really needed those meds. “P–Papyrus?” You managed to stutter out, seeing the glowing beads of sweat start to trickle down the skeletons face. The panic on his face didn’t soothe you, neither did the sound of crashing. “W–What’s–”

            “aaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAA

            What the hell. Okay, that was petrifying. It felt like the house shook with that screech of rage and panic.

            “Human,” Papyrus whispered, voice lower than you had ever heard it. “Why were you on the floor? And why are you so pale?” His tone was filled with concern, but there was an undertone of something else. What was he…scared of?

            You felt your hair begin rising as static developed in the hall, Papyrus now frozen still. After a second he quickly hurried in the direction of the chaos, cradling you very carefully. You felt like passing out but made yourself stay awake. Papyrus didn’t know why you were so faint, which made you realize why he was so scared. To monsters, you probably looked…quite ill.

            The tension in the air became suffocating until it was practically impossible to breathe. Finally blinking your eyes into focus, your own eyes widened at the sight.

            Sans was on the floor, clutching his skull so hard cracks left dents in it. Around him was absolute mayhem, items in the room smashing into walls, claw marks etched into the carpet. His eye sockets were empty and wide, jaw open and producing the most chilling screams you’d ever heard.

            You really wished you stayed in the bathroom. Or just didn't go in the first place.

            “SANS!” Papyrus yelled, holding you tighter. Your soul was buzzing in your chest, wanting to come out and comfort your suffering soulmate despite your mind wanting to get the hell out of there. What had happened while you were gone?!

            ...

            The mayhem halted.

            Sans slowly turned his head, a deep frown etched on his face with large blue tears to go with it. Before Sans could focus more on Papyrus his gaze dropped to you, pale and barely conscious in his brothers’ arms. With a flash, you were now enveloped in the blue jacket Sans always wore, completely tucked into the skeleton. His breathing was so quick and sharp, one eye light now illuminating the room in an abysmal, reddish purple.

            Your body rocked back and forth in his, letting him ride out the panic from before. Papyrus was on the other side of the room, wanting to step in and heal Sans but hesitant to disturb his brother. The items that were floating in the room all dropped at once. Sans gripped on to you tightly, whispering your name over and over neurotically.

            He murmured something about a nightmare, which you concluded was the cause of whatever this is.

            After time passed (hours? Minutes? You couldn’t tell) he gently pulled you away from him a bit just so he could see your face clearly. The two white pupils were back but were shrunk until they were barely pinpricks. They darted around quickly, checking you all over before his breathing picked up again.

            “paps…why…why are they so sick…?” His voice wavered, a slight cut of laughter behind it. “what happened…? why were…why, paps…” A strange look came over his face, casting a shadow over his skull. You felt he was getting the wrong idea.

            “m–medicine,” you choked out, scared despite yourself, “home, need meds.” Realization crossed Sans face, frown quirking upwards farther and farther. It’s rising disturbingly.

            “of course, doll, just tell me where.” The tone of his voice was fake, the strange gleam in his sockets staying. His sickly sweet tone is filled with so much desperation and panic. With a bit of a struggle, you got out your address, all the while trying to convince yourself everything was fine. 

            After you finished Papyrus rushed out of the room, the door of the house opening then slamming shut. You assumed he was going to go get your medicine–despite him not knowing what kind. Hopefully, he found it. The fear of what could happen to him sprouted but you convinced yourself they wouldn't show up yet, Papyrus would be fine. He was only getting your medicine. With that, a sigh of relief left your lips, and relaxation made your body become limp. Sans soul radiated with so many emotions that you became dizzy.

            “i thought you were gone.” Sans deep voice echoed in the room, his body once again curling around you completely. His phalanges dug into your skin slightly from his tight hold. You whimpered instinctually, not meaning to do so. Sans immediately loosened his grip, a disturbed chuckle following shortly after. “why did you leave?”

            “Bathroom.” You muttered, ignoring his sharp breathing and concerning actions. He had some serious issues that were becoming more and more apparent as time went on. “I started to…get sick in the hallway.”

            “why? why are you sick? why is your HP dropping? why is your soul dulling? why are you so detached? are you going to leave me? are you dying? please don’t die. please don’t leave me p  lea se d on’t please d o n t pp  l   e aa  s ee–!

            Sans was spiraling and you didn’t know what to do. What were you supposed to do? This situation was so foreign, yet you wanted to help him so badly due to the bond. It was ridiculous, you barely knew the guy but the stupid bond made it seem like you'd known each other for years. And although you were weak right now, you felt a spark of something you hadn’t felt in a long time. “Sans! I’m not…I’m not going anywhere,” you leaned further into his ribcage, “I just have a condition, and I need medication for it.” You wanted to say more but your throat clenched, a strangled cough coming out instead.

            “…condition? like, anemic or something?”

            You nodded. Close enough.

            A strange noise came from Sans chest, and it reminded you of a growl. Was he growling? “Sans?”

            “…fragile and not safe–can’t go–can’t leave or…or death and can’t do that no no can’t i’ll dust i’ll skin i’ll generate genocide i’ll protect have to protect–so small–can’t leave–can’t survive–everyone’s evil everyone’s filth compared just them and me just us just us nobody else–” His mumbling was barely clear, sentences broken and jumbled.

            The things you did hear were concerning, to say the least. The situation was getting more and more out of hand, and you were at a loss of how to remedy it. How were you supposed to know going to the bathroom would cause this?! God, could you ever get a break?

            Sans just kept talking under his breath, words making less and less sense. The hug he had you in was becoming constricting–like confinement instead of an embrace. What the hell was wrong with him? You didn’t want to be mean or rush him, but it was kind of really affecting you.

            Seriously, how long have monsters been on the surface? Not that long, but long enough for Sans to know that his train of thought is reaching paranoia. Had Papyrus dealt with this before? It was hard to tell. He seemed just as shocked as you when seeing Sans like that; self-destructing. Speaking of,

            “Sans, your skull?” You swallowed, his droning halting. Like just remembering you were there, a warm and comforting smile fell across his face.

            “i–it’s fine. get it patched up in, uh, no time.” Sans had ended the sentence there, but many words were said afterward in an echo. One eyelight lit up with a red surrounded by blue, the other purely red, casting that purple light you were becoming accustomed too.

            Sans continued to speak once more, now cradling you and comforting you. As if you were the one fraught. “e–everything’s going to be o–okay. paps is getting your m–medicine and will be back any second now.”

            It was really funny how his words were directed at you but were purely to reassure himself. You let him continue anyway. Ride out whatever kind of anxiety attack he’s experiencing.

            A coughing fit hit. You weren’t worried the slightest–since you know your symptoms and that you would be fine. First coughing, then usually a nosebleed and then you pass out. Sometimes you coughed up blood if you kept doing it for too long, but that didn’t happen very often. These symptoms were only acting up because you skipped your dose yesterday...and the day before...and the day before that. Why couldn't he have found you like, a week ago?

            Really, everything was aligned into the worst-case scenario very quickly. And now, with Sans eye sockets widening in complete panic, you really wished you told him about your sickness earlier. You just kind of forgot. It wasn’t lethal in any sense of the word, just was physically draining. It happens because of a weird condition revolving around a vitamin your body lacks–you take supplements for it, and it is the medicine that Papyrus is now retrieving.

            More annoying than damaging, but Sans obviously didn’t know that. You wanted to sigh in forbearance. Nothing ever worked out for you, huh? Hopefully, Papyrus got back before Sans got anymore worked up than he already was. “what’s happening? why-why is–your HP is dropping––why is–it’s poisoned–karma? no not that–sick–will be fine will be just fine–” Yikes, he really wasn’t doing well. Okay, now what? What could possibly remedy this situation?

            You were hoping Papyrus would ironically come in with your treatment right as you thought that. He didn’t. Damn it. At least you stopped coughing up your lungs. Maybe now Sans would finally calm down. It was flattering how much he cared but at the same time concerning due to how quickly he became attached to you. Maybe it was his personality? The soulmate bond?

            …maybe. You should ask Papyrus. Whenever he decides to show up. The whole irony thing wasn’t working in your favor because Papyrus still hadn’t come back.

            How far away was your house from here? Actually, you didn’t even know where the hell you were. You sniffed, almost chuckling from your own stupidity. If Sans wasn’t your soulmate you totally would’ve been some random, idiotic murder victim. To be honest, you wouldn’t have cared, but whatever. Another sniff. Sleepiness crept into your mind, derailing your analytical thoughts into odd daydreams. It wasn’t warm and abrupt like the past few times you fell asleep. You wiped your nose, continuing to sniff to your own annoyance.

            Sans chuckled shakily at your incessant sniffling, and you plugged your nose hoping he wouldn’t notice the incoming blood. Perhaps it’d be a light one this time.

            Why did that work with the nosebleed and not with Papyrus? God–how unlucky were you? You jinxed it completely.

            A tickle in your throat tempted you to give in–but right now you were trying to keep Sans calm. The poor guy was suffering so much and trying to keep it in as to not worry his brother or you. You barely know him, and yet, it feels like you’d met many times before. You were determined to help him, and if that meant comforting him every once and a while, then so be it. Even if you were kind of scared. But who wasn't scared of the unknown?

            At that thought a tense feeling grasped your soul, holding it to the emotions you keep steady. A glow lit your chest–tinted a mint green. It intensified briefly before dissipating quickly after.

            “doll? your soul is calling out.” 

             Sans breath hitched, the arms around you twitching sporadically. You didn’t really know what it meant, but he sounded happy about. Scratch that. He was elated. In the midst of his sudden happiness, you let go of your nose, hoping it had clumped while you had been holding it. With a tilt of the head, the question of what it meant silently carried across.

            “it means that you accept me as your soulmate! it means that we can–we can solidify the bond! it means i did it! you’re safe and right here and you accept me!” Sans perpetual grin lifted into an honest smile, eye sockets closing slightly in joy. They flickered into hearts again, which was a rather cute quirk.

            Wait a second. Did you really have a choice to reject him when you met?

            Would you have done it?

            …

            You wondered if you really had never met him before. A feeling in your heart told you that you’d known each other for so much longer. But that didn’t make sense in the slightest. Maybe in a past life you were close. Who knows, really?

            “i could confirm it right now–” Your eyes went to watch Sans, a creeping dread willing itself into your mind as his smile became…disturbed. “i could–i could do it right now–and you would accept because you already accept me–and–and why wait because i need to protect you and i need to know where and how and all about you and feel–feel that attachment and be happy–i could do it–i could do it and you wouldn’t say no because you wouldn’t know how to–i could–i could–”

            Okay, you were officially off board with this idea. What the actual fuck is going on in his head? Whatever he’s going on about is making your stomach churn. A bad feeling now pinched your gut. And where the fuck was Papyrus?! You were starting to become worried–more so than you were before. Now wriggling in his grip to escape, the nosebleed to intensified and spilled down your face.

            “Hey calm down–” You said, only to be silenced by his hyperventilating. Oh god, what now? You squeaked (an embarrassing sound) when you were pulled out of the cradled hold and were now sitting in front of Sans. With a few bleary blinks, his flickering colored eye light became apparent. Oh boy, what’s wrong now? For a good few moments he just stared, and you wondered if maybe he was just going to go find Papyrus. Sans smile dropped completely.

            You are filled with discomfort.

             “s  w  e  e  t  h  e  a  r  t?”

            It’s a tone so small, so fragile, yet powerful enough to echo and rebound in your mind. The endearing nickname sent shivers of fright down your spine. What did you get yourself into? You were literally having a nosebleed. That was it. And yet here he was looking at you like you were about to drop dead.

             “ha…haha…”

            Well, that definitely wasn’t a good laugh. Yikes. Despite wanting to move to hug him, run away, do anything at all, the grip he held on your arms kept you firmly planted. You couldn’t even try to hide the nosebleed. Had Sans really never seen one before? They were pretty common.

            “I’m fine,” You said, “it’s normal.” Yet, even with that, it didn’t look like your words reached him at all.

            “ha…haha…hahahahaha…”

            God, you wanted to flick him right on the forehead. Snap him out of whatever he’s thinking–because it obviously wasn’t well. Did the cracks in his skull make it worse? You seriously couldn’t tell. Talking seemed like a bad idea since any more use might cause too much dryness in your throat. Instead, you sighed in frustration. With that your chest glowed again, slightly dimmer but still visible. After a few seconds, it was gone.

            “heh–heh. i have no choice, do i? i have to do it to keep you safe–it’s not wrong it’s fine–the world wants me too–everyone wants me too–it’s right it’s perfectly fine i’m not doing anything wrong–”

            While speaking through deranged chuckles, Sans leaned forward, pushing you to the floor and crouching over you. He hovered over you, hands on either side of your head and boxing you in.

            “i can–everything will be so much better–just let me–i’ll be good please just let me–just accept it please i need to–how–i’ll care for you–i need to protect you–everything wants to kill you and i can p r o t e c t  you from it and n ob ody will e  VE   R H U   RT  YO U

            A slam of a door interrupted him.

            Oh thank god–it was Papyrus.

            You wanted to scream because if anybody could snap Sans out of it, it would be his brother. So scream you did.

            You screeched as loud as you could, catching Sans off guard and causing the slow moving of the footsteps downstairs to speed up significantly. Sans looked at you with furrowed brow bones (how he did that you didn’t know) before grinning crookedly.

            “don’t worry, i’ll protect you.” He cooed, brushing your hair with his phalanges. He’s out of his mind, you decided. You squirmed with wide eyes, finding no words to describe the emotions stirring inside of your soul. With your nerves shot, and symptoms still creeping in, the whole thing felt like a terrible nightmare.

            “I HAVE RETRIEVED THE SUPPLEMENTS!” Papyrus walked into the room and saw the position you were in. Sans hovered over you with a magic sporadically lashing out and a crazed expression, and you with blood trickling down your face and panic in your eyes. Poor guy looked so confused.

            A strange atmosphere settled. Seriously, Papyrus was definitely going to get the wrong idea. Despite the hostility radiating from Sans, Papyrus carefully stepped forward, glove outstretched with the bottle in it. He walked so carefully, as though approaching a wild animal–which wasn’t too far from the truth at this point, with Sans snarling threateningly.

            “SANS! UNHAND THE HUMAN! THEY LOOK…Very distressed.” Papyrus lowered his voice at the end noticing Sans protectively twist further around you. “Please, Sans.” The slight reprimanding tone seemed to get through to some part of the older brother, as he carefully moved off of you. The moment of relief was brief when he just picked you up once again, hiding you in his jacket and tucking your face into his neck.

            Papyrus sighed in relief before stepping forward again, making sure his movements were slow and deliberate. The situation was comical at this point. Despite how strange Sans was acting, Papyrus, though unsettled, didn’t look completely surprised. From what you know this wasn’t normal behavior. Maybe it was a skeleton thing? Or a Sans thing?

            You just wanted your meds and to go to bed. This was ridiculous.

            Papyrus quickly tossed the bottle, and Sans caught it easily before studying it. He read through the label, before looking into the ingredients and directions. Why? You really didn’t know. The lid popped up with a click! and Sans quickly poured out your dose into his hands. You tilted your head and opened your mouth slightly, just enough so he could drop the medicine in there.

            He continued brushing your hair with his fingers, eyes half-lidded and chest rumbling soothingly. After a few moments, you had successfully taken it. Sans whispered to you small words of praise and encouragement, telling you how strong you are and how brave you were. At this point, you didn’t have the energy to fight it. A wave of exhaustion hit you.

            You were too tired to do anything now–the sleepiness was abrupt–just letting whatever warmth was lulling you to sleep do its thing. You’d tell Sans off in the morning–along with asking a lot of questions you wanted to be answered.

  

 

****

  

-F–Frisk! Y–y–you pick–ked u–up!

-Alphys? What’s wrong?

-P–papyrus c–called me. S–something’s wrong w–with S–Sans.

 

            Frisk sighed, rubbing their furrowed eyebrows. It had only been one day. One. Couldn’t this happen later? Frisk thought they had more time to think of a plan to handle him. They had an inkling to what Alphys was going to say but decided to play dumb.

 

-What is it?

-H–his–Undyne!!

 

            After some shuffling, Frisk heard a loud battle cry.

 

-HEY PUNK! Papyrus said that Sans magic shade CHANGED!

 

            Frisk breathed in deeply. Okay, talking to Undyne was easier than Alphys at least. 

 

-That’s weird.

-YEAH, IT IS!

 

            After some more shuffling and scolding, the timid voice of the reptile monster came back on.

 

-A–apparently S–sans found his s–s–soulmate, s–so we t–think it has something to d–do with that.

-Yeah, Sans already told me. I told mom too.

-O–oh! Well, t–then maybe y–you can c–come with us to c–check on S–S–Sans?

 

            Frisk didn’t want to go at all. But how could they say no? Obviously, Frisk’s friends were nervous and wanted them to be there. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as Frisk thought it to be.

 

-Okay, when?

 

            With a crash and a loud ‘NGAAAHHHHH!’ the door came tumbling down, an angry fish monster with an eyepatch barreled into the room. Frisk should have expected that. With another sigh, they called out to their mom that they were leaving with Undyne and Alphys.

            After hearing the okay from the goat mother, Undyne scooped up Frisk with her free arm (other one holding Alphys) and began bolting down the street. At least Frisk didn’t have to run this time.

            “I–I brought a s–soul reader to check Sans stats to see if any significant change has occurred. It could perhaps be some kind of side effect from the soulmate bond because there is really no way to gain new magic b–besides…” As Alphys spoke more about the process she became more confident, only to slow down once hesitation slipped in.

            “HEY! Cheer up Alphys! Sans probably is just being a weirdo!” Undyne shouted as she ran, passerby’s shooting strange and amused looks in their direction. Frisk didn’t speak up, knowing the truth.

            “M–maybe…b–but I’d never heard the c–case of a monster’s magic changing color before, even when gaining LV and EXP. It should be impossible due to the status of the magic and the permanence of it when born.”

            Frisk wondered if they should say anything. Alphys was smart, so she would figure it out soon enough. Frisk had only caught a glimpse of Sans…endeavor, so even they didn’t know how much LV he had gained. His magic changed color? Frisk really hoped it wasn’t as bad as it sounds.

            “…it can’t be that.” Frisk heard Alphys mutter, a spike of alarm shining in her eyes. She was already connecting the dots.

            Finally, they stepped in front of the skeleton brother’s house. It was exactly the same as the one underground. After Undyne let them down and adjusting their hair, Frisk quickly situated their sweater and knocked politely on the door.

            “NGAAAHHHH!!!!”

            And the door has been kicked down.

            “Ack!” A small yelp was heard from the kitchen before a person peaked from their hiding spot. Great, they scared you. That was obviously Sans soulmate. And where his soulmate was…

            “sweetheart!? w–what’s wrong? what happened? are you okay?” Said skeleton blipped next to you, checking for any sign of hurt with constricted eye lights. After you managed to convince Sans you were fine, he finally noticed the perpetrators in his home.

            “HEY PUNK! YOU SANS SOULMATE??” Undyne shouted, pointing at them aggressively. No, Undyne, you should not do that so threateningly. Alphys tried to calm Undyne down from her interrogating, noticing the restricting heaviness that fell over the room.

            Sans quickly adjusted himself so he was in front of his soulmate, eye lights flickering out. Great, his instincts were triggered. Way to go, Undyne. Frisk stepped forward in testing, only to freeze when Sans’s magic hummed menacingly.

            “S–Sans, we a–aren’t here to h–hurt them. J–just wanted t–to meet them.” Alphys almost begged after Undyne also picked up on the territorial stance Sans took. Despite that, Undyne still walked toward the kitchen.

            “Yo, Sans, chill out–”

            Alphys gasped in disbelief. Frisk's eyes widened. Wavering in front of him were jumbled stats while Sans eye lit up with his normal blue, only now the blue surrounded a red pupil. They saw Undyne’s stats briefly flicker too, before disappearing along with Sans’s.

            “Did you just…threaten me?” Undyne’s jaw was slack, good eye studying Sans cautiously. Frisk’s stomach churned. This was much worse than they thought. Thankfully you piped up before he snapped.

            “Sans, it’s fine. Papyrus said they were coming, right? And you said they’re friends. They are just confused and want to meet me.” Frisk watched as Sans eye lights began trembling back to normal, observing you tugging on his jacket sleeve like a kid wanting attention from their parent. You then pulled him toward you, whispering something to him. Frisk now noticed how tired and shaken you looked. The air was much more breathable all of a sudden.

            Sans now looked apologetic, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. “sorry, Undyne, scared me s’ all,” He stuck his hands in his pockets, rocking back and forth a bit. “rattled my bones, heh.”

            That was a terrible joke, but Frisk snorted anyways. It was a sign he was back to himself. For now, “our fault anyway, anybody would be startled if someone booted their door down.” Frisk glanced sideways at Undyne.

            “YOU PUNK! Don’t throw ME under the bus.” With a huff, Undyne took a large step back. “Whatever. I’ll try NOT to be AWESOME next time.” Alphys gave a shaky apologetic smile.

            Frisk turned to you, watching carefully. Until they could get Sans away from you for at least a few hours they wouldn’t be able to test your souls or ask you any questions.

            You gave your name, smiling brightly without prejudice. Alphys timidly did the same, flinching when Undyne shouted hers proudly. Frisk gently voiced their name, still keeping an attentive eye on Sans. Frisk would have to talk some sense into him.

            “Hey, where’s Papyrus!!!??? He invited us and isn’t even here???” Undyne basically pouted, crossing her arms. It was obvious that she felt wary of the current skeleton present.

            “went out. was abdomen–t about preparing his hospitality spaghetti.” Sans winked while shrugging. Frisk could practically hear Papyrus screaming in rage. You, on the other hand, were now cackling unapologetically.

            “Oh my god.” You snickered. Frisk could see the way Sans lit up with joy at your smile.

            “heh. what, it tickled your funny–bone?

            “Pppffttttt….” You tried to cover your mouth, snorting at the terrible pun. “I didn’t know skeletons had a tendon–cy to make puns.”

            Sans now looked at you with shock, before laughing loudly. Undyne groaned obnoxiously, Alphys hiding her own snickers.

            Frisk was honestly so done.

            “Come on!” You began protesting when Sans continued to laugh at the pun, unable to stop your own giggling at his reaction. “You’ve got tibia kidding me! It wasn’t that humerous. It seems I’ve made a grave mistake.” You, Alphys, and Sans were laughing, you constantly throwing out more and more puns. Frisk was impressed by how many you managed to come up with.

             “s–stop! heh–I can’t!” Sans was doubled over.

            “What, don’t have the stomach for more?”

            The more puns that came from your mouth, the more Frisk wanted to slam their head into a wall. Especially with you and Sans now punning it out. But, who was Frisk kidding, it was pretty funny. Maybe it’ll be easier to get you alone than Frisk had thought, Sans seemed much less guarded now. It probably only happened because you were startled.

            Yet, they had a terrible feeling.

 

            ...

 

            Frisk was filled with discomfort.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

            Sans remembered waking up in a panic.

            A night terror had jolted him from his sleep, the image of your mangled body screaming for him jarring his soul. He got nightmares often, and usually, it was manageable because he was so used to them.

            They were never so realistic, though. But it was fine. Because you were right next to him. He could comfort his own distressed state. Sans had you now. Whenever you were around him all the negative feelings melted away. With a relieved grin he rolled over and went to wrap an arm around you, to feel your soft skin and revel in your actuality.

            …

            Oh.

            “s w e e t h e a r t ! ?

            Magic buzzed and lashed out from his soul, panic set in before any rationality could make it through. Sans only felt the terror of your disappearance, and coupled with the bloody images and screams from the dream, his mind quickly became disturbed. You were gone. Did he dream everything? No, he had you. He knew he did. He saved you. He–he gained the power to stop it because that was all he could do. But you were gone now. And–

            Oh no. Oh no oh no. oh no no no n on ono non onono

            “aaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAA

            Was that not a nightmare? No. No. No, he was–you were–there was no way. No way. He just got you–he did everything he was supposed to do. He went against morals and his own sense of conviction because he knew it would work.

            What took you? Who took you?

            Sans would kill them. He didn’t care who it was. Rip them apart piece by piece. Stuff their mouth full of their own intestines just so they could suffer as he did. He gripped his head to rid the images of your death, fighting for the sense of rationality he knew was there but couldn’t reach.  

 

            blo  od and  d  ust an d mang  led s ouls

 

            A subconscious part of him realized you were indeed alive, because of the intactness of his own soul–but the rest wallowed in hate and despair. The world was against him. The world was against you. A sharp pain made him lose his breath, stemming from a stinging in his skull. Sans didn’t care. He clawed at himself, trying to find any type of comfort. He shoved his hand into his eye socket, yanking down on the bottom of it. He needed more pain. Distract himself.

            The cracks in Sans skull spread as he clutched his head, hoping to block out the thoughts in his mind. And while partaking in the spiraling thoughts into insanity–

            “SANS!

            brother! With a sharp turn of his head, Sans quickly prepared to ask of your whereabouts before looking down. Instinctively Sans had shortcut you to him, pulling you as close to him as he could. Sans was relieved. Your name fell from his teeth, repeating over and over as he reassured himself through his own tears. You were safe! You were alive. It was just a dream. A nightmare. Sans continued to whisper to himself, holding you and letting his magic fizzle out. With him. Safe. Right where you belong. The dream wasn’t real. You didn’t die.

            As he looked over you, basking in your sheer beauty and angelic being, the paleness now greying your skin tone made him shudder.

            “paps…why…why are they so sick…?” His voice wavered, trying to hold back a disbelieving laugh. “what happened…? why were…why, paps…” Sans unfocused, a surge of betrayal washing over him so fast darkness took his features.

            “M–medicine,” you said, chest rasping unhealthily, “home, need meds.” Sans let his tense form relax. Oh, it was just medicine. Papyrus would never betray him. Why did he even think that? He only ever trusted Papyrus–and now you–fully.

            “of course, doll, just tell me where.” You voiced your address, and he tried to keep a calm and happy tone. Sans didn’t want you to worry. You were already so weak and scared. He held you tighter at that thought, vowing to keep you shielded. Papyrus had rushed out of the room, caring about you so much that he ran. Sans felt happy at that because Papyrus loved you so much already! He wouldn’t have run if he didn’t. Everything was falling into place for the perfect family.

            But, you were sick. And you disappeared. Right after he dreamed of your death. Right when he was comforted and everything felt perfect.

            “i thought you were gone,” Sans said, cuddling you further into his body. He was glad that monsters were generally larger than humans, especially him and his brother. Being this size made it so much easier to hide you from the world. Protect you from everyone. From the filth. From everything because everything w ant  ed to h  u rt yo o u–

            A small sound left your lips, and he quickly loosened his grip. Sans chuckled a bit, hoping to brush off his slight lack of control over his strength. 

            “why did you leave?” Before he could even begin to think, you had answered.

            “Bathroom.” You explained softly, “I started to…get sick in the hallway.” Sans wanted to relax, wanted to think everything was okay. But it wasn’t. You just left to the bathroom and you already look like this. Could he ever leave you alone? Why were you so sick in the first place? You were so fragile, so precious and–and–

            The panic set in when your stats flickered in his mind.

            “why? why are you sick? why is your HP dropping? why is your soul dulling? why are you so detached? are you going to leave me? are you dying? please don’t die. please don’t leave me p  lea se d on’t please d o n t pp  l   e aa  s ee–!” It was too late. Before he could rope himself back to reality overwhelming emotions drowned his sensibility out. It was fine. This just meant he had to be more careful. But that was fine. As long as you’re here. As long as…as long as you can…

            Is it lethal? Panic heaved in his ribcage, soul stuttering.

            “Sans! I’m not…I’m not going anywhere,” you leaned further into his ribcage, “I just have a condition, and I need medication for it.” You then coughed harshly, a grimace tainting your lovely face.

            “…condition? like, anemic or something?”

            Without hesitation, you nodded.

            h–heh…that’s…that’s not good. you were so fragile already. Your words were meant to bring him comfort, but he wanted to comfort you. You had unnaturally low HP, and it wavered at the midpoint of it too. Like you were constantly impaired. So easy to hurt. So easy to kill. Sans felt his nature prompting. “…fragile and not safe–can’t go–can’t leave or…or death and can’t do that no no can’t i’ll dust i’ll skin i’ll generate genocide i’ll protect have to protect–so small–can’t leave–can’t survive–everyone’s evil everyone’s filth compared just them and me just us just us nobody else–” He didn’t know if he was speaking aloud or not, but couldn’t care at the moment while he figured out how to protect you.

            He curled you further into him, making sure that every angle of you was guarded. What could he trust? Would the bed hurt you? Would the walls close in and crush you into bits of flesh and blood? and what could he do but watch as everything kills you but he can’t reset anymore? he can’t. there are no more do-overs and he’s so deep in that he can’t let you die. you will not die. he won’t l e t y o u–

            “Sans, your skull?” Your voice shook him from his thoughts, a warm fuzzy feeling soothing him. Sans smiled gently, wanting to quell your worry. You cared so much for him, worried about him despite your own troubles.

            “i–it’s fine. get it patched up in, uh, no time.” The way you cared for him sparked a delusional idea in his mind. You were literally an angel. He had an angel as a soulmate–a gift the world does not deserve, pure and innocent and deserving of everything. Sans magic pulsed at thoughts of you being put down. Of others bullying you. Disgusting. All of them. Your family too. Everyone around you before you met him was revolting. Obviously, or else why would you have been in such a state of mind when he met you? His poor angel lost and alone in a world full of evil. But now their guardian was here, and he could now shield them from all that seeks to harm them.

            “e–everything’s going to be o–okay. paps is getting your m–medicine and will be back any second now.” Sans made sure to comfort you in a reassuring voice, hoping that would relax your worries. He didn’t want you to feel anything other than happiness, and he would see to it that it happened.

            Sans thought you were feeling better but your hacking warned him once more. This time it was continuous, panic now in your eyes that faced him. His own eyes widened, magic flaring from the emotions raging in his soul. “what’s happening? why-why is–your soul is–why is–it’s poisoned–karma? no not that–sick–will be fine will be just fine–” Some weird human contaminated you, most likely. Now you are sick because people are poison. It only made sense. But you will be fine. Because he was here and he would be with you forever.

            After a bit, you stopped coughing, to his relief. Instead, you sniffed, looking annoyed at your own nose. He chuckled a bit at that, still having not learned all about humans yet. You looked adorable with the slight pout on your lips. Then you plugged your nose, still pouting so cutely. Sans just wanted to lock you away and make sure nothing ever contaminated you. A dangerous thought, so he derailed that notion. While thinking to himself, your chest flickered a light that reflected your soul, lighting up the walls of his room briefly.

            “doll? your soul is calling out.” 

            His breathing hitched, what would be his stomach filled with butterflies. You looked so endearingly confused.

            “it means that you accept me as your soulmate! it means that we can–we can solidify the bond! it means i did it! you’re safe and right here and you accept me!” Sans perpetual grin lifted into an honest smile, eye sockets closing slightly in joy. He was absolutely elated! He absolutely loved you! The thought surprised him, but not badly so. Of course, he would love you. He’d known you for so long now–despite only recently speaking to you. You were soulmates and perfect for one another, and now he had you. Heh…he…had you. Breathing now shaky, the urge rose and rose till it practically suffocated him.

            “i could confirm it right now–” Sans realized slowly, grin expanding at the wonderful thought. “i could–i could do it right now–and you would accept because you already accept me–and–and why wait because i need to protect you and i need to know where and how and all about you and feel–feel that attachment and be happy–i could do it–i could do it and you wouldn’t say no because you wouldn’t know how to–i could–i could–”

            The buzzing excitement in his bones encouraged him. Why would you say no? Who cares if it’s early? You were going to spend the rest of your life with him so might as well do it now.

            “Hey calm down–” You said, blood rolling down your face.

            What.

            Why are you bleeding? Why are you ble ee d ing??¿?!

            His breathing picked up, now holding you in front of him. Sans stared, making sure he wasn’t dreaming. He blinked.

            The grin fell.

             “s  w  e  e  t  h  e  a  r  t?”

            No this was…this was just a test. Why else would you just start to bleed? It didn’t make sense. It’s not how humans worked.

            “ha…haha…”

            Of course, this wasn’t real. It was wrong. This was wrong. This whole situation was wrong. It wasn’t right. Nothing was going the way he wanted. Why are you so weak? Who made you this way? How dare they make you so fragile!? Sans thought he heard your voice, but the thoughts in his own head drowned it out. As the thoughts grew louder and louder, they began sounding from outside of his mind. Voices were telling him of the horrors of your life. How much you needed him and wanted him.

            “ha…haha…hahahahaha…”

            You love him! Yeah! The thought lingered in his mind–the idea solidified by the whisperings of those he couldn’t recognize. It sounded like him, but unlike him. Were those thoughts and words even his? He seriously couldn’t tell. It didn’t matter. He was fine. He was holding you and you were safe.

           …what about when he lets you go? If you were out of his sight, how would he find where you were? Sure, he could call, but a bond would allow him to always know where you are. You would always be safe. With him.

            alone.

            Wait, no. That wasn’t right–

            do it right now they’ll die if you don’t

            It was his own thoughts…perhaps. Was it? What was going on? Sans couldn’t explain the feeling that rose in him, only able to briefly grasp onto the fading part of his mind. It was a terrible time for memories to hit. Memories from different timelines in his head muddled together, the cracks in his skull stung as if affecting the stability of his mind. Because along with you dead, now Papyrus was dusted too. Those he loved dead because he wasn’t careful enough. Guilt urged him to do it right, to do whatever it took to protect his brother and soulmate. But guilt was a double-edged sword, stabbing him at the thoughts of the innocents he took along with the scum.

            Just having you there wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough. he needed–he needed you. He needed to feel your soul, to feel some kind of faith that what he had done was right. He had no other choice than to kill them.

            “heh–heh. i have no choice, do i? i have to do it to keep you safe–it’s not wrong it’s fine–the world wants me too–everyone wants me too–it’s right it’s perfectly fine i’m not doing anything wrong–” Sans tried to laugh it off, that everything that was happening was normal. His soul now guiding his body, blinking at the position he was now in.

            You looked scared. What were you scared of? Was it the people from your life? He could deal with them–if it would make you better. He wanted you to be happy. He would do anything for you. And that would be so much easier if he could bond with you. Then he would understand your emotions better. And could carry out punishment to those who deserved it. He was the judge, right? He saw stats abnormally well, better than anyone underground. It was why he was the judge–and it was meant to be that way. So it was right for him to decide the fate of the wicked, right?

            You just had to let him in. You just needed to accept him and everything would be perfect. He would take care of everything. Nobody would bother you ever again.

            “i can–everything will be so much better–just let me–i’ll be good please just let me–just accept it please i need to–how–i’ll care for you–i need to protect you–everything wants to kill you and i can p r o t e c t  you from it and nob ody w ill eV  ER  HU  R T Y OU

            A slam of a door snapped him out of it.

            He was about to go see who it was, but then you screeched. Oh, you were so scared. Your precious eyes closed in panic at the thought of someone invading their home. Sans smiled widely, running his phalanges through your hair to comfort you.

            “don’t worry, i’ll protect you,” Sans promised. Your wide eyes met his while you shook in terror. You were so scared of everything. Poor doll, it was probably for the best that he kept you away from others for a while. And that was fine because he didn’t mind.

            “I HAVE RETRIEVED THE SUPPLEMENTS!” Sans tensed, mind searching for who the voice belonged to. Rage at the prospect of those unfamiliar in his territory faded quickly when his eyes cleared. It was Papyrus, of course. His brother looked confused, holding a bottle and standing at a distance, respecting Sans space.

            Papyrus then stepped forward, causing Sans to unintentionally become hostile. He never remembered being so…animalistic. Even Sans himself didn’t know where these reactions were stemming from.

            “SANS! UNHAND THE HUMAN! THEY LOOK…Very distressed.” Papyrus said threateningly, making Sans shield his human with his body. “Please, Sans.” Wherever the previous thought came from had let up, leaving the scolding look of his brother. Oh, you had to take the medicine, Papyrus was only looking out for you.

            Of course, what made him think otherwise?

            Sans gently moved off of you and brought you back into a cradle, making sure you were flush against him where it was safe. After offering him the bottle Papyrus tossed it to Sans. Before giving it to you he read over everything, checking up on all ingredients and dosage. He didn’t trust it wasn’t tampered with. A thought that the doctors were poisoning you reared its head.

            He blinked, before shaking his head. That was ridiculous. He popped the lid off and helped you take it, petting you softly to help you. When you swallowed it pride flushed his cheeks, now speaking words of praise. You were so strong. You were so brave and perfect and innocent–

            With another deep breath, Sans stood slowly with you in his arms. He adjusted you in his arms so you could both sleep comfortably.

            Chills crawled up his spine.

            Papyrus was looking at him oddly, a sense of knowing, yet heavy with worry and concern. Sans didn’t really know what to do with his brother’s unnatural seriousness. A stern stare filled with something akin to judgment, but without the condemning edge. Sans used his magic soothe you into sleep, tucking you in right next to him and lovingly cupping your cheek. Lingering longer than normal, he turned back to Papyrus. It was obvious Papyrus had something to say.

            “they’re asleep,” Sans confirmed, so Papyrus would not feel the need to remain silent. It was, of course, his magic causing you to sleep suddenly so often. You needed rest.

            “I KNOW, SANS. I SAW YOU DO IT.” Sans couldn’t pinpoint what exactly he meant. It wasn’t too strange that he knew about his different types of magic. There was something else Papyrus had on his mind. The echo of his words faded out, leaving only silence.

            Papyrus’s grin dropped.

            “SANS, ALLOW ME TO TELL YOU ABOUT SOME COMPLEX FEELINGS.”

            Those words were hauntingly familiar.

            “THE JOY OF FINDING ANOTHER PASTA LOVER, THE ADMIRATION FOR ANOTHER’S PUZZLE-SOLVING SKILLS. THE DESIRE TO HAVE A COOL, SMART PERSON THINK YOU ARE COOL.”

            Memories of timelines shook his core. Why were these words being spoken to him? The taste of dust was at the tip of his tongue, something akin to PTSD raising his heart rate.

            “THESE FEELINGS…THEY MUST BE WHAT YOU ARE FEELING RIGHT NOW. I CAN HARDLY IMAGINE WHAT IT MUST FEEL LIKE TO FEEL THAT WAY.”

            No. No. No this is all wrong. Why was he looking at him so kindly, yet so full of sadness?

            “AFTER ALL, I AM VERY GREAT. I DON’T EVER WONDER WHAT LONELINESS FEELS LIKE.”

            Stop. He wanted Papyrus to stop. The words were changing. He didn’t know what to do–didn’t know what to say. Dread pulled his eye lights into darkness. Sans expected more, looking away in a strange sense of foreboding.

            “I CAN’T EXPLAIN WHY I FEEL THIS WAY.”

            Papyrus was speaking fluidly, face downcast in sorrow. His shoulders hunched over along with his vertebrae, crossing his arms over his chest.

            “YET, I FEEL…LIKE YOUR LIFE IS GOING DOWN A DANGEROUS PATH.”

            Did Papyrus know? Not of the timelines, but perhaps of those souls he had consumed. He couldn’t figure out which thought scared him more.

            “HOWever…” Papyrus lowered his voice, a jittering sound echoing from his bones. Sans wanted to comfort him but knew these words were now directed at him“I know you are my brother and have always been ALMOST as great as THE GREAT PAPYRUS!”

            “I JUST THINK YOU ARE…IN Need of some guidance. Someone needs to keep you on the STRAIGHT AND NARROW! AND…and…”

            Sans wanted to throw up. His brother he so adored was crying, orange tears dripping onto the ground. Sans quickly stood and stepped forward, flinching when his brother stepped backward. Sans shook, phalanges fluttering at his sides like foreign objects he couldn’t control.

            “BROTHER, I DO NOT FEAR YOU.”

            Relief.

            “BUT I FEAR OF YOUR…CHOICES. I BELIEVE YOU C–CAN DO A LITTLE BETTER…E–even if you don’t think so…” Papyrus now opened his arms with a shaky smile, “Let me heal you, brother.”

            Sans sobbed, falling into his brother who held him in a tight hug. The warm buzzing of Papyrus’s healing magic comforted him, and he emptied his thoughts hoping somehow that Papyrus could fix it.

            “i–i don’t know why this–this feeling is here. i can’t control it! i can’t…” He swallowed, “i didn’t mean to…i just couldn’t let them…i couldn’t let them die!” Validation was hard to grasp as killing wasn’t justified. Yet it was. Something was happening to him, and briefly, he was aware of all the things he was doing and thinking were deranged parts of him.

            “IT’S OKAY, SANS. I UNDERSTAND.” Papyrus continued to heal him, Sans swearing he could hear a murmured ‘why would you do this to yourself’ under Papyrus’s breath. After a few seconds of Sans crying pitifully, Papyrus lifted him and straightened his shoulders. “AND THAT IS WHY I HAVE CALLED ALPHYS TO COME OVER TOMORROW.”

            Sans wanted to protest, but couldn’t find the energy to. Maybe Alphys could figure out why his soul pulsed so instinctively. But then again, his stats and magic…

            “YOU ARE NOT GETTING OUT OF IT! I WILL HAVE ALPHYS CHECK UP ON _________ AS WELL TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE BETTER.”

            Sans nodded, watching Papyrus smile triumphantly with a small ‘nyeh!’. With a pat on the head, Papyrus swooped Sans up and tucked him under the covers next to you.

            “but what about–”

            “NO BUTS! GO TO SLEEP.”

            Sans smiled slightly, warmth heating his ribs. Papyrus patted his head once more and pretended to kiss him on the forehead with a loud ‘MWAH!’. After a good night and a wave, Papyrus closed the door and left the room in total darkness.

            Sans turned around and cuddled up to you, wrapping his arms around your waist and tucked his head into your neck. With a deep breath of your scent serenity left him exhausted. Sleep was needed. He wouldn’t be able to think clearly right now, so he would just enjoy your presence and rest for tomorrow.

            “night, paps,” Sans said, melancholy delivering the sentence. Because Papyrus knew and still believed in him.

            Would Alphys be the same?

            Sans hugged you tightly, his pulsing soul finally resting in his chest at the close contact. And with another sigh of content, he closed his eyes and slept.

            …

 

            You stayed in his arms, so his dreams bloomed with wonder and hope.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

            “NGAAAHHHH!!!!”

            “Ack!” You yelped loudly, almost dropping the plates. You were cleaning the dishes when the door was kicked down. After the initial ‘what the fuck’ you realized that these monsters were probably the skeleton brother’s friends. Peaking behind the counter, you studied the weird group which consisted of a giant fish woman (who kicked down the door) with striking red hair, a small yellow dinosaur, and a human child wearing a striped sweater.

            Oh! That was the monster ambassador. Before you could gather your thoughts in reply, a swoosh of magic sounded next to your ear.

            “sweetheart!? w–what’s wrong? what happened? are you okay?” You went to nag him for being overprotective but decided not to. Sans seemed satisfied after looking you over for any type of injuries. Once you managed to convince him you were fine, he turned to the three visitors.

            “HEY PUNK! YOU SANS SOULMATE??” The brash fish woman shouted, pointing at you aggressively.

            Well, okay, then.

            ....and the air was harder to breathe. Oh, great. Now you had to deal with Sans and a walking talking sea–creature.

            Defeated, you just let Sans move in front of you protectively. You noticed the kid take a step forward and freeze once pressure weighed down the room. Could you shake him out of it? What approach should you take?

            Ugh. It was too early for this shit.

            “S–Sans, we a–aren’t here to h–hurt them. J–just wanted t–to meet them.” It seemed at least one of them had a lick of sense. Sans was obviously not happy with the whole ‘kicking the door down and shouting’ thing. Everything should be fine as long as the fish woman stays back and calms down.

            “Yo, Sans, chill out–”

            Nope. Okay, that’s great. Sure, take a giant step toward the jittery skeleton who obviously is very anxious right now. A blurry box appeared in front of Sans and her, Sans’s flickering with ever–changing numbers while the fish woman’s numbers were static.

            You blinked and it was gone. Did you imagine that?

            “Did you just…threaten me?” Nope. Okay, now was the time to diffuse the situation as even you could feel static start to tickle the nape of your neck.

            “Sans, it’s fine. Papyrus said they were coming, right? And you said they’re friends. They are just confused and want to meet me.” When he didn’t respond fully you began tugging on his sleeve, annoyed at his stature and your inability to yank him by the ear.

            When Sans finally budged you quickly moved so you could whisper to him. “Don’t be afraid, if anything happens I know you can protect me.” You figured that was something he might want to hear, especially after last night. Yeah, you still needed to have a serious talk about that. You had woken up locked in a hug, and it took a long time to wake up the bag of bones. Since you had so much time to just lay and think, you managed to wrap your head around some of the things that went down. Also, time to think of a plan to make it home before they arrived at your house.

            “sorry, Undyne, scared me s’ all,” Sans stuck his hands in his pockets, rocking back and forth a bit. “rattled my bones, heh.” The brown haired kid snorted, rolling their eyes.

            “Our fault anyways, anybody would be startled if someone booted their door down.” The kid glanced sideways at whom you now knew as Undyne.

            “YOU PUNK! Don’t throw ME under the bus.” You rose a brow because it was definitely her fault in the first place. Who was going to fix the door? “Whatever. I’ll try NOT to be AWESOME next time.”

            Please try.

            After introducing yourself you finally learned of the shy reptilian and the kids' name. Of course, Undyne had shouted hers proudly but you already knew it from before. You kept close to Sans so he knew you were still there.

            “Hey, where’s Papyrus!!!??? He invited us and isn’t even here???” Undyne whined, eye not covered by eyepatch shifting around.

            “went out. was abdomen–t about preparing his hospitality spaghetti.”

            What. That was hilarious. You snickered, the irony of a skeleton making skeleton puns was too good.

            “heh. what, it tickled your funny–bone?”

            “Pppffttttt….” You tried to cover your mouth, snorting at the terrible pun. “I didn’t know skeletons had a tendon–cy to make puns.”

            Sans broke down laughing and you smiled in triumph. You were very proud of that one. Perfect timing and execution. Masterful comedy. Undyne groaned, which really only spurred you on at this point. “Come on!” You giggled at Sans laughter, “you’ve got tibia kidding me! It wasn’t that humerous. It seems I’ve made a grave mistake.”

            Sand kept laughing and laughing as you spouted more and more jokes. You kept telling one after another, briefly smiling gently at getting to see his real smile. This seemed like who he was, a pun-loving skeleton. “s–stop! heh–I can’t!”

            “What, don’t have the stomach for more?”

            You were now in a full-on pun war, much to Frisk's despair as you could see them motioning a gun to their head. Alphys was giggling with Undyne screaming through her own laughter in fake rage. The normality of everything haunted you. It reminded you that Sans wasn’t in a good place, but also that he wasn't always like this. Undyne, Alphys, and Frisk had seemed so caught off guard by his behavior, which meant it wasn’t normal. 

            How could you help without even knowing the cause? Or even really what it was? Your soul pulsed with your thoughts, empathy shrouding your rationality. Sans was in need of some professional help. Unless that was a one time thing–and it really didn’t seem like it would be. Maybe this Alphys could do something? She was wearing a lab coat.

            You wished you could rip your soul out and forget about Sans being your soulmate for just a second. That way these weird emotions wouldn’t be changing how you would normally approach these kinds of situations. Well, whatever this situation was, it didn’t seem very safe. What did you know, though? Everyone seems fine now so maybe it really was a fluke.

            …

            It wasn’t.

            After the whole ordeal passed everyone went into the living room to wait for Papyrus. You followed along beside Sans, letting him hold your hand even though it hurt. Iron grip much? Besides, you wanted to get to know these people, and that was hard with an oversized bodyguard attached at the hip.

            “S–so Sans, P–Papyrus told y–you we were c–coming, right?” Alphys spoke up timidly, her shyness leaving stutters in her words. You found it cute because she obviously contrasted Undyne so much. Undyne boasted like five seconds ago about their romantic escapades, so you knew they were girlfriends. And soulmates. You were aching to pry.

            “uh, yeah.” Sans sat down at the farthest end of the couch, and Frisk sat next to him. Undyne and Alphys had taken the love seat so you just sat on the other end.

            Or not. Somehow you got yourself cuddled again. “Sans, could you stop teleporting without telling me first? It makes me dizzy.” You said. No, you weren’t embarrassed by him literally hiding you in his jacket, and you weren’t embarrassed by your lack of ability to escape either.

            You were annoyed because teleporting made you shaky. And it gave you a heart attack every time. It’s very jarring when there is no warning beforehand. Sans immediately apologized, asking frantically if you were okay. Again, you had to say you were fine, peeking through the fluff of his coat to see everyone else in the room staring at the display with a mix of expressions. Frisk looked indifferently at your struggle, while Undyne and Alphys were staring at each other with shit-eating grins.

            Great.

            “So, uh, Sans,” at the mention of his name the skeleton looked up, “How long have you known about the tiny brat?”

            The fuck did she just call you!? Papyrus you could take calling you tiny, but she wasn't even that tall! And she called you a brat! You were not afraid to square up right here and now. Before Sans could even reply to the stupid amphibian you began unzipping his jacket to escape with anger lingering in your gaze.

            Undyne looked at you in a patronizing, yet amused way, watching you struggle to escape from Sans. “Oi! Let me at her!” You gritted your teeth and flailed your arms, wanting Sans to let you sock her in the jaw.

            “uh, doll, calm down–” With a ‘hmph!’ you hopped out of Sans grip by wriggling around like a bug, glad his stature was big so you could slip out of his hold more easily. Without giving him time to teleport you back you stood up in front of Undyne.

            “You know what? You can’t just come in here and call me the brat! You kicked the door you-you–you crazy fish bitch!”

            While you stood there fuming, expecting an equally angry response from Undyne, she instead smiled proudly at you. “Hey, you got a bit of bite to ya’ twerp! I like you! Got some spunk!” She laughed heartily, grinning with her sharp teeth.

            The anger from before faded slightly into exasperation. Talking to you like an old friend. How could she change moods so fast, brushing your valid anger off completely? Whatever. Who cares? You don’t. Who cares if she broke down the door. Who cares if she insulted you. Because she said she liked you it was all just fine and dandy. Oh, you wanted so badly to take her to a sushi restaurant right about now.

            Yet, your anger deflated, and a small frown replaced the grimace on your face. Really, whatever. Who cared what she thought, right? Who cared? It didn't matter. Whatever she thinks doesn't matter because she would eat her words if you–Oh shit, you tried to stop your thoughts from going down that path, trying to find the anger you had just felt before, that had made you feel so alive. Come on, brain, not now. And yet, the slight semblance of lively emotions was dulling.

            Now you were just grasping at straws, feeling like an eternity passed as you stared at Undyne, even though only a few seconds had passed. “Hey, lighten up kid!” Undyne grinned widely, “I was kidding around, see if you had any backbone!” With that, she gave you a pat on the back.  Well, more of a freaking shove because of how freaking strong she was. You lurched forward a bit, coughing, recognizing the gesture as a friendly thing people do. She was too strong to pat people on the back though–because jeez that hurt.

            A sharpened bone whizzed past you both, just missing Undyne’s temple. The ‘whoosh’ sound echoed in your mind. Mouth slightly ajar, you slowly glanced to the side, not moving a muscle.

            Undyne was wide-eyed before that look was replaced by anger and confusion. “Sans, what the hell was that!? You could have IMPALED my HEAD!” You recognize that suffocating feeling. Alphys looked surprisingly frustrated with Undyne, glaring at her in scolding. In return, she got a shrug and a sigh. The hell were they communicating?

            “Sans–” You saw Frisk get up and move towards the figure in your peripheral, taking slow and cautious steps. You turned around fully just in time to see the brown haired kid fly across the room and into a wall, it cracking with the impact.

            “SANS WHAT THE HELL!” This time Undyne screeched, quickly gathering herself and standing in a fighting stance, only to pale dramatically. You faced the direction she was facing, now seeing what had caused her fiery attitude to completely dissipate. 

            Sans grin was frozen. His expression completely blank, eye sockets void of any light. The pressure in the room was sourcing from him, murky purple static gathering as well. His body was slightly hunched, and hand now in his eye socket yanking down on it violently. You glanced quickly to make sure Undyne and Alphys were still there, finding Undyne still standing strong yet wavering, and Alphys shuffling around for something in her lab coat. You hoped whatever it was that it would help.

 

h o w   d a r e   y o u

 

            Okay–this was your cue to get the hell out of there. Without thinking rationally, you bolted to the door, hoping to get out of the crossfire of whatever was about to go down. It was stupid because you felt your whole body paralyze before you could even move two steps.

            You blinked, a wave of nausea flooding over you before clearing. With your now clear vision, you could now see you were in Sans room. “Did he teleport me again?” You groaned, before realizing that yes, he did just teleport you out of there. While he was freaking out.

            With people he obviously was capable of hurting.

            ..

            Well, shit.

            

****

 

 

            Sans felt he was doing a really good job keeping his cool, despite you having squirmed out of his arms in anger. He would have stopped you was it not for your soul lighting up with the emotion. It made your soul brighter. It made him proud to see you standing up for yourself and talk back to Undyne. He chuckled seeing her caught slightly off guard before grinning. She had taken a liking to you, obviously. Who wouldn’t? Right now he could feel the kid’s gaze on him, drilling a hole in his skull. In return Sans rose a brow bone, questioning them. Frisk only grimaced in return, gaze filled with grim anticipation.

            Did they know something he did not?

            “Hey, lighten up kid!” Undyne grinned widely, “I was kidding around, see if you had any backbone!” Sans tuned back in quickly realizing he had gotten distracted. The lazy grin ever present on his face as he watched you get along with his…friends…

            ... 

            no

            Did Undyne just…hurt you?

            no

            That can’t be right. Undyne wouldn’t hurt you. Why would she? She knew you were his soulmate so why…?

            no

            “Sans, what the hell was that!? You could have IMPALED my HEAD!”

            no

            “Sans–”

            Something touched him, but he couldn’t recognize what it was.

            “SANS WHAT THE HELL!” 

            He didn’t like yelling. He didn’t like hostility.

            And yet–

h o w   d a r e   y o u

 

            Sans was losing control of his body. Instincts took over once his brain stopped reacting fast enough, the hesitation making his soul vibrate aggressively. His vision blurred, everything echoing around him as he tried to make out what was happening.

            Everything was tinted purple. He hated it. He hated it. he hated it he hated it he hated it he hated it he hatedithehatedithatedithatehatehatehatehate–

            You were running away. You were scared, weren’t you? But it was okay because he would protect you. He won’t let these strangers get in the way.

            home

            Now you were safe.

            in his territory. safe. safe. away from danger. the danger. danger.

            Sans looked up at the blurry silhouettes.

            Who were they? He swore he knew who they were before.

            “S–Sans, p–p–please c–calm d–down! She w–was j–j–just being f–friendly.”

            i don’t recognize them

            “U–Undyne he i–isn’t r–r–responding.”

            why can’t i recognize them?

            “I–I think h–his a–a–animalistic t–tendencies a–are h–hindering his s–sensibility, p–p–probably his m–magic acting o–o–on its own a–accord.”

            they don't belong

            “SANS! What the HELL is WRONG with you?!”

            loud

            “U–Undyne! D–Don’t a–antagonize him! H–he isn’t h–himself right n–now.”

            annoying

            “He just HURT FRISK!”

            pests

            “J–Just…go g–get _________, t–they can c–calm him d–down.”


           
“AGH! Fine, whatever. Just…be careful!”

            this looks a little…

            “I–I will, p–please go g–g–get them quickly.”

            something was getting closer  it wasn’t stopping  why wasn’t it stopping?  no, stop, please. go away  you’re scaring me  stop coming closer

            A gust of air brushed past his hoodie, the figure moving past him at a pace he couldn’t pinpoint. Everything was in slow motion yet sped up. The figure was now going up the stairs. It was now turning. It was–

            stop…

            Didn’t stop.

            it’s going to…i’m going to be…

            Kept moving.

            please don’t get any closer…

            “S–Sans j–just listen t–to me for a q–quick s–second–”

            His foggy vision sharpened dramatically and narrowed, not sure what he was fighting. He just knew there was danger and that he needed to get rid of it. Memories were disappearing and being replaced by red splatters and mangled bodies. Numbers skirted across his mind, an upside down soul with cracks only pulled together by strings of dripping red. A stinging in his head helped him gather himself, a continuous yanking keeping him stable.

            Crack crunch crack

            Someone was calling his name, but he couldn’t decipher who it was. If he didn’t recognize the voice, and it was in his home, then it was a threat. Dizziness nipped at Sans skull, a weird echo from something falling through bouncing around. His mind was starting to clear. The more he clawed and scratched, the more he was aware. It was so much better. He needed to do it more. He needed more.

            “S–Sans! P–Please! S–Stop it r–r–right n–now–”

            Something cold touched him. It was so cold. Not warm at all. Not comforting. He hated it. It was uncomfortable and he needed it to go away.

            …

            Much better. Now he just needed to figure out what was happening.

            No, wait, he needed to stay still. Actually, he needed to move.

            No–he needed to be still. Something bad would happen if he moved.

            No, wait something would happen if he didn’t.

            a nice aroma…

            It reminded Sans of home. Was it his home? He went towards it since it could only be good.

            Oh, there it was. How nice. It was a nice, pretty mint green! How lovely. Sans wanted to hold it. This silhouette was much better and made him happy. He went to it and reached for it, wondering why it was starting to get farther away.

            Something was…blocking the pretty color. He hated it. He hated what was blocking it. he wanted it to die die die die die die die diediediediediediedie––––

            It’s gone. That’s wonderful! Sans didn’t know where it went but didn’t care. The pretty color got closer and closer, and he waited. He didn’t want to scare it away.

            …it hugged him.

            His jaw dropped open with a sickening–

            crack

            Sans broke out of it. Blinking a few times to ground himself, bones shaking and clicking together painfully. What just happened? Fear tugged at his mind while his soul was at peace.

            “Sans–what–WHY did you–?”

            He lifted his hand to his skull to rub away the pain.

            “U–Undyne, don’t g–g–get any closer. _-_______, S–Step back.”

            Oh, it was Undyne and Alphys. Why were they whispering like that? It was like they were scared…of him…?

            …his skull…was...

            “L–Let me s–s–subdue his m–magic t–t–temporarily.”

            Did he do this to himself? It stung. It hurt really badly. He looked up, expecting to see you still right in front of him. But you were so far away. Did he scare you? H–He wasn’t scary! He just had more magic than he thought! You were just going to misunderstand–he needed you to stay so he could tell you why this was happening. But Undyne was taking you away, keeping him from explaining himself. Sans felt his mind start to slip again, so he quickly pulled you toward him telekinetically before he would snap.

            Sans enveloped you fully, shakily falling to the ground with you after his knees gave out. Sans was too stressed to read you right now but didn’t care as much for you began smoothing down the fluff on his hoodie. “Hey, I’ll be with you the whole time Alphys does this, okay? She told me this would really help you.” Your beautiful voice was so relieving to hear that he didn’t even register what you said. Sans felt so happy and content, mind cloudy and empty; a stinging reminding him of his injury. He wondered briefly if that was affecting him.

            “Just look at me, okay? Let me tell you a funny story from when I was younger.” You smiled so sweetly at him, and he only nodded in return. Of course Sans would listen to you. You were so focused on him and it made him feel so special. “So if you feel weird, just keep focusing on me. It’ll only be for a little bit.”

            Sans nodded, giddy from your attention.

 

 

 

            “Okay, so, when I was ten I thought it would be a great idea to climb a tree with my hands behind my back…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

            “O–Okay, t–t–this should k–k–keep him a–asleep until w–we heal him,” Alphys said, her tail shifting behind her nervously. You let Papyrus take Sans into his room, laying him onto the bed. Papyruses hands began to glow a vibrant orange, mending the cracks in Sans skull. Fear lingered in your heart, but it wasn’t because of what just happened.

            After gathering yourself you quickly explained to Undyne and Alphys that you hadn’t been able to leave the house, and wanted to return to your apartment and pack. “I promise I’ll come straight back here, I just need all my personal items before I can stay here longer.” The two nodded at you, before letting you borrow an advanced GPS that Alphys had designed.

            It was shaped like a watch but instead of the time, there’s a map and directions stemming from your location. “J–Just input y–you’re a–a–address.” Alphys smiled slightly. You tried to ignore Undyne’s piercing stare. With another promise of return, you left the house, quickly inputting your address.

            Your apartment was about a twenty-minute walk, which made sense when remembering how long it took Papyrus to get back. He was faster because of his long legs.

            The whole time you traveled the fear and anxiety built as you hoped to whatever being of higher power that they hadn’t beat you to your house.

            With that thought, you started running. Not even stopping to breathe you made it to the run down apartment building, hurrying up the rickety stairs before stopping in front of your door. It was unlocked–like you had left it. So Papyrus didn’t lock it, either.

            Shaking off the thought you peeked through after cracking the door open a bit, making sure the coast was clear. Once you decided it was you rushed into the room and straight for your room phone.

            A singular voicemail. “Shit,” you quickly looked around you and at the clean state of your apartment, then at the clock on the wall as it ticked past six. The panic came all at once before completely numbing as you realized your plans had to change.

            Stumbling to your room you quickly threw open the drawers until you found the stashed away gun, putting it on your bed before you began ripping up your clothes. With a deep breath, you rammed yourself into a wall a few times, bruises now littering your skin.

            “It’s not…enough,” you huffed, before looking to your closet with peered eyes. With a slight limp in your step, you walked over to it, before squeezing yourself behind it and knocking it over, the loud boom when it fell startling you.

            With another deep breath you walked over to your bed and began tearing at the covers, puncturing holes in the mattress and ripping at the sheets. You glanced to the badly papered walls and began ripping at that as well, the aging wood behind it now in full view.

            Satisfied with the dismal state of your room and clothes, you grabbed the gun once again and moved on to your living room and kitchen. You let the TV fall and the glass scattered across the floor. The table and couch followed suit as you broke a leg off the table and smashed the couch.

            The kitchen suffered the same fate. The cabinets all were opened now and you ripped a few doors off of them. The food you had kept stashed spilled to the floor unapologetically, the ice in the freezer following suit once you pushed the fridge over. “What else…?” You were exhausted, but you couldn’t stop.

            You grabbed a kitchen knife and began stabbing at your bedroom door, creating a hole in it and breaking the lock. You then kicked the bathroom door down and dumped all your medication out all over the floor. With a deep breath you pulled your fist back and punched the mirror, letting the glass stay in your skin.

            “Kktthh…” You inhaled sharply at the pain but did nothing to stop it–instead opting to rub the blood all over your clothes and in your hair. The gathered dust in certain areas of the house was now all over you.

            With another once-over of yourself, you smiled in confidence. “Yeah, I look like absolute shit.” You grinned, rushing back over to the yet to be destroyed home phone and called the police. When they picked up you immediately began sobbing hysterically–muffling your own cries as though trying to stay quiet.

            “T–They j–just busted in here–please, please help me–I–I don’t k–know why they’re–” Once the operator told you to stay calm and promised to send officers you crushed the phone and ripped the plug from the outlet.

            Now you just needed a bat. You turned and grabbed one from under your bed, thanking your past self for never throwing the metal thing out. With a gun in your right hand and bat in your left, you were ready.

            It would have been easier if you actually died, but you can’t do that now since Sans is relying on you. That’s why you had to do this. Real tears welled up in your eyes, but you quickly brushed them away. You couldn’t get emotional now. You had to stay determined. You had to finish what you started. You had to make it back safe.

            So once the eerily slow footsteps reached your ears you quickly positioned yourself behind where the door would open and held your breath. Only one thing in your plan changed–and that was you.

            The door opened, and the three voices you so loathed now filled your apartment. Before they could even begin to think you raised your bat and hit one over the head, doing the same to the second one before you acknowledged the gun pointed at your head.

            “Well, well. Look who’s all dressed up.” The man sneered, greasy hair and greedy smile still the same. His ugly posture still made you want to hurl. Tentatively you lowered your bat, knowing it was only him and you conscious. “Figured you’d try something like this. People always try to fight with fate.”

            You narrowed your eyes. “Fate, huh? I’m pretty sure fate has no human influence, because now that I think about it, I had a near death experience not too long ago,” with narrowed brows he looked at you quizzically, before widening briefly in shock. He quickly composed himself and smirked once again.

            “So he did follow my orders. Since you’re still here I’m guessing he just failed.” Now it was your turn to falter. The guy in the vehicle was part of this? Suddenly you really don’t feel bad about his death. “You must be pretty fast to outrun a car.”

            You glanced away for a brief second. He noticed it. “What, you didn’t run away?” The gun he held to your head now lowered, instead, he looked at you with intrigue. “You want to die or something?”

            With a shake of the head, you made eye contact, trying to keep a steady face. You needed him gone. Along with the other two in the room who were knocked out. With a sigh, you dropped your bat, turning to him slowly. “Look, I just want to be left alone.”

            “You know we can’t do that kid,” he jeered, “your parents aught a’ teach you the significance of consequences. Look at you! Pathetic. Can’t even end your life right.” His shit colored eyes lit up in amusement, taunting you.

            How were you supposed to know that it would cause this? You just loved going to that bakery–so when some hooligans barged in and started harassing the wonderful owner you had to do something. “Can’t let you off the hook, no matter how big or small the crime against our group. People like you are the reason monsters,” he spat venomously, “are still wandering around like they’re people too.”

            “They are more human than you!” You grit your teeth, hand tensing over the area where you hid your gun. You couldn’t kill somebody, but shooting him anywhere but the head will cause your death.

            Now he was pissed off. “I hate monster sympathizers like you. No respect for the world we built and created.” He closed his eyes, angry frown lifting into a sinister smile. “The world we want doesn’t fit with people like you in it.”

            He raised his gun, finger on the trigger.

            “So please, would you just disappear?”

            It was like time froze. You felt dread, unlike anything you had known before because it wasn’t just your life on the line. The feelings of fear and anger filled your soul. You didn’t want to die. You wanted to help Sans and get to know his friends. Acceptance was so close and yet that sense of belonging was ripped away by these wretched racists.

            All just because you were a compassionate person and wanted to protect those who had treated you equally. Yet these people couldn’t see past appearance and chose to lose that possibility of love. They go around killing.

            “Was it worth it?”

            His sins were so visible, and you knew even if you died, karma would tear him down.

            “Yes.”

            He smiled, “Pity.”

            Your soul lurched.

            The gun fired.

            ...

            You were…fine? You opened your eyes after realizing you had closed them. Blinking a few times, you noticed that the man that was once there was gone.

            But a sound echoed, the sound of a shrill scream and the sound of muscle and bone being torn repeated over and over. You turned around.

            And you saw his body mangled. He was alive, eyes gouged out and body twisted and bent in sickening ways–every bone in his body broken and shattered. Organs spilled from the begging conscious man. A giant dog-like skull with large canines materialized, and a beam of light blinding as the sun shot out from its opened jaw.

            Only blood and dust remained where the contorted body of the man had once been. 

            “…Sans?”

            You dropped the gun.

            “Sans!”

            You rushed forward, not caring about his monstrous appearance and blood splattered hoodie, nor the crazed look in his pupils and the unhinged smile. Only relief guided you when you ran to him and hugged him tightly.

            Sans was alive, and so were you. You didn’t fail. It’s finally over. He was dead–and the police would pick up the other unconscious ones. They hadn’t arrived yet but you knew it would be anytime now.

            “Sans we have to leave–we have to–” Your heart skipped a beat when the world bent around you, nausea hitting you like a truck before dissipating. You looked around you to see that you were in his room once again, only Papyrus wasn’t there.

            Two arms wrapped around you tightly, lifting you up into the large skeleton. You could hear his soul buzzing from where you were. His fingers were digging into your skin, but you were too relieved to notice.

            “I–I was so scared that you would–that you would die–” Despite yourself, you cried. You clutched onto his white shirt pathetically and when you realized he had sat down, you curled into a ball and stayed tucked into him. “I needed to p–protect you guys–and–and–!”

            Like a dam, all the emotions that had been locked away for years came flowing out. You sobbed into his shirt, babbling about your parents abandoning you and you brother kicking you out. You cried about the man and his group, how they hated monsters, and because you helped monsters they wanted you dead.

            You cried and cried. You let yourself go, you let the memories of numbness and planned death come out. You let your voice carry across your sorrow and plan of murderous suicide. How you would kill them and balance out the justness by killing yourself.

            The rivers of emotion continued. Sans only held you as you wailed pathetically, emotions across the years finally being acknowledged and handled. 

            The room, unlike how you remembered it, was tinted the murky purple of Sans magic. After a while of just sniffling you yawned, feeling Sans lift you both under the covers of his bed and hold you once more. You felt safe engulfed in his arms and surrounded by his magic. It made you feel that everything would be just fine.

            Though you were tired before, the new wave of absolute exhaustion came from nowhere and knocked you out immediately. And you thought you might have heard a whisper before you let the darkness take you.

            “i’m so sorry…”

 

 

****

 

            Sans blearily opened his eyes, everything tinted an ugly purple. The wall of protection that kept him sane had broken, letting the memories of before repeat over and over in an endless cycle of lost control.

            “SANS! YOU ARE AWAKE, THANK GOODNESS!” Papyrus cheered, optimism radiating from him. The warm orange magic soothed the pain, the cracks in his skull had mended leaving only the scars as a reminder. Emotions Sans couldn’t recognize suffocated him, an overwhelming guilt coming from somewhere he couldn’t identify.

            “S–Sans, w–while y–y–you were a–asleep,” The timid voice of the yellow reptilian voiced from the other side of the room, “I–I–I tested a s–sample of y–y–your magic.”

            Oh. She knew. She knew what he’s done. She wouldn’t understand, she would misunderstand and try to ‘fix’ him when he was not broken. Sure, his magic took over his mind, but that wouldn’t happen again…? Undyne was next to Alphys, staring at him with something close to pity yet hollowed in disbelief. Sans didn’t know what to do or say, wondering exactly what Alphys had found. Was it his stats? His LV? His EXP?

            “S–Sans, y–y–you have d–d–determination p–p–p–poisoning.” Her stutter increased with the incredulity of the fact. “Y–You h–have so much d–d–determination that y–y–your limit t–to your m–magic has been d–d–destroyed.”

            Undyne cast her eyes downwards when Alphys delivered the news, a knowing sadness in her gaze. What did she know? Why did Undyne look at him like that? It was just some extra magic. Nothing he couldn’t learn to handle.

            “I–I've never seen s–s–something like this b–b–before…” Alphys was tearful, looking to him for an explanation of something he didn’t know. “Y–Y–You have taken t–t–the souls of h–h–humans without a–a–absorbing them o–o–or b–becoming o–one with that h–h–human. It s–should be impossible since t–t–the power of o–o–one human soul h–h–has more determination t–than a monster c–c–can handle.”

            Sans felt a strange tugging on his soul, body jolting at the sensation. He remained too distracted by the conversation to find the source.

            “S–Sans, b–b–because y–you’ve done this, y–you h–have developed a s–s–separate conscious i–i–in that determination a–a–and o–o–overwhelming magic.”

            Sans felt something calling to him, but his mind was occupied on the information he was receiving. “uh, so…what’s the problem?” He said, narrowing his eyes in confusion. So he just has better instincts now? Obviously, his larger amount of magic contributed to his slight animalistic tendencies, but that only became an issue when threatened. What even is the issue here? Why did the two females look so distraught?

            “S–Sans, your m–m–magic will react w–w–with your soul. Y–Your soul doesn’t h–h–have common sense, it r–r–reacts to situations b–b–based on primitive e–e–emotions and instincts. The t–t–traits monsters h–h–have grown out of a–a–are showing in y–y–you, n–natures we had to have to s–s–survive in the m–much different past.”

            “what’s so bad about that?” Sans chuckled, expecting worse news. So when he doesn’t react fast enough his soul takes over with determination and magic. Isn't that awfully useful?

            “Sans, seriously! Just listen for a second!” Undyne stepped forward, “You just experienced what happened when your magic sensed danger that wasn’t actually there! You tried to ground yourself through self–destruction. What’s so bad about that? You could have killed me and Frisk!”

            …the memories were blurry. Sans recalled that had happened, but not why it did. It was because you were in danger, he was sure, but that was the only reasoning he could decipher. “it’s natural to want to protect somebody important to me, right?” Without realizing his thoughts were spoken aloud.

            Papyrus caught his attention when his phalanges wrapped around Sans’s. “SANS, YOU ARE FALSELY IDENTIFYING THE LEVEL OF DANGER. UNDYNE ONLY PAT THEM ON THE BACK TOO HARD, AND YOU REACTED IN SUCH A…VIOlent way…and it was scary to see you become a monster without a mind, guided only by magic and determination and feelings.”

            The words his friends speak make sense and his brother was providing good points as to what was bad. But what could Sans do? He was too far gone now. He couldn’t get rid of the magic that has built up in his soul, nor the determination that prevented his soul from shattering all those time before.  

            “it’s…it’s not my fault,” Sans gritted his teeth, “i-it’s not my fault! it’s not m y  f a u l t!” He grabbed his eye socket and yanked down on it to ground himself, before realizing what he had done. Sans…has lost control, hasn't he? The consequences of his LV increasing caused the magic to suppress his conscious mind. The determination held was intertwined so thoroughly in him that it kept his soul together, and made him able to consume souls without merging with them in the first place.

            “SANS, PLEASE, I–WE JUST WANT TO HELP YOU.” Papyrus placed his hand gently on Sans’s arm, pulling it away from Sans skull. Papyrus opened his mouth to say something but a sudden lurching in Sans chest caught his attention.

            Sans eyes widened as panic and dread flew through him, his soul buzzing out in worry. Magic began spilling from his eyes and static caused Undyne’s hair to rise. A realization came quickly, “doll?” His pupil darted in searching, an empty feeling setting off warning bells. “g–guys? why a–aren’t they here?”

            Alphys and Undyne looked alarmed and turned away, which only left Papyrus to try to explain where you went. “THEY HAD TO PACK STUFF FROM THEIR APARTMENT SO THEY COULD STAY HERE LONGER–”

            “oh.” Sans stilled.

            “THE HUMAN SHOULD BE BACK ANY SECOND, THOUGH THEY SEEM TO BE A BIT LATE.”

            You weren’t in the house.

            You weren’t in his room.

            You weren’t near him.

            And your soul was calling out in distress. A gut-wrenching dread partially triggered his teleportation magic. Sans felt like static, fading in and out of existence while anger almost caused him to lash out at his friends.

            “you let  m  y   h  u  m  a  n   L E A V E!?

            The little control he had managed to teleport him before instinctual actions set in. A passing thought of wringing the guts of Undyne and Alphys sent shivers up Sans spine, his soul reacting to the thought pleasantly while his mind countered in revulsion.

            The brief stutter in the void released pent-up magic and when he came too, he saw you. He saw you bloodied, dirty, and hurt. He saw a gun pointed at your head while your soul called out in distress. Sans reached out to your soul, and it responded.

            The gun fired, only hitting the wall, and he let his magic take over. The rage he felt was unfathomable, the thought of torturing someone and watching the bloody death of them used to make him nauseous. Now, as he ripped the organs out of the man’s body and gouged his eyes out, only joy was felt at avenging what had been done to his human. When he noticed you opening your eyes he summoned a gaster blaster, and it seemed much bigger than before.

            The bright beam of light completely turned the man to ash, and a sadistic smile spread across Sans face. He wanted to bring him back alive to kill him again. And again. And again and again and againand againandagainandagainandagainagainagainagainagain––

            “Sans!”

            He turned and saw you rushing toward him, arms wrapping around his torso tightly.

            “Sans we have to leave–we have to–”

            Teleporting back to his room, he brought you into his arms and hugged you as tightly as he could.

            “I–I was so scared that you would–that you would die–” Sans sat down as you began to sob, and you cur into a smaller shape and allow him to comfort you, “I needed to p–protect you guys–and–and–!”

            Then you told him everything.

            Sans listened.

            Listened to your sorrow and troubles, and your admirable actions. Your compassion dominated your soul, explaining the mint–green color (a mix of patience and kindness). Sans wrapped your hand carefully after making sure no glass was left inside, magic coming off of him in waves.

            He let you finish your story, but your exhaustion was clear despite your fear. So he helped you sleep once again.

            ...

            Shivering. Shaking.

            ...

            Chattering teeth.

            ...

            Tears and hyperventilation...it was all coming from him.

            ...

            Sans could only hold you closer when remembering the gun. Remembering how close he was to losing you for good. Remembering your lack of concern for yourself. Remembering you coming to him crying in fear, thinking he would be hurt.

            Sans’s whole room now tinted a deep purple. The magic flowing from his soul wouldn’t stop, filling his room and creating a sort of barrier to the rest of the world. He heard Alphys talking to Undyne, heard Papyrus pacing in front of the room. But none would enter. None could. The barrier he unintentionally created has them locked away from the world.

            “i love you. i love you. i really do. more than just a soulmate. i’ve done everything to keep you alive. anytime you l–l–leav–v–ve–” Sans gasped for air, struggling to breathe when words flowed out, “you die. i can’t risk it. i don’t know what will happen next. the outside is so dangerous. it’s too dangerous.”

            The voices in his head didn’t sound like his own. Maybe it was his soul communicating with him and giving him advice.

            “i–i–i c–c–can’t lose y–y–you again!” Sans gasped, clutching your body tighter and pressing your head into his chest. “m–my soul only beats for you. d–d–do you hear it? can you hear it calling out to you? the only thing keeping me together is you. i can’t–i know you will forgive me.”

            Tears trailed down Sans cheeks and onto your face, his soul beginning to leave his chest. The once white, regular upside-down heart now had many cracks only held together by a dark red substance.

            "i'm so sorry..."

            Your soul brightened, also leaving your chest despite your sleeping state. Your soul was brighter than he’d seen before, now showing off your colors much more clearly. The tiny cracks here and there did not hinder the beauty, only added to it. It glowed when it neared his pulsing soul, Sans guided both near one another.

            Tears continued to fall as shame ate at him, but he had to do this. He put the souls together and shut his eyes tightly, focusing on bonding them. It was an intimate thing, but not in a sexual way. It was purely a sign of deep emotional connection.

            Since you were human you won’t really notice any effects besides general comfort and serenity around him. Sans didn’t mind. It wasn’t harmful. It sealed the deal, sure, but you weren’t going to reject him anyway, right? He’s confirming the bond to help you, to make sure that if by chance you are out of his sight–he doesn’t plan on letting that happen–he can find you wherever you are.

            Sans separated the souls once more, smiling shakily at his magic’s imprint. In the middle of your soul was a tiny version of his, and in his soul was a tiny version of yours. The bond was completed, and now you were officially soulmates.

            “i–i–i’m sorry i did it while you were asleep. i just–i just had to. you aren’t safe. ever. the world is against you. i know it,” His grin stretched wider as his soul reentered his body, filling him with the euphoric feeling of acceptance. Your soul also returned to your chest, a smile lifting your lips as you continued to dream, blissfully unaware.

             Sans brushed his phalanges through your soft hair, eye lights unknowingly flickering into hearts. “i’ll keep you safe now. i’m sorry they let you leave, i could have just teleported and got your stuff. but it’s okay. it’s not your fault. no, you could never be at fault.” The delusional rambling continued and continued, only slowing when he became tired as well

            It was good that the barrier had ended up forming because now Sans could rest peacefully knowing that if something were to happen, his magic would protect you.

            With you in his arms with a smile, both souls singing the same tune, true happiness let him rest his grin and relax his bones.

            “goodnight, sweetheart.”

            Sans had done it; he had saved his soulmate. For the little price of his sanity and your freedom.

            …and many human’s lives as well.

            It was justified.

            It was for you.

            Sans’s dreams were filled with hope and happiness. He slept holding you tightly, and your sleeping self clung to him in return.

            …

            The now bonded souls vibrated in union.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

            You awoke with a smile, feeling happier than you ever remember experiencing before. You felt so safe and secure, grinning wider when noticing Sans has fallen sleep with you in his arms. After blinking a few more times, you looked around the room once more.

            The tint had faded and left the original color behind, and beams from the rising sun sprayed light into the space. God, you had never felt happier! You didn’t know if it was because of those douches finally being gone, or if finding Sans had caused it. You didn’t care. Your heart felt so full, and body alive.  You wanted to run a mile–write a book or solve a puzzle. You wanted to go exploring and sit in nature.

            You…wanted to live. Tears welled in your eyes, the smile ever-present on your face. A small chuckle opened your lungs to breathe in the air of life, for once not turning to go back to sleep where you would not have to truly exist.

            Shifting your body, you turned so you were facing Sans. Well, looking up at his skull because of his height. Either way, the peaceful expression he wore caused agitations in your stomach, face flushing red. Why is a skeleton handsome!? Either you were absolutely mad–which wouldn’t be surprising–or kind of a necrophiliac.

            Oh jeez. Just absolutely dandy. You couldn’t wait to be kink-shamed. Speaking of, you still wanted to give fish–bitch a piece of your mind. She better be ready to fix that door. We’ll see how undying she actually is. Hah.

            Your stomach wailed in agony, begging for some food. How pathetic, you shamed your stomach, before recognizing it was a part of you. “Sans, time to wake up,” you whispered gently, nudging his shoulder. After a while of doing so and him not budging you gave up.

            God, he slept like the dead.

            ...

            You busted out laughing, finally waking the skeleton from his bedtime. “…huh?” He blearily opened his eyes, looking around confused before rubbing the back of his neck while yawning. With another giggle, you tugged on his sleeve.

            “Sans, I’m starving! I demand food.” At the call of his name, he tensed, before looking at you and relaxing. With a lazy grin he closed his eyes and laid down, pulling you with him. “Hey! Get up lazy–bones!” You laughed squirming around like a bug. He peeked one eye open slightly, and then pretended to snore loudly. “Oh my god,” you started patting his face all over, starting with the cheeks until you were patting his eyelids with both palms.

            “ugh…” Sans groaned, swatting at your hands as you patted to the beat of ‘darude sandstorm’. He rolled over, this time right on top of you. You gasped, appalled. You wriggled around again, only to huff dramatically when he held you still.

            “Get off, you’re heavy!”

            “mmm, no. i’m just big boned.” You could hear him snickering. Sans patted where he though your head was, but it was the pillow. “go back to sleep.”

            “Pffftttt…” You covered your mouth, laughing when he realized that it was a pillow. Sans looked offended that the pillow wasn’t you and rolled on top of it. “Freedom!” You screeched, flailing your arms and falling onto the floor. “Oof.” With a groan you kept giggling, closing your eyes and smiling wide.

            When you opened them you thought you saw Sans looking panicked, but it was gone as soon as you blinked. He rested his skull on the palms of his hands and looked at you coyly, blinking rapidly to mimic fluttering eyelashes. You chortled again at his ridiculous face and raised your arms up. “My fair maiden, I have come to rescue you from thy dragon!” With a fake sword, you struck a pose while still laying on your back.

            “my prince has finally come to save me from peril,” he played along but didn’t change his voice in any way, making you almost cry with laughter, “how shall thou slay the dragon?” Sans batted his eyes again, voice completely deadpanned.

            “I shall use thy sword!” You brandished an invisible sword, “and whack thee dragon till’ thou deadith!”

            “ah, my prince, that is not a word.” Sans grinned at your insulted gasp.

            “How dare thee maiden insult thy savior! Thy prince no longer will whack thee dragon!” You huffed, before flailing again once Sans stood and picked you up.

            “then i guess i will have to save you.” The lazy grin showed amusement, but his eye lights shown with an odd sincerity. You glanced up at Sans as he carried you in a princess hold, walking towards the door. It looked like whatever funk he had been going through the past few days was gone. Now he looked carefree as could be. The permanent grin he wore looked like a genuine smile, and your heart fluttered in response. Oh no, why is your heart beating so fast!?

            One eye light slid to face you while he faced forward, and he winked, “like what ya’ see princess?” You blushed madly, patting his face aggressively with your hands again.

            “I am a prince, Sans, a prince! You are the princess.” He chuckled, and you once again blushed at the deepness of it. You are kink–shaming yourself.

            “of course, that is why i’m carrying you like a princess.”

            “I don’t want to walk. Now, go forth my noble steed! I am hungry and want food.” You deadpan, the laughter from Sans making you beam. When the door opened you were greeted by Papyrus.

            You waved at Papyrus, and he waved back excitedly. He froze and looked at your chest for a second before returning to his energized state. “HELLO BROTHER! HELLO HUMAN! THE GREAT PAPYRUS HAS PREPARED SOME BREAKFAST SPAGHETTI FOR ONLY THE UTMOST OF CITIZENS!!!” A loud crash rang from downstairs, and Papyrus rushed off with a small ‘NYEH’ of distress.

            “Breakfast spaghetti?”

            “yup. and lunch. and dinner. and even dessert sometimes. maybe a midnight snack or brunch if he’s feeling adventurous.”

            “Good thing I love Italian.” Sans looked down at you again, and you saw his eye lights change shape. “Wait, Sans, you can make other shapes with your pupils!?” Practically vibrating with excitement, you tugged on his hoodie. “Do it again! Do it again!” You'd seen it happen before and wanted to see it again.

            He chuckled at your childish behavior, and his pupils shifted into hearts while keeping that same brightness. “Oh my god! How do you do that?” Sans shrugged, smile still wide as you both descended down the stairs.

            “dunno. don’t control it.” While you continued to gush over how awesome it was Sans finally brought you both into the kitchen.

            “Oh god.”

            “yyyyup.” Sans drawled. Papyrus frantically was putting out a large fire from the stove with a scream and a ‘thunk’ following. You looked over and saw the brown haired kid smashing tomatoes with their bare hands, screeching about passion. A soft giggle resounded around the room.

            You looked over expecting to see Alphys or Undyne, but it was neither. What looked to be a goat woman in a royal purple dress had her paws(?) clasped together. Her back was straight and posture poised, though the gentle smile on her face seemed almost…motherly. She caught your gaze and you immediately looked away, embarrassed for staring.

            “Ah, hello,” her voice was soft and welcoming, “my name is Toriel, the former queen of the underground. Frisk, whom you have already met, is my child. I take it you are Sans soulmate?” Her white fur looked polished and neatly brushed, her red eyes somehow earnest and not piercing as you would expect.

            “U–Uh–” Former queen? Frisk’s mom? It was a lot to take in. Especially since both were in Sans house without any warning. Though, Sans didn’t seem tense at all, grinning proudly instead while adjusting so he was carrying you with one arm.

            “yup. they are.” You looked up with a flushed face, noting how much like a child you looked when he carried you like this. Toriel giggled brightly, covering her mouth. Her whole being radiated a warmth and paternal guidance.

            You looked at Toriel and felt admiration transfer into slight grief. The happiness that had been holding you up fizzled slightly. When you looked at her, the love in her gaze when she spoke of Frisk, the way she smiled joyfully and so caringly…it made your heart sink. You wondered what it would have been like if someone like her had raised you.

            Sans grabbed your hand with furrowed brow bones, snapping you out of your daze. You looked down at your arm and realized you had been mindlessly scratching at it in your haze. It was an old habit that came up when you remembered your parents–if you could even call them that. Toriel had already walked off to the other two in the kitchen, calming them both while helping prep the food. Sans moved to the living room and set you on the couch against the armrest, with him sitting across from you against the other. Your legs intertwined due to his height.

            “sweetheart, what’s wrong?” Sans said gently. You glanced back down at your arm, noting it was just slightly red from the pressure. It was a hard question to answer. You didn’t want to burden him. “please, i need to know.” The desperation in his voice coaxed you to reply.

            “It’s just…when I see mothers like Toriel, I’m reminded of mine.” You inhaled deeply, pushing away any reluctance to open up. Sans obviously cared about you. It wasn’t hard to see, so he obviously would want to know what was bothering you. Maybe to him, it wouldn’t be a nuisance, and to him maybe your feelings would be valid.

            “Seeing Toriel look at Frisk with so much love, though it makes me so happy for Frisk, fills me with such an ugly feeling of shame.” You breathed deeply again, appreciating Sans silence. “Thoughts like, ‘what did I do to make them hate me?’ and ‘if I was a better child would they have loved me?’ repeat on an endless loop.”

            Your gaze was still cast downwards, not looking up once to see Sans reactions. “I know it’s not my fault. I know. But…how could I not feel this way? I did everything I could to have them be proud of me. Even when–even when they would–when they would–would–” You gasped, suddenly struggling for air. “C–Can’t b–b–breathe–”

            Warmth surrounded you, a cocoon of security calming the rapidly declining thoughts. You shook in fear, brain conjuring images you tried to forget. It seemed like Sans was speaking to you, but you couldn’t hear him clearly. Just him being there was enough to significantly calm you.

            “you don’t have to explain.” His voice came out strained, your body jolting at the sudden tightness of his hold. “you are safe.” Your stuttering heart relaxed, a sensation of floating calming you. It was a strange shift in how you were feeling. Drastic, almost. But you didn’t care. You couldn’t care less.

            You slowly came out of your panic, surprised at your own lack of tears, and your resilience. You had never been able to get out of that stupid rut of a vortex once you start thinking that way. But Sans only needed to hold you and console you. Was this the power of soulmates? You weren’t this comfortable with him last night.

            You didn’t mind though. It was a good feeling so why complain? Looking into Sans eye lights you felt a strange sense of belonging. It was so obvious that he needed you. Though right now he seemed so put together and was even comforting you, the past two days told you of his absurdly crippling anxiety.

            It seemed he was triggered by specific things, just as you were. Was it alright to be so dependent on him, while he was even more dependent on you? Sans knew some things you didn’t, unable to explain his reasoning behind his breakdowns that have occurred. Would something like that happen again?

            And you, with your health and own mentality. Does he really want to deal with that? You were ready to help him with his burden, but did he even want to carry yours?

            “doll, i can see what you’re thinkin’ right on your face.” Sans ran his phalanges through your hair, the act sending pleasant shivers down your spine, “and i just need you to know that even if we haven’t met too long ago you are my number one priority. you’re important to me, __________, and you can always rely on me.”

            Those words were words you’ve always wanted to hear. Words of acceptance and care. He actually wanted to be around you. He voluntarily cared for you. He wouldn’t just toss you aside. Tears welled in your eyes but you quickly blinked them away. The happiness that had faded briefly came back almost stronger than before.

            “And the same goes for you too, you know. Don’t hide things from me, okay? Let me help you with your worries as well.” You said, leaning into his chest so your ear could hear his soul vibrate. “I care for you, Sans. And you are the first person to actually care about me.” Your own words struck you as terribly pitiful, but you chose to ignore it.

            Sans opened his mouth to reply but a loud jolly voice rang out.

            “THE SPAGHETTI IS READY!!!! BREAKFAST HAS NEVER BEEN SO WILD!!! OR DELICIOUS!!” You laughed gently at the ray of sunshine.

            Staying here for a while longer doesn’t seem so bad at all.

 

****

 

            The dark figure mulled about his empty surroundings, pondering the decisions made previously. The music box still churned out a wondrous song, its delicate chimes played along in his mind, the one listening ignorantly unable to pick up the twang of incorrect notes. 

            Was it always like this? Still turning and playing despite the shattered chords? Nothing was created broken, and at one point even the unsettling out of tune melodies were innocently charming. Perhaps it is not broken even now, only warped.

            Recalling the day was difficult. When had the music box started? When did it become perverse? Maybe it was one’s own perception of the song, or previous biases shaping the way one listens.

            Ah, another key has fallen. The box churned that hypnotizing melody unendingly, reminding him of the oversight that cannot be undone.

            He remembered ripping through the abyss and fueling the spike of determination he saw. The button that he created took up his remaining life force–forever binding him to the void. It was worth it in the moment.

            Somehow the power remained ingrained in the poor soul, held together by a determination that latched onto hope. The belief of succeeding while staying on a path of righteousness.

            It was around the twentieth time that he began noticing the changes. The music box slowed in certain parts of the song, sometimes incorrectly playing a note. It was fine as it was a small detail to be overlooked.

            Once the fiftieth time came around, the music box rang with the innocent charm even while the wrong notes were being played. It slowed and sped up aimlessly, no pattern to be found. He knew he was running out of time. The magic he put in the button wouldn’t last much longer–and success was still out of reach.

            It was the seventy-third time, and he grasped the little strength he had to warn the poor soul. There were few chances remaining. Less than few. It was time for the hope to push the dream into a reality.

            The music box faltered for the first time, picking up at a regular pace and playing the correct notes once more. The song carried the innocence into hope. He was relieved. He would finally be at peace.

            Yet, the music box, while playing the lovely tune, declined rapidly at a pivotal moment. The haunting echo sent a breeze throughout the hollow abyss. The gears in the music box struggled against each other, and the melody rushed and braked sporadically. It was the notes that might be played, yet altered only barely to mimic what it was supposed to be.

            A song would eternally play. A song built on innocence and hope–struggling to keep up with the demands of a shattering faith. It played now, the notes and speed almost correct–but it was more wrong than it had ever been. It was off, enough to know something was wrong, but not know what.

            The being of darkness could not tamper with the music box anymore. It was working despite everything–almost the same as when it first played its tune. But that did not mean it wasn’t damaged.

            Far away, the notes carried. An unsettled creeping of fear caused some to turn around and check for a shadow–but there was nothing. The music box only continued its song, singing with the passion to be as it once was–but the melody had been forever tainted. The chords cannot be the same once the notes have changed.

            Even he, who had created the mess, could not fix it. It was the fault of many, but the music box only knew one enemy. The music box warned of danger and sorrow, its innocence guiding the actions of a cracked soul. The red strings of fate held the white soul together, melting into the culmination of oneself through determination and LOVE.

            It was because when the music box needed help–when it was only slightly out of tune–when the gears creaked and rusted–when the melody sped and slowed–

            …

            Nobody came.

            …

            And so the box wound itself.            

 

****

 

            Your eyes are gentle when you compliment the food. Papyrus smiles and cheers with Frisk doing the same. Sans only stared with the warmth in his soul relaxing his mind. Everything was perfect. You obviously were more comfortable with him now, and are completely unaware of what he did. It was for the best, and you woke up so happy–how could he regret it? With that bright smile and sparkling eyes when you joked with him, and the openness when you shared why you were feeling sad…

            Sans wanted to cry with joy.

            …

            And yet, “Sans, may I speak with you privately?” Chills raked down his spine when the Queen’s voice whispered. He looked to you, Papyrus and Frisk, all goofing around and laughing. You turned to him and smiled brightly, waving cheekily before turning back around.

            “yeah, sure tori’.” Sans grinned lazily, masking the unease he felt. Toriel guided him into the living room, making sure no one could overhear their conversation. Once the woman became situated, she sighed gently.

            “Sans,” her tone was not scolding, “is there something you would like to tell me?” The questioning gaze she sent was not completely honest; it was obvious she knew. 

            So he chuckled, shrugging slightly. “dunno, met my soulmate, got to know each other, and now eatin’ breakfast like a family.” He opted for not lying. And also not telling the whole truth. The gentle gaze of Toriel that he knew sharpened, but not maliciously.

            “Alphys called me earlier,” Sans froze, “she explained how she measured your magic levels because of the change of color.” A soft paw was placed onto his shoulder, “Sans, please, I just need to understand–”

            “you couldn’t possibly understand.” He spat, closing his eyes tightly. The memories were surfacing once again, phalanges twitching with the urge to find his beloved. “nobody can.” Sans released the breath he was holding, turning to Toriel once more with dimmed eye lights.

            “At least let me try.” The earnest in her tone made him want to spill out everything that had been happening. Toriel has always been his friend, never judging him when he told those jokes behind the door. The first knocks he received in reply was something he could never forget.

            But…

            “no, tori. i–i can’t. it’s…something i can’t explain. i don’t know how.” Sans clenched his hands, grimacing while trying to forget. “i don’t want to remember.”

            “Please, we’re all so worried and now with these results–” She cut herself off, covering her mouth with a small gasp. Sans gaze snapped upwards, calculating glare taking over the previous calm.

            “tori.” His soul buzzed in his chest, mind freezing in apprehension. The question was left unsaid, but he knew she understood.

            “I–I shouldn’t say. You know most of what I would tell anyway. The things you wouldn’t I believe should be kept secret.”

            “i thought you were tryin’ to help me?” Sans bit out.

            “We are, Sans. But this information wouldn’t help you. It will only serve too…too…” She struggled for the correct word, “scare you.”

            “what could you possibly say, that i don’t already know, that would scare me? they’ve already told me about the tests.” Sans rested his elbows on his knees, leaning forward with the same grin that was always there. But Toriel knew what was behind the ever-lasting smile.

            Alphys told her not to tell him. But, would it really do harm? He was known as the judge because of his abnormal judgment of magic characteristics. Perhaps he already knew of this information. Plus, if the two girls already shared information, why should she hide anything now?

            With a nod, she gently rested a paw on his shoulder once again, breathing deeply. “I take it you already know of the determination poisoning, correct?” Sans nodded. “And that your magic cap has been shattered?” He nodded once more.

            Toriel glanced at him, and then at his chest. The sudden widening of her eyes surprised him briefly. For what he saw wasn’t what he expected. Her eyes that usually are so composed, have broadened into fear. “Oh my goodness,” she breathed out, voice shaky, “Sans, what have you done?” He glanced down as well, before realizing she was talking about the bond.

            “i–it…i had too! and it’s fine, okay? they are happy. they want to live and they want to live with me. a–and! now i can protect them more efficiently.” Sans desperately wanted Toriel to understand his point of view, and to not blame him for his actions. They were necessary, and she had to know that, right?

            “Sans, this is what I was going to speak to you about.” Her breathing was shallow as her gaze flickered from his to the kitchen where the others were laughing together. “Does she know?” Sans looked down once more, trying to push away any shame. It was necessary, he told himself. He had too. It did no harm.

            “Oh, Sans, how could you?” Toriel gripped his shoulder, the fire behind her eyes shining brightly and yet dulled. “How are we supposed to save you both now?”

            Sans paused.

            “save?”

            Toriel wiped her eyes, stopping any tears from spilling.

            “Alphys and Undyne were going to extract the determination that has tainted your soul. Alphys was going to get your magic back to normal.” Toriel covered her face with both paws, leaning into them with a slouched figure.

            “but why? why would i need that? everything i’ve done is for a reason. tori, have you seen my soul?” Sans couldn’t understand her dismay. Was it really such a big deal? He was fine now.

            “Sans–it wasn’t just to save you from yourself, but to save them.” Her shoulders shook, “you aren’t yourself when you become determined, Sans. No monster or man should have the amount of magic that resides within you. For now, you are a being of your own.” Toriel glanced to him with restrained anger. “You have taken away their choice, Sans.”

            He still didn’t understand.

            “choice? what are you talking about?”

            “Now they will age as slowly as you do. They can’t even choose whether to leave or stay. You took away their choice in the matter–even if they would have most likely stayed now they have no choice!”

            Sans couldn’t understand.

            “You’ve bound your souls and now extracting the determination from yours will be impossible. The extraction would have freed you both from the soulmate bond that has been torturing you–”

             “w h a t”

            Toriel ignored the rising static and continued, stuck in her own anger at the helplessness of the situation. “The instincts you have now will continue to develop–hell, they might even get worse–and they will just have to deal with it! The magic that has manifested in those instincts can’t be changed now! The determination extraction would have fixed all of this–”

            “go back.

            Toriel finally stopped, thoughts coming to a halt at the voice her friend spoke with. It was hollow, as was his smile and eye sockets.

            “yeah, what did you mean ‘free you both from the soulmate bond.” Toriel sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. Unfortunately ignoring his tone, she continued.

            “You’ve changed, Sans. This ‘soulmate’ thing has changed you. I was so happy at first but now you are barely in control of yourself! In the underground, I never saw you, but I remember the hope in your gaze when we all rose to the surface. Together. Everything was fine–until you found them.”

            She pointed to his soulmate bitterly. “The poor thing is a precious person, soul a beautiful color that shines with hope.” Sans clenched his fists tightly. “And you were driven to…to murder. What happened to your morals, Sans? How could you consume innocent souls? What has come over you? Where did this determination come from? All I know is that it wasn’t there before they arrived.”

            Sans felt his mind clouding up, reeling. Was she…against him being happy or something? Did she want him to suffer? Did she not care about his pain? Not care about him seeing them die and die and die die diediiediediediediediedieidieideidedieidieidi–

            “I’m going to tell Alphys so she may come up with a fresh plan to contain your newfound magic and to protect your soulmate from it. We may have to separate you both temporarily, but it will be only for a while…”

            He couldn’t hear her anymore–only picking up on certain words such ‘soulmate.’ and separate’. The consciousness he held was fading. He was completely awake and yet thoughts that weren’t his own flooded into his mind. He was fully aware and in control, yet felt judgments from his soul feeding into his nature.

evil

she’s evil

she hates them

she hates them and wants to hurt them

hurt them

too close

she’ll take them

take them away

steal them

...

            “Sans? Are you listening to me?”

she will take them

can’t protect

will get hurt

            “Sans, come on. I know you may not want to be separated but it will be very brief and Alphys will do some tests to make sure they are fine.”

separated?

a l p h y s  t e s t s?

            “Oh dear. Can you hear me, Sans?”

will die

they will d i e

can’t protect

death

gone

n o b o d y w i l l s a v e t h e m

            “___________! Sans needs you!”

...

saying their name

calling to them

to take them

no no n on on o n on on on on on on

            “My child, please!”

 

 

****

 

            Somebody tried to interfere. The man in the darkness listened to the duel melody coming from one object. It was not meant to be played that way. Only one song should come from the music box, and yet two were ringing out.

            The two songs that played separately had suddenly synced. Two parts of the same whole where one had no thoughts and only instincts, and the other that had thoughts and grasps of reality.  The being quivered at the haunting tune. It played a repetitive tone, unforgiving and angry. The one the man had been trying to save had done it–the soulmate saved and everything returning to as it should be.

            Yet, the determination and magic awakened a suppressed being. The man knew what was happening, but refused to believe it was his fault. The man only provided the means to change fate, not go forth in doing it.

            But the music box chimed, increasing in pace before certain notes became drowned out. Can a being submerged in chaos ever be in control? It was not a different person, and yet, acted out without consent or logical thought.

            Had it…

            Had it been his fault? Should he not have given the poor soul the ability to reset?

            ...

            ..         

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                                                                                                                                              t h e  m u s i c  b o x  s t o p p e d

         

             

Chapter Text

            “__________! Sans isn’t responding!”

            You spun around, eyes wide at the frightful tone. While you had been laughing with Frisk and Papyrus, something had gone terribly wrong. The rising static that lifted the hairs at the base of your neck gave the reason. Frisk looked to you with a gaze you couldn’t decipher. Papyrus, though, grabbed your hand and quickly brought you into the living room. You turned to face the brown-haired child, met with a blank gaze in return.

            “My child, please!”

            Desperation. Papyrus stopped abruptly making you bump into his back. You went to look around him but were surprised when Papyrus stopped you. “HUMAN. SAVE HIM,” The tall skeleton looked down at you with a shaky smile, the hand holding yours trembling, “DO NOT BE AFRAID OF MY BROTHER.” 

            “Why would I ever–?” His eyes lit for the first time, letting you see what was held in those usually empty sockets. Papyrus shook his head, looming over you and yet still seeming so small. He looked like he wanted to say more but instead pulled you out from behind him so you could see. Now you understood.

            Tears dripped down your own face.

            You weren’t afraid.

            You were devastated.

            Watching was all you knew to do. Toriel, the wonderful woman you had just met, was fending off bones with fire. Her gaze was hesitant yet desperate. She didn’t want to hurt him. Not when he wasn’t even himself.

            But Sans had no qualms. His right eyelight was that blue surrounded by red–the other empty. The grin he wore was there and strained to the point of cracking. The magic was pouring out of the empty socket, him yanking down on it as he raised the other to send a flurry of more bones at the goat mother.

            Everything in you told you to go to him; to stop him. He wouldn’t hurt you. You knew that but still, seeing him this unstable wasn’t something…it wasn’t something you were prepared for. You’d seen him break down before–but there was always an empty look on his face like he wasn’t awake. A look he didn’t have now.

            What happened? Sans, at least as you’ve seen, doesn’t attack unprovoked. Did she say something wrong? Did he misinterpret any words she said? What could possibly be the cause of this bad of a reaction? You turned, hoping to find Papyrus for support, but wavered once meeting the eyes of Frisk. They stared at you. Vacantly. Papyrus wasn’t there anymore, and the front door slammed shut. “He went to get help.” Frisk simply said.

            The kid was observing you like they were trying to decode a puzzle. You remembered them being flung into the wall yesterday when they tried to approach Sans. If you tried to do the same, would you…?

            “You should probably do something about that, SS.” Frisk jutted their chin out toward the scene before you, “Toriel can’t hold on too much longer.”

            “SS?”

            “Sans’ soulmate. SS. Easy nickname.” Frisk shrugged, completely relaxed as though nothing was wrong. How old was Frisk? They looked much younger than their voice sounds. You were pretty sure they were barely a teenager.

            Their brown eyes met yours, the childish glow nowhere to be seen. “I don’t know how,” you regarded their statement earlier about doing something, “I don’t know what to do to help him.” Frisk tilted their head, hair falling in front of their face. They were looking up at you, but you felt significantly lesser under their gaze.

            “Just go up to him, snap him out of it like you did last time.”

            “Last time was different!” You said. You could feel the pressure in the air. Toriel was attempting to reason with Sans, while said skeleton was possessed by an aura of madness you’d never seen. Papyrus told you to not be afraid. “Last time he wasn’t…like this.” You searched for the word to describe his state.

            Frisk looked forward blankly, a small twitch at the edge of their lip.

            “Determination.”

            You shuddered. Frisk looked at you, eyes tinted a color that was not there before. The word ‘determination’ shouldn’t make you feel afraid. Yet the horror and dread in your chest thumped in pain. It hurt, and you didn’t know why.

            It must be your soul. It was lurching. Your heart paused, almost, and picked up quickly as though compensating for two. Fear was the problem, and you needed it to stop. You glanced back at the kid, a cold chill running down your spine. “How…how old are you?”

            Frisk seemed confused at the question, almost inquiring why you’d ask. But then, they simply answered, “twelve.”

            You couldn’t find any words to describe the unease at their answer. Something just wasn’t right. When you looked at them it made sense, but the way they spoke and how they carried themselves…they weren’t afraid at all. Oddly enough, they looked curious, perhaps intrigued by the current madness a child wouldn’t often witness.

            “How long have you been twelve?”

            Frisk grinned.

            “I think you’re just stalling out of fear.” You grunted in return, tugging on your hair slightly. What did they want you to do? Make Sans stop? How? “Don’t worry, he would never hurt you.” Frisk's smile became less friendly. “Yeah, he’d do anything to keep you safe.”

            Taking a step back, you found the chaos in the room far less frightening than the child next to you. Their brown hair covered their eyes, smile stretching even on both sides. “Your fear is only fueling Sans. He thinks you’re afraid of the one he’s fighting.”

            “Should I just stop being scared!? How would I do that?”

            You smelled smoke. And then a scream. Rigidly you turned, eyes peeled onto the woman whose fur was no longer neatly brushed. Sans wasn’t budging, was he? It’s like he can’t even hear Toriel’s words.

            Toriel narrowly dodged another bone, but this time it turned and flew right back, embedding itself into her shoulder.

            Oh god. Oh god. Sans had talked so fondly with her and they were old friends. Like they shared a connection only those who understand each other can. Why is he doing this? Why is he acting this way? Her eyes turned to you, begging and desperate. Self–loathing poisoned your thoughts and reception, replacing her hopeful look into hatred. It was you who pushed him this far, wasn’t it? Sans didn’t have any way to tell you why he felt these things.

            Your parents were right, weren’t they? He never asked for you. This is just a part of his nature. There is no way this is happening intentionally; nobody would care for someone like you. He’s doing this for himself. You closed your eyes. Your soul must have been faulty, and you being his soulmate made his become so too.

            He’s acting out, and now you could finally see it was your fault.

           

            “This isn’t where you belong! Get the fuck out of my house!” Their eyes shown with hatred and contempt, reminding you of how useless you were. The rain battered onto your back as you begged and begged, hoping they would give you at least one more chance.

            “Please! I just…just please listen…” You couldn’t take it anymore–you came to say goodbye, to tell them you loved them one last time. Maybe to tell them it wasn’t their fault. Because it was all your fault. You were useless like they would always tell you.

            “We got you your own apartment and you come back and ask to speak with us? What, need more money to waste on your pitiful self? Scum doesn’t need to eat, and mold doesn’t need water to grow–so you should be just fine.”

            Ah, you understand now.

            You turn around and walk. You don’t know where you’re going, but maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for.

            The rain stopped.

            Perhaps it was raining somewhere else.

           

            “I’m sorry. I’m sorry this is my fault. This is all my fault. I shouldn’t have–I should have never existed. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I just–I just thought I could finally be happy but that was so selfish of me.” Frisk didn’t respond. You wondered if they were even there.

            Your arms hurt.

            Blood dripped onto the floor.

            Nobody was there to snap you out of your downward spiral of thoughts.

            You clutched your neck, eyes wide in desperation. You wanted…you wanted to leave–to save these people from the misfortune that you carried. You wanted to become nothing, and just be a faint memory that would eventually fade as well.

            But you couldn’t. Sans has to deal with you enough, doing these things because he doesn’t want to die, and here you are thinking of just wasting it all.

            Nobody was there to kick you out of this stupid rut.

            You were falling…falling…back into the traps that pushed you to the actions of that day. Gone. Lost. Stuck.

            Dead.

            Your feet carried you, soul calling out in distress as you did so. Maybe you could find some way to destroy the bond–because no matter how much you…how much you liked Sans, it wasn’t fair to make him stick with someone he doesn’t.

            For some reason, you always reacted badly to the slightest allusion of hesitance. No more feelings reached you–and everything was numb.

            It was your fault. All your fault. All your fault these things have been happening. He wouldn’t have been this way if not for you. Everyone was surprised by the massive change in his actions so he was obviously fine until you came along.

            Poison. It’s poison. They don’t want you. They don’t. Everyone hates you. Your soul called out to his without your permission, and you gripped your chest with a gasp. You grit your teeth, hand pressing harder against your chest.

            Out. You wanted it out. It doesn’t belong in you. Get it out. Get it out. It’s not mine. I don’t need it. Not mine. Your thoughts rushed through you quickly, a strange glow catching your attention. Pain washed over you when you took your hand off your chest, a heart following it right from your chest. You gripped your soul.

            Not mine. Not mine. Not mine.

            Your soul pulsed. There was something inside of it. Was that Sans soul? You knew you were causing this. You pushed your soul onto the ground and put your other hand above it, shoving your fingers inside and trying to reach the other soul.

            Once you got it out this would go away, right? He would be free of you and then you could be free of life. Tears fell down your cheeks as the pain spotted your vision. The devastation was overwhelming. You didn’t want to let go. But you had too, so he wouldn’t suffer because of you.

            You coughed up blood and paused. Ah. This was going to kill you, wasn’t it? But if it was for Sans you didn’t mind. He would find another soulmate after this, one that wasn’t broken. One that wouldn’t poison him. Blood was rushing from your nose as you ripped your soul, watching it try to mend itself while you stuck your hand into the small heart. More blood spilled from your lips while your lungs felt like they were being filled with water every time you breathed.

            You finally reached Sans soul–though it was very small. It must be a monster thing. Without hesitation you grabbed it, trying to finish before you passed out.

            Suddenly you were weightless. White light filled your vision as panicked voices seemed to be calling out to you. You couldn’t see but felt a bony hand on your forehead. With a smile, you called out, “Sans? Did I do it?”

            You giggled when all you heard was weird muffled noises, like the sounds the parents in Charlie Brown make. “N–ow… yo–u–u c–c–an..be…ha…happy.” You choked, something dribbling down the side of your lip. Gross, you thought. “I’m s–s–sorry I–I–I…b–b–burd–burd–d–ened...you…”

            You blinked a few times lazily, everything around you feels like a nice cloud. Your whole body registered, feeling nothing but peace.

            “Y–You’re…f–f–free…n–now…”

            A smile adorned your joyful expression. And you closed your eyes, wishing Sans the best within an apology. These past few days were the happiest ones you’d ever experienced, and you were grateful. You didn’t fear death, because now Sans wouldn’t die because of you.

            …

            Water dripped down your cheeks.

            …

            “I…I l–l–l–l….lo––lo…ve…yo…you…

            …

            You truly did. That’s why you let him go.

 

 

****

 

 

            Toriel screamed as Sans attacked, and he grinned maniacally. He continued to fight, motivated by the hatred he felt consume him. Whatever the voice inside him was saying made sense, and didn’t seem wrong. There was nothing wrong with him, he just had more magic and better instincts. It was for you, and he was so happy he could do these things for you. His beautiful and wonderful soulmate, somebody he can imagine falling for even if they weren’t his ‘soulmate’.

            Sans was doing his job so well, and his soul pulsed with joy at his success. It felt so good protecting you, knowing now that losing will never happen. Toriel looked to the side, and he followed her gaze. It was you. Was she planning on taking you now!?

            “Sans! Wait a moment!”

            He ignored and swung a broken bone, tired of playing the dodging game.

            “Snap out of it right now! Look over there!  FOR GODS SAKE!” Toriel threw a fireball directly at him, not caring about hurting him anymore. Sans continued to attack, anger at her trying to take you away. She was still trying to.

            “LISTEN TO YOUR SOUL YOU IDIOT.” Her screaming must have reached something in him, for he hesitated for just an instant.

            That instance was enough for Sans to listen to his soul. He didn’t even realize that it wasn’t controlling him. Sans relaxed instantly, trying to forget that it wasn’t just his instincts that turned him violent but his mind as well. A pulsing of warmth flowed. Why did Toriel say that? Was it just a distractii–i–ˆøøøOOn––__oNN_-DI–––

            Sans screeched, soul forcefully pushing out of his chest when he saw what you were doing. “SWEETHEART STOP!” His soul reached you first and when he caught up he sobbed in wretched disbelief.

            The skeleton grabbed you and pulled you away from the dulled mint soul, blood seeping into its crevices. “what are you D O I N G?” Sans voice boomed, pinpricks gone and hands turned you to face him. He laid you gently onto the ground and scooped up your barely pulsing soul into his hands.

            Toriel was already on the other side of you healing, tears matting her fur. Not even she had ever seen something so horrific before. Sans felt the desperation take over when your soul started to lose its color.

            “why why whywhwywhywhywhwywhywhwyHWYWHWYWHYWHWHY” Sans trembled, barely hearing the front door slam open and footsteps pad over. He became more and more hysterical, covering your soul in his magic as some last ditch effort. Papyrus looked to be healing you with Toriel, Alphys speaking to him about something he couldn’t completely understand. It sounded like encouragement.

            So he kept injecting his magic into your soul.

            That’s when he noticed the chunk out of the mini soul inside of yours. He gazed over to your hand, seeing the piece of your soul that was ripped out. Why…? “oh god oh god oh god oh god why why why wHY WHY DID YOU DO THIS”

            Sans wanted to scream forever. He grabbed the piece and fit it back in and tried to mend it with his magic, before noticing two yellow hands nearing. “D O N T  T O U C H  T H E M” He roared, magic flaring dangerously. Nobody can touch them. Nobody. Nobody. Nobody. Nobody.

            Why did you even do this? He put all of his intent into mending your soul, pushing out as much love as he could into it.

            “Sans? Did I do it?”

            Your voice called out so delicately, full of soft happiness. Papyrus had his hand placed on your forehead, continuing to heal while orange droplets ran down his cheeks.

            “N–ow… yo–u–u c–c–an..be…ha…happy.” You choked, blood oozing from your mouth while you spoke, “I’m s–s–sorry I–I–I…b–b–burd–burd–d–ened...you…”

            A giggle followed, innocence in every word.

            “Y–You’re…f–f–free…n–now…”

            Something connected in his mind. Your smile was so joyful, yet tears were flowing from your eyes.

            “I…I l–l–l–l….lo––lo…ve…yo…you…

            Sans froze.

            His right eye flared to life, magic bursting outwards in a wave sending everyone but him and you flying. He held your soul, holding the broken piece to it and focusing his magic. Nothing was allowed to distract him.

            The small soul inside of yours, a replica of Sans’, mended first, and with that, yours began to follow–albeit slowly. Everything was numb while he held your soul together, coaxing it to heal itself by filling it with his thoughts.

            Sans told your soul that you were everything to him.

            Sans told your soul that you were meant to be.

            Sans told your soul that you weren’t allowed to die.

            Sans told your soul that he loved you, and that all of his friends accepted you, and that nothing was your fault. He couldn’t tell you why, but he was broken before meeting you. Somebody else had pushed him too far before you both had even met. He told you that the tiny soul wasn’t what made you soulmates. He told you he bonded without permission.

            …it was mending. It was receptive and hearing him.

            Sans told you that his killed the man in the car because he hated him. He explained how you were more than just a soulmate. Sans told the brightening soul how much you meant to him, and that your personality is what made you important. Sans kept telling you his feelings because he realized it was working. More and more came spilling out–from his anxieties to his selfish desires. His want to keep you all to himself, to keep you inside forever where it was safe.

            Sans said he would kill everyone then himself if you died.

            ...           

            He sharply inhaled.

            “…s…san…s…?”

            And then exhaled.

            Your soul refused to shatter.

            It was healed and Sans quickly returned it to you, most of your fatal injuries gone as they had come from your soul in the first place. He smiled–he had been crying. Relief washed over him while he wailed pathetically, clutching onto you tightly.

            “…did…did…you mean it?”

            Sans laughed, burying his skull into your shoulder. He mumbled your name over and over, repeating ‘yes’ until he ran out of breath.  His soul sent a vibration of warmth, receiving one in return. They were bonded once more, this time with some of you knowing what that meant.

            “Thank you.” Your hand rubbed the back of his skull gently, other arm on his. Sans continued sending his intent to you, feeling you shiver in response. “I almost did something really stupid.”

            Sans grasped onto you tighter, slightly whimpering while his body shook. His teeth chattered with ‘i love you’ repeated over and over. You both stayed there, unmoving. You shifted a bit as though to separate and he immediately sobbed while desperately holding you still. “no. n o non o. don’t leave me. d o n t leave me–

            You didn’t try to adjust yourself anymore, instead continuing to gently run your fingers along his skull. “I’m so sorry, Sans. I misunderstood. I just…since…” Your voice trailed off and he tightened his hold to affirm your words. He knew. While reaffirming the bond he received what you had been thinking.

            Sans hated that you thought so lowly of yourself. Murderous intent quivered in his mind while he thought of your past, imagining torturing all those who brought you pain. “Hey, I’m fine now. I’m just not good when I’m alone with my thoughts.” Sans shivered again. guilt gnawing at him. He wasn’t there for you.

            Sans tried to apologize but only a raspy cough came out. You seemed to understand, “don’t blame yourself, you just saved me, and I’m grateful.” He felt something press against his cheek softly, and his skull flushed a deep blue when he realized you’d kissed him on the cheek.

            You giggled, obviously noticing the blue. “That’s so cute, your blush is blue too!” His face flushed more, practically a florescent lightbulb. 

            While sitting there, Sans knew the others were in the background. His gaze darkened at what Toriel had told him before. He wouldn’t let anyone take you. You had to be with him. You could never be apart. Sans needed you near him always or else he’d go m a d.

            “Sans, could you let me go now?”

            He snarled harshly, not knowing that he could produce such a sound. Another wave of magic burst from his soul.

            “I just want to look at you. I’m staying here right next to you. I would like to look at you, is that okay?”

            Sans slowly let go with a slight blue blush, flustered at your last words. He gazed down at you, his phalanges twitching at his sides. He wanted to hold you now. Everything in his body screamed to make contact.

            “I heard your voice when I was fading, but it was like I was thinking it. What does bonding mean? Do you…really care for me that much?”

            Sans inhaled sharply at the bashfulness you portrayed. So cute. He could just– “yeah, i do. more than that, even,” he chuckled, “and bonding is like confirming you want your soulmate.” You looked to him with wide eyes, curiosity in them.

            “Are we, like, married in monster culture?” Sans hid his face in his hoodie immediately, wanted to melt into the floor. He nodded his head slowly, flushed deeply. “Oh, okay! I thought it was something bad.” Sans paused.

            You were fine with that!? His head shot up and saw your shy smile, and the blush on your cheeks. “b–but i–i did it w–without permission! a–aren’t you a–angry?” Sans stumbled over his words, unbelieving of your kindness.

            “Nah, why would I be angry?” Sans felt immensely confused. “Besides, I wasn’t planning on leaving you so it’s just doing something we would probably eventually do anyway.” Your sweet smile was more than he could handle.

            Surprise filled your gaze when he rushed forward, pressing his teeth to your mouth. It was awkward, chaste, for he was a skeleton, but the message carried across. You laughed softly when he pulled away, leaning forward and placing a few butterfly kisses all over his skull. His face was absolutely blue.

            You laughed, and he chuckled as well. Sans was so relieved. “i’m guessing…you meant what you said too?”

            With a startled gasp you stuttered, motioning with your hands sporadically to distract from your now tomato colored face. “I–I mean…y–yeah…I guess…” You muttered out finally, tugging on your hair.

            Sans smiled genuinely.

            …

            Yet he couldn't forget. He couldn't ignore what just happened and move on. Not even Frisk, in their lowest moments, had ripped up their own soul. It was something so unfathomable–so painful that it seemed impossible to even attempt. Sans replayed your thoughts in his mind. How could you ever think it was your fault? He wasn't fine before meeting you–to be completely honest, Sans was ready to die forever. Frisk had driven him too far past what he could handle. And he had a strange feeling that Frisk knew about you, even before he did.

            

            "Sans, I just don't want you to fall victim to what I had, determination is dangerous." The kid held the knife tightly, locket swinging around their neck. Red flared in their eyes while they tried to convince him to give up. Frisk kept telling him he would never be able to save you this way. "I know what you have to do to save them, and I really don't want you going down that path."

            He kept grinning, red scarf wrapped tightly around his neck.

            "don't act like the good guy. you want to see what happens." Sans glared deeply, gaster blaster forming behind him. He was getting tired, realizing this battle would soon come to an end. "i know you're curious–' how much more can i break Sans?' you think. 'oh, what would happen if i reset?'" Sans mocked, "aren't you waiting to see me snap? you don't want me to, because then i'd be stronger than you." Frisk glanced up, unblinking.

            "Sans, as many good points as you bring up, I don't True Reset anymore." The kid dropped the knife, eyes blurring like a vibrating disk. "You've never gone this far before."

            "chara stops ya', huh?" He wanted to kill the kid and hug them at the same time. Their relationship was constantly strained, from the beginning to now. The once innocent twelve-year-old old was driven to terrible deeds through morbid curiosity. At least Chara had made tha deal with their soul and lives within them. 

            "I like your soulmate. Their soul is almost as broken as mine, minus the determination and drive." The kid sighed deeply, resigned gaze directed at him, "I know it's not my turn anymore." The smile Frisk bore was sad–pitiful, almost. It looked like they were giving up. Sans didn't remember this stare. "I'll keep fighting until you give up too." 

            It felt like years of fighting, but he didn't give in. Sans kept falling asleep by accident but would wake up last minute in some stroke of luck. Except even he knew this wouldn't last. Frisk was stronger than him, and always will be if he doesn't change. Loading, saving, loading, saving...Frisk was determined–but he could see the boredom. It was an opening.

            "okay...okay, kid. i, i'll stop trying to change the timeline. just let everyone go to the surface and be happy, please." He clutched the scarf, honesty in the words, but not the whole truth. "please reset, kid, i can't fight anymore."

            Frisk wasn't stupid, but they overlooked things. They were still a kid, no matter how long they'd been alive. With a satisfied grin, Frisk threw the knife forward precisely into his chest, and the world faded to black.

            Sans woke up to the sound of pots and pans banging.

            Later he met Frisk, and for once no dust covered their hands.

            "don't you know how to greet a new pal'?"

            The dull brown eyes flashed red, "Hey, comedian," Their voice echoed, Sans freezing in place. He'd never heard Chara before. "I know what you're planning, but promise to not dust any monsters, okay?"  The smile was as piercing as their eyes.

            Shivers tickled his spine, but not from the snow. His gaze softened, "yeah, okay. i promise." His hand reached forward and landed on the kids head, crouching down completely. Sans ruffled their brown hair, chuckling at the pouting face the kid made. "keep Frisk in check for me, will ya'?"

            The red glow flared, a short nod from the kid and then it was gone. Frisk blinked, brown eyes clear. "heh, the ol' whoopee cushion in the hand trick." 

            Sans knew he was going down a bad path, but as long as he didn't dust monsters, a part of him would always be stable. Frisk giggled, and he smiled softly when remembering their true personality. Determination breaks anyone and doesn't show mercy.

            His soul throbbed painfully, crying for its other half. Sans was patient. But it was running thin. 

            A long time stood between him and his happiness, but it was fine.

            This was the last time he would wait because this time a mistake won't be redeemable.

            ...

            How long could he pretend to be sane?

 

            Yeah. Frisk had no idea. But Chara did. Chara always knew. With this determination now in Sans, all his emotions were amplified. He was okay with it because being happy was easy now. But you needed him to be there all the time, right? So now he didn't need to feel bad about his actions. Ever. You accepted the bond (though you didn't know everything you knew the basics so it was fine, right?) and you wanted to stay with him. You said you loved him.

            It had only been a few days, but they felt like years. Sans stared down at you, phalanges twitching. He gave in to his desires and hugged you tightly, practically purring at the warmth in his soul. Sans felt if he let go you would disappear. Selfish as it may be, Sans didn't want to share you. With you giggling now, gently rubbing his back in a comforting way, everything finally calmed.

            Everything would be okay. Sans would take care of you. He let his magic comfort your soul, the intent completely positive and warm. You relaxed in his arms without him even having to induce sleepiness in you. With a tilt of the head, he glanced to the side, meeting two blurry red eyes. A small smile lifted their lips, a childish thumbs up directed at him. The red faded and brown remained, indicating which one of them was present. 

            Frisk also smiled, but the slight curiosity in their gaze was directed at you. 

            Sans breathed in deeply, getting control of his thoughts. He couldn't blame it on the determination or his instincts–this is how he is. He had always been this way, just now he couldn't hide it and shove it down. The cap on the bottle of his negative emotions had broken. Frisk glanced at him, gaze slightly wavering. They shook their head, gesturing to you as they did so. Sans exhaled, knowing Frisk wouldn't bother you. It seemed even you had found a place in Frisk's heart as well. 

            Now that he is taking full responsibility, he felt controlling himself would be easier. Denial at his own warped morals is gone. Because now, after seeing Frisk and Chara, knowing of what they had both went through, he felt closer to them than he ever had before. Sans understood. He wasn't evil, but he wasn't good.

            And that was okay.

            All he did was do what he thought was right. And selfish as it may be–Sans gripped onto you, mumbling incoherently–you were his, and he was yours. Forever. You wouldn't die from old age, sickness, and definitely not from physical trauma. Monsters aged much more slowly than humans. And Sans? Well, he was a skeleton with more magic than even he could handle. 

            yeah, he thought, we'll be together

            ...

 

 

"forever"

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

            “E–Everything l–l–looks good.” Alphys smiled. You sighed in relief, adrenaline still buzzing through your system. Thinking back on what had just happened and how much you misunderstood…you wanted to hurl.

            “J–Just make s–s–sure to get s–some rest, okay?” Right now Papyrus was healing your arm that you had been mindlessly scratching at one point. You sat against Sans chest while Undyne stood by the door talking to Toriel. It was a serious conversation, you gathered. With a sigh, the pain in your arm subsided.

            “GOOD AS NEW!!” Papyrus said, patting your shoulder to show you could retrieve your arm. Sans didn’t flinch, lost in his own thoughts. Papyrus moved to heal some nicks in Sans bones, the warm orange glow of magic soothing.

            “Thanks, Papyrus.” You glanced to him with a sincere smile. He nodded in return. “No, seriously, thank you, for everything,” you rubbed your eyes, “I–I almost took something so important to you…”

            “IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT, HUMAN.” The tone was mature and one you wouldn’t expect from Papyrus. “YOU DID WHAT YOU THOUGHT TO BE BEST AT THE COST OF YOUR OWN SELF.” The healing magic stopped, and Papyrus moved from his crouching position into a sitting one. He stared at you and reached one hand outwards. “YOU PUT MY BROTHER FIRST, EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WERE DOING,” you reached a hand forward and held his, “NO, I COULDN’T BE ANGRY. BECAUSE SOMETHING VERY INTIMATE WAS DONE TO YOU WITHOUT PERMISSION AND KIND OF CAUSED THAT CONFUSION.”

            You felt tired. You’d accepted what couldn’t be undone. Alphys had explained in more detail after Sans stopped responding to any words–trying to understand what had just happened. It was something you wouldn’t really notice, but what signified the ‘soul bond’ you mistook for the ‘soulmate’ attachment.

            “YOU ARE NOT ANGRY?”           

            “No, I’m not.” You held his hand, relieved Sans trusted him enough to be close to you. Papyrus understood his brother much more than you did. “There is no point crying over spilled milk.”

            “THERE IS NO MILK???” Papyrus tilted his head, brow bones furrowed. “WHY WOULD YOU CRY ABOUT MILK??” With a giggle you shook your head, explaining it was a metaphor. “AH, YOU HUMANS ARE STRANGE. WHY NOT JUST SAY WHAT YOU MEAN????”

            “Because that would make sense.”

            “EXCUSE???” The skeleton was absolutely baffled by the strange human norms, and you remembered that despite being on the surface for a while, monsters rarely mingled with humans.

            After some giggling on your part, Papyrus also started chuckling in the form of small ‘nyehs’. He patted Sans on the skull a few times. When said skeleton didn’t respond Papyrus exhaled once more. “AH, HE GETS LIKE THIS SOMETIMES.” Papyrus met your eyes, amusement clear.

            “He just naps everywhere?”

            “HE SAYS HE ‘INTELLECTUALLY ZONES OUT’.” Papyrus snorted, shaking his head, “HE’S AWAKE, JUST LIKES TO THINK TOO MUCH.” He dusted off his kneecaps and stood. He outstretched his hand, “YOU SHOULD CLEAN UP.”

            You groaned, “Alright, sure.” You scrunched up your nose at the blood all over you and grimaced. Yeah, you did need to shower. It’s been a few days so you probably smelled too. Before you went to stand up you paused. Papyrus tilted his head.

            Sans was still sitting like a ragdoll, motionless while his eye sockets stayed empty. He wasn’t sleeping because they were open, yet he also wasn’t present. Could you just get up and go? No, you thought, you should snap him out of it and tell him you were going to shower and come back.

            “Sans?” No response. “Saaannnsss?” Not even a twitch. “Saaaaaaaaaaannnnnssssss?” Still no reply. You grumbled impatiently.

            “UH, TRY GENTLY PUNCHING HIM?” Papyrus offered.

            You snorted and gently pat Sans on the cheek. Then again. With your palms, you turned around so you were facing him and patted him all over his face. After a while you became curious. You turned to Papyrus, who was watching with confusion. You grinned cheekily, before leaning in really close to his face. You looked deep into one eye socket, surprised you couldn’t see the back of his skull.

            Instead, it was like an empty void of complete darkness. “Huh, that’s kind of cool.” You wondered if you could…

            “…huh?...” Sans muttered, snapping out of whatever daze he was in. You blinked. He also blinked, only to realize he couldn’t fully because you had stuck your hand into his right eye socket.

            “…”

            You heard snickering from behind you. It sounded like the two lesbian monsters. Another regal laugh echoed, then childish cackling from your side.

            “HUMAN, I UH–PPFFTTT–DON’T THINK THAT IS THE CORRECT–PPFFFBTBTBTB–WAY TO–” Papyrus could barely even speak through his own giggling, and you just sat still. Sans didn’t move, pupil lighting up in his left socket.

            “Ack!” You jumped back and took your hand with you, surprised by his one eye lighting up. Sans blinked a few times and the other lit back up as well. He stared blankly before a burst of laughter erupted from both of you.

            The whole room was full of humor now. Sans shook his head slightly, rubbing the back of his skull with a larger than normal grin. You smiled sheepishly, hunching your shoulders and chuckling awkwardly. The tension that had been high in the room since earlier dissipated with the laughter, Toriel cheerfully announcing she would be making some pie in the kitchen. Papyrus loudly volunteered, Frisk doing the same with a salute. Alphys and Undyne went to the kitchen and sat on the high chairs that were along the island to watch.

            You turned back to Sans with a crooked grin, before noticing his slightly shaken expression. You thought maybe you had hurt him until you remembered what you looked like. “Uh, yeah, I was wondering if I could use your shower? And borrow clothes?”

            Sans looked down, before nodding and showing you a wobbly smile. “yeah, i’ll, uh, lead you there.” Before you stood up two hoodie covered arms picked you up, one holding you around the upper body and below the knees, and the other holding your head into the crook of his neck.

            You didn’t fight it.

            He carried you to his room, setting you on the bed. Sans then shuffled about his disordered space and pulled a large white shirt from his drawer and some shorts. He handed both to you and picked you up once more.

            You held the clothing and his grip tightened when you both stood in front of the bathroom door. The light was on. Sans must be fighting something, for his arms kept tensing and breathing shifting. You kept quiet when he walked in and set you on a small round chair in the corner of the bathroom and turned on the shower.

            Sans fiddled with the settings before wiping his hands off once deciding the temperature was correct. After checking to make sure all necessities such as soap, shampoo, and towels were present he turned back to you.

            “o–okay, i’ll leave ya’ to it.” Sans smiled again, but it was obviously forced. You nodded in return, trying to figure out what was wrong. He began walking out once you stood and you went to close the door behind him.

            Before you could close it a hand grabbed your arm from the other side. “Sans?” You furrowed your brow, opening the door enough to see his expression. He looked like he was about to cry. “Sans, what’s wrong?”

            Despite being tall and bulky he looked absolutely pitiful and small. The hand gripping your arm was trembling. Two faded pupils met yours. “please don’t…leave me…” It was barely a whisper, only heard when listened for. The words repeated in your mind, heart twisting in sorrow.

            “Hey I…I don’t ever plan on leaving you, okay? I don’t know why you are thinking this now after I…I said those things…” You weren’t understanding something, because he wasn’t letting go. Behind his fuzzy eye lights were a whirlwind of thoughts that you couldn’t see. “Why do you think I will?”

            “i don’t i…” Sans stuttered, voice cracking, “it’s just every time…every time i’m not with you…” The water continued pattering, “you…you disappear.” His grip was tight, unmoving.

            …how could you respond to that? Every word he spoke hit something deep within you, twisting in sadness and sympathy–compassion.

            “i just can’t, i can’t lose you again.” A double meaning that you couldn’t understand, for it was something beyond what you know.

            “Sans,” you tried to understand what he could be thinking, “I’m just going to shower, and I'll come right back out when I’m done and you can carry me right back downstairs.” Everything about this conversation seemed ridiculous, but you knew better. This wasn’t about leaving you to shower–it was about leaving you alone after what had just happened.

            “but what if you get hurt or-or start thinking and thinking bad things and i can’t stop those thoughts and you’ll–you’ll–

            “How about I sing?”

            Sans paused in his anxious rambling.

            “Yeah, I’ll sing while I shower so you know I’m okay.” You patted yourself on the back mentally at the idea. Sans seemed to think it over and the grip on your arm loosened until it was completely gone.

            “yeah–yeah that seems good,” the shaky smile was back, but looked more genuine, “just don’t stop, because-because i would probably freak out…a little…” You grinned good-naturedly and leaned forward to pat his arm. With that, he stepped back and let you close the door. You turned around with a sigh and walked toward the shower–

            “sweetheart?? are you okay?”

            “Yup! I’m just thinking of a song.” You called out, soul warming slightly at the concern. It reminded you of how a parent would be around their child if they’d recently tried to die. “Okay! I thought of one.” You stripped quickly and stepped into the shower, and you felt him about to call to you again so you quickly began singing.

 

 

****

 

 

            “Imagine me and you–I do. I think about you day and night, it’s only right–to think about the girl you love, and hold her tight. So happy together~”

            Sans sighed in relief, knees giving out under him. He sat with his back against the door, skull against it with his eyes closed.

            “If I should call you up, invest a dime, and you say you belong to me, and ease my mind; imagine how the world could be, so very fine. So happy together~”

            He relaxed his twitching bones and agitated soul, focusing on your voice. You were alive–you were right behind him.

            “I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you, for all my life. When you’re with me baby, skies’ll be blue, for all my life~”

            The smile on his face softened, no longer tense. Sans had heard this song before but never paid attention to it.

            “Me and you, and you and me, no matter how they toss the dice, it had to be. The only one for me is you, and you for me. So happy together~”

            It was a good song. He liked it. The tone was happy and hopeful and about two people in love. Sans still couldn’t believe you’d said you loved him.

            “I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you, for all my life. When you’re with me baby, skies are blue for all my life~”

            Sans wondered if you had seen any of his old memories. It seemed not. He had seen a few of yours–very blurry–but they were the memories that stuck with you. Sans was glad you didn’t see his.

            “Me and you, and you and me, no matter how they toss the dice, it had to be. The only one for me is you, and you for me. So happy together~”

            You would’ve probably seen the first time they got to the surface.

            Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba

            You would’ve probably seen the first genocide run.

            Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba

            You would’ve probably seen him realize that he would forever be stuck in a loop, a curious anomaly to blame.

            “Me and you, and you and me, no matter how they toss the dice, it had to be. The only one for me is you, and you for me. So happy together~”

            You would’ve probably seen him give up for the first time.

            “So happy together~”

            Maybe even see him dust himself.

            “How is the weather~”

            Or when he learned about True Resets.

            “So happy together~”

            When he stopped caring.

            “We’re happy together~”

            Perhaps see him almost dust himself on the surface.

            “So happy together~”

            Or see his hope when he met you.

            “Happy together~”

            The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

            “So happy together~”

            Was he truly insane if he broke the loop and changed the result?

            "So happy together~”

            Sans sighed deeply hearing the water shut off. You continued to hum, and he only listened. The warmth in his soul corrected his negative thoughts. Humans didn’t receive impactful memories like monsters did. Sans knows some of yours, but you knew not of his. And that was good.

            Maybe you’d see why he’s this way if you did. Toriel knowing these things would make her change her views. If she’d known what he was experiencing before seeing you that first time, she wouldn’t be so confident in her analysis of the situation.

            But he couldn’t.

            It was a secret only he, Frisk, and Chara knew. And the weed. Sans snorted at the thought, almost chuckling when remembering the flower. The knob began turning and Sans immediately stood and faced the door. Your beautiful eyes shined playfully when you peeked out, a bashful blush dusting your cheeks as well. “Uh, your clothes are really big, so I look kind of funny.” With another tiny smile, you opened the door fully.

            His shirt was a dress on you, almost reaching past your knees. His shorts also were pants on you, and despite being rolled up the ends were dragging along the floor. Your hair was tousled and messy from the towel drying you had done–the sleeves from his shirt hanging very loosely over your shoulders.

            “You’re making a weird face.” You rose a brow, looking up at him. Sans, flustered, could only stutter out something along the lines of ‘okay’.

            what the fuck you’re so cute that’s illegal–

            “Oi, come on!” You whined, pouting slightly, “I know I look funny but try not to laugh too hard.” You walked forward more and closed the door behind you, turning back to him with that endearing grin still present. Sans didn’t know what to do with himself. “Hey, you look like a blueberry!” You laughed, and Sans lifted his hood over his head and tightened the strings. “Aw, that was really cute.”

            “w–whuh…?? i uh…….” You walked forward and held your arms up, tilting your head with an expectant look. Sans really didn’t know what to do with himself. This was very dangerous.

            “Are you going to carry me? Or do I get to walk this time?” This was an absolutely dangerous situation. His soul pulsed at you being in his clothes, looking adorably small and asking to be held by him. “Okay, I’ll walk then.” You turned to walk down the hall, the shorts rolled up quite a bit and yet still dragging along the floor.

            Definitely dangerous.

            “Are you co–whoa!”

            Sans teleported you both into his room, you now in his arms on his bed. He snuggled you tightly. You, in his clothes, in his room, safe and protected in his arms…

            mine

            “Are you purring?” You seemed incredulous yet amused. Sans felt his face go blue from embarrassment one more, tightening his hoodie strings even more. You were sitting across from him, still on his bed, looking like you were going to tease him any second now. Before he could gather himself you had crawled forward and sat right in front of his face, hands on his chest. “You totally are!”

            He has never been so embarrassed. “m' not purring,” Sans protested, “s' my soul being happy or whatever. it, like, vibrates a bit so it makes a sound against my bones.”

            “That is still considered purring.”

            Sans grumbled. You looked very amused.

            “not purring. i’m not a cat.”

            You pressed your ear to his chest around where his soul is. “By definition, to purr is to ‘make a low continuous vibratory sound usually expressing contentment’ and that seems like what is going on.” You lifted your head to look him straight on with a cheeky grin. “Maybe you were supposed to be a cat monster but forgot to develop the fur.”

            “oh my god.”

            “Can you meow?”

            “i’d rather die.”

            “Come on, please?”

            “no.”

            “Pleeaaaaasssse?”

            “…no.”

            “Pleeeeeeeaaaaaaassssseeee?”

            “………”

            “…meow…”

            You laughed loudly. He purposefully pronounced it blandly and articulately as to sound nothing like a cat. Sans couldn’t help but chuckle as well, your laughter contagious. When you calmed down slightly he did it again in a deeper voice, making you giggle again.

            “what’s so funny?” Sans quipped, “never heard a skeleton meow before?” Your eyes lit up in the most beautiful way, laughter behind the colored irises. He reached forward and rested his hand on your head, resting his phalanges in your soft hair. Without thinking he ran them through it in slight curiosity, almost a petting motion.

            Looks like he wasn’t the only berry. Your face looked like a strawberry now, red and eyes wide. Sans studied your face, and you look up at him in questioning. He brought his other hand up to smooth over your cheeks, gently tracing your features. The flush made your skin warm, a colored undertone that showed life.

            In the back of his mind he heard the clanking of a struggling music box.

            “Sans?” He watched your lips move, your jaw moving in sync with the word. It was his name, he knew, but it felt like so much more when you said it. “Should we talk about what to do going forward?”

            Sans let go of your face, cupping it before stuffing his hands into his hoodie pockets. His legs were still crossed over one another, you sitting in the space in the middle of them. You were so small compared to him. He felt responsible for your every need. You were just so fragile and human. Frisk popped into his mind, the comparison striking a bigger difference–for Frisk had a stronger soul, and Sans doesn’t think Frisk can even be considered a human anymore.

            “I don’t know if I can sing every time I go to the bathroom,” you chuckled slightly, “and there are going to be times we can’t be like this, you know?” Sans stayed calm because you were the one saying it. And deep down, he knew it was true.

            “yeah.”

            “And maybe I should find a way to carry my own weight, I don’t want to be–”

            “i swear to god if you call yourself a burden i will not be able to control myself.” His magic spiked dangerously, not accepting any negative comments toward you even if they were from yourself. “don’t even fuckin' think it.”

            You had leaned back when he first interrupted you, before sighing in defeat. “I don’t mean to. It’s just how I’ve always thought. It’s not something I can change easily.” Sans wanted to massacre everyone from your past. “Anyways, I was asking to know more about you, I guess. I don’t really know anything about you besides the basics.”

            That was true, Sans thought. Plus, the thought of you, an angel, wanting to get to know him drove him crazy. “heh, what ya' wanna know?”

            You paused, tugging on a strand of your hair. Sans thought it was a cute quirk that you did so when focusing. “Well, how old are you?” He rose a brow bone, searching through his mind for an answer.

            …huh, that was a harder question then he expected. With all the timelines in his head, and saving and reloading jumbling early memories, Sans actually couldn’t remember. A pit in his would–be stomach expanded, dropping in an unsettling throbbing. The thought shouldn’t be scary, and yet an unease only experienced in the likeness of ‘uncanny valley’ made the world spin.

            “oh…uh…probably…” You looked at Sans with concern–he was sweating, “…tori is a lot older than me so…and paps is…how old? um, physically for a monster i’d be in my twenties–i think–but magic extends lifespans so now m' not aging…? uh, i aged pretty normally before Frisk…” He wracked his brain from some semblance of an answer, not realizing his own slip up. Your eyes flickered with curiosity, then confusion.  

            “Frisk? What does Frisk have to do with your age–?”

            “how old are you?” Sans cut you off, hoping that would distract you enough.

            “Oh, I’m legal if that’s what you were wondering.” You gave a cheeky grin, prodding his ‘cheek’. Sans flushed, swatting it away gently before holding onto it. His hand was much larger compared to yours.

            “whatever. doesn’t matter. age won’t really matter from now on.”

            “Oh, I did have a question about that actually.”

            “shoot.”

            “Will I be able to use magic?”

            “uh, no. not how that works. we’re sharing a magic source in the bonded souls, so to preserve your being (to keep it from dying of old age) my magic is supplied to us both.”

            “And you have a lot of magic?” There was a slight disappointment in your voice, and he resisted the urge to chuckle.

            “…i’ve developed a decent amount since being on the surface.” Sans sheepishly looked down, not wanting you to pry too much. It felt too early to speak of his actions because there was still a possibility you’d... “…k…kth…” He clenched his teeth to stop a violent tremor in his bones.

            You studied him, confusion in your gaze before suddenly widening your eyes. “Did you just feel that?” Sans recoiled. “I felt something,” you pressed your hand to the area your heart would be, “right here. I felt something.”

            “what?” Sans watched your focused features.

            “Yeah! After you said that something in my heart just–no, something in my soul reacted to yours! It was–it was like remembering a feeling that I’d never experienced. Did you feel it too? What was that?”

            You brought his hand to where yours previously was. Sans realized what was happening. “my soul sent a distress signal and called to yours.” You looked to him for clarification, but he was more focused on the state if his own being. “i thought somethin’ bad, and my soul must’ve gotten scared or somethin’ and wanted you to help.”

            “Is that why I felt this weird pull to be near you?” The sparkling wonder in your eyes put him at ease. “That’s awesome! Now, whenever you start to feel really bad I can tell right away, without you even saying anything!” Sans nodded his head, running his fingers over your knuckles.

            “heh, yeah. damage control will be much easier.” Sans grinned lopsidedly, closing one eyelid. You chuckled slightly.

            “Can you tell if I’m feeling bad?”

            “not in the same way. your soul isn’t as strong.” Sans grimaced, clenching his teeth against the urge to grab you tightly. “it’s alright doll, i’ll always be around to make sure you’re okay.”

            “That doesn’t sound so bad,” A flirtatious tone and a tiny smirk made him flush again, soul battering against his ribcage, “I happen to enjoy being around you.”

            oh shit oh shit am i being seduced

            “uh…heh, i mean…who wouldn’t? heh.” Sans awkwardly rubbed his neck, trying to hide his embarrassment. It didn’t work, because his face gave it away.

            You grinned and opened your mouth to speak but a knock on the door interrupted you. Sans suppressed a growl and grit his teeth. He swore in his mind and tried to regulate his magic in a non-violent way when the door opened.

            “_______, dear? May I speak with you?”

            Sans gripped the bed under him, trying to gain control over his magic and mind. It was Toriel, his old friend, he knew her. He needed to prove her wrong and show he could control himself just fine.

            “Oh, sure, what’s up?” You turned away from Sans and his gaze darkened.

            look at me look at me look at me

            “My child, I do wish to speak in private, if you do not mind.”

            You turned to him and tilted your head, “Sans, I’ll be right back. Will you be okay?” You looked concerned and must have felt his soul becoming distressed. No, he needed to prove Toriel wrong. It would just be for a little while. You would be right outside. It’s fine. Toriel needs to see that he is very stable.

            “yeah, i’ll probably take a nap. heh.” You nodded slowly, eyes shining with worry still. He was touched by your worry but kept smiling. This was important. Toriel needed to see that you loved him too and that the relationship was perfect. She would see separating you both would be a terrible idea.

            heh. i’d like to see her try

            Sans almost snorted at the thought.

            You left the bed and he inhaled deeply. It was fine. Everything would be okay. He can feel your soul when it’s so close, a door doing nothing to block that connection. Toriel gave him a look before closing the door behind you.

            Sans inhaled.

            come back come back come back please please please come back

            Sans exhaled, closing his eyes. He needed to relax so his anxiety would ease. It was a fight against himself. The thoughts in his mind were rapid and uncontrollable, but you being near at least calmed him slightly.

            …

            Slightly.

            …

            falling asleep.

            …

            sleeping

            ...

            How long had it been? It’s been too long and he wanted to see you. He wanted to see you right now. Right now.

            where is m y huma n g iv eth ee m baa c k

            Sans eyes snapped open with his vision now tinted purple. The world bent and twisted around him, breathing shallow and quick. He yanked down on his right eye socket and desperately tried to control himself.

            where are they where is my human my human my mine m in e m ine m i n e

            Sans dug his fingers into the mattress, sweat dripping down his skull. He’s trying so hard to stay put. He only wants to be near you. Why was everyone still getting in the way? It’s too much. He thought he could do this. He can’t. He’s too weak. He can’t do it. He needs you right now.

            Sans scrambled off the bed and rushed to the door, unable to focus and dismiss his magic or shortcut normally. He reached for the handle and turned it.

            It…didn’t open?

            The walls were closing in. Why was the room getting smaller? The room was shrinking right before his eyes. Panic cut off his breathing and Sans desperately tried to open the door but his magic somehow disappeared.

            “please open please–please let me out.”

            Weakness washed over him while he pounded on the door, sinking to his knees and grabbing his skull. He sobbed and lifted his arms to scratch at the door. “sweetheart! sweetheart please–please help me! i don’t–i can’t get out! let me out! LET ME OUT OF HERE!

            Sans heard you calling for him. “SWEETHEART?!” He bellowed, voice cracking as he did so. He turned around and saw Toriel strangling you. Sans tried to stand up but couldn’t, magic not responding when he tried to wield it. He shouted out desperately, sobbing when the walls kept closing in. You stopped struggling and soon the walls had crushed both you and Toriel. Sans froze at the smell of blood and the taste of dust.

            “heh heh heh h ehheh he hh ehhe h h ehh  ehhe hh ehheh”

            Laughter burst out of him hysterically, tears raining down his face into a puddle on the floor. He grabbed his skull, eye lights dilated to the point of filling his sockets with a sickening red and blue. The ground shuddered beneath him while the walls crawled closer.

            Sans sat against the door, grabbing at his hoodie after yanking on his eye socket. He repeated your name over and over, hands ripping at the blue hoodie he always wore. You didn’t respond to his calls. The walls are closer.

            “AHAHAHAAAHAAHAHAAHAAAA”

             Sans leaned forward and placed his head between his knees, teeth cracking at the force and size of his smile. Your screams in his mind broke any coherent thoughts. The screams wouldn’t stop. The walls kept closing in. Sans banged his skull against the door with all his might.

            And he was out like a light.

  

****

 

            “Are you okay my child?” Toriel grasped your hands once the door closed, red eyes filled with warmth and concern. You smiled gently, looking up at her.

            “I’m fine. Sans snapped me out of it.” Toriel wavered slightly at what you said but shook her head. Something was on her mind and a stern look took her smile.

            “You should know that we are all worried, and I wanted to ask of you something.” You felt something in your chest, that distress you had felt before. Your gaze glanced at the door, knowing of his anxiety. “Alphys has a machine in her lab that nullifies monster magic, a contraption of sorts to help him come back to his senses. Of course, it doesn’t fix anything, but it gives him time to relax and process his emotions, yes?”

            You paused, brows furrowing. “A machine? Would he be hooked up to something?” It felt harder to breathe and you wondered if it was because of you or Sans.

            “Unfortunately he would be completely stationary for the time he is…” She looked to the side, but you gathered what she meant. Restrained. “There is a mask used by doctors that supplies air to a being to help them breathe, and that is what we will use to supply air based magic suppressors.”

            You didn’t like it.

            “...let me out of here!”

            You turned swiftly to the door, shuddering. Were you hearing things? You looked to Toriel but she seemed unaware. Maybe it was just you? “We need your help to bring Sans there and reassure him so he knows this is good for him.” You listened but were distracted at a sinking feeling in your gut.

            “…sweetheart!”

            You turned back to the door, eyes wide. No, you weren’t hearing things. You stepped forward with a shaky hand and reached for the doorknob only to have a white fluffy paw stop you.

            “He is fine, my child, it has only been a few minutes. The door is not locked, if Sans wanted to come out he would.” You looked to her with a slightly slack jaw. Could she not hear that? You pulled your hand away from hers, backing up slightly. You shook your head, before hugging yourself. You felt sick.

            “…ahahahaaahaahahaAHAAAA”

            Toriel’s froze.

            You looked to her with panic.

            That didn’t sound like Sans.

            You rushed past Toriel and opened the door with ease. You expected to see Sans by the door or pacing or be present in the room. But…

            You couldn’t see him at all.

            “Sans!?” You spun around trying to find him, only to stop once he suddenly materialized on the bed. With relief, you rushed forward to ask why he had teleported–until you stopped to really take him in.

            You took a step back.

            “…Sans?”

            You swallowed the bile in your throat.

             “Sans, it’s me.”

            Those empty eye sockets filled you with dread.

            “You can see me, right?”

            You looked slightly upwards.

            “My child, please come here slowly,” Toriel whispered from behind you, refusing to step into the room. “Don’t make sudden movements.”

            You blinked and even rubbed your eyes. You turned to the side and threw up. You weren’t seeing things.

            “Come here!” Toriel had stepped into the room with that terror-filled whisper, paw reaching out and grabbing onto your shoulder.

            The next moment went by too fast for you to comprehend. For one moment the goat mother was pulling you out of the room, but in the next blood dripped from the bones pinning her to the wall in the hallway. You screamed in shock, turning only to see one red pupil. Purple mist spilled from the other.

            The skeleton stepped forward, height more apparent then you remembered. He loomed over you, smile wide. You almost pissed your pants. You shook in fear when a hand reached forward and gently brushed your hair behind your ear.

            “i missed you so much!” You stopped yourself from recoiling, for it was Sans voice without a doubt. You tried to say something, anything, but fear had closed your vocal cords. “i saw her strangle you and you g–g–geee tt crushed by the walls s––so o  i thought y–ou were GONE hehhehhehhehheh...”

            You couldn’t stop staring at his skull, the twitching of his body accentuating the constantly changing size of his pupil. You looked to your side and saw Toriel was gone. The bones were on the ground so you assumed she fled.

            Sans’ phalanges twitched at his sides before be brought them both to your face and cupped it. His hands were much bigger than you remembered, perhaps because of your concern over his madness.

            Your head was tilted completely upwards to stare into his eyes, him hunching over until his face was barely inches apart from yours. His one eye light flickered into a heart, smile softening slightly.

            Oh god, you really tried to pretend. You really tried not to look. But it was too apparent. You reached upward and rested your hand on his cheek before bringing it upwards. Sans flinched but then purred, burying his face into the crevice between your neck and shoulder. You let the tears fall when horror clenched your soul.

            A hole.

            There was a hole in his skull.

            You couldn’t stop shaking.

            “H–H–Hey Sans? W–What hap–pened t–to your s–s–skull?” You managed to get those words out, ignoring the way his arms snaked possessively around your body.

            “hmm~? oh, i don’t remember…i think it was when the walls got too close.” His body tremored, and you gasped for air when his grip tightened. Fuck. You couldn’t breathe. You struggled a bit and choked out his name, only to bite your tongue by accident when he suddenly lifted you up.  

            You grimaced at the pain and felt him shift you into that baby hold he always carried you with. “i feel s o o much better now~~heh heh.” When he walked you could hear something clanging in his skull. You swallowed. It’s the piece of his skull that broke off.  “m' going to dust them all now!!” Sans laughed and leaned forward, grabbing at his chest desperately with his free hand. Panic crossed his gaze because it disappeared and hallowed out.

            What did he mean ‘dust them’? What did–

            Oh.

            Oh fuck.

            You squirmed, eyes watering. Sans tightened his grasp and rotated his skull unnaturally so he was facing you. “Sans you’re scaring me!” You cried, shaking like a leaf. His steps halted with a stutter and his eye light changed to a panicked blue before returning to that fuzzy red.

            “don’t worry sweetheart–my skull is brokenit’ll be okay–help me please–i’ll make them all go away now–fix me fix it i can’t control–so you will be safe!”

            You leaned forward, noticing his flickering pupil. You extended a hand outward and reached for the hole in his skull. Sans flinched harshly and squeezed you tightly, making you yelp and curl back up into a fetal position.

            “why would you do that–get papyrus–that hurts you know–hurry i can’t–but i forgive you because you didn’t know.”

            You screamed Papyrus’s name. Sans paused and wrapped his other arm around you, pressing you against him painfully. “who is that–paps please help me–why are you saying someone else’s name–i’m so sorry–you only need me.”

            You tried to even your breathing when seeing Papyrus rush up the stairs with alarm. He looked to you before looking at his brother. Papyrus froze. “BROTHER?”

            “heh heh heh…no…no my brother is dead…i know he is…” Sans chuckled darkly, twitching, “stop pretending–paps help me–that you’re my real brother.” Papyrus brought his hand to his mouth and closed his eyes before opening them.

            His eyes lit up with vibrant orange, smile falling into a frown. The scarf around his neck seemed to flow in a wind that wasn’t present. “BROTHER, PUT THE HUMAN DOWN.” Sans snarled.

            “ n o my human my h u man!!” Sans backed up quickly, almost tripping over his own feet. He held you tighter and you gasped for air.

            “SANS.” Papyrus but his hands on his hipbones, narrowing his eyes. “WHAT DID I SAW ABOUT BEING SELFISH?” Sans recoiled and whined, falling to the ground after tripping on the carpet.

            “not bein’ selfish. this human is mine. get your own.” Sans was acting…like a child who didn’t want to share a toy. You looked to Papyrus with confusion yet he looked surprisingly calm despite the situation.

            “I DON’T WANT TO TAKE YOUR HUMAN, SANS.” Papyrus rolled his eyes, “I HAVE MY OWN. I WANT TO HEAL YOU BUT I CAN’T IF YOU KEEP RUNNING AWAY.” Papyrus took a large step forward, strides naturally long in the first place. “HOLD THEM, I DON’T CARE, BUT JUST LET ME HEAL YOU.”

            Sans chest rumbled when Papyrus drew near, scooting away while refusing to let you go. Papyrus sighed, shaking his head. “I’M NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING TO YOUR HUMAN. I WON’T EVEN TOUCH THEM.” Sans glared.

            Papyrus glared right back, scolding in his gaze. He knelt down next to Sans and brought his hand forward, avoiding you completely. “I’M JUST GOING TO MEND YOUR SKULL.” Sans was completely tense, eye sockets wide and arms shaking around you. Papyrus rested his hand on Sans skull and an orange light glowed from it.

            Sans grimaced in pain, features twisting into a frown.

            After a few minutes, the arms around you went slack. A sign of relief came from your left and a thud resounded from your right. “OOPS.” Papyrus lifted Sans back up and leaned him against the wall, hoping to mend the rest of the smaller cracks on his skull.

            You just kind of sat there.

            “What the fuck.”

            “LANGUAGE.”

            “What was that?”

            “BROKEN SKULL.”

            “I gathered that,” You scowled, “but why was he like that?”

            “I BROKE MY SKULL ONCE.” Papyrus ignored your question and sighed, leaning back away from Sans. He looked satisfied with the healing, “ACTED LIKE A CHILD AND LOST RATIONALITY.” Papyrus looked at Sans once more, smile back but obviously tired. “SANS CAN’T HEAL SO HE BROUGHT ME TO THE HOSPITAL UNDERGROUND. THEY FIXED ME UP BUT THEY COULDN’T GET ME AWAY FROM FRISK.” Frisk? He chuckled, scratching the back of his head. You focused your gaze and noticed for the first time a very faint scar. “FOR A KID FRISK IS VERY MATURE, WHICH I GUESS IS WHY WE’RE BEST FRIENDS!!!” Papyrus beamed. You wondered if he knew he was avoiding the question.

            “But what about–”

            “LOOK, HUMAN,” He turned to you, “I KNOW THIS ISN’T YOUR FAULT. ME AND MY BROTHER HAS ALWAYS BEEN…OFF.” Papyrus looked down and rubbed his arm, “AND BEFORE WE CAME TO THE SURFACE, AND BEFORE FRISK FELL DOWN, SOMETHING HAD CHANGED WITHIN SANS. I NOTICED IT BECAUSE HIS SMILE WAS MORE FAKE THAN USUAL.”

            You rose your brow.

            “I TRIED TO ASK BUT HE WOULDN’T SAY, THINKING I’M TOO INNOCENT OR SOMETHING. HE’D ALWAYS SUFFERED FROM NIGHT TERRORS, BUT ONCE WE GOT TO THE SURFACE THEY STARTED TO STOP HAPPENING.” Papyrus looked to you with a shaky smile, “AND THEN HE MET YOU. I HADN’T SEEN HIS REAL SMILE IN A VERY LONG TIME.”

            You gazed at the ground and then at Sans, watching his peaceful expression while he slept. “THIS ISN’T YOUR FAULT HUMAN,” You shook your head, “REALLY. I KNEW HIS SOUL WAS POISONED LONG BEFORE MEETING YOU.”

            Now that got your attention. “Huh?”

            Papyrus looked at you, before turning around and shouting, “FRISK!” You gazed in confusion while the pattering of footsteps drew near. The brown haired kid skidded to a halt right at the turn of the hallway, almost crashing into the wall. You snorted in amusement, watching the kid flail around.

            “FRISK COME HERE PLEASE.” Frisk nodded with a blank expression, walking over and sitting beside you. You noticed them looking at Sans with concern, and you smiled gently. “STAY WITH _________ AND SANS WHILE I TALK TO TORIEL.” Frisk straightened their back and saluted, sending Papyrus on his way.

            Brown eyes bore into yours. “What happened this time?” Your brow twitched, sighing deeply.

            “He broke his skull.” Frisk’s eyes widened, shining with surprise and sadness. They were a kid, and you couldn’t help but want to soothe them. So you did. You wrapped them in a big hug and rubbed their back gently.  “It’s okay, Papyrus healed him.” Frisk sniffled, clutching onto your shirt.

            Yeah, they were definitely young. You weren’t sure why you thought otherwise before–Frisk was just a child who saved the entire monster race at the age of ten. Their drive was admirable and something you always wanted.

            The crying stopped.

            “Don’t let them take him.”

            You froze, the light whisper almost inaudible.

            “I know you don’t want too so please don’t let them.”

            You leaned back but Frisk clung to your neck, head resting on your chest and looking up at you pitifully. Large tears welled in their eyes along with a red nose and cheeks. It was adorably tragic.

            “Please. I know it won’t end well.”

            They breathed out slowly. You smiled softly and began petting their head, trying to soothe the worked up child. “I understand, but it may not be my choice. Especially after that event…” You glanced to the side where Sans was propped up sleeping, “they won’t listen to what Sans wants anymore.”

            “Just don’t.” Frisk narrowed their eyes, backing up slightly before grabbing both your hands in theirs. “Trust me, SS, I know how it would end.” A flash of red flickered behind their gaze and you shuddered.

            “I want him to stay here,” you closed your eyes briefly, unable to imagine Sans restrained like an animal. “There is only so much I can handle as well. But I don’t know how his skull managed to break, because if he needed to see me the door wasn’t locked (not like that would stop him anyway)–” You paused.

            Huh. How did that happen? The door wasn’t even a blockade; it was more of a courtesy to give Toriel the illusion of privacy.  

            “Sans dosed off most likely,” Frisk shrugged, “he’s been using a lot of magic and was trying to stay calm so he fell asleep. Then a night terror must have hit him because of his anxiety at your distance.”

            You groaned, rubbing your furrowed brows. “Seriously? He can’t even sleep now? If I were him I’d be sleeping like the dead.” Frisk giggled at the pun, reaching up and rubbing your forehead. You smiled slightly and chuckled, letting them. With nothing else to do you began doing the same.

            “WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING???” Papyrus strode over, baffled. Frisk managed to keep a straight face while you were barely keeping it together.

            “Massaging each other’s stress away. Very effective.” Frisk jutted out their chin and hummed, peering their eyes with pretend focus. “Ah, yes, there is some stress, let me remove that for you!” Papyrus looked with intrigue while you tried to keep a stern face.

            “Yes, yes. Frisk, it seems there is some stress at your temples.” Your fingers circled in a clockwise motion at the mentioned area, “Let Dr. SS fix it.” Frisk giggled at that, and you pinched their cheeks when they smiled. “Cute!” You gushed, pushing their cheeks together and smooshing them around.

            “Rhphblease mhee!” Frisk whined, sticking out their tongue and attempting to lick your hand in retaliation. Before you could do anything else Frisk was lifted from the ground by two large gloves.

            Frisk blew a raspberry at you, despite being the one held by the armpits high in the air. You looked at Papyrus with a raised brow, who flushed a slight orange before fidgeting. “T–THE GREAT PAPYRUS ALWAYS HELPS A FRIEND IN NEED!!!” He moves Frisk onto his shoulder, who continues to stick their tongue out at you, “AND FRISK IS A FRIEND INDEED!”

            “Yeah! And that rhymed!” Frisk pumped their fist up, resting their elbow on his skull for balance. It was kind of funny to look at, with how tall and lanky Papyrus is Frisk’s legs swing at around his chest(ribcage?) when seated on his shoulder.

            “NYEH HEH…HEH?”  Papyrus froze when Frisk yawned loudly and laid their head on his, closing their eyes. You held back at amused grin at Papyrus freaking out. “ARE YOU SLEEPING??? ON MY HEAD???” It’s adorable seeing the two of them interact.

            “Ya’. It’s comfy up here where I can’t be pinched.” They glared playfully, and you grinned in return. Frisk patted Papyrus’s head, swinging their legs. “Plus, I get to see the world from your point of view. I’m much shorter usually.” Papyrus was about to retort but Frisk narrowed their eyes and tensed. “Speaking of sleeping–”

            You turned around quickly and saw Sans starting to stir. With a smile, you scooted closer so you were just out of arms reach but close enough in case you wanted to initiate contact. After a few moments Sans’ sockets popped open, eye lights constricted to the point of invisibility. His pupils darted around frantically over Papyrus and Frisk before resting on you.

            Sans reached up shakily to his head, feeling around his skull with hesitance. It was healed now, and he let out a huge sigh. You studied him warily, not knowing how much rationality he would keep. Before you could come up with anything to say he looked at you with fuzzy eye lights.

            “i…i’m so sorry…i didn’t mean to…” He tapped his fingers together, looking down in shame, “i must have been dreaming and…it was a night terror most likely…” Sans clutched his chest, pupil flashing a bright purple before disappearing. “oh god…what…?” He stuck his hand into his right socket and yanked down on it forcefully.

            “Sans!” You rushed forward and grabbed onto that arm and pulled it away from his face. With the way his eyes danced around to avoid meeting your gaze, you knew that he wasn’t okay. I mean, was he ever? You shook your head. “It’s my fault for not going to you right when I felt something was off. Toriel was asking of me something really important and I just–”

            “what’d she ask?” Sans looked uncaring, nonchalant with the way he’d asked. You narrowed your eyes slightly but tried to keep a gentle smile.

            “Nothing that I would agree to.”

            An awkward cough came from behind you.

            “UH, SO, SANS? I HEALED YOUR SKULL SO PLEASE DON’T BREAK IT AGAIN. IT WAS VERY ALARMING HOW YOU ACTED.” Papyrus fiddled his fingers, “AND I DO WANT TO TELL YOU THAT I! THE GREAT PAPYRUS! WILL MAKE SURE TO CONVINCE THEM THAT YOU SHOULD NOT BE LOCKED UP!!!! BECAUSE YOU ARE MY DEAREST BROTHER!!! AND I KNOW THAT THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT.”

            Inspiring speech, really. Too bad he completely gave away what the conversation with Toriel was about. Frisk slapped their forehead and groaned. “Papy, I agree, but you could have worded that so much better.” 

            “lock me up? but m' not dangerous? why would they think that?”

            Sans paused, his piercing gaze now directly meeting yours.

            “sweetheart?”

            You glanced sideways to avoid eye contact.

            “did tori tell you to trick me?”

            “What? No!” You recoiled, “Of course not! She just wanted me to help you and lead you to the lab or whatever and convince you to use the magic-nullifying thing so you could process everything and…be…restrained…” You blinked. Huh, that sounds really bad. “Wait, what the fuck?” You blanched. You didn’t even process that before saying it!

            "LANGUAGE–"

            “heh, that’s hilarious. alphys’ lab?” Sans uttered, grin widening, “she really did try to trick you, huh?” You shook your head immediately and waved your hands back and forth, hearing Frisk suck air through their teeth.

            “No, no. I never was going to go along with it so–”

            “so she did try to trick you?”

            Oh jeez. Oh jeez.

            “No! You misunderstand! It wasn’t even her idea!”

            You heard Frisk smack their forehead again.

            “so it was alphys’ idea?”

            “No! I mean–yes–no I mean–” You turned around for help but Papyrus was whistling awkwardly while looking away and Frisk was pretending to be deaf. Great. Fantastic. “Undyne talked to Toriel too–” Frisk groaned loudly.

            “so they were all planning on backstabbing me?”

            “No! No! That is incorrect!” You frantically tried to backpedal, “They’re your friends, right? That’s why they wanted me to come too because they know–”

            “they were using you?” Sans just kept getting angrier and you were only making it worse. Far worse. Was he only hearing the negative aspects!?

            “No, they asked me! I would’ve had to consent.”

            “really?”

            “Of course–what?” You wavered.

            “will they really respect your decision?”

            “Y–yes, because they seem really nice and–”

            “they seem really nice, yeah. i know. it ain’t your fault sweetheart, they had me fooled too.” Sans looked…hurt. You clutched your chest. No, he felt betrayed. What could you even say? Now that you thought about it, it didn’t take all that long for his friends to stop believing in him. If Papyrus was on board it’d be different, but he seems vehemently against the idea, and so does Frisk!

            Of course, he’s dangerous, but you’ve always been able to calm him down if you’re there. It was kind of inhumane to just…toss him away…like trash…

            You started shaking.

            ‘trash’

            You tried to blink away the memories.

            you should have never been born

            You looked down at your hands, and for a split second, they were purple and cold. Completely numb.

            ‘your fault your fault’

            You gasped for air.

            ‘no child of mine’

            Two arms wrapped around you with the gentle whisperings of loving words following. You leaned into the warmth.

            ‘should’ve sent you away when we had the chance’

            A pulsing warmth went straight to your heart, your soul, and quickly began chasing away the negative memories. “come on doll, come back to me. m' sorry. i didn’t mean to trigger a panic attack. m' so sorry. m' sorry." It’s okay. You couldn’t say it out loud, but maybe he could feel it. You understand how he’s feeling but didn’t want to think about it. You thought if you convinced Sans that his friends meant well you’d believe it.

            “i won’t forgive them.”

            “SANS–”

            “paps. i know you think they’re wrong too.”

            “YES BUT THEY JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND–”

            “don’t you get it, paps? we were always outsiders. never understood. we were the only skeletons down there and everyone made sure to remind us.”

            “THEY WELCOMED US WITH OPEN ARMS!!!”

            “did you forget about alphys and her tests? about undyne never letting you in the royal guard? our queen hiding behind that door while asgore killed innocent children? he would have killed frisk, papyrus!” That seemed to have struck a chord. You blinked away remaining tears and glanced from between Sans’ protecting arms. Papyrus was now holding Frisk under their arms in front of himself.

            “this human kid is your best friend, but not any of the monsters we lived with for years?” Sans was choked up, raspy voice deep and sorrowful. “we’re skeletons, papyrus. we’re known as ‘those monsters’ that just showed up one day.” Sans grit his teeth, narrowing his eyes. “you know how many times i was told i’d never have a soulmate?”

            Papyrus flinched. “yeah. you were told too, weren’t you?” Papyrus held Frisk to himself like a mother would cradle a baby. Frisk looked alarmed, gaze flashing red. “i was in denial. we never belonged there. we never belonged anywhere!” Sans squeezed you harder and you gasped, unable to take your eyes away from Frisk. Their eyes were changing. You’d seen it happen before but thought it was always a trick of the light. No, they were becoming a bright red, and a smile you’d never seen on them before took their face.

            “even i was–oh fuck.Sans halted completely, eye lights going out completely. Frisk blinked slowly, serene smile contrasting their now bright, glowing red eyes. Papyrus yelped, dropping Frisk in his surprise. Frisk landed on their feet gracefully and opened their mouth to speak.

            “Greetings, comedian.” You shuddered. What the hell was going on? “You seem to be in–huh?” Frisk faltered, the air of complete confidence wavering. Papyrus had recovered from his shock and now was hugging Frisk from behind, almost…whimpering.

            “I haven’t introduced myself properly, now have I?” Frisk tried to ignore the weeping skeleton on their back, but it was proving to be difficult due to Papyrus’s weight pulling them down. “Um, howdy. I’m Chara.” Their brow twitched. “I live within Frisk after we–what in the world are you doing!?” ‘Chara’ yelped, being lifted from the ground.

            You looked to Sans for some help but his eye sockets were completely empty, jaw dropped open. You looked back at the startled kid who was kicking their legs around. You rose a brow at that, wondering where their composed and confidence presence had gone. “Hey! Put me down! Put me down now!”

            You tugged on Sans repeatedly, hoping to snap him out of his confused state. The kid was now swinging punches in all directions. “Let me down! Let me down!” You chuckled very slightly in confusion, patting Sans face repeatedly.

            “I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT!” Papyrus was laughing now, spinning the screaming kid around with joy. Sans shook his head, closing his jaw and rejoining the world. He stood up shakily (taking you with him) and stumbled over to Papyrus.

            “uh, bro?” Sans voice wavered, hesitant and filled with confusion. “the kid’s lookin’ a bit green.” Papyrus immediately stopped, flowers practically blooming around his bright smile. He squeezed ‘Chara’–who was screeching in anger–to his chest in a warm hug.

            Sans looked absolutely lost.

            “so…you gonna’ put em’ down now?”

            “SANS! SANS! GUESS WHAT!” Papyrus did not listen, jumping up and down now. His skull narrowly missed the ceiling every time he did so. “I TOLD YOU ME AND FRISK WERE MEANT TO BE GREAT FRIENDS! LOOK! LOOK!”

            He spun the poor kid around so you could see their face. Two bright red eyes met yours in a cry for help. You looked up at Sans and back to them and shrugged, showing you were stuck too. “yeah, i can see that they are possessed?” You almost laughed at Sans’ attitude and the look ‘Chara’ shot him.

            “YEAH! ISN’T IT AMAZING!”

            “what.” Sans deadpanned.

            “ALPHYS TOLD ME MY SOULMATE WAS DEAD BUT I NEVER BELIEVED HER!” Sans gaze darkened dramatically, whispering a quiet ‘she what?’ in response. “NOW I KNOW THAT SHE WAS RIGHT!”

            “uh?” Sans looked enraged and absolutely confused. His expression was something to behold. Papyrus was bursting with happiness while Sans was still as a statue. “but you’re very…excited?”

            “BECAUSE IT’S THIS GHOST POSSESSING FRISK! THAT’S MY SOULMATE!”

            “What?”

            “what.”

            “Put me down!”

            The room was silent besides the furious screaming.

            “paps, m' just gonna’ ask somethin’ but please don’t take it the wrong way. how did you gather that?” Sans didn’t even hide his bewilderment. You were still trying to process that those words even left the ray of sunshine’s mouth.

            “REMEMBER WHAT I TOLD YOU WHEN I MET FRISK?”

            Sans froze.

            “THAT I FELT LIKE I KNEW THEM?”

            You glanced up at Sans.

            “IT WAS SO WEAK I DIDN’T THINK ABOUT IT TOO MUCH–BUT LOOK! NOW I KNOW THAT IT’S THIS CHARA GHOST THAT IS MY SOULMATE, AND BECAUSE THEY ARE IN CONTROL NOW I CAN FINALLY SEE WHY I FELT THAT WAY!” Papyrus was jumping again, and you noticed the screaming had stopped.

            “Are you…serious?” ‘Chara’ had an empty gaze, before they began to tear up. They suddenly looked very…guilty? “But I'm not even a soul anymore! I took Frisks! We made a deal! We share it! Mine is gone and shattered!”

            Sans was stuttering over something, and Papyrus now looked to the kid with a big grin. “DOESN’T MATTER! ME AND FRISK ARE BESTEST FRIENDS SO THAT MEANS YOU AND ME ARE TOO! THE CONNECTION IS WEAK BUT IT IS THERE AND NOW THAT I KNOW IT IS REAL I CAN FOCUS ON STRENGTHENING IT!! ISN’T THIS GREAT???? SANS????”

            “uh…” Sans looked kind of stupid. “i guess…? but what about frisk?”

            “FRISK CAN BE MY SOULMATE TOO!”

            You don’t think that’s how it works.

            “TECHNICALLY THEY ARE BECAUSE IF CHARA IS IN FRISK’S SOUL THEN THAT MEANS IT’S LIKE…LIKE…WHAT’S THAT HUMAN WORD?”

            “Reincarnation?” The kid quipped.

            “EXACTLY! REINTARNATION!”

            “Wrong pronunciation.” ‘Chara’ said.

            “THIS IS SUPER AWESOME!!! IM GOING TO MAKE SOME CELEBRATORY SPAGHETTI AND TELL EVERYONE!”

            “wait, bro–i wouldn’t do that if i were you.”

            “WHY NOT????”

            “Papyrus.” He finally stopped moving around. “I do not take over this body often, only when I need to stop something bad from happening.” They glanced at Sans, “you will not see me again, most likely.”

            “BUT YOU WILL BE ALIVE IN FRISK.”

            “You will not hear me speak, Papyrus. Only Frisk will. I am not alive anymore, I merely am connected to Frisk through a deal and borrow this vessel very occasionally.”

            “WHY DO I FEEL THE BOND THEN? WILL IT GO AWAY ONCE FRISK WAKES UP?” Papyrus looked sick.

            “I do not know.” ‘Chara’ reached up and managed to turn his head toward theirs, “but please do not speak of me to anyone. Your friends must not know, especially mo–Toriel.” They sighed, “I must leave now, I have used too much energy.”

            “WAIT I–”

            “Comedian, do not let them know and do not let them take you. Stay determined.” Those last words echoed hauntingly, and they closed their eyes slowly. Papyrus was frozen still, tears streaming down his face.

            You all waited with bated breath.

            “Ergh…jeez, Chara, what was that for?” Frisk blinked open their eyes dizzily, yelping in shock. “Papy! What are you doing!?” Frisk wiggled around like a worm but stopped when they realized tears were wetting their sweater. “…Papyrus?”

            “bro i’m sorry–” Sans reached forward, grief pulling his face into a deep frown. Before he could reach Papyrus shot back up.

            With a huge grin.

            “I–IT’S THERE…” Sans halted, pupils dilated, “FAINT BUT…IT IS THERE.” Papyrus collapsed onto the ground, taking a confused and flailing Frisk with him.

            “Hey! What are you doing? Papyrus!?” Frisk was completely flustered, trying to wriggle themselves out of the skeletons grasp. “What’s gotten into you?”

            “NOTHING AT ALL, FRIEND. NOTHING AT ALL.”

            Frisk looked around in panic.

            “LET US GO AND MAKE AN ULTRA SECRET AWESOME FRIENDSHIP SPAGHETTI!!!!!” Papyrus launched off the ground and sprinted down the hall, Frisks’ screeches of confusion fading as he went.

            “okay.” Sans rubbed his forehead. “didn’t expect that.” He closed his eyes and rubbed between his brow bones. “also didn’t know alphys said that to him.”

            You felt the atmosphere darken, and when you looked to Sans he was in deep thought. You jumped a bit when his eye lights went out. “oh.”

            “Huh? What is it?”

            “just realized something.”

 

 

****

 

            “just realized something.”

            Sans looked down at you, puzzle pieces forming together in what was once an incomplete picture. No, he couldn’t tell you the revelation for it would make no sense to you. But now it was clear to him what was really going on.

            Yeah, he had determination poisoning.

            Yeah, he had a bad case of trauma.

            But he was always strong before when handling Frisk…at least, he could control his emotions far more than he could now.

            Now he had the answer, and it was thanks to Papyrus and…Chara.

            “Sans?”

            He looked down at you and held your gaze. Those eyes were muddled with confusion, brows furrowed cutely and lips slightly parted. Sans sighed deeply, resisting the urge to press his teeth to your lips. He would have to keep this to himself.

            As Papyrus had somewhat adequately explained, the remnants of Chara and their soul in Frisks led to a small sliver of the bond to remain despite Chara dying. Now that he recalled more clearly, he had partially marked you before this timeline.

            Once.

            How didn’t he notice this? Why the bond seemed so consuming that he was willing to murder just to keep it alive? Its intensity was increased due to that partial bond in the previous timeline. Actually–perhaps from every timeline.

            Sans’ soul never shattered but was held together by determination. He wasn’t like Frisk; he didn’t regenerate or start fresh with a ‘new’ soul because his soul never shattered. He traversed through space-time with the same damn broken soul. The same soul that felt the bond and felt it break but kept going.

            So now, with how unpredictable he’s acting and how he can barely control himself–despite how out of character that is–it makes sense. The bond was multiplied through the timelines–the suffering of being apart from you magnified past the point of detrimental. And his soul remembered. Like some twisted kind of muscle memory.

            He chuckled. It wasn’t a happy one.

            “Sans, talk to me, please?”

            Sans knew before, but now it was fact. The only reason he’s alive is because of this fixation he has. And he could never give up because the bond kept getting stronger on his side, despite never changing for you.

            “Come on, forget what Alphys said. Papyrus is so happy now! And Frisk will be too! They were two peas in a pod before that and now they can be even closer friends! Please don’t be angry.”

            Sans almost laughed. You were off, but you did remind him of his anger toward Alphys. He’ll take care of that later. Right now a strange giddiness was tightening around his soul. You. You. You. That’s all that mattered.

            And he had to finally give in. His soul was right. Nothing he, or Toriel or Undyne or Alphys or Papyrus or Frisk or even you could do would stop what was happening. The consequences of a monster resetting–of having that much determination–

            Like a sick version of the butterfly effect.

            …

            But it’s not a bad thing, no. Far from it. To be completely honest, he’s never felt more alive, more real. So what if he’s abandoning all these principles and morals and promises? If he has you then who cares about all those things!

            “i love you.”

            “Huh? W–what brought that up…” You blushed.

            “realized the real meaning of those words s’ all.”

            Sans grinned widely.

            He was going to be so happy.

            Finally.

            And now with this magic? These instincts? These desires?

            heh heh heh

            Nobody can get in his way.

            And if someone tries? Well,

 

 

 

 

t  h  e  y  ‘  r  e   g  o  n  n  a   h  a  v  e   a   b  a  d   t  i  m  e

 

 

 

 

           

Chapter Text

 

            “What did I say about putting glitter in spaghetti!?”

            “BUT IT’S SO PRETTY AND SPARKLY!!!”

            “It is nOT TASTY!”

            “I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM THE BESTEST CHEF IN THE WHOLE UNDERGROUND. IF THE GREAT PAPYRUS WISHES TO PUT SPARKLY SPLENDOR INTO THE SAUCE THEN THE GREAT PAPYRUS SHALL!”

            “How about this; we go buy some eatable glitter at the grocery store and use it next time. That way it will be awesome and digestible.”

            “HMM…FINE. BUT I WILL REQUIRE ONLY THE GREATEST!!!! GLITTER MADE IN THE WORLD.”

            “Of course. Nothing less.”

            You giggled, sitting on the couch listening to the two argue. Sans hummed in amusement while brushing his phalanges through your hair, listening to Frisk try to bargain with Papyrus. Fortunately for you, it worked. At least now you wouldn’t get a mouthful of ‘splendor’ as Papyrus would call it. Bleh.

            “S–So uh…a–about the t-tests?” Sans flinched. You held back a sigh. You’d never felt more tension in a room before, for nobody had dared bring up what just happened. Alphys had Undyne next to her, Toriel having only spared Sans a glance of forgiveness before watching over the two in the kitchen.

            It was silent once more. You took in a shaky breath. Toriel was healed–apparently, something called ‘monster candy’–and anything that she couldn’t do herself Papyrus patched up. You were surprised by how calm she was now. She had looked at you with a worry only a mother could hold, something detached and yet hopeful.

            Toriel had presented what she thought would help but it had only ended tragically. Unfortunately for Alphys, Sans was harboring a barely concealed rage at what he had learned just moments ago. You grabbed his other hand and gently began tracing the knuckles, reminding him of your presence.

            Huh, his hands were bigger than your face.

            “look, alph, i’m really tryin a’ keep it civil here,” Sans shifts slightly and pulls you closer to him, the tone completely relaxed despite the words he spoke, “but when ya’ go and say things like that, claimin’ you wanna help me?” His phalanges twitched, “it makes it hard for me to believe you ain’t got an agenda.” 

            The way he spoke reminded you that when he wasn’t having a breakdown he was supposedly a pretty chill dude. Was this what they meant when they said he changed? It was like night and day. It was unsettling how quickly he went back to the friendly, laid–back skeleton who wanted nothing more than to laze around.

            Was Sans like this before he met you? Just a charming guy who wanted to take care of his brother?

            Self-hate ate at you yet was quickly pushed away when a wave of love over took it. You blinked in shock, looking up at Sans. A gentle squeeze of your hand was all you received in reply. You smiled slightly, never having felt so wanted before.

            “Look, Sans, we saw what you did to Toriel,” Undyne leaned forward, “what she told us…what we heard…” Undyne coughed, taking a deep intake of breath. “You are not in your right mind right now and you know it!” She gripped her knee, pointed nails almost ripping her jeans.

            “P–please, Sans. We o-only want t–t–to help you. I–it would only be until w–we find out what’s w–w–wrong with your soul and magic.” Alphys pushed her glasses up, “it’s the safest option for everyone. W–we don’t w–want you to hurt a–a–anyone, e–especially ________.” The hairs on the back of your neck stood. You shuddered.

            “are you saying that i would hurt my soulmate?” It was practically a growl, the way he spoke. You bit your lip nervously and looked up at the skeleton. You hugged his arm to you and leaned your head on it. The blue fabric was comfortable and smelled oddly of ketchup and winter.

            “Not on purpose. You had no qualms attacking US when you went all nutso!” Undyne rolled her eyes, “Alphys just wants everyone safe, and so what if you have to sit in one place for a while? Once Alphys knows what’s wrong she can fix it and everything can go back to normal.” Her words were gentle juxtaposing her demanding glare.

            Sans eye lights went out. Can they not take the hint? I get it's probably the best idea but he’s obviously past the point of common sense…You thought bitterly, clutching his arm a bit tighter.

            “Look, even your soulmate is worried about you! And probably scared shitless by your behavior! Toriel can withstand a lot but one blow to them and they’re dead–”

            “s h u t   u p. The ferocious voice reminded you of a roaring lion, powerful and commanding. Undyne drew back with wide eyes and slack jaw before her face flushed red. You braced yourself.

            “SHUT UP?!?? ME!??? You. Are. Not. LISTENING! You’re fucking dangerous! What are you thinking acting like this? You NEED HELP. We are GOING TO GET YOU HELP–” Sans wasn’t breathing evenly, “Alphys WILL suppress your magic KEEP YOU STILL and we will figure this SHIT OUT or so HELP ME I will LOCK YOU UP MYSELF!”

            …

            Your body was shaking from the sheer force at which your soulmate was trembling. His breathing was heavy and uneven, eye lights dimming and fuzzy. You thought Sans was going to explode in anger, but this was somehow even worse.

            Tears dripped from his now closed sockets, teeth clenched so tightly he grimaced. Nobody dared to move when the first shining drop fell onto his lap. Undyne held her hand over her mouth, regretting the cold words.   

            “BROTHER?” Papyrus called, having rushed out of the kitchen once Undyne started shouting. Frisk was behind him with Toriel, warily watching the scene. A pin could be heard if it were to drop in this silence. Sans slouched over and held his head in his hands, trying to hide his glowing tears. “UNDYNE WHY WOULD YOU SAY THOSE THINGS?” Papyrus turned to her sharply trying to keep a steady voice.

            “I–I didn’t mean to I just–I’m just–” Alphys placed her hand on the taller woman’s shoulder, eyes begging for silence. Undyne closed her mouth, anger bubbling at what you guessed was herself.

            Papyrus walked forward and cautiously reached a hand forward to comfort his brother, but froze when a deep mumble echoed.

            “i knew it. i knew it.” Sans chuckled darkly, hand yanking down on his right eye socket before you could stop him, “i thought you guys were my friends.” Your soul was aching, “i should’ve known out of all monsters my brother would be the only one to understand me.” Papyrus frowned, crouching beside the armrest of the couch and placing a hand on Sans shoulder.

            You followed suit by moving into a full hug, wrapping your arms as far as you could around him. Sans instantly pulled you to his chest when you did, hiding you away in his arms. “SANS S–SHE DIDN’T MEAN WHAT SHE SAID…right, Undyne? You would never lock a friend up…” Papyrus slowly met Undyne’s gaze, “…would you?”

            The normally empty sockets flared with an orange briefly, catching you off guard. The forgiving tall being that typically oozed confidence and trust wavered. Undyne met his look back sharply, almost in scolding. “Papyrus, what are you even saying?” Her pride was showing.

            “I…” His kind smile was twisted in frustration, “I AM REMEMBERING SOMETHING…INCONVIENT.” Footsteps echoed behind you, yet you could not check due to your soulmate embracing you tight. “WHY DO I FEEL SO–SO–” Alphys pushed her glasses up, eyes sharp with intelligence and analyzation. And then it clicked.

            “…You would have killed...my friend...” Papyrus spoke so softly that you could have almost missed it. But you heard it. Everyone did. Undyne sighed, leaning back with a large shrug. You were appalled by her attitude. It was not the time to have an ego.

            “What are you talking about Papy–?”

            “DO NOT CALL ME THAT.”

            Undyne recoiled as though shot. Venom laced each term he spoke, yet once it came out it disappeared. Papyrus furrowed his brow bones, blinking before looking down at his hands. “AH, THAT WAS…QUITE STRANGE.” Undyne was still shocked. Alphys observed, intrigued, and Papyrus looked down in confusion. “FOR A SECOND THERE I REALLY…”

            Alphys had pulled something out of her pocket, you watched her movements carefully. A syringe, you saw. Sans was looking at Papyrus so he was distracted. Alphys pulled out a gun–like contraption and put the syringe in it. Before you could say anything she had closed one eye and shot it precisely at Sans.

            Perfect aim.

            It would have hit, too, if Papyrus had not caught it between two gloved phalanges. The speed at which he reacted was unbelievable. Alphys dropped the contraption in surprise. The taller skeleton had actually caught it.

            “YES, I THINK WHAT I WAS GOING TO EXPRESS WAS THAT FOR A SMALL MOMENT,” The syringe was crushed, “I NO LONGER BELIEVED IN YOU.”

            The coldness that chilled your bones after made you lean farther into Sans. Undyne actually looked blindsided, and Alphys was sweating way more than you think is healthy. Sans rested a hand on Papyruses shoulder.

            “…bro, you should go help frisk finish dinner, looks like tori bolted.” She must have left once things began to escalate, Frisk probably convincing Toriel to let them stay.

            Papyrus looked dead to the world, then shook his skull rapidly and stood up. “A–AH! YES! THE SPAGHETTI!” Without any more convincing needed he scrambled to the kitchen where Frisk now resided.

            It was dead silent once more. Well, until the banging of pots and pans started. You would have snorted if not for the predicament. Alphys was begging with her eyes, looking to you of all people for help. What did she want you to do? Go along with hooking Sans up to something like he was insane? She just tried to forcefully sedate him!

            “welp, i made a promise.” Sans looked across at the two women, pupils flashing, “a promise to a very important person that i wouldn’t ever let a monster be dusted on my watch.” Undyne was still reeling, and Alphys looked intrigued by Sans calm demeaner. “you know what’d of happened if i didn’t make that promise?”

            The warmth of his hoodie made you sleepy.

            “heh, well,”

            His pupils flickered out.

 

 

y  o  u  ‘  d   b  e   d  e  a  d   w  h  e  r  e   y  o  u   s  t  a  n  d.”

 

           

 

****

 

 

            Sans made sure Papyrus was okay once they left. His friends really screwed them over, huh? Honestly, he was just glad he got Papyrus to leave the conversation when he did. His brother had never spoken with such hatred before and Sans didn’t like it.

            “Mm, I told you it would taste awesome!” Frisk grinned cheekily, sticking their tongue out at Papyrus who scoffed playfully.

            “YES, BUT ONLY WITH MY EXPERTISE! FOR I AM THE GREAT!!! PAPYRUS!!! NYEH HEH HEH!” Papyrus posed dramatically, falling into laughter with Frisk and continuing to eat.

            You, on the other hand…

            “sweetheart?”

            His heart swelled seeing those beautiful eyes focus on him, mouth full of food and happily watching the two younger ones interact. You swallowed, “Yeah?”

            “isn’t the food especially tasty today?”

            You narrowed your eyes slightly, “…yeeeeeaaaaaah?” You drawled, pursing your lips in preparation.

            “so good i might just pasta–way.”

            You snorted.

            “SAAANNS!! WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT PUNS!! THAT WAS TERRIBLE!” Despite his screaming and scolding, Papyrus was laughing too. Frisk giggled, almost spitting out the food in their mouth.

            “ah, come on bro, it was pasta–bly one of my best yet.”

            “OH MY GOD SANS.”

            “what, you think my pasta puns ain’t fresca anymore? usually, you love my pasta rotini. I’ve got somen–y more to share.” It felt good to dish out some terrible puns, Frisk turning red from laughter and Papyrus screeching in appalled fury. The best part was you, though. Your smile made all of his worries melt away, leaving only peace in the wake of his sadness. It was hard to grasp how perfect you really were to him, to him you were perfect and could do no wrong.

            Sometimes Sans forgot that he wasn’t really completely ‘normal’ anymore, not that it was his own fault. Half of what he’d seen was enough to drive humans insane. Of course, there was a part of him that wished everything could have worked out without the bumps in the road, but it was okay.

            He had his family right here, and he couldn’t be happier.

            “Hey! Can we have a movie night? Please? Pretty pleaaaaaassseeee?” Frisk wiggled around in their chair, bouncing a bit while putting on their best puppy–dog eyes. Papyrus pretended to think it over, resting his chin between his thumb and forefinger.

            “HM, I AM NOT SURE, HUMAN. I HAVE LOTS OF STANDARDS AND NOT MANY MOVIES CAN MEET THEM!” A terrible lie, Papyrus loved movies–well, except horror ones.

            “Come on! Toriel already said I was allowed to sleep over. It will be so fun! Sans and SS can join us too! It can be a slumber party!” Frisk radiated childlike happiness, and Sans smiled gently at the scene. Yeah, Frisk had done a lot of wrong, but he had already forgiven them long ago. Even Chara wasn’t to blame. Determination was a sick force, and Frisk didn’t come from a loving home when they fell down that hole.

            For they didn’t fall as much as they had jumped.

            Honestly, Sans felt like a big brother to the kiddo and seeing them let themselves be a kid was heartwarming and relieving. There was too much on their shoulders from the very beginning, and yet they got through. Even letting Sans make his mistakes and letting this timeline continue despite it not being completely ideal.

            Frisk looked at Sans and smiled briefly, before cheering when Papyrus finally gave in, announcing he would be bringing blankets and pillows. Frisk grabbed your hand and jumped up and down, pointing to the living room. Sans didn’t have trouble controlling his instincts. He knew Frisk didn’t want to hurt you.

            Plus, seeing you interact with Frisk made his soul vibrate contently. You smiled at them and indulged in their childlike demeanor, playing along and grinning. Sans saw you check on him before moving away, him giving you a wink to show he was fine. You blushed a bit with a shy smile and turned back around.

            Your soul was regaining its vibrancy little by little. Everything about you was fortifying into who you should have always let yourself be. Sans scowled briefly thinking of your family but pushed those thoughts away. He’d think about it later.

            “SANS? YOU WILL BE JOINING US, RIGHT?”

            “heh, of course, bro. wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

            Papyrus was about to walk to the other two but paused instead. He hesitantly reached out and rested his gloved hand on Sans’ skull. “Brother. I feel now that I can understand you if only a little.” Sans glanced up in curiosity, noticing the soft volume. “Although the others do not understand, perhaps one day they will. If it brings all four of us happiness, then surely they will realize.”

            “i…i hope so, bro. i really do.” Sans sighed, smile relaxing, “what exactly do you understand, though?” Sans couldn’t see any determination in Papyruses soul, and no change in LOVE or EXP either. But he did notice–

            “To be honest, I was a little afraid…but you’re already becoming a GREAT PERSON!!! I’M SO PROUD I COULD CRY!!!” Sans ‘oofed’ when Papyrus pulled him from his chain and spun him around in a hug. Sans chuckled and pat his brothers back, waiting for his question to be answered. “I know that magic can do…strange things without permission. Souls are quite interesting in that way, yes?”

            Sans eye sockets widened. Was Papyrus…?

            “But do not worry! Dear brother! For I! THE GREAT PAPYRUS!!!! HAVE, uh, spoken to Frisk about it. They are helping me control those impulses.” Papyrus smiled good-naturedly, yet Sans could only stare dumbfounded, “I think it is important for you to tell your human of your troubles. I know it is much worse than mine, so it is even MORE vital that they help you keep it under control.”

            Sans blinked. His brother was so mature. So understanding. He wiped at his eyes, embarrassed at how emotional he was. “h–heh…thanks b–bro…i needed to hear that.” Sans grinned, “good to know i’m not the only one under a spell.”

            “SANS. I SWEAR TO ASGORE.”

            “what? my jokes are at least at a medium level of hilarity.”

            “I DON’T EVEN GET THAT ONE.”

            “Oi! You two dorks done smooching?? The movies gonna start and I got to choose it!” Frisk called, eyes closed and sickly sweet smile aimed at them. Papyrus scoffed and threw Sans over his shoulder with an ‘NYEH!’ and walked to the couch, dropping Sans on the left end of the couch next to you, and sitting on the right end by Frisk. You and Frisk were squished in the middle.

            The movie began and he snorted at the Disney logo.

            “What? You have a problem with Disney, lazybones?” Frisk pouted. Sans shook his head, chuckling and hunching over to rest his head on top of yours. You flinched and then glared up at him.

            “I’m not an arm rest.”

            “of course. You’re a head rest.” You groaned, trying to hide your smile. Papyrus threw a blanket at Sans, which he used to cover both you. Papyrus took another one after grumbling at the terrible joke and used it on him and Frisk.

            Sans smiled contently. A good dinner, a slumber party, watching a Disney movie with his sibling and both of their soulmates; yeah, this is why he reset. This is why Frisk let him reset. And this is why he would protect this family with everything that he had–no matter who he had to strike down to do so.

            He glanced to Papyrus, checking up on his soul. Sans smiled softly. Papyrus was working hard to strengthen the bond between himself and Frisk, believing in fate. His brother was so cool. When faced with the death of a soulmate, leaving only a remnant of that bond to another human, Papyrus didn’t give up.

            Sans realized just how strong his brother was. And Sans never really gave him credit for it. He would make sure to praise him later for his drive. He refused to call it determination. No matter how much it seemed to be that, there was no darkness in Papyruses actions. Papyrus, in the goodness of his heart, just wanted to make sure Frisk stayed as his soulmate even without Chara.

            They could support each other now. Though Sans had to keep much hidden in the depths of his mind, he would be free to let it go. Sans snickered to himself and you looked up at him in questioning. He shook his head. They were watching Frozen and the song somehow mixed into his thoughts.

            “Hey, Sans?” You whispered to him, snuggling closer. Sans blushed slightly but tried to ignore it.

            “yeah, sweetheart?”

            “Don’t be afraid to rely on me. I want to help you like you’ve helped me.” You placed a hand on his cheekbone, making sure to stay quiet as not to interrupt the movie. Though, Papyrus was shouting with Frisk at the stupid decisions ‘Hans’ was making so Sans didn’t think they’d hear anyways.

            Sans leaned into your hand, closing his eyes to relish in the feeling of your warmth. He focused on your soul, trying to see what you were feeling. It was much harder to read you even with the bond because you were human. Nothing destructive stood out.

            “We can get through this together, okay?” You kissed his hand, unable to reach his face with your height. “We’re a team now.” Sans flushed a bright blue with a tinge of red, sweating slightly and illuminating the room like a lightbulb.

            “SANS FOR GOODNESS SAKES WILL YOU STOP BEING SO BRIGHT??” Papyrus whined reaching across the middle and whacking the side of his skull. Sans chuckled sheepishly, pulling his hoodie over his head to hide his blush.

            You giggled, playfully winking at Sans. Sans stuttered nonsensically and tried to compose himself, flustered beyond belief. Frisk was snickering at the display, before looking like they got a sly idea themselves.

            “I AM TRYING TO WATCH THE MOVIE FRISK. ANA IS ABOUT TO CONFRONT ELSA!!!!!” Frisk was tugging on Papyruses arm, before sighing and standing up. They still were shorter than Papyrus. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Frisk giggled, before kissing Papyrus on the cheek.

            “Mwah!” Oh, Frisk. Sans grinned when his brother started spazzing out. The cheeky little kid acted adorable on purpose and looked to you with a sly glance when you gave a scolding look. Now the room was blue and orange.

            “OH MY GOD FRISK!!!! SANS!! FRISK IS ATTACKING ME WITH KISSES!” Sans laughed, voice cracking slightly from it. You laughed as well, watching Frisk continue to ‘attack’ Papyrus. “OH NO!!! THE HUMAN HAS BESTED ME!!! I’VE BEEN DEFEATED!” Papyrus dramatically collapsed to his side and right onto Frisk, who squealed and grabbed onto you for help.

            “Ahh! SS! Save me!”

            “THE GREAT PAPYRUS RETALIATES!” Papyrus begins tickling the kid, who laughs so hard they start to cry. Sans doubled over laughing and you were ticking Frisk as well now. The movie was long forgotten.

            “O–Okay! Uncle! Uncle! I give up!”

            “NYEH HEH HEH!” Papyrus poses victoriously, giving you a high-five of success. Frisk was still calming down from the laughing, wiping away the tears. You sat the kid back up, ruffling their hair.

            “Hey!” Frisk pouted, blowing a raspberry. You playfully bopped their nose and pinched their cheeks, “Shhshtafp thafh!” You grinned, cooing at their cuteness.

            Sans watched the scene with a loving smile. Frisk was acting like a real kid, and your soul was blossoming in radiance. Now that he noticed, the cracks in Frisk's soul were starting to mend from an extremely faint orange magic. Sans whipped his head to look at Papyrus, who was watching the scene with the same content Sans was.

            The two brothers met gazes. Sans knew their relationships with their humans were different, but in many ways were the same.

            Frisk was important to all monsters, and Papyrus knew that. Though the skeleton was innocent in many ways, he knew the importance (and contingencies) that came with a soul bond. Frisk and you were a part of their family now. To Sans, Frisk was a sibling and you a lover. To Papyrus, you were like a sibling, and Frisk was his kindred spirit.

            Sans smiled at his brother, and Papyrus smiled back.

            Sans didn’t want to call what he was feeling determination. It was purer–less tainted by darkness. It was…resolve? Well, yes, he would do anything to protect this family he had now but…it was something else…a feeling that…

            That everything was going to be okay. No matter what happens. That despite everything, he would still be Sans.

            And although he didn’t know what would come next, and he didn’t have something to fall back on like a reset or Frisk loading, the feeling in him grew. Sans finally knew what it was, and knew why one of his brothers stats raised. Sans checked his own numbers.

            His HP…

            It was two.

            Sans held his chest, disbelieving. No matter how many human souls he consumed, or how much LOVE or EXP he got, his HP never increased. But now, with a pure resolve to protect and happiness at finally feeling belonged and real–

            Papyrus smiled so brightly at him, bright orange droplets threatening to fall from his sockets. Papyrus was proud and relieved, and Sans could feel that Papyrus knew everything was going to be okay in the end. And they would all be happy. It was the first time it didn’t seem impossible to have a positive outlook.

            Because…for once…

            …

            Sans had hope.

           

             

****

 

 

            The man who speaks in hands watched from the darkness in which he lived, smiling faintly. 

 

 

 

 

           

Chapter Text

           

 

 

             Sans woke up with a smile–which despite his face generally resting in that position, wasn’t something that happened all the time. He blinked a few times, gathering his mind and scanning his surroundings.

            “Morning sleepy-bones.” Sans jumped a bit then looked downwards, meeting those eyes he could forever get lost in. “Have a nice dream?” You tilted your head. Sans chuckled slightly at the position you were in. Must have fallen asleep during the movie marathon and ended up staying on the couch.

            It was cute how you were laying your head on him since he took up the whole couch when he laid down stretched out. “comfy?” Sans winked. You rolled your eyes in return and shifted further upwards so you were face to face with him.

            “As a matter of fact, I am.” You sniffed, “by the way, how do you not smell at all? I haven’t seen you shower since I’ve gotten here.”

            “magic.” You pouted, before realizing you were straddling his stomach–well if he had one. Sans laughed at your red face when you scrambled back, ending up at the other end of the couch. Now that you were by his feet he nudged you with his slipper. “hey. wanna know why skeletons don’t mind the winter weather?”

            “Um, sure?”

            “cold goes right through em’.” Sans winked.

            “Oh jeez.” You tried to hide a smile but ended up giggling anyways. Sans grinned in victory, continuing to nudge you with his slippers.

            i make them happy me i make them happy me me me

            “wanna know why the police couldn’t arrest the skeleton?”

            You rose a brow, “because they can teleport?”

            Sans snorted, “no, cus' they couldn’t pin anything to em’.” His reward was a small chuckle and a slight glare. Sans distinctly noticed the silence, raising a brow bone, “hey, uh, where’s paps?”

            “Went grocery shopping with Frisk. Papyrus was very clear he wanted you to stay asleep since he has been worried about your energy levels.” You sigh, “Papyrus wants Frisk to sleep over again but I don’t think Toriel will let that happen.”

            “eh, maybe she might.” Sans shrugged, “paps got a certain charm about him, probably can convince her to let the kid stay for a while.”

            “Don’t they have school?”

            “nah, homeschooled by tori. frisk is a smart kid so they have no trouble with it.” Sans briefly glanced at your chest. Your soul was bright and beautiful–better than he could have ever imagined.

            warm bright mine–

            “My eyes are up here, Sans.” Sans quickly averted his gaze and tried to hide his embarrassment by hunching his shoulders. You laughed and without warning shoved yourself forward so you were face to face with him once again. “Aw, are you blushing?” Sans grumbled, turning his head to the side. “Hey don’t be like that.” You say that but definitely are laughing still.

            “i’m going back to sleep.”

            “You that tired?”

            “honestly? yeah.” Sans looked you in the eye, glancing down at your lips before closing his eyes again. “wake me up in a week.”

            You chuckled. “Whatever. I found some eggs in the fridge so I’m making some scrambled eggs; want any?” You stood up off the couch and Sans almost whined in response.

            cold now cold come back please warm so warm

            “heh, sure.” Wonder if ketchup goes well with scrambled eggs. He felt a slight pressure on his forehead and snapped his sockets open to see you blushing slightly. Sans probably has a dopey grin on his face but he didn’t care. “i could get used to that.” You playfully rolled your eyes and walked to the kitchen, two eye-lights following you as you did.

            Sans closed his eyes once he saw you were safe, able to hear you shuffling around and humming. He smiled slightly at that, knowing you were doing it for him. The fluttering in his soul was euphoric and slightly painful. Maybe he would have butterflies in his stomach if he had one.

            Sans let his mind rest, knowing that if you were to get too far away his soul would wake him up.

            finally i can rest

 

****

 

            You were about to wake up Sans when you heard a knock on the door. Crap! You hadn’t made any eggs for Papyrus. You groaned and set the plates down, glancing over at your sleeping soulmate and smiling. Cute.

            With a huff you opened the door, briefly recalling you hadn’t even felt the outside breeze in a few days. “Hey, Papyrus I forgot to–” You stopped. “…Undyne?”

            “Uh, hey, punk.” The fish woman was unexpectedly quiet and sheepish, “where’s Sans?” Well, at least she was direct.

            “Asleep. Please don’t wake him up–he needs to rest right now.” You haven’t opened the door wide enough for her to come in yet just in case she wanted to be loud. “Do you need him for something?”

            “Oh!” Undyne smiled–well, to you it was quite menacing with her rows of sharp teeth. “This is perfect! Come on!” Without warning, she grabbed your arm and tried to drag you out of the house. Too bad you had a death grip on the door.

            “Hey! What the hell?” The snoring of the large skeleton comforted you slightly. You hadn’t woken him up and you kind of hoped he didn’t. The last interaction between the two monsters did not end well.

            “Oh, you worried he’ll teleport? Don’t worry, Alphys made something for that.” Before you could even protest something was clamped onto the arm Undyne was holding. You glanced at it and scowled. “It suppresses magic so that means he won’t be able to teleport directly to where you are since your soul is masked now.”

            “Okay, what? What is going on? Take it off–I don’t want it. Why are you even giving this to me? What’s your angle?” You were becoming increasingly pissed, along with that was a feeling of dread. You connected the dots quickly in your head. “Are you SERIOUS? SA–”

            “Quiet! Do you want him to wake up and dust me?” She slapped a hand over your mouth and you glared, “Alphys just wants to make sure you’re okay after all this chaos and your near death experience.” With a sharp tug, you were pulled from the house and the door was shut behind you. You screamed but it was muffled from the hand over your mouth.

            Undyne sighed before a look of conviction crossed her face. “Should take a bit to wake up…uh, I’d have about three minutes tops? Should I risk it?” You bit her hand and wiggled around, trying to escape her hold. “Yeah, I’m going too.” She slung you over her shoulder and you took the opportunity to scream bloody murder.

            “SANS! PSYCHO FISH BITCH IS TRYING TO KIDNAP ME!” You heard a thud and were relieved since he must have woke up, but then the house started getting farther away. “Oi! Put me down!” You hit her back repeatedly, and when that didn’t work started trying to rip off the stupid cuff.

            “Relax–we’re just going to make sure your soul is stable then send you right back into your skeleton hubby’s arms.” Undyne ran fast.

            For a fish.

            A slur of curses spilled from your mouth, the sunlight feeling harsh on your skin from being inside for so long. It was bright as hell too. This was the worst possible outcome, really. Now you were uncomfortable and kidnapped.

            Undyne kept running until the houses were more and more scarce until she stopped in front of a small white house with a ‘LAB’ sign on it.

            “We’re here!” She walked forward and opened the door, revealing a normal looking home despite the sign outside.

            “Put me tHE FUCK DOWN THEN YOU STUPID SARDINE!”

            “Gladly.” And you were unceremoniously tossed onto the floor.

            “Ow! Screw you!” You grimaced, standing up shakily and rubbing your back. The house was just a big open room with two doors that you guessed led to a bedroom and bathroom. It reminded you slightly of the skeleton brothers house, with how the living room and kitchen were practically combined.

            “ALPHYS! I’M BACK WITH HIS SOULMATE!”

            You yelped in shock when a tile on the floor lifted up and the dinosaur monster peeked out. They had a secret hideout?

            “B–bring t–t–them down here!”

            “I think the hell not.”

            You went deadweight but Undyne still picked you up easily, Alphys opening the tile outwards more and revealing a staircase leading down somewhere. You continued voicing your displeasure until Undyne dropped you down without warning.

            “BitCH!” You screeched, free falling but were thankfully caught by the reptilian. You were thankful you didn’t hit the ground. Undyne hopped down and landed gracefully on her feet, the floor opening closing above her.

            It was dimly lit–but now you know why there’s a sign with ‘LAB’ on it. This was definitely a lab. Alphys gently set you on your feet, letting you stand up. You were taller than her–the first monster you had a height advantage over.

            “I–I just need t–to make sure y–y–your soul is healthy.” Alphys sighed, eyeing your chest warily. “Y–you really did a n–n–number on it before.” You let her grab your hand and drag you down the hallway, glass separating you from many different rooms. You saw some monsters resting in some of the rooms.

            “What is this place?”

            “M–my lab and a–also a hospital.” Alphys didn’t turn around but eventually stopped in front of a door that was between normal walls. No glass for this room for some reason. You glanced back to see Undyne wasn’t there. “U–Undyne is m–making sure S–Sans doesn’t interrupt the t–t–testing.”

            You frowned, glancing down at the cuff on your arm. “Why are you guys doing this? I’m fine. I’m happy. I’m not in danger or anything.” Alphys opened the door and let you in, then closed it behind her. In the room was a machine on the right that looked like an elongated dog skull, and to the left was a comfy looking cot with machines surrounding it.

            Alphys grabbed your hand and brought you over to where the cot was, gesturing for you to sit on it. You hesitantly obliged. “Y–Your soul m–m–may have invisible scars that can cause a gradual decline in health.” Her stuttering evened out once she relaxed. “I–I know this is risky but I had to make sure y–you are healthy since…well,” She glanced to the side.

            “If I died Sans would too.” You glanced down at your hands, frowning. “I get it, but why the cuff and why not tell Sans your reasoning?”

            “W–We did. Sans said you were fine,” Alphys was fiddling with a machine that slightly resembled a heart monitor, “but I know he just doesn’t want you out of the house.” She reached out and held one of your hands in hers, clamping something onto your index finger. The machine started beeping.

            “I thought Sans just didn’t want to be separated?” You glanced down at Alphys’ sad gaze, watching her push her glasses back up.

            “Sans…likes being in control. I–It’s an anxiety thing, I think.” She rolls up a small chair and sits on it, clicking some buttons on the machine. “It’s easy to monitor everything that is happening i–if it is in one place. H–He can control all variables in his house since no outside influence can come within the walls without his permission.”

            “I guess that makes sense. But why couldn’t you just check my soul at his house?” She smiled slightly, and you felt like you were missing something important.

            “Sans would stop anyone outside of his family from being near you, l–let alone your soul.” Her voice shook a bit, and you could see a bit of sweat. “B–But I couldn’t risk not checking and you dying. T–That’s why I–I made that bracelet to mask your soul, so he can’t sense it while that’s on.”

            “Would it matter if he could?”

            “Yes. Sans can teleport d–directly to you because of your soul calling out to him. It’s even easier now that you guys are b–bonded.” She finally stopped typing and turned to you with a shaky smile. “H–He’s going to kill me.”

            A cold chill crawled up your back. The heart monitor picked up. “No, he wouldn’t. You guys just have my best interest in mind and even though this is a stupid idea he wouldn’t–” You gripped your arm, trying to slow your breathing. Why were you here? There's no way these monsters care about you this much.

            “_–_______?”

            “He–He might not know it was you guys who took me if I leave now! He won’t kill you just because of something this petty, right? That’s not how he is. Sans just reacts out of self–defense! Like when the car was going to hit me–” Alphys put her hand on your chest but you couldn’t snap out of your rambling. “Or when I was going to be shot or hurt or–or–”

            You froze at the brilliant mint heart in front of you. It was so bright, so pretty. Was it really yours? Alphys attached small stickers with wires in them to it. You shivered in repulsion. “S–Sorry, it feels a bit weird.” You wanted to ask what it was, but your throat was closing up. Something wasn't right here.

            Alphys went back to looking at her screen, and you furrowed your brow. Why did she say that before when she doesn’t even look phased now? Did you mishear her?

            “Okay, everything looks good. Y–Your HP is really low though, but I have some monster candy to help with that.” Alphys shuffled away and came back holding some wrappers, “here, they taste pretty good too.”

            You hesitantly reached for them. She's hiding something.

            “I–I’m glad I checked because that could have been dangerous.” She paused and looked to you, “I–I’m sorry–” Alphys shuffles away, leaving you to stare at your wired soul, candies in hand. What was she so sorry about? Kidnapping you? Maybe. Causing Sans panic? Very probable. You narrowed your eyes slightly. Why did she suddenly look so guilty? “H–He’s going to be here soon, d–d–don’t worry.” She fiddled with the skull–like machine on the other side of the room.

         “I thought you were just seeing if I was okay? What’s that?” The dinosaur monster glanced down in shame. “Can you just tell me what’s really going on? I feel like you’re hiding something from me.” You had been trying to keep calm this whole time, thinking charitably and giving the benefit of the doubt.

         “L–Look...we have to extract Sans d–determination s–s–so he calms down.” Alphys turned away from you with resolution, leaving you to connect the dots. Was that big machine to extract ‘determination’? Wasn’t that an emotion–an important one? He’s not even here! Your souls the one that’s…

         Anger nullified your anxiety briefly.

         “I’m BAIT?” You fly off the table and go running at the monster, realizing you had been sitting nicely while they betrayed their friend. You couldn’t get any farther past a few feet because your soul hooked up to the machines kept you in place.

         “Please c–calm down. It’s for S–Sans and your safety.”

         “No, it’s for your curiosity! Let me out of here now!” You turned to your soul and ripped a sticker off of it, the heart monitor spiking like crazy. You blanched, seeing a mark left on your soul. Something dripped down your face. A…bloody nose? “It’s hurting me! Get that thing away from me!” Now you were hysterical.

         “It won’t take long–”

 

         BANG

 

         You gasped, scrambling to get the rest of the wired stickers off your soul. But they wouldn’t come off without pain. A yell of ‘Get ready!’ echoed into the room, Undyne’s voice was easily recognizable. Alphys decided to ignore you and started turning the machine on. “That’ll hurt him, you bitch!”

         “R–R–Relax I don’t want you to hurt y–y–yourself–”

 

         THUD

 

         There was a scream.

         “Sans!” You yelled, ripping another wired sticker off. It hurt like hell but you didn’t care. You needed to go to him. You looked down at the cuff on your hand and tried to take it off. When it didn’t work you started slamming your arm into the floor in hopes of breaking it off. It wasn’t working.

         Something whirred in the room, and you turned to see the skull-shaped machine start to light up. You grit your teeth and slammed your arm down harder. That thing looked dangerous! She was going to kill him! Your soulmate! The only person who has ever cared about you–going to be killed all because of you.

         …

         No. Not because of you.

         Because of them.

         “SANS!” You screeched, “GET OUT OF HERE! IT’S A TRAP!” The vocal cords of your throat were strained, cracking under the volume. The creepy machine was glowing a dim red, casting a disturbing light over the yellow monster. A remote was in her hand, and she stood still as though she was bracing herself. “HEY!”

         “He can’t hear you, this room is hidden and soundproofed. U–Undyne will t–tell him where you are o–o–once I’m ready.”

         You looked at your soul. It was discoloring. You’ve never felt this angry. Your soul was patching with black. The cuff around your arm pulsed. You brought your arm high above you and slammed it down, something cracking as you did so.

         “H–Hey! You’re h–hurting yourself–”

         You grinned and wobbled onto your feet. It didn’t work, huh? You looked at the heart monitoring machine and ripped the clip off of your finger. The sound of the flatline was strangely comforting as you pulled your hand back and smashed the glass.

         “S–Stop!”

         You picked up one of the broken pieces and looked at the cuff. Alphys was frantic but was trying to control the machine as well. The glass wasn’t strong enough to saw through the cuff, and Sans wasn’t going to find you until it was off.

         The black on your soul was spreading.

         “N–No oh my g–gosh what have I done?”

         You lifted up the glass high above your head but Alphys grabbed your hand. You glared and her and thrashed around. “I–I’m sorry I d–d–didn’t think your soul would–I didn’t know your mind–y–y–your soul was so weak–”

         “TAKE IT OFF! LET ME GET IT OFF!” You couldn’t understand how this monster was holding you down, but she stood up. You went to strike her with the glass but crumpled over in pain before you could reach her.

         “O–Oh gosh I–I didn’t–” You wailed in pain, seeing your soul in her hand made you despair. Your mind was already trying to cope with the betrayal and pain but that just made your conscious–self dissociate and retract in mental age. “I can f–fix it please hang in there,” Alphys rushed around looking for something, mutter about a key under her breath.

         “G…give it back…” You sniffled, trying to stand up but failing. The world around you was shifting into your old home. Your parents were standing over you with large jagged smiles. “…sorry…sorry…bad…” Memories strangled you from within.

         Your mind was gone.

         And your soul was fading to black.

 

 

****

 

 

         The dark figure reached forward, trying to break through the fragile defense against the abyss that was his home. He flickered in and out of existence, able to briefly see what was happening. Garbled cries reached his ears and a darkening soul caught his attention. He reached out and grabbed it.

         For a moment he saw his old partner, the other royal scientist. Disappointment churned in his mind but he must push it aside. For now, this soul was giving into the void, and he needed to make sure it did not become lost in the darkness.

         He would have to leave the DT Extractor alone and hope his son would be able to avoid any damage. Alphys…had the best intentions and yet they always became skewed and failed. The Amalgamates…and now this?

         He sighed deeply. He could not be angry for it did not come from a place of evil rapacity.  But the soul in his hands was so tainted, and it was her fault.

         DO NOT FRET MY CHILD" The man looked to be smiling but it was hard to tell. “I WILL HEAL YOU" No one could hear him speak.

         But he didn’t mind. He was okay being alone.

         …

         He looked up into more of the darkness, then at the soul in his hands.

         …

         He prayed his son would be okay.

 

 

****

 

 

            Sans rolled off of the couch like a dead weight, grunting at the impact of the floor. He sniffed and smiled. The eggs smelled real …good…?

            Where were you? Before he could panic he made himself relax, telling himself you were in the bathroom. Besides, Sans would check to make sure with the bond anyway. Sans closed his eyes and tried to locate you.

            But nothing was responding.

            “uh, sweetheart?”

            Sans spun around, walking around the house. He activated his magic to hopefully find an essence trail of your soul but found nothing. Sans had always been able to see the bit of light your soul left behind. So why was there nothing?

            It was like you just disappeared.

            Sans closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, listening to his soul. He wouldn’t let himself panic–you were fine. He would just teleport directly to your soul by focusing on the soul bond. It was much easier now that you’d official bonded.

            Yet it was empty. Sans stopped breathing. The feeling was gone. Nothing was there. Like you never existed. Like you weren’t real. Like you were nothing but a figment of his imagination and now you were gone and were reclaimed by the world because he wasn’t careful enough and was careless and let himself sleep and not worry even though everything was trying to take you from him because nothing in this world would let him be h a p p pp ay  ayha  ppa–  –haappy—yy-–

            Sans dropped to the floor and ripped his soul out of his chest. He checked it over and was relieved to find that the mini version of your soul was still there. He focused on that little fact and repeated that over and over in his mind.

            Sans stood back up, smile ever present on his face. The skeleton wandered around the home, pinpricks gone but grin wide. The slow shuffling of his steps were lazy, Papyrus would say.

            He grabbed his phone, facial expression unmoving. “paps. is my human with ya’?” Shuffling was on the other side. “oh. okay. no, i’m fine bro…where are they? i don’t know that’s why i called you bro…oh…i’m fine…i…”

            The phone fell and shattered.

            Sans held his own face, tracing over the smile. He chuckled nonchalantly, unable to stop once he started. The world was so still, and everything was so clear around him. He was not hallucinating and–he slammed his hand on the ground, grunting at the pain–he was not dreaming either.

            Sans sat down slowly, holding his face quite gently. The skeleton's bones were rattling, but the laughter was not stopping. It was joyful laughing, for he was so happy. Yes, he was so happy to be living with his soulmate. His soulmate was right next to him, comforting him and saying it was all just a dream.

            Because of course, it was a dream. He wouldn’t be tricked again.

            Sans phalanges were wet and slightly glowing. He chuckled and wondered why he was crying. You were right there snuggled in his jacket so he had no reason to be sad. Sans put his hand where your head should be, brushing it back and forth.

            Back and forth…

            Back and forth…

            Back and forth he let his phalanges run through the hair of the one he loves and didn’t stop as it always calmed him before and yet for some reason was not calming him now even though he never hated being near you. He should hug you tighter but you were so skinny it was almost like you were air which made him laugh because just imagine if you were air and didn’t even see him or he couldn’t see you or touch you.

            …

            You were right here.

            …

            Sans grabbed at his chest, trying to catch his breath. You wouldn’t like it if he had another fit and hurt someone.

            …

            Because you were right next to him, right?

            …

            You would never leave him...right?

            ...

            Sans screamed at the top of his lungs and yanked down on his right socket and gripped his chest tightly with the other hand and didn’t stop even when the pain was spotting in his mind and interrupting his thinking. Sans wanted to roar into the abyss and have it respond by consuming him and the world as well since the world was so terribly set on him being as miserable as possible because that was all that made sense.

            He fizzled out of existence and appeared on the street where he first saw you. Sans looked around him at the alarmed humans who were looking at him nervously and shuffling away. Sans brought the hand on his chest up.

            Never satisfied. The world was never satisfied. Maybe he just hadn’t done enough.

            Sans closed his fist in the air, screams echoing around him like a harmonized choir of ghosts trying to crawl up from hell. The roads were colored a glistening red, ornaments of flesh scattered around him while the walls had marks of rats trying to escape. Street lights flickered overhead when the light cast no longer was bright and pure.

            And suddenly there was singing once more. He sacrificed the martyr to the world. Some of the brightness splashed onto him and it proved to be a sight similar to that of a terror crawling out of the hollowness of the resolution of all those he saw lost.

            The colors were bright and saturated yet beautifully coated across the streets like a freshly coated sheen of paint. You’d probably like the colors.

            …

            Sans fell to his knees. The magic he’s consumed is spilling out of control. Buildings crumbled under the beams of misery, all the freshly painted LOVE becoming dust in the wind, leaving a crater of despair for him to cry in the center of.

            Alone.

            …

            “…do you know why the skeleton lost his mind?”

            Sans waited for your response.

            “he was bone–ly.”

            Sans smiled.

            “come on, that was pretty funny.”

            Sans laughed.

            “see? you’re hiding a smile.”

            Sans laughed harder, practically screaming while blue magic spilled from his eyes onto the tainted ground beneath him.

            “i–i love you too.”

            Sans disappeared and reappeared around his home, fazing in and out of the void with the magic excess keeping him from tiring.

            “you said cus’ they can teleport?”

            Sans stopped moving.

            “y–yeah…”

            Sans briefly caught the smell of fish. He disappeared once more and only entered back into the world at the outside of a house with the sign ‘LAB’ outside of it. Sans walked into the house and looked around for an essence of you.

            He looked at the ground and saw one tile unlike the rest.

            “oh.”

            Sans grinned, sight hindered by the purple smoke pouring from his eyes. The room was now tainted with the color of their faults. He walked over to the tile and ripped it off of the floor, seeing a ladder underneath.

            Sans smiled wider.

            He jumped down and landed on his feet, bringing the overflowing magic with him. Sans saw the creatures behind the glass looking at him. A blue spear shot past him. Sans met the gaze of his friend.

            Undyne backed up.

            “heya, pal.”

            “Your EXP is high?”

            “don’t you know how to greet an old pal?”

            She took a step back. Sans smiled.

            “Sans, you’re freaking me out, knock it off!”

            Sans stepped forward.

            “Hey! I’m warning you! If you take another step forward you REALLY won’t like what I do next.”

            Sans stopped walking. He put one foot forward and tilted his head. The creaking of his bones came from the dried red between his joints, the smell of metal reeking.

            “Look! Nothing bad is happening to them–”

            Sans grabbed her neck and brought a bone next to her skull, eye light blaring with red and blue. “w h e r e  i s  m y  h u m a n ”

            “W–with Alphys–”

            Sans threw her against the wall, chuckling deeply. Her scream was pathetic–much less harmonized like the ones of the martyr’s. “okay, pal. lead the way.”

            Undyne shakily stood, gaze sharp but quivering. Sans could see her trying to hide her fear. He grinned and walked forward slowly. “O–Okay follow me then.” Undyne turned her back to him, which was quite a bold move.

            She guided him through a few hallways, the glass walls not used anymore for the later doors. Undyne stopped in front of one after walking down an empty hallway. Sans wouldn’t have thought to check here. “I–In there.” Sans watched Undyne carefully. He couldn’t tell if she was lying–but the guilt in her gaze spoke her true feelings. He held the doorknob and felt a strange dulling sensation come over him.

            It was trying to nullify his magic.

            “heh, that’s hilarious.”

            He turned to Undyne.

            “open it.”

            “What? Open it yourself–”

            “o p e n  i t”

            Undyne grabbed the doorknob and reacted negatively, pulling her hand back with furrowed brows. “The fuck was that?” Sans now knew Alphys was behind all of this thanks to that one sentence.

            Sans summoned a gaster blaster and sneered when Undyne flinched. He stared her in the eye and let his eye lights go out. “should i keep my promise?”

            The door crumbled under the beam of magic. Sans looked walked into the room with calculating eyes, looking around until they landed on something slightly moving. Sans heard a whirring.

            He teleported forward and looked down at the shivering form.

            “…sorry…sorry…sorry…

            Oh.

            Sans crouched down slowly, cautiously approaching. He brought his hand forward and gently rested it on their head. They recoiled with a scream and Sans saw their face.

            “…s…sans…?”

            “yeah. it’s...it’s me, sweetheart.”

            “…leave leaVE LEAVE LEAVE LEAVE!” Sans fell backward at the sudden screaming, eye sockets widened fully and smile falling. You sobbed and crawled forward only to grab his ankle bone. “PLEASE! RUnrunrunrurnget out outplease–please i’msorrysorryso sorry so rr yr–”

            A clipboard fell.

            Sans turned his head around.

            A remote was in Alphys' hand, a glowing red machine activating behind her. Sans looked back down at you, and saw the bruises all over your arms. Blood stained your clothes and beautiful face. A piece of glass was…lodged underneath a cuff and into your skin, almost like you were trying to pry it off by force.

            Sans looked closer.

            Your soul wasn’t there. Was the cuff hiding it? 

            Sans turned to Alphys.

            He used his magic and ripped the cuff apart, gravity sending it flying at the reptilian monster. Sans carefully lifted you from the ground, ignoring the increasing volume of the machine. He knew what was going on now.

            Sans saw the glass was lodged into your wrist, blood pouring from it and draining your HP. Everything in him was breaking. What was he supposed to do now? He didn’t want too…he didn’t…

            “T–This is f–f–for your own good, Sans.”

            Sans blinked slowly, lifting one arm and summoning a gaster blaster. The blasters' maw opened and shot a beam of magic, destroying the machine.

            She looked at him, the confidence from before completely gone.

            Sans stared back blankly, blaster not dissipating.

            “…p–please.”

            Sans let the blasters maw open.

            “…don’t…kill me…”

            You whimpered in his arms, and he saw your eyes close and body go limp. Immediately the gaster blaster disappeared and Sans held onto you desperately. “sweetheart? sweetheart don’t give in.” His previous intentions faded at the importance of your health.

            Sans teleported to his room, not minding the energy drain as much since he had excess magic from his…activities.

            Sans sniffed, figuring that Papyrus rushed home after Sans called him. Sans scrambled downstairs, uncaring of his appearance and grabbed his brother. “S–SANS?” Papyrus followed in puzzlement, concern etched on his face. His brother had dried blood everywhere.

            “heal them.”

            Papyrus looked down at his sobbing brother, brow bones furrowed. Sans’ bones rattled loudly, magic pouring out from him like a fountain. Papyrus didn’t want to know what happened and turned to you. The younger skeleton gasped at the sight and quickly grabbed your hand to heal you. He started focusing on his magic and…stopped.

            “bro please please do it please.” Sans could barely control himself.

            “UM, SANS?” Papyrus let go of you slowly, staring at your moving chest in confusion. “WHERE’S THEIR SOUL?”

            Sans looked down.

            What?

            Sans shakily reached out and put his hand on your chest, trying to draw it out. Maybe it was just hiding?

            “S–SANS–”

            Sans grew increasingly livid.

            “UM, DO YOU SEE THE GHOST TOO?”

            Sans was about to snap at his brother but froze when he saw the fabric of reality slightly folding. He swore he could see… “gaster?”

            DON'T TELL FRISK YOU SAW ME"

            The garbled static rang in his mind before a soul faded into existence. Sans looked at it and reached for it desperately. It was yours. Bright and healthy. He looked up but the dark being was gone. Papyrus looked confused but once seeing your soul started to heal you.

            Sans looked at your soul, hands shaking.

            Why would the voided man have your soul? And it looked so healthy despite your physical self. Sans thought about and came to the conclusion the man healed it. He sighed in relief, but knew if gaster felt the need to heal it must have been lost to the abyss.

            How could they do this to you?

            How could they do this to him?

            Using you as bait to lure him into the lab? Making you look into the void and leaving you to die? The promise was becoming unimportant. They needed to pay. To suffer. And you needed to rest. Sans glanced at your soul.

            Sans saw Papyrus was busy healing you.

            Sans looked back at the soul in his hands.

            Maybe he could…

            His hands shook harder when his soul started stuttering.

            It wouldn’t hurt at this point, right?

            Sans closed his eyes and held the soul tightly, but not hard enough to hurt. The soul in his hand was vibrating and free.

            Sans looked at your bruises and scars and remembered how broken your mind was and the glass in your wrist you put in there yourself.

            Purple magic surrounded the soul.

            Sans held it close to his chest, focusing on your soul. He focused on the house, on his own soul, on Papyrus, and on Frisk. Your soul wasn’t as bright anymore. Sans felt bad but it was for the best.

            The gravity magic he had was being permanently ingrained into your soul.

            But it was for the best. He had to do it. It wasn’t bad. It was just to keep you safe. It was just to keep you by what was safe.

            He kept thinking about himself, Frisk, Papyrus, and the house. He made sure to envision specifically what the magic would react to. The mint soul in his hands became heavier, trying to get closer to him. He smiled slightly but kept focus.

            And then he was done.

            “SANS?”

            Sans looked up.

            “DID YOU JUST…BIND THEM TO ME?”

            Sans didn’t make eye contact. “you. frisk. me. the house.”

            Papyrus shook slightly. Sans didn’t like hearing the rattling fear. Papyrus looked back at you and shakily held your hand, eye lights glowing slightly. “BROTHER. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? I THOUGHT–I THOUGHT EVERYTHING WAS GETTING BETTER.”

            “things were. undyne and alphys ruined it. they almost killed my human. they tried to imprison me. they looked at my humans' soul.” Sans didn’t realize he was channeling more magic into your soul. “undyne kidnapped them. alphys was doing tests and took their soul and then was going to take my magic and leave them to die and i hate them i hate them i need to kill them right now.

            “SANS PLEASE CALM DOWN.”

            “calm down? cALM DOWN!? THEY TRIED TO TAKE AWAY EVERYTHING I HAVE WORKED FOR. THEY MADE ME LOSE MY MIND, PAPYRUS. I LOST IT AND I COULDN’T–I COULDN’T–”

            Two boney arms enveloped Sans in a suffocating hug, a gloved hand rubbing his skull. Sans kept trying to teleport but Papyrus would stop him. Sans begged to kill the two traitors, but Papyrus held him still. The soul in his hands was taken and placed back into the body of its rightful owner.

            “Sans. It’s okay now. You’re in your room, and your soulmate is right there, yes? ________ is sleeping very peacefully so don’t wake them up by yelling.” Papyrus lowered his voice, holding his brother tight. For the moment he let go he feared Sans would disappear and do something he’d regret.

            “w–why did they do that to me? what…what did i do? i’m their friend…right…? i can’t trust anyone…but you guys…and…and…” Papyrus hummed, listening to the ramblings of his older brother. “it’s the only way to keep ________ safe. this…this way no one can take them away from me.”

            Papyrus noted how wet his shirt was now and sighed deeply. “Yes, but, why did you bind their souls to us?” It was a strange feeling, not like a soul bond but like a string pulling two things together.

            “so they c–can go outside and still be safe. now one of us has to be with them if they want to leave the house or…gravity will bring them back.” Sans felt a sick kind of pleasure knowing that nothing could take you away now. You had to stay now. He couldn’t undo the binds. Sans chuckled. “like a magnet.”

            “SANS–Sans,” Papyrus tried to keep his voice low, “I hope you know that this will probably upset them. You’ve limited their world to the house, and they can only leave if one of us is with them. Isn’t that bad to you?”

            “bad? it’s perfect.” Sans was still curled up slightly, right hand in his eye socket. Papyrus still held him in case Sans did anything rash. “i should’ve thought of this earlier! and why would they be mad? this is all for them! my human loves me so much!

            "Sans, please.” Papyrus sighed at the delusional words, “I know it might seem great but–”  

            “if you wanted i could do it to frisk too.”

            Papyrus pushed him away and scrambled backward, Sans sitting himself up steadily. “come on, you know you want too.” Papyrus shook his head and glared.

            “SANS, STOP IT.” Papyrus shuffled farther back when his brother stepped forward. “SANS I’M SERIOUS YOU ARE ACTING VERY WEIRD RIGHT NOW.” Papyrus looked to you, and you were still asleep.

            “you’re the one actin’ weird, bro’.” Sans grinned, a sick madness shining in his pupils, “what ya’ so scared of, huh? afraid you actually want too?” Sans chuckled, leering down at the taller skeleton.

            “I DO NOT! STOP THIS RIGHT NOW.” Papyrus shivered. This wasn’t the brother he knew and loved. What had Undyne and Alphys done to make him like this? To make him this…this… “THAT IS SUPER CONTROLLING!"

            “hm? sounds like an excuse. come on, paps, it’d be great and so, so easy.” Papyrus grimaced, not liking that his soul was responding to this madness.  It was difficult to understand what was happening.

            “I DON’T LIKE IT. IT’S CREEPY AND WEIRD.”

            “no,” Sans stopped walking toward him, “it’s to protect them. i went to sleep for a bit and then whoosh! they were gone.” Sans turned to you and crouched down, lifting you up slightly so he could lay beside you. He wrapped his arms around your waist and relaxed. “see? this calms me down. i can’t calm down without them.”

            “SANS I’M NOT CRAZY LIKE YOU.” Papyrus was being completely frank here. Sans was acting like a lunatic. Determination really wasn’t a good look on monsters. Especially skeletons.

            “eh, it’s in our nature.” Papyrus scowled, hating those words. Every monster reacted to soul bonds differently. Some don’t feel that attached, some are unable to even tell who their soulmate is. But skeletons…Papyrus sighed.

            “THAT’S NOT A GOOD EXCUSE, SANS.” Papyrus crossed his arms, “FRISK IS AT TORIELS AND I’M FINE, AND YOU SHOULD BE FINE BEING AWAY FROM ________ FOR A WHILE TOO.”

            “mmm. nope.”

            “SANS! SOULMATES DON'T DO THIS TO EACH OTHER.”

            “how would you know? your bond isn’t even fully corporeal.”

            Papyrus...didn’t like that. That made him sad. Papyrus grabbed his chest and looked down, mind scrambling for some kind of response. But he couldn’t. Papyrus really didn’t understand fully, did he? How was he supposed to if his soul bond wasn’t even…real?

            Papyrus straightened his back and smacked both of his cheekbones, narrowing his brow bones. No! The great Papyrus does not give up! He will make the bond fully corporeal and not be crazy like his brother. “I’LL SHOW YOU SANS! ONCE I FIGURE OUT HOW TO BRING THE BOND TO LIFE I WILL BE HAPPY AND SANE! AND NOT CREEPY LIKE YOU!” Papyrus posed triumphantly.

            “sure. prove me wrong, bro. you’ve done it before.” Sans shrugged, pulling you closer to himself. Sans’ soul vibrated happily. “but if you ever change your mind,” Sans grinned darkly, “i’m always here for you paps.”

            Papyrus stood up and tried to shake off the weird feeling. His brother was a real piece of work. “WHATEVER, SANS. GET SOME REST. I WILL INVITE FRISK OVER SO YOU CAN TELL THEM WHAT YOU DID.” Papyrus glared slightly in disappointment but was ignored by Sans who closed his eyes happily.

            Papyrus closed the door behind him, leaving Sans alone with you.

            Sans snuggled close to you and hummed. He chuckled remembering how you had called it purring. Sans briefly rememberd there was something he wanted to do, but...Cuddling was much more important. 

 

 

**** 

 

 

            “Well, that was a shitty plan. It could have gone worse, I guess.” Undyne shrugged at the chaos, looking at Alphys. “Did you know he could do that?”

            Alphys didn’t respond and only continued to stare at her own hands. She wish she didn’t butt in. “I…I think I broke them.”

            “Nah, ________ will be fine. That kid’s tough as nails.”

            Alphys looked up at Undyne, pupils dilated.

            “I just made Sans worse, didn’t I? He was going to dust me if _______ wasn’t so injured.” Undyne opened her mouth to retort, but slowly closed it. That….was something she couldn’t deny. She shivered just thinking about the hatred the supposedly ‘lazy’ skeleton sent her way. She felt It like she was looking death in the eye.

            “Do you think he’s going to come back?”

            Alphys grimaced at that.

            “I don’t know.”

            Alphys turned to the rubble that remained of the machine.

            ‘He massacred a whole city because he couldn't find you

           Alphys sighed shakily.

            'He destroyed the city and left no evidence of himself being there'

            Her lab stuck to her slightly damp scales.

            'He's still smart...' 

            Alphys took off her glasses.

            'Someone intelligent losing their mind is much scarier than someone not'

            Undyne was scowling down at the pile of blood on the floor, eyes reflecting sadness. Alphys didn't mean for you to go nuts like that, your soul and mind were both fragile and she had neglected that. How was she to know you had trauma?

            'You did it again' Alphys thought in self-hate, remembering the amalgamates. 

            Alphys rubbed her eyes and stood still.

            That was even worse than every amalgamation combined.

            Sans was a monster.

 

            ...

 

            A real one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

            Frisk felt a strange chill down their spine. They blinked slowly before narrowing their eyes. What’d he do now? Frisk groaned, flopping over onto their bed. They were just getting used to the idea of having a soulmate for heaven’s sake!

            Frisk sighed even louder, dramatically sitting up and falling backward onto their bed once more. When moving up from the surface somehow Toriel managed to make an exact replica of her old home, and other monsters did the same resulting in the neighborhood being deemed ‘New New Home’ by Asgore. Frisk snorted. Thankfully it was an easy move as Frisk has gotten really good at being an ambassador. The first few times they made it to the surface? Aha. No. That was the whole reason Frisk found out how to reset.

            Dissociating was easy when everything felt like a game. Chara snapped them out of it though–thankfully.

            There was a slight tug at the back of their mind. Frisk grinned. “Papyrus was really happy to meet you, even if it won’t happen again.” Though Chara couldn’t respond, Frisk always knew what they were feeling when talking to Chara. Frisk giggled a bit at the most likely flustered spirit. “Look! He’s healing our soul a bit too!”

            Frisk easily brought their soul from their chest, it not being even the slightest bit difficult for how much they’d done it before. Sure enough, in some of the cracks were little flickers of healing magic from Papyrus trying to repair the lost bond. “What a great bro.” Frisk froze when they said that out loud.

            A faint screaming could be heard in the back of Frisk's mind. Frisk blushed and put their soul back in their chest. The skeleton brothers were the siblings Frisk had always wanted before falling down. And they’d always been so nice to them even if they did stupid things. Despite everything, Sans had been understanding once Frisk begged for forgiveness, which is why Frisk was going along with the crazy skeletons actions now. They really didn’t want to true reset ever again. Frisk smiled sadly, recalling the time they realized Sans could not remember True resets. Frisk couldn’t remember them either until the events changed. Which is why Frisk always assumed they didn’t exist.

            A complicated thing, memory was. Because every other memory stayed, just not of the specific run leading up to the true reset. Sans would still remember everything about their genocides and neutrals, but as long as Frisk true reset on a pacifist Sans would forget the pacifist run. It was sad, really, because Frisk would too until making it to the surface again.

            Frisk would gradually regain memories of the forgotten timeline and be able to make better choices due to that strong déjà vu. That was how Frisk was able to steer this timeline the right way–despite not realizing this had happened before until the day after Sans saved you. Frisk had watched with knowing looks what would happen.

            Frisk even told you of such things as cryptically as possible, hoping you and Sans may pick up on the hints. This timeline Frisk even gets to be Papyrus’s soulmate! With Chara speaking to him for the first time as well!
            It’s exciting. Frisk had finally fully remembered every past true reset timeline, due to fate being changed. And despite it being great that things were going well, what Frisk remembered was burdening.

            Because now Frisk knew...this wasn’t the first time Sans went on a resetting spree. The first time Frisk made it two years on the surface, and when Sans found his soulmate, everything reset without being True. Which is why Sans soul stayed the same–cracked, poisoned, and determined.

            In that timeline, he wasn’t able to reset after only twenty times. Sans completely lost his mind, since his soul would not shatter with how determined it was, despite the one it was determined for being dead. Sans first went after innocent people to let out his rage–hoping if he gained more power he could reset again. But it was never enough–for gaster had already run out of energy to create more reset buttons.

            Frisk held off resetting for as long as they could. It was the first time they truly feared Sans. In genocide, there was a purpose to his actions. This had only been insanity. Alphys and Undyne tried to lock him up but failed. He became a national threat. Frisk was so scared. Before Sans could do any more they had reset.

            Frisk could reset (and load and save when underground) which helped with the determination they had. Sans could do none of those things. Frisk got them all to the surface again and waited. This time Sans got to reset around forty times before the button broke. Frisk warned Alphys and Undyne beforehand, so only a few hundred people were lost to the madness.

            Sans was locked up. Everyone was safe now. Frisk should’ve felt fine. But they reset anyways. Sans didn’t deserve that–he really didn’t.

            Frisk brought them all to the surface once again without any idea of the mayhem about to come. It was the fiftieth reset that the button broke that time. Every time Frisk true reset gaster would retain the stamina and be able to hold out longer. But it broke before Sans figured out how to do it right. Frisk remembered everything when the button broke.

            Frisk reset immediately.

            Sans and Frisk forgot once more and it repeated. Now gaster was able to hold seventy-three resets and it seemed like the limit. Sans had stopped the vehicle and everything played out wonderfully. But the car had come back to his home and hit his soulmate. That time though, his soulmate didn’t die. Something in Sans did, though.

            You were completely crippled–paralyzed physically. Sans took care of you and everything seemed normal. Everything was going great until Undyne realized Sans had higher EXP then before. All Sans did was kill the man that tried to kill you, but because of how protective and possessive he was of you, Alphys figured something was wrong and examined his soul.

            Toriel promptly took you to the side and asked you about your soul. You let her take your soul as you could not do it on your own. Toriel held your soul and was dusted before anyone could react. Alphys injected Sans with a magic nullifying serum and knocked him out, breaking his skull in the process. Papyrus had protested, and...tried to stop them. In the end it...caused Undyne to strike him out of 'self-defense'. Frisk remembered your screaming.

            Papyrus was dusted by Undyne. It was the last straw for Sans, and inevitably he was locked up once trying to dust Undyne and Alphys. You were left behind in the wake of despair. Frisk wanted to reset so badly but figured everything could be fixed. Frisk didn’t want to go underground again–didn’t want to see all the tragedy. It was selfish, but why would Frisk think the 'next time' would do any better?

            It was an accident, what Undyne had done. But it was enough for you to hate her since she and Alphys also hurt Sans badly. Frisk stayed by you and took care of you over the time Sans was gone, gradually seeing the light return to your soul. Frisk figured it would all work out.

            But magic nullification wears off–and though it took a while for Sans to gather enough magic, he had broken free from the lab and dusted Alphys and Undyne. Sans was gone at that point, his broken skull, loneliness, betrayal, and guilt drove him insane. He immediately after you.

            You were terrified, and rightly so. The news had reported on a mass genocide of unforeseen force before he had arrived. Frisk was by your side, having grown quite close to you over the period of time Sans was gone.

            Frisk remembered refusing to leave your side, even when you told them to escape. Sans wasn’t himself at that point–soul showing no white. It was red, and had cracks of black. Frisk felt every bone enter them, seeing a wall of madness blocking Sans true self. Frisk remembered feeling like that on their genocide runs–their determination overriding any previous shred of morality. Frisk was dying and could hear you screaming, trying to get away from the monster you once loved. The news was dying out in the background when darkness started to spot Frisk's vision. 

            Frisk woke up in a bed of flowers, crying, despite not knowing why, since all had been forgotten. But strangely, they were determined to get a happy ending, more so than ever before. And finally Frisk did, despite how unconventionally they went about it.  

            This time you did die when hit by that car when it came around the second time, and gaster barely managed to create that seventy forth reset. Frisk remembered doing many genocides to stop Sans from killing everyone, not remembering fully of the previously forgotten timelines but only getting brief flashes of mass genocide.

            Frisk told him about determination and its dangers. Frisk hoped everything they said would stay in the back of Sans mind. Lastly, when they had finally figured Sans would do nothing rash, it seemed Chara had asked a promise of the skeleton.

            No monsters would be dusted.

            To be honest, Frisk never really cared much for human deaths, ultimately worrying about determination poisoning more than anything else. Frisk remembered feeling quite down about failing, and despite having forgotten you still put faith in you.

            But then Frisk remembered. It took a bit longer this time but they remembered. They went to the skeleton brothers house and met you, nothing really clicking until they saw Sans lose it at Undyne patting your back a bit too hard.

            Frisk had talked to you, memories slowly flowing back to them. Frisk told you to go to him. You could save him! But you were scared and collapsed under yourself. This timeline had proved to be quite different. Sans really didn’t dust anyone.

            There would be hiccups, of course, but Frisk could only warn you of the dangers they would have already known. Locking Sans up? Frisk told you not to let them take him. It wouldn’t end well, they had said.

            And that was when everything really changed. Frisk and Chara connected with Papyrus on a much more personal level, and your mental strength increased drastically. The only thing to possibly worry about would be Alphys and Undyne, but after pulling the stunt with the syringe there was no way they would–

            …

            Hm.

            Frisk took out their soul again, looking very closely at it. They noticed very briefly a slight shimmer of reflective string, practically invisible if not in the right lighting. What was that? A string? To where? Where did it come from?

            There weren’t any negative feelings, just a slight pull that was easy to ignore. Frisk didn’t remember anything about it, but it was possible Frisk was still ignoring memories from forgotten timelines. They figured this timeline came right after the one with seventy-three resets, but they might be wrong.

            Frisk picked up their phone. Papyrus, when dropping them off, had picked up a call from Sans and sounded a bit worried. He then rushed off with an anxious smile after saying goodbye. Frisk ‘hmmmmm’d a bit and rocked back and forth slightly.

            They decided to call Sans to check in and see if everything was okay. Frisk thought about what to say and pressed the call–

            “FRISK!!!!”

            Frisk jumped and dropped the phone after fumbling with it. They sighed but smiled in relief. If Papyrus was here then it wasn’t anything bad. Frisk rushed downstairs, passing the vase of golden flowers with a slight pause before eavesdropping on the conversation below.

            “Papyrus! You cannot barge in here like that without knocking.” Frisk covered their mouth to hide a giggle at their goat moms scolding. Papyrus, flustered, was bowing and apologizing profusely.

            “THE GREAT PAPYRUS APOLOGIZES! BUT THIS IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE!!!!” Toriel sighed. Frisk was curious and snuck down the stairs, hiding behind the wall by the steps to peek at the two. “PLEASE LET ME SEE THEM!!! IT IS SUPER IMPORTANT!!!”

            “What is it?”

            “TOP SECRET. SORRY, MISS QUEEN, THOUGH YOU ARE ROYALTY I AM ONLY AUTHORIZED TO TELL FRISK.”

            “By what authority?”

            “ME!!!”

            Frisk laughed, trying to hide their giggling. A tall skeleton quickly came into their range of sight. “THERE YOU ARE!! COME WITH ME! THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!” Frisk nodded and was ready to go.

            “Wait! My child, please,” Toriel rushed over and pat down Frisk's hair, “I would prefer you not stay the night there again.”

            “Huh?” Frisk was way ahead on school work (though it was all super easy at this point) and didn’t even mention sleeping over. Strange.

            “I…I would prefer you would stay here so I may safely watch over you.” Ack. Frisk flinched. That was a definite jab at Sans, which was fair enough since Toriel was attacked. But Sans had a broken skull then so it’s not fair to compare!

            “OF COURSE! I AM CAPTAIN OF THE ROYAL GUARD! NO NIGHTMARES OR BED BUGS WILL TOUCH A SINGLE HAIR ON THEIR LITTLE HEAD!” Frisk giggled but was still confused. There was never a discussion of sleeping over? But now they both assumed it was happening? Maybe Frisk missed when it was considered.

            “Of course, you are more than qualified. It’s just…” Toriel sighed, running a paw down her face. Papyrus’ smile dropped slightly but perked back up immediately.

            “SANS NO LONGER HAS A HOLE IN HIS SKULL SO NO NEED TO WORRY MISS QUEEN. LAST TIME WE ALL WATCHED DISNEY!!” Papyrus, the ray of sunshine, was really trying to be positive. Frisk could tell that Papyrus was hurt by the indirect distrust toward Sans. Maybe deep down, the real reason Papyrus was losing faith in Undyne and Alphys so easily was that of the past. Even though monsters don’t remember, Frisk had a feeling some part of their soul did.

            “I…I suppose you are right.” Toriel turned back to Frisk, motherly smile very much intact. “You want to sleepover, don’t you?” Frisk nodded. They wanted to see you again, and Sans too. Toriel sighed, “Okay, go ahead.”

            Papyrus and Frisk both cheered. Papyrus picked Frisk up and saluted Toriel, not leaving a chance for her to change her mind, and bolted. Frisk laughed as the wind tangled their hair, getting a ‘Nyeh heh heh!’ In return. 

            It didn’t take long at all to return to the skeleton brothers house since they were all in the same neighborhood. Frisk clutched onto Papyrus’s scarf when he went to put them down, making the taller skeleton chuckle. “FINE, I WILL CARRY THE LAZY HUMAN.” Frisk cheered.

            The door opened, light making Frisk blink a few times. It was dark outside. Papyrus closed it behind him and carried Frisk upstairs, stopping in front of Sans room. Frisk looked to the skeleton in question. “SANS SHOULD TELL YOU.”

            The door opened.

            “hey, bro. see ya’ brought the kid home, heh.” Sans grinned lazily and Frisk beamed in excitement. He was still okay! He still had his personality. Frisk wiggled around a bit until Papyrus set them on the ground. Frisk rushed forward and hugged Sans, burying their face in the fluff of his hoodie.

            “Sans!”

            “whoa, kid, nice ta’ see you too.” Sans stayed grinning, ruffling Frisk's hair. Frisk hopped up and down a bit, still excited to see him okay and sane. Frisk turned to look at you–since Sans was holding your hand–and faltered.

            Frisk climbed onto the bed and scooted closer to you, glancing at Sans from the corner of their eye. Sans still looked relaxed, eye lights normal. Frisk gently brushed the hair out of your face and saw the tear tracks on your cheeks. They frowned, turning to Sans and Papyrus for an explanation.

            “sorry, kid, i almost broke the promise.” Sans looked down, glancing toward Papyrus with a weakening grin, “paps helped me tho.”

            “SANS, PLEASE TELL THEM WHAT HAPPENED.”

            Frisk noticed the bed was shaking slightly. Sans was trembling, and because of his stature, it made the bed shake too. Papyrus sighed and kneeled in front of him, grasping Sans free hand and staying there. Comfort, Frisk guessed.

            What had happened?

            Sans began to explain.

            …

            It took a while for Sans to go through the whole story, losing himself in the memory a few times and only being pulled back by Papyrus.

            Frisk sighed at the end, rubbing their eyes. They turned to you, trying to imagine how you had looked. They felt fine in their mind but Frisk's body was crying for some reason. They were still a kid, huh? Frisk laid down, curling up into you-you were on your side facing the brothers–and resting their head where your soul would be.

            Frisk couldn’t have handled another reset. It was too much. Forgetting and remembering and forgetting and remembering and forgetting and remembering...a loop. “SS?” Frisk whispered, hoping you would reply.

            You didn’t. But you were breathing, at least. Your heart was beating too. Frisk wondered if you ever got déjà vu. Frisk hoped you would remember them. Remember the bond Frisk had with you. Frisk closed their eyes and relived those final moments of the previous true reset timeline.

 

            “Hey, can I call you something else?”

            “Sure, of course!” You smiled gently at Frisk, who was sat on your lap. Frisk liked to sit there, and you didn’t mind cus’ you couldn’t feel it anyways.

            “Hm. Well, it has to have something to do with you being super awesome.” You pretended to think, nodding in agreement.

            “Well yes, of course, it must. I am very awesome after all.”

            “And how you are the coolest sibling ever.”

            “What about Papyrus?” You added hesitantly, and Frisk stiffened. They relaxed again, smiling sadly. The smell of dust still lingered.

            “Well…he’s my coolest skeleton sibling. You’re my coolest human sibling.”

            “What about Sans?” Frisk wavered again.

            “He’s not cool…” You looked at them curiously, unable to turn your head fully to see their face, “I think that cool isn’t the right word. Sans…is…he…” Frisk smiles slightly, “tells me when I’m doing something stupid and always forgives me.”

            “You guys are really close, huh?” You smile softly, a bit of pain behind your gaze. Frisk frowned, tears welling in their eyes. Frisk chokes down a sob, covering their mouth and looking away. “Hey, hey, what’s wrong?”

            “Why did they do that to him?” You looked startled at the question but carried a similar sadness. “It’s not his fault. It’s not! They hurt him! They hurt him! We’re supposed to be friends! We’re all supposed to be happy!” Frisk wailed, clutching onto your sweater. Everything was becoming gray, for nothing seemed happy anymore. “They are mean to you! Why are they so mean to you?”

            “Come on firecracker, cheer up.” You smiled, and Frisk saw your fingers slightly twitching. “It’s not wrong of your friends to be mad at me. In the end, it was…it was my fault.” Frisk shook their head aggressively.

            “No! No, it’s not! It was all an accident, how could you know Sans would do that? It’s no one’s fault–no, it’s my fault for not saying anything. I should’ve known Sans would react like that!” Frisk curled up close to you, the wheelchair you sat in rolling slightly. “I should have told Papyrus to go away.”

            “Please don’t blame yourself. Please. It’s not your fault, firecracker.” Frisk loved the nickname you had given them. Though it was teasing since you were calling them short, you had explained that you always thought Frisk was a bundle of energy and bright, beautiful despite their deceptive size.

            “…reports of mass genocide along the east coast, military action taking place on the threat to national safety.” The TV had been on, but until now neither of the two had been paying attention. “Stay inside and beware the monster asylum escapee. More information will be provided once found…

            Frisk turned to look up at you, watching your cheerful expression fall. Though crying, everything about you was peaceful and unmoving. Frisk scrambled off of your lap, grabbing your wheelchair and adjusting it so you were facing away from the TV. Frisk rushed to it and tried to find the remote and turn it off.

            “…monster royal guard has issued a cease and desist to all magic use…

            Frisk couldn’t find the remote and opted to press the power button on the TV. But they stopped once hearing more information.

            “…last seen heading toward ‘New New Home’, all humans and monsters are being asked to evacuate surrounding areas…

            Frisk decided to leave the TV and rushed over to you and grabbed the handles on the wheelchair, “Frisk, could you hold my hand?” Your fingers twitched once more and Frisk did not hesitate to hold it. It was shaking. You were shaking. “I will not run. This will not end until I stop him.”

            “He’s not in his right mind! He’ll kill you by accident!” Frisk was trying to convince you to go with them, to get out of here together. “Please don’t do this, please. I can’t lose another friend. I can’t.”

            “Frisk.” You smiled softly, closing your eyes. “In another time and place, I think everything would have turned out just fine.”

            “…borders being shut…” The TV droned on in the background.

            “Maybe I could have seen you grow up and go to college. See you be the best monster ambassador the world could ever imagine,” The hope behind your words carried so much power, so much joy at the thought of a different course of events. “Papyrus would make spaghetti every day for us, and you would be spoiled rotten by Sans. I would read you stories every night about times when life was hard but was overcome.”

            Frisk gripped your hand harder, smiling at those words. They were going to have to reset, weren’t they? “The four of us would go on vacation to see the wonders of the world. We would see movies and eat snacks. I’d take you to my favorite places, and show off how cool of a kid you are.”

            “We can do that now! We can…we can still be together…” Frisk hiccupped, wiping their nose with their sweater, “You can still read me stories…and…and you can take me around the world…and…”

            “…airports being shut down to prevent international security breach…” The TV was white noise.

            “Frisk, I’m so happy I met you. I don’t regret anything that has happened. I’m glad I didn’t go through with my suicide.” Frisk shook their head rapidly, not liking your tone of voice. You sounded so happy but resigned. “You are so much more than just a kid, Frisk. You are special. Papyrus always believed in you, and Sans always cared for you. We all love you, Frisk, and that’s why I need you to leave.”

            “No! I'm not more than a kid! I can't be on my own! I’m not leaving you here! I’m not!”

            “Frisk, please.” The grip on your hand tightened, Frisk unwilling to let go. They didn’t care that they could reset. They didn’t want to forget you. They didn’t want to forget all of the wonderful memories before the day Toriel died. They didn’t want you to forget them. “Live on for me, okay? I know we’re going to meet again.”

            “I…don’t want…to let go...” Is this how Asriel felt?

            “Take my necklace.” You said, eyes watering. Frisk whimpered, remembering how Sans gave that to you before he was taken away. It was a necklace made from the star-like crystals and echo flowers of the underground. A message could be kept in it if spoken with the intent of it staying in the necklace. A locket to remember one by.

            “Please don’t leave me.”

            “I’ll always be with you.” The necklace glowed slightly, and Frisk shakily removed it from your neck and put it around their own. Frisk listened to it whispering those words. “Take the scarf as well. Papyrus would’ve wanted you to have it.” Frisk did as told, gently unwrapping it from around your neck and putting it around their own. “There. All snug and warm.” You smiled joyfully. “Now go, he’s almost here.”

            “Wait but I haven’t gotten to tell you–”

            “Frisk.” You stopped them, “you never did tell me what the nickname was. Could you tell me it?” Frisk looked down at the necklace and back at you. The hairs on the back of their neck rose, signaling he was here.

            “SS.” You made a questioning hum, “Because you’re a ‘Super Sibling’. Like Superman but cooler.” You chuckled, smiling brilliantly despite the situation. Frisk shakily matched the smile, giggling a bit.

            “Perfect. I love it.” It was a silly nickname but Frisk felt it was fitting. “It definitely makes me feel like a superhero.”

            “Hey, SS? I really want to tell you–”

            The door broke down.

            Bones immediately pierced through Frisk, blood splashing onto your frightened face. Frisk wanted to tell you everything would be okay, but they couldn’t speak. You were trying to get away but could do nothing for paralysis kept you still. You were screaming.

            Frisk looked to the skeleton monster they once knew, seeing the empty shell that was once Sans. Frisk felt themselves dying, and that was okay. Because next time they would do better. Next time maybe Sans could stay himself. Frisk was the reason he was so vulnerable in the first place. Frisk saw his hope of one. Though it was that low when first coming, since Flowey had been quite busy, Frisk was still at fault.

            “…genocide…..r..port….monster…kill…..on sight…magic….hi...d..e…

 

            Frisk opened their eyes, realizing they had been crying pitifully. Frisk quickly tried to compose themselves, realizing they got lost in a flashback. The other two skeletons in the room were obviously caught off guard.

            “uh, hey, kid, they’re gonna be fine, i promise.”

            “YEAH!!! THE GREAT PAPYRUS HEALED THEM WITH HIS VERY AWESOME MAGIC!!! SO!! DON’T BE SAD LITTLE FRISK!!” Frisk smiled at that, reaching for the necklace on their chest that wasn’t there. Frisk turned to the two skeletons, bursting out laughing once seeing their expressions.

            Sans was sweating with a really confused and hesitant smile, hands out in a kind of panicked surrendering pose while he tried his best to prove some kind of comfort. Papyrus was also confused on how to comfort Frisk but looked more spooked than confused at the ‘strange human emotions’.

            “T–Thanks, guys. I’m fine. I just remembered something is all.” Frisk grinned brightly, relieved at the sight of the two brothers together. Papyrus was alive, Sans was alive, and you were alive. After a moment Frisk asked again. “Wait, so why did you need to tell me all of this?”

            Papyrus looked at Sans in a scolding manner, dramatically rolling his eyes. Sans grunted, turning away in sheepish embarrassment. “well, uh, ya’ see…” Sans clicked his phalanges together, avoiding eye contact, “i may have done something a bit rash…”

            “A BIT???”

            “okay, fine. a lot rash. but look, kid, it ain’t anything bad! just was some safety measures…i guess.” Sans was sweating again, nervously avoiding the actual thing in question. Papyrus groaned loudly.

            “SANS USED THE GRAVITY MAGIC ON HIS HUMANS SOUL. SO NOW THEY’RE PERMANENTLY ON HOUSE ARREST.”

            Frisk rose a brow at that. That still didn’t have anything to do with them? Frisk turned back to Sans, who was now hiding in his hoodie. “and i may have…ya know…madeitsoifthey didleaveithadtobewitheitheryoumeorpapyrusorelsetheycan’tleavethehouseandit’spurelyforprotectionreasonsbecauseundynekidnappedthemandnothingwaskeepignthemsafebecauseiwasasleepbutididn’twanttostopthemfromgoingoutsidesoimadeitsotheycouldleavewithoneofusbecauseitrustthetwoofyouand…”

            “So basically you made it so that they can only leave the house if it’s with one of us three? And that they are in the house otherwise? How does that even work?”

            “heh, well, the gravity magic will pull them back towards the nearest thing they are connected too.”

            “Is that what the invisible string is?” Frisk was baffled. They had no idea Sans could do that! Sans nodded slowly, apprehensive still. Frisk smacked their forehead in exasperation, wondering what was going on in the lazy skeletons mind. 

            “h–hey don’t worry about it it’s just a precaution so what happened today doesn’t happen again.” Sans paused, eye lights fizzing out with a small whispered ‘i couldn’t take it’. Frisk shivered at that, turning back to you. Sans inhaled sharply through his teeth, causing a slight whistling sound. “oh, y–yeah, their soul may look a bit different.”

            “I didn’t know you could do that. That’s kind of scary.” Frisk stated honestly, wondering why he’d never used it before.

            “well, i never had enough magic stored since it permanently takes away some of my magic…but i may have done something a little uncalled for before finding ________.” Sans was looking away again, and Frisk sighed deeply.

            “What’d you do, Sans?”

            “uh….well you see…first, promise not to get mad at me.” Frisk deadpanned, giving a neutral face of displeasure. “ok, whatever. fine. i accidently may or may not have destroyed a…whole city. but i didn’t hurt a single monster! it was a human city! i kept my promise, kid, so don’t…” Sans looked down. “please don’t…”

            Frisk didn’t move. Sans thought Frisk was going to reset. Like they could do that again. They refused to do it. They hated forgetting and remembering. They hated it so much. They hated being so old despite looking so young. But a whole city was gone. It was a human city, and Frisk felt like a terrible person when they realized that was all they really cared about. Frisk hates humans–very rarely liking one.

            Frisk liked you because you were similar to them. Hopeless before monsters came. “I’m so tired…” Frisk said, eyeing Sans warily. “Are you going…are you going to leave?”

            “what?”

            “Is this it? Is this all that there is? I can’t do this anymore. I’m just a kid, right? I don’t care about that stupid city, Sans! Are you going to be taken away again? Am I going to have to–” Frisk looked to Papyrus, wondering why it was getting harder to breathe, “–why did–why did they–please don’t leave me again–”

            Frisk was picked up, before being snuggled against a fluffy coat. “Why did you leave me, Sans? Why did you do that to me after I did so much to be good? I’m trying so hard but now you’re just going to leave again and take Papyrus with you!”

            “kid, what are you talking about?” Frisk opened their eyes and was met with two concerned pupils. “what do you mean i left you? i went to save ________, i didn’t get taken anywhere.” Frisk wished Sans could remember, even if just a little bit.

            “I can’t watch you guys all die anymore…I’m done. I want to stop coming back.” Everything was going bad again. Undyne and Alphys were just going to do what they thought was right and try to lock Sans away again. Frisk couldn’t handle another reset. “I’m just a kid…I…”

            Something soft was wrapped around Frisk's neck, covering half of their face due to its size. Frisk blinked a few times before seeing Papyrus was smiling softly. Frisk hiccupped, hugging the red scarf closer to them.

            “YOU SEEM TO BE VERY OVERWHELMED, THIS IS A VERY CONFUSING SITUATION AFTER ALL. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT SANS!! THE GREAT PAPYRUS HAS BEEN TALKING SOME SENSE INTO HIM!!” Frisk couldn't help giggling when Papyrus started ruffling their hair. “SANS SAID NOBODY WAS HARMED WHEN HE DESTROYED THE CITY SO IT’S ALL OKAY!”

            Sans winced slightly. Frisk figured no monsters were hurt but humans most definitely were. Must be why he got all that extra magic to make that weird gravity magic permanent. Looks like Sans didn’t tell Papyrus.

            Frisk wiped their face, getting rid of the gross snot and tears. Frisk huffed and puffed their chest out, turning to Papyrus with a determined gaze. “Could I get a hug?” The confident words wavered in slight embarrassment, Frisk smiling sheepishly. Sans chuckled and gently handed Frisk to the taller skeleton.

            Papyrus brushed away the rest of Frisk's tears and grinned triumphantly, wrapping his scarf around them more securely. “THERE YOU GO, LITTLE FRISK. ALL BETTER NOW? WOULD YOU LIKE SOME SPAGHETTI?”

            “Later. Right now I’m comfortable like this.” Frisk curled up into the scarf, leaning against the tall skeletons battle body covered chest. “Can you keep petting my hair?” Frisk whispered, peeking up at the taller skeleton. Papyrus chuckled.

            “SURE, THE GREAT PAPYRUS CAN DO THAT.” Frisk hummed happily, and their heart skipped a beat when something in their soul changed. Frisk furrowed their brows, a feeling of safety they’d never felt before now was clearly present.

            “heh. looks like the kids not upsetti spaghetti anymore.”

            “THAT’S NOT EVEN A PUN???” Papyrus screeched, leaving Sans to chuckle. The trip down memory lane really brought out some negative emotions Frisk had forgotten about, and it seems Chara wasn’t present throughout. Must have backed off out of politeness.

            It was appreciated.

            “kid, i…” Frisk looked at Sans, his pinpricks fuzzy, “i’m not completely sure what you were talking about, but…” His smile wavered but kept still, the lazy grin refusing to fall. “whatever it is, don’t get stuck on it. we ain’t gonna start over again, okay? me and paps ain’t going anywhere and neither is _________.” Sans shakily stood up, and sat down on the bed by you. He gently brushed the hair from your face, eye lights flickering into a different shape for a brief moment.

            Were those hearts? Frisk almost laughed at that. Who knew their pupils could change shapes! “i’m gonna do my best not to cause a commotion, heh. too lazy.” Sans looked back at Frisk, “don’t let it rattle your bones too much. i’ve got a big backbone so no one’s burying this skeleton.” Sans winked. Papyrus was now screeching in rage, trying to cover Frisk's ears with one hand.

            Frisk noticed he winked with his left eye socket. His most powerful eye. Frisk smiled, appreciating the puns and the silent message it sent.

            “what, didn’t tickle your funny bone?”

            “OH MY GOD, YOU USE THAT ONE SO MUCH.”

            “hey, can’t beat the classics.” Sans shrugged, and Frisk felt everything was finally how it should be. Both skeletons were still themselves. Sans wasn’t going to get in trouble. And you were okay.

            Speaking of, you started shuffling on the bed, eyes fluttering. Sans immediately started to help you up, whispering encouragement and comfort. Your eyes fully opened and looked around, before landing on Frisk, mouthing something briefly. Frisk eyes widened significantly, holding their breath. Did you just…?

            “sweetheart? how ya’ feelin’?” You looked back at Sans and smiled shakily, though the smile was confused.

            “I feel great, but, what happened? I remember Alphys giving me something and then…” You furrowed your brows, not seeing Sans eye light flash a deep purple. Frisk shuddered at the temperature drop in the room, and Papyrus must have noticed.

            “AH! YOU MUST HAVE FAINTED! HUMANS FAINT, YES? SANS CAME AND…RETRIEVED YOU SAFELY!!” Frisk almost snorted. Yeah, ‘retrieved’ was probably the right word. “HOW DO YOU FEEL?”

            “Okay, I guess. I just had a really vivid dream.”

            Frisk perked up at that. “What was it about?”

            “It was a nice dream,” You grinned, “you guys were all in it too. Sans was teleporting us all over the world to see all kinds of cool things. Then we all went to a movie theatre and then I took you all to a really pretty meadow.”

            Frisk quivered a bit because somehow that sounded so familiar.

            “Then we all went to watch fireworks.” You turned to Frisk with a large smile, “I called you a firecracker because the fireworks reminded me of you! Sans said it was because you were short but Papyrus said it was because you were full of energy.”

            “wow. sounds like a pretty cool dream.”

            “Yeah. I usually don’t remember dreams so to see it so vibrantly was awesome! Also, why is Frisk here?” Frisk didn’t even respond, too caught up in what you had said. That must be a sign that this was where the resets end.

            Frisk wriggled out of Papyruses arms and ran toward you, climbing onto the bed and jumping into you. “Whoa!” You grabbed them so you both wouldn’t fall, chuckling at Frisk's energy. “What’s got you all friendly?” Frisk nuzzled into your shirt, giggling.

            “We’re going to have a movie night again, right!? I’m sleeping over! What movies should we watch tonight!?” Frisk let go and started hopping up and down excitedly, pushing away all previous negative emotions.

            ‘You’ would’ve wanted Frisk to forget about the past and live in the present, so that’s what Frisks going to do. They were a kid so might as well enjoy being one. “Want to make spaghetti with me and Papyrus? Oh, Sans can help too but he always tries to put ketchup in the sauce and that’s gross.”

            “Ketchup?” You scrunch up your nose, to which Sans shrugs with a wink.

            “don’t knock it till’ you try it.” You shook your head, grabbing onto Frisk's cheeks to stop them from jumping around.

            “Alright, I’ll help you guys. Sans, you can sit and watch.”

            “fine by me. moral support is my specialty.”

            Papyrus and Frisk cheered, and Sans scooped you up in his arms. “I can walk, Sans.” Sans shrugged and grinned stupidly. Frisk put their arms up when Papyrus looked down at them, making the tall skeleton chuckle.

            “Up! Up! Up!” Frisk hopped until Papyrus lifted them from the armpits and put them on his shoulder. “Papyrus express is ready to go!”

            “NYEH HEH HEH!” Papyrus rushed down the stairs, leaving you and Sans in the wake of his speed. Frisk could hear you briefly complain about how slow Sans was. To which the reply was ‘i’m lazy’.

            The smile on Frisks face stayed, their soul feeling protected. Chara wasn’t very present, but Frisk figured that they were just being quiet. Either way, Frisk didn’t mind. Being a kid who didn’t have to worry about anything sounded great right now.

            So Frisk would forget about the past timelines because this was the one that mattered. This was the one they were happy in, even if it was a selfish thought. They were a kid, and kids were usually selfish. “LITTLE FRISK!!! LET'S USE THE NEW SPARKLES WE BOUGHT!!!” Papyrus proclaimed, lifting Frisk off his shoulder and setting them onto the counter in the kitchen. Frisk cheered, nodding.

            Soon you and Sans entered, bickering playfully about Sans being lazy and slow. Frisk rolled their eyes, making a gagging motion at their flirting. Papyrus laughed at that, petting Frisks head. Sans rolled his eyes and you reached up and kissed Sans on the cheek, causing the skeleton to flush blue.

            “AGHH! NO SMOOCHING IN THE KITCHEN! NOT IN FRONT OF THE LITTLE HUMAN!” Papyrus slapped his gloved hand over Frisk's face. Frisk laughed, trying to remove it. Papyrus didn’t budge, continuing to scold the other too.

            “HEY! I SAID STOP NOT SMOOCH MORE!!”

            In the end, it took about two hours to make the spaghetti.

            It was fun.

            “SS! Hey! Sit next to me!” You chuckled and did so, sitting in the middle of the couch. Frisk crawled onto your lap before realizing what they did. Frisk sheepishly smiled at you. It was a force of habit, they thought.

            “If you wanna sit there I’m not going to stop you, firecracker.” You chuckled, scratching their head. Frisk rested back further into your, leaning into your hand. Scratch. Scratch. It felt very soothing. “Your hair is super soft.”

            “Thanks. I grew it myself.” You snorted, deciding to ruffle Frisk's hair aggressively. “Ack! Hey! Don’t mess up my beautiful, luscious locks!” Frisk laughed, swatting your hand away until they fell over. You grinned.

            Sans sat down next to you and Papyrus on the other, the same formation they had done the last time. Though now Frisk was laying across your lap, leaving more room for everyone to sit. “i see you got a little pup now.” Sans grinned, and Frisk blew a raspberry.

            “OKAY!! WE ARE WATCHING A SUPER COOL SUPERHERO MOVIE SO EVERYONE BE QUIET!!!!”

            Everyone shh’d each other throughout the movie, Papyrus slowly losing it every time someone did so.

            Thanks, gaster, Frisk thought, eyes shutting in sleepiness, i’ll take care of this timeline. Frisk let themselves succumb to sleep, soul fluttering in security and joy.

 

 

****

 

 

            Strange, you thought, looking down at Frisk who was sleeping peacefully on your lap. For a second I thought maybe I’d met them before. You brushed it off as the dream being very realistic. Frisk liked the nickname though, smiling every time you said it.

            Sans cleared his throat and you rolled your eyes, grabbing one of his hands and lacing your fingers with his. You continued to pet Frisk with the other, parental instincts making you want to take care of them.

            Actually, it was weird. You felt so close to these three despite so little time having passed. The movie kept playing, and you chuckled when Papyrus cheered for Superman. Superman, you grinned, before forgetting why. Wow, déjà vu. Whatever, it didn’t really matter.

            It was good. You felt close to them.

            ...and it was almost taken away from you.

            Alphys. You felt anger well up in you. It was the spiteful kind of anger you’re not used to feeling. Why were you so angry? She just wanted to help you. You shook your head, hoping you could remember what was going on before you blacked out. You thought about it and got a flash of yourself screaming about being bait. Your head shot up and a strangled gasp left your throat.

            “sweetheart?” The hand you were holding squeezed yours comfortingly, “you okay? is something wrong?” You nodded, though it was probably unconvincing. “…did you remember?” Sans spoke lowly, the grip on your hand becoming slightly painful.

            “It’s okay. Undyne and Alphys wouldn’t do that again. They had good intentions.” You felt like you were convincing yourself that. In reality, you were absolutely pissed. Alphys was going to kill Sans, be it an accident or not! Deep down you were always hesitant around them, snapping at Undyne so easily right when you met them. They rubbed you the wrong way, and not because they were monsters. Of course not. Toriel and all other monsters you felt normal around, but those two just…you just immediately hated them.

            “don’t worry. they ain’t taking you again. nobody is.” You shivered at the deeper tone, the minor growl to his voice making your stomach do flips. With a deep, shaky exhale you nodded again, flushing when he ‘kissed’ the top of your head. “do you trust me?” It was barely above a whisper right next to your ear.

            “Yeah.” You smiled shyly, not used to the flustered feeling at his closeness. It was strange how attractive you could find a skeleton. Sans rested his head on yours, body leaning over a lot to do so. He didn’t seem to mind though, and neither did you.

            Your soul fluttered. You bit your lip. “Do you trust me?” You kept your voice a whisper, the TV volume drowning it out unless it was listened for. Papyrus was invested deeply in the movie.

            “sweetheart,” a deep chuckle, “more than anything.” You squeaked when he nibbled slightly on your ear, unused to the contact. Papyrus looked over and ‘shhhh’d’ you, whipping his skull back to focus on the TV. You looked at Sans, who had a shit–eating grin that would be more intimidating if not for the stupid heart-shaped pupils.

            “You look like a cartoon character when your eyes do that.”

            “huh? are they doin' somethin’?”

            “They’re shaped like cute little hearts.”

            “oh. oh god. ohhhh noooooo…” Sans blushed brightly. Papyrus yelled in annoyance, telling Sans to turn his face off. You laughed loudly, watching Sans pull his hoodie up and hide his face unsuccessfully. So much for being confident, you thought amused.

            “If you guys are done flirting can I sit up now?”

            You screeched and jumped at Frisk's sudden voice, flailing your arms like an idiot. Frisk snorted, rolling their eyes and crawling off of your lap and into Papyruses. “You guys are so mushy and gross,” Frisk made a gagging motion, “I’d rather not be subject to more of that no matter how comfy your lap is.”

            “WERE YOU TWO FLIRTING???? DID YOU SMOOCH???” Papyrus scolded, hugging Frisk to himself, “DON’T CORRUPT LITTLE FRISK YOU FIENDS! KEEP THE GROSS ROMANCING TO YOURSELVES!”

            “whatever you say, bro,” Sans said, voice muffled by his hoodie. Papyrus sighed, resting a hand on your head. You were confused until he messed up your hair.

            “Hey!” You frowned when he removed his hand, and Sans went to fix the tangles his brother had made. “My poor hair.” Sans chuckled, phalanges gently weaving through your locks and brushing softly against your skull. Actually, it was super relaxing. You sighed contently and leaned into Sans.

            As you closed your eyes in preparation to doze off, you suddenly recalled something important. “Oh. Sans, can you take me tomorrow to refill my prescription?” Said skeleton looked down at you in confusion. “For my medicine, remember? I’m almost out and I need to refill before I do.”

            You blinked a few times, noticing the strange way Sans eye lights flickered. The hand on your head stilled, leaving you to pout. “oh. uh, heh. papyrus can get that for you.” Sans brushed it off, trying to hide his nervous twitching.

            “HM? I DON’T BELIEVE ANYONE OTHER THAN THEM CAN PICK UP PRESCRIBED MEDICINE.” You nodded to that, shrugging. You’re not sure how Papyrus knew that but nonetheless.

            “Yeah, I have to go in person and give them my bottle. Since it’s not over–the–counter nobody can get it for me since I'm not a minor.” You sigh, leaning further into Sans. The hand on your head moved to rest around your waist.

            “oh. so you...have to go?” Uh oh. You didn’t like that tone. You glanced up slightly, disliking the nervous expression and strained smile on Sans face. “like, tomorrow?”  With a sigh, you smiled. You understood why he maybe didn’t like that idea, but you were actually cutting it pretty close with the dosage.

            “Preferably. Are you busy? I’d rather not go alone. Especially…after…” You rubbed your arm sheepishly, facing your lap. You yelped. “Whoa! Sans, that hurt!” You gasped, the tight squeeze was completely unprepared for. Sans immediately loosened the grip but didn’t let go despite you reflexively trying to scoot away.

            “SANS.” The movie seemed to have ended, credits rolling. Papyrus spoke sternly, covering Frisk's eyes and ears with the scarf they were wearing. “PLEASE TRY TO CONTROL YOUR MAGIC.” Papyrus sighed, more annoyed than anything as far as you could tell. “AND, NOT AROUND FRISK, PLEASE. THEY ARE VERY STRESSED ALREADY.”

            “Whatever. I really don’t want to go by myself but I will if I need to. But I have to go tomorrow since it’s closed on weekends.” You crossed your arms, leaning back into the cushions. You were kind of mad, expecting Sans to be more considerate of your anxiety of not wanting to go alone.

            “…that’s…” Sans spoke quietly, but you made sure to listen and make eye contact. “i’d prefer it if…” He looked to be struggling with what to say.

            “Look, I’m not mad, I’m just nervous to go alone so I would’ve preferred you come with me since you make me feel safe, but I guess I’ll go alone–”

            “i think you’re misunderstanding something.” Sans interrupted you, any hints of being nervous or hesitant gone. “i don’t really…want you to go at all. especially not alone.” You tensed at the bright flash of purple from his left eye.

            “OH MY GOD. IM TAKING FRISK UPSTAIRS. SANS, I SWEAR IF YOU BREAK ANYTHING I WILL YELL AT YOU. SS? PLEASE GROW A BACKBONE.” And with that Papyrus scurried upstairs, ignoring Frisk's confused protests at where they were going. 

            You blinked. Grow a backbone? “So, you don’t want me to go?” Well, that made sense. You were so used to people not caring about you that you automatically assumed he didn’t want to go and couldn’t be bothered. You needed to change that way of thinking since it was obvious Sans did care about you deeply.

            “yeah.”

            “Is it because of today?”

            “…” Sans was silent. So it was, huh? Well, it made sense. He’d seemed to be taking it so well despite previous times of you leaving without warning he would lose it. But he would be with you so what was the problem?”

            “Even though you would be with me?”

            “well…” Sans scratched the back of his head, lifting his legs onto the couch and sitting cris–crossed. “i don’t really want you outside.”

            You briefly remembered something Alphys told you. “Sans, you do know that I will have to go outside eventually, right?” You spoke as gently as possible, scooting closer to him and resting a hand on his arm.

            “…you don’t.”

            You rose a brow at that.

            “Um, I do need that medicine, Sans.”

            “n o.” Sans snapped, scaring you even though it wasn’t aimed at you. He glared at the floor, yanking on his right eye socket aggressively. He was getting worked up. You needed to calm him down.

            Instead of backing away at the very scary looking skeleton, you sat in-between his crossed legs and hugged him, your head resting right at where his soul would be. “Sans, I know today really sucked. Trust me, I don’t even remember most of it but what I do was pretty scary. But staying inside isn’t the solution. This house can’t protect me any more than you can, right? So if you come with me it’s no problem.”

            “y–you don’t get it,” He breathed deeply, looking right through you, “i don’t know what’s going to happen out there. i know what will happen here. i can see everything, i know what is possible in here.” Sans took his hand out of his socket, resting it on your shoulder. You shuddered slightly. “it’s unpredictable out there.”

            “Life is unpredictable, Sans, and you can’t control life, just like you can’t control death. Going outside for a bit won’t do anything to me, especially since you’ll be with me, right?” You placed your hand on top of his, keeping his hand on your shoulder. “You’re super strong and you have magic. What’s there to be afraid of?”

            “but you don’t!” Sans gripped harder, other hand reaching around you and practically squashing you against him. “you’re a human! humans are so fragile. i can’t stand even the thought of you getting hurt or-or someone hurting you!

            “Sans, why would anyone hurt me?”

            “because they always have! i can’t trust them! i can’t! not even my friends! my friends tried to kill you! my friends BETRAYED ME.”

            You flinched, but couldn’t pull away. The hairs on the back of your neck stood, the room dropping several degrees. You knew what this feeling meant. You shouldn’t have asked. You shouldn’t have questioned him. Of course that was why! His fucking ‘friends’ just stabbed him in the back, no wonder he’s so strung up!

            “I’m sorry, Sans. I wasn’t thinking about that.” You struggled to show some kind of affection due to how hard he was holding you against him. “Papyrus can heal, right? And our souls are bonded now, so that means my soul is stronger.”

            Sans nodded.

            “See? I guess I really don’t need to go then. I don’t need medicine.” You didn’t really believe that fully, but you figured if you did start shooting blood out of your nose Sans would let you get medicine even if you did have to go outside.

            “y…yeah…?” The grip on you slightly loosened.

            “Yeah. Don’t worry about it. I didn’t even think about it from your perspective, so I’m really sorry.” You felt kind of selfish. He just went through hell, and here you were about to waltz right back outside where so far only bad things have happened to you in front of him.

            Actually, to be completely fair, anything occurring outside this very house has never been anything but negative. You frowned. Sans really did have a point. You didn’t need the medicine. Hell, why would you even go outside? Nothing good happens out there.

            “sweetheart? i’m sorry i snapped at you. i–i just…i just am still not really over what happened.” Sans pulled away so he could face you, and you frowned at the faint tear tracks on his cheeks. You brought his face down with your hands and pressed a kiss to his forehead, hoping you could get across your feelings with the soul bond.

            By the brightness of the room now, you figured it worked. You giggled at the blue-faced skeleton, who instead of hiding in his hoodie just gave a dopey grin. He held one of your hands to his cheek, closing his eyes and slowing his breathing. The feeling was returned, and now you felt so safe and loved and appreciated. Your heart skipped a beat, and your soul probably did the same.

            “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.” You breathed, eyes wide. Sans chuckled, nodding his head in agreement.

           

 

****

 

 

            Papyrus listened from the top of the staircase, a slight frown on his face. The situation was resolved very quickly. But not how it should have been. “Papy…?” He looked up quickly and saw a sleepy Frisk stumbling towards him.

            “FRI–Frisk, why are you awake?” Papyrus tried to keep his voice low, walking towards them and crouching. “I thought you were asleep?” Frisk yawned, eyes closing. Papyrus chuckled, picking the kid up and cradling them.

            “You were gone…” Frisk pouted, “It wasn’t comfy.” Papyrus rose a brow bone at the childish behavior but smiling nonetheless since it was adorable.

            “Alright, alright, let’s get you tucked back in. The GRE–great Papyrus needs his sleep too.” Frisk giggled at the slip of volume, and Papyrus shook his head. He still wasn’t used to lowering his voice.

            Though, his brother's conversation stayed in the back of his mind. It seemed you were becoming a hermit too, like Sans. Which was fine, he guessed, but…Sans would only get worse if you both didn’t challenge that anxiety. And it was really lazy to stay inside all day! They didn't need jobs because of Sans selling blueprints to some 'sciency' stuff, but Papyrus thinks it was all a ploy for Sans to become the laziest he could possibly be.

            “Papy!” Frisk whined. Papyrus sighed and also went under the covers of his racecar bed, letting the child curl up to him.

            “Goodnight, little Frisk.” Papyrus bonked his teeth against their forehead, making them giggle.

            “Goodnight…bro…” Frisk dozed off, leaving a flustered skeleton to stare in shock. He resisted a squeal of excitement.

            OH MY GOSH, Papyrus thought,  AM I A BIG BROTHER!!? And then he immediately went to sleep.

            He was very good at everything that he did! So that included falling asleep at record speeds!

 

 

****

 

 

            If you listened close enough, you swore you could hear the flustered screaming of a not–so–distant spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

            You figured it would eventually come back to bite you in the ass. You’d forgotten about it, which was really not your fault since a lot of crazy things had happened. Though, preferably, you would have remembered sooner.

            “SANS! SANS!!”

            “jeez, bro, what?” Sans lazily opened his eyes, not budging from his place on the couch. You, on the other hand, saw how panicked the tall skeleton really was when he burst through the door. It’d only been a few days since the last sleepover, but Papyrus said he was bringing Frisk for another one.

            “IT–IT’S FRISK! FRISK IS–” Papyrus was flailing around, and something across the room somehow broke. “I–I LOOKED AWAY FOR ONE SECOND–AND–AND–”

            Now Sans was up, right next to Papyrus in the blink of an eye. He was carefully trying to calm his brother down, staying away from the exaggerated movements. “papyrus.” Sans grabbed both of Papyrus’s arms, holding them down, “what happened?”

            “IT’S MY FAULT! IT’S ALL MY FAULT!”

            And that’s when the waterworks started.

            You rushed into the kitchen and grabbed a bunch of tissues, going to the couch that Sans lead Papyrus to. The tall skeleton was hunched over, sobbing into his palms loudly. You looked up at Sans for some kind of explanation but were only met with the same befuddlement. Papyrus kept crying.

            “Papyrus, hey, are you okay?” You kept your voice low, sitting by him and resting a hand on his shoulder. Papyrus lifted his head and noticed you offering tissues, but instead of taking it another strange thing happened.

            “ARGH!”

            The TV combusted. You screeched in alarm but Sans had stopped any flying debris. The shattered glass fell to the floor once released from the magic. “b–bro…you’re going to have to tell me what’s wrong.” Thank goodness Sans had quick reflexes, huh?

            “DAMN IT!” You blinked. Did Papyrus just swear? “THEY TOOK MY HUMAN, SANS!”

            His human? You thought about it only briefly. Your heart dropped.

            “paps.” Sans held both sides of Papyruses head, keeping steady eye contact despite the flaming orange pupil becoming overwhelmingly bright. “what. happened.”

            “THEY…They were just trying to protect me…” And the anger melted away back into sobbing. You could only helplessly watch him breakdown, unused to seeing the bright and positive skeleton so down. “IT WAS A STUPID ROCK! THAT WAS ALL! BUT…but…” Sans kept him still but glanced to you briefly. You nodded at the hint and started checking Papyrus for injuries.

            “bro, where is frisk?”

            Thankfully, Sans preemptively put a magic barrier around you before asking. You jumped at the sound of glass shattering around the house. Yikes. Magic was…really dangerous when monsters were emotional. Guess it wasn’t just a Sans thing.

            “WHEN…when…” Papyrus took a deep breath, closing his eye sockets in an attempt to calm down. “WE WERE WALKING DOWN THE STREET WHEN A ROCK HIT ME. IT DID NOT HURT, BUT FRISK SAW IT.” Sans growled slightly but quickly quieted. “FRISK…is very merciful. These humans were not very nice. They really did not like me.”

            You blanched. Racists.

            “IT WAS A PITIFULLY SMALL POSSE! They were trying to get me to lash out but I refrained, for I am THE GREAT PAPYRUS! And, I did not want to scare the humans.” You bit the inside of your cheek, sometimes hating the fact that Papyrus was so kind and considerate. These stupid monster haters were harassing him and yet he was considering their feelings? His kindness was unreal.

            “BUT IT…it seemed they were just trying to distract me. While I educated them on proper fighting etiquette the strange humans did something very…mean…” Something blew up in the house but you didn’t bother to look. Sans kept a steady gaze, though the hollow empty eye sockets told of his anger.

            “did they hurt you?”

            “AS IF!” Papyrus snorted. In contrast to that amusement, he frowned, “FRISK WAS TRYING TO BE NICE! THEY…they were showing mercy and did not fight back. They are very good at it. But these humans were not.” Papyruses hands were clenched in tight fists, the tips of his fingers scraping off parts of his palm. You cringed

            “I LET MY GUARD DOWN. THEY ONLY–only hit me hard enough to disorient me briefly but it seems that some humans…adult humans are very fast.” You felt a lot of pressure in the room, and it was getting harder to breathe. “I GUESS! THAT MAYBE! I…overestimated other humans after knowing Frisk.”

            “paps,” Sans was struggling to keep his voice steady, “where. is. frisk?”

            “I DON’T KNOW.” Papyrus froze. “I…DON’T KNOW?” He quickly gripped his chest, the area where his soul would be. “WHEN I CAME TO THEY WERE GONE. THE HUMANS WERE TOO. I–I–I CAN’T? LOCATE THEM?”

            Sans carefully let go, and you wondered what Sans was so wary of. “paps, your connection isn’t very strong with frisk. it’s normal you can’t locate their soul through the bond yet.” Oh. Did Papyrus think Frisk was dead? You blinked, trying to process everything.

            But it clicked–monster haters took Frisk.

            “Oh my god.” You covered your mouth, trying to stop all incoming thoughts. “They’re just a kid. Oh my god. Oh–Oh my God.” You wanted to throw up. They were targeting Frisk. It wasn’t just happenstance, was it? “They’re the monster ambassador…”

            “okay, bro, just listen to me…” Sans was shaking, hands fluttering, “the kids gonna be fine, yeah? they freed the whole underground. they can escape a few measly humans.” The tone was reassuring. But not even you believed his words.

            “OH NO. OH NO. OH NO.” You, with the foresight of at least a goldfish, could tell he was about to lose it. Sans was still lost in thought, so you scurried to his side. You knew this was a big deal, and it was something that was absolutely concerning.

            You had forgotten about the racist gang in the area after the incident in your apartment. This was more dangerous then you cared to believe. “Sans, it’s probably the same type of people–the ones that were at my apartment.” You whispered, “there’s a racist gang just outside of ‘New New Home’, and they’re known to be violent.”

            “I SHOULD HAVE FOUGHT.”

            “no, bro, you did the right thing–”

            “YOU WOULD HAVE FOUGHT!”

            “i…” Sans faltered.

            “SEE? YOU ALREADY KNEW, DIDN’T YOU!?”

            “what?”

            “THAT HUMANS ARE BAD.”

            “Hey, wait. You don’t think I’m bad, right?” You grasped onto one of Papyruses hands, giving it a light squeeze, “Not all humans are bad. Right, Sans?” You looked to him for support, trying to steer Papyrus away from that train of thought.

            But your soulmate stayed silent. “…Sans?”

            “um. yeah. frisk and you are great humans.” You blinked. That wasn’t what you wanted him to say at all. Actually, that probably made it worse.

            “BUT FRISK ISN’T JUST A HUMAN!! THEY…THEY ARE MY HUMAN!! MY BEST FRIEND! MY LITTLE FRISK!!” Papyrus started crying again, and you wished so desperately to find a way to comfort him. “AND…AND YOUR HUMAN IS DIFFERENT TOO! FRISK DOESN’T LIKE HUMANS! THEY TOLD ME! BUT THEY THINK SS IS VERY COOL AND NICE!”

            Frisk doesn’t like people? You thought about it. Mt. Ebott, where the monsters came from, was a mountain known for its mysterious disappearances. Frisk was probably, what, nine when they fell? You were pretty sure they were ten once coming to the surface with all the monsters but they must have fallen earlier.

            Somebody that young, climbing a mountain that’s known for people not coming back from it?

            …

            Yikes. You didn’t even think about why Frisk ended up underground. Was that why they liked you? Because you were like them?

            “bro, i…i want to tell you that humans are good. i want you to keep being so nice and forgiving.” Sans smiled shakily, looking down and breaking eye contact with the piercing orange eye light staring back. “but, if i’m being honest, i don’t…really like…humans at all.”

            “I mean, I don’t either, but! That doesn’t mean everyone is bad! There’s always a bad seed amongst the good! It’s always been that way.” It really has always been that way. People will always be garbage, but even in garbage, there’s gold. You’d met plenty of nice people in your lifetime, “It’s unfair to call all humans bad just based on one's actions.”

            “BUT WHY DID NO ONE HELP ME?? OR FRISK???”

            That…wasn't something you could answer truthfully, now was it? You opened your mouth to answer but nothing came out. You really couldn’t think of a good reason. “They might have…been afraid?”

            “OF FRISK?”

            You looked down.

            “I KNOW I CAN LOOK SCARY, BUT LITTLE FRISK IS NOT SCARY AT ALL! THEY ARE THE OPPOSITE!” And he was sobbing again. “I SHOULD HAVE FOUGHT! I SHOULD HAVE FOUGHT! I SHOULD–AGGGH!”

            You flinched.

            “SANS! HELP ME FIND THEM!”

            “bro i–”

            “YOU TOO, SS! YOU SAID THESE PEOPLE ATTACKED YOU, RIGHT? SO YOU CAN HELP IDENTIFY!”

            “Wait, Papyrus, we can’t just–”

            Papyrus stood up abruptly, picking up his phone and dialing a bunch of numbers. “FRISK HAS BEEN KIDNAPPED. YES….YES, I AM CALLING EVERYONE…YES SANS IS TOO….OKAY…GOODBYE.”

            He did that a few more times. You could barely keep up.

            “THE NEWS IS BEING SPREAD AMONGST MONSTERS. EVERYONE SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT. THE GREAT PAPYRUS REFRAINED FROM CALLING THE HUMAN POLICE.”

            “What? Why? Papyrus, we need to report this.”

            “NO.” Papyrus looked down at you, trying to smile but it ended up shaking, “THE GREAT PAPYRUS WILL CARRY FORTH WHAT SHOULD BE DONE IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE.”

            Sans grimaced, standing up as well and helping you up in the process. “bro, i don’t know about this.” His hand gripped yours tightly, “this is dangerous.”’

            “SANS.” Papyrus reached up and grabbed at his neck, the usually prominent red scarf was missing. “MY MAGIC IS NOT VERY CONSISTENT.” You blinked. What was he talking about? “YOU KNOW HOW IT WORKS.”

            “paps, i know your blue attack isn’t the same as mine but you said you wouldn’t use it–” Sans stepped forward, hand shaking while he reached forward, “you’ve never…used magic that way. i don’t think you should, paps.”

            “YOU DO IT ALL THE TIME. I ALWAYS TOLD YOU IT WAS LAZY, DIDN’T I?” Papyrus backed up, expression steeled. “YOU TOLD ME HOW IT WORKS. YOU TOLD ME SO I COULD USE IT ONE DAY!”

            “i didn’t think you ever would need it! and you don’t! just…just…” Sans sighed, rubbing the back of his skull. “i don’t want you to be like me.” And that was when your heart practically broke into a million pieces. Those words hurt you deeply, the amount of shame and sorrow they carried almost made you cry on the spot. Papyrus actually hesitated.

            “SANS I DON’T…I DON’T THINK THAT’S POSSIBLE.” Papyrus crouched down slightly so he was eye level with the older skeleton, “EVEN THOUGH I AM THE GREAT!!!! PAPYRUS!!! THERE ARE STILL SOME THINGS EVEN I CAN NOT BRING MYSELF TO DO.”

            Were they discussing murder? For real?

            “BUT IF MY BLUE ATTACK DECIDES TO…MAYBE DO MORE DAMAGE THEN I INTENDED, WHAT CAN I DO BUT ACCEPT IT? I DO NOT INTEND TO HURT ANYONE, SANS. BUT IF IT COMES DOWN TO IT, AND SPARING DOES NOT WORK, I WILL HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE.”

            Sans sighed, “okay. fine. go find frisk. but i’m not going with you, and neither is ________.” You blinked in shock, “call me if you can’t handle it yourself, even though i’m pretty sure you won’t need my help, right bro?”

            “NYEH HEH HEH!” Papyrus stood proudly, and didn’t seem surprised at Sans not joining the search party, “OF COURSE! YOU MAY STAY HERE AND KEEP SS SAFE AND HOLD THE FORT! I WILL CALL YOU IF THERE ARE COMPLICATIONS!” He turned to the door, ready to leave but paused. “SANS,” Papyrus looked down, “AM…am I a good brother?”

            “paps, do i even have to answer that?” Sans chuckled, “you’re the best bro i could’ve ever asked for.” Papyrus smiles weakly at that and scurries out the door.

            It was sweet, but you had a very important question.

            “Sans, what the fuck.”

            He turned to you in shock, recoiling at the tone of your voice. “huh?” Sans was caught off guard, clearly unaware of why you would be angry.

            “Why aren’t we helping!? You can teleport! Come on! We need to help them! Papyrus literally asked us too!"

            “sweetheart,” He said, “i can only teleport to places i’ve been before.”

            “That’s not true! You teleported to my apartment, remember? And I know you’ve never been there before.”

            “that was because i used your soul as a landmark. i made a shortcut with the excess magic your soul released and was able to reach you that way. it’s because of us being soulmates, i can’t do that with anyone else.”

            “Who cares!? You can still go around faster than any other monster, and you could spread the news! Plus, you have a shit ton of weird magical things you can do, and one of those ought to be helpful in aiding Papyrus!”

            “why are you angry?” Sans actually looked genuinely lost. You sighed, calming yourself and forming a coherent thought.

            “Because Frisk, the kid that saved all monsters, has been kidnapped by racists that we know are capable of dangerous acts. And instead of us helping, we’re just sitting around until everything resolves itself.” You shuffled back over to the living area and plopped down on the couch. Sans followed, fingers clicking together nervously.

            “i don’t think me helping will do much.”

            “You don’t know that. I want to help! Frisk is important to me too! I’ve really warmed up to them over the past few days.” You clenched your fists, determined. “I’m going to look for them.”

            “sweetheart, what could you possibly add to the search?”

            “I don’t know, okay?” You whipped your head around to face the skeleton, clenching your teeth. “But being out there is better than being cooped up in here. I do no good just sitting around and being useless.”

            “i–i didn’t mean it like that–”

            You rushed over to the door, grabbing the doorknob. “I’m going to help look for them. You can join me but I won’t make you.” You glared, opening the door wide and ignoring the panicked gaze of the skeleton.

            “i wouldn’t do that if i were you.”

            “Do what? Go outside?” You scoffed, “I’m not that pathetic, Sans. I can survive a few seconds in the real world.” With that new resolve, and ignoring Sans protests, you promptly marched out the door, not even bothering to close it.

            You got about five feet outside before something in your chest got really heavy. You glanced down but saw no colors that would signify Sans using his magic on you. The air around you whistled and spun and you were right back in the house. You blinked a few times in confusion.

            “i…i told you.” Sans sighed, rubbing down his face. You balked, standing up straight once again.

            “Hey! Don’t use your stupid magic on me to make me stay!” You pointed an accusing finger and walked outside again, only for your heart to become heavy and your body to be dragged back into the house. It felt like your center of gravity had changed and because of that dragged you back inside.

            It was completely disorienting and made you quite dizzy. “Stop it…” You winced, about to go outside again until two arms wrapped around you.

            “sweetheart i’m not using any magic on you.” Sans picked you up despite your struggling, shutting the door and sitting down on the couch. “your soul doesn’t want you to leave.” You wriggled around more, not listening.

            “You’re lying! This never happened before! Let me go help! Let me be useful!” You started banging on the arms holding you, effectively doing nothing but making your hands sore. “Let me go you stupid bag of bones!”

            “j–just listen to me, stop–stop moving!” You squeaked embarrassingly when he squeezed you, leaving you breathless for a good few moments. “there. okay. okay–just calm down. i can explain.”

            You closed your mouth and clenched your jaw in anger. It was demeaning when you couldn’t get out of his hold. It made you feel weak and pathetic.

            “don’t give me that look.”

            You closed your eyes and focused on your soul, then on his, and shared your frustration over the bond. Maybe this way he would understand your point of view. Right now all you felt was shame at being useless.

            “stop it! stop–stop…stop i hate it stop that.” You opened your eyes when Sans started shaking strongly. Guilt ate at you when you saw how much that actually affected him. “don’t…don’t do that again.” He breathed deeply, and you struggled to get air when he hugged you tightly again.

            Was he not aware of his strength?

            “look, this is for your safety. papyrus doesn’t need me outside right now and i don’t want to leave you here alone and i also don’t want to take you outside with me. i still…i still don’t feel comfortable doing that.”

            “If I can’t leave the house then why bother staying? I’m capable of being alone for a few hours. Actually, I spent a big portion of my life alone, so honestly, I couldn’t care less.” You leaned back into him, relaxing your body in an attempt to get more oxygen. “Are you scared Undyne will come back or something–?”

            “yes! yes, is that so wrong? is it so wrong for me to be anxious!? the moments i finally relax is when you are taken and almost killed. is it a coincidence? at this point, i don’t think so. so no. i’m not letting you go outside on the search because you’ll get hurt again. and i’m not leaving you here because then nobody can protect you from intruders!”

            “What intruders!? I’m not a glass doll that will break if the wind blows a bit too hard! I can’t stay in here forever and Frisk needs us right now!” You were starting to feel trapped. Was this going to blow over? Was this just the aftermath of the events from before or would this be how it always is?

            The hug didn’t feel like a hug anymore. It was starting to feel like a cage. You’d realized he had bad anxiety long ago, and that separation anxiety was also prominent. To be fair, any time you’ve left his sight something bad would happen, but…

            “If I want to go outside, I will. You cannot keep me here. I’ve been scared of leaving the house and you’ve been the same, but it’s about time we both stepped outside our comfort zones. It will be good for us!” You tried to keep a positive tone because really this was something to be overcome. You could do it together.

            “i…i…you don’t understand.” Sans whispered, an ominous purple smoke starting to fill the room. “it’s not just about…about…being anxious. it’s not irrational and it’s not…it’s…”

            “You’re right,” You put one of your hands over his, hoping to get him to loosen his hold on you, “I don’t understand, because you haven’t explained it to me clearly.” Your thoughts were slowly grounding to the situation at hand, instead of Frisk. There were layers to this conversation that you needed to address.

            “but…but you told me you understood. you said you were sorry when you tried to leave.” Sans shakily spoke, voice cracking despite the lack of vocal cords, “why are you saying these things? i don’t get it. what’s wrong with staying here? isn’t it nice? it’s safe and warm and cozy. why would you want to leave?”

            “Sans!” You hated where this conversation was going, and a large part of you wanted to give in and drop it. But this was becoming toxic–ironic since the air was filling with thick purple smog.

            “w–why are you–” Sans was trying to protest again but you cut him off, hoping to be as straightforward as possible.

            “If I want to leave, then I will leave!

            …

            Silence.

            Time had frozen for a few seconds, and you swore even your heart stopped beating. It was a simple sentence, but it felt like it was more than what you meant it to be. But you couldn’t back down now, because there was definite truth in those words, harsh or not.

            “…it’s their fault.”

            You flinched. That voice was…a bit too cold.

            “they put it in your head. they just want to take you again. i forgive you. i forgive you. i forgive you. what you said really hurt me. but i forgive you.”

            Unnerving. Sans was delusional. You just upset him. He’s already upset because of Frisk. He’s anxious because of recent events. You just insinuated leaving him. He was embracing you. Static made your hair rise. “it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay,” Sans was petting your head now. You kept as still as possible. This was dangerous. “you’re sorry…you’re sorry…i know…”

            You’re scared.

            “you didn’t mean it.”

            You kept still. It was so, so cold.

            “…you didn’t, right?”

            Did he want you to answer that? You couldn’t bring yourself to make a sound.

            “please…tell me…you didn’t…”

            You were starting to get sleepy. The purple smoke was thickening.

            “why aren’t you answering?”

            You got sleepy often when you first met him, despite the high-stress situations.

            “maybe you should rest…”

            Did he have something to do with that?

            You blinked your eyes wide. After that thought surfaced all inkling of sleep completely disappeared. You tensed further. Oh god. Why did you never question that before? Oh…oh god. That was…that was how he kept you here. It’s why when you first got here and went to leave you didn’t.

            “Sans…?” You were fighting against it now, mind able to separate it as differently sourced. It was pushing back. The purple smoke was thickening more, and it was all you were breathing in.

            “i…i….i can’t…i…” Sans was shaking again. “i can’t do it…again…i can’t…i’m so sorry…tell me…you didn’t mean it. please.” Now he was begging, but you couldn’t cave in. You were finally going to reach his sensible side.

            “Sans, I know you’re just scared but you can’t control me. I’m a person. I had a life before this–not a very good one, but one that was real.” Sure, you cut off all ties with the plan of death, but there were still things to do. “I need my medication. I want to go for walks. I want to go outside. I want to do those things with you!”

            It was silent once more. Had you reached him? Was he finally understanding? Could he finally see his own irrationality?

            “why do you want to leave me?”

            “What?” When did you ever say that? Where did he get that from? You wanted to turn and face him, but you couldn’t move. It was hard to see, and it was getting harder to stay awake. Was the purple smoke the culprit? “And stop it with the sleep magic shit! You can’t just keep me here!”

            “i…i…”

            Something in him snapped.

            i   w  o  n  ‘  t   l  e  t   y  o  u   l  e  a  v  e   m  e

            The static was visible in the air.

            Everything was purple.

            You couldn’t see.

            You couldn’t hear.

            You couldn’t move.

            You blacked out.

           

 

 

****

 

 

            Sans held your soul in his hand. It was still mint. Alphys must have poisoned you to make you say these things, a ploy to take you away and make him sad. He wouldn’t let it happen–no, he would make sure she wouldn’t succeed. Sans brushed the hair from your face with his free hand, seeing your peaceful sleeping expression made his soul flutter. It’s okay. Everything was okay. There was a little fork in the road but he would fix it.

            It wasn’t his fault.

            It seemed his gravity magic did its job in keeping you inside, but, it didn’t get rid of whatever Alphys had done to you. Why else would you keep talking about leaving…him…

            Sans took a deep breath, opting to look at your soul. He smiled shakily, wondering why he felt so strange. This was the right thing to do. He wouldn’t do this otherwise. It was all to protect you.

            From everyone. And that included Undyne and Alphys.

            Whenever he thought of that scientist he snarled, barely able to resist the urge to teleport to her and rip her guts out. This was all her fault. You wouldn’t have acted like that if it wasn’t for her. It’s her fault. It’s her fault. It’s her fault.

            …

            A sickening grin spread across his face.

            …

            “heh.” Sans looked at your soul, his own fluttering in his chest. God, you were so beautiful. He cupped your cheek and brought your soul close to his own chest. The feeling of closeness warmed his cracked soul. You could never leave him.

            …

            Sans paused.

            …

            What did he just think…?

            …

            “sweetheart? could you…wake up now?” Sans took away any of his sleeping magic, waiting for you to come back to the world. Slowly he pushed your soul back into your chest, a strange feeling resting in his bones. “…i forgive you. so, uh, you can talk to me…”

            Your eyes stayed closed, but your chest rose and fell at a steady pace, indicating you were only in a deep sleep. “guess you really were tired, huh?” Sans chuckled, cradling your body gently, “sleepy head, heh.” He affectionately rested his skull on your head, brushing his phalanges through your hair.

            …

            Papyrus must be disappointed in him.

            …

            But…maybe after what’s happened to Frisk…he won’t be. Sans hated the cruel thought, but the sick smile on his face betrayed his real feelings. “my family. this is my family.” Sans grin widened, his once contrasted blue and red pupil now had merged into a dull purple. “…i hope paps give's those filthy humans a bad time. right, sweetheart?”

            You would probably agree.

            …

            Maybe he went a bit far.

            …

            “i forgive you.”

            …

            “i know you didn’t mean it.”

            Sometimes, Sans felt like his soul was breaking. It only happened when you were not with him. It was okay–he could handle it as long as you were safe. Safe from everyone and the outside. Outside. Sans hated that word. He hated that you even mentioned leaving. It was all Alphys fault. You’d never said anything like that before. You hadn’t until Frisk went missing and–

            Sans lingered on that thought.

            …

            Papyrus had not called him.

            …

            Would those racists really hurt Frisk?

            …

            Sans held onto you tighter.

 

 

****

 

           

            It really couldn’t have gone worse. Which is surprising, considering the circumstances. Frisk had never been kidnapped before but it was pretty underwhelming. They didn’t know how long they were sitting in the shed surrounded by a bunch of sleazy adults, but it must have not been long.

            “Shit, here already? Those freaks move fast.” The greasy haired man spat out his cigarette, hoisting the gun from his belt.

            They hadn’t hurt Frisk. Yet.

            The man muttered something Frisk could not hear, motioning some of the other goons forward. Frisk noticed the prominent red bandana wrapped around their wrists. A gang? Really? Unlucky.

            There was a gentle knock on the door.

            “LITTLE FRISK?”

            Frisk resisted snorting. Really? They would have laughed if not for the gun pointed at their temple.

            Frisk screamed, looking down after realizing they did so. The bastard just cut them! Frisk scowled and was ready to fight back but the barrel to their head stopped them.

            …Bitch.

            “FRISK!?” There was a harder bang on the door now, and a huge dent was left in it. Frisk grinned inwardly when the men by the door flinched. The men had their guns up, but a little strength was all it took to shake them.

            Frisk felt a stinging pain again, but this time didn’t scream. They were prepared for it. “Oi. Make a sound.” Frisk rose a brow, biting the inside of their cheek to stop a snarky comment. Something told Frisk that death could be a very possible outcome here.

            It was a blade, Frisk realized, that was now digging into their side. Okay, that hurt. A bit too much for their liking. Couldn’t help shrieking at that.

            Apparently, that was enough of a sign for Papyrus, since the door burst open and a frantic skeleton ran in. Before he could reach Frisk the men on his sides raised their weapons at him, and the one by Frisk clicked off the safety.

            Oh. That made Frisk nervous. They really didn’t want to reset.

            “Don’t. Move. Freak.” It looks like the guy put a cigarette back in his mouth for some kind of intimidation. It was working, but only because of the gun. “It looks like you came alone, so not too much of an issue in that regard.”

            He flicked his head to the side, and the two men by Papyrus shut the heavy metal doors. Said skeleton stood still, and Frisk hoped they at least looked okay. Frisk mouthed comfort to Papyrus just in case but received a whack to the head in return.

            Bitch?

            Frisk lurched to the side and spat up some blood. “F–FRISK! PLEASE STOP HURTING THEM! I–I DON’T UNDERSTAND.” He was trying to show mercy. “I AM WILLING TO SPARE YOU ALL, SO PLEASE JUST LET THEM GO.” Papyrus summoned a singular bone that he held like a spear in front of himself.

            “Fuck off. We’re going to show what happens when freaks like you get too comfortable.” Frisk hoped they didn’t mean killing him. Frisk couldn’t handle that–and they don’t think Sans could either. “But, it would be boring to just crush you.”

            Frisk blinked. Uh oh. Pain was fine, but death is where Frisk drew the line. “I DO NOT WANT TO FIGHT YOU, HUMAN. I BELIEVE THERE IS GOOD IN YOU.” Papyrus had his weapon lowered, but still looked alert. “THERE IS NO REASON FOR VIOLENCE. WE CAN TALK THIS OUT CIVILY!” Papyrus, the ray of sunshine, was smiling and showing these scumbags mercy.

            The man by Frisk scoffed.

            The world abruptly became blurry, a strange ringing in their ears. Once Frisk came too it was apparent they were now on the floor. “Ow…” Frisk whined, sniffling. They tried to wipe away the tears but ended up smearing blood on their face.

            “LITTLE FRISK! OH…OH NO. OH NO.” From the corner of their eye, it was very clear Papyrus was panicking. He almost stepped forward but it seemed one of the men was a bit trigger happy. Papyrus whipped his spear up faster than Frisk was able to see, the bullet ricocheting right off of it.

            “Take the fucking bullets. Unless you want us to kill the kid.” A kick to their side sent them rolling a bit. Frisk just needed to stay determined. If they tried to fight now they would immediately get shot.

            “…Papy…” Frisk earnestly tried to comfort Papyrus, sobbing because of the unwanted pain. “It’s…it’s okay–”

            Whack. Frisk felt the world spin and black dots started spotting their vision. The man just sneered. “Shut up.”

            “W–WHY Are you doing this?” Papyrus lowered his voice at the end, starting to lose hope in the humans hurting Frisk. “What do you gain?” Papyrus clenched his fist, eye light sparking before going out. He was trying so hard not to fight.

            “You suffering. This kid means a lot to all you monsters, right? So if they’re dead maybe dusting them all will be easier.” At that, Frisk started panicking.

            “Please don’t kill me–” Frisk wailed at another kick, this time to the face. Something cracked for sure. Were they going to kill them? Was this the end?

            “Sit back and have fun watching the show. If you make a move those guns behind you will go off and kill you.” The man, who took sick pleasure in hurting a kid, was grinning at the skeleton. When he received no reply, Frisk felt an explosion of pain to an amount they’d never felt before.

            “FRISK–”

           

            BANG

 

            Frisk heard the gunshot and screamed. “…Pap…papy…?”  There was no reply. Did these people really…? Frisk noticed the man beside them wasn’t kicking them anymore. Actually, it seemed everyone was focused on something else.

            Frisk blinked away the blood and with their blurry vision and tried to see. It was…Papyrus! Frisk was overjoyed to see him not dust, but, something was wrong. He was just on the ground, unmoving. Why wasn’t he getting up?

            “Kick him until he’s nothing but dirt.”

            Frisk screamed but was cut off when the back of their sweater was harshly yanked up. “Shut. Up. You’re next. This is all your fault, kid, and every monster is going to know what happens when they think they can get along with humans.”

            Frisk was begging the man not to do it, not noticing something previously immobile moving on the ground. Frisk thought it was over.

            A scratching sound echoed. The man holding Frisk dropped them, Frisk screaming at their now outwardly broken leg. It hurt so much. Frisk tried to listen to what was going on but couldn’t. Everything was echoing and a loud ringing filled their mind.

            But in their semi-conscious state, something very warm made them relax. It sounded like people were shouting but Frisk couldn’t tell. They were so happy all of a sudden, feeling safe and secure. Frisk cuddled into the scarf around their neck, happily snuggling it.

            After a while, it went silent.

            “FRISK? CAN YOU…CAN YOU HEAR ME?”

            It was distant and echoing, but Frisk knew it was somebody safe.

            “PLEASE…WAKE UP…”

            The nice person was crying. Frisk tried to open their eyes, barely managing to do so (shock was one hell of a drug) and trying so hard to stay awake. Frisk heard themselves whimper, hand clenching around the soft fabric that was comforting them. Frisk blinked a few more times, feeling their leg tingling.

            “I’M SORRY…I’M SORRY…I’M SORRY…”

            Frisk could finally make out the one crying. It was very bright, and the nice color of orange was so pretty to Frisk.

            “LITTLE FRISK! YOU…YOU’RE AWAKE!! I–WAIT, DON’T GO BACK TO SLEEP! DON’T LEAVE ME!” Frisk blearily blinked, wondering why they were not allowed too. “STAY AWAKE. PLEASE. PLEASE!”

            Frisk decided to trust the nice skeleton. They giggled at the tingly feeling all over their body, unaware of the healing going on. The protruding leg bone that pierced out the muscle slowly shifted back to its place but struggled to mend completely. Everything was starting to become more clear, and Frisk was gradually becoming lucid.

            Their heart almost stopped when their vision finally was clean.

            “…Big…brother…?

            Blood was everywhere, and the sight of a few crushed bodies was visible as well. It was brutal and Frisk wished they could unseen it. They wanted to gag at the violent sight, but were distracted by another disturbing fact in front of them. 

            “OH! DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK! I’M SORRY I’M SORRY LITTLE FRISK YOU DON’T NEED TO LOOK.” Frisk couldn’t see past Papyrus, now nestled in his arms and nestled against him. “IT IS…UNPLEASANT.”

            “Your–Your–Your–” Frisk could barely speak, throat dry and chest heaving. Papyrus panicked slightly, but then rested his hand on their head. A warm feeling calmed their body down. Papyrus smiled sadly, but Frisk was too busy sobbing.

            Those men–his skull! A part of his skull was completely gone! Frisk was devastated, hating seeing the skeleton in pain. It looked like it went through the back of his skull and exited at the top of his eye socket, blowing that whole part off. His eye light was still visible but was fuzzy and larger than normal, leaking orange that wouldn’t dim.

“DON’T…DON’T WORRY, LITTLE ONE, I’LL BE OKAY. THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS STRONG.” Frisk believed him since he was sitting upright and fought those guys off, but the hole was just so jarring. “LET’S GET YOU HOME.”

            Frisk couldn’t stop sobbing. They had been so scared. They thought they would have to reset. “It hurt so bad. Why were they so mean? I’m just a kid…I’m just a kid…I’m a good kid…” Frisk didn’t even realize they were speaking out loud.

            “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY.”

 

  

****

 

 

            Sans almost fainted at the sight before him.

            He received the call that Frisk was back from Papyrus–he then relayed that information to all monsters involved in the search–and expected to see the two safe and sound. When they both walked through the door he couldn’t even believe that what he was seeing wasn’t just another nightmare.

            “…COULD YOU…HELP ME…?” Sans rushed forward and tried to take the battered kid from the obviously weak Papyrus but was met with strong pressure in his bones. “…THEY ARE…VERY SCARED.” Papyrus looked like he was going to collapse any second. Which wasn’t surprising, really.

            Considering a part of his skull was fucking blown off.

            Sans led Papyrus to sit down on the couch, moving you to another chair to give Papyrus room to lay down. Papyrus leaned his head against the armrest and extended his legs out so they reached past the opposite end. The poor kid looked more shaken than Papyrus. Sans tried to help with Frisk but Papyrus only glared.

            “i–i’ll be right back.”

            Sans closed his eyes and remembered where the shortcut was. He opened his eyes and felt his soul sink when he had succeeded in where he wanted to go. For a while he only stood, watching the snow fall in a strange sense of belonging.

            It was tiring going so far away.

            Sans shuffled in the snow, unbothered by the cold. He stuffed his hands in his hoodie and looked at the Christmas lights that were never taken down. Walking through Snowdin brought him a strange peace. After some more walking, he arrived in front of his old sacred place.

            Grillby’s.

            It wasn’t too surprising the fire monster decided to stay underground since he was thousands of years old. He did come to the surface occasionally but decided to live underground and keep his bar there. The bell rang and filled him with comfort.

            “…?” Sans chuckled at the man's confused expression, the crackling flames asking the question.

            “sup, grillbs. i have a favor to ask of ya’.” Sans couldn’t keep his smile up; it was quivering too much. Tears unwillingly started falling. “do…do ya’…still have that healing…stuff?”

            “…” Grillby didn’t move, but then slowly nodded. Sans was trying so hard to keep it together. Grillby shuffled back to the fire exit, almost getting a snort out of Sans if not for the situation.

            “i found my soulmate.”

            The crackling of fire was the surprised response. Grillby could speak, it just could never be heard through the flames. Sans didn’t need to hear his voice to understand, though.

            “heh, yeah. papyrus did too, turns out it was frisk all along. looks like he gets to be a big bro now and nag someone younger than him.”

            “…”

            Amused, but knowing. Sans chuckled brokenly, figuring Grillby of all people would know. It would explain why after every reset Grillby looked at him with more and more wariness but tried to hide it. Even though Grillby couldn’t see souls clearly like ‘boss monsters’ could, he had the ability to sense strong traits.

            Like determination.

            “yeah…i’m thinking maybe…the surface isn’t for me.”

            Grillby returned from behind the door with a vial in hand, holding it gently. In the other were bandages–well, magic-infused ones. “i know. i know, it’s just…nothing good has happened besides…well, ya know.” Sans shrugged, but couldn’t stop the image of Papyruses broken skull from invading his mind.

            Sans felt a warmth on his head and looked up at the fire monster. “heh, yeah. turns out even papyrus can be pushed too far. have you ever seen him stop believing in someone?” Grillby pulled out a black to–go box and placed the items inside gently, securing everything in place. “it’s not a fun thing to see. and…and the kid? oh the poor kid, i’ve never seen an expression like that before. like the whole world is on their shoulders.”

            The box was placed in Sans’ hands, and he felt warm hands brushing against the never-ending tears. “not even papyrus could…completely heal them…” Sans collapsed onto his knees, holding the box close to himself. “grillbs…could you…tell me why you didn’t come up with us?” Said monster stayed silent.

            But the crackling of a fireplace echoed.

            “…yeah. i…i think somehow…things will turn out alright. but everyone has to make sacrifices.” Sans let the fire monster pull him to his feet. “do you think my soulmate would like it down here?”

            A pat on the head.

            “frisk liked it here. they didn’t even want to go back up but did it for us.”

            Pat. Pat.

            “we can still visit the surface, but just live here where it’s safe.”

            Pat. Pat. Pat.

            “heh, love you too, grillbs.”

            Sans swore he heard the whisper of a voice long forgotten, only a brief moment but somehow it carried more power then he knew how to handle. It was relieving. It was a welcoming breeze that begged the question of true want.

            “i’ll see ya’ ‘round, grillby.” Sans held the box close to him and exited the building, the quiet notes of a jukebox carrying peace with him. Before he teleported away he looked down the road, seeing the empty space where their house used to be. Sans smiled weakly, seeing the imprint of their house being covered by snow.

            It never stopped snowing here. Sans closed his eyes, searching for the shortcut he needed. He peaked open his right eye socket, staring at the empty area where his house was ‘uprooted’. Maybe Papyrus would let him bring the house back down.

            Heh.

            Sans was greeted by sobbing. He immediately felt all the previous peace wash away and quickly opened the box. He walked over and handed the vial to Papyrus, making sure said skeleton drank it. Sans knew it tasted bad but it would help regenerate his skull–since Papyrus couldn’t use his healing magic on himself like this.

            Sans had the bandages in hand and was ready to start patching up Frisk when that strange pressure stopped him again. “…okay.” Sans relented, handing the bandages to Papyrus and taking back the vial.

            Honestly, he was starting to think the surface wasn’t all that it was made out to be. Sure, it’d be great if only the four of them existed up here, and everyone else was underground. It was becoming truly difficult for Sans to find happiness outside of his family. It had always been that way. He’d given up hope long ago, before you, before Frisk, before the weed…

            Papyrus was the only thing that kept him going during those times. And even when he was cut down there was always the promise of a reset. But now there was no possibility of starting over. Frisk had reached and stayed on the surface for this long, and really that thought was becoming scarier especially now seeing what those bastards did to the poor kid.

            Sans was pissed. He didn’t want his family to keep getting hurt. This was his family. His brother, his soulmate, and…Frisk. Frisk was his kid. He just wanted to protect his family, so why was everything getting in the way? Why were his ‘friends’ trying to hurt those he loved?

            Papyrus kept cooing to Frisk, comforting them as he gently wrapped the bandages around their leg–which also almost made Sans throw up when he saw it. Monster magic can really only fix so much, but it was honestly a miracle Frisk wasn’t…

            Their poor face, covered in blood but not bruised. Papyrus must have healed as much as he could in his state. The thought of taking Frisk to the hospital crossed his mind but his soul tore that thought apart before even he could.

            they’d kill my kid and make it seem like an accident

            And it was true. Why wouldn’t they take that chance and then blame it on monsters? Sans didn’t want to go through any more pain. He couldn’t bear losing another one dear to him just after scrambling to save the ones he had.

            It was different from when the runs would be done over and over in the underground. Sans knew it was determination–a strange force able to control and poison the actions of someone losing hope.

            Sans knew what it felt like now, and could finally understand what Frisk went through. Thankfully Chara was able to save their soul. At the end that was the best thing that could’ve happened. Sans was actually glad Frisk had done genocide runs because that made Chara become a part of them and led to Papyrus getting a soulmate in Frisk.

            And he almost just lost all of that.

            In one afternoon.

            …

            Sans couldn’t do it anymore. He couldn’t keep the barely up façade going. And it looks like now would be the perfect time to do something about it. “…papyrus. i want to move.” Sans was leaning against the couch on the ground, holding your hand as you slept. “it’s not safe up here anymore.”

            “…SANS…” Papyrus looked up, the crying child still clinging to him and hiccupping. Sans felt his magic spark in anger. The only thing keeping him from a rampage was knowing Papyrus had killed them all in a fit of rage. Or, because his skull broke and took away that rationale and mercy. “MAYBE YOU’RE RIGHT.”

            Sans was surprised. He was expecting to have to convince Papyrus it was dangerous to stay but it seemed the younger skeleton already knew. “…you know what i’m saying, though, right?”

            “DO WHAT YOU DID WHEN WE CAME HERE. I’M NOT SURE HOW YOU BROUGHT OUR HOUSE UP HERE WITH NO ISSUE, BUT I’M POSITIVE YOU CAN DO THE SAME IN REVERSE.”

            “we can still come to the surface.”

            “I KNOW. BASE OF OPERATIONS SHOULD BE IN A SECURE LOCATION. I BELIEVE YOU HAVE BROUGHT UP AN EXCELLENT POINT.” Papyrus grinned with his usual cheer but it was hollow. His skull was starting to mend, albeit slowly. “WE MAY STILL HAVE FUN AND VISIT FUN PLACES. WE ARE NOT TRAPPED ANYMORE.” Sans was relieved Papyrus completely understood.

            It wasn’t too strange, because quite a few monsters did end up moving back underground. Not because they couldn’t find a place to live on the surface, but because it wasn’t safe enough. Not secure like the underground.

            No humans, without a monster, can come underground. Nobody knows how to get in safely. Even some monsters don’t know how to get back because of the route being hidden. Grillby did that. Sans smiled inwardly, thanking the fire monster.

            A spark of dangerous magic snapped Sans out of his thinking, and he quickly turned to Papyrus in worry. It looked like his brother was getting lost in thought–negative thoughts. The poor kid just kept shaking but was finally coherent.

            “…don’t kill me…don’t kill me….don’t kill me…” And it’s somehow worse. The mantra continued, Frisk hiding their face in his brother's scarf and curling up further like they were trying to disappear. Papyrus went back to trying to soothe them but looked to be breaking down himself.

            “…WHEN CAN WE…MOVE?”

            Sans smiled shakily.

            “grillbs gave me the okay. i just need to gather the strength and make sure i can do it correctly.” Sans rarely did this but Grillby helped with the drastic and large movement of something. Turns out, before monsters were sealed underground, he was an alchemists assistant. He didn’t know much of what Grillby could do but make things like monster candy and the pure vials of healing magic.

            It was all recovery things since fighting was not prominent underground. Grillby preferred keeping it to himself. Sans didn’t mind. He would just ask for help in moving the house again.

            “PLEASE DO IT QUICKLY. I DO NOT WANT TO SEE ANYONE ELSE FOR SOME TIME. THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS…Tired.” Sans hated that tone, but there was at least hope in it. And it should be there, because living underground was going to be great! Taking trips to the surface was easy with his surplus of magic from his…expeditions.

            “look after my sweetheart, i’m going to get things settled, okay?” Papyrus nodded, “and, uh, don’t let anyone in the house.” Sans stopped his magic when static started sparking in the air. “i don’t think i could…differentiate friend from foe.”

            Sans blinked, then was gone.

 

 

****

 

 

            Papyrus looked down at his little Frisk, trying so hard to stay okay. His broken skull was really affecting him and it was getting harder and harder to control. Thankfully Sans brought something to help with it. But Papyrus knew he was starting to lose thoughts. Instinctually he had done something he never thought he would do, but because of this…detriment to his health, there was no remorse over the actions. Only anger. Only rage.

            Papyrus wasn’t used to feeling this way. Hopefully, his skull would mend before he really started to lose control of himself. Broken skulls weren’t something to be trifled with. Thankfully the crack was more on the right because of the angle of the bullet that hit him.

            …

            Papyrus brushed out Frisk's hair, shaking at the sight of dried blood all over them. They were so scared–so scared that they still are shaking even after coming home. “IT’S…IT’S OKAY, LITTLE ONE. WE WILL BE SOMEWHERE SAFER SOON.”

            Frisk nodded weakly against him, still struggling to say anything other than begging for their life and apologizing. Papyrus felt his soul crack a teensy bit every time they did so. He should have stopped being merciful to those humans long before the crack in his skull. But he didn’t. Because he thought maybe there was good in everyone.

            …

            It seems to him that…it is not the case.

            “When I was from NOLA no one left to be a rock and roll star. He’d stay and treat his lady, give everything to his new baby~”

            That was you singing. It was calming Frisk down.

            You had woken up a while ago complaining of being ill, but once realizing what was going on had quickly begun tending to Papyrus and Frisk. Frisk had asked you to sing–their first sentence that was outside of the mantra they repeated. You obliged. It was kind of you.

            “I miss him don’t you blame me, that boy went stone cold crazy. Caught up in camera lust he’s stuck in that pappy pipe dream~”

            Frisk was smiling and giggled at the word that sounded like the nickname they gave Papyrus.

            “I know you don’t but I, I know you don’t but I still try~”

            Papyrus still didn’t move, and neither did Frisk. You had tried to take Frisk to let Papyrus rest but was met with immediate denial.

            “My thunder shook him down, my thunder came and shook him down~”

            You didn’t push it, figuring the closeness of the two was helping cope with whatever had happened.

            “That girl is gone but I, that girl is gone but I still try~”

            Frisk's smile calmed the primal anger inside of Papyrus.

            “I think it’s over now, the bullet hit but maybe not~”

            Papyrus flinched.

            “I feel so fucking numb, it hits my head and I feel numb~”

            It was a beautiful song despite there being a swear word. Maybe you were trying to tell him it was okay. That made sense. You had been understanding when Sans broke his skull, so maybe you were preparing for the worst.

            “My body’s looking wrong, my body’s looking wrong, my body’s looking wrong~”

            But Papyrus was strong. He would fight the strange urges to go kill all humans wearing the color red.

            “Bye bye baby blue, I wish you could see the wicked truth. Caught up in a rush it’s killing you, screaming at the sun you blow into~”

            Frisk was attempting to hum, choking slightly and curling up into them self further. Papyrus cooed and rubbed their back.

            “Caught up in a grip when we were us, fingers in a fist like you might run. I settle for a ghost I never knew, super paradise I held onto but I settle for a ghost~”

            Papyrus realized he couldn’t see yours or Frisk's soul. Part of his magic wielding eye socket was broken, and that must make him unable to see clearly.

            “Would you like another?” You smiled softly. Frisk whimpered and Papyrus felt them nod their head. “Okay, here’s one of my favorites.”

            Papyrus closed his eyes and listened, holding Frisk to himself protectively.

            “You could be my unintended choice, to live my life extended – you could be the one I’ll always love~”

 

 

           

****

 

            Something was wrong with your soul. But you would put that feeling aside until a later time. Right now Frisk and Papyrus needed you, and if singing was calming, then that was what you would do.

 

            “…I’ll be there as soon as I can, but I’m busy mending broken pieces of the life I had before ~”

 

            Yet, it lingered in your mind.

 

            “…before you…~”

           

            The inkling of binding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

            Sans had already spoken to Grillby and was now waiting for all the preparations. He decided to wander around Snowdin and the surrounding areas to see if anything dangerous was present. He figured not but it was good to be safe. Everything needed to be perfect if the transition was to be smooth.

            After walking around to avoid tiring himself out by shortcutting, he stopped before the door to the ruins. Sans remembered knocking on that door and sharing jokes with a woman he could not see. Where he made a promise that he had to break.

            Sans didn’t lose his smile. Though it was always hard when the kid came out with dust on their sweater, there was always sorrow and guilt present. He always would thank Chara for what they did for Frisk. Chara could’ve taken advantage of Frisk and forcefully taken over their body once Frisk shared their soul. But Chara didn’t.

            It wasn’t hard to forgive Frisk, because it wasn’t their fault. Something much darker, much more curious had been lurking in the shadows. But, not even gaster knew how to stare that deeply into the void. At least the cycling ‘game’ had ended. Frisk always said it felt like a game–until the route they finally stayed on the surface. Then Sans reset.

            …Maybe that’s why the kid was putting up with all this shit. Maybe they felt they owed Sans. He chuckled, walking through the door after opening it. It didn’t matter. Frisk was his kid, and always would be. It’s only natural for him to forgive them.

            Sans closed his eyes, blinking them open occasionally while he blipped through the ruins to see the purple walls. Nothing really stood out except for a few whimsums, but they were doing no harm. Soon he reached the area where the humans always fell, figuring if anything would be a threat it’d reside here.

            The light from the outside cast down in the endless drop from above. Surviving from this fall was always surprising since it should not be possible for a human. Yet, despite that, Sans still had met many humans before who survived. Well, until they met Asgore. Sans flinched.

            Despite the sunlight, it was dark. The open area expanded past what he could see even with his enhanced vision–well ‘enhanced’ might be overexaggerating–but besides that, there was a little hill that fell right in a spotlight where a path of green grass grew.

            And in the middle of the grass was a single yellow flower.

            Crying.

            Sans rose a brow bone and shuffled forward. He noticed scattered papers everywhere with handwriting that Sans could recognize as Papyruses…and Frisks. The crying had stopped so he looked up. “What are you doing here!?” The weed snapped, “Want me to kill you or something!? Come to make fun of me!?” Sans didn’t let his grin falter, because seeing the flower cry pitifully gave Sans insight into what was supposed to be a soulless monster.

            “doin’ some rounds. makin’ sure everything is safe.”

            “Fuck off! No one comes here anyway!” The weed–er, Flowey, was trying to hide his previous crying.

            “well, that’s true,” Sans shrugged, “but, soon enough it won't be. kid will probably make a point to come by.”

            Flowey scowled and tilted his 'head' to the side. “What? What are you talking about smiley trash bag?” Sans snorted at the nickname.

            “we’re moving back down here.”

            “What!? Another war!?”

            “no, jeez. only me, papyrus, frisk, and my sweetheart and coming back down.” Sans had been approaching for a while and crouched in front of the flower. The sun was oddly comforting from here. “grillbs helping me move the house back down.”

            Flowey made a weird face, “Sweetheart? Ew, what the heck is that? Is that a pun or something?”

            “pfft. no. my soulmate. you know what those are, right?”

            Flowey stuck out his tongue, “Yeah, of course I do. I’m not an idiot. But why are you all coming back to the underground? Didn’t Frisk like, do all that stuff to help monsters go back up to the surface?”

            Sans shrugged, winking, “heh, well, you know how humans are.”

            Flowey frowned, a thoughtful look behind the little black dots that were his eyes. Sans remembered Frisk telling him that they thought Flowey was cute. Heh. But, it looked like maybe Sans struck a chord with those words. Sans didn’t know much about the weed just that at one point the flower was a monster.

            “Is that why I didn’t get a letter?” Sans was actually caught off guard with that one. Was that why he was crying? Because he didn’t get a note from his brother and Frisk? Oddly…sweet. Sans nodded, shrugging weakly. “And by your lack of puns so far, something pretty shitty must have happened. Are Papyrus and Frisk really coming?”

            “yeah. you, uh, aren’t…that far off. actually, i should probably go.”

            “Wait!” Sans paused, having already stood up. “Can…Can you tell me when you guys move back?” Sans rose a brow bone, the flower somehow blushing, “I think it’d be nice for Frisk to see me again!” Sans chuckled, the flower trying to hide that he missed everyone. With a nod and a salute, Sans turned back around. “I’m surprised your ‘sweetheart’ is up for moving here. Must be a weird human.”

            Sans tensed. Flowey caught it.

            “…Oh!” Sans could hear the stupid weed snicker, “Are you going to kidnap them? That’s hilarious!”

            “i am not!”

            “Got you!” Flowey laughed hysterically, and Sans rubbed his palm down his face. God, was he going to be haunted by this stupid flower for the rest of time? Sans was listening for another insult, but a quiet whisper returned instead, “Are…Papyrus and Frisk okay?” Sans kept walking but looked back with a wink.

            “they will be soon.”

            And the world turned black.

            Sans opened his eyes back in his home above ground. He was tired from the overexertion of magic but managed it much better with the extra amount from his increased LOVE. Sans walked over to the couches to make sure everything was okay.

            It looks like Papyrus dozed off, Frisk also sleeping. They hadn’t moved since Sans was gone. He looked up and almost had a heart attack when he made eye contact with you. “It looks like they could’ve used your help.” You said, eyes glassy.

            “i…” Sans didn’t know how to respond. He shuffled forward cautiously, watching your expression carefully. “papyrus handled it.”

            “Yeah. They both took it really well.” Sans winced. “I tried to check up on Frisk's injuries and maybe disinfect them but, well,” You frowned, “Papyrus basically growled at me. Super weird and unexpected, but reminded me of you. Frisk also looked scared of me. Like they couldn’t recognize me.” Your hands were shaking.

            Sans rushed forward and picked you up, not caring about approaching slowly this point. He cradled you in his arms and sat down where you were, hugging you close to him. You were obviously trying to stay strong.

            “Where did you go?” You said, resting your head on his chest. Like you missed him. Sans soul vibrated against his chest and you snorted, mumbling about him being a cat.

            “saw an old friend. found a new place to live.” Sans wasn’t subtle but tried to keep the word ‘underground’ out of it. “much safer than here. or, anywhere, for that matter.”

            “Are you thinking of moving?”

            “no. not thinking. we are moving. all four of us.” You tilted your head, “don’t worry, the house is coming with us.” You looked baffled.

            “I have a lot of questions.”

            “shoot.”

            “How is the house coming with us?” Sans chuckled and ran his fingers through your hair, enjoying the softness.

            “my old friend is going to help me. this house used to be underground, ya’ know? it’s just a matter of movin' it again.” You snorted at his nonchalance.

            “You just take your house with you whenever you move?”

            “yup.” Sans took a deep breath, relaxing into the couch cushions and snuggling you close to himself. You rubbed your chin briefly then snapped your fingers.

            “Oh. You said all four of us.” Sans nodded, “so that includes me?” Sans nodded again. You blinked, “and Frisk?” Sans nodded again. “Okay. I’m fine with it since I basically live here now, but isn’t Toriel not going to like that?”

            Surprisingly, Sans hadn’t been thinking about that. “papyrus is gonna talk to her about it. we’d like to keep them here with us.” Sans nuzzled his face into you and rested it on top of your head. “i like my family near and safe.”

            “Family?” Your eyes widened, then a blush erupted on your face, “I’m…family?” Sans lifted his skull in shock.

            “what? of course you are. what did you think you were?” You buried your face into his chest, shaking your head. “papyrus sees you as his sibling and so does frisk.” Sans basically gushed, proud of how well you integrated into their trio.

            “Okay, okay, but where are we even moving? It’s not like we can move super far if Frisk is coming with us.” You looked up at him. Sans kept his best smile on.

            “snowdin.”

            “Huh?”

            “we’re moving to snowdin.”

            “Never heard of that place. Where is it?”

            “where me and paps used to live.”

            “Oh! So it–” You stopped talking briefly, “Sans?”

            “hm?” Sans closed his eyes, savoring your presence.

            “You can’t be talking about the underground, right?” Sans decided to stay still and not reply, “Sans, that’s not what you’re saying, is it? Because that’d be really weird considering you guys so desperately wanted to get up here.”

            Sans decided not to answer and to continue snuggling. But it seems you’ve now worked yourself up.

            “Sans. No.”

            He peaked open an eye socket, staring at your frown.

            “I’m not going to stay underground with you guys. That’s crazy and really far away. Toriel would definitely not allow that.”

            “it’s okay. we are.” Sans hoped you would drop it. He really wanted you to drop it. But you didn’t.

            “Sans! No!”

            “you could go outside and explore the huge underground. no need to worry about safety and there are many places to go. it’s actually really pretty. foods great. and i can just shortcut to the surface whenever we need something.”

            “No. I’m staying here. Sans, I care about you and want to be with you but I don’t think going underground is best for us all. Isn’t that practically isolation? I know it’s for safety but that’s just paranoia.”

            Sans was becoming upset. He closed his eyes and focused on your soul. Sans wanted you to want to go with them. He didn’t want to take you against your will. The gravity magic he attached to your soul reacted and you made a face.

            “What the hell was that?” Sans carefully watched your reaction, wondering if what he did actually accomplished something. He’d never done this before but figured maybe if he put some of his magic in your soul you’d understand him better. And it meant you…couldn’t b  b rreak the bond if–if–if you were tricked…int oo leavinn n g g…

            “they’ll try to take you next. i know they will. they already tried to kill my brother and my kid. what’s stopping them from getting you next? they already almost succeeded.” Your face was contorted into a painful expression, but also a confused one. “you are coming with us. i need you there. we need you there.”

            “Sans…I feel…weird…” Your face was pale and hands shaking, yet you were clinging onto him desperately. “…I…I’m sorry for saying I…wouldn’t go with you.” Sans tried to stop his grin from becoming too wide. “Of course…I will. I can’t bear to be apart from you guys…my family.”

            A manic smile tore across his face, eye lights dilating. “don’t apologize, sweetheart, i know you didn’t mean it.” Sans hugged you closer, the feeling of you clinging to him making him feel so wanted. “i think alphys did something weird to you that day. you’ve been acting strange ever since.”

            Sans figured his gravity magic healed what Alphys had done to you to make you want to leave him or…or go outside. Or be anywhere but by his side.

            In reality, something else occurred.

            “Hey…um, Sans…?” He hummed in reply, “I think I’m sick.”

            “what?”

            “My soul feels funny.”

            “in what way?”

            “I don’t…know…but…” You did something he didn’t expect. Before he could stop you, you had brought your hand to your chest and ripped your soul from yourself. You bit your lip to stop from making a sound in pain. Sans looked at you holding onto your soul. “What’s that?” Your soul was still its same color, dulled from what's been going on most likely.

            But the mini version of his soul inside of yours was a deep blue–the color his magic used to be before he gained LOVE. Sans was confused. What was going on? Why did what signified the soul bond change? It used to be white.

            “Hey, look! Your soul is blue now! Cute.” You grinned, cooing uncharacteristically. Sans was worried. “I knew something was strange when I woke up. It’s like I could feel you were there even though you weren’t.”

            You held the soul delicately, Sans unable to tear his eyes away from it. It was so beautiful, not as bright as it had been but still there and recovering. The events of the lab and seeing Frisk and Papyrus distraught had probably dimmed it. But it was still much brighter than when he first met you.

            “I can feel your presence lingering even when you are not there. Did you do this? It feels weird.” You were smiling but it was starting to fall. “You did do this, right? Is that why I…felt strange when I made you upset?”

            Sans was out of his element. He was starting to realize how reckless it was of him to do that. Sans didn’t know what it would do but figured it would make you safe–he wanted to be as close to you as possible all the time.

            “I felt it in my soul when you got upset and felt compelled to correct what I said to make you calm down. When I resisted at first because I didn’t want to agree with you I started to feel sick. Haha…ha…” And that’s when you looked at him with fear. “Are you…making me sick?”

            “no! i just wanted you to understand how i feel.” Sans was trying desperately to get rid of your fear, “i don’t even remember doing that–i was just upset in the moment when you were kidnapped and wanted to make sure you would always be safe!” Sans was struggling to breathe. “i’m not making you sick! i’m not! i just thought if i put some of my magic in your soul it would heal what alphys did and keep you safe!”

            “What Alphys did?”

            “she poisoned it! i know she did!”

            “What do you mean?”

            “you said you wanted to leave me! you did you did you did! so i fixed it and got rid of those thoughts right!? because alphys made you think that way! because undyne brought you there to have alphys make you hate me! and leave me!” Sans wanted you to understand. He wanted you to know it wasn’t him.

            “But that doesn’t make sense. How could she do that if I ripped off the machines stickers? And fought against her?” Sans paused.

            “because…because…” Sans refused, “i know she did something! you never talked about leaving me before then! you always were there for me! i’m all you have! right!? right!? and you need me, right!? only. me.” Sans grasped onto you tighter, your soul in-between you and him. Sans caressed your cheek.

            “I…I…” You blinked owlishly and reached for your own soul. “I think maybe…you misinterpreted what i said before. I said I wanted to go outside with you. To experience the world with you. Not to leave you.” Your soul disappeared back into your own chest. Contrary to your calm voice, there was absolute fear in your eyes.

            What were you scared of? What was scaring you? Did somebody come when he wasn’t there? “i know. i know you don’t. that’s why i did what i did. it made it so you wouldn’t recklessly go outside without protection.” He was breathing shallowly.

            “Sans, before I met you I wanted to die. I only lived for you. But then I kept seeing more of the world, seeing all of your friends and seeing everyone interact. I realized I wanted to go outside and experience the world for real this time. With you, I now have a desire to go outside for once.” You smiled brightly, “You gave me a will to live again! And now there is so much I want to do!”

            Sans knew what you were saying was good, but…

            Somehow he…

            “I want to explore the world and meet new people and make friends. Papyrus inspired me to believe in people more. Frisk makes me want to see them grow up and succeed. You made me want to pursue a serious relationship with you. And I know bad things can happen in this world but that’s just how it is. My time will come when it will come. You make me happy, Sans, and made me want to be an individual, not just an extension to you.”

            Yeah, you were healthy now. You felt healed. You could do all these things now and wanted to go out in the world. You wanted to see and talk to people. You wanted to believe in people. You…didn’t need to be close to him anymore. You didn’t need to rely on him anymore.

            they dont...need me...

            “Aren’t you glad I’m finally free from how I felt before?” You were looking up to him expectantly. What was he supposed to say? This was all wrong. You weren’t like this before. You said before all you needed was him. You ripped up your soul for him.

            Sans reset for you. He killed for you. He would…he'd do so much more for you. Has he not done enough? Were you not satisfied with him? Why did you need other people? Isn’t this family enough? Sharing you with Frisk and Papyrus is hard enough–but now it’s like you can’t be satisfied.

            “this isn’t right.”

            “What?”

            “you changed too quickly. you improved way to fast. isn’t mental health supposed to be a steady, slow and gradual recovery process? why did you…become like this?”

            “Sans, this is a good thing, right?”

            Sans closed his eyes. He focused on your soul. He wanted you to understand. Understand why he felt this way. He needed you, and you still needed him, right? You were all each other lived for, right? He opened his eyes and saw your face. You looked doubtful. “Actually, you might be right. This is way too fast. This doesn’t feel like me.” You leaned forward and wrapped your arms as far as you could around him. “I guess I may have gotten carried away. I’m sorry for that, Sans.”

            Said skeleton smiled again. You were finally understanding him! His feelings must be getting shared much better now that his magic is in your soul. Maybe it strengthened the soul bond? He didn’t really know what it did completely–maybe it did even more than just keep you where it was safe.

            He doesn't remember where he learned the permanent gravity magic from.

            …

            Something wasn’t right.

            But he was happy!

            …

            So why did it feel wrong?

 

 

**** 

 

            You didn’t know what to do. Did Sans not realize what he was doing? You felt his magic in your soul when he closed his eyes and shared his feelings. After you had tried to go outside yesterday something in you changed. When Sans wasn’t there you felt weaker, more vulnerable and scared.

            When he shared his feelings they were painful, your mind giving in to the pressure of agreeing to his words. The little version of his soul in yours was blue now, and you couldn’t understand why or how that happened. He said he did something when you got back from Alphys. Sans admitted to doing something, just not what it was–and it was starting to seem like he didn’t know either.

            “Is Papyrus going to be able to talk to Toriel? I feel like Toriel will be really against this idea.” You hoped to change the conversation, hating when Sans got that crazy look in his eyes. It always terrified you when he smiled so desperately.

            “tori shouldn’t mind. we’ll tell her later. after we’re all safe.”

            Well, that was questionable.

            Even more so when there was a knock on the door.

            “Sans? I got the news. Frisk is here, correct?” You recognized the former queen's voice, quivering with motherly worry. Speak of the devil. Sans stayed put. “I’m coming in.” Guess she felt comfortable enough to just let herself in. “Oh!”

            Her soft red eyes widened drastically, shock at the state the two sleeping were in. She’d never seen Papyrus so hurt, or Frisk so battered and damaged. “Heavens! My child!” Toriel rushed forward, purple gown flowing behind her. Sans tensed. Something not so pleasant might be about to happen.

            “uh, tori, i wouldn’t do that…” Toriel whipped her head around and glared at Sans, reaching for her child.

            “Frisk is hurt, and you didn’t take them to the hospital? I’m taking them right now–and you should find Papyrus someone to heal him as well!” Toriel proudly spoke, and gently reached for Frisk. It took her some time to successfully free Frisk from Papyruses arms but eventually did so. She held the Frisk, frowning worriedly.

            “tori. put the kid down.” Sans gently set you down on the couch and stood up, hand out as though approaching a wild animal, “they went through something really traumatic and it’d be best if you–”

            “I am their mother! You will not tell me how to handle my child!” She looked ready to say more, but a quiet yawn and mumble caught her attention. “Oh! Frisk, I’m so sorry, everything’s going to be okay–” Frisk blinked a few times while Toriel spoke, waking up gradually at the arguing between Toriel and Sans. When they finally opened them fully and realized they were being held, instead of warming up to their guardian they only screamed.

            “My child!?” Toriel brushed the hair out of their face frantically, cradling them carefully and trying to calm them down. Frisk just cried harder, squirming around in her grasp. 

            “PAPY! PAPY! PAPY–!” Frisk kept wailing, flinging their limbs around with eyes that looked clouded over. You put a hand over your mouth. Was the poor kid already lapsing back into the memories of before?

            Toriel tried to comfort her child, but it did no good. It only made them cry harder, and the skeleton who was sleeping before stirred awake. Papyrus rubbed his head briefly, waking up slowly from his deep nap. It only took him a few moments to become alert. You stumbled backward in alarm at the speed in which the next events occurred.

            Papyrus had summoned a spiked bone and, with a flaming eye and orange magic leaking out in smoke like tendrils through the hole in his skull, lunged at Toriel. You thought she was going to die. “let frisk go tori!” Sans bellowed. Thankfully, Sans was fast enough to block the hit, using magic to stop the attack midair. Toriel stood in shock, processing what had just happened. Yet she didn’t put Frisk down, who was only bawling louder. “toriel!”

            “But–but–”

            Papyrus lunged back and swung again, taking advantage of Sans exhaustion. Sans blocked it again but wavered, sweating. “tori. i’ve been taking shortcuts all day. i don’t have the strength to keep this up.” Sans wasn’t even trying to get through to his brother, instead focusing on getting Toriel to let go of Frisk.

            “Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me! Papy! They’re taking me again! Big brother! Save me!” Frisk was screaming and crying, throwing a fit while Toriel struggled to keep Frisk in her hold. Her eyes were watering, obviously at a loss.

            Papyrus didn’t slow, looking dead to the world. Both him and Frisk were acting on fight or flight instincts. You rushed forward and grabbed onto Toriel after seeing Sans waver under another attack. Frisk was terrified of Toriel, and Papyrus was receptive to that in his half-lucid state.

            “Brother please!”

            Sans collapsed, Papyrus breaking through the magic holding him still. You hugged Toriel tightly to you and with a strength you didn’t know you had, pulled her to the ground. In her shock, she let go of Frisk, who dropped unceremoniously to the ground because of it. You kept Toriel still, significantly smaller than her but still managing.

            Frisk cried, holding their previously hurt leg. Papyrus, not realizing he had missed Toriel and only felt the threat was gone, looked down at Frisk. Frisk lifted both arms weakly and made grabby hands, hiccupping and sniffling. Papyrus scooped Frisk up in his arms, and without a word went up the stairs. You heard footsteps, then a door shut.

            …

            “tori.” Sans shakily got to his feet, “why. did you do that?” He was barely keeping his anger at bay, exhaustion causing his purple eye light to flicker back into white. You scrambled away from Toriel once you realized she would stay put and quickly went over to your soulmate, seeing his protective gaze.

            “I…my child…did not recognize me…” Toriel looked down at her hands, teardrops landing on the soft white fur of her paws. “I thought maybe they just…needed to calm down and…and…” She buried her face in her hands, low sobs echoing in the room. “My child…what have they done to you…?”

            While the goat mother wallowed in helplessness, you kept a watchful eye on Sans. His hands were gripping the carpet, and you wondered if he had had more energy would he have lashed out at the former queen. “tori, i get that you just want what’s best for them. i do too. they’re my kid, and i want to protect them. that’s why we’re taking frisk with us.”

            Toriel had calmed slightly, trying to regain composure. She looked up warily, confused at Sans words.

            “we’re moving back underground. just the four of us.” If he hadn’t made up his mind before, it definitely was now. You were still unable to erase the image of Papyrus mindlessly attacking someone he respected and called a friend. Papyrus always tried so hard to show mercy, caring for those even if they hurt him. What had those bastards done to make Papyrus so…so…?

            “Sans, Frisk is my child. I am their guardian, and they need to stay on the surface.” Toriel sternly addressed him, “I know there are dangers, but they need to flourish and grow! It is true they are a child, and that means they must learn to trust those around them. We all must learn to trust our peers. Running away does nothing.”

            Normally, you’d agree. But right now, in this specific situation, those words meant nothing. Sans had made up his mind, and it was obvious Frisk was terrified of being taken away from safety. “tori.”

            “Sans. This is final. I don’t know why Frisk and Papyrus have gotten more attached recently but it needs to stop.” You quirked a brow at that, “I do not want him to end up like you.” And then it was silent. You could only stare, unable to understand the harsh words. Sans, on the other hand... His eye lights were gone, empty eye sockets showing he was in deep thought, or trying to suppress his magic. He wasn’t smiling. She made him frown. She made Sans frown.

            And like a switch, your calm façade shattered and revealed only anger. “How dare you say that?! Papyrus just saved Frisk! And you come in here, completely ignoring any possible post-traumatic stress and just pick up the poor kid? And when they lose it you blame Papyrus!? You dare insinuate something so disgusting? Sorry they were traumatized–and I’m so sorry that Papyrus was the one to save them!" Toriel lowered her head.

            “Do you not realize that they are the only two who know what happened? That Papyrus went alone? That even with half his skull fucking blown off, he walked all the way back here so Frisk would feel safe? Yeah, not your house. This one. I’m sorry if it hurts your feelings but, well, that shouldn’t be what’s on your mind right now!”

            Oh. You were crying.

            “How could you possibly understand what those two are going through? Did you not even think about Frisk's feelings? Why they wanted to come here? Maybe they feel safer around Papyrus! I sure as hell do even when he has that fucking crack in his skull–because so far all of you have done nothing but hurt us!”

            Toriel opened her mouth to protest.

            “Undyne kidnapped me and Alphys almost killed me running tests! Then she was going to kill Sans! They knew Sans was struggling already with anxiety and just went and made it so much worse by making it seem like I was dead!” You were choking, “Stop ruining everything! We’re only running away because of you all! Because all of you want us to be unhappy! Because when you see people find their soulmate you all hate it!”

            You couldn’t breathe, but couldn’t stop talking either. “You don’t want Papyrus to end up like Sans!? Well, how about LEAVING US ALONE! He’s trying so hard just to strengthen the soulmate connection that’s barely even there and here you guys are doing the same thing you did to me and Sans! Ruining it! Making us lose our minds! Then blaming our pain induced actions on us!”

            There was a gentle rubbing on your back, a voice telling you to breathe. “Just…let us be happy! Let Frisk and Papyrus be! Leave…leave us…leave us alone…” You leaned into the comforting hoodie and let Sans wrap his arms around you. He pulled you against his chest and basically hid you within his coat.

            “I’m sorry,” Toriel was silent for so long, but when she finally did speak that was all she could say. Her eyes looked so empty and hollow, paws shaking and mouth twitching downwards in guilt. She shakily got up and went to leave. “But I cannot let you ruin my child’s future on the surface.” The door shut behind her.

           ...

            Sans was shaking.

            ...

            No, he was laughing.

            You froze at the rising volume, unsettled by the slight chuckling evolving into manic glee. He held you too tightly again, crushing you against him. “is she stupid? how does she think she’ll manage that?” Sans just kept laughing, “heh, ‘i cannot let you ruin my child’s future on the surface’? sorry i prefer the kid fucking alive tori, heheh.”

            Should you say something?

            …

            You decided to stay silent.

            “heheh…heh…my bros so happy now…and….and……why…ruin that? i’ll make sure she can’t even look at frisk ever again. kids ours. this is our family. this is my family.”

            Goosebumps erupted all over your skin.

            “m i n e.” 

 

****

 

 

            They were clawing at the hands around their neck, screaming and begging for mercy. Papyrus was frozen still, the threat lingering in his mind. They said if he moved they would kill little Frisk. But they were hurting them. He couldn’t just sit still.

            He rushed forward when Frisk was thrown to the ground, and a gunshot deafened him briefly. Papyrus realized he wasn’t the one hit, but little Frisk was. Papyrus yelled in agony, rushing forward without a care for his own wellbeing. The humans around him were laughing and laughing, enjoying the suffering they were putting him through.

            Papyrus cradled Frisk, holding their head up with one hand so they could face each other. Frisk, blood dribbling down their chin, only smiled weakly. They were mumbling words of comfort, but Papyrus could only hear the mocking laughter around him.

            The laughter stopped when Papyrus lifted his arm in one fell swoop. The sickening crunch of bones made him nauseous, but Frisk's whimpering drowned all other sounds out. Papyrus begged them to hold on, and that he would heal them.

            Frisk said they loved him, and started closing their eyes. Papyrus grew louder and louder, shouting at them to stay awake. But his little Frisk was fading too fast for him to pull them back. When they gave their last breath, Papyrus refused to believe it. He shakily stood, hugging them, sobbing hysterically.

            Frisk was gone. His little human had fallen down.

            …

            But he was not. Papyrus collapsed to his knees, wondering why he had not become dust in grief. Weren’t soulmates supposed to…?

            Papyrus was trembling and tried to pull his own soul out of his chest. Why wasn’t it working? His soul wouldn’t come out. Papyrus wept over his human's body, crushing them in his embrace. They weren’t able to be together. He wouldn’t get to take care of little Frisk anymore. He wouldn’t get to play with them–or–or cuddle or make puzzles or make fun of his brother for being lazy and–and–and–

            Papyrus tried to take his soul out again.

            But it refused.

            He practically roared in anger,  just wanting to be with his human.

            …

            The body in his arms was becoming cold. But Papyrus could not pull his soul out. It was customary for monsters to spread the dust of those fallen onto the things they loved most. Papyrus wanted to go with his soulmate.

            Papyrus figured his brother could survive without him. His brother would understand. Because Sans was smart. Sans always tried to protect him from the reality of the world–and he was so naïve thinking those humans would be receptive to mercy.

            He shouldn’t have trusted them.

            He shouldn’t have refused to fight.

            He shouldn’t have brought Frisk on that grocery run.

            He shouldn’t have turned down Sans offer of protection.

            He shouldn’t have…he…he…

            Papyrus tried to dust himself again and again, but it was like the world wouldn’t let him. He would summon his magic and use those men’s guns on himself, but it would not work. His body would magically be fine. Papyrus just wanted to be with his little human. His amazingly kind, fragile human.

            It was all his fault.  All his fault. He couldn’t change it. He couldn’t do anything about it. He should have fought.

            He should’ve fought them.

            He should’ve ended them immediately.

            He should’ve kept Frisk closer.

            He should’ve never turned…down….Sans…

            But now he could never take it back.

            Never.

 

            Papyrus woke up sobbing and sitting up straight. It was just a nightmare. It was only a nightmare. “…Papy?” Frisk yawned, rubbing their puppy–like eyes, “are you okay?” Frisk crawled into a sitting position, scooting forward and placing a hand on Papyruses arm. Said skeleton couldn’t stop shaking.

            He didn’t want to think about the dream. He and his little human were safe now. Everything would be okay. It was all going to work out. “I’M FINE, LITTLE FRISK. JUST…AN UNPLEASANT DREAM.”

            “Oh, I get those sometimes,” Papyrus was ‘awwww’ing mentally at how cute sleepy Frisk was, “I usually ask for cuddles.” Frisk looks to Papyrus expectantly and holds their arms out in a hug. Papyrus chuckles softly, their adorable little face bringing him back to reality. He scoops them up in his arms and falls back onto the bed, cuddling them close. “…Are you crying?” Papyrus froze, reaching up and touching his own face hesitantly.

            “A–AH. IT SEEMS…I AM.” Papyrus tried to smile comfortingly, but it was not working. A throbbing pain came from his left eye–the side where the hole was. He was trying to forget about the dream, but the images of Frisk dying wouldn’t stop invading his mind.

            Because those events could have happened.

            Easily–had he not taken the bullet instead.

            “I don’t think you’re okay,” Frisk had their head resting against his chest, “I won’t judge you, so you can tell me what’s wrong.”

            Papyrus sighed deeply and tangled his phalanges in their hair. He felt that was enough to explain–for both of them were struggling to process the events of before. While he was busy trying to calm himself, the child in his arms started quivering.

            “ARE–are you cold?” Frisk shook their head, “But you are shaking.” Frisk hiccupped, and Papyrus sat up straighter after hearing that. He held Frisk away from himself slightly to see their face clearly, soul stuttering desperately when seeing the desperation on their face. “Little Frisk…”

            “I–I–I’m sorry I–” Frisk hung their head, “I just thought I would never…I would never have to be scared when everyone came to the surface with me. I didn’t think everyone would be so cruel–I didn’t–I didn’t think they’d try to…try to…” Frisk’s breaths were more frequent, body quivering even more. “I’m sorry I didn’t…I didn’t fight…”

            “WH–why are YOU sorry? You did nothing wrong, little one.” Papyrus brought the child close to himself once more, wrapping his scarf around them more snugly. “I’m the one who should be apologizing. I was foolish and naïve for thinking I could spare them. Even when they…hurt you.” Papyrus stiffened.

            Though his nightmare was exactly that–a dream, the reality still lingered. His human was almost killed. His little Frisk. Murdered. For nothing other than their overwhelming kindness and mercy. Papyrus, all his life, believed in everyone around him. Because he believed there was good in everyone. If all those humans did was kill him, he wouldn’t have felt this way. But it’s because of how they treated Frisk, a child, and their true intentions behind their actions. They just wanted to see monsters suffer.

            They just wanted to see him suffer, not caring that Frisk was only a pure child, one who out of the goodness of their heart spared every monster they passed, even when attacked. Papyrus didn’t even realize he had been crying desperately until he felt Frisk give him little butterfly kisses all over his face.

            Papyrus chuckled, wiping away any remaining tears. “Don’t be sad, please,” His little human said with an adorable smile, despite their own barely hidden terror. “I’m okay now.” Papyrus wanted to stay strong for them, to smile and be his usual boisterous self.

            But he couldn’t. All that he had previously believed about others was crashing down on him in the worst way. Negative emotions toward others he hadn’t felt before were hard enough to handle, but the heartbreak he truly felt at being betrayed by his own beliefs…Papyrus put his hand to where his soul would be and gripped his shirt. It hurt. His soul hurt so badly. It felt like it was breaking. Everything he believed was a lie.

            It was the first time he was in disbelief.

            And he hated it.

            “Papy? You don’t look so good.” Frisk held his skull up, Papyrus feeling his body slump down in exhaustion, “are you sick? Is something wrong? Do you want me to get Sans?” Papyrus numbly shook his head. He didn’t want his brother to see him like this. Sans had tried so hard to protect Papyrus from these emotions–and Papyrus always complained about Sans being overprotective.

            But now, Papyrus understood why.

            A crack broke off a piece of his soul. Papyrus gasped in shock, pain dizzying him. Frisk panicked, calling his name and making sure Papyrus stayed up. “Big brother? I heard something bad. Was that you? Are you okay? Please tell me.” Frisk panicked, and Papyrus wondered how Frisk heard the piece of his soul break off.

            When people lose the very core of their being, the undeniable truth they would tell themselves, they lose their connection to the world, questioning everything. Papyrus was finding it harder and harder to stay present, unable to forget the cruel smiles those humans had. Once he realized what was causing his pain he also started panicking.

            “F–FRISK!? WHY–WHY AM I–” Papyrus was flustered, not knowing what to do. How could he stop this pain? It was too much. Was truly everything a lie? Was he a fool to think there was good in the world?

            Through his blurry vision, he saw Frisk suddenly basked in a bright red, a beautiful soul in their hands. “I saw Sans do something like this! I think it heals you if I give you some of my magic!” Frisk had a hopeful smile gracing their lips. Papyrus had heard something similar, but did humans even have magic? “I don’t…I don’t know if it will work! But I saw him do it to save SS! So…here!” Frisk frantically shoved their soul toward Papyrus, who only stared in shock.

            “ARE YOU SURE?”

            “Of course, you dummy!” Frisk was smiling so desperately, “I want you to be okay, Papyrus.” Papyrus gently reached out and held the soul, trying to remember what Sans did. Through his pain he pulled out his own soul, blanching at the large crack. He was still unsure, looking to Frisk for some kind of doubt.

            “I DON’T–I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE SIDE EFFECTS–OR–OR–”

            “I don’t care!” Frisk furrowed their brows, “I love you...so, please.” Papyrus sighed deeply, smiling despite the situation. His little human sibling was too kind. Papyrus held both souls delicately, barely conscious from the pain he was experiencing.

            Tears continued to fall, not from sadness, but at Frisk's care for him. Sans had told him about how soulmates could heal each other using the bond, but Papyrus didn’t know if the one he had with Frisk was even strong enough. He put the souls together and shut his eyes tightly, focusing on Frisk's kind words. He didn’t want to be in pain anymore. Maybe this healing process would help with the nightmares as well?

            Frisk watched in awe when the crack in papyruses soul began to mend, the red soul supplying magical essence to do so. Papyrus was relieved when the pain began to ease away and was pleasantly surprised by a euphoric feeling of acceptance and connection. Like a part of him was finally completed.

            Papyrus blinked a few times, the feeling of true familial bond overwhelming him. It took a few moments to notice Frisk was sniffling across from him. Papyrus gasped, concerned until Frisk giggled joyfully. “I don’t really know what happened, but I feel like everything is going to be just fine.”

            Papyrus noticed a small red soul inside of his, and his upside down soul in Frisks. Oh. Did this mean…did this mean the bond was completed? Did Papyruses efforts in restoring the soulmate connection work? “FRISK! I THINK I FIXED THE BOND!!!” Papyrus returned his soul to his chest, watching Frisk look at theirs curiously.

            “Really? Is that what this is?”

            “YEAH!! IT MEANS WE’RE OFFICIALLY SOULMATES!!!” Papyrus scooped Frisk into his arms, feeling a calming sensation rush down his spine. “MY LITTLE SIBLING!” Frisk laughed when Papyrus lifted them high by the armpits, kicking their feet playfully. Both felt a joy that was uncomprehendable–a hopeful will that surpassed all previous loneliness and fear once together.

            “I feel a lot better now.” Frisk waved their arms, smiling widely. Papyrus gave a ‘Nyeh!’ and hugged them close to himself. “Papyrus?” He tilted his head to the side, raising a brow bone at the shy voice. “I…um…just want you to know, that, I’ve always really appreciated how nice you are to me. I’ve never had anyone treat me like real family before you and Sans. So, don’t tell Toriel, but, you’re my true family. You're my coolest, and best big brother.”

            Papyrus sniffled. Frisk looked concerned, leaning forward and furrowing their brows. “I–I’M NOT CRYING! I JUST HAVE SOMETHING IN MY EYE.” 

            “What is it?”

            “TEARS!!!!”

            They both collapsed on their sides giggling, Papyrus cuddling Frisk close to himself and forgetting to bring up the blanket. Frisk played with the red scarf Papyrus gave to them, embarrassed at their transparent confession. Papyrus played with their hair, humming slightly to a song Frisk did not recognize.

            “YOU KNOW YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MY LITTLE HUMAN, FRISK.” Papyrus bopped his head on Frisks, “SANS IS MY BROTHER AND ALWAYS PROTECTED ME, AND NOW ITS MY TURN TO PROTECT MY LITTLE SIBLING.”

            Both smiled, unaware of the significance of what they had done.

            Papyrus felt he had forgotten something important.

 

           

****

 

 

            It was much later when Sans tucked you into bed. He was going to lie down with you but wanted to check up on Papyrus and Frisk first. You nodded, adorably sleepy.

            Sans closed the door softly behind him and looked down the hall, realizing now that he’s turned the lights off a slight glow was coming from his brothers room. Sans furrows a brow bone, casually walking over to it. He decides to knock. Unsurprisingly, there is no reply. Sans shrugs and twists the knob, relieved it was unlocked. He peaked into the room to see if the two were okay. Sans softly smiled at the sight of the two snuggled up on his brothers race car bed.

            He quietly approached, looking over the two briefly. Papyruses skull mended quite a bit, but there was still a significant hole there. Frisk was still frail looking with a battered leg, but other than that the two looked happy and peaceful. Sans smiled softly and grabbed the blanket that rested at the end of the bed, and brought it over the two.

            Sans tucked the two in snugly, and paused when noticing something strange. The whole room had a strange tint of orange, which Sans figured was the magic leaking from the broken part of his skull. But now that he looked closely…Sans blinked his eyes and looked at Frisk, narrowing them and trying to see their soul.

            The wind from the outside whistled against the trees, rain pattering against the window gently. Sans smiled, but was hesitant. He was happy for Papyrus, but, it seems Papyrus didn’t know what doing this really entailed.

            Papyrus had bonded with Frisk. He could see the mini version of Papyruses soul in Frisks, and vice versa. So it meant that the soulmate connection was strong enough to initiate a bond. But the bond was so much more than just affirming that connection. It was to bind two souls together, supplying the human with the monsters magic to keep both healthy and live as long as possible.

            It was to make sure the monster and the human had the same lifespan. Outside causes of death were of course different, but…well, Sans wasn’t quite sure how to approach this. He figured Frisk didn’t know what it meant either. They were so adorable cuddled together though, Sans never seeing the protective big brother side of Papyrus before. Sans was always the one with that job.

            Sans snorted softly, figuring it wasn’t anything too terrible. Perhaps Papyrus did know what this meant. Or he didn’t, and it only happened when the two were in a traumatic flashback. Maybe it was to comfort them both that they were alive, and that Papyrus didn’t lose Frisk.

            …

            “heh. get to keep callin’ them kiddo, then.” Sans checked the two over again in case he missed anything and left with a warm feeling in his chest. Strangely, he was happy. His kid wouldn’t go growing up on him now.

            But…Frisk might not be as thrilled at the realization they will stop aging. Sans could have sworn he told Papyrus that age expectancies match and human bodies will freeze and stay healthy using magic from then on. Maybe it slipped his mind.

            Oh well.

            Sans couldn’t help the hilarious thought of a fully mentally matured Frisk stuck in a child’s body.

            The little squirt was gonna be so mad.

 

 

Chapter Text

            “Open the door.”

            You stayed still, quivering slightly.

            “________, I know you’re in there.” The queens' voice was urgent and powerful, but you couldn’t move from where you stood. Sans wasn’t here right now. He went to talk to his ‘old friend’ and finalize the move, or something along those lines. Right now you were the only one here that was awake.

            Frisk and Papyrus needed their sleep, so you would refrain from waking them.

            “Please let me come in. I need to see my child.” You shook your head despite knowing she couldn’t see you. Maybe if she was alone you would have let her inside, but you could hear the voice of a female you still feared.

            “Hey PUNK! I’m gonna’ kick down this door!! So!!! You better let us in!” In response to the easily recognizable voice, you only whimpered. But, if you called out for Sans, he would kill them. It seemed common sense was not in Undyne’s arsenal, for she didn’t wait any longer to bust through the door.

            You screeched, raising your arms in front of your face. There was the thudding of heavy footsteps from upstairs, followed by the pattering of small ones. Your eyes widened seeing Toriel rush past you with tears in her eyes. No. This was bad. You knew Toriel was only acting on motherly instincts, but, with the way things are going now…

            Everyone’s really going to have a bad time. You needed to keep your emotions in check as not to alert your soulmate.

            “So? Where’s the joker?” Undyne mimicked Sans grin. You moved backward and bumped into the couch. “Hey, relax. We’re not trying to help you this time.” Undyne rolled her eyes and you bit your lip. Help me? You thought bitterly, noticing the shy yellow monster behind her. Alphys had the gall to look sheepish.

            “W–We came to apologize, t–t–to, um, you and Sans…” Alphys clicked her fingers together, pushing up her glasses. “A–About last t–t–time…I…” You were already checked out mentally.

            The hair on the back of your neck stood.

            Was Sans here? No. You would’ve noticed. But what was causing that rising static and that ominous pressure?

            …

            “Papyrus!” You gasped, shoving past the females and running to the stairs. It was harder to breathe once you reached the top of the staircase, thankful for the linear hallway. It gave you the ability to see what was going on.

            “D–Dear, please p–put them down…okay?” You shook your head rapidly, rushing forward to stop Toriel. Papyrus looked nervous, holding Frisk to himself delicately. It looked like he was still lucid, orange eye light flickering on and off. It seemed even with all the healing, there was still a hole in Papyruses head, albeit much smaller than before.

            But the fact was, he was still impaired. And Frisk wasn’t making a move to go to Toriel either. So, with how things were looking, Toriel probably won’t her way. “Toriel, please,” You walked forward and gently held onto the right sleeve of her robe, looking up into her tearful red eyes, “I know you love Frisk and you are their mother, but right now…they need to be with someone who can fully understand what they’re going through.”

            It felt like hours of staring, of begging Toriel with your eyes. You ignored the two monsters coming up the stairs and just stared at her. She needed to understand. You closed your eyes, breathing deeply. “Please.”

            And the next moment surprised you.

            Toriel seemed to finally hear the sense in your words, standing up straight and wiping away her tears. “Y–You…you are correct. My child, if you wish to be here, I will not stop you.” Toriel smiled shakily, “and know I still will welcome you home at any time with open arms. I only wish to see you happy, and now I know that right now, you are happiest here.” You were relieved and slightly proud of the queen.

            Her eyes, although sad, still held that deep caring gaze. Toriel, despite wanting to be with her child, was letting them make their own choices. She knew that she couldn’t understand the events that went on, and was showing her empathy by allowing Frisk the time to process those traumatic events.

            “You have my number if you ever wish to call,” Toriel stepped forward slowly, and gently gave Frisk a kiss on the forehead when Papyrus didn’t back up. “Please be good.” Toriel then looked up to the skeleton, “take care of them for me, yes?” Papyrus nodded furiously, Frisk smiling softly at Toriel and mouthing the words ‘thank you’.

            She turned and stopped in front of you, giving you a big hug. You were surprised by the embrace but welcomed the affection. “Thank you for being stern with me. I had almost been blinded by what I thought was best for Frisk that I almost made it worse for them. Take care of the three, okay?”

            You realized she was also talking about Sans, and nodded. Toriel smoothed out her robe and with one last smile, and she walked past Undyne and Alphys–who you had only just realized were there–and promptly left with one last goodbye.

            That went better than you could’ve hoped. You glanced at the female monsters still there, raising a brow. You subconsciously stepped back toward Papyrus and Frisk, threatened by the memories of your ‘kidnapping’.

            “O–Oh! I…I guess w–we have no b–b–business s–s–since S–Sans is not here.” Alphys shuffled down the hall and also exited, not even bothering to wait for Undyne. She must have felt awkward. But the loud fish lady was still staring down at you.

            “Um…?” Undyne grinned and your nervous fidgeting, putting her hands on her hips and nodding.

            “Hey! I’ll see you later,” Undyne saluted, leaving you baffled. Was that it? Were they chill now? “And, Papyrus,” Said skeleton looked up, stopping his conversation with Frisk. “Alphys told me about specific monster habits, and, uh, I just wanted to ask…” Undyne glanced down at Frisk, “are you soulmates?”

            Your breath hitched. There were millions of thoughts in your mind now, crashing and burning in illogical mumbling. “O–OH! UH, YES.” Papyrus shrugged, trying to seem laid back about it, but the hunched shoulders and protective holding of Frisk gave away his anxiety.

            “Sweet.” You blinked. What an underwhelming reaction. “Well, congrats, I guess. And, uh, try not to become like Sans, okay?”

            “Excuse me?” What developing comfort you were starting to feel toward the monster came to a halt. “What did you say?”

            “Cool it. You know he’s been a freaking weirdo. It’s not wrong of me to ask Papyrus not to be the same. Since he’s also a skeleton and all.” Undyne rolled her eyes, but you were absolutely furious.

            “What the hell does that mean!? What’s it matter that they’re skeleton monsters!? Are you fucking racist!?” You really had a short temper sometimes. You had been trying so hard to suppress your emotions so Sans wouldn’t notice and come back. But that probably led to you blowing the lid so easily.

            “No! No,” Undyne recoiled, “It’s a known fact different monster species react to soulmates differently. And, well,” She scratched the back of her head, looking away. There was a slight pressure in the air.

            “UNDYNE, I…I WOULD…APPRECIATE IT…IF YOU WOULD LEAVE.” Papyrus, although trying to keep a friendly smile, was breaking under his own façade. It was obvious her words hurt him. You grit your teeth, glaring up at the fish bitch.

            “Leave. Right. Now.” You knew you weren’t intimidating in the slightest, but you felt more powerful now with that resting presence in your soul. Knowing that at any moment, you could call Sans and she would be dead. Undyne was obviously unimpressed but looked guilty once realizing Papyrus was hurt by her words.

            “Whatever,” She huffed, trying to hide her fault, “I’m leaving. Just wanted to remind you with how wack your brother is being.” Undyne turned promptly and strolled off, pausing only once to look back with hesitance. But, she did not apologize.

            And the door closed behind her.

            Every emotion you had been suppressing to keep Sans from coming back all were let loose, your lungs constricting painfully at the overwhelming panic and fear at all that could have happened, and at the anger from her words.

            Instantly two arms wrapped around you, the color blue filling your vision. You smiled shakily, leaning back into him. “sweetheart?” Sans’ voice was almost more anxious than how you felt. In all actuality, he probably was more anxious.

            “SANS! TORIEL HAS DECIDED TO LET FRISK STAY WITH US!” Papyrus announced proudly, to which Sans sighed in relief. “BUT, UM…I THINK MAYBE…I…” Sans slowly loosened his grip on you, turning so you both could both see Papyrus and Frisk. “DO YOU THINK I AM WEIRD?”

            Sans scoffed. “what? you’re the coolest person i know. you’re not weird.” It was like the thought itself was unbelievable to Sans. “why would you even ask that?” Papyrus fidgeted and decided to plop down onto the ground, letting Frisk sit in his lap. Well, in the space between his crossed legs since Frisk was so small in comparison.

            “Un–bitch insulted skeleton monsters as a whole.” You grit out, “said you were weird and that Papyrus should try ‘not to be like Sans’.” Well, if you were angry at her, it seems Sans was in a full-on rage.

            “wait…was undyne here? in our house?” Static tickled your spine. Papyrus nodded. Frisk turned around and patted Papyruses arm, saying he was the greatest and other truthful compliments.

            Well, now you had to deal with a vengeful skeleton out for blood.

            And the worst part was…

            …you didn’t feel like stopping him.

 

 

****

 

            Undyne grimaced, knowing she could’ve handled that in a much more sound way. Her stupid pride got in the way again, guilt making her snap defensively. But, all that Alphys had told her wasn’t fading from her mind.

            The conversation still looped over and over in Undyne’s head.

 

            “L–Look, we need to apologize i–i–if we w–want to keep b–being friends with them.” Alphys sighed deeply, putting on a coat and looking to Undyne. “I–I should have known what would happen. It was my fault, e–especially knowing that Sans wouldn’t react so…pleasantly.” The shaky grin did nothing to waver the taller monster.

            “Babe, we have nothing to apologize for! We were just trying to help them, right!? His soulmate being hurt was an accident! He was acting so weird and has been for a while–it’s freaking me the hell out!” Undyne held a hand over her eye–patch, a motion she often did when hiding anxiety. “He almost killed me, Alph.”

            “I…I know.” Alphys stared down at the ground, hand on the door. “It’s not his fault. I should’ve remembered…about different monster tendencies…” Alphys looked up to the ceiling, mind forming the memory of a being she could not recall. A man who spoke in hands. “I–I think a skeleton once explained to me their nature.”

            Undyne tilted her head, “Huh? I thought Sans and Papyrus were the only skeletons.”

            “W–Well…there are notes…buried deep in the lab that I had found written by another skeleton monster. H–he went into detail…about how skeletons work…and, well…” Alphys sighed, “I guess I was curious…you know? And when Papyrus came by asking about…his soulmate I just…”

            Undyne stared blankly.

            “I told him h–his soulmate was dead.”

            “What!?” Undyne grit her teeth, eyes wide.

            “Because skeletons…shouldn’t have soulmates.” Alphys looked down at her hands, smile shaky, “it’s…that’s what the notes said…but they also–also mentioned that…”

            “It’s impossible!?” Undyne gasped.

            She took off her glasses, “…no.” Alphys looked up at her girlfriend; her soulmate. “The person who wrote the entries…was describing something far stronger than–than any soul bond I had ever seen.” Undyne saw the fear in Alphys, but it was so unlike the usual anxiety that was always present. “…boss monsters…something like that. Usually, they can only bond with…other boss monsters.”

            “I don’t get it.” The words made no sense to Undyne.

            “It doesn’t matter. It just means that t–those specific monsters shouldn’t be able to be linked to humans…because it…it isn’t…it’s too much magic.”

            Undyne quirked a brow.

            “The bond is too strong–it–it’s impossible to break once finalized and…and it’s so unlike anything anyone else can feel! I figured P–Papyrus wouldn’t ever find a human so…so…and skeletons can’t be bonded to other monsters because of–because of magic composition. I–I think I underestimated what I had read.”

            “What does that have to do with Sans acting like a fucking lunatic!?”

            “Everything, Undyne! Everything!” Alphys was taken aback by her own raised tone, shrinking away faintly. “I really did do something terrible…I–I should have paid more attention to the entries left behind by the monster…”

            Undyne was so confused.

            “It doesn’t matter.” Alphys smiled softly, “come on, we need to apologize.”

 

            Undyne couldn’t believe Frisk was Papyruses soulmate. They were like siblings before, so it wasn’t very noticeable when they got closer. But now she could see the difference. “Damnit!” She screeched, hearing it echo back at her. Undyne paused, looking down at the gravel by her feet.

            Where was she? Undyne glanced around, not used to her words reflecting back as the buildings usually dulled her shouts. After walking a bit more, her gaze lifted upwards, eyes widening in terror.

            “I…thought we were…helping…?”

            The city was gone.

            Buildings were wrecked with large decimated craters breaking any structure of support. A smell of death carried past, the wind blowing through her bright red hair. A red that looked to stain a good amount of the ground.

            Undyne fell to her knees.

            She looked down at her hands, the webbed fingers unable to quit shaking. The heroic woman, the ex-royal guard, had never been less sure of herself. It looked like the aftermath of a war, and perhaps that was what it was.

            All in one mind. The mind of a skeleton who lost all connection to their soulmate without warning–unable to figure out why the bond disappeared. “I’m so sorry…” Undyne realized that maybe, just maybe, she could understand the cracked skeleton. If the feeling in her chest–that completeness she carried because of Alphys just disappeared, and her soul didn’t dust…

            It was a terrible thought.

            Did they really do that to their friend? The one who only asked for peace? To be left alone to cope with whatever the hell he was going through?

            “Ha…” They really did break Sans, didn’t they? The skeleton who always smiled no matter what befell him. The jokester who wasn’t fazed by anything. How could she have said those things to Papyrus? Should she go back and apologize?

            “welp, guess you’ve never seen something like this before, huh?”

            Undyne scrambled to her feet, stuttering under her own fear. The skeleton still wore that stupid grin, but his eyes…those eyes always told of how he truly felt.

            “so…did you have a nice visit? it’s great being greeted with a busted door, heh.” Sans dragged his sneakers along the ground, shoelaces untied. After a few moments of tense silence, he spoke up again. “i always wondered why monsters lost the war.” Undyne was getting whiplash from his rapid changing of topics. “and i think i now know why.”

            Two empty eye sockets stared through her.

            “monsters are too merciful.”

            Undyne flinched.

            “because as it turns out,” Sans laughed loudly, gesturing around himself, “it ain’t really that hard ta’ kill humans.”

            She backed up as he kept shuffling forward at that ominously steady pace.

            “kill enough of em’ and you’re basically immortal. an’ then you just keep mowing through em’ and your punishment is more power.”

            The sky was darkening.

            “don’t worry. m’ not a megalomaniac.” Sans grinned sharply, “nah, my love fuels my LOVE, you see?” He brought his hands from his pockets, raising them both in a shrug. “because really, this is your fault, isn’t it?”

            Undyne shook her head slightly. How was she to know this would happen? But then again, it seemed Alphys did know this was a possible consequence.

            “and it seems you’ve figured out little frisk and my bro are bonded, huh?” Sans blinked slowly, “ain’t it cute? like two little kindred spirits, young and merciful. heh.” He wouldn’t stop walking forward, “yeah, my bro is really excited, since, well, it seems somebody told him they were dead.

            Undyne turned away.

            “thankfully paps repaired what was left of a bond. long story, i’ll spare you the details.” He winked, “but, hey, it’s not like good things happen up here without something bad following.” The tone of his words darkened, “and now…because of some humans…my brother…and my kid…are both…traumatized.”

            The darkness settled around them, time flowing at a pace unrecognizable. Anxiety suppressed the knowledge of the moon rising, with the smell of metal picking up in the dead of the night.

            “we’re going underground. us four.” Sans shrugged, “and really, i don’t have much to say about it. it’s an obvious course of action, because, well, my bro seems to have healed as much as he could…”

            There were no birds singing.

            “and the crater in his skull is still there. albeit smaller, heh.” Sans looked up, sticking his hands back in his pockets. “so, well, it’s best if we go somewhere safer, ya’ know? you were right saying he shouldn’t be like me.”

            The night had fallen.

            “because i’d rather him not gain any LOVE, but instead have love. it screws with ya’–the weight of everyone’s sins.”

            The flowers were dust.

            “all we truly want is to keep our family safe. and really, isn’t that a good enough reason for us to leave? we’ll visit, so, there truly is no negatives.”

            “B–But what about Toriel!?” Undyne finally found the courage to speak, faltering at the arched brow bone Sans replied with.

            “she said frisk could stay with us.”

            “I know! But not forever, right? It’s not right to run away and hi–”

            “shut up.

            …it was truly dim. The sun had fallen below the horizon, the area completely unlit and doused in darkness.

            “i’ve had enough.” Sans lifted a hand, and Undyne felt a weight in her chest. The gravity around her wavered, and dread crowded her mind. “but…i won’t kill you.” Undyne dropped unceremoniously to the ground. “because i made a promise. and i hate making promises almost as much as i hate breaking ‘em.”

            Sans turned away.

            “if…if you really are my friend…” Undyne looked up just enough to see his pained expression, the grin failing to hide his hurt and sorrow. “you won’t…come back.” She blinked, and he was gone.

            Disappearing into thin air.

            Leaving behind only the grief of being betrayed.

            Undyne chuckled sadly.

            “Looks like apologizing isn’t going to do much, Alph.”

            Her own voice echoed back at her.

 

 

****

 

 

            “So it just teleports!? For real?” You were not believing this. No way this house could poof itself back underground. Sans shrugged, stifling a chuckle. You crossed your arms, rolling your eyes.

            “grillbs. ready,” Sans spoke into his phone. You rose a brow and watched the house like a hawk, making sure it wouldn’t pull a Houdini on you. Nothing happened, and you snorted despite the disappointment.

            You looked at Sans with a sigh, “Well, I’d expected as much.”

            “huh? i mean, i did tell you it would work.”

            You blinked and turned back to the building.

            …

            “What the fuck!?” You screeched, half in amazement and half in disbelief. It’s gone! All that’s left is the freaking lot! “Holy hell, that’s crazy!”

            Sans was laughing heartily, before turning to the other two and grinning stupidly. “well, i said i wasn’t lying. after all, i can’t lie because you would see right through me.” Papyrus screeched, Frisk laughing and waving their arms.

            “OH MY GOD, SANS!” Papyrus marched forward, and grabbed the top of his skull, lifting him up effortlessly. “JUST DO THE WEIRD SHORTCUTTY THING.” You snorted at how Sans dangled uselessly, and he grinned and winked in return. Sans quickly grabbed you despite being held by his brother, and then was put down.

            “okay. group hug, everyone.” You furrowed your brows but listened anyway. You all hugged, Papyrus wrapping his arms around everyone because of his size, with Sans being next. Frisk giggled, liking the warmth the hug provided. “so, this is gonna take a skele–ton of energy, so, uh, try not to move too much. also, close your eyes.”

            Everyone did so.

            The feeling you always got when Sans would teleport you were there, but this time, in the split second where you felt like you were floating, a voice echoed in your mind. A ghost of a hand brushed against your hair and the feeling was gone as soon as it had appeared. Lonely. How lonely this place was.

            “we’re here.”

            You opened your eyes and withdrew from the hug, and smiled in wonder at what was around you. Despite it being basically abandoned, the town was a winter wonderland and you swore you could hear a soft piano playing. The snow was pure, and the trees were tall. Every building was cute and matched.

            And suddenly, all your doubts vanished. This place was… “Lovely.” You whispered, standing up and walking around the small town. You grinned when realizing the town name was a pun. No wonder the skeleton brothers lived here originally.

            “AH! FRISK!!! WE CAN GO RECALIBRATE MY PUZZLES AFTER SETTLING IN!!” Frisk cheered at that notion, rushing down the road past all of the buildings to one that looked suspiciously familiar.

            “Seriously?! It’s actually the house!” You were laughing out of disbelief, Sans chuckling behind you and wrapping a hand around your waist.

            “how bout’ a tour, sweetheart?”  Sans gently nudged you along, but you shivered in reply. Sans kept his nonchalance but was obviously worried. “you alright?” Sans ran his phalanges through your hair, eyes checking you over for injuries. You smiled at his mother–hen behavior and nodded.

            “Just cold. It is snowing.” You didn’t bother to ask how it snowed, knowing the answer would be ‘magic’. A weight was plopped onto your head. You blinked a few times, then lifted what you realized was a jacket. You slipped his famous blue hoodie on, feeling like a child with how big it was on you.

            “heh. warm and snug.” Sans was only wearing a t-shirt but didn’t seem bothered. Then again, could skeletons even feel the cold? Anyways, the hoodie was super comfy and was fluffy around the hood, so naturally, you loved it. Very warm and snug indeed. “you still look like ya’ have somethin’ on your mind, doll.”

            “Well…” You tilted your head, smiling still at the winter paradise around you. Sans smiled encouragingly, his size making it easy to completely have his hand around your shoulder. “When you teleport, where do you go?”

            “uh, the place i’m teleporting too?” You thought he was being evasive again, but saw actual confusion in those two bright pupils.

            “There’s always a gap in between, and it feels like floating or something?”

            “…the void.” Sans looked surprised, tensing the arm around you. He brought you closer to himself, crouching down onto his knee to be more eye–level. “it’s how i travel. shortcut through there. i’m surprised you could feel it.”

            “Void? So it’s completely empty? Nothing can live there?”

            “it’s a bend in reality, sweetheart,” He brushed some of the hair from your face, tucking it behind your ear, “there’s nothing there. it doesn’t even truly exist. it’s…hard to explain.”

            “But something was calling out to me.”

            Sans froze ridged. The hand holding your face quivered, his pupils shrinking quite a bit. You frowned at the reaction, leaning into his touch. Was it something you said? You were truly curious.

            “I felt it touch my hair. It was so lonely. I wanted to help it but I kept my eyes closed like you told me too.” Sans closed his eyes, muttering something under his breath. You felt his distress fade away through the soul bond, making you relieved. “Is something wrong?”

            “no, i just…didn’t expect you to say that. don’t think too much about it. i used to experience weird things when i first took a shortcut.” Sans stood back up, brushing off his pants like he did the topic. “heh, maybe the void thought you were pretty.” And there was that shit–eating grin.

            “Sans!” You flushed, “empty space can’t have opinions!”

            “welp, you dunno. that’s pretty insensitive if you ask me.” Sans shrugged, winking cheekily, “sometimes i swear the moon is checking out these bones.”

            “Ugh,” You groaned, trying to hide a smile. In the end, you gave in, laughing along with Sans. The snow crunched under your feet, and you both made your way to the house. Somehow the roof was already layered with snow.

            “PIGGYBACK RIDE!” A bolt of orange zoomed past your vision, a laughing Frisk screaming in joy from atop Papyruses shoulders. You blinked, then busted out laughing. Sans followed along, wiping away a fake tear at the end.

            “My gosh! He’s so fast!” You gasp dramatically, pressing a hand to your forehead and leaning back into Sans. “How will Frisk ever keep up?” Sans kept laughing, ruffling your hair. You blew a raspberry in return but started laughing again when you heard Frisk screaming ‘faster!’ in the distance.

            “i used to give my bro piggyback rides, but he got taller than me and insisted doing it to me.” Sans grinned at the memory, “i fell asleep on his back once and woke up on the other side of the underground. he runs fast.” You laughed, imagining Sans being lugged around by a frustrated Papyrus.

            You walked up the steps, noticing how much the house looked like it belonged. Above ground, it always seemed…off. Like it wasn’t built for the area. Well, turns out it wasn’t, but, something about the underground…about snowdin was just so…so…

            “it’s peaceful, huh?”

            “Yeah,” you smiled and opened the door–one that Papyrus installed after somebody broke the last one. “Home sweet home.”

            A feeling of complete acceptance and happiness filled your soul. You looked up to Sans, face relaxing from all previous anxious tension. It was the right choice, moving down here. And Sans said he would introduce you to his friend ‘Grillby’ soon, which meant your social circle would be expanding in a healthy way.

            You and Sans both chatted and joked as you walked in, making sure everything was in place and working. You got the pot ready for Frisk and Papyrus to make spaghetti, and all throughout this surprisingly domesticated moment, there was still something lingering in the back of your mind.

            ...

            You gently held a strand of your hair, the cold lingering not from the outside. You looked out the window and smiled at Frisk and Papyrus playing. You then were calling to Sans and running outside to play with them. Soon the four of you were in a snowball fight, laughter and cheers all around.

            Maybe one day you would meet the thing in the void. After all, being lonely was the worst. If you could find happiness, why couldn’t the being that tried to reach out?

 

 

 

****

 

           

            “Oh, this won’t take long at all,” Toriel smiled down at you, trying to be comforting. You would’ve nodded. All of your attention still was on the other side of the room where Alphys was talking to Sans. “Don’t worry about Sans, honey. Alphys gets paranoid sometimes, but I think it’s completely normal for him to be protective of you after what happened.”

            “Yeah. Here, you can do it. I can’t do it myself.” Toriel nodded, and with another open smile gently brought your soul from your chest. You watched it, searching for any discrepancies but found none. “It looks fine, dear. Let me return it–”

            Her eyes were wide, staring into your own. You don’t remember screaming, but the taste of dust was so strong on your tongue. Immediately the room was chaos. Sans rushed forward to you and returned your soul to your chest, looking visibly shaken from what had just happened. He repeated ‘i’m sorry’ over and over and over.

            You only stared at him in shock as he collapsed and rested his head on your lap, gripping your wheelchair. Sans sobbed, and it was clear what had happened was an accident. With your vision so limited you couldn’t see Alphys rush forward and stab him with some kind of syringe. You screamed again.

            Sans tried to get you away from the two women but was weakening on his own. He gripped your hand, mumbling over and over an apology. Undyne came over to lift Sans away from you but got a snarl and resistance in return. Sans attempted to summon magic but failed, surprised yet not deterred he started swinging punches at Undyne instead.

            “Knock. It. OFF!” Undyne yelled and punched Sans when he got too aggressive. There was a sickening crack as Sans skull caved in, your sobbing matched by the sudden entrance of Papyrus. Frisk had run out to get him once seeing Sans so upset. Usually, Papyrus would help calm Sans down since you could not comfort him physically. But now, Sans laid completely still, a giant hole in his skull.

            “SANS!” Papyrus quickly put together the situation, “PUT. HIM. DOWN! PUT MY BROTHER DOWN YOU ARE NOT TAKING HIM!” Papyrus ran forward, seeing the vial of anti-magic serum and making sure to avoid Alphys in that regard. Alphys was on the phone, talking frantically to someone and asking for transportation.

            You warned Alphys in protest, wishing you could do something to fight off what was happening. Sans was blinking awake, to your relief, and looked up at his little brother getting ready to fight for him. “…paps…it’s…take care…of…” Sans choked with red trickling from his mouth. You yelled at Alphys and Undyne.

            Alphys, instead of helping, decided that the fact that a skeleton was bleeding was far more interesting than actually helping him. She began muttering about DT, ignoring the rest of the chaos in the room. Frisk was shouting at Undyne to let Sans go, that this would only make everything worse. Papyrus had enough waiting when Undyne showed she wouldn’t budge.

            Papyrus obviously didn’t want to dust her and didn’t use magic to get Sans back for fear of hurting her. He begged for Undyne to stop, that they were friends, and that they couldn’t take his brother away. Papyrus was becoming angry and landed a square hit in her jaw, so Undyne retaliated in the same way she did to Sans.

            His skull caved in, but instead of surviving like Sans, he started to dust. Undyne gasped, dropping Sans completely and backing away. You wanted to kill her. You wanted to do anything to help the two on the group. Sans was staring wide-eyed at his baby brother, Papyrus smiling at him sadly before dissipating in the wind.

            Sans roared in grief. struggling to lift himself up and bleeding profusely. He went after Undyne with a flicker of magic, slashing right across her chest. It wasn’t deep enough to kill her as Sans was weak. But the intent was there, and the fear in Undyne’s eyes brought you a sick pleasure.

            You cried and cried, wailing when the strange coated monsters came and took Sans away. You could only sob in protest, begging them not to take your soulmate. Sans was fighting with all his might, trying to resist the strange jacket they were putting on him and the air mask. Soon, though, after enough needles he was knocked out, the air mask supplying magic nullification.

            The wild, unrestrained fury in Sans eyes before he blacked out was petrifying. Yet, you were not scared of him–you were scared for him.

            “i love you–” Sans choked out, large tears rolling down his cheeks, past the grin that had forever fallen into a grimace.

            “I love you!” You wished you could move, to try and resist, but you were crippled. You couldn’t even save him. The only person who ever wholeheartedly loved you–the only person you ever wholeheartedly loved–

            Dragged away by these coated, insensitive monsters. Sans looked at you, and that fury that was there before was drained when he realized what was happening. He looked so scared, so broken and shocked. Betrayed and terrified. You wished to reach out and comfort him, but you couldn’t move.

            The door to the vehicle slammed shut.

            You screamed…you screamed…you screamed…

 

            You screamed.

            “sweetheart?” Sans blearily opened his eyes, before realizing the sound of your voice didn’t end or shrink in volume. Bone pillars raised from the ground all around you both, Sans flicking his gaze all around the room in preparation for some kind of attack. You kept sobbing, trying to forget all you had just seen.

            Sans soon realized the room was empty and turned to your sobbing expression with unrestrained worry. He crouched down, not retrieving his magic barrier just in case, and held onto your hand. The covers of the bed were kicked off, your hair a mess and face scrunched up in pain. Sans wavered, tears coming to his own eyes when you only kept crying.

            “________....what’s….what’s wrong?” Sans grimaced, probably feeling bits of your sorrow. You couldn’t speak, grabbing at his hand and trying to move toward him. Some semblance of that paralyzed feeling kept you still. “let me help you, sweetheart. i hate–i hate seeing you in pain.”

            You opened your mouth, but all that came out were more sobs. You opened your arms, trying to get closer to him. Sans helped by picking you up and cuddling you close. He brushed the hair from your face tenderly, wiping away the stray tears. The sweet, gentle affection he was showing you only made you cry harder.

            “Please…please…” Sans tightened his arms, bringing that safety you so longed for in your nightmare. Yes, a nightmare, it had to be. But it just felt so real. It was hard to even differentiate that reality from this one. Perhaps…it wasn’t just a nightmare. Maybe it was a premonition. Maybe…

            “sweetheart? i…are you angry at me?” Sans shivered, and you figured he was feeling the anger through the bond. You chuckled sickly and shook your head, throat rattling from overuse. Sans kept running his phalanges through your hair, placing his forehead against yours.

            “No, I–” The words escaped you before you could stop them, “UndyneI want her–I want her dead–!” You slapped a hand over your mouth, body shuddering. No. No. How could you think that? Were you that scared of her? Were you really so paranoid, that…?

            “shh…shhh…don’t look away from me. i’m right here. it’s okay, everything is okay,” Sans cooed, “i’m not angry at you…or disgusted,” He obviously felt your shame when you said those words. “i would’ve done that a long time ago, had i not made a promise.”

            You blinked a few times, but then realized it was silly for you to think he would judge you for thinking that. Sans was literally crazy. You let out a laugh of relief, but the pit in your stomach stayed. “They…they can’t come underground, right? Right!?” You gasped and clutched onto his shirt desperately, getting as close to him as possible and staring into his shrinking eye lights.

            “doll,” Sans dropped his grin gradually, “what’s going on?” You flinched when he went to smooth your hair out. “you aren’t usually this…anxious.” He gently wrapped his arms around you, eye sockets wide and questioning. “did…did she do something to you?” And like a switch, his careful concern became cold fury.

            And oddly, your soul fluttered. You blushed, wondering why his usually scary behavior was so comforting to you now. “Not that you don’t know about, I just–I just had a nightmare.” With a shrug, the tension in your body relaxed. Sans blinked slowly, the one pupil that had been flickering purple staying a white.

            “don’t be afraid to tell me or ask of me anything, okay?” Sans held you close to himself, intertwining your legs despite him being much larger than you. It made you feel safe, knowing that he would protect you if anything bad happened.

            “Y–Yeah. Thanks, Sans,” You leaned up and cupped his face, bringing it down so you could kiss his teeth. Sans leaned into you, tangling his phalanges in your hair and bringing you closer. You didn’t know if it was magic, but somehow he was kissing back. It wasn’t a feeling you knew how to describe other than intimate.

            After a while, you broke away for air, the flustered feeling in your stomach new to you. Sans stared at you as though mesmerized, face flushed slightly and eye sockets half-lidded. “i love you.” Sans gripped your shoulders, “i…i love you so much i just…sometimes i feel like i’m going crazy and…”

            You kept a hand on Sans cheek, feeling him lean into it. “i’d do anything for you, sweetheart. anything.” His breathing was audible, his eye lights dilating, “just say the word. i’ll dust her if it made you happy. i’ll…i’ll…i’d destroy whole cities for you if you asked–hell, i’d probably kill every human in this world if you asked.”

            That manic look in Sans eyes used to always scared you. But something in your soul or mind must have changed, because now when he looked at you like this, all you felt was attraction and excitement. It felt like he truly, truly loved you. “You really would, wouldn’t you?” You laughed breathily, bringing his face closer to yours, “Fuck, that’s…” You couldn’t stop staring into his eye lights.

            “just say the word…” Sans voice dropped to a husky tone, eyes lidding once more and finally closing the gap between you two. You kissed him back fervently, clutching desperately onto his shirt. One of his hands was on the small of your back, and the other on the back of your head. Both allowed him to bring you flush against him.  

            Yeah, moving underground definitely was the right call.

           

 

           

****

 

 

            Flowey shivered and spun around with a snarl. “Who’s there!?” The flower whipped his head back and forth. “Stop hiding! I know you’re there!” He sneered. There was a thudding, then a sound resembling the echo of when the barrier shattered.

            The light in the room flickered despite it being from the natural sun. Flowey was getting nervous, not able to tell what was going on. A garbled voice spoke next to him, causing him to let out a very unmanly screech. After some cursing, Flowey finally focused enough to see a blurry image of something failing to form.

            “What the fuck is that!?” Flowey waved his leaf arms around, snapping and hiding his fear. “Oi! Knock it off!” His voice shrilled when the weird blur started to become corporeal, something white and black stuttering into reality. “Stop! Stop!” Flowey shook his head, absolutely not having it.

            More garbled words were thrown at him, and then the thing came closer. “HEY! What did I just say!? Go away! You–you freak!” Flowey went to hide underground but found himself unable to move. “You idiot! Go or I’ll dust you!” He laughed demonically, faltering immediately when whatever the thing was finally stopped wavering.

            “HELL L O”

            Flowey was not embarrassed to say he screamed like a baby.

           

 

 

 

Chapter Text

           

 

            The being was always alone…

            So alone…

            …

            It’s unfair to him. The being wants to be a part of something. It’s been too long. He wished to be selfish for once.

            Because really, how long can one not exist before they forget who they are?

            Now, there were no consequences. Recharging–that’s what the being had been doing while mulling in the dark. The blue hooded skeleton would never acknowledge him whenever taking a ‘shortcut’, and truly it dawned on the being just how alone he really was.

            This time, when the skeleton was coming through the void, something was different. Oh, the smiling skeleton had brought passengers, is all. And yet, something–someone drew him closer. A soul that looked quite familiar.

            Ah, yes, it was the one the being saved from succumbing to the void! It was relieving to see the bright soul glow with compassion even after all that had happened. Thankfully he was able to save the soul before it completely was lost to the void.

            Without realizing he had reached forward, brushing his hand against the soul's owner. It was strange making contact with the living after so long–for even when he summoned enough magic to appear in reality, he was never corporeal.

            The split second he had made contact with you, it was as though he was alive again. The sensation of reality was there for that wonderful moment but snatched away right after. And then the being was alone. All alone. He watched the blue hooded skeleton disappear with his brother, the determined one, and you.

            L  E TTT ME OU U UT UTTT”

            He bellowed into the void.

            …

            He was nothing, and nothing was him. Time didn’t exist here and yet there was something fundamentally wrong.

            …

            The determined one. The little one who had once seen him. A door opened to nowhere, and the child walked in without fear. Instead of recoiling at the nightmarish sight of him, the child smiled and reached forward.

            The being remembered that moment fondly. Though he had disappeared, he had wanted so badly to respond to the human child reaching out. What could he possibly do to become corporeal once more? To reach out to the child who had done so to him?

            He wanted to see his sons. To apologize for being gone–for disappearing from their memories. Well, mostly, since the blue hooded one seemed more aware of the outer view of reality.

            But what could he do?

            …

            Perhaps…

            …

            It was okay to be selfish this once.

            …

            Hadn’t his son done the same?

 

 

****

 

 

            “sweetheart, papyrus made some breakfast spaghetti, ya’ want any?” You blearily wiped your eyes at your soulmates voice, smiling softly.

            “I’ll be right down,” you yawned, “just give me a second.” With a deep intake of air, you rolled off the bed onto your feet, stretching and standing. Fuzzy black dots botched your vision, a dizzying faintness washing over you. It faded after a bit, and you shrugged. That happened to everyone when standing up fast, so, you brushed it off.

            The four of you had been here for a while, but you didn’t really count the days. Everything was so perfect and peaceful, and Sans was going to introduce you to Grillby today, which was a huge step for you both. You were excited.

            You grabbed the mint green slippers Sans had gotten you and slipped them on, adjusting your hair to look slightly presentable. You shuffled down the stairs, seeing Sans setting the table and Papyrus rinsing the pasta. Frisk bounded up to you happily, latching onto your arm and grinning adorably.

            “Morning little firecracker,” you grinned, ruffling their hair. Frisk pouted before dragging you toward the dining table. They pulled out a chair for you and ushered you to sit down. “Okay, okay,” you rolled your eyes playfully, sitting and watching them attempt to push the chair in after you sat. “What, am I that heavy?”

            “I can do it!” Frisk whined when Sans came over to do it instead, feet sliding underneath them from the force at which the kid was pushing. Frisk somehow managed to do it, clapping their hands together in a job well done.

            Sans snorted, ruffling the kid's hair to their dismay. This only egged Sans on more, who continued to mess with Frisk until Papyrus set down the breakfast with a flourish. “BONEAPPATITE!” Papyrus paused, then groaned when Sans had a shit–eating grin. “THAT WAS NOT A PUN, SANS, IT IS A TERM USED BEFORE–”

            “sounded like a pun to me, bro. don’t be ashamed, i knew you had a funny bone.” Papyrus groaned, pulling out a chair and sitting, Frisk bounding up to sit beside him. Sans plopped down next to you, that big grin stuck there honestly.

            “WHATEVER.” There was still that smile, though, because Papyrus did secretly enjoy Sans puns. He would never admit that, though. Everyone was eating until Sans started telling food puns to get on Papyruses nerves. Frisk joined in with even worse puns. You smiled at the mirth, shoving more food in your mouth. The spaghetti tasted better every time Papyrus made it.

            And then the world tilted. You blinked a few times, noticing the black vignette expanding into your region of vision. A few moments passed before it cleared. You shook your head to rid any nervousness regarding it, choosing to focus on the conversation at hand.

            “–TRULY JUNIOR JUMBLE IS ON A DIFFERENT PLANE.”

            “bro, come on, you ‘gotta give me credit, tho’.” 

            “I agree with Papyrus on this one, Sans.”

            “oh, the betrayal. i’m wounded.” Sans put the back of his hand against his forehead, leaning backward dramatically. You giggled, not quite sure of the context but still finding the conversation humorous. Well, humerous, you correct yourself with another chuckle.

            There was tickling at the back of your throat. You stopped the grimace before you could even remotely frown physically. Oh no. Oh no. Medicine. You completely forgot. Well, it wasn’t truly anything dangerous but with how Sans reacted last time you were positive if your symptoms kept escalating things would get out of hand.

            Real.

            Quick.

            Frisk and Papyrus kept chatting, but Sans was now looking at you with concern. You mustered a smile despite the growing anxiety inside of you. “Take a picture, it lasts longer.” You grinned and winked, trying to laugh off the rising worry. Sans grinned a bit, but still held that concern that made your heart thump.

            “sweetheart, you okay?” Sans reached forward and cupped your face, gently running his thumb over your cheek. His other hand stayed by his side, but the slight movement of it showed he was trying to hide his own anxiety. “you’re anxious.”

            “Um, oh, yeah, just worrying too much. It’s nothing really,” you attempted to smile reassuringly, “I’m just being dramatic.” You blanched at what you said, knowing that Sans would not like the self-deprecating tone. Instead of the usual scolding, Sans eye lights were trained sharply on you and unmoving.

            The slight vibration of his pupils worried you because now it was obvious he was onto you. Something was wrong. And now, he was picking up on that.

            Sans didn’t handle things being wrong well.

            “be honest, please. you know how i get when it comes to your safety. let me help you, doll.” Sans smiled comfortingly, hand moving down to gently rub your shoulder soothingly. You sighed but realized he was right. It would just keep getting worse and he already knew you ran out of medicine.

            “It’s just that I’m not feeling well, physically.” You added the last part quickly, “but it’s fine. It’s nothing I haven’t handled before. I’m out of medicine but it should pass with time anyway.”

            “the medicine?” Sans echoed, “not feeling well?” It was like he was tasting the words, trying to process them. “i thought the soul bond healed that?” And now he was just confused. You shrugged.

            “Well, it’s a deficiency, not a true sickness. It’s nothing to heal, just something to supplement…” You trailed off blinking owlishly. You clenched your teeth, trying to stop a cough. You sniffed, making sure no blood would drip from your nose.

            “so that means you’re okay?”

            “Y–Yeah, it just is a nuisance more than anything. I can manage,” You went to smile but suppressed a cough instead. The blood from your nose was trickling down your throat, so coughing could make blood come out of your mouth. You remembered when that happened the first time and almost snorted.

            You’d freaked out and thought you were dying, but it was just blood from your nose somehow making its way into your mouth and then out with a cough. Now you were making sure that wouldn’t happen because that was something usually associated with death. You were not dying, just mildly hindered.

            You sneezed.

            Internally you were lighting your own brain on fire, facepalming as hard as possible and screaming at the top of your lungs. On the outside, you realized the sneeze was more of a cough because you didn’t want anything coming out of your nose. Idiotically, since you blocked your nose blood instead spurted from your mouth.

            “…oh…i…i…” Sans eye lights went out, and the table hushed. Papyrus and Frisk weren’t talking, but all you could focus on was the bright red on his jacket. Really, you were more grossed out by that. How could you sneeze on him? Disgusting!

            “S–sorry…sorry, I got it on your hoodie…sorry,” you stopped a sneeze with your hand, thankfully blocking the blood from shooting at Sans but now it was all over your hands. You looked down, grimacing at it. Gross, you thought. It was technically from a bloody nose, so, it definitely was gross.

            “okay. okay. this is fine. you’re okay. i’ve got you. you’re right here.” Sans was trembling, arms shooting out and grabbing you with what looked like a reflexive action. Sans brushed all the hair from your face and cradled it, the rest of your body resting against his much larger one.

            It sounded like Frisk and Papyrus were getting some kind of medicine kit, which you wanted to say you didn’t need but thought better of it. Sans was looking at you with that manic smile again. You hated when he had that smile. It meant he was only on a thread of control. “doll, you’re okay. i’m here and–fuck–you’re okay.”

            You wanted to say ‘yes, I know that,’ but didn’t. Good judgment, you decided. But, the lack of response only seemed to put him further on edge. He was rocking now, ignoring how perfectly healthy you had been up until now. It was all just temporary symptoms that do no continuous harm, yet here he was again full of worry.

            “hey, you can hear me, right?” You nodded and got dizzy. Welp, you definitely needed your medicine. This was what you get for ignoring the rising symptoms for so long. If you’d just said something earlier maybe he wouldn’t be so scared right now.

            Well, whatever the reason or cause, the world blacked out, and you fell asleep.

           

             

****

 

            Sans gripped onto you, fumbling when you went limp without warning. He held you tighter with one arm and cupped your face with the other. “doll? _________? hey. c’mon look at me. eyes up.” Sans voice was frantic, and he adjusted his hold so you were more firmly against himself. “fuck. okay. sweetheart, i–fuck okay i’ve gotcha’. don’t worry.”

            Frisk placed the med kit on the table, staring at you with that same open concern that Papyrus now held as well. Papyrus moved forward and looked to Sans for permission, and Sans nodded in return. Papyrus grabbed your hand and closed his eyes, hand lighting with his healing orange magic.

            “paps is always sayin’ don’t sleep so much. he’ll be upset if you don’t wake up.” Sans eventually leaves the chair and sinks to the ground, Papyrus and Frisk following, “it’s okay, doll, it’s fine. i’m right here. i’ll protect you.” Sans voice starts to break. His mind is starting to slip into a foggy instinctual state. “i–i–shit i just, i–don’t leave me–don’t leave me alone–i can’t be alone–”

            An echoed voice in his mind talked him further and further down into a pit of panic. Danger. Danger. That’s all his soul was reacting too. Sans’ vision was tunneled, noticing a hand that wasn’t his touching you. No, that was his brother, he reminded himself.

            But somehow…that just…didn’t work. Even though he knew that he was being irrational, the delusions filling his mind weren’t controllable. Sans was falling into a panic. The magic sparking in his chest didn’t quell his worry.

            “paps.” Sans looked up, gritting his teeth, “surface. get the medicine.” He held you more tightly, mentally apologizing for the bruises that would definitely appear. “bring frisk–i–i–i’m n–o–no–not–” Sans breathed deeply, pulling you away from Papyruses touch. Said skeleton looked confused.

            “BUT BROTHER, DO YOU NOT NEED ASSISTANCE?” Papyrus, his wonderful brother, was only trying to help. How could Sans explain that there’s a chance he could hurt Papyrus? Sans hated to dwell on it, but his soul was thumping harder, mind fuzzing. Sans grimaced at the sudden piercing headache.

            “b–bro just…just–just–leave gO LEAVE!” Sans growled out the last part when momentarily slipping into an instinctual state. He was losing control. He felt pathetic. He tried to ignore that deep-rooted feeling of irrational fear and anger causing his magic to lash out but he just wasn’t strong enough.

            And you weren’t there to help snap him out of it.

            …

            You weren’t…there…

            “–SO IT WON’T TAKE LONG. FRISK, LETS GO.” Papyrus had been talking for a while, but Sans had been too busy fighting himself. The magic trying to release from his soul rattled his bones until finally, the two left.

            …

            “sweetheart? could you please open your eyes for me?” Sans brushed the hair from your face, grabbing the wet cloth Frisk had brought and dabbing away the blood. “i…i could really use some comfort…”

            pathetic.

            Sans gently wiped away the blood on your lips, quivering at your unmoving body. Here you were, underground, and yet still hurt.

            couldn’t save them.

            Sans hiccupped, fumbling to try and replicate Papyruses healing magic and failing. Sans suppressed a sob.

            useless.

            The magic was freely moving through the air, a barrier of sorts lining the walls of the home. Sans narrowed his eye sockets, right eye light flashing red.

            not my fault.

            Sans clenched and unclenched his free hand, still staring down at your peaceful expression.

            surface.

            Sans blinked slowly.

            the source.

            Bone pillars dug through the floor of the home and erected around the two huddled together. Sans breaths were shallow and desperate. So beautiful. You were so beautiful, inside and out. Your soul, your personality, your smile, your eyes…

            tainted.

            Sans hated it. Sans hated that he couldn’t have found you sooner. Hated that he couldn’t save you from your ‘family’. A low rumble in his chest rose into a sharp growl. “heh heh heh…” His eye lights flickered violently between purple and red.

            fragile.

            Sans cooed at you, ignoring the defensive magic expanding to form an impenetrable shield around the both of you. Curled up and safe in his arms. Right where you belong. Away from anyone else, no way to be disturbed, only you and him.

            mine.

            “i won’t…let go…” Sans grinned hysterically, right pupil flickering into a red and staying. His soul pulsed heavily, the magic around him becoming darker yet darker. “i refuse to be alone.” The whispered words were backed by his voices mania.

            mine. mine. mine.

            “you won’t….” Sans didn’t care if his grip was bruising at this point. He was practically crushing you to his chest but couldn’t find his normal concern. “no one…no one else…not…papyrus not…not frisk…” Sans bubbled with happiness.

            my human. my soulmate.

            “never…there was never a choice!” Sans was choking on his own deranged laughs, your limp form only encouraging his spiraling thoughts. “you were mine. always…always were.” Sans inhaled through his teeth, a sharp whistling noise barely audible.

            no one else. just me. only me.

            Sans wanted to be closer to you, despite already holding you as close to himself as possible. It wasn’t enough. He needed you to…he just… “say it.” Sans let out a shuddering breath. You didn’t move.

            say it say it say it say it.

            “c’mon sweetheart, i know you’d mean it.” He cupped your face with one hand, the other still holding you close. His thumb brushed over your lips, eyes lidding. “i’d do anything…a n y t h i n g…for you…” Sans leaned down and pressed his teeth to your lips, magic supplying the ghost of lips.

            wake up.

            Sans breathlessly whispered ‘i love you’ into your ear, clutching onto your baggy clothing. “do you?” No reply. Sans clenched his teeth so hard it was a miracle they didn’t crack or chip at the pressure. “you said it before…i know you do so…just say it.”

            please

            Tears welled in his eyes. The mania was passing into something far worse.

            wake up

            Sans gasped for air.

            don’t

            Hyperventilating.

            don’t leave me

            “i won’t let you.”

            wake up

            “you are m i n e. you can’t leave without me.”

            dark

            “wha t d o i do…?? heh…?”

            darker

            “i’m… i am m mg oing…ogo i n––g ging tt–t–t–to–”

            yet darker

           

           

****

 

           

            “So what’s in it for me?”

            “…PERHAPS…I COULD AQUIRE SOMETHING…FOR YOU AS WELL…” Flowey rose a brow at that, trying to suppress any rising hope. Though the man before him was eerily familiar, trust did not come all too easily to the flower.

            “Like I’d fall for that,” Flowey scoffed, petals drooping slightly. “Take your BS elsewhere, loser.” The flower bit out, still unnerved by the flickering being in front of him. It was like how Napstablook looks except a lot darker.

            “I ASSURE YOU THERE IS NO TRICKERY. I HAVE SOMETHING TO FULFILL AS DO YOU. ABOVEGROUND IS A WAITING SOUL SEEKING ITS OTHER.” The being spoke weirdly and it confused the plant. Flowey couldn’t fully comprehend what the weird ghost thing was saying but nodded anyway.

            “Yeah, yeah, okay, whatever. Not because I believe you! But because I have nothing better to do!” Flowey huffed, sharply angling his face away. The weird ghost thingy made a pleased sound and Flowey was still very unsettled.

            “THEN IT IS DECIDED.

            Flowey wasn’t sure he was doing the right thing here.

 

 

****

           

            “Please! My sibling needs the medicine!” Frisk begged. They had come to the surface via guidance from Grillby, taking directions to come directly to the pharmacy. Frisk had handed the person your prescription and asked for a refill, but the person was now refusing to give it back. “Please! Please!” Frisk was starting to cry.

            “Look,” The pharmacist sighed, probably too tired to deal with a crying child, “I don’t make the rules. You are a minor, your name does not match the bottle, so I can’t give you anything.” Frisk's lip quivered.

            Papyrus had decided to stay outside in fear of some kind of bias, but a weird feeling in his soul caught his attention. For some reason, he felt like Frisk was feeling sad right now. He walked through the doors, and low and behold, Frisk was crying.

            “LITTLE FRISK?” Papyrus rushed forward, crouching down in front of them. He tried wiping away from of their tears but more just kept spilling out. The man behind the counter was looking increasingly uncomfortable. This probably was a bad time for Papyrus to remember what the men who took Frisk looked like. It was very generic–their features, that is–so another man holding a resemblance to them wasn’t out of the ordinary. But Papyrus didn’t really know better. He figured he was seeing things.

            “DID YOU GET THE MEDICINE FOR ________?” Papyrus turned away from the pharmacist, seeing Frisk shake their head sadly. “WHY NOT?”

            By this point, the pharmacist looked to be reevaluating the importance of holding the medicine back. Really, it was only for a deficiency, and it was a kid asking for it. But, the skeleton monster next to the crying child made him uncomfortable. He had no bias against monsters, but he had never seen a skeleton.

            And it was oddly terrifying, despite the more cartoonish anatomy. Plus there was a hole in its skull that just didn’t look right.

            Frisk explained the situation, soul aching. Nothing was going right. Why did you have to get sick again? It wasn’t fair. They thought you were healed! Sans said so! So why were you sick now?

            “Look, kid–” The pharmacist tried to rectify the situation, but recoiled harshly at the glare he received.

            “Don’t. Call me. A kid.” Frisk clenched their fist, glaring up at the man. Their eyes began to burn, but now not from tears. Frisk turned their torso toward the pharmacist, steadily walking toward the desk separating them. “You have no idea what I’m capable of.”

            D o n ‘t.

            Frisk blinked harshly at the echo of Chara’s voice. The feeling of cold detachment dissipated, leaving only the pitiful child in its wake. “Please just–my sibling they–” Frisk wiped the new tears, but the pharmacist was already terrified. The kids' eyes had turned red, and the man was sure of it.

            Did they have multiple personalities or something!? The skeleton was already freaking him out but now the kid was being scary too? He wasn’t paid enough for this. “I’m sorry.” He leaned forward, eyes sympathetic.

            He reached forward and pat the kid on the head, hoping they would stop crying. After all, there were other people in the place looking at him like it was his fault the kid was crying. They couldn’t overhear the conversation anyway, so really it did look like his fault.

            Frisk froze when the pharmacist's hand landed on their head. They recognized it was a sympathetic gesture, but the memories of their hair being tugged and bloodied and–and– “Whoa, you alright there buddy?” The man retrieved his hand, but it was too late. He felt a strange prickling at the back of his neck, and a heavy beat in his heart.

            Frisk grabbed their head, trying to snap out of it. The world around them shifted into the abandoned building, blood coating the walls and the laughter of evil humans. They wanted to hurt them. They wanted to kill them. Frisk was lightheaded, failing to ground despite knowing deep down it was just a memory.

            Papyrus was in a similar situation. Except, he wasn’t as accustomed to being so stressed. The fight or flight response was kicking in from something so small, so Papyrus figured there must be a reason for the anxiety. But, Frisk didn’t look hurt. And, the man behind the counter didn’t look to have hurt them either.

            But when the man’s hand landed on little Frisk's head, it was an all too familiar motion. Visions of Frisk being tossed around and bloodied, humans hurting the child without any qualms to their age. Papyrus remembers being shot, and subconsciously brings a hand to the hole in his skull. He wasn’t used to being scared.

            Sans always protected him, telling him these wonderful stories of all the adventures they would have when they were free. Of course, overtime Sans seemed to have lost something with how empty his gaze became, but, Papyrus never lost hope. But his head hurt. And rationally, all Papyrus knew from experience were the terrible things monsters had been subjected too, and the words of hate Frisk would speak toward humans.

            Papyrus blinked, not realizing he was releasing a wave of magic. The pressure in the room was unnoticeable to the skeleton. He didn’t want to hurt anybody, and he wanted to believe in these people, but-but Frisk had told the man you were sick! Sans was going crazy because you were sick and you were sick because the people wouldn’t give Frisk your medication.

            It wasn’t malicious, of course, but how was Papyrus supposed to know that? Innocent, naïve Papyrus who always believed in people, who was protected by Sans for so long…didn’t humans trap them underground in the first place?

           

            “bro, don’t look so down. they just ain’t used to us bein’ round here yet.”

            “OF COURSE, BROTHER! THAT IS WHY THE GREAT PAPYRUS MUST TRY HARDER TO BRING JOY TO THE HUMANS!”

            “heh…okay, bro. if anyone can bridge the gap it’s you.”

            “NYEH HEH HEH!”

 

            Did Sans lie to Papyrus?

           

            “I hate humans, okay? That’s why I jumped down here.”

            “BUT, I THOUGHT THAT ABOVE GROUND IT WAS HAPPY?”

            “Sometimes it is. But I’d rather die than live up there. You guys are my family, and falling down the mountain was the best thing that could’ve happened to me–"

            “hey, uh, maybe we can talk about this…another time.”

            “Sorry, Sans, I just got a bit worked up.”

            “it’s okay, kiddo, you know i feel the same.”

            “SANS?”

            “oh, uh, paps, i was just joking around. right, frisk?”

            “Uh. Yup!”

           

            Sans did lie to Papyrus, didn’t he?

 

            “bro, i, uh–”

            “YOUR SOUL…It’s…”

            “it’s no big deal.”

            “Who BROKE it?”

            “no one, no one, paps, it’s just…i…”

           

            Was Papyrus stupid? He didn’t want to be stupid. He wanted to be the Greatest! And he was! He still is! Frisk always told him so! But he didn’t even–not even then–

 

            “I DO NOT WANT TO FIGHT YOU, HUMAN. I BELIEVE THERE IS GOOD IN YOU. THERE IS NO REASON FOR VIOLENCE. WE CAN TALK THIS OUT CIVILY!”

 

            Papyrus didn’t act then.

            “Papyrus, wait!”

            He gave the humans mercy, just like he was now.

            “Papy, please!”

            If he’d just stopped believing in humans earlier, like Sans, like Frisk, and like you did…

            “Papy! Papy, I’m right here!”

            Frisk wouldn’t have gotten so hurt. Papyrus would still have his skull intact.

            “Stop! Stop!”

            He wished he’d known sooner, he could’ve stopped so much pain–

            “PAPYRUS!”

            Papyrus blinked, snapping out of his thoughts. He glanced to the source of the voice, seeing little Frisk in front of him crying. Papyrus tilted his head, crouching down to see what was wrong. Papyrus reached out a hand, but Frisk flinched backward.

            Why did they flinch?

            Frisk was sniffling on the ground, wiping their eyes, and that’s when Papyrus noticed the crimson on their sweater. Papyrus looked around now, and slowly it became clear.

            “DID–WAS THIS–DID–did I do this?” Papyrus could barely speak. Blood splattered on the walls, humans pinned to different areas by sharpened bones from all different angles. The man behind the counter was wide-eyed, bright red organs spilling out from a gaping hole in their stomach. “FRISK?” He looked desperately to his little human, hoping for some kind of confirmation that no, he wasn’t the one who did this.

            He reached forward with a shaking hand, but Frisk shuffled away with fearful eyes. “PLEase don’t be scared of me.” He’s unable to stop the oncoming tears. “Frisk I–I didn’t realize–I was just so–” Papyrus gasped for air, soul faltering painfully in his chest. “I’m not–I’m not that–I would never hurt–I would never hurt you–”

            Darkness was tunneling his vision. Papyrus couldn’t believe this was his doing. He doesn’t even remember. This wasn’t his fault. This can’t be his fault. It was the humans, right? It was self-defense. An act of justice by a former royal guard! But he couldn’t stop crying. He hated himself. Hated that he scared Frisk. Hated himself for not feeling remorse over the fallen humans in the room.

            "Pap–Papy it's okay. I know you would never hurt me, I just got so scared because–because you were so different and it scared me and–and it was just–I’ve never seen you so angry and–” Papyrus relaxed when Frisk quickly crawled over and hugged him, too small to shield him from the sights around them.

            “I’M SORRY!” Papyrus cried, finally moving and hugging his best friend, his soulmate, his sibling. Frisk let him cry, let him hold them almost crushingly close. Frisk tried not to feel so scared of the kindhearted skeleton monster holding them, but, what they had just seen wasn’t something they could just forget.

            But they wanted too. Their soul was just happy to be near Papyrus, uncaring of the previous events. But Frisk’s mind wasn’t so easily swayed.

            Was this how you felt when Sans acted out?

 

 

****

           

 

            “Wow, it’s hot up here. I regret this decision.” The yellow petalled flower grimaced, desperate for some water.

            “DO NOT FRET. THIS WILL BE OVER SOON.

            “That’s not ominous at all,” Flowey said, shaking his head. The strange floating black ghost thingy kept saying things like that, and it was really starting to get to him. It was more annoying than creepy at this point.

            “OVER THERE.”

            “Really?”

            “I BELIEVE SO.” Flowey shrugged, not really caring too much about the dirty human. What were they doing up in the mountain? He didn’t know. And honestly, he didn’t care. It didn’t matter.

            “One human coming right up!” Flowey grinned sinisterly, disappearing underground. A few moments passed quietly, the shadow flickering in existence. A loud scream echoed followed by silence. The shadow blinked out of existence, appearing where the flower was. Flowey jumped in surprise, scowling harshly, “Hey! Stop doing that, idiot!” The being ignored the flower, staring down at the human soul detaching itself from the body. The shadow gestured toward it, waving a hand in a ‘here you go’ motion.

            Flowey sighed, then with a vine, reached forward and gripped the soul, bringing it close to himself. The sound of a soul shattering never came. Flowey blinked slowly, absorbing the soul with a shiver. The flower didn’t change.

            “What gives?” Flowey tried to hide his disappointment.

            “YOU NEED SEVEN.

            “Oh. Okay. Great.” Flowey rolled his eyes, glaring down at the now dead human on the ground. “You only need the bodies–for whatever reason–right?” The being nodded, before gesturing for the flower to come closer. “What?”

            “CAMPSITE. A BIT AHEAD. SIX PEOPLE ARE THERE.” Flowey made the expression of someone raising an eyebrow, but because he had none he just looked really surprised. Either way, the flower disappeared unground with a muttered ‘weirdo’.

            The being looked down at the body before him. It always intrigued him how human bodies didn’t become dust, but now it was a blessing. The shadow took a deep breath, closing its eyes.

            “Hey, wake up loser.” The being blearily opened its eyes, staring at the yellow flower curiously. Had the theory failed? Then the shadow noticed the one soul clutched in its vine and realized the flower was waiting. The shadow glanced behind the flower to see all seven bodies stacked carelessly in a pile, souls all gone. “Okay. Bye. I’ll be underground, uh, whatever you are.”

            The being didn’t miss the one last look toward the bodies. The flower was guilty but refused to show it. The shadow chuckled, softening slightly. “…I’VE REACHED THE ABSOLUTE.

            Reality bent around him, a small rip forming.

            “…I’VE REACHED THE ABSOLUTE.

             It was time.

 

****

 

            You opened your eyes with a gasp.

            “doll oh my god–oh my–fuck i–thank you don’t–don’t do that again” Sans grabbed you and hugged you tightly. You stared blankly, trying to remember the dream you had just had. A flower, and a weird shadow. Death becoming life. Whatever it was, it sure as hell freaked you out.

            “Sorry,” you said sheepishly, hugging Sans back softly. The large skeleton wept, and you let him.

            Blinking away the rest of your sleep, you took notice that the bottle of your pills sat on the kitchen table now. “Refilled it?” Your voice hurt, a weird scratchiness bringing discomfort. Must've made you swallow one while you were out. Sans hummed. Huh. You thought they wouldn’t allow it. You would have to thank Frisk and Papyrus later.

            Speaking of, “Where’s the other two?” Sans tensed. It caught you off guard, and you expected him to relax. But he didn’t. “C–Could you loosen up…a bit…” Sans immediately did so, pulling you away slightly so he could look at you.

            “sorry i–i just thought that you–i just…i can’t…” Sans sighed, “frisk and my bro are resting upstairs.”

            “Resting?”

            “ah, well,” Sans scratched the back of his head, keeping his other arm around you, “s’ kinda’ complicated.”

            “Try me.”

            Sans grinned weakly and started running his phalanges through your hair. It comforted him, plus you enjoyed it. “turns out paps might have gotten a bit, uh, spooked.” Sans chuckled darkly, “the pharmacist or whatever wasn’t plannin’ on givin’ ya’ the meds. saw frisk cryin’ and decided to comfort the kid, most likely. he pat the kid on the head.”

            Before meeting Sans hearing that would have you shrugging, thinking that it wasn’t a big deal. But now you knew Sans, and how much the weird soulmates thing affected him. If it’s effecting Papyrus anywhere near as much as it does Sans, then the guy even just patting Frisk on the head was definitely not a good idea.

            “it’s because of what happened.” Sans gaze was empty, eyes visible but inattentive, “ptsd, or whatever you humans call it.” You grimaced. “yeah. guess he got a flashback or somethin’, i dunno.” He shrugged weakly, “but, by the time frisk snapped him out of it was already over.”

            With a watery chuckle, he rested his head on top of yours, hands rubbing your shoulders soothingly. “should’ve known. i should’ve known. paps can’t tell humans apart very well. never could. s’ my fault. i should’ve been honest from the start and not let him–not let my little bro get broken by some sick bastards.”

            You stayed quiet, leaning into his touch.

            “i just…i just wanted him to keep believing the best in people, ya’ know? my bro has always been so positive and–and happy and supportive and–” His voice cracked, “and so understanding. i thought maybe…maybe his hope could be contagious.” Sans tried to smile. “it’s why those people got away with frisk. s’ why paps got hurt. because he gave mercy. because he believed in people.” You smoothed your hands along his back. “he had to snap before losing that. and it’s my fault. if i’d have taught him that–that sometimes you can’t believe in someone, and that fighting for your family is okay, he wouldn’t have become like…become like…”

            Sans eye lights flickered out.

            “…like me.”

            “Hey, look at me,” you back up and stared into his eye sockets, “Papyrus did what he did to protect Frisk, right? He also got my medicine, coming back without him or Frisk being hurt. That’s great!” Sans opened his mouth to say something, but you stopped him.

            “I fell in love with you, craziness and all,” you grinned, placing a palm on his cheek, “so saying somebody is like you, well, is that really that bad? Sure, you have some issues,” Understatement. “But really, who doesn’t? Papyrus is struggling right now, but Frisk is still there for him, right? Like I’m here for you. Frisk snapped Papyrus out of it, just like I do when you get upset.”

            “but i don’t want him to be so scared. i don’t want him to feel like i do. my little bro deserves so much more than that.”

            “You don’t deserve to be scared either, Sans. Yet you are. We’ve been getting through it pretty well despite everything. We’re both making good progress. Papyrus will have no problem overcoming this, and I think him and Frisk supporting each other will make it so much easier. You just need to believe in him, okay?”

            Sans flinched when you said the word ‘believe’, but you didn’t comment on it, instead you rubbed your thumb along his cheek. “I do. I know he can get through it. And I know Frisk will too, with a little help from all of us. We’re family. It’s what we do. We deal with each other’s crazy shit.” Sans laughed at that one, and you smiled in relief.

            “yeah. it’s going to be okay.”

            “Of course it is.”

            You leaned up and kissed him softly, and then pulled away. It was short and sweet but carried a much deeper message of love and support. Your soul pulsed, a wave of calm washing over the both of you. With a tired grin, Sans shrugged. “sleep?”

            “Yeah. Sleep.”

            

            ...

 

            That night you dreamt of a monster resembling a skeleton falling underground.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

            Frisk hugged themself as Papyrus carried them back up the mountain. It was much slower without Sans teleportation, but Papyrus had long strides and was making quick time. Maybe Frisk would appreciate it more if they weren’t so unsettled.

            “WE’RE–HUFF–ALMOST THERE!” Papyrus kept going at breakneck speed, likely trying to distract himself from the previous events. Frisk only snuggled farther into the red scarf, closing their eyes when the wind became too much.

            Soon they reached where the barrier once was, and Papyrus took a deep breath before returning inside. Monsters had blocked it off, only a hidden door allowing entry.

            Frisk remembered telling the monsters to do that. Humans setting up tourist spots flooded the underground and took all the gold before monsters could use it for themselves. Monsters had no money, unlike this timeline, where Frisk made sure everyone could stand on their own two feet (unless they didn’t have feet).

            Papyrus felt along the wall with his free hand, his eye glowing orange to shed light in the dark cavern. It wasn’t long before he found the small door. Quickly, Papyrus pushed it open with the needed effort and slipped through before it closed on itself. A loud slam echoed, and Frisk flinched harshly.

            Without stopping, Papyrus continued to sprint along the empty underground. Through the throne room, the Core, Hotlands, Waterfall, then back to Snowdin. Frisk shivered slightly. They reached the house and Papyrus didn’t really think before slamming open the door.

            “Duck!” Frisk said and felt Papyrus drop, a sharp bone narrowly missing his skull. Frisk turned back to the inside of the house, seeing strange structures erected from the ground and a deep purple smoke in the air. It was hard to breathe.

            “SANS?” Papyrus cautiously stepped inside, eyes peeled for anymore attacks. There was a whimper from farther into the room. Papyrus closed the door, keeping a tight hold on Frisk. “WE’VE BROUGHT THE MEDICINE.”

            Frisk could make out shapes in the smoke. Papyrus walked forward, hesitant when pressure made it harder to do so. Frisk narrowed their eyes, seeing a bright light. They motioned Papyrus toward it, and he nodded. He stalked toward the source of light, and Frisk shook the bottle of medicine.

            “IT’S RIGHT HERE!” Papyrus said. He moved forward more until stopping behind pillars of bones. It was in a circular pattern, surrounding none other than Sans himself. “SANS–Sans, could you let us in? So we can give this to you?” Papyrus lowered his voice to a gentle tone.

            Frisk still couldn’t see well, but when Sans turned his head around…

            Papyrus went ridged and Frisk clapped a hand over their own mouth. A bright red eye light stared back, the only visible feature through the thick smoke. Frisk, despite shaking, reached out the hand holding the medication. Sans didn’t blink.

            “H–Here.” Frisk kept their hand out, waiting for the skeleton to take it. Papyrus was breathing unevenly. Sans showed no sign of movement. “W–We’ll…we’ll leave a–a–after…” Frisk grimaced.

            The bottle in their hand lit up a deep purple. It lifted from their hand and levitated over the defensive structure. He didn’t look away from Papyrus or Frisk. Papyrus nervously stepped back, “S–SEE YOU LATER!” Papyrus spun on his heel and bolted up the stairs, reaching his room and closing the door frantically behind himself.

            ...

            Then there was silence.  

            ...

            Frisk didn’t know if they should say anything. It wasn’t too overwhelming seeing Sans like that. Papyrus also didn’t seem super shaken about that in particular either. Neither of the two got hurt, so it wasn’t a big deal.

            But now Frisk was alone with their thoughts. The large skeleton holding them walked toward the racecar bed and set Frisk down. Frisk let themselves be tucked in, watching Papyrus’s movements carefully. His phalanges were shaking as he did so.

            Papyrus looked so confused. He glanced down at his hands and Frisk felt a strange pang in their soul. It somehow felt like…they were feeling what Papyrus was. Frisk blinked slowly, taking a deep breath.

            “Thanks.” Frisk smiled sweetly, hiding their own shaking hands under the covers of the bed. They couldn’t let him see how shaken they really were. Papyrus needed confirmation he wasn’t an evil or bad monster.

            Papyrus didn’t move, hands hovering over the bed. His brow bones furrowed, eye lights unintentionally fizzling out. The crack in his skull was still very prominent, and that only continued to unsettle Frisk.

            “I…I…” Papyrus still didn’t move, mouth moving to form words but nothing coming out. “I DON’T…I don’t…” Papyrus covered his mouth, a strangled sob escaping. “…I can’t…make it go away…”

            “Papy?” Frisk sat back up slowly, frowning slightly. “What’s wrong? Sans will be okay, and so will SS. Don’t worry about that, okay?” Papyrus shook his head at Frisks words, dropping to his knees beside the bed. They could now make eye contact.

            “Little…Frisk…” He gripped the blanket, orange droplets falling from his sockets, “…do you still…believe in me?”

            Frisks heart broke.

            “Papyrus,” Frisk leaned forward cautiously, then placed a hand on his cheek. It was so small compared to his face, but he seemed comforted. “I’ll always believe in you. Because you always believed in me.” Frisk grinned, sniffling. It was true. Papyrus never stopped believing in them, no matter the timeline.

            Papyrus tried to smile back. “You fear me.”

            “I–” Well, they couldn’t be honest here, could they? “I know you would never hurt me.” And that was the truth. But Papyrus kept that sad smile, that knowing gaze that made Frisk feel like the worst.

            “…It’s okay.” Papyrus reached forward and ruffled Frisks hair, then goes on to re-wrap his scarf around their neck snugly. “I’m scared too.” He whispered the last words, possibly not even meaning to say it aloud.

            A few tense moments passed, the sound of chatter slowly echoing from downstairs. 

            “I want to snuggle.” Frisk broke the awkward tension, grabbing Papyrus’s arm. “I’m sleepy.” Frisk pouted, ignoring the pang in their soul. It wasn’t time to dwell on past mistakes. Papyrus needed to know Frisk still trusted him.

            What happened was an accident.

            “The GREAT PAPYRUS! Would be glad to.” Frisk giggled, relieved. Papyrus climbed onto the bed, pulling the covers over the both of them. “NAPS ARE GOOD FOR THE BODY AND SOUL!” He bopped his head on Frisks, receiving a small laugh in return. Somehow, the lights in the room shut off without him moving. Frisk thought only Sans had telekinesis.

            Frisk rose a brow–which wasn’t visible in the dark.

            “I’VE BEEN PRACTICING! Though I will NOT get lazy!” Papyrus ruffled their hair again. Frisk smiled and curled into his warmth. They did truly feel safe right here, in the underground, in their home, in their brothers arms.

            “Goodnight.” Frisk whispers, “I love you.”

            “…GOODNIGHT, little one.” Papyrus hugs them tighter. “I…love you too.”

 

 

****

 

 

            Flowey cries. He can’t remember the last time he felt so much. But this wasn’t what he wanted. He’d rather feel nothing than this overwhelming pain. “Y–You asshole!” Flowey screams, hoping somehow the stupid shadow would hear him. “You said it would work! You said I could–I could–”

            The surrounding grass was infuriating. Because it reminded him how small he was. How pathetic. How he was still just a stupid fucking plant. Apparently not even seven human souls was enough to give him his body back. Why was he surprised? He had to take every soul in the underground and six human ones to even maintain that form for a short amount of time. But he just…was hopeful.

            “Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!” Flowey shouted at the air, hoping his anger would somehow change the circumstance. Yet he stayed a tiny little flower. A stupid fucking flower that can’t do a thing because of how useless he is and how he can’t feel and–

            …

            Actually, he could always feel as a flower. But right now it was so overwhelming–emotions, that is. “Are you kidding me?” Flowey should just kill himself right now. Now he has to deal with all these stupid emotions without the body he should be in. No, Asriel, Flowey thought sarcastically, you will never go back to normal but here’s the stupid emotions anyways, loser.

            Flowey continued to mope around the hole of the mountain. He didn’t know how long he was there but it was long enough for the sun to set. While grumbling to himself something shifted in his peripheral vision. He almost missed it.

            The shadow–no, not a shadow anymore. Whatever had tricked him before was standing, corporeal, right at the edge of the chasm. Flowey was ready to yell at this guy, kill him, probably, but froze when the guy made eye contact.

            The guy smiled, and Flowey hated it so much. “What the fuck.” Flowey blanched, the dudes face super weird. A long crack down one side of his face through an eye, and smile super freaking wide and creepy. Lots of black. No eyes. Looked kind of like a skeleton.

            …

            “NO way!” Flowey was about to approach, but the smirk the guy sent him made him want to scream. “What!?” But the guy just nodded, and with a bow, fell down the hole. But right before he fell, a familiar deep voice resounded.

            “Have fun.

            Flowey blinked.

            Did he just kill himself? No, didn’t seem like it. Either way. Flowey. Is. Pissed.

            “OI! GET BACK UP HERE! You bitch–I’ll mess you up! I’ll fight you! COME AT ME!” Flowey kept spewing insults, hoping that by some chance the dude will come back up and get beat up.

            …

            Wait, what did he mean by ‘Have fun’?

 

 

 

****

 

 

            Sans was in his house, above ground. Everything was distorted, but solid enough to be understandable.

            “Look, you don’t have to always be so scared, Sans. We’re all looking out for them.” Undyne shifted her weight to one foot, giving what someone could see as a soft look. “It’s understandable that you’re overprotective. You just take it too far sometimes.”

            Everything faded out for a few moments, until it was Alphys talking to him. “I–I just t–t–think maybe y–you should t–t–t–think about s–seeing someone?” Her words curved at the end, the statement more of a question. Sans didn’t like the idea. At all.

            He went to reply, to tell her she was being paranoid, when a light caught his attention. A soft mint green in his peripheral vision. It happened so quickly. Sans saw your soul in the open, knowing you could not bring it out on your own. He saw somebody holding it.

            And before he could stop it, his magic reacted.

            It was a blur. He’d killed her. Sans killed Tori. You were screaming, her dust cascading over you. Sans ignored the shouts from behind him and ran to you, collapsing in front of your wheelchair. “i’m sorry i’m sorry i’msorryso  rryi  ’msorry isor ryplea sesorrysorry ididn’tmean it i’m sorry–

             Sans sobbed and sobbed, mortified at what he had done. It was instinctual. He didn’t mean to kill Tori. He didn’t mean to. He kept apologizing, grasping your hand for some kind of comfort. Through his crying he didn’t realize Alphys approaching until it was too late. Your screams filled the room once more.

            He tried bringing you somewhere safer, away from the chaos, but found his magic sparking out, body weak and weighted. It was a horrible feeling. Powerless. Undyne came over to separate him from you, and he reacted defensively. Sans tried to use magic to send her away but nothing happened.

            Not deterred, he fought physically instead, wanting to protect you.

            “Knock. It. OFF!”

            And the world faded out. Everything hurt. He could hear cries and fighting. After he could see again, he saw his brother near. “…paps…it’s…take care…of…” Sans tried to get his message across, vision still blurry. He could hear you yelling. Even Frisk was shouting at Undyne, who he realized was holding him.

            His brother was begging Undyne to let go. Papyrus was being merciful, asking and pleading with her. Papyrus must have gotten angry, but didn’t use magic when he hit her. It shocked Sans that his brother initiated violence, but that all went away when Undyne retaliated and hit back.

            …what…

            no

            it can’t

            no

            Sans stared with wide eye sockets, not caring when he dropped to the ground. His little brother smiled at him, and Sans could do nothing but watch as his only brother faded into dust. Leaving behind a red scarf, drifting onto the ground.

             no

            no

            no no no no non on on ononononono

            Sans couldn’t contain his rage. He felt strength at the anger, at the betrayal, and the grief. Every part of him wanted to kill Undyne. He staggered to his feet, almost collapsing but getting close enough to Undyne to form a sharpened bone and slash her across the chest. It didn’t kill her. He’s too weak.

            Undyne’s fear brought him sick pleasure.

            You’re crying snapped him out of it, and he tried to comfort you, and shortcut out of this hell. But suddenly hands were on him. He was being pulled back, and when he went to fight someone injected something into him. Someone forced a mask over his teeth, making the air he breathed only a medical smoke.

            Whatever it was, it was suppressing his strength.

            He saw you desperately trying to reach him and becoming frustrated when you couldn’t move. Sans wanted so badly to comfort you, but he couldn’t. Your eyes were so full of concern, glistening with despair.

            “i love you–” Sans said before his voice gave out.

            “I love you!” Sans couldn’t even smile, soul fluttering at your words but cracking at the distance. He loved you so much. Why was this happening? It was a mistake. Who were these monsters? How dare they take him from you! How dare Undyne–how–

            …

            …how could they do this…

            …

            just wanted to be happy

            just wanted to protect you

            wanted you safe

            wanted papyrus happy

            wanted frisk content

            …

            i…just don’t understand…

            why…?

            why?

            WHY!?

            …

            please don’t take me away

            please i did nothing wrong it was a mistake

            ..

            Sans could only stare as he grew farther and farther from you, soul calling out so franticly. It was no use. Even when someone shoved him in something confining, and even when he had to watch you disappear when doors closed around him…he could do absolutely nothing. Screaming followed his exit.

            …

            When he woke up, he didn’t know where he was. Everything was dark, light barely trickling in. Something restrained his arms behind him, knees bent underneath him while he knelt on the ground. The mask still clenched onto his face, probably going to leave scars. Sans was alone.

            He was locked away, wasn’t he?

            The days went by like a blur. At first he thought maybe it was temporary, mind numbed to feeling anything and just waiting. Because not even Alphys and Undyne, even though they had sent him here, would leave him here to rot.

            But then it was weeks.

            Months, maybe.

            Sans stopped keeping track. He stopped thinking. They never fixed his broken skull or treated it, barely even checked in on him. The mask kept him trapped, the bindings around his neck kept him attached to the wall. His arms were wrapped behind him, held by some kind of cloth. He didn’t know how he was still alive.

            …

            please i’m sorry

            i didn’t mean it

            let me see them

            let me see my soulmate please i didn’t mean to

            please please i won’t be bad i’ll be good please

            just let me out

            don’t leave me alone here

            i’m sorry

            i’m sorry

            i’m…sorry…

            …

            But it didn’t matter. Sans could only stay put, forever drowning in his own downward spiral of thoughts. They had already broken him. Now, his soul was blackening. A soul once white held loosely by red strings, now fading into a deep, abysmal black. Soon his thoughts weren’t begging.

            …

            why

            how could they do this to me

            i didn’t mean to hurt anyone

            why do they hate me so much

            how could my friends do this

            where is my family

            …brother?

            …

            His soul was fading. He was fading. Sans was giving up. His grip fading. The imprints around his mouth stung, the mask tightly clamped down. The frown on his face lifted, something sparking in his chest.

            …

            red

            it’s their fault

            poor, poor, papyrus

            dusted and gone

            there’s someone left

            i’ll save you, doll

            my little soulmate

            …

            For a moment, or perhaps days, depression lingered. But it faded. When no response came to his apologies, he changed his method. Because when he called into the dark, nobody came.

            Sans opened his eye sockets. He was changing.

            Dark. Darker. Yet, darker.

            Madness clutched his soul, infecting his body and mind. Everything was fading away, all that connected him to the world was the small presence in his soul–the reminder that you, his soulmate, were out there. Waiting for him.

            …

            The mask melted.

            …

            The straps snapped.

            …

            The chains crumbled.

            …

            The skeleton smiled.

            …

            And it was over. He went. He ran. He was free. His magic flowed through him, rushing back from so long of being repressed. With every step he kept changing.

            “doll~ i’m coming~”

            The halls he walked through were each painted a beautiful red. He crushed all beings, monster or human. By gravity, by telekinesis, by bones…or just by his hands. They all would only fuel him. They did this to him. Every fight just fed his power, and he was changing.

            He knew who he wanted first.

            The building was blasted to smithereens behind him.

            When he focused back into the world, his hand held Undyne’s neck. Her eye was glistening with fear. Sans killed Alphys. He smiled when Undyne screamed and cried. He held her there and made her watch Alphys fade to dust.

            Sans snapped Undyne’s neck right after, dropping her dusting body on the ground. He walked out, leaving the house in ashes. The LOVE in his soul kept increasing, signifying he was changing.

            He had one goal. His soul reached out, guiding him by the loose connection to you. He’d spent so long focusing on it so he’d be able to find you.

            Anything and anyone in his way was promptly removed. With every bit of EXP, he was changing. The more he destroyed, the more powerful he felt. The more he killed, the more alive he became. Whatever havoc he wrecked was never his fault.

            Because really, it was those who betrayed him to blame.

            So much magic. It was rolling off him in waves. Humans dropped like flies, and monsters polluted the air.

            …

            At last, he’d reached it.

            His home.

            Sans walked through the door, his soul pounding heavily. Everything in him desperately called out, thoughts cutting off and starting in his mind. He burst through the door, finally able to lay his eyes on you once more.

            You were so beautiful. Just as he’d remembered.

            He got rid of the hindrance and walked to stand in front of you. You looked scared, somehow, and he wasn’t sure why.

            You stared, a shaky smile rising your lips. Sans smiled back, reaching forward. He wrapped his arms around you.

            …

            And then he broke.

            He was broken. So broken. His EXP–his LV–his determination

            …

            But you could fix him, right?

            The sins were weighing down on him. He begs you to help him, to save him. You say nothing, only crying with that tiny shaky smile. You could save his soul.

            But before he could even remorse, everything shattered. Around him, the world faded. The guilt, the betrayal, the pain; everything that had led to this was erasing. The past was erasing, and soon he would too.

            You couldn’t save his soul, you said.

            You can‘t save a soul that he lacks.

            The world faded to black; the last thing he sees is your expression.

 

           

            Sans gasped, shooting up from the covers and grasping his chest. His head ached, eyes unable to focus. A dream. It was a dream. An obvious dream. An…obvious…

            Sans tried to catch his breath, dry heaving through his tears. His panic must have woken you up, since at some point two small arms wrapped around his torso as far as they could. Your angelic voice whispered loving things, soothing his distress.

            A dream. Only a dream.

            But…how close was it to reality?

            “Sans? Are you okay?” Sans couldn’t bring himself to look at you. Your expression in his dream–the mixture of emotions–everything was all too much. “Talk to me, baby.”

            “…baby?” Sans rose a browbone, despite the anxiety. You flushed, unsuccessfully hiding a proud smile because you had distracted him.

            “You call me pet names!” You pout, “It’s only fair I return the favor.”

            “unoriginal.”

            You gasped, mock offended.

            “Excuse you! I’ll have you know I am the greatest at endearing nicknames! Here, I can come up with a bunch right now: bonefriend, eyelight of my life…” You continued listing off ridiculous nicknames, and Sans smiled softly. You were trying to cheer him up. It was mostly working, but his mind kept drifting off.

            In his dream, why were you in a wheelchair? Did the ‘reset’ wake him up? How high was his LV? His EXP? Why did it feel so real? And why did his chest hurt?

            “…and, well, my favorite, baby blue. I have more, because I’m a genius…” Sans hugged you closer, the sound of your rambling soothing his soul. It was a dream. Something made up by his subconscious because of how anxious he is.

            The only thing that seemed weird was how he those monsters came and restrained him. He didn’t realize the technology was that good–magic nullification, that is. Where he ended up seemed like some kind of prison. No, not a prison. When he was escaping there were doctors and patients, and a bunch of rooms all separated off and…

            “oh.”

            “Huh?”

            Sans tried to get his pupils to light back up, knowing when his eye sockets were empty it scared you. He breathed in deeply. It was a dream. A dream, nothing more. He wasn’t crazy, Undyne and Alphys locking him up in an Asylum in the dream made him crazy. Undyne killing Papyrus made him crazy.  Separating from you made him crazy.

            Surely…surely he wasn’t crazy. Right? Not enough to get…thrown into some institution with a shrink. Sure, he knows he has some…issues, but they’re justified. He is perfectly in control of himself. 

            “Sans?”

            “am i crazy?”

            You opened your mouth before shutting it. You furrowed your brows, cutely pouting in confusion. “What? Why are you asking that?”

            “just…i was…”

            “Did what Undyne said get to you? Because just ignore her.” Throughout your rambling, you’d made your way into his lap, now turning to face him. “Crazy or not, I still love you, and I’m sure out of the two of us I’m the crazy one!” You smiled brightly, cupping his cheek. Sans leaned into the warmth.

            “heh, doubt it, sweetheart.”

            “Try me, baby blue.” You had a shit-eating grin.

            “proud of that one, huh?”

            “Yup!” You popped the ‘P’, stupid smile still there. Sans chuckled, resting his forehead on top of yours. You were so adorable. Sans had the strange urge to squeeze you, because of how cute you were.

            “it sounds like ya’ callin’ me a baby.” Sans snorted when you scoffed, “a real baby. the babbling kind. and i’m definitely not a baby. ‘specially considering how much taller i am compared to you.”

            “Hey!” You squirmed indignantly, “I’m a perfectly average height. You and Papyrus are the freaky tall ones.” Sans nuzzled your head, smiling when you giggled in response. “You act more like a little kitty cat.” 

            “what?” Sans stopped, snorting, “a kitty cat?”

            “Yah–huh, you have the whole purring thing down too!”

            “i do no–” You suddenly lifted your head, crashing your lips into his. His eyes widened, face flushing a deep blue. You closed your eyes, leaning into it and gripping onto his hoodie. Sans moved his hand to the small of your back, opening his mouth slightly in response to your soft hum.

            And all too quickly it was over. You pulled away, panting slightly with a proud smirk. Sans was confused, until the sound reached him. “oh. my. god.” Sans groaned, trying to stop his soul from vibrating. You were laughing, face still flushed from the make out session.

            “I told you! I’m calling you blue kitty now!”

            “do not.”

            “I’m definitely going to!” Sans sighed, ignoring your victorious cheering. “Aw, don’t pout, I love the color blue and kittens.” Sans sighed even louder, trying to keep a smile from showing on his face. “Come on. You love it.” Sans hid his face in the crook of your neck, arms wrapped firmly around you.

            “yeah, yeah…” His voice was muffled, but you still laughed anyway. Sans nuzzled your neck, your giggling making his soul flutter. And then he got an idea.

            “Okay, you win in the cuteness contest, if that’s what–” Your words cut off abruptly. Sans grinned when you gasped sharply. “H–Hey!” What was supposed to be a strong word came out as a whine, only making Sans grin wider.

            “hmmmm?” Sans continued gently nibbling on your neck, traveling closer to your jawline. You squirmed, making Sans chuckle. “cute.”

            “Am not!” You flushed a bright red, biting your lip when he reached your ear.

            “mmm, i disagree,” Sans opened his mouth and let his tongue form, going back over the little bite marks with it. You shivered, a strangled noise coming from your throat. “heh. definitely cute.”

            You narrowed your eyes briefly, so quickly Sans almost missed it. It was his turn to be flustered when you shoved him back, you above him now. “Two can play at that game.” You grinned deviously, placing both of your hands on the pillow by Sans face and leaning down. You when straight to his collarbones, giving a coy smile before dragging your tongue across it.

            “u–uh…” If this was a game, Sans was losing. He was not prepared to see you on top of him like that, nor was he prepared to see your flirty gaze or smirk. He tried to keep his cool and definitely failed. Amid his flustered embarrassment, you opened your mouth and bit down on his collarbone. “wHoa. okay. okay! okay!”

            You laughed loudly when he sat up abruptly and flung you off, face a blue lightbulb. Whatever that feeling was, it wasn’t safe for work. You rolled off of him–still laughing–settling back down next to him with a cheeky little grin. Sans kept an arm over his eyes, unable to stop the stupid vibrating of his soul.            

            "You’re smiling.”

            “i am. and i hate it.” Sans groaned, finally understanding how Papyrus feels about his puns. He dropped his arm, turned over and met your gaze. Sans grabbed the bottom of his covers and brought it back over the two of you.

            “Aw, back to bed already?” You pursed your lips teasingly, scooting forward to snuggle into his chest. “Oh well. Guess we’ll continue with our little game tomorrow.”  With one last grin, you closed your eyes, somehow falling asleep immediately.

            Sans chuckled, endeared. He tucked your head under his chin, wrapping his arms snugly back around you.

            Crazy or not, he has his family.

            That’s all that mattered.

           

****

 

                        “Do you ever wonder what’s in the sky?”

            “Huh? No, that’s silly.”

                       “Oh. I guess it is. Never mind, then. Forget I asked…”

            “Hey! Wait! Now you’re all sad. I didn’t mean to make you sad! Um…yeah! Here you go, this is yours now!”

                        “…A flower? Really?”

            “Not just any flower! It’s a flower from me!”

                        “…”

            “What’s with that face? Are you disappointed or something? This is a gift from my heart and here you are just scoffing away–”

                       “Ha-ha…okay, okay, I like it. It’s a pretty color. No need to be dramatic.”

            Hehe, you know I’m teasing.”

                        “Yeah, yeah. I’m well aware.”

            “…”

                        “What is it?”

            “Your question from before. Why did you ask?”

                       “It’s silly.”

            “Hey! Tell me, I’m curious!”

                        “Well, I mean, there’s not much to say. I was just thinking.”

            “Uh oh.”

                       “Really?”

            “Sorry! I’m only teasing.”

                        “I know. Whatever.”

            “Continue please!”
                        “Just…sometimes I like to imagine myself in the clouds, floating. Away from everyone, and everything.”

            “…”

                        “You’re making a funny face.”

            “Sorry. I imagined you as a cloud.”

                        “Ha. Ha.”

            “Sorry! I interrupted you again. I promise I won’t do it anymore. Continue!”

                        “Okay, okay. I don’t’ really know. I’m not sure what I’m feeling either. I just think, I don’t know, that maybe there’s someone up there waiting for me. A great friend, or something, but I’m stuck here and can’t reach them.”

            “I thought I was your friend!?”

                        “Calm down, I meant a different friend. You know how humans wear those ring thingies?”

            “Yeah! I always wondered why.”

                        “Me too. Sentimental, or something. I want something like that, with a lot of meaning. I think maybe the sky is going to give me that.”

            “Really? That’s cool.”

                        “I thought you would say it’s funny?”

            “No. I like to look up at the sky too. My mom said my dad is living up there and makes shapes out of the clouds for her and me. Maybe your friend in the sky is too!”

                        “Maybe. That would be nice.”

            "…actually, I think I see a shape right now! Look!”

                        “What is it?”

            “A heart!”

                        “…pfft.”

            “Don’t laugh! I’m serious.”

                        “Ahaha…ha…wait. I see it too.”

            “See!? I told you!”

                       “…”

            “Not even a scientist is free from some daydreaming, huh?”

                       “Hey!”

 

 

            He opens his eyes. It was unusual. Usually focus came easily, but now, briskly walking through the hallways, his mind wandered. 

            …

            He still needed to apologize.

            …

            It’s been a long time since he remembered.

             

 

****

 

 

            Sans watched with amusement when Papyrus walked downstairs with a sleeping Frisk attached. Both of the kids' legs were hanging off either side of his skull, arms crossed to form a pillow for their head. Frisk had a soft smile as they slept. Papyrus was struggling to walk in a way that kept them balanced.

            “heh. sleepyhead.” Papyrus looked so unamused by that. It wasn’t technically a pun, but those two words used in this situation had the same energy as one. “_________’s makin’ breakfast. take a seat. the koala can stay where they are.” Sans just grinned lazily, content with watching Papyrus struggle to sit down without jostling the kid.

            The silence was peaceful, not tense. Papyrus was trying so hard to sit up straight and still, while Sans would periodically glance toward the kitchen where you were bustling about and humming. You called for him to set the table.

            Sans got up, almost overwhelmed by how domestic it all was, and gave you a quick nuzzle before doing as you asked. You swatted at him playfully and picked up the food–filled plates before walking to the table. Sans followed, setting down the utensils and plates for everyone.

            He heard you giggle and saw you cooing at Papyruses predicament. Somehow Frisk remained asleep, occasionally making little sounds in their sleep. You were gushing at the cuteness, while Papyrus tried to shush you for being too loud.

            Well, Frisk had to wake up anyway for breakfast. Papyrus lifted the kid off his head, placing them in the chair next to himself. With a few gentle shakes, Frisk opened their eyes blearily and rubbed at them, yawning loudly. You grasped your chest, looking at Sans and pretending to have a heart attack. He snorted.

            “Wanna go back to sleep…” Frisk whined, almost cracking their head open with the force they hit the table with. Sans stopped the kid from hurting themselves by padding magic between them and the table. “Havin’ good dream.”

            “Oh? Do tell.” You grinned, gesturing for everyone to dig in. Everyone thanked you before loading their plates. Frisk didn’t move, and Papyrus took over for them. You made a strangled sound, and Sans turned to you with a raised brow bone. You were practically vibrating in your chair, arm reaching out to tug on his.

            “–So domestic oh my god this is so cute look at the tiny small child and the big skeleton being cute my lord I’m going to die of cuteness–” Sans tuned in, then tuned back out without lacking amusement.

            Eventually, Frisk had woken up enough to shove food in their mouth with a fork, albeit clumsily. The first bite they’d missed completely and almost stabbed themselves in the eye. Sans was trying to hold back laughter, because Papyrus looked like a tired mother trying to get a child to eat their vegetables.

            “FRISK. BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY! YOU NEED YOUR NUTRIENTS TO GROW BIG AND STRONG!!”

            Sans actually almost lost it that time. He wanted to laugh so hard that his face was turning blue. Grow ‘big and strong’, sure. The irony was too much. You had no idea why he was losing it, but smiled anyway.

            You and Papyrus ended up in a long debate about how many pieces is too much in a picture puzzle. Sans was just happy to listen, amazed at how quickly you and Papyrus lectured Frisk when they said they never did many of those puzzles.  

            This content and relaxing time gave him the peace of mind to think. He could now look more closely at Papyruses soul. What he found wasn’t surprising, per say, as he had connected the dots on what’d happened previously. But it was still unsettling to see that LV and EXP in his brothers soul.

            Whether it be by the cruel reality of the world, or by some act of vengeance from the gods above, his brother, the sweet glowing sunshine in his life, had changed.

            Papyrus had the capacity to hurt.

            Sans…failed to protect his brother.

            But he wouldn’t let himself get hung up on it. It was foolish of Sans to think he could keep his brother ignorant of the cruel world once above ground. It was easy to brush everything off when Papyrus was more oblivious with less targeted actions, but the recent events  just piled on each other. The mental break was worse.

            Deep down, Sans knew it would happen one day. Just, not so soon. Not when they’d been freed. None of the choices could be changed now, but it was okay. His family was happy now, even Papyrus, despite the new darkness in his soul.

            Even Frisk was so much more themselves than ever before. It’s like they finally let go of the weight on their shoulders. It’d been noticeable once underground, where it looked like Frisk was just relieved to not be above ground. It was now a real kid sitting across from him, not a spirit of determination and emptiness.

            “A THOUSAND!”

            “No.” You deadpanned.

            “No.” Frisk copied your expression and tone. Sans chuckled at Papyruses aghast expression, leaning back in his chair.

            Through the peace and laughter, there was a nagging at the back of his skull. A buzzing, a reminder of someone long forgotten.

 

****

 

            Alphys heard her phone from across the room, jolting up out of Undyne’s arms. “Babe? What’s up?” She paused the anime, but Alphys was too busy rushing to her phone. A very specific sound played, ringing in her mind.

            She quickly input her password, opening the application that was notifying her. All color drained from her face.

            “Alph?” Undyne was now standing near, hovering worriedly. She was holding a mug filled with tea. “Is everything okay?”

            “T–The lab!”

           “Huh?”

            “Somebody is in my lab!”

            “But how? We’ve been here the whole time?”

            Alphys whirled around, panicked eyes settling on her partner. “No, Undyne! Underground!”

            Undyne dropped the mug, it shattered on the ground.

            Alphys quickly dialed the only number she could think of, making a noise of frustration when Sans didn’t pick up. She searched through all the other contacts on her phone, praying there was someone else underground who she could trust and could–

            Grillby.

            It relieved Alphys when she dialed and he picked up.

            “Grillby, I’m sorry to bother you, but this is important so please listen and then relay this message to Sans. Somebody has broken into the true lab…

Chapter Text

 

 

            “so, is that a yes?” Sans looked down at his shoes, nervous.

            “What, you think I will say no to our first date?” A hand lifted his face to see yours. Your eyes were full of warmth, and sparkled with amusement. “Did you really think I would refuse?” You rose a brow, a small smile quirking the edge of your lip.

            “…well, probably not, but, uh…we’d never…” Sans rubbed the back of his neck, sucking air through his teeth, “it’s kind of overdue, huh?”

            “Yeah.” Despite the fact, you chuckled. “Should I dress up? With the very few clothes I have?” You pretended to think, “I think I’ll wear my casual outfit, but for comfort I’m going to need something warm. For health purposes, obviously.” You blinked your eyes coyly, clasping your hands together. “After all, I’ll be cold as just a small human.”

            “you want my hoodie.”

            “Yes.” You broke character, staring blankly at him. Sans sighed, unzipping the blue one he was wearing and handing it to you. You giggled excitedly, and managed to get the huge thing on.

            “heh. small.” He wanted to coo at you. The jacket was like a dress on you, the sleeves way too long. You swung your arms around, uncaring.

            “Comfy! Comfy!”

            “yeah, yeah,” Sans rolled his eye lights, still grinning.

            The comfortable conversation continued as you and Sans walked back to the house, hearing pattering of feet once standing in front of the door. Sans gave you a knowing look, before opening it.

            “AH! WELCOME BACK! WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN ME AND FRISK IN OUR VERY SERIOUS ACTIVITIES????” Papyrus turned to you both excitedly, and dropped an armful of items onto Frisk. You rose a brow and laughed softly, seeing Frisk pop their head out from underneath the pile of blankets and pillows.

            “Papy!” Frisk flailed their arms, and Papyrus quickly unburied them and set them back on top of the pile. Sans chuckled from beside you, and shook his head.

            “maybe later. gonna go on a date,” Sans pointed his thumb to you, “with this one.” Papyrus gasped, then looked both of you up and down. The tall skeleton narrowed his eyes, and a clicking sound came from his mouth.

            “YOU BOTH ARE NOT EVEN DRESSED UP!” Papyrus put both his fists on his hip bones, “AND DID YOU EVEN ASK, SANS?” Sans nodded. “OKAY, WELL, THAT IS ONLY STEP ONE. DIDN’T I LEND YOU MY DATING BOOK!???!!??” Sans merely shrugged, sending a wink to Frisk who giggled in return. Must be an inside joke, you thought.

            “Papy, they look dressed up to me. SS is wearing a new hoodie and everything. And Sans isn’t wearing a hoodie!” Frisk gave a double thumbs up, to which Papyrus groaned.

            “_________ IS JUST WEARING SANSES HOODIE! NO CREATIVITY! THIS IS A TOTALLY DISASTROUS DATE ALREADY AND YOU HAVE NOT EVEN STARTED THE DATING YET!” Papyrus was fuming at this point.

            “welp. there’s a clothes store along the way. we’ll buy new clothes on the way to our date.” Papyrus huffed, then looked to be thinking about it. After a while he gave a heavy sigh, then slumped over in posture.

            “OKAY, WHATEVER. GOOD LUCK FINDING A SUPER COOL SPECIAL DATE OUTFIT.” Papyrus waved you both off, “GO ON, GO ON. FRISK AND I HAVE A VERY IMPORTANT PROJECT RIGHT NOW AND MUST NOT BE DISTRACTED.”

            “What’s the project?” You said.

            “Pillow fort!” Frisk shouted in excitement, flopping around on the cushions. Papyrus nodded solemnly, then opened the front door.

            “YES, YES. VERY SERIOUS BUISNESS. NOW, SHOO! SHOO!” Papyrus herded you and Sans out the door, and with a good luck and good wishes, promptly shut the door in yours and Sans face.

            You blinked slowly, then turned to look at Sans. You both held eye contact and shared a moment of mirth. Sans then grinned wider, and held out his arm. You fluttered your eyelashes playfully and then gently grabbed onto his arm, letting him escort you to Grillby’s.

 

 

****

 

            Frisk hopped excitedly, watching Papyrus drape the final blanket on top of their fort. “Yeah!” Frisk cheered when Papyrus clapped his hands like he was dusting them off, and then stood proudly to the side. “We did it!” Frisk rushed into the relatively large fort, able to stand up inside of it. “You coming, Papy?”

            Papyrus sat onto the ground and lifted the blanket ‘door’, crawling inside. He could sit up but not too straight or else the fort would collapse. Frisk sighed happily and flopped onto their back, snuggling into the pillows all around them.

            “MISSION PILLOW FORT: SUCCESS!” Frisk and Papyrus both cheered, fist bumping. “DID YOU BRING THE PUZZLES?” Frisk deadpanned, before pulling out a multitude of different books and pencils from somewhere on the floor.

            “Let us begin!” Frisk saluted to Papyrus, who returned the gesture with an equally serious expression.

            And to work they went, solving puzzles with the power of teamwork.

  

 

****

 

            “cozy, huh?” Sans watched your eyes sparkle with curiosity, the warm lighting making your skin shine angelically. Sans guided you through the empty diner and up to the bar area. He pulled out a barstool for you to which you rolled your eyes fondly. Sans situated himself next, resting his elbows on the table and waiting for Grillby.

            “I like the music in here. It’s quiet so it’s not disruptive but also loud enough so we can hear it.” You smiled softly, propping up your elbows and resting your head in your hands, facing Sans. “I get why you like this place.”

            “s’ was a lot more lively before, well, ya’ know.” Sans pointed up, and shrugged, “but the charm is still very much here. too bad paps doesn’t like the food.”

            “Oh?”

            “too greasy, he said.” You rose a brow, and Sans nudged you playfully. “it’s good food. trust me. paps is hard to please.”

            “He literally eats spaghetti everyday for like every meal.” You said, eyes sparkling with laughter. “Does he actually know how to cook anything else?”

            “nah, undy–” Sans coughed, biting his metaphorical tongue. Oddly enough, you didn’t seem to catch the brief slipup and just waited. “it’s all he learned how to make. bought him a cook book but he prefers spaghetti. plus, it was easy to get before the barrier broke.”

            You hummed in acknowledgement just as the familiar crackling of flames entered from the back. Sans heard you take a sharp breath and turned to see you covering your mouth. He didn’t understand until he matched where you were looking and snorted. “yeah. gets most people the first time they see it.”

            Grillby settled in front of the two of you, glancing to see what you were staring at so intently. The fire exit. Grillby would sigh if he could, still mildly annoyed Sans installed that sign and refused to let him take it down.

            “hey, grillbs.” Sans patted your back gently, and you sat up straighter, nervousness making you frown. “this is, uh, __________.” Sans saw the meaningful look behind the glasses, “yeah, my soulmate.”

            “Hi!” You waved your hand, averting your gaze from the literal fire man. The crackling of a campfire echoed, and Sans nodded.

            “he says hi.” You turned to Sans in confusion. “humans can’t hear his voice, so, uh, i’ll translate.” Grillby bowed slightly in your direction, before grabbing a nearby glass and a towel. He gently cleaned the cup while you kept your curious stare on him.

            “Oh. Is that why you stayed below ground?” Grillby paused, turned to you, and lifted a hand to make a ‘so-so’ motion. “Okay, so like, one of the reasons.” He nodded. You seemed pleased with your way of communication, not needing Sans to be the go between. It was kind of endearing to see you take pride in something so simple.

            “most of the monsters that ended up staying are spread out. you might get to meet some if they wander into snowdin. most of them are located in waterfall and hotland, since lots of monsters native to snowdin ended up moving.” You nodded, a small smile forming. Sans figured you liked it when he gave you more information about the underground before the barrier broke, be it because of curiosity or something else he didn’t know.

            “oh yeah, grillbs,” Said monster raised his head, “two burgers and an order of fries. plus ketchup.” Sans winked with his right eye, and Grillby froze. You looked confused but didn’t comment on the sudden pausing of the man. To be fair, Sans himself wasn’t sure either, but the way Grillby relaxed after that initial pause seemed pleased so it probably wasn’t bad.

            “Are you two good friends?” You asked once Grillby went through the fire exit (you also tried not to laugh when he did).

            “heh, we go way back.” Sans chuckled when the crackling of flames echoed in the room. “okay, well, it was bumpy at first, since, well,” Sans rubbed the back of his neck, but figured the information wasn’t a secret, “paps didn’t like his food which wasn’t too bad since people have different tastes, but then i called him old.” You blinked, then muffled a laugh.

            “Sans, it’s rude to call someone old.” Although Grillby wasn’t in sight, Sans could hear the agreement.

            “eh, what can ya’ do?” Sans winked with a shrug, and continued, “paps came in here first and made it very known he didn’t like the food. but me, i love the food. i talked to grillby after paps left and figured out pretty quick the guy was a smart one. most people didn’t get my jokes back then, but grillby was a good audience.”

            Sans let his memories flow out, comfort in where he was and who he was with letting the fond emotions come out naturally. “my jokes got much simpler over time,” You snorted, “so i made a name for myself here. at least, with the regulars who liked my jokes.” Grillby at one point set out water for the two of you, which you drank out of after thanking him. “grillby ended up telling me stories from above ground, usually just to entertain me whenever i wandered into the store at night.” Sans tapped his phalanges against his glass of water briefly, looking to you and seeing your full attention on him. “it ended up slipping out. me calling him old, that is. to be fair, he absolutely was and still is but he wasn’t amused when i said it out loud.”

            Sans grinned when you looked absolutely amused by that fact. “it blew over once he got revenge, though. the whole underground went without ketchup for a week, and then magically reappeared the next.” Sans sighed, remembering the frustration. “even the ones supposedly full of wisdom can do some petty things.”

            Popping fire echoed in objection, but Sans just chuckled. You also looked mildly impressed after laughing. “we ended up in some kind of prank war before someone got caught in the crossfire and made us both stop. turns out super salty water makes dog monsters furious.”

            Sans just grinned as you laughed openly, at one point even holding your stomach. “What was the salt water even for!?”

            “uh, have you seen grillby?” Just as Sans spoke, said fire monster slammed two plates of food down onto the bar table and then another one just as passive aggressively. “hey, don’t give me that! i know you were the one who gave that dating book to papyrus and i’m still mad about that.” Sans pointed accusingly, to which Grillby just threw a ketchup bottle at his face. Sans recoiled but still caught it, all while your melodic laughter rang pleasantly.

            “Thanks for the food!” You smiled brightly, and Grillby bowed once more, before jumping when a phone ringing shocked him. Grillby excused himself and left through the exit again, leaving you and Sans to enjoy your meal.

            Sans was very pleased to see that you also enjoyed the food. “Holy hell, you’re so lucky you’re a skeleton and can’t gain weight.” Your eyes practically sparkled, “I would eat this every single day if it wasn’t so unhealthy.”

            “well, monster food is different from human food.” You stopped eating and rose a brow, cheeks puffed out from being full of burger. Sans shook his head fondly and grabbed a napkin, wiping off some of the ketchup on the side of your mouth. “nothing bad. it’s actually good for you. monster food heals you if prepped with magic, which grillby does. though, there’s no ‘filling’ property like regular food, so you’ll still be hungry even if you eat.”

            You continued to eat, staring at him so curiously. Sans loved having your undivided attention, and seeing you eating and being happy just made his soul warm. Sans dumped practically the whole ketchup bottle on his burger and then ate it relatively quickly, making no mess at all to your absolute shock.

            “What!? How did you get no mess anywhere?” You almost pouted, grabbing a fry and nibbling on it. “No matter how not dirty the food is I end up making a mess anyways.”

            “well, sweetheart,” Sans winked, “it’s magic.”

            “Say that to me again I dare you.” You pointed a fry at him menacingly, before the both of you broke down in laughter. Sans enjoyed the relaxed feeling, relishing in the simple joys of laughter and company. Fire interrupted his moment, though.

            Sans looked up when the cracking and popping of flames no longer sounded like a campfire, and instead like a forest burning. Grillby stood somewhat still, glancing to you before mimicking a sigh. Sans listened closely, eyes narrowing as the message of flames carried on longer. You figured Grillby was talking to Sans about something personal and minded your own business.

            “oh. that’s…interesting.” Sans finally spoke up, noticing your concerned gaze in his peripheral vision. “but, it’s none of my business.” Sans heard his own voice and wanted to die at how much it sounded like a lie. Yeah, not even you looked convinced and it’s not like you even understood what was going on.

            Sans kept his stare on Grillby, listening to the continual hissing of fire. Sans sighed, opened his mouth, then closed it. Sans kept his gaze on the monster, trying to figure out why and how Alphys contacted Grillby. Alphys must have gotten his number before moving aboveground. For what reason, Sans wasn’t sure. Either way, this was very inconvenient. More in the forefront though was the unsettled dread sitting in his chest. Deep down Sans knew. And it looks like Grillby saw through Sans' lie. At least he didn’t push it.

            “What’s up? You look down.” Sans turned to you and relaxed. At least you still gave him peace of mind and soul. “What did Grillby say?”

            “oh, it’s,” Sans glanced over to Grillby, and let his grin fall into a smaller smile, “well, it’s private. it’s nothing to worry about, sweetheart.” You looked at him, searching for a lie, and when you found nothing concerning you smile brightly.

            “Well, whatever it is, I hope everything works out.” You glanced at Sans, and then turned to Grillby. “The food was delicious. I’ll definitely harass Sans into taking me here as often as possible.” Your grin was contagious, and Sans chuckled when Grillby’s flames grew darker from embarrassment.

            Sans pushed the thoughts of what Grillby told him to the back of his mind. Whatever–whoever had broken into the ‘true lab’ wasn’t an ordinary monster. Sans had a hunch, but the thought itself was impossible. He would worry about it later. Grillby said there should be a voicemail from Alphys on his phone, so he could check later.

            “This was…nice.” You broke him from his thoughts, “I’m really happy we did this.” Your smile was soft and sweet, small with a hint of bashfulness. Sans wanted to clutch his chest at how cute it was.

            “me too, sweetheart.” Sans saw Grillby cleaning up at a distance and giving them privacy. “we should do this again.” You beamed, and Sans kind of wanted to shield his eye lights from the brightness of that smile.

            “See you, Grillby!” Sans lifted you off the stool and onto the ground, though you could do it yourself. Sans just liked to take care of you, and was thankful that you never complained when he did. Grillby waved in return, glancing to Sans before continuing his cleaning. With a sigh, Sans opened the door to the outside, letting the chime ring freely.

            You rushed out the door and spun, eyes alight with something beautiful. You looked so alive and happy. You outstretched a hand, waiting for Sans to take it. He stepped forward and let his much larger hand encompass yours.

            Sans hoped this peacefulness would last.

 

 

****

 

 

            “STAY HERE, FOR I AM ON DINNER DUTY!” Papyrus proclaimed after Frisk’s stomach growled loudly. With a laugh Frisk paused the movie they were watching on the laptop (though there was no internet besides the UnderNet, the computer had a DVD player so they could still watch things) and nodded. Papyrus made his way out of the fort and gave Frisk a salute.

            Frisk giggled to themselves, getting comfortable in the blankets and sighing softly. It was like heaven. They let their mind wander, childish wonderings following any positive emotion or thought. Even though Frisk could never truly be a child again, they could at least give themselves the leeway to act like one.

            After all, Frisk would not reset again so they would finally grow up. Frisk frowned, not liking the idea very much. They enjoyed being a kid. They didn’t want to worry about adult stuff like jobs and work.

            …wait.

            Frisk would probably stay underground, so they wouldn’t have to worry about all that garbage! Yeah! Frisk cheered mentally with a fist bump. After more time snuggling into the pillows, they needed to use the restroom. It took a while to convince themself to actually get up and leave the comfortable place.

            Frisk shuffled out of the fort and smiled when they heard Papyrus humming cheerily, the sound of water boiling now clear. They didn’t want to interrupt Papyrus and quietly trotted upstairs to the nearest restroom. Business finished, Frisk washed their hands and was ready to get cozy again. They were also hungry, so hopefully Papyrus would finish making the food soon. They hummed a little tune from their memory and opened the door, shuffling down the stairs and returning to the living room.

            Then they froze.

            It felt…especially tense. Frisk blinked owlishly, then turned their head to find the source of their discomfort. It was Papyrus. He was just standing there, staring, holding a large bowl. Frisk tilted their head, wondering what his expression was.

            “FRISK…?”

            “Yeah, Papy?” Frisk smiled, unaware of the skeletons inner torment.

            “WHY ARE YOU OUT OF THE FORT?” Papyrus gripped onto the bowl harder, a crack splitting on one corner of the bowl. Frisk flinched, but kept a smile as they furrowed their brows.

            “I just went to the bathroom. Is something wrong–?”

            “YOU DIDN’T TELL ME.”

            “Oh. Was I gone for that long?” Frisk relaxed, “Do you want me to help with dinner? I can help smoosh the tomatoes for the sauce!” Frisk clapped their hands together, not liking the look on Papyrus’s face. But the skeleton didn’t move, eye lights still trained on Frisk. Frisk moved forward. “Let me help.”

            “GET IN THE FORT.” Papyrus didn’t move, eye lights flickering out. His voice was loud in a way Frisk had never heard.  Frisk didn’t move, too scared to even breathe. “N O W.” Their soul thudded painfully, and Frisk barely contained their tears as they bolted back into the fort they made. Once inside Frisk clutched their chest, breathing heavily. The pressure in the room before disappeared.

            What was that? Frisk sniffled, but covered their mouth with their hand to stop any audible cries. He scared them. Papyrus scared Frisk. They hiccupped, not knowing what they did wrong. Papyrus looked so angry, but they didn’t even do anything! Why was he so upset? They just wanted to help!

            “…Frisk?” Frisk heard shuffling from outside, and slowly lifted their head. Papyrus had crouched down, and was peeking his head through the opening in the fort. He looked guilty, face dropped in a frown with orange tears welling in his eyes. “I’m–I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I just–I just had this thought that you–you–and–and when I saw you outside I just–”

            “Why did you yell at me?” Frisk didn’t hide their crying anymore. They were upset. Papyrus slumped further, somehow.

            “I didn’t mean to. It…something in my soul just burst out and I couldn’t–I couldn’t stop it and I’m so sorry Frisk I know that was probably really scary and I–I–” Papyrus rubbed a hand over his face, lingering where the scar over his eye was. “I just don’t want to be too late again.”

            It was silent. The two stared at each other, an unspoken meaning carrying across. Frisk sighed, “You weren’t late, though.” Frisk caught on to what he was talking about, but was still just as confused as before. “Papyrus, you saved me.”

            “NO, YOU GOT HURT!” Papyrus sucked air through his teeth, then lowered his voice again to that same quiet tone. “I…I almost lost you. I could have died too, Frisk. I was stupid. I was naïve and thought that I, The Great Papyrus, could perhaps spare and even change the minds of those…those…villains.”

            “But we’re both alive and safe now. There’s nothing to be guilty about.”

            “I know. I know.” Papyrus smiled softly, “It’s a bit more complicated. Next time when you go somewhere could you tell me? It seems dumb, I know, but, perhaps you understand why I feel this way.”

            Frisk didn’t. But, well, Papyrus is always so nice so why reject such a simple request? “Okay.” Frisk rubbed away their tears, and nodded. Papyrus looked relieved, but still guilty. “Can I help you make dinner now?”

            “Of course!” Papyrus extended a hand, and helped Frisk out of the fort. “Because even I! THE GREAT PAPYRUS! NEEDS A WORTHY ASSISTANT TO HELP WITH THE MAKING OF SPAGHETTI!”

            Frisk giggled, and their soul felt much better to.

            …uh...?

            Frisk blinked. They just noticed how much everything smelled like…maple syrup?

 

 

****

 

            Sans wasn’t expecting much when he returned home.

            “AH! I THINK I HEARD THE DOOR! STAY HERE.” Papyrus appeared out of the pillow and blanket fort in the living room with a smile, and then frowned. “YOU ARE STILL WEARING???? THAT????” Sans heard you laugh, but he was just a tad bit distracted.

            “Hey, I happen to be a very stylish person and this is the newest fashion trend.” You posed flamboyantly, fluttering your eyelashes. It was great. Hilarious, even. Unfortunately, he couldn’t focus because of the overwhelming amount of magic that is located everywhere.

            “papyrus.” Sans cut off Papyruses reply to you, “uh, what’s with the, uh…” Sans gestured around but only got a confused look in response. With a sigh, Sans rubbed a hand down his face, realizing his brother did not understand what was going on. “never mind.”

            “Did you guys make some pancakes or something? It smells like maple syrup(?) or something, I can’t make it out.” You scrunched up your nose slightly, not looking bothered but just curious. Sans wanted to bang his head against a wall, especially once Frisk popped their head out from the–honestly adorable–fort.

            “You smell it too!?” Frisk scrambled to their feet, but before rushing over to you glanced to Papyrus. Papyrus nodded briefly and Frisk ran to SS at full speed. “Maybe it’s some kind of underground thing or whatever. It smells super great.” Sans glanced at Papyrus, and mustered as much absolute doneness in his gaze. Papyrus responded with a confused ‘NYEH?’.

            “I guess. By the way, amazing fort. Love it. 10/10. Impeccable form.” Frisk giggled, hugging you around the waist. Frisk lifted their head to look up at you, still hugging your waist tightly. You made a face, before making a strange choking sound and grabbing your chest. “Oh. Oh no. Too cute. I’m going to die.” Frisk laughed again, now nuzzling you.

            Sans thought your interactions with Frisk were adorable and wanted to pay full attention but he was still very much distracted because papyrus imprinted the inside of the whole fucking house with magic. And Papyrus said Sans was the one getting carried away. He only marked you with his magic, not a whole fucking building like some territorial animal–

            “oh.” Sans wanted the void to swallow him. This is his punishment. This is what he gets for never giving Papyrus ‘the talk’. He knows for sure Papyrus has no clue since a monster can’t sense their own magic the same way others can. This was just overkill, though. If even humans can notice the magic then it’s incredibly strong. Papyrus had to have been exuding large amounts of territorial magic the whole time Sans and you were gone.

            Honestly. Thank the heavens that he and Papyrus were related, otherwise his first instinct would be to get the hell away from this place. Sans had completely forgotten that Papyrus most likely gained a lot of magic through his rendezvous with bad humans.

            It’s official. This family is completely out of control. Also, since when did skeletons fall under this super animalistic category? Did he miss the memo? Marking a soulmate was common in most monster species, but marking territory was for the more beastly and feral monsters, like dog and feline types. Why was Papyrus, of all monsters, acting feral!?

            What happened when he and you were gone!?

            Also, Sans definitely saw the brief moment Frisk and Papyrus shared before Frisk left the fort. It looked like Frisk was asking for permission to leave. Permission. To leave. A fucking. Fort. A fort made from pillows and blankets. Sans was dying on the inside. Really. Truly. It was only a matter of time before he bashed his skull against the wall until it broke.

            Was he being unfair? Yeah, probably. But at least, at least he knew of his own ministrations. Sans couldn’t even be mad for heaven’s sake, because Papyrus doesn’t know better. He prayed to whatever deity, whatever higher power that’s out there for some kind of guidance because he sure as hell needed it.

            “You’re making a dumb face.” Frisk pointed rudely at Sans.

            “can it, tater tot.” Sans whipped his skull around and glared at them. You apparently found that hilarious, since his favorite song that which is your laughter sounded. Not his most creative nickname, honestly. He was kind of in a bind.

            “Papy and I were in the middle of watching a movie.” Frisk tugged on your arm, grinning, “Join us! Join us!” Frisk then turned to Sans with a cheeky grin, “You to! Come on! Movie night!”

            “What’s the movie?” You pretended to be deciding whether or not you wanted to go in, stroking your chin in a mock thinking pose. “My standards are very high. If the movie is not of acceptable quality or the plot is weak I must decline. Intricate plotlines and heavy symbolism attract me, anything below that complexity is subpar. You see, in my years of movie watching, I became quite good at knowing the true meaning behind the moving pictures that form these wonder inducing stories–”

            “Ratatouille.” Frisk blinked.

            “Sold.” You deadpanned. Frisk laughed hysterically, doubling over and wheezing while you dragged them back to the living room. Sans reached out, to say something or to at least stop whatever was happening, but just sighed instead. Papyrus lifted the blanket that covered the entrance of the fort and let the two in. He then looked up to Sans with a single raised brow bone, bright smile still present.

            “COME ON!”

            “uh, i’ll be right there. gotta…take care of somethin' real quick.”

            “Don’t take long, baby blue!” You poked your head out with a shit–eating grin, and Sans had just enough self-control to stop himself from grabbing you and–

            “NYEH HEH HEH!! QUITE THE NICKNAME IF I SAY SO MYSELF!!” Papyrus, though sounding completely unironic and innocent, had a smile that seemed way to self-aware for that to be true. No, Papyrus was definitely enjoying his suffering.

            “Thanks. I came up with it myself. I haven’t decided between ‘baby blue’ and ‘blue kitten’.” You rubbed your chin in fake thought once more. “Ah, a difficult decision. Both are wonderfully constructed and original.”

            “Kitten?” Frisk popped their head out of the fort, a stupid grin on their face.

            “Yeah! Whenever he gets really happy or flustered or something sometimes he makes this purring sound and it’s so cute–”

            “that’s my cue!” Sans shuffled at an abnormally fast pace up the stairs, “i’ll be back.” He ignored the laughter from behind him. He also heard you repeating ‘I’ll be back’ in a strangely deep voice.

            Sans made it to his room and closed the door behind him. His face was flushed and he wanted to curl up forever in a ball of embarrassment. He’d get revenge on you for that. Sans chuckled slightly to himself, remembering the domestic sight downstairs. It was heartwarming to see his family so happy.

            The decision to come underground was perfect.

            …

            Sans blinked, finally noticing the weight in his pocket. It felt heavier, and he knew why. Sans exhaled, and plucked the phone from his pocket and looked at it. Should he even bother checking? For all he knew this could be a ploy to trick him into some experiment and possibly get separated from–

            stop.

            deep breath.

            …

            The rising static in the room faded. He needed to be more careful with his thought process. Sans begrudgingly opened the phone and checked the voicemails. Low and behold, the name ‘ALPHYS’ stared back at him. Mockingly, almost. He debated even listening to it but eventually gave in.

            Sans lifted the phone to his ear, the timid voice immediately rushing out.

 

-I don’t know i–if you w–w–will even get this, b–but p–please just listen for a bit

 

            There was shuffling in the background.

 

-Somebody has broken into the true lab. And I–I have a h–hunch. I c–can’t read some of this, but m–maybe you can. I, uh,

           

            A distinct sound of papers being arranged, perhaps the flipping through of a folder containing information.

            

-So, I found a bunch of data a while ago. N–Notes, that is. From a s–skeleton monster, I think

 

            Sans inhaled sharply.

 

-It’s why I–I came to apologize, that day, because, well, um, I realized, um, that, uh, skeletons are kind of, well, different? N–Not in a bad way!...n–necessarily. T–Thats beside the point! I–I think you know w–where I’m going with this. Since, well, the only people who h–have access to the lab, are, well, royal scientists.

 

            It’s impossible.

 

-I have to go, but, please, just, go. Check the lab. The true lab. Please. N–Not for me, I know I messed up but, but for your, uh, your family? Yeah. I won’t bother you guys again, I just h–had to warn you. Somebody is down there, and they haven’t left. Security cameras are all just s–static. No visible information on the intruder.

 

            How is this happening?

 

-I’m...sorry for everything. U-Undyne is to, we won’t bother you, or anyone else anymore. Please, please just, please go and check. I don’t know the goal or purpose of the intruder but I’m not naïve enough to think everything will turn out fine or whatever. I know t–tt  - ha tha– ––th- -  - ai–od----- -    - 

 

            Sans held the phone away from his ear, grimacing at the sudden static. He went to stop the voicemail when the garbling static became familiar.

 

-I T ‘ S   R U D E   T O   T A L K   A B O U T   S O M E O N E   W H O ‘ S   L I S T E N I N G.

 

            Sans threw the phone across the room, eye lights blown wide. The trembling in his bones was from an emotion beyond fear. He rushed out of his room, leaving the phone, and bolted down the stairs to check on his family. Panic coursed through his soul, but when he saw the blankets and pillows, and heard the laughter and banter, the sour feelings faded to the background.

            It’s okay. Everything is fine.

            They’re safe. All of them. He can hear their voices. They are happy and safe.

            Sans looked down at his own hands, vision blurry. No tears fell, but the nausea made his steps stumble and trip. The vertigo from the whiplash of information made the world around him tilt and bend oddly. Reality was falling briefly, error and warnings muddling his once clear thoughts.

            The memories pushed and locked away tried to break free. The memories have been gone for far too long to be recalled so easily. But the sound of a specific voice, and the language that spoke in hands connected the wavering dots that couldn’t part.

            This wasn’t what he wanted. But he should have known something was coming. The clouds of reminders shook him, flaunting menacing facts that prodded his conscience. He’d forgotten something–something that he wished to stay in the dark about.

            Sans always remembered resets. As far as he was aware, at least. This falls so far back in the timeline that it seems to come from a different story entirely. Now he had to make a decision. The plan was simple and execution the same. But he would have to leave this house. 

            ...

            He would have to travel.

            …

            He would have to go to Hotland.

            …

            He would have to confront his f a t h e r.