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The Skeleton Medley

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It was just the beginning of October when everything went wrong with the machine hidden in the depths of the skeleton brothers' basement, and their lives were changed forever. The leaves had just started falling, but it wasn't quite cold enough for those pumpkin-spiced lattes just yet. Halloween decorations were spread out throughout the log cabin you shared among them. Most of them were set up by you and your roommate, Papyrus, while his brother either slept the day away or happily watched on as his two favorite people eagerly chatted about hosting a Halloween party towards the end of the month.

Currently, you are happily two months into your junior year at Ebott University. The school's marching band was easily taking up most of your life, but you gritted your teeth and rose through the ranks of chairs, quickly capturing the attention of your music professors. As a music major with a focus on instrumental and vocal (and being a member of the musical theatre club), there wasn't a single instrument you couldn't play, song you couldn't sing, nor dance you couldn't, well, dance, meaning you were pretty athletic, too. You had big dreams, but the future was still kind of fuzzy for you. 

First of all, you knew you wanted to be famous one day, but you didn't know how. Would you stand under the spotlight and star on Broadway or would you be in a professional orchestra that toured the world? Or maybe you would start your own band and confidently stroll through the streets of Hollywood with an over-priced iced coffee in your hand and sunglasses on your face that only fell down when you bullied a minimum-wage worker at Subway, asking, "Do you know who I am?" when they didn't let you cut in front of the line. 

Secondly, you weren't even from Ebott. You were a small town person, born and raised on your parents strawberry farm, and since you've gone against their wishes and moved out, you didn't have that much money. If it wasn't for wonderful scholarships, small performing gigs at the local bar/club Jupiter, your job at the coffee shop, and your monster roommates' lenient rent (they owned the cabin, you didn't), you'd probably be living in a box. And not even a good box. The one with holes and sour stains. 

During your freshmen year, before you met Sans and Papyrus, this was exactly what you thought would end up happening since dorm space was limited, and you were too busy stressing and waiting on your paycheck that you missed the housing deadline for the next semester. To top it off, you weren't expecting to not stay on campus, so you missed the wait lists for all of the affordable apartments in the area. The rests were so ridiculously high that you decided not to bother. You almost had to swallow your pride and call you dad, telling that he was right about how the big-bad-college-life just wasn't for you while asking if there was still room left for work on the strawberry farm when two monster brothers strolled into your shop and changed your life forever. 

It was nearly two years ago, when the barrier broke, and monsters were announced to the world as an actual species that no one knew jack about. You were in Ebott when it happened, working at the previously-mentioned coffee shop while debating on calling your dad. You watched the Monster King and Queen, two of the most beautiful goat creatures you've ever seen on the flat-screen resting on the wall for the customers. Your boss, with her mouth gaping,  turned up the volume while some customers turned over their chairs and raced for the doors, shouting things such as "No way!" and "I gotta see this for myself!" or the ever-popular "SHIT WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!" 

On the screen, there was ten-year-old in a striped sweater leading a small group of monsters down the mountain's rocky trail. Frisk hadn't even lost all of their baby teeth before they were declared the Monster Ambassador, while you were nineteen at the time, trying to figure out how to use the can opener your mom sent you in her last care package. 

And then the excitement died down a bit after a week. Monsters started setting up their own businesses and homes. Equality-laws were put into place. All the good stuff. 

You were nineteen when you met your new roommates.

+Two Years Ago+

Ding-ding! 

The door's bell chimed, signaling that the cafe had new customers. You were crouched down on the floor, behind the bakery display, working on restocking some of the pastries when your boss called from somewhere in the back. 

"(Y/N)! Customers!" 

Lost in thought about saying goodbye to your dreams and calling your dad, you shot up and immediately banged your head against a metal tray, sending it crashing against the floor while you hissed in pain.

"Ow--okay! I-I'll be out in just a minute!" You yelped, rubbing your head.

"s'no problem," a calm, tenor voice replied. "we're just wonderin' if we could set up some flyers outside your store."

You opened your mouth to answer, but your boss beat you to it. 

"Flyers for what?" she asked, not bothering to emerge from the back room.

"WHY, INVISIBLE HUMAN, WE'RE LOOKING FOR A NEW ROOMMATE!" A new energetic voice boomed, nearly causing you to drop the tray again. "FOR YOU SEE, MY BROTHER AND I HAVE RECENTLY BOUGHT A LOG CABIN UP IN THE WOODS. THE VIEW IS REALLY NICE, AND THE TREES REMIND ME OF SNOWDIN, BUT UH..." His voice softened. "It's kind of lonely up there, especially since the place is so big."

"tibia honest--" The louder voice groaned. "we were expecting some of our old friends to move in with us, but they're doin' their own thing right now. plus, havin' some extra cash--"

"AND COMPANY!" 

"--would be nice, too."

Your eyes widened. Did you luck finally change? Were these guys seriously looking for roommates for a luxury log cabin? That idea alone sounded way out of your price range, but damn it you were going to try everything you could think of before you had to move back to the strawberry farm. You put the tray on a nearby shelf and slowly started to stand up. 

Judging by the tone of your boss's voice, you could tell she had stopped listening a while ago. 

"Alright," she said. "You can put them outside in the front, but not on the windows or any place that's gonna cover the cafe's name."

"alright, cool."

"THANK YOU VERY MUCH, HUMAN! HAVE A GREAT DAY!" 

You rose from the counter just in time to hear the door chimed again as the guys left. You weren't able to see what your potential landlords might look like, but you did mumble a hasty "I'll be with you in just a moment" to the new customer who walked in. 

Man, those two were fast!

Not wanting to waste any more time, you careened over the counter and hit the ground running before bolting through the door. 

"W-wait!" You called, skidding on the sidewalk. "I want to ask you about--whoa."

At first, all you could see was a red scarf, and a costume that something that vaguely reminded you of Earthbound before you tilted your head up to meet the man's eyes. 

No. Wait. 

Eyesockets. You met two eye sockets, both of which were just beaming down on you.

This was a monster. A skeletal one, and none other than the Monsters' mascot, the beloved and great Papyrus. 

"WELL, HELLO THERE!" Papyrus boomed.

Your jaw dropped, and for a moment all you could do was stare at him, and Papyrus seemed to take your awkwardness as a bit of a 'Try not to Blink' challenge because he stopped posing and just stared back at you. Neither of you blinked until a shorter skeleton with a goofy grin and a blue hoodie stepped out from behind Papyrus. 

"heya," he said, shoving his hands in his pockets. "cat got your tongue, buddy?"

You choked on your words. "U-uh--"

"SANS!" Papyrus snapped his attention away from you. "DON'T TRY TO MAKE A PUN OUT OF THAT! THERE AREN'T ANY CATS NEARBY, SO THAT STATEMENT DOESN'T EVEN MAKE SENSE!"

"sorry pap," he winked. "i guess i made a meowstake."

You snorted, and Papyrus gave you a deadpanned look while Sans shot you a finger gun. 

"Oh my gosh," you said, shaking your head. "That was so bad."

"FINALLY, SOMEONE AGREES THAT YOUR JOKES ARE TERRIBLE. NOW, AS I WAS SAYING BEFORE WE HAD OUR STARING COMPETITION..." Papyrus straightened his scarf and held out a hand to you. "GREETINGS, HUMAN! I AM THE GREAT PAPYRUS. IT IS VERY NICE TO MEET YOU!"

Oh wow. This guy's energy was infectious, so you took his hand with a grin of your own. "Hi. I know who you. I've seen you on T.V., and I'm happy to say I'm a huge fan. My name's (Y/N), and I'm the barista at the coffee shop you just left."

Papyrus's hand flew to his face. "REALLY??" he gasped. "YOU'RE A FAN OF PAPYRUS?!"  

"Of course! I mean." You tugged on the end of your shirt. "It's hard to not like someone as great as you." 

"WOWIE!" He exclaimed. "I HAVE A FAN! AN ACTUAL FAN BESIDES MY BEST FRIEND FRISK, AND--WAIT!" He turned to you. "WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE FRIENDS WITH ME TOO?!"

"Well, actually, that's what I wanted to talk to you about." You clapped your hands. "I was kind of hoping that we could be more than just friends."

As soon as those words left your mouth, your eyes widened. Papyrus's mouth gaped open, and a pink tinge slowly crept up his face. Meanwhile, the shorter skeleton snorted. 

"Y-YOU WANT... T-TO--"

"OHMYGOSH, I MEANT THE FLYER!" you gasped, waving your hands like you could erase your embarrassment. "The roommate flyer! The one you just asked my boss about in the cafe! That's what I meant, not us--oh geez." You buried your hot face in your hands. "I already messed this up. Ugh."

"heh heh, relax kiddo." An arm rested on your shoulder, and you looked up to see Sans smiling at you, his white eye lights filled with humor. "we knew what'cha meant, right pap?"

"U-UH, YES, OF COURSE!" Papyrus stammered through his rosy cheeks, looking rather unsure.

You exhaled. "Well, sorry for the confusion, either way."

"no problem. but, uh." He released your shoulder and stuffed his hands inside of his hoodie. "you said you were interested in the flyer?" 

You nodded. "Yeah. Uh, long story short, I'm about to be homeless since I missed Ebott University's housing deadline, and I'd really appreciate a place to stay while I finish up my degree." 

"huh. a college kid. what'cha studying?"

"I'm currently a junior right now, but I'm hoping to finish up my Bachelor's in Music and apply for a Master's, too."

"YOU'RE A MUSIC MAJOR?" Papyrus exclaimed, now fully recovered from his embarrassment. "WOWIE! THAT'S SO COOL. DO YOU KNOW HOW TO PLAY INSTRUMENTS? OR SING?" 

You laughed. Oh boy, this sweet guy had no idea what you were capable of. Another grin crossed your face as you turned to face him.

"I'm a member of the marching band, concert band, jazz band, section leader of the saxophones, first chair in violin, lead performer in the dance and choreography club, and I do musical theater and acapella on the side," you exhaled. "There isn't a single instrument that I can't play."

Maybe that statement sounded a bit egotistical, but you worked your butt off to do what you loved since you could walk. It wasn't easy, but it was one of the few things that helped you roll out of bed in the morning. It was fun. It was your life. 

"WOW..." Papyrus gaped while his brother shot you an impressed look. "THAT'S A LOT OF THINGS."

"yep."

"IF YOU BECAME OUR ROOMMATE," Papyrus said. "THEN WHAT ARE THE ODDS THAT YOU WILL BE PRACTICING AT HOME?"

Oh. Did these guys have a noise problem? You could probably take your stuff outside if you needed to, but, well, no matter what you did, few things would be able to silence a brass instrument. 

"Uh... yeah. I'm a music major, so probably a lot. But if it's a problem I can always practice my stuff somewhere else, I guess." 

Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease don't say it's a problem. 

"NONSENSE! WE SKELETONS HAVE ALWAYS HAD A TASTE FOR MUSIC. IN FACT, MY BROTHER," he slapped Sans's back, causing him to stagger forward. "CAN PLAY THE TROMBONE!" 

You blinked. "But uh... that's a brass instrument with a mouthpiece. How can... I mean, he doesn't have any--"

"lips?" Sans chimed, giving you a mischevious grin. He wiggled his eyebrows. "eh, none that you know about buddy."

It took every fiber in your being not to laugh. Oh, but Sans could read your expression, and he shot you some finger guns. 

You cleared your throat as a smile slipped past your lips. "I'll take your word for it, dude." 

He snickered. "alright, so far, she's got my vote. what 'bout you, bro?"

"HMM..." Papyrus stroked his chin as he started walking around you, studying every detail he could find with a serious expression before stopping. He bent down and carefully watched your expression.

"I MUST ADMIT," he began. "THAT IN ADDITION TO HAVING A RATHER CHARMING PERSONALITY, AND BEING A FAN OF SOMEONE AS PERFECT AS ME, YOU SEEM TO HAVE A GREAT PASSION FOR MUSIC, WHICH TELLS ME THAT YOU HAVE A SOFT SPOT FOR THE ARTISTIC AND ABSTRACT SIDE OF LIFE."

Whoa. You suddenly felt like you were being interrogated, but you kept your head up. 

"Uh... thanks?"

"YOU'RE WELCOME. HOWEVER, THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS A SKELETON OF HIGH STANDARDS, STANDARDS THAT VERY FEW CAN EVER HOPE TO MEET. SO TELL ME, HUMAN..." he squinted. "WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE DELECTABLE DISH THAT IS SPAGHETTI?"

You heard Sans snort somewhere in the background, but you didn't dare to turn your gaze away from Papyrus. You decided to be honest. 

"Uh, well, pasta has always been one of my favorites, and I can cook it pretty well, so--"

In the next moment, Papyrus had you pulled into a bone-crushing hug. You gasped for air while he spun around to face his brother. 

"SHE MEETS ALL OF MY STANDARDS! LET'S MOVE HER IN NOW!"

"sure."

"Wait wait wait!" you winced. 

Papyrus set you down on the ground, and you patted his arm in appreciation while you caught your breath.

"I-I appreciate the offer, but uh, we gotta talk a little bit more before I can sign anything, much less go move my stuff out of my dorm." You straightened up. "So... you guys own the place, right? How much is rent, and does it cover utilities?" 

"WELL, NATURALLY, SANS AND I DECIDED THAT WE WOULD CHARGE YOU... ERM...? What did we decide again?"

"we didn't."

"OH. YES. WE NEVER DECIDED ON THAT MINOR DETAIL."

You deadpanned. "You guys didn't come up with a price?"

"nah," Sans waved his hand. "too much work."

"TO BE HONEST, WE CAME UP WITH THIS ROOMMATE IDEA ABOUT AN HOUR AGO."

Sans handed you a flyer. "'n pap made these about twenty minutes ago."

You took the flyer. It was a red and blue Crayola drawing of two smiling skeletons with a sketched-out log cabin with three trees in the background. The text on the bottom was also written in crayon, but it was illegible chicken-scratch. Confused, you looked up at Sans, and the guy had the audacity to wink at you.

"how 'bout this," Sans said, taking the paper out of your hand. "you tell us how much you can pay, and we'll go from there."

"GOOD IDEA, SANS!" 

"Well," you swallowed your pride. "I don't really have that much to offer, but my current budget says that I have room to spend a maximum of..."

You told them your them, and both of their eye sockets widened in shock.

"that's, uh..."

"REALLY NOT THAT MUCH." Papyrus finished for him, making you wince. 

"that's like the price of a small apartment, with, like, four roommates."

"IT COSTS NEARLY FOUR TIMES THAT TO RENT THE CABIN FOR A SINGLE NIGHT!" 

"I know, I know," you sighed, kicking away a rock. "But that's really all I got right now. Like, I'm nineteen, and I just moved to the city to study music. Scholarships cover almost all of my schooling, but then books cost a bunch even though I get them off of Amazon and Chegg at good prices, and then there's gas, and food, and uniform and instrument repairs... I mean, I technically have two jobs, but at the coffee shop I make minimum wage, and I'm not even full time there because of school and all of the activities I'm involved in. And the other one is more like..." You popped your cheek. What term best described your performances at the local bar/club Jupiter? "Freelancing? I only go there on Fridays for, like, four hours unless there's an event going on. And they mostly pay me in tips there."

Both brothers said nothing and continued to stare at you with blank expressions, with Papyrus's borderlining on pity. Your stomach churned, and you realized that they were trying to politely decline your offer. It made sense. Sans was right: your budget was more suited for a small apartment, not a five-star cabin.

With a tight smile, you began to open your mouth and blab out another apology for wasting their time when Sans locked eyes with his brother.

"well?" he hummed. "what do you think, papyrus?"

Papyrus placed his hands on his hips. "HONESTLY, SANS, DO YOU EVEN HAVE TO ASK?"

"well, in that case..." Sans held out his hand. "welcome to the club, roomie." 

You blinked at his hand, then at Papyrus's excited expression, and Sans's smirking one. Then at his hand again.

"What." Was all you managed to say. 

Sans winked. "tiba honest--"

"THAT'S THE SECOND TIME IN THE PAST TEN MINUTES YOU'VE USED THAT PUN!"

"--we weren't really interested in the money, as you can tell," he mused. "pap and i got enough of that from the gold we sold, and we both got jobs. we just figured we should do something about the extra space. maybe rent out a room or two." 

"OR ALL TEN!" 

"uh... no."

"AND WE WANTED SOME NICE COMPANY!" 

"that part 's true. walkin' around a big empty lodge at night can really scare me outta my skin."

"OH MY--BROTHER PLEASE!"

"So?" they both said in unison. Sans was still holding his hand out while his brother mouthed the words "SAY YES!" 

You studied the situation once more. You could either accept the help of a pair of skeleton brothers you just met and live with them for a cheap cost all alone up in the mountain, miles away from the city and everyone you knew as you continued pursuing your dreams, or give everything up, admit defeat to your dad, and accept that you're destined to forever work on the family's strawberry farm?

...

This could be either the dumbest or the greatest decision you ever made. You might even end up dead after this, but it was a chance your stupid, desperate butt was willing to take. 

You took Sans's hand and opened your mouth to express your long speech about how grateful you are when--

PFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTtttttttttzzzzz... zzz..

.. .

 

 

 

 

"...REALLY, SANS." Papyrus deadpanned. "YOU REALLY DID THAT." 

"yep."

"IS THAT THE SAME OLD WHOOPEE CUSHION YOU USED IN THE UNDERGROUND?"

"yep."

"I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU! NOW SHE'S NOT GONNA WAIT TO STAY WITH US--" Papyrus stopped when he saw you laughing. 

"Oh my gosh," you giggled.

The shit-eating grin on Sans's face grew as he winked at you. "nah," he said to Papyrus. "i have a feelin' she'll get used to them."

"Wow. I can't believe this. One of my roommates is the Monsters' mascot, and the other one is a comedian." you said, retrieving your hand from his whoopee-cushion handshake. And suddenly, an idea crossed your mind, and you turned to the skeleton, shooting him a pair of finger-guns. "I guess that means you're a real comic, Sans."

You'd never seen a skeleton double-over and wheeze before. You'd also never seen the energetic Papyrus look so betrayed, but you know you caught him smiling under his hand. And when Sans finally pulled himself off the floor and wiped away his tears, well, you knew it was going to be a beautiful friendship among the two of them. 

As it turns out, monsters' previous currency was gold, which most of them--including the Skeleton bros.--were super, unbelievably rich. Since they really didn't need the money that much and got along with you pretty well, they accepted your payment on the condition that you helped clean up a little sometimes, which, like, you were gonna do anyway. Plus, they both seemed to really appreciate your company. It was a smooth ride from there. 

You packed the few things you owned into your old, rickety black jeep and moved in the following weekend, taking up the strangely vacant master bedroom on the third floor, aka, the only bedroom on the third floor, which gave you lots of privacy. The glowing lights of the city dimmed in your rearview mirror as your headlights bore into the forest paths that led up the mountain.  

+Present Day+

And here you are now, two years later in October, chilling on the living room's huge sofa with both of your roommates, watching the first few episodes of Mettaton's new Halloween series on the flat screen, which mostly featured him reacting some old fable tales but with his crazy own spin. In this one, he was Little Red Riding Hood, but instead of a basket, he was carrying a chainsaw in an attempt to hunt down the Big Bad Wolf, who was also Mettaton, all the while protecting the sweet grandma who, and you guessed it, was none other than Mettaton. 

Surprisingly, it was really good. You and Papyrus cried when Mettaton killed Mettaton while Mettaton watched from the distance, secretly betraying Mettaton in order to fulfill a vow avenge Mettaton.

The digital clock on the fireplace read 10:32 P.M. It was dark outside, and the cloudy sky hid the stars from the view of the cabin's large windows. All of the lights were off, and the only sounds either came from the TV or some quick comments or jokes from your group. A bowl of warm popcorn sat in your lap, and you popped another piece in your mouth without taking your eyes off of the TV. Your feet rested in Papyrus's lap, and your back was pressed against Sans's shoulder. He hand on arm resting on the couch, and every now and then his fingers would lightly brush against your hair. A discarded blanket laid on the floor, right next to Sans's abandoned sock that you and Papyrus had begged him to pick up since you moved in. 

It was just another night when everything went wrong. 

The credits began to roll on the screen.

"WOWIE!" Papyrus said. "ANOTHER AMAZING PERFORMANCE FROM METTATON!" 

"The lasers were pretty cool," you hummed.  

"OF COURSE! EVERYONE LOVES LASERS!" 

"Can't argue with that."

You leaned your head back against Sans's hoodie and peered up at the dozing skeleton. A single white eye light focused on you.

"Hey, lazybones." You grinned. "You still with us, or are you half asleep?"

Sans chuckled and slowly started to rise off of the couch, and you sat up to give him space. 

"nah," he said. "i was awake during the entire show."

"THAT'S NOT TRUE!" Papyrus said. "YOU STARTED SNORING WHEN METTATON KIDNAPPED METTATON!" 

"eh, what can i say. i'm bone-tired, and i have a skele-ton of work to do tomorrow." 

"SANS!" Papyrus yelled while you giggled. 

"You going to bed already?" you asked, and he nodded.

"yeah. you guys go ahead and enjoy the rest of the series, though." He winked. "don't let this old bag of bones keep ya crazy teens from tearing up the town."

You punched his shoulder. "First of all, you're not that much older than me. And second of all..." You pouted. "What else are we supposed to do if we can't go out and commit blatant vandalism?"

"(Y/N)! WE WOULD NEVER DO SUCH A THING!"

"So if I tried to go out an spray paint the abandoned parking deck on Fourth avenue, you would stop me?"

"W-WELL, I MEAN, AS IRRESPONSIBLE AS THAT SOUNDS, YOU'RE AN ADULT, AND I CAN'T REALLY STOP YOU UNLESS I--"

"So you're saying you would join me?" You wiggled your eyebrows and watched as the usually confident skeleton turned fifty shades of pink. 

"N-NO! I MEAN, WELL, IF IT WASN'T OWNED BY ANYONE, AND IF YOU REALLY WANTED ME TO, THEN I GUESS, ERM..."

Both of you turned your heads at the sound of Sans's soft laughing. He ruffled your hair affectionately before bidding the both of you goodnight. Before he could move away, you quickly pulled him into a hug.

"Goodnight, Sans," you breathed against the side of his head. In a lower voice, you added. "I know you haven't been sleeping well, and I don't know what's been keeping you up, but... Please, don't forget to take care of yourself."

You pulled away and met Sans's wide and bright eyes. A blue hue rested on his cheekbones, and his hands lingered on your waist. For a second, he looked like he wanted to say something, but then his eyes shifted to his brother, and he relaxed and released you. 

"yeah, (y/n). thanks, i just..." he let out a humorless chuckled. "thanks."

And with another round of goodnights to his brother, Sans took one step forward and disappeared. 

You leaned back into the couch started to pull up the blanket from the floor when you noticed Papyrus was staring at you. 

"What?"

He smiled, and you saw something twinkle in his eye sockets. "NOTHING! IT'S JUST, WELL..." His voice softened. "You're a nice person, and I'm glad that my brother and I are friends with someone like you."

You faked a disgusted face and crossed your arms before throwing yourself back into the cushions. "Pft! I am not a nice person. I am the bitterest person on the planet! I hate everything!" 

"THAT IS NOT TRUE! WHAT KIND OF TERRIBLE PERSON SLEEPS IN HALLOWEEN THEMED PAJAMAS!?" He pointed. 

You looked down at the cartoon ghosts sketched out on against your sweatpants. They were your favorite pair, and not only did they look super-rad, but they were also designed by yours and Papyrus's favorite actor, Mettaton. Actually, the sweatpants were a gift from Papyrus from last Christmas. 

"A terrible person with good tastes!" you retorted, trying your best to maintain an angry voice but, well, failing after remembering that previous thought. 

"WELL, IF YOU'RE BAD, THEN I MUST BE EVIL, WHICH CANNOT BE TRUE BECAUSE I AM A GREAT! SKELETON!" 

You giggled and tossed him part of your blanket, inviting him to cuddle with you, which he eagerly accepted. 

"I can't argue with that logic, Pap. Now..." You leaned over Papyrus and grabbed the remote off of a nearby coffee table, all the while completely missing his flustered face. 

"Are you ready to make bad decisions by staying up all night and binge-watching all four seasons of Mettaton: Robot vs. the Creatures of the Night even though we have to get up early?"

"ACTUALLY HUMAN, YOU NEED SLEEP, BUT I DON'T. DID YOU FORGET THAT I ONLY SLEEP FOR ONE HOUR EVERY NIGHT?"

"Oh yeah."

"AND DID YOU FORGET THAT, FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS THAT YOU'VE BEEN WITH US, YOU'VE NEVER ONCE STAYED UP FOR A FULL NIGHT? YOU ALWAYS FALL ASLEEP AFTER THE SECOND EPISODE!" 

"Well--"

"YOU DROOL ALL OVER THE COUCH."

"I--"

"AND YOU START TALKING IN YOUR SLEEP AND FREAKED SANS OUT THAT ONE TIME--"

"Okay, okay! I get it." You ran a hand through your hair, but there was a small smile on your face. "I'm a weirdo who's all talk and no bite."

Suddenly, a gloved hand gently grabbed your wrist, and you looked over at Papyrus's surprisingly serious face. 

"YOU ARE NOT WEIRD!" He said. "(Y/N), THOSE ARE JUST SOME OF THE THINGS THAT MAKE YOU SPECIAL. THEY'RE NOT BAD. THEY'RE JUST PART OF WHO YOU ARE."

Your face softened. "Papyrus..."

"AND WHEN YOU INEVITABLY FALL ASLEEP, I WON'T JUDGE YOU, NOR BRAG ABOUT HOW I WAS RIGHT ABOUT YOU NOT BEING ABLE TO STAY UP PAST YOUR BEDTIME."

"Oh yeah?! Well, I hate to disappoint you, but I'm gonna stay up allll night! Now, hurry up and put the show on!"

You were asleep halfway through the first episode, and after Papyrus peeled your clinging form off of his body, be nudged your face and whispered, "I told you so." Then, with great care, he gently placed the blanket over you before heading upstairs to his bedroom, just like he did every time you fell asleep on the couch. 

The cabin was quiet. 

It was just around midnight when everything went wrong.

+++

It took you a few minutes to realize that you weren't dreaming and that the sounds of metal clashing and people arguing were real. Still, you tried to bury your face in the pillow. Noises like these were rather odd in the cabin, and you silently wondered if Papyrus left the TV on.

Bang... 

A few low voices. You kept your eyes closed.

Bang... bang...

The voices were louder. Someone was yelling, but it was muffled. That's... odd. Were Sans and Papyrus fighting?

 Bang... bang... bangbangbangBANG--

BANG!

With a shriek, you fell off the couch, tangling yourself in your blanket. You quickly freed your limbs and shoved it away, spinning wildly around the room as you searched for the sound.

The TV was off. The room was dark, except for a strand of light peering out from the Full Moon. There wasn't any sign of your roommates. You were completely alone. 

Immediately, adrenaline flooded through your veins. Those sounds were real, and they were coming from the end of the dark hallway. The one place that you had never explored since both brothers assured you that it was just there for storage. 

The basement.

Dread filled your mind. Oh gosh, your dad told you that the crazy people came out during a Full Moon, but you never figured that someone would actually try to break into this random cabin out in the middle of the woods! What were you gonna do? What were Sans and Papyrus--

Wait. 

Sans and Papyrus. 

Your fists clenched. If someone broke in, they wouldn't have left you, so where were they? Were they hurt? Were they safe? Sleeping? 

BOOOOOMMMM!!!

Something loud and powerful shook the cabin, and you nearly lost your balance. In the kitchen, you could hear the sounds of glass breaking as some of the cabinets opened, releasing its contents. Immediately, you recognized the strange static feeling in the air that you had previously neglected. 

Magic. 

Whatever was going on down there was magic related, and it was strong enough to start a mini-earthquake. 

But why did it feel familiar? It almost reminded you of--

Oh no. 

You knew this feeling. The electric hums in the air were clustered and disorganized, but you recognized two very distinct tempos. One was an energetic, confident rhythm you felt nearly every week when you trained with Papyrus, and the other was one that you only heard once since you moved in with the brothers, and that was back when that crazy drunk guy threatened you at work in front of Sans. The combination of these cadences mixed with the unfamiliar ones only meant one thing. 

They were fighting monsters. Multiple, strong monsters. 

And they were angry.

Something burned in your chest, and you quickly tore your eyes away from the exit and back towards the living room in search of a weapon. Out of the corner of your eyes, something reflected the moonlight. 

It was your electric guitar. You forgot it was down here. You were trying to teach yourself the cover of a song before the skeleton brothers came home and demanded you join them for dinner. The thing was worth nearly a thousand dollars, and it was one of the most expensive items you owned. You wouldn't be able to afford to purchase a new one until you finished graduate school, but that didn't matter right now. Right now, your friends were in danger, and you. Had. A. Damn. Electric. Guitar. 

And when that guitar was angled the right way...

It could fuck a bitch up.

Without another thought, you grabbed the guitar and began your descent down the stairs. Like a cat stalking its prey, your bare feet landed on each step with caution, yet your pace was reasonably moderate. The sooner you found the brothers, the better. 

The arguing and crashing sounds never once ceased, but as you grew closer to the door, their shouts became easier to make out. A wave of relief washed over you when you heard Papyrus and Sans's protests, but a wave of confusion washed over you when you realized that the other voices sounded... similar to theirs. Not quite the same nor accent, nor tone, nor dialect, but close enough to where your pitch-sensitive ears noticed. 

"PLEASE! YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN! AND--HEY! PUT ME DOWN!" 

"WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?!"

"put him down!"

"someone better start fuckin' talkin' before i blow this place up."

"WOWIE! BROTHER, THEY LOOK JUST LIKE US! EXCEPT MORE MUDER-Y!"

"yeah, let's, uh, let's just go over here..."

"nope. sorry, bud, but i'ma need ya to stay here for a little longer."

"i don't think you get to decide that, bud."

"MUTT, WHERE THE HELL ARE WE, AND WHY DO THESE MISCREANTS LOOK LIKE PATHETIC COPIES OF US!?"

"dunno, m'lord."

"WELL, FIND OUT, YOU WELP! BREAK THEIR ARMS IF YOU HAVE TO. I DON'T CARE!"

"yes, m'lord."

"DON'T TOUCH HIM!"

"DO YOU WANNA FIGHT, BRAT?! I'M THE CAPTAIN OF THE ROYAL GUARD!"

"SO AM I!"

"get 'em, boss."

"PLEASE STOP! THERE'S NO NEED FOR ANY MORE FIGHTING! JUST CALM DOWN, AND I'M SURE SANS WILL EXPLAIN EVERYTHING!" 

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, SANS? MY BROTHER DOESN'T KNOW A DAMN THING!"

"b-boss!"

"WELL, DON'T ASK ME! I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING! BUT I'D LIKE TO KNOW WHY DO YOU LOOK LIKE ME!"

"bro, i wouldn't go over there..."

"stars, don't you get it? we're all sans and papyrus! just let me explain--"

"MUTT, I'M BORED. SHOOT THE WALL AND GET US OUT OF HERE."

"yes, m'lord."

"no, wait--"

BOOM!

You barely had time to tuck and roll over to the staircase when the wall exploded. A cloud of dust blurred your vision, and you immediately started coughing. You looked up just in time to see several bright flashes of red, purple, and blue magic. 

"YOU IDIOT! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL US?!

"YOU FLATTER YOURSELF, WELP! IF I WAS TRYING, THEN YOU WOULD BE DEAD!"

"bro, c'mon, take my hand."

"UH... YEAH, I THINK IT'S TIME TO GO. NICE MEETING ALL OF YOU! LET'S NEVER DO THIS AGAIN."

"let's go."

"THAT'S IT! I'VE HAD IT WITH YOU, BRAT! SANS! GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!"

"MUTT, STAY BEHIND ME!"

"I DON'T CARE IF YOU LOOK LIKE ME. I'M GOING TO SHOW YOU WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO DARE CROSS THE TERRIBLE PAPYRUS!" 

"AND I'LL SHOW YOU WHY THEY CALL ME THE MALEVOLENT SANS!" 

To your horror, a torrent of bones was sent your way, and you screamed as you ducked and narrowly missed them. 

"(Y/N)!" You heard your Papyrus call. "SANS, GET HER OUT OF HERE. NOW!"

You never heard Papyrus sound so panicked before. 

"on it."

In the next second, you blinked, and Sans was standing in front of you, his face tight and his left eye blazing blue. Before you could speak, he clamped a hand over your mouth and pulled you into his tight embrace. 

"hold on," he mumbled. 

And then you felt weightless, like the ground just disappeared, but by the time your brain actually registered this eery feeling, it was back again. Except for this time, your bare feet hit the soggy, cold grass.

You pulled back and gaped at the skeleton. "Sans, what the heck? What's going on?"

"listen to me. you need to run," Sans said. He gripped your shoulders. "you need to run to your jeep, and drive to the snowdin inn and stay there until i call you, understand? the owner knows me. tell her to put it on my tab. but you need to get out of here, and you can't tell anyone about this, okay?"

"Sans, I don't--"

A beam of pure hot, red energy shot out from the side of another wall, cutting down some trees in it's path. It was followed by the sickening sound of bones piercing into trees.

"SANS! GET OVER HERE!" Papyrus shouted from somewhere inside the house. 

His eyes blackened, and his fingers sunk into your skin. 

"g o." 

And then he was gone, leaving you alone, in your pajamas, without shoes, or money, and a very expensive electric guitar strapped on your back. 

Still in a daze and really shaken by how... ominous Sans looked, you quickly ran over to your old jeep and tried the driver's side.

Locked. 

Of course, it's locked. You always locked your jeep. And you always kept your keys in the kitchen. 

In the kitchen. In the cabin.

"Shit," you muttered, kicking the ground. "shit shit shit."

Papyrus wanted you out of the lodge. Sans told you to run. You didn't have your keys. Your keys were inside. Inside with your friends and those... monsters. 

Copies? 

You didn't look at them. You don't know. 

Your heart pulsed. You were running out of time. And time was something you could never get back.

Like your friends. 

A cold chill ran down your spine, but surprisingly, it made your shivering stop. The warmth in your chest was back as you eyed the lodge, and at the same time, your mind focused on the lodge, and a plan began to form. 

You didn't have your keys. 

But you had your guitar. 

You took off in a sprint, ignoring the mushy grass between your toes, and didn't stop until you reached the lodge. From there, you quickly slipped onto the wooden porch and hastily fiddled with the lock. 

Only to find that it was, well, locked. 

"Shit," you repeated, this time pathetically jingling the knob like you could somehow will for it to open. "shit, no! Not again! Agh!" 

With another curse, you pulled back in disgust and started walking backwards. Okay, the only thing stopping you from reaching the third floor was this door. You just needed to get inside. Maybe you could--

You ran into something, something soft, yet boney, and immediately the smell of smoke and something sweet filled your nostrils. 

You slowly tilted your head up to meet the eye sockets of a skeleton. A cigarette dangled out of his mouth.

"Papyrus...?" you mumbled.

He raised an amused eyebrow, but you could tell that he was carefully watching you. "in the, heh, flesh," he snickered. "i take it that you're (y/n)?"

Your eyes narrowed, and you pushed yourself off of his orange hoodie and started to back up again. "You're not Papyrus." 

He flicked his cigarette. "nah. i'm pretty sure i know my own, pal."

"SERIOUSLY, BROTHER!?" Another voice boomed, and you spun around to see a skeleton that looked just like Sans, except he was wearing a blue bandana and a gray shirt with shoulder pads. "THIS IS THE FIRST TIME MONSTERS HAVE SEEN A HUMAN IN THE UNDERGROUND IN YEARS, AND ALL YOU CAN THINK TO SAY IS A PUN!?" His bright blue eyes focused on you, and he held out a gloved hand. "HELLO, HUMAN! I AM THE MAGNIFICENT SANS, A FUTURE ROYAL GUARDSMAN! DO YOU MIND IF I CAPTURE YOU AND TAKE YOU TO MY CAPTAIN?" 

You blinked at him while the not-Papyrus shook his head.

"uh, let's not kidnap this one, bro. she looks like she's been captured by one of the others already." He flicked his cigarette. "plus, i don't think we're in the underground anymore."

"You're Sans and Papyrus," you blurted. 

"WELL, YEAH! I JUST SAID THAT!" 

"B-but, you're not my Sans and Papyrus." You studied their confused expressions. "You're like them, but if they switched personalities and clothes... oh." 

Something clicked in your head, and you looked up.

"How did you guys get here?"

"well," the orange hoodied skeleton clicked his tongue. "one minute, i'm workin' at sentry station in snowdin with my bro."

"YOU WERE SLEEPING, PAPY!" The blue scarfed skeleton stomped his boot into the ground. "NOT WORKING!" 

"and then the next minute, my sans and i were in a bright room with other skeletons who looked just like us. and then there was a guy that looked like my brother, but, well." He motioned towards his clothes. "wearin' my style was there, holding a wrench and lookin' like we were the skeletons peeking out of his closet."

"THERE WAS A MACHINE, TOO! IT LOOKED LIKE THE ONE WE KEPT IN OUR BASEMENT!"

"...yep." He took another whiff of his cigarette and closed his eyes. "it sure did. at least i know what that darn thing does know."

A machine...

Realization dawned on you, and suddenly everything made sense. Those sleepless nights Sans had, those times you walked into the kitchen at 3 A.M. and hear noises coming from the basement but brushed it off, his sudden interest in bringing up the multiverse theory at the dinner table sometimes, the similarities between the monsters... Sans asking you to not tell anyone when you got to town...

Oh.

You cupped your hands over your mouth and slowly titled your head up, letting a laugh out as a way to relieve your anxieties. 

"uh, kid, you okay?"

You ran your hands through your hair and chuckled. "Yeah, I'm fine, it's just--oh my gosh. Sans--my Sans--screwed up on whatever project he was working on in the basement and brought you guys here. You're them, but with swapped personalities. You're the swapped brothers. I can't--" you cursed. "Gosh, I bet that sly dog was hoping I'd never catch on!"

"I'M NOT FOLLOWING?"

"i am, but keep talkin', kid."

You took in a deep breath. "Okay, okay. I can fix this. But first..." You tried to offer a smile. "Hi. My name is (Y/N). I'm a twenty-one-year-old college student, and I live with the skeleton bros. in this cabin, and they're my best friends and, well, landlords. I'm pretty sure my Sans was secretly working on some sort of thing that brought you and the other versions of you into our world. And on behalf of my friend's screw up, I'm sorry for all the stress that this has put you two through. I'd love to make it up to you right now and drag Sans's boney ass down here to apologize, but the other versions of yourselves don't sound all that nice, and I really need to get up to the third floor."

The brothers stared at you with confused expressions.

"uh... okay?"

"THANK YOU? YOU'RE?? FORGIVEN????"

You nodded and prepared a running stance. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm about to break down this door." 

"whoa now!" A hand caught the strap of your guitar and pulled you back. You looked over at the tall skeleton and raised an eyebrow, and he did the same to you.

"no offense, um, (y/n), but the only thing you're gonna get out of ramming into that sturdy door is a broken shoulder."

"HE'S RIGHT!" The other skeleton blocked your path. "YOU'RE GOING TO HURT YOURSELF!"

"I don't care!" You tried to pull away. "My friends are in trouble! I have to do something!" 

"kiddo, i--"

"THEN LET US HELP!" 

"What?" You and the tall skeleton asked. 

The blue skeleton happily nodded. "YOU WERE NICE ENOUGH TO HELP FIGURE OUT WHERE WE WERE, SO THE LEAST WE CAN DO IS HELP YOU SAVE YOUR FRIENDS!" 

You frowned. "I can't ask that from you two. You literally just got dragged here against your will. It's not your mess to fix."

The tall skeleton lowered you to the ground. "it's not your mess to fix either, human. listen, i don't know you very well, but i'm a pretty good judge of character. i can tell that you got a good soul, and, well, that's good enough for me. plus, uh..." He chuckled, and you saw a hint that familiar grin Sans wore when he was comforting you. "we literally can't go back to our world until that machine is fixed."

"AND YOU SEEM TO BE REALLY NICE! BUT THE OTHER VERSIONS OF US SEEMED, UH..."

"not nice."

"YEAH." 

"so (y/n)," he straightened, and his brother eagerly jumped over to his side. "what can we do?"

"Break the lock for me, please," you said. "I need to get up to the third floor and hook up my guitar to the AMP in my bedroom. It's the only way I can stop this chaos without anyone getting seriously hurt."

Another round of energy soured through the ground, shaking it. The blue scarfed skeleton barely had time to reach out and hold you steady.

"I DON'T UNDERSTAND!" he said, concern in his blue eyes. "HOW WILL YOUR GUITAR STOP THEM FROM FIGHTING?"

You shook your head. "There's no time to explain! It involves a lot of experiments and music theory between me and my Sans and Papyrus." There was desperation in your voice. "Please, just trust me on this, okay?"

He didn't even hesitate. Instead, he flashed you a smile and nodded. "OKAY! I TRUST YOU!" 

"want me to do the honors, bro?"

"GO AHEAD!" 

The orange hoodied skeleton lifted his hand, and an orange light flickered in his eye socket as he sent three bones straight into the door, breaking the lock and swinging it open. 

"Sweet! Thank you!" You started to sprint off again, but then you remembered something very important and stopped in your tracks. You looked over your shoulder and saw that they were following you, and you held up your hand.

"Wait, no, sorry, but you can't go up there with me. It's not... it might hurt you being that close when I turn on my AMP. So listen," you said in a serious tone, capturing their attention. "The second you see me up on the third floor, in front of the window--" You pointed to a room dark room. "You need to cover your ear, um, holes and sit or lay on the ground or else it's going to knock you off your feet and give you the biggest headache you've ever had. I'll explain everything when I get back." 

"wait, what are you--"

"It was nice meeting you!" You called over your shoulder before disappearing into the house. "Bye Blue and Stretch!" 

Both brothers were about to go after you until you shouted out those nicknames. Instead, they stopped and gave each other quizzical looks.

"BLUE AND STRETCH?" The shorter skeleton said, rubbing his chin. "THOSE ARE REALLY ODD NICKNAMES."

"yeah, but i guess it's better than everyone calling us Papyrus and Sans, or orange hoodie guy and blue scarf dude."

"STILL..." He tugged on his blue scarf. "WHICH ONE OF IS WHICH?"

"beats me." He tossed his now-dead cigarette and offered his shorter brother a hand. "but c'mon, don't look so blue, Blue." 

His brother, who just now caught onto the joke, glared at him. 

Stretch chuckled. "let's get out of here until the coast is clear."

Blue grabbed his hand and hesitated. "I HOPE SHE'LL BE OKAY."

"yeah..." 

They both looked up at the house and saw that the yellow hues of the first-floor lights were now on. They could make out the shadows of people fighting, and barely made out the sound of her voice over a very loud, very confident, very angry one. Something clattered inside, and although both of them considered rushing in there, they remembered the serious look on your face and decided against it. 

"i hope so, too, bro... i hope so, too."

With heavy souls, they disappeared into the night, wondering if they were making the right choice to listen to their new friend. 

+++

You weren't sure what you were expecting after you said goodbye to Blue and Stretch (terrible nicknames, yeah, but at least it made things easier) but you really weren't expecting to cross paths with another one. 

As soon as you crossed the living room, a shadow jumped down from the ceiling.

No, wait. He didn't jump. 

He took a shortcut, landing inches away from your face. 

You jumped back and quickly reached for your guitar. 

"huh," the skeleton said. "a human, eh? i'm guessin' yer the girlie the creampuff was shoutin' at earlier." His tone got darker, and when he smiled, you saw something gold glint in the moonlight, but it was too dark to see him. "it's kind of dangerous for a little lady to be wonderin' around on her own with a bunch of big bad skeletons."

Your face scrunched up. "And who exactly are you?" 

He chuckled, and you cautiously watched as he drew closer. "hang on, toots. lemme shed some light on this situation." He snapped his fingers, and from somewhere in the house there was a switch that flicked on. You blinked at the sudden brightness while he laughed, giving you a chance to study him.

His body and clothes almost looked just like Sans, except he had obviously gone through a lot. His black jacket was torn and had clumsy stitches in random places, and the yellow fluff of his hoodie was missing in several places and covered in stains. Sharp teeth lined his smile until they reached the end, where he sported a single gold one. Also, this guy's eye lights were as red as his turtleneck sweater, and they dilated as they took in your form. 

"well, hot damn," he whistled. "i didn't think that vanilla version of me would have such a fine doll layin' around here."

Your face scrunched up as you got a good look at this guy, and every fiber in your being screamed he was trouble. After all, one of your jobs involved you performing at a bar.  You knew his type. 

And you knew how to play them. 

"Hah," you said, shaking your head. "Hate to burst your bubble, but my Sans and Papyrus are just roommates."

"just roommates?" he purred, moving closer to you. "so does that mean you're, ah, available to show a handsome guy some of the best, heh, parts of this world?" 

You caught the hand he was trying to snake around your waist and yanked him down until his eyes met yours. 

"Sorry, pal," you purred back, cupping his cheek with one hand. His eyes grew wide, and you smirked as you softly breathed against his teeth. "But I don't think you'll be able to keep up with my tour."

And with that, you quickly pulled away and dropped his skull, causing his knees to buckle as he suddenly forgot how to walk. He landed on the couch in a daze, gazing at you with blazing red cheeks while drool trailed out of his mouth.

"wow..." he croaked out. 

Satisfied, you turned to leave when something dinged, and you suddenly felt very heavy. You internally groaned when you realized what this feeling was, and you turned around to glare at the guy you know dubbed Red. 

"Red..." you hissed, gripping your guitar. "I'm done messing around. Don't make me--"

But Red wasn't staring at you. No. He was still on the couch, sweating nervously as he stared at the monster in front of you.

You turned back around and met the eye sockets of a very edgy-looking Papyrus, who was hovering a few inches away from your face. 

He grinned. "HELLO HUMAN." 

His clothing style was overall the same as your Papyrus's battle body, but, just like his brothers, this guy's uniform was a combination of black, red, and yellow. A red, tattered scarf loomed around his neck, and a single long, dark crack ran down the side of his skull, covering one of his eye sockets. 

"Um. Hi," you said, swallowing. 

Oh, sugar honey iced tea. You're actually gonna die. 

The guy, who you now dubbed Edge, straightened, and you watched in horror as a bone materialized in his hand. He pointed it to your neck, and you heard Red stutter something behind you.

"START TALKING," Edge demanded. 

"Uh..." Your eyes flickered from the bone to his skull. "What do you want me to say?"

"ARE YOU REALLY THAT DENSE?!" He shouted. "I KNOW YOU'RE THAT HUMAN THOSE TWO WERE TRYING TO PROTECT. YOU MUST KNOW SOMETHING, OR AT LEAST HAVE SOME VALUE, SO START. TALKING." His gripped tightened on the bone. 

"A-ah, okay! Uh..." Oh boy, this was way easier with Stretch and Blue. "My name is (Y/N). I'm a college student and roommate of this universes' Papyrus and Sans. I think my Sans messed up on this secret machine and brought you and your brother here. And I'm sorry about that."

He stopped twirling his weapon and gave you a dark look. "YOU'RE SORRY?" 

"Uh--"

"YOU'RE SORRY?" He screeched. "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM? I'M THE CAPTIAN OF THE ROYAL FUCKING GUARD! I DON'T HAVE TIME TO BE HERE, BONEDOGGLING WHILE MY BROTHER ACTS LIKE A LOVESICK PUPPY--SANS! FOR THE LOVE OF--CLOSE YOUR MOUTH AND GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF!" 

You heard a jaw snap shut from somewhere behind you, but you didn't dare to turn around with Edge's weapon so close to your throat. 

"HONESTLY, SANS. YOU'RE STANDARDS ARE TOO LOW IF YOU'RE REALLY GOING TO LET SOME HUMAN SCUM SEDUCE YOU LIKE THAT."

"b-but boss--"

"I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT!" He slammed his foot against the ground. "I DON'T KNOW WHERE WE FUCKIN' ARE, SANS, AND IT'S DRIVING ME INSANE! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KEEP US SAFE WHEN I CAN'T EVEN FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET US HOME!?"

You gaped at him. 

This guy was scared. Of course was scared. And, to be honest, you were pretty terrified, too. 

You tried to hold back your anger and calmed your voice when you spoke. 

"I know this is all really confusing," you said, tearing his gaze away from his brother. "And I know that you probably don't trust humans, either, but please understand that this was all a huge mistake. You're not in the Underground anymore. In fact, the only person that's still in the Royal Guard here this world's Papyrus, and he just waters the King's flowers every Sunday. Everything will be explained when I find Sans--my Sans--and we all sit down and talk this through, okay?" 

He stared at you. 

"i uh..." Red coughed, and you watched as he slowly walked into your view to place an arm on his brother's shoulder. "i think the little lady's tellin' the truth, b-boss." He locked eyes with you, and his gaze softened. "maybe... maybe we should listen to her."

You held your breath. One second passed, then two, then three. Red started to sweat again. Then, finally, ever so slowly, the heavyweight in your chest lifted, and Edge's grip on his weapon loosened. You let out a breath you didn't realize you were holding. 

"FINE..." He hissed, looking really uncomfortable. "BUT ONE WRONG MOVE, HUMAN, AND IT'S OVER FOR YOU."

"Okay, uh, fair enough," you exhaled. You really had no idea how you got out of this alive. "So, right now, I really need to head upstairs and--"

You didn't even get to finish your sentence before a bone zoomed past you, impaling into the wall between you and Edge. You both jumped, and you fell behind the couch while Red and Edge summoned several bones as they prepared to attack.

"AND WHAT'S THIS WE'VE STUMBLED UPON?" A tenor voice asked in a mocking tone. "ARE YOU TWO DIMWITS REALLY FRATERNIZING WITH THE HUMANS? DID SHE TELL YOU EVERYTHING WAS GOING TO BE OKAY? ARE YOU FRIENDS?" he laughed. "HOW UTTERLY DELIGHTFUL!"

"YOU AGAIN!" Edge growled. "HAVEN'T YOU LEARNED YOUR LESSON? YOU CAN'T BEAT ME!" 

"NOT WHEN YOU KEEP RUNNING AWAY LIKE THE COWARD YOU ARE! MUTT! FETCH THE HUMAN!" 

"yes, m'lord," another voice said. 

"not so fast, buddy." Red spoke up, glaring down whoever was standing on the other side of the couch. "i don't think our little fight is done just yet."

Red's grin was tight, and you knew that he couldn't afford to look down at you. However, that didn't stop him from using his fingers to gesture towards the stairs. 

Right. You needed to move. 

You started to crawl over to the stairs when another two more voices piped up. 

"stars, there you guys are!" Sans said, breathless. You couldn't see where he was, but judging by the sound of his voice, he was somewhere behind the new voices. "you guys won't hold still for three seconds."

"AND WHY SHOULD WE!?" Edge shouted back. "JUST SO YOU CAN TAKE US BACK INTO THE BASEMENT SO YOUR HUMAN WON'T SEE WHAT YOU'VE DONE?!"

"m-my human?"  Sans choked. 

"SHE'S NOT OUR HUMAN!" Papyrus jumped in. He was on the second floor, quickly walking down to join everyone else. His voice boomed confidence, but by the way he was carefully holding onto the stairs railing, you could tell he was nervous. You were only able to see him through the space between Red's legs, but it warmed your heart nonetheless to see that they were both okay. 

"SHE'S OUR ROOMMATE AND FRIEND, AND ONE OF THE NICEST SOULS YOU'LL EVER MEET, SO PLEASE DON'T DISRESPECT HER LIKE THAT." 

"wait," Sans's voice was low. "what do you mean, 'so your human won't see?' she's nowhere near the lodge--"

"found her, m'lord."

A strangled squeak crept out of your throat as two bony hands wrapped around your armpits and hoisted you up until your feet weren't touching the ground. You kicked your feet and tried to escape, but doing so only made your guitar fall out of its strap and clatter to the ground. A weird smell of a mixture between smoke, a pet store, and BBQ sauce filled your nostrils, making you gag. 

The skeleton holding you was another Papyrus version, except this one looked like he was exhausted. Dark bags loomed under his eyes, and most of his face was covered up by the gray fluff of his hoodie, which drooped over his head. His face, like his hands, were covered in scratches and cracks. Under his black jacket was a dark purple turtleneck sweater, similar to Red's. 

You caught the shocked expressions of Sans's pinprick eye lights and Papyrus's worried face, and you offered them a small wave from the other skeleton's tight grip.

"Uh... forgot my keys in the house...?" You said weakly. 

"SO IS THIS THE HUMAN YOU'VE BEEN TRYING TO HIDE?" 

You turned your head to the final skeleton you had yet to meet. He was obviously brothers with the one holding you up. In a way, he looked like Blue, except this guy's eye lights were a light purple. You weren't sure what world these two came from, but judging by the three large cracks covering one of his eye sockets, it wasn't a friendly one. His purple, tattered scarf stood out against his black shirt and gray shoulder pads. 

You mentally decided to name the one holding you Russ, and the one that looked like he wanted to kill you and everyone in this room Black. And then you realized that your last thoughts might actually be you choosing dumb nicknames, and you died a bit inside. 

Well, you lived a good life. 

"she's got nothin' to do with this," Sans growled, his eye lights growing dangerously dim. "so i suggest you  l e t    h e r    g o."

"PLEASE," Papyrus quickly added.

"OH, STOP YOUR WHINING!" Black waved a gloved hand as he walked in front of you. He looked you up and down with a frown. "WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT HER, ANYWAY? WE ONLY NEED ONE MORE HUMAN TO BREAK THE BARRIER, AND THAT HUMAN--" He grabbed your face and smirked. "IS RIGHT HERE!" 

"are ya really that stupid?" Red spat. "we ain't in the underground anymore, brat." 

"THE BARRIER'S BEEN BROKEN IN THIS UNIVERSE FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS," Papyrus said, not once moving his eyes away from Black's grip on your face. "SO THERE'S NO NEED TO CAPTURE HER!" 

"HE'S RIGHT!" Edge said, surprising you and the others. He noticed the puzzled looks sent his way and sighed. "I ALREADY ACCEPTED THE FACT THAT WE'RE NOT GETTING ANYWHERE FIGHTING EACH OTHER. THIS ISN'T MY UNIVERSE, AND I JUST--"

"OH?" Black turned away from you and raised a condescending eyebrow at Edge. "THAT'S PRETTY BOLD TALK COMING FROM YOU AND YOUR PERVERTED BROTHER, EDGE LORD."

"watch it--"

But Black wasn't done talking, and he cut Red off with another wave. "I DON'T CARE IF WE'RE IN ANOTHER UNIVERSE, YOU IDIOT. WE NEED ONE MORE HUMAN TO BREAK THE BARRIER, AND IF I HAVE TO DRAG IT BACK TO MY UNIVERSE THAN SO BE IT! THIS HUMAN IS COMING WITH ME EITHER DEAD OR ALIVE." He turned back to Rus. "MUTT! WE'RE LEAVING! NOW!"

"yes, m'lord," he tightened his grip on you and with a hot breath, mumbled, "try not to move too much, darlin'. it'd be a pity if you lost a limb in the void."

"W-wait!" you shouted, kicking your feet out again. "Stop! Don't--"

It was at that moment that all hell broke loose, and you were dropped to the ground as a bone struck Russ's arm, forcing him to let go. Black immediately whirled around to find Sans, his eye blazing blue and his hand pointed straight at Russ.

"g e t  o u t," he growled. 

Russ gripped his arm and glared at Sans while Black's face filled with rage. 

"YOU BASTARD!" He yelled. "YOU TRAITOROUS BASTARD! I'LL KILL YOU FOR THAT!" 

One of his eye sockets went out, while the other emitted a dangerous purple light. Black lowered his hands and jerked them up, causing the floorboards to split and crack open as dozens of bones pierced through in random directions. Sans and Papyrus were ready for it, but the same couldn't be said for the other two.

"AGH!" Edge hissed, quickly removing his injured foot with a limp. Another wave tried to corner him, but Red teleported to his brother and disappeared with him just as quickly.

"that's it," Red snapped. He summoned a bone and drew it to his side. "i'm going to kill him."

"I'LL HELP YOU!" Edge said, limping yet looking as dangerous as ever. 

The air popped and crackled with energy as Russ returned to his brother's side, both of them with their own weapons drawn and matching dark expressions. 

"I'M GOING TO MAKE YOU SORRY FOR EVER BEING BORN!" Black taunted. 

Edge's eyes narrowed. "LESS TALK, MORE FIGHT. HYA!" 

And they jumped at each other, swinging their bones and striking at every turn, tearing the living room apart. The glass coffee table was knocked over and broken, and foam was dripping out of the couch's torn cushions. You grabbed your guitar and tried once again to sneak past them when someone caught your arm, and this time, it was Sans. 

"buddy," he said in a low voice. "i thought i told you to run, not come back here!" 

"Sans!" You said, moving to grip his arm. "Sans, listen, you need to help me get them to stop fighting! I think we can--"

"you're not staying here for another second, (y/n)!" he argued. "these guys are dangerous! you're gonna get yourself killed."

"But I'm not leaving you and Papyrus out here alone! I got through to Edge and Red earlier, and Blue and Stretch are out in the woods waiting--"

"wait, who?" He asked, torn between looking angry and confused. "(y/n), are you giving them nicknames?!"

"Well, what else am I supposed to do!" You ducked as a bone soared over your head and shattered a nearby vase. 

"what are you supposed to--you're supposed to get the hell out of here like i said!"

"But you can't do this alone!" 

"yes, i can!" He jerked your arm forward, but you resisted. 

"No. You. Can't!"  You pulled your arm free and staggered back over the couch, losing your balance and violently tumbling...

Right into Red's attack. 

CRUNCH! 

A single, white bone smacked right into your face. You reached up and tried to cup the warm blood pooling out of your broken nose, but no matter what you did, it just kept dripping. 

"fuck!" Red cursed, running over to your side. "fuck! doll, you alright--"

He didn't get to finish because there was another ding! And you and Red locked eyes as he was lifted up and sent crashing against the other side of the room, disappearing into the wall as the wooden boards splintered and crumbled around its new gaping black hole. 

"HAH!" Black laughed as he zoomed in on you. "TO BE HONEST, YOU SHOULD BE THANKING ME FOR SAVING YOU FROM THAT PERVERT. NOW COME ALONG, AND YOUR DEATH WILL BE MOSTLY PAINLESS!" 

"No," you said, still cupping your nose with one hand. 

Black's eyes narrowed. "NO? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, NO?!"

You dropped your hands and peered up at him, and his eyes widened at the sight of your blood caking your skin. 

"I'm not going anywhere with you." 

"(y/n)!" Sans said, appearing by your side. "stars, stop running off like that! i thought i lost--what is   t h a t ? "

He forced your head to the side while he stared at the blood on your nose, which was quickly making its way down your chin. The lights in his eyes fully went out, and Sans turned his head to Black. The air filled with more static. 

"WELL, DON'T LOOK AT ME!" He huffed, crossing his arms. "I DIDN'T TOUCH HER!"

And that was when Sans snapped, and the magic in the air formed into something big, something powerful right behind your head, making Black's eye lights shrink. 

"FUCK!" He shrieked, staggering backward in a panic. "ARE YOU INSANE?! IT'S NOT WHAT YOU--"

BOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!

Black barely dodged to the side as a beam of hot energy struck his spot, burning a hole in the wall. By the time you turned around, the weapon was gone, but you recognized that it shot the same laser you saw from the woods. 

How long had these guys been fighting!?

"m'lord!" Russ said, appearing by his brother's side, who was rubbing his skull. "are you alright? do i need to heal--"

"KILL HIM!" Black demanded, pointing at Sans. "KILL HIM, KILL THEM, KILL EVERYONE!"

"OH, NO YOU DON'T!" Edge roared before jumping on top of Black. They both tumbled out through the huge hole in the wall, and everyone followed. 

"Stop!" you yelled, staggering after them. 

But they weren't listening to you. No, instead, they fought on, only focused on each other. You wanted to run out and beg them to stop, but honestly, at the rate they were fighting, you'd be dead before they even realized they hit you. 

Panicking, you quickly whirled around and once again made your way to the stairs, only to have someone reach out and once again grab your arm. Fearing the worse, you swung your guitar over your shoulder and spun around--

Only to have Papyrus catch it in one hand. 

"IT'S ME!" He said, quickly wrapping his free arm around you. "IT'S ME, (Y/N)!"

"Papyrus!" you cried, collapsing into his embrace. "You're okay!" 

"OF COURSE I AM! DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF PAPYRUS ARE NO MATCH FOR THE GREAT PAPYRUS!" He said, hugging you back. "But uh--what happened to your nose?! YOU'RE BLEEDING!" He made a move to touch it, but you pushed him away. 

"It's fine! We can fix it later. But right now, you need to let me through. I need to get upstairs and up to my AMP and speakers."

His brows narrowed. "YOUR AMP? BUT WHAT ARE YOU..." He looked down at the guitar in your hands, and his face brightened. "DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT WILL WORK?" 

"It's worth a try. Just look out there!" You pointed to the skeleton war happening on your front lawn. "They're going to kill each other, Papyrus! This is our only chance!"

He didn't look convinced, so you grabbed the sides of his skull and forced him to look at you.

"Please," you begged. "Please let me do this, Papyrus."

His face relaxed, and he pushed a piece of hair behind your head. "I TRUST YOU, (Y/N)." 

You smiled. "Thanks, Papyrus. Now, go help your brother. And remember to cover your ears when you see me!" 

He released you, and with one final wave, you sprinted up the stairs, past the vacant, untouched rooms on the second floor, and up to your bedroom on the third. 

The door flew open with a quick kick. White, twinkling lights were twirled around the wooden pillars on the ceiling, right over a huge bed covered in your mom's homemade quilt. Several instruments lined and hung from the walls, and below them were black cases filled with instruments that you couldn't hang. On the bedside table was your phone, and the screen was lit as you received a text from some group chat. Other than a couple of pictures taped to the walls, there wasn't much decoration. However, for someone with a tight budget, it was a simple yet nice room. 

You quickly scoped out your bedroom and located your AMP and plugged its cable into your guitar. As a last minute thought, you grabbed your noise-canceling headphones--the ones you worse when you had percussion practice--and threw them on your head.  From there, you pulled back your balcony door and stepped outside, feeling the cool breeze against your skin. 

Even from three stories up, you were able to make out the bright flashes of light coming from the ground as the group continued their fight. You thought you saw something move in the forest, and you hoped with all your heart that Blue and Stretch took your advice. 

Without another second to spare, you cranked up the volume and adjusted the pitch settings to the one you, Papyrus, and Sans tested out, long ago. 

Just take a deep breath, grab your pick and--

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECHHHHHHHH!

A terrible, high-pitched squeal emitted rang from the booming speakers. Even with the headphones on, it made your skin crawl with goosebumps. Judging by the sound of protests coming from below, you knew it worked. All of them--save for Papyrus and Sans, who were prepared for this--were on the floor, clutching their skulls as their previous weapons disappeared. 

"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" 

"my m-magic. i-it... it just stopped working."

"IF I HAD EARS, THEY WOULD BE BLEEDING!" 

"keep yer voice down! that thing nearly split my head open."

"Listen up!" You commanded, drawing their attention. "Magic is based on wavelengths, and there's a frequency that, if correctly achieved, prevents magic from flowing correctly, thus causing withdrawals and magical fatigue in monsters. The next time one of you dares to attack someone, I'm going to strike another chord! Understand?"

There was a collection of murmurs, and you took that as a sign of agreement. 

You sighed but didn't loosen your grip on your guitar. "My names is (Y/N), and I'm sorry to say this, but there was a that mistake tore you guys away from your universe and brought you all to mine. You're on the surface, and monsters have been living in Ebott for the past two years. There's no need to fight anyone!" 

"WE ALREADY KNOW THAT!" Edge yelled. 

You ignored him. "I'm not putting this guitar down until every single one of you--and I mean every single one of you--promises to not attack anyone while we have a peaceful discussion about what to do next."

Black glared at you. "WHY SHOULD I--"

"I will turn up the pitch and strike this cord."

"FINE! MUTT AND I PROMISE TO NOT ATTACK ANYONE. SAY IT, MUTT!"

"i promise not to hurt y'all."

"I PROMISE, (Y/N)!" Papyrus cheered, beaming at you with pride. 

"PAPY AND I PROMISE, TOO!" Blue called from somewhere in the woods, causing heads to turn towards the dark trees. "HE'S JUST NOT VERY LOUD!" 

"YOU HAVE MY WORD THAT NO HARM WILL BE DONE TO ANYONE DURING OUR TALK, HUMAN," Edge huffed. 

"y-yeah, doll." Red said, sweating as he rubbed his skull. "i promise not to harm you or the others, s'long as they keep their word."

You looked down at the only skeleton who had remained quiet during this entire time. When you locked eyes with him, his head drooped, and he let out a tired sigh.

"(y/n), look..." he said,  shoving his hands inside of his jacket. "i just don't think that--"

"Sans," you begged while taking off your headphones. "You have to. If you don't, the fighting isn't going to stop. We have to trust each other long enough to figure things out, okay? Just one long, big talk in the dining room. Please." 

His eye lights flickered, and Sans studied your desperate face before slumping over in defeat. "fine. i promise not to start a fight, (y/n)."

"Good." You unplugged your guitar and swung it over your shoulder. "I'll meet you guys downstairs, then."

 

Chapter Text

"ARE YOU FEELING BETTER?"

"Yeah, I think my nose is--"

"HOW MUCH MONSTER CANDY DID YOU EAT?"

"I ate about four--"

"DO YOU WANT SOME SEA TEA?"

"Well, I don't like sea--"

"DOES IT HURT? IS IT STILL BLEEDING? DID THE SWELLING STOP? I KNOW I JUST HEALED IT FIVE MINUTES AGO, BUT IF YOU'RE IN PAIN, I COULD TRY TO--"

"Papyrus!" You yelled, grabbing the tall skeleton by his skull. Even with you sitting on the bathroom counter, he was still slightly taller you.

"YES?" He replied, frantically scanning your face for any more signs of injury.

You chuckled softly before leaning forward, placing a chaste kiss on his forehead.

"You're a real sweetheart, you know that?" you said, pulling away from his blushing skull. "My nose is fine. You did a great job fixing it and honestly saved me from making a trip to the ER."

Papyrus's eye sockets widened as a pink blush crossed his cheekbones.

"Y-YES, WELL, UM... UMM...!!" He stammered, seemingly at a loss for words. "I-IT'S REALLY NOT A PROBLEM, (Y/N). THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS ALWAYS HAPPY TO HELP, NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCE NOR TIME OF THE DAY!"

You smiled. "I know, Pap."

"hey," Red said, pushing the bathroom door open. "that vanilla version of me wanted me ta tell ya to come on down and--uh."

Sweating, he looked at Papyrus's hands, which were pressed up against the counter, trapping you in place as you sat, and then the ever-growing pink hue on his cheeks. There was very little space between the two of you, and Papyrus's embarrassed face didn't help the situation.

"uh..." Red's eyes shrank to the size of pinpricks as he slowly started to shuffle out of the room. Oh, but if he left, the night was just gonna be filled with more problems and awkward eye contact.

You couldn't have that. So, instead, you eyed him and smirked.

"You're gonna have to get in line and wait your turn, dude," you said, casually.

"(Y/N)!" Papyrus screeched, removing his hands. "DON'T TELL HIM THAT! HE'S GONNA THINK THAT WE WERE KISSING!" He turned his head towards Red. "UH, WE WEREN'T KISSING, BY THE WAY. WELL, I MEAN, SHE KISSED ME ON MY FOREHEAD, BUT IT WAS PLATON--"

"I'm joking, Papyrus! I'm joking! And he knows we're not dating or anything," You said, sliding off the counter while watching Red. "Pap was just fixing my nose. You know, the one you broke?"

"WAIT, RED BROKE IT?"

"i said sorry!" Red snapped, holding his hands up. "geez, are ya ever gonna let that go?"

You looped an arm around him. "Well, like I said, it did happen about thirty minutes ago."

He glared at you.

"Again, I'm joking!" You backed up. "I was never mad in the first place. It was a really messed-up and chaotic situation, and I know you did it on accident. Heck, even if you did it on purpose, I wouldn't have been mad."

Both skeletons gave you uncomfortable looks, and you sighed. Looks like your attempt to make them feel better didn't work that well.

"Come on, guys." Your shoulders drooped. "It's two in the morning. We're all tired, confused, and a little banged up. I'm trying to make light out of the situation so things can be a little less awkward when we get downstairs and have a that super-serious, much-needed talk."

"IT'S NOT THAT," Papyrus said. "IT'S JUST... UM..."

"i'm kind of surprised with how well ya seem to be takin' this, sweetheart," Red said, scratching his chin. "kind of figured a human girl wouldn't be so chummy with a bunch of skeletons that just appeared of out nowhere and destroyed your, uh, house. much less brushin' off the fact ya got hurt."

Your smile slightly faltered. You... you weren't exactly feeling okay right now, to be honest. First off, Sans had kept this a secret from you for who knows how long. Second, he accidentally brought a bunch of alternate versions of him and his brother into your world. And third, not only did they trash the lodge, half of them threatened you, and some of them flat-out attacked you. Yeah, you only got a broken nose, but if you had rolled a different way when you ran into Red's attack, or if he put more force into it... Well, the night could've ended a bit differently.

But when you were back on your balcony, watching as the skeletons filed inside the house one by one, you saw their faces. You saw how they looked at each other with distrust, hatred, and curiosity. Right now, you were the only thing that keeping this house together, so for the rest of the night... You could be strong.

You swallowed the lump in your throat. Red and Papyrus were still waiting for an answer, so you needed to make it a good one.

You waved your hand and cracked a smile over your shoulder as you walked to the door. "Honestly, I've been living with Sans and Papyrus for the past two years, so I'm not even fazed by half of the stuff that goes on around here anymore."

Neither of them believed you.

+++

The living room light was on when you came downstairs, and you looked over the area with a grimace. The couch was torn, and its white stuffing was dripping out of every cut. The floors and walls were littered with holes and splinters, and there was a huge, perfectly-cut circle on the far wall from Sans's attack that now provided an ominous view of the dark woods in the distance. A cold October breeze swished by, and you yanked down your sweater in order to keep the heat in.

"At least the TV's safe," you said, wondering how in the world did that huge thing manage to stay out of the fight.

Neither of the skeletons behind you said a word, so you side-stepped the shattered remains of a glass coffee table in favor of heading towards the dining room. Before you walked in, you expected to be met with more yelling or cursing, but instead, it was... quiet.

Only Sans, Stretch, and Blue sat at the table, each one of them cautiously glancing around the room but not yet daring to make eye contact with anyone. Over by the window was Russ, who had one hand stuffed into his jacket while the other held a lit... black dog treat? His brother, Black, stood next to him, leaning against the wall while tossing a white bone in one hand as he glared in Edge's direction from across the room. Edge, however, remained still with his arms crossed, never once taking his eyes off of Black, but you had a feeling he was watching the others in his peripheral vision, too.

The sound of you opening the door caused their heads to turn. Red sluggishly joined his brother by the entrance, while Papyrus quickly walked over to his brother and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, causing Sans to weakly grin as Papyrus took a seat. Instead of sitting down at the table, though, you decided to jump up on it and sit, crisscrossed with your guitar in your lap.

You ran a hand down your guitar's neck.

"So," you said, not looking up. "First and foremost, welcome to the Surface. Like I said before, the barrier's been broken for two years, and Ebott has extended full citizenship status and rights to monsters, making them equal to humans." You tilted your head. "So there's no need to capture anyone."

Black and Edge scoffed, while Blue, although seemingly a little confused, nodded.

Your fingers softly strummed one of the chords. "Cool. Now, let's get those introductions out of the way." You looked around the room and made sure you made eye contact with every single skeleton as you spoke. "I know most of you guys know my name already, but I'm all about fresh starts, so I'm gonna say it again. My name's (Y/N) (L/N). I'm twenty-one, and I'm currently studying music at Ebott University, which is about a forty-five-minute drive down the mountain. And I've been living with these two boneheads--" Papyrus facepalmed while Sans snickered as you gestured towards them "--for a long time. Plus, they're my landlords. Kind of. But uh, yeah. That's really all I have to say about me, other than the fact that I'm really sorry about this mess."

"huh," Stretch said, leaning into his hand as he eyed you and Sans with a wary grin. "although i appreciate the sentiment, it's not really you who needs to be apologizing, hun."

Sans sighed. "yeah, uh... i'm really sorry for bringing you guys here. the machine wasn't... wasn't supposed to do that."

"THAT'S OKAY!" Blue chirped, sending his chair back as he stood up. "I FORGIVE YOU! BESIDES, YOU CAN JUST SEND US BACK, RIGHT?"

All eyes landed on Sans, who took a moment to sink further into his jacket before replying.

"...not yet."

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, 'NOT YET?'" Edge growled. He slammed both hands on the table, causing nearly everyone to flinch. "WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE STOPPING YOU?"

"the machine's broken, okay!" Sans huffed. "it broke after it brought you guys got here."

"THEN FIX IT!" Edge snapped.

"i can't!" Sans shot back, looking exasperated. "you destroyed it a freakin' gaster blaster at it, edge lord! the wires and melted and the notes are nothing but ashes now."

"THEN GET MORE SUPPLIES AND FIX THE FUCKING THING!"

"are you even listening?! i said i can't!"

"YOU--"

"Nope!" You stuck the base of your guitar between their dark expressions, preventing them from looking at each other in favor of glaring at you. "You both promised no fighting, remember?"

But Edge didn't recoil. "THAT WAS BEFORE I FOUND OUT THIS IDIOT WAS TRAPPING US HERE!"

"buddy, you have no idea how badly i want you out of my house."

"WHAT WAS THAT?!"

"i said--"

"Hey!"

Both of their gazes snapped back to you.

"No. Fighting," you repeated, much colder this time. "You can ask questions, but you can't argue or start throwing punches. I'm gonna lower my guitar now, and if I have to bring it out again, it's gonna be in someone's teeth. Got it?"

Sans's mouth audibly clicked shut while Edge clenched his fists. You took that as a silent yes and placed the guitar back into your lap. For a few moments, no one dared to speak after that.

However, to your surprise, it wasn't Edge nor Sans who spoke next. It was Red.

"so the machine's broke," he mumbled, calmly taking a seat at the table before looking back up at Sans. "do ya think it can be fixed?"

Sans sighed and rubbed his forehead. "probably in a few months, maybe even a year, if we're lucky, i guess. i'd have to go see what i can scrape up from the blueprints, and then have some of the parts customed-made. not to mention clean up the lab, buy the right chemicals for the fuel, replace the tools, re-write a few notes..." He trailed off.

Red grimaced. "sounds like a lotta work."

"SO WHAT'S THE PLAN UNTIL THEN?" Black asked, walking over to the table with his brother sluggishly following. "DO YOU PLAN TO KEEP US LOCKED UP IN YOUR LODGE UNTIL YOU GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER?"

"OF COURSE NOT!" Papyrus replied, looking offended. "WE WOULD NEVER KEEP DIFFERENT VERSION OF OURSELVES TRAPPED INSIDE OF THE LODGE! RIGHT, SANS?"

But Sans only sunk further into his jacket. Actually, at this point, most of his body was out of the chair and on to the floor. Papyrus, having none of this, quickly picked him up by his hood and plopped him back down in his chair.

"SANS," Papyrus warned.

"i don't know, pap," he admitted sheepishly. "we've been living here for a long time, and the underground was so small that a lot of monsters know us."

"BUT LOT'S OF OUR FRIENDS MOVED OUT OF EBOTT. REMEMBER?" Papyrus said. "THE ROYAL FAMILY MOVED TOWARDS THE COUNTRY'S CAPITAL, UNDYNE AND ALPHYS JUST MOVED TO JAPAN FOR THEIR HONEYMOON, METTATON'S ON AN INTERNATIONAL TOUR AND WON'T BE BACK FOR A YEAR, AND NEARLY EVERY OTHER MONSTER HAS MOVED OUT OF EBOTT IN HOPES OF EXPLORING THE WORLD. I WALKED BY FIVE MONSTERS TODAY, SANS, AND I DIDN'T RECOGNIZE ANY OF THEM!"

"You could pass them off as cousins if anyone asks," you added. "Not a bad lie, especially if the others don't know you that well."

A few faces brightened up at this idea while Sans pinched his nasal bone in defeat. "alright, fine. it's not like i can really keep you guys here anyway, right?"

"No," they all said.

Stretch thumped his fingers against the table. "so... now what?"

"what do you mean?" Sans asked.

"like... what are we supposed to do now? the machine's gonna take a while to build. we didn't exactly bring our houses with us. or clothes."

"THERE'S PLENTY OF ROOM FOR EVERYONE IN THE LODGE!" Papyrus eagerly offered, standing in order to properly address everyone in the room. "YOU GUYS COULD STAY WITH US! IT WOULD BE A LIKE A SLEEPOVER, EXCEPT WITH MYSELF AND MORE BROTHERS!"

"OH PLEASE!" Black waved his hand. "WHAT ARE YOU, A BABY BONES? THERE WON'T BE ANY SLEEPOVERS! NONE OF US WANT TO BE HERE, MUCH LESS SLEEP IN THE SAME ROOM AS YOU AND YOUR VANILLA BROTHER."

"i mean, feel free to go out and explore the world," Sans shrugged. "i don't really care. just keep some tabs on me so that i can tell you guys when the machine's fixed."

"need any help with that?" Stretch asked, raising a brow.

Sans weakly smiled. "oh, you have no idea."

But Black wasn't finished, and he placed his hands on his hips. "AND HOW, EXACTLY, DO YOU EXPECT US TO GO OUT AND 'EXPLORE THE WORLD' WITHOUT ANY MONEY?"

You whistled to yourself. "Me every time I pay for my gas."

Sans pulled out his cell phone. "assumin' you guys are like us, and you stored all of you gold in your interdimensional storage boxes, you can just go over to the city and exchange it for the country's currency. that should uh... well, to be honest, that money should set you guys in for a while, heh."

"He means you'll be filthy rich, like most monsters," you said, adjusting your guitar string. "Like, rich enough to probably buy and sell me."

"why?" Red said, suddenly up in your space with a coy grin. "are ya offerin,' doll?"

You completely missed the dark looks Sans and Papyrus shot Red as you stuck your tongue out in reply. Instead, you watched as Edge yanked his brother back by his jacket and dropped him on the ground.

"SERIOUSLY?" Edge asked, visibly disgusted. "CAN YOU NOT?"

Red shrugged and shot you another wink, and you rolled your eyes.

"Well, on that note." You hopped off the table and strapped the guitar on your back. "I guess I can show you guys to your rooms, and then tomorrow you guys can, I don't know, go shopping? Tour the city? Commit a felony? Whatever you're in the mood for."

"wait." Sans stood up from his seat with an uneasy grin. "what do you mean, 'you guys?'"

"YEAH!" Blue said, quickly jumping up and running over to you. "AREN'T YOU COMING, TOO? AFTER ALL, WOULDN'T IT BE BETTER TO HAVE A HUMAN GIVE US A TOUR AROUND A HUMAN CITY?"

You looked up to see all of the skeletons giving you similar, eager or apprehensive looks. Well, except for Russ. That guy didn't seem to care about anything, really.

"Sorry guys, but uh..." You held up your phone to display your alarm, which was set for 6 A.M. "I have a job, and I'm a full-time student with commitments. I can't skip."

"damn. that's in four hours," Red said, and you shrugged in reply.

"YOU COULD ALWAYS ASK FOR THE DAY OFF!" Papyrus said with a hopeful expression.

You laughed. "Oh? Are my ears deceiving me, or is The Great Papyrus actually suggesting that I take a lazy day off?"

"I-IT'S NOT A DAY OFF AS IN AN ACTUAL DAY OFF!" He stammered. "IT'S JUST... UH... Y-YOU CHOOSING TO DO SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD OF WORK!"

"Something that won't pay me?"

"YES!"

"Hard pass, Pap," you said, but, after seeing his deflated expression, you quickly added, "But if you guys wanna stop by and see me at work, then that's fine, too. If not, then I finish my classes around noon, and then I work until seven, so I should be home later tonight for dinner."

You opened the door and looked over your shoulder. "If you guys would like to see your rooms now, then just follow me. But Sans..." Three heads shot up to look at you, and you shook your head. "Er, I meant my Sans, sorry."

Sans held his gaze, but when your expression shifted to something a little more serious, his eye lights flickered.

"We need to talk. Find me upstairs when you're ready."

And with that, you left the room.

+++

Nothing really exciting happened when you were showing the guys their rooms. As expected, each brother choose one that was right beside their brother, and they all had a few things to say to you before you left them alone for the night.

Stretch asked you a few easy questions, like what was the surface like, what did you do for fun, and how college was going. Meanwhile, Blue talked your ear off. You learned that, just like Papyrus, he wanted to be in the Royal Guard and had a passion for cooking. He then asked you if you would tour the city with him sometime, and when you said yes, his eye lights changed to stars. You bid them both a good night, and they did the same.

Red and Edge were slightly less talkative. Red started out muttering an occasional pick-up line under his breath, but once his brother noticed them, he stopped and choose to stare at the floor instead. Edge asked you the basic stuff, like how far was the lodge away from the city, did you own any weapons (you pointed to your guitar, and he deadpanned and said, "THAT'S NOT A WEAPON!"), what was your job, and have you ever killed a man/monster before. When you reached their doors, Red grumbled a quick good night, while Edge simply waved you off before closing the door.

And then there was Black and Russ. The shorter one quickly grew bored of your attempt at small talk, but when you made the mistake of asking about himself, it was as if he couldn't shut up. He talked about his status as captain, his accomplishments, his enemies, his accomplishments over his enemies, while Russ just stayed... quiet. He didn't talk to you and honestly flat-out just stared at you with a blank look whenever you tried to get him involved in the conversation. When you told them good night, Russ closed the door in your face and Black just rolled his eyes before doing the same, except with much more force than necessary.

After showing everyone around, the lodge was strangely quiet, almost to the point where if you didn't know any better, you would've thought that this was just another normal night in the skeleton household. Yeah, the living room was in pieces, but once again, this would just be another normal night.

Speaking of the living room...

With a toothbrush hanging out of your mouth, you descended down the stairs to find Papyrus, who was currently covering the holes on the floors and walls with black garbage bags and duct tape.

"Hey, Pap," you called, and the skeleton turned back from the wall to face you.

"(Y/N)! YOU'RE STILL UP? I THOUGHT YOU FINISHED SHOWING THE OTHERS AROUND TEN MINUTES AGO?"

You took the toothbrush out of your mouth. "Forgot to brush my teeth. Plus, I wanted to see how you were doing."

Papyrus blinked and pointed at himself. "HOW... HOW I'M DOING?"

You nodded, and he scratched his head.

"UM, WELL, I'M DOING GREAT! NOBODY GOT SERIOUSLY INJURED TONIGHT, AND ON TOP OF THE FACT THAT WE GOT A WHOLE BUNCH OF NEW ROOMMATES, I GET TO GO FURNITURE SHOPPING TOMORROW!" He said, clapping his hands together. "I'VE BEEN TELLING SANS FOR MONTHS THAT I WAS TO THROW OUT THIS OLD COUCH, BUT NOW WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO DO SO! NYEH HEH HEH!"

His optimism was so contagious that you couldn't help but smile with him. However, as he walked closer to you, you pulled him in for a hug.

"Stay safe tonight, okay?" You whispered, carefully wrapping your arms around his neck. "And don't forget to lock your door when you go to bed tonight.."

Papyrus gently placed his arms around your waist and pulled you closer to him. "(Y/N), I Have No Doubt That Our New Friends Will Cause Us Any Harm Tonight, Nor Any Other Night. I Believe In Them."

You smiled against his scarf. "Of course you do. You're the coolest, Pap, but... I wish I could say the same."

He patted your head. "DO NOT FEEL BAD, (Y/N). IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ANYONE TO BE AS GREAT AS I AM! NYEH HEH HEH! But Uh..." He pulled away and gave you a small smile. "Would You Mind Checking On Sans? I Last Saw Him Heading Up To Your Room With A Full Pack Of Chisps."

You snorted. "Sure thing, Pap."

And with one final goodnight, you turned and started walking towards your room.

+++

You were halfway into your bedroom when you saw him.

"Sans what--uh?" you stopped.

You punny friend was currently sitting on the floor, leaning on your bed, stuffing his face with ketchup-flavored chisps as he looked over a handful of charred notes.

"what?" Sans grumbled, not looking up and instead choosing to shove another chisp in his mouth. "we've been roommates for two years, (y/n). i eat when i'm stressed. you know this."

"It's not that," you said, closing your door and sliding down on the floor beside him. You gestured to the notes, which were covered in crumbs. "I just didn't really expect you to be studying these so soon."

He snorted and crumpled up the paper he was holding before tossing it across the room, where it harmlessly bounced against one of the wall's wooden beams.

"heh. dunno why i'm even bothering. that chances of that machine getting fixed are equivalent to Jerry being invited to our Halloween party."

"You still wanna have that?" you asked. "It's not too late to cancel. We haven't even sent out invites yet."

Sans shook his head. "nah. you and pap have been plannin' that thing for a while now. there's no sense in canceling it."

"Actually..." You offered him an apologetic smile. "I told Papyrus, but I keep forgetting to mention it to you since, uh, you didn't help with any of the planning. Like at all."

"hey. s'not true." He nudged your shoulder. "i helped a ton. a skele-ton."

You scoffed. "Throwing one roll of toilet paper over the TV and saying that it counts as a DIY spiderweb is not helping, Sans. You didn't even help clean it up."

Sans chuckled. "halloween decorations are expensive. we're on a budget."

"You're filthy rich. The blender downstairs that we never use is worth more than how much I make in a week."

Sans's only reply was another shrug, and you let out a small chuckle. This was another topic you guys always joked about: money. They had a lot, and you, well, didn't have much, so a lot of light-hearted jokes were made about it. However, it never once went to the point where it could be offensive.

"so what are you doing instead of the party?"

"Remember that Halloween festival they're holding down at the state park, near the woods? Well, some of the guys from Saturn are gonna be performing, and they asked me to join them. But I'm gonna also gonna dress up and act as a guide for the park's guests on their spooky tour around the spooky forest." You looked up at him. "Pretty neat, huh? I'm kind of excited."

Sans brushed his fingers against yours. "eh? what'cha gonna wear?"

You shrugged. "Dunno. I didn't bring any of my costumes here, and they're ridiculously overpriced for such cheap material. The last costume I bought tore super easily when the skirt got caught on the bathroom sink's faucets."

He started coughing. "what? how in the world did your skirt get caught on a sink, of all things?"

You giggled and shot him a knowing look, to which he blushed in reply. "You have your secrets, and I have mine."

"Speaking of secrets..." You playful toned turned into a serious one as you turned your head. "What were you trying to build down there, anyway?"

Sans's smile faltered as he quickly looked away. "..."

"Ah," you sighed and stared up at the string lights on your ceiling. "Super-secret stuff. I get it."

"kitten, it's not like--"

"No no no." You waved your hand. "I mean it. Don't tell me if it's a secret, or if it's gonna stress you out, okay?"

For a moment, he was quiet, and then, in a very faint whisper, he said, "it wasn't supposed to bring them here."

"I know," you mumbled.

"i took them away from their universes," he continued. "from their friends and potential freedom from the underground. heck, both of them coming with their brothers was a one in a million probability. what if only one sans or papyrus showed up without their brother? or only one sans? what if right now, in their own universes, their barriers are already getting torn down? w-what if--"

"Shh," You gently squeezed his hand. "That's okay. We'll figure something out."

"i don't trust them," he whispered sharply, his eye lights shrunken back into his skull. "i don't know what their universes were like. i don't know what they are like. i mean, some of them looked like swapped personality versions of us, but the others..." He frowned. "they looked like they came from a rough place. they fight like they came from a rough place. if push comes to shove, i... i honestly don't know who would win in an actual fight."

"But they listened earlier. They listened to me and stopped fighting, and then talked to us afterword."

"but you had to threaten them," he argued. "you had to mess with their magic levels and make them stop fighting."

"But it worked. And they haven't tried anything else, even though they had lots of opportunities to--"

"stop defending them, (Y/N)," Sans hissed. "they tried to kill us. they wouldn't have listened if you hadn't intervened. so stop acting like everything's fine. i felt the hums of your soul when you were up on that roof. you were scared. you're still scared."

"..." You let out a long breath before resting your head against his shoulder and closing your eyes.

"...i'm sorry," he mumbled.

"..."

"...you're mad at me, aren't you?"

"No," you mumbled, not bothering to open your eyes. "You're one of my best friends, Sans. And although you could've worded that better, you're right."

"...are you mad at me for not telling you about what was in the basement?"

"I was frustrated at the beginning of this whole thing, yeah, but... I'm not mad."

"i'm sorry. i'm just... really, really stressed right now. i didn't mean to take it out on you. honestly, if it weren't for you, this cabin would've fallen apart by now."

"Like I said, I'm not mad about you snapping at me, either. You're... you're right. I am scared. I thought that me, or you or Papyrus might end up..." your voice trailed off.

"yeah. i know." You heard him exhale. "...thanks."

You hummed.

Another minute of silence passed by, and you were just about to fall asleep when something gently shook your shoulder.

"hey, kitten," Sans whispered, gently nudging your face.

"Mhm?" you yawned and blinked at him. "Is it time for breakfast?"

It was refreshing to see the small smile on the skeleton's tired face. "sorry. that's not for another three hours for you, and about seven for me. but uh..." He hesitated and then gently cupped your cheeks. "i don't trust those guys to stay in their rooms tonight."

"We can call your brother in here, if you want," you said, leaning into his touch. Hm. He was so warm...

Sans breath briefly hitched, and you watched as a blue hue slowly formed on his cheeks. He shook his head. "i'm not worried about pap. he can take care of himself. i'm... i'm worried about you."

"What?" you yawned. "I can take care of myself. I got a guitar and, like..." You waved your hand. "Another guitar somewhere."

Sans frowned. "s'not funny, (y/n). i'm serious. if you hadn't temporarily stunned their magic earlier, then tonight could've ended with a few empty beds in this house. and i know you don't fully trust them, either."

Even in your sleepy haze, you knew very well that he was right. However, for the sake of your sanity, you choose not to think about it too much, and instead decided to focus on the fact that you and the others were still alive. Sans, though, wasn't like you. He didn't forgive, and he didn't forget things.

"So what's the plan, skele-man?" you asked, fighting to keep your eyes open. "Cause one way or another, I'm gonna pass out in the next thirty seconds. Don't tell him, but Pap was right. I can't stay up very late without getting tired."

Through your hazy vision, you watched as the blue on his face glowed a little brighter.

"do... do you mind if--i mean, if you're okay with it, but--is it okay if i, uh--"

You didn't let him finish. In the next second, you had somehow stood up and pulled him towards you until you both collapsed on your bed, causing it to bounce. Sans let out a small yelp at this, and he immediately stiffened when you latched onto his body like the sloth you are.

"k-kitten," he stammered, helplessly watching as your snuggled against his chest. "i-i meant i could sleep on the f-floor, or, uh..." You pulled him closer, and although Sans's breath hitched as magic flooded his face, he kept his hands stiffly by his sides. "sweet asgore's beard, let me have morals tonight."

"We've cuddled before on the couch, Sans," you said, your voice muffled by his shirt. "I'm tired. You're tired. And the floor's uncomfortable. Good night."

After a few moments, Sans finally relaxed, and you felt an arm snake around your waist and pulled you close before whispering in your ear.

"night, kitten."

+++

Within the next three or so hours, your alarm went off, waking you up, but not Sans. No, instead the skeleton sleepily tried to tighten his grip in an attempt to keep you in bed with him, but you not-so-gently pushed him away, and he grumbled and rolled over.

With a tired smile on your face, you quickly prepared for the day. First, you had a few classes, then band practice, then dance practice, and finally work.

After packing up your bags and instrument (since it was still marching season, you would be bringing your saxophone in today), you quietly tip-toed past the occupied guest room before descending the stairs and walking into the kitchen. On most days, Papyrus was awake before you, and he usually presented you with an already-prepared breakfast as soon as you walked in. He would then eat with you, and around the time you left, he would get up and start making his brother's portion.

However, today was not one of those days.

You heard the fighting before you saw it.

With one hand on the door and another on the handle of your instrument, you paused and listened.

"--AND THAT CONCLUDES WHY LASAGNA IS COMPLETELY APPROPRIATE FOR A DELICIOUS BREAKFAST!" Edge said, a hint of smugness in his voice.

"WELL, I MEAN, THAT'S GREAT AND ALL," Blue chirped. "BUT I STILL THINK THAT BREAKFAST TACOS WOULD BE BETTER. THEY'RE LIKE NORMAL TACOS, BUT WE USE BACON, EGGS, AND CHEESE FOR THE FILLINGS! OR WE COULD TRY PAPY'S FAVORITE, AND MAKE SOME HONEY--"

"OH PLEASE!" Black scoffed. "YOU CAN HARDLY CALL THOSE SOGGY SHELLS TACOS IF YOU CHANGE THE WHOLE RECIPE BEHIND IT! BESIDES, YOU CAN'T JUST START STUFFING FOOD INTO A TACO SHELL AND SAY ITS A TACO. I'M GOING TO MAKE BURRITOS, AND THAT'S FINAL."

"YOU CAN'T JUST DECIDE THAT!" Blue argued. "SINCE WE ALL WANT TO MAKE BREAKFAST, WE SHOULD TRY COMPROMISING."

"AND HOW EXACTLY DO YOU PLAN ON DOING THAT, BLUE BOY?" Edge yelled. "ARE YOU SUGGESTING WE MAKE LASAGNA BURRITOS OR SPAGHETTI TACOS?"

"HEY ACTUALLY, THAT LAST ONE DOESN'T SOUND TOO BAD." Papyrus, your Papyrus, said. "AND IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU'RE MAKING A REFERENCE TO A TV SHOW CALLED--"

"I'M NOT MAKING ANY REFERENCES! I'M SIMPLY SAYING THAT COMPROMISING ISN'T GOING TO WORK, YOU IDIOT!"

"NOT WITH THAT ATTITUDE!"

"IT'S NOT AN ATTITUDE! IT'S CALLED BEING REALISTIC, WHICH IS SOMETHING YOU SHOULD TRY DOING, YOU BLUBBERING BUFFOON!"

"AS MUCH AS I'D LOVE TO ARGUE WITH YOU TWO IMBECILES, I'M GOING TO NOT WASTE MY TIME AND INSTEAD START ON BREAKFAST!" Black huffed, and you heard the sound of a chair scraping against the linoleum.

"HEY! WE COULD ALWAYS MAKE BREAKFAST BURRITOS INSTEAD! IF YOU WANT, I CAN HELP YOU!" Blue said, and once again, you heard a chair scrape against the linoleum.

"I'D RATHER HAVE MY FUCKING ANKLES BROKEN THAN COOK WITH YOU. NOW MOVE!"

"BUT I WANT TO HELP, TOO!"

"ARE YOU DEAF? I DON'T WANT YOUR HELP, BLUE BOY."

"BUT IF WE WORK TOGETHER, THEN BREAKFAST WILL BE DONE FASTER!"

SLAM!

"IF YOU TRY TO ARGUE WITH ME ONE MORE TIME, I'LL SHOW YOU WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO DARE TO CROSS THE MALEFICENT SANS!"

"WAIT!" Papyrus yelled. "THERE'S NO NEED TO FIGHT!"

You flinched. There are way too many people shouting at this hour, and you haven't even had your coffee yet. With a sigh, you pushed the door open, interrupting the bubbling fight.

Inside, Black had both of his fists balled up on the table, which were surrounded by a few hairline cracks on its surface. Blue was standing next to him with his gloved hands on his hips and a stern yet friendly look on his face. Beside both of them was a fallen chair. Meanwhile, Edge was rummaging through the fridge, purposely ignoring Papyrus, who was still trying to tell him that compromising with their breakfast ideas would work if they all tried. Every single skeleton looked up when you entered, although Papyrus and Blue were the only ones that looked happy to see you.

"Morning guys," you said, pushing your hair to the side before making your way over to fiddle coffee maker. Ah, it looks like Papyrus didn't get around to setting it up this morning. No biggie, you were a big girl. You may not know how to change the oil in your Jeep, but you knew how to make instant coffee.

A choir of voices replied back.

"GOOD MORNING (Y/N)!"

"MORNING, HUMAN!"

"DON'T TALK TO ME."

And Edge just huffed and looked away.

While you made coffee, Papyrus handed you a bowl and a cereal box of your favorite cereal.

"SORRY FOR NOT MAKING YOU A PROPER MEAL," Papyrus said as he twisted the end of his red scarf. "BUT THERE'S BEEN SOME, ERR, COMPLICATIONS WITH BREAKFAST THIS MORNING."

You took the items and smiled. "Eh, no worries. I love cereal. Thanks!"

Papyrus beamed.

After grabbing the milk, you walked over to the table and pulled out a chair next to Black, who was still standing and eyeing everyone in the room menacingly, especially Blue. Blue, on the other hand, paid no attention to him and quickly claimed the seat next to you.

"SO HUMAN, WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR TODAY?"

You swallowed your cereal. "Well, I have three classes today, brunch with the musical peeps, band practice, choreography practice, a study group meeting, and then work until eight."

Blue beamed at you. "WOWIE! THAT'S A LOT. DO YOU LIKE MUSIC?"

Black snorted, cutting off your reply.

"SERIOUSLY?" He asked, gesturing towards you while shooting Blue a deadpanned look. "YOU'RE ASKING HER IF SHE LIKES MUSIC? IS YOUR SKULL SO DENSE THAT YOU FORGOT ABOUT LAST NIGHT?"

"W-WELL, I KNEW THAT SHE LIKED MUSIC," Blue admitted, fiddling with his gloves. "BUT I WANTED TO HEAR MORE ABOUT IT. IT'S CALLED TRYING TO MAKE A CONVERSATION!"

"IF THAT WAS YOUR EXAMPLE OF A CONVERSATION," Black snapped, "THEN YOU MUST NOT HAVE MANY FRIENDS."

Blue's eyes shrunk, and you heard Edge muffle a laugh.

"T-THAT'S NOT TRUE!" Blue blurted, practically jumping out of his chair. "THE MAGNIFICENT SANS HAS PLENTY OF FRIENDS! TONS OF THEM! AND MANY BESTIES!"

"I FIND THAT HIGHLY UNLIKELY." Black narrowed his eyes.

"I'M NOT L-LYING!"

"REALLY?" Black leaned forward with a smirk. "THEN NAME THEM."

"W-WHAT?"

"NAME THEM. NAME ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS."

"O-OKAY, BUT UH, YOU FIRST!"

"EASY!" Black leaned back and propped his purple boots on the table, much to your (and Papyrus's, if his cringe meant anything) delight.

"I DON'T HAVE ANY FRIENDS."

"REALLY? IF THAT'S TRUE, THEN MAYBE WE CAN--"

"YOU'RE JOKING, RIGHT?" Black chuckled. "I DON'T HAVE ANY FRIENDS BECAUSE I DON'T WANT ANY. NOW, I BELIEVE IT'S YOUR TURN, BLUE BOY. GO ON. TELL ME ABOUT ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS WHO TOTALLY EXIST."

Blue's eye twitched. "UM... OKAY, WELL, T-THERE'S ALPHYS."

"SHE'S YOUR BOSS, JUST LIKE HOW SHE'S MINE IN MY UNIVERSE. SHE'S NOT REALLY YOUR FRIEND."

Blue 's mouth dropped open. "BUT--"

"CONTINUE!" Black waved a hand, and Blue sunk into his scarf, no longer looking at anyone except the floor.

"AND... UM... PAPYRUS..."

"YOUR BROTHER DOESN'T COUNT!"

"YES, HE DOES!" Blue retorted.

"NO, HE DOESN'T!"

"HE MOST CERTAINLY DOES!"

"NO, HE MOST CERTAINLY DOESN'T!" Black jabbed a finger into Blue's scarf. "ADMIT IT: YOU'RE JUST TRYING TO AVOID THE FACT THAT YOU DON'T HAVE ANY FRIENDS. YOU'RE JUST. LIKE. ME."

"Don't forget me, Blue."

Every eye socket turned around to face you as you took another bite of cereal. You swallowed and nodded to a very confused skeleton.

"Yeah man," you said, casually. "We're friends, remember?"

You weren't fully ready for the reactions after that.

Blue's once pin-pricked eyes dilated and morphed into dazzling stars, which matched quite well with the joyful grin on his face. On the other hand, though, Black was glaring at you and Blue with disbelief.

"OH YEAH!" Blue chirped up as he gestured to you. "I CAN'T BELIEVE I ALMOST FORGOT ABOUT (Y/N), MY NEW FRIEND!"

"W-WELL, IF SHE'S YOUR FRIEND, THEN... THEN SHE'S MINE, TOO!" Black said, shooting you an expecting look.

You locked eyes with him and took another bite of your fruity cereal, snapping your jaws shut with a loud crunch.

Blue looked at you with wonder while Black fumed. In the next second, he was on his feet, stomping over to you.

"HUMAN, I DEMAND THAT YOU BECOME MY FRIEND, RIGHT NOW!"

"WOWIE! THAT'S SO NICE OF YOU," Papyrus smiled. "AND HERE I THOUGHT YOU DIDN'T WANT FRIENDS. ESPECIALLY WITH LOWLY HUMANS."

You nearly choked on your milk when Black's face grew purple.

Oof, drag him, Papyrus. Drag him.

But apparently, Black wasn't done yet. Instead, his bottom lip trembled with rage as he slammed his hands down on the table, right next to your cereal bowl.

"HUMAN, I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT I--"

"HEY YO I'M JUST LIKE MY COUNTRY, I'M YOUNG, SCRAPPY, AND HUNGRY, AND I'M NOT THROWING AWAY MY--"

Click.

You quickly turned off the alarm on your phone and downed the rest of your cereal and milk.

...All the while avoiding Papyrus's knowing gaze.

"Really, (Y/N)?" He said, grinning. "You're still listening to Hamilton?"

"Oh, you shush," you giggled.

"WHAT WAS THAT?" Blue asked, curiously looking down at your phone. "IT SOUNDED PRETTY CATCHY!"

"A musical that I would love to tell you guys all about, but since that song was also my alarm, I need to get going." You placed your bowl in the sink, strapped on your backpack, and grabbed your saxophone.

"WAIT! ARE YOU LEAVING NOW?" Blue asked, holding the door open after you left the kitchen. You could see a couple of other eye sockets watching you through the opening as well, including Edge's, who still hadn't said a word to you all morning.

"Yep! I'm a busy bee, and it's time I hit the hive." You turned around and waved over your shoulder. "Bye friends and Black! See you guys soon!"

After you disappeared through the front door, Blue slide back into his seat at the kitchen table, and an awkward silence settled in the room.

Well, it was silent, until a certain skeleton spoke up.

"WHO THE HELL IS BLACK?" Black yelled.

+++

You took another bite out of the raspberry donut, aka, your dinner, as you watched the cafe's wall clock tick on with mild interest.

6:45 P.M.

You were exhausted.

To put it simply, today had been a long, long, long day. According to your Fitbit, you walked/marched about fifteen miles today, and that was just from getting around campus to all of your activities. In addition to dealing with the normal school stuff, you had been discretely texting Sans and Papyrus throughout the day. Apparently, they actually went through with the 'tour the city' bit, and it was just about as chaotic as you thought it would be.

Your original suspicion was right: after exchanging their gold for your country's currency, they ended up just as rich as your roommates. To top it off, if Sans's complaints about moving everything back to the lodge meant anything, Edge and Black ended up buying half the city, and Blue was getting an arcade installed somewhere.

Well, at least there weren't any more threats or fights. If there were, you're pretty sure you would've seen it on TV.

You smiled as you went through Papyrus's message once more. It seemed him and Blue hit it off pretty well, and apparently, so did Stretch, Sans, and, if the picture with a grinning skeleton's face covered in mustard meant anything, Red, too.

You tucked away your phone and leaned into your palms, your elbows propped up against the cafe's counter. Unsurprisingly, the quaint little coffee shop was pretty empty at the moment. Why the owner insisted on staying open until eight was a mystery, especially since you rarely got any customers after six rolled around.

A yawn escaped your throat.

Mm. Damn, you must be more tired than you realized.

Let's see. You were the only one in the entire shop today (your boss left earlier to attend her stepson's basketball game), and you weren't expecting another customer to come waltzing in, so maybe you could just... close your eyes...

...

Ring!

The door's bell chimed, and you immediately jerked straight up and mentally prepared yourself for your usual customer greeting...

That is, until you saw Stretch's amused look and Blue's concerned one.

"Oh, hey guys," you said, quickly leaning back into your palms. "What's up?"

"oh, nothing much," Stretch hummed. "but you seem to be busy counting sheep."

"Har de har har," you huffed. "Wow. You're sooo funny."

Stretch chuckled while Blue quickly approached the counter. Up close, you noticed he was carrying a small white shopping bag.

"HUMA--I MEAN, (Y/N)!" he asked. "ARE YOU OKAY? YOU LOOK REALLY TIRED!"

You waved off his concern. "Trust me. I'm fine. I just need a good night's sleep is all."

Blue relaxed a little. "OH, OKAY. WELL, I'M NOT REALLY ONE FOR SLEEPING--"

"i am," Stretch piped up.

"--BUT I UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE BEHIND IT FOR HUMANS! AND I KNOW THAT OUR SUDDEN ARRIVAL HAS PROBABLY BEEN STRESSFUL FOR YOU, BUT PLEASE, REMEMBER TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!"

You barely managed to stifle your laughter. "You're too nice. It's really not a big deal, but I'll take your advice anyway. Thanks."

"So are you guys here to chat, or can I help you?" you said.

Stretch leaned over the counter. "ya got anything with sugar in it?"

You snorted and gestured over to the tray of pastries.

"I wish I could tell you they're fresh from the oven, but we close in about an hour, so my statement would've been a lie. But if you want something to sip on, I can make a pretty good frappuccino."

Stretch cocked an eyebrow. "frappe-what-now?"

"A frappuccino," you emphasized, pointing to the chalkboard menu above your head. "We have a bunch of flavors. Mocha, Turtle, Caramel, Vanilla..."

"ya got anything with honey?"

Blue facepalmed. "SERIOUSLY? YOU JUST HAD A BOTTLE!"

Stretch shrugged.

You scratched your head. "Um, honestly? No, but... they're all the same price, so if you're willing to try something that I've never made before, I'll do my best."

Stretch grinned. "heh, show me what you got. but uh, ya think you can mix it with a shot of espresso?"

"A man after my own heart, I see," you hummed.

"hey, what can i say? i don't have a heart. mind if i borrow yours?" he winked.

You giggled and wrote down the order, and then looked up at Blue, who was eyeing the frappuccino list as well.

He rubbed his chin. "THERE'S SO MANY FLAVORS! I CAN'T POSSIBLY MAKE UP MY MIND!"

"Want some help?"

Blue nodded, and you squinted at him.

"UM... WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" he asked, fidgeting under your gaze.

"Trying to get a good read on your personality so that I can guess your favorite flavors."

"OH! WELL, THAT'S EASY!" Blue exclaimed. "WE ALREADY DETERMINED THAT I'M JUST LIKE YOUR UNIVERSE'S PAPYRUS!"

"No, you're not."

Both skeletons stared at you.

You shook your head. "You're not like Papyrus. You're more adventurous and much more willing to take risks in favor of gaining something positive, like a friendship from a human you've never met before. You're trusting, kind, and cool, yes, but you're not Papyrus. You're something unique. You're you."

When you finished talking, you looked up to see the brothers both giving you unreadable expressions, especially Blue, who's eye lights seemed a little... fuzzy.

Feeling like you've stepped out of bounds, you sheepishly tugged on your sleeves. "Um. I've kind of always had a thing for reading people, so that's sort of the vibe I got off of you. It's not much, but then again, I haven't really been around you much, so--"

"Wowie..." Blue mumbled. "That's... That's The Nicest Thing Anyone Has Ever Said To Me."

"hey now," Stretch poked your arm. "that's pretty impressive. can you do me now?"

Laughing, you shrugged his hand off of you. "Pfft. Sorry. Only one skeleton per day. Store's rules."

Stretch snapped his fingers. "damn. next time, then?"

"Sure, sure." You smiled.

"So," you said, snapping Blue out of his thoughts. "You ever had salted caramel? It's two flavors combined. Sweet AND salty."

"THAT... THAT DOES SOUND PRETTY GOOD!" Blue said, quickly returning to his normal self. "I HAVE A SWEET TOOTH, BUT IT'S NOT AS BAD AS MY BROTHER'S. LET'S TRY IT!"

You finished taking their totals, collected the money, and then spun around to make their drinks. When you finished, you handed both of them their respected cups, and they curiously looked at the names you wrote on them.

"STRETCH AND BLUE?" Blue asked after comparing his drink to his brother's.

"heh heh," Stretch said, giving you a lopsided grin. "nobody else uses those nicknames, so i kinda forgot about 'em."

"Trust me, they'll catch on."

After trying your drinks and complimenting your barista skills, the brothers decided that it was time for them to head back up, saying that they were expecting some last-minute deliveries for Blue's new arcade.

"Bye guys!" you said, waving at them. "I'll be home in a bit. Have a safe drive!"

"YOU TOO!" Blue said.

"yeah, bye," Stretch repeated, but before he disappeared through the door, he raised his drink. "oh, and thanks for the honey, honey."

You giggled as he winked, and then once again, you were alone in the shop.

Well, scratch that. You were alone for about a minute until the bell chimed again, but instead of Stretch and Blue, you had two new visitors.

"What's up, buttercups?" you greeted towards the edgy duos.

Edge sneered. "I AM NEITHER BUTTER NOR A CUP, HUMAN."

"Of course," you hummed. "How could I have been so blind?"

He frowned and then eyed your appearance. "YOU LOOK AWFUL."

"Thanks!"

"IT'S NOT A COMPLIMENT!" he snapped. "I MEAN IT. YOU LOOK LIKE YOU'RE ABOUT TO DROP DEAD."

"Hmm. Nah," you waved off his comment. "I'm not that lucky."

"oi, can we cut the sarcasm?" Red groaned before sluggishly collapsing against your counter.

"gimme caffeine," he mumbled, his head pressed against the counter.

"More specific," you replied.

"coffee!"

"Hot or iced?"

"hot or..." Red picked his head up and shot you a confused look. "ya humans ice in it up here?"

"Yeah," you hummed. "And sometimes, if we're feeling really freaky, we put sugar and cream in it. milk, too, but only if you're ready to end it all."

"ughhh," he groaned. "ya know what? i don't fuckin' care. just give me something strong. i've got a headache about the size of my bro's ego right now."

"HEY!" Edge retorted, but Red shot him the bird.

"not now, boss," he grunted. "just not. fuckin'. now."

You thought Edge would try to start a fight, but something in his eye sockets shifted, and he looked away with a huff.

...Huh.

You decided to spare Red's headache in favor of ringing up his order. Then, you looked expectantly to Edge. It took him a few seconds for him to realize you were waiting on him.

"JUST BLACK COFFEE WILL BE FINE."

"Um..." You looked back at the different flavors. "Do you want light roast, medium roast, pike roast, hazelnut, Dark Roast--"

He furrowed his brows. "YOU GUYS HAVE DIFFERENT FLAVORS, TOO?"

Oh boy.

"You know what?" you said while writing down his new order. "I'm just gonna make you something, and if you don't like it, you can get a refund. How's that?"

Edge studied you for a second before sighing. "IF YOU MUST. BUT REMEMBER HUMAN! I AM A SKELETON OF VERY HIGH STANDARDS THAT YOU ARE BOUND TO FAIL, SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL GIVE UP."

"I guess that means I have nothing to lose, either, right?" You said before repeating their total. "So if I have nothing to lose or gain, then I might as well try anyway, just for the heck of it. You know?"

Edge's hand stretched past his brother's sleeping skull as he gave you his card.

"YOU ARE A STRANGE HUMAN," he mused.

"And you're a strange skeleton," you said while fixing the coffee brewer.

There wasn't anymore small talk after that. At least, not until you handed both of them their coffees. You had to shake Red awake before he realized you were finished, and when he did, he eagerly snatched up and downed a large gulp of coffee.

"hey..." Red said, popping open the top and peering into the cup. "what is this?"

"A red eye," You said. "It's coffee with one shot of espresso, but I added a little bit of sweet cream to it for flavor. Plus, I thought the name went with your..." You gestured towards his eye sockets.

And Red wheezed.

"heh.. heh hah hah hah!" he laughed before wiping away a tear. "oh fuck. sweetheart, yer gonna be ta death of me. that's the best thing i've heard all day."

He took another sip. "plus, this shit's pretty good."

You beamed. "I'm glad you like it. If I'm home when you wake up, I'll make you another one."

He raised an eyebrow. "you'd do that fer me?"

"Of course."

"HUMAN!" Edge bellowed. As soon as you turned to face him, he shoved his coffee under your nose. "I SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED BLACK COFFEE!"

"It IS black coffee," you insisted.

"THEN WHY DOES IT SMELL DIFFERENT?"

"That's cause it's Italian Roast," you gestured over towards the coffee maker. "It's usually has a darker tone and stronger taste than what you're probably used to, but it's good. Try it!"

"I DON'T--"

"Come onnnn," you pushed, blinking up at him. "Just trust me. You'll like it, I'm sure!"

Apparently, you somehow got through to him. Just before Edge pulled his coffee back, he locked eyes with you, and a small red tinge blossomed on his cheekbones. Before you could register the look on his face, he held the coffee up and took a sip.

And another. And another.

When he finally put the drink down, his gaze met your smart-ass smirk.

"Well--"

"IT'S ACCEPTABLE, AND NOTHING MORE!" he screeched, turning away from you.

"Aw, thanks!"

"hang on a second, bro," Red said. He carefully took his brother's mostly-empty cup and turned it over to see the name written on it in black ink.

"'edge?'" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"It's a nickname," you said. "Look. Yours has one, too."

Red picked up his cup and snorted. "pfft. yer really good at pickin' shitty nicknames, sweetheart."

"Almost as good as you are at flirting Red."

You winked, and the skeleton quickly looked away, grumbling something under his breath.

"But seriously. You guys okay with the nicknames? If not, I can always think of something else, or you guys can pick your own names. I just figured it's easier than calling everyone Sans and Papyrus."

Red shrugged. "nah. too much work. what about you, bro?"

Edge clenched his fist. "IT'S... ACCEPTABLE."

"Well, look at that!" you smirked. "It seems like I'm starting to meet your standards, Edge."

"WE'RE LEAVING!" Edge screeched, grabbing his brother's sleeve and dragging him towards the door.

"Aw, already?"

"I REFUSE TO STAY IN THE SAME ROOM WITH THIS GIRL FOR ANY LONGER!"

Red somehow managed to down the rest of his coffee before chunking it in the trash. When he caught your gaze, he chuckled.

"see ya later, doll."

"Bye Red! Bye Edge! You guys have a safe trip!"

"DON'T TALK TO ME!"

And once again, you were alone.

You looked back over to the wall clock.

7:20 P.M.

Your heart skipped a beat. Only forty minutes left until you were free!

You pulled out your phone and started texting a few college buddies to kill time, but, unfortunately, you were halfway into a conversation when the bell chimed again.

You glanced up, and internally groaned. Of course, they had to show up.

"What's that word, hummingbirds?" you greeted, eyeing the sunglasses taped to Black's head, despite the fact that the Sun had gone down two hours ago.

Black frowned. "WHAT'S A HUMMINGBIRD?"

Seeing no possible way to effectively explain birbs to him, you dropped the subject in favor of nodding to very tired Rus.

"You alright, man?" you asked.

"HEY! I WAS TALKING TO YOU!"

Rus cocked a brow and pointedly took a very long drag from his cigarette.

...Oh. You didn't like that.

"Hey, sorry," you said, sitting up a bit. "But there's a 'No Smoking' policy in the store. Please take it outside, or hand it to me, and I'll put it out for you."

Rus didn't reply. Instead, he leaned over the counter and blew a puff of smoke in your face before handing you the cigarette.

"don't ignore my bro again," he mumbled before leaning back.

You coughed and swatted the air in front of you. Smoking. Gross. If you came back smelling like smoke on the old strawberry farm, you'd be picking weeds with your bare hands for a week.

"Fair enough," you wheeze before snuffing out and tossing the cigarette. After washing your hands, you returned to the counter.

Out of all of the skeletons, these two were the most troublesome. They had caused the most fights, arguments, and destruction around the cabin. You had a sinking feeling that if anyone was going to get kicked out, it would be these two.

...But regardless, you still felt like you should give them a chance. Your mom told you to never judge a book by its cover, so you were going to do your best to not to.

With a small sigh, you dropped the remaining bits of your attitude, mentally forgiving them for everything.

"Sorry," you said, turning to Black. "I shouldn't have ignored you like that. It's really rude, and I know that these last few days have been stressful for all of us. Let me make it up to you guys." You took out a pen and paper. "Free drinks. How's that sound?"

Black blinked while his brother remained as stoic as ever. "YOU'RE... ACTUALLY SERIOUS?"

"Yes?"

"YOU'RE GIVING US FREE DRINKS OVER SOMETHING SO SMALL AS IGNORING A TINY COMMENT," he deadpanned, and then his eye sockets narrowed. "WHAT'S THE CATCH?"

"There isn't one."

"YES, THERE IS!"

"I'm just trying to be nice."

"HUMAN," Black warned, and the hair on your arms stood up as the air crackled with magic. "WHERE I'M FROM, MONSTERS DO NOT APOLOGIZE UNLESS THEY HAVE A SPEAR IN THEIR NECK, AND THEY ARE BEGGING FOR THEIR LIFE. NOW TELL THE TRUTH! WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT?"

Your eyes flickered back and forth between him and his brother.

This... wasn't a good situation to be in.

You didn't know these guys' past, but judging by their clothes, scars, and constant desire to fight and argue with everyone, you had a feeling it wasn't a good one. The same goes for Red and Edge.

That... made you kind of sad. You wanted to ask them what life was like back in their homes, but that was a conversation for another time.

You looked back at Black's murderous expression. Oh. Right. You were (probably) about to die. You really needed to work on that habit of spacing out during life-or-death matters, but back to the topic at hand.

Well, maybe you could try blatantly telling him the truth? A small bit of hope bubbled up.

...And then you realized that there was no way you could get out of this by telling the truth since Black wouldn't be able to accept it, and you were pretty sure that Rus wouldn't do a single thing to help you out of this.

Fine. If he wanted to do it the hard way, then you were gonna do it the hard way. After all, mama didn't raise no bitch.

"You're right," you said finally. "There is one thing I want."

"I KNEW IT!" Black exclaimed, looking like the cat that got the canary. "WELL, WHAT IS IT? WHAT ARE YOUR DEMANDS?"

"Can you turn that TV off for me?"

Black's smile quickly dropped. "What?"

"The TV," you pointed to the flat screen on the other side of the room. Some cooking channel was playing, but you had muted it and forgotten about it hours ago.

"It's too high for me to reach, and I lost the remote," you said. "It would really help me out a ton if one of you could get it."

Black glanced back to the TV, and then he gave you a bewildered look.

"YOU'RE SERIOUSLY?? ASKING ME??? THE HEAD OF THE ROYAL GUARD TO TURN OFF YOUR DAMN TV?!!?"

"Yee."

Black's eye socket twitched, and for a moment you thought 'lmao goodbye world...'

But then he snapped his fingers, and Rus stood up from his chair and shut the TV off with a soft click.

"Thanks!" you exhaled and offered him a smile.

Black hissed through his teeth but said nothing.

You cleared your throat. "So... what can I get you guys?"

"COFFEE"

"coffee."

You gently lowered the pen and paper and sucked in a breath. Your suspicion was right: they were like Red and Edge.

Instead of going through the whole notion of 'what kind of coffee do you like,' you decided to simply say, "Okay."

And then you went to work with their 'orders.'

After about five minutes, you sat down two cups in front of the brothers. Black immediately snatched his up and took a sip, while Rus, still sitting down, slowly made his way over to the counter. He refused to make eye contact with you as he grabbed his drink.

"HUMAN!"

"Skeleton!"

Black's mouth slammed shut, and then he glared at you. "DON'T CALL ME THAT!"

You smiled and he shook his head.

"NOW, WHERE WAS I? OH YES!" He pointed to his drink. "I ASKED YOU FOR COFFEE. WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?"

"A cappuccino."

He blinked. "A WHAT?"

"It's like a cafe latte, which is what I gave your suspiciously-quiet brother over there--" you gestured towards Rus. "--except yours has only one shot of espresso because of obvious reasons, less milk, more foam, and no whipped cream."

Black eyed you before taking another sip of his drink, and you tugged your sleeves.

"Well? Do you like it? I tried to go off of you and your brother's personalities, or, well, what I can guess they are like, anyway, since one of you refuses to talk to me."

You narrowed your eyes at Rus and watched as he hid his smirk with his drink.

Bastard.

"IT'S DECENT ENOUGH!" Black exclaimed. "ALTHOUGH TO TELL THE TRUTH, I'VE NEVER HAD ANYTHING LIKE IT BEFORE BACK UNDERGROUND. WE ONLY HAD REGULAR COFFEE, AND NO ONE EVER DRANK IT WITH ANYTHING."

"You don't say?" you mumbled, eyes suddenly feeling heavy.

"WELL, MOST MONSTERS ASSOCIATED THINGS LIKE CREAM AND SUGAR AS THINGS THAT WOULD MAKE YOU LOOK WEAK. AND SINCE SUPPLIES WERE LIMITED, YOU ONLY TOOK WHAT YOU COULD GET." He stared at his coffee. "THERE WAS ONLY ONE PLACE UNDERGROUND THAT SOLD ANYTHING OTHER THAN REGULAR COFFEE, BUT HE'S A SELFISH BACKSTABBING, MANIPULATIVE LIAR."

"What a guy."

"I KNOW, RIGHT? ONE TIME, HE--HEY!"

Something roughly grabbed your shoulder, and you immediately snapped awake. It took you a few times to realize that Black was now holding both of your shoulders.

"Oh. Hello," you yawned. "Sorry. What did I miss?"

His face scrunched up. "I Didn't Notice Before, But You Look Terrible."

"Funny. Edge said the same thing."

"Who?"

You sighed. "When we get home, we're all gonna sit around and have a nice chat about nicknames. Edge is the tall edgy papyrus. Err, not the mopey one. That's your brother. I'm talking about the other one."

"is that what these things are?" Rus asked, holding up his cup to show off the name you wrote on it.

"Oh look," you mused from Black's grip. "He CAN talk."

The bastard's only reply was a shrug.

Black quickly released you in favor of picking up his cup. If you didn't know any better, he almost seemed... excited.

"'BLACK?'" He looked over at you. "HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THAT?"

You eyed his dark clothes. "It came to me in a dream."

"THE TRUTH!"

"Your clothes, Black, your clothes!"

"OH." He looked down and inspected his ensemble. "WELL, I SUPPOSE IT'S GOOD ENOUGH. BETTER THAN BEING CALLED PURPLE. WHAT ABOUT YOU, MUTT?"

His brother tilted his cup up so Black could see.

"'RUS,'" he read. "IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN, THAT'S WHAT I USED TO CALL YOU BEFORE I JOINED THE--"

Black and Rus locked eyes with each other before turning in your direction. You suddenly felt like you were intruding on something personal, but at the same time, you couldn't do anything about it since you worked in this tiny little cafe.

"...yeah," Rus finally mumbled.

"OH." Black dropped his eyes.

"Uh, if you want to pick your own name, you can, dude. I just thought that--"

"it's fine," Rus said, standing up and crushing the empty cup in his hand. "i think it's time to go, m'lord."

Black stared at his brother for a few moments before giving in with a sigh. "YES. I THINK IT IS TIME FOR US TO LEAVE."

You bit your lip. "Okay, well, you guys have a safe trip! I should be home in--"

The bell rang as they left.

"...In a few minutes," you softly finished.

Well, that was incredibly rude. And just when you finally thought you were getting through to them.

You sighed and leaned your head against the counter. Your eyes flickered up to the wall clock once more.

7:51 P.M.

Only nine minutes. You could make it through nine minutes of standing here, doing nothing.

Right?

Much to your horror, the door chimed again.

You took in a deep breath and opened your eyes.

"Oh. Thank God."

Sans and Papyrus gave you a curious look.

"what's the matter, kitten?" Sans asked. "you look like you've seen a skele-ton of skeletons today."

"You could say something like that," you said, already ringing up their total. You already memorized their orders; after all, they were practically here nearly every day you worked.

An Americano for Sans, and a Green Tea Frappuccino for Papyrus.

Another yawn escaped your throat as Papyrus handed you his card.

"Are You Okay, (Y/N)?" he asked.

"I'm fine," you mumbled, rubbing your eyes. "Just tired. Like really, really, tired."

"Do You Want Us To Take You Home?" Papyrus toyed with his scarf.

"Nah. I can drive."

You pushed their drinks in front of them, and as they picked theirs up, an idea struck your mind.

"Oh. Hey. We need to have a nickname meeting," you said. "I mean, everyone knows their nickname now, but not everyone knows each other's name. So we gotta... gotta..." Another yawn. "Gotta do that."

"okay. we'll do that, if..." Sans took your hand. "if you let me take you home, kitten."

You shook your head. "I can--"

"You Shouldn't Be Driving While Tired, (Y/N)!" Papyrus scolded. "You Can Go Ahead And Lock Up, But You Either Let Sans Take You Home, or I'm Driving You Home."

"But what about my Jeep?" you asked. "Sans doesn't have a license."

"But I Do! I Can Drive It Home!" he pleaded, giving you those puppy-dog eyes.

You recoiled. "Oh no, Pap. Please. Don't give me that look."

Instead of listening to you, he pressed on.

"You're My Best Friend! I Care About You A Lot, And I Don't Want You To Get Hurt!"

"Uggghhhh." You playfully slapped his arm before collapsing against him. Luckily, Papyrus was prepared and quickly scooped you up.

"Fine," you mumbled, already half asleep. "Keys are under the table. Everything's clean. Just gotta lock the doors and turn off the lights."

"I CAN DO THAT AS WELL!"

You smiled and patted his cheek. "You're the coolest, Pap."

If your eyes were open, you would've seen the affectionate look Papyrus gave you before handing you off to his brother, who held you closer than he did.

"c'mon, kitten," he mumbled in your ear. "let's get you home."

You fell asleep in his arms before Sans could help you to bed, and you dreamed of a world where you were Alice in Wonderland, and all of the skeletons played as characters in your dream.

But that's a story for another time.

Chapter Text

You weren't sure who woke you up first. From, three floors up, they all sounded like the same babbling goblin, screeching around on all fours while it yearning for its precious to be returned.

Regardless, you were now considering sleeping on the roof instead of under it. Maybe four floors would provide enough of a barricade for you to sleep more than five hours.

"WHO MOVED MY PS4?"

"AND EXACTLY WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS ME?"

"I DIDN'T SAY IT WAS YOU, BLACK! I DIDN'T SAY IT WAS ANYONE, ACTUALLY!"

"YOU WERE LOOKING AT ME, BLUE BOY!"

"SHUT YOUR MOUTHS! SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO PREPARE A MEAL!"

"is that what you were doing, edge? and here i thought you were trying to set our kitchen on fire. again."

"WATCH YOUR TONE, SANS."

"PLEASE DON'T TALK TO MY BROTHER LIKE THAT, AND SANS, PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL TO EDGE! HE OFFERED TO COOK US BREAKFAST!"

"I DID NO SUCH THING! THIS FOOD IS MINE AND MINE ALONE!"

"is that what that is? from my angle, it looks like a pile of ash."

"oi, i'm tryin' ta fuckin' sleep up here. keep it down."

"SERIOUSLY! WHO TOOK MY PS4? IT WAS RIGHT HERE FIVE MINUTES AGO!"

"RED, YOU DON'T NEED TO SLEEP IN ANYMORE. GET YOUR ASS UP!"

"five more minutes."

"FOR THE LAST TIME, I DIDN'T TAKE YOUR DAMN PS4, BLUE!"

"AGAIN, I NEVER SAID IT WAS YOU, BLACK!"

"THEN STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!"

"I'M NOT!"

"QUIET, EVERYONE! YOU'RE GONNA WAKE (Y/N)!"

Too late, you thought numbly.

Your cheap bed bounced as you flopped over on your stomach and landed with a groan, burying your face into your pillow. Your throat was dry, a piece of hair was stuck in your mouth, and you were kind of cold, but you'd be damned before you got out of this bed. Today was one of two days during the week where you could sleep in, and you soaked in every ounce of that blissful moment that you could get.

After all, in college, sleep was no longer a necessity. You were no longer a human being. You are now another mindless slave to a world where people yelled and sneered at your application letters and demanded to know why, out of the thousands of people who applied for this one position, should you be considered more worthy than the rest?

You worked hard to get where you were. Very hard. You weren't in debt yet, but every day the seesaw with you on one end with your bank account on the other slowly ticked away inch by inch as another penny was spent, which gave you the perfect elevated view of your future sinking along with the other end of the seesaw. 

This was your reward at the end of the week: a little more sleep. And you'd be damned if you let some goblins' quarrels from the far caves below rise you, the fearless dragon, from your slumber. 

...

...

...You were getting kind of hungry, though.

...

...

...

But not hungry enough to get out of bed. 

Slowly, your body started to feel heavy again as your breathing evened out, and right when you were about to let the sleep mistress of the night claim you once more, the unmistakable sound of glass shattering was heard from three floors below you. Immediately, doors from the other floors (expect for yours, since you technically slept in the attic) began to open and slam shut as the other goblins of various shapes and sizes quickly galloped down the stairs, their voices soon adding to the growing chorus of a newly-formed argument.

The dragon in you woke up, and she woke up with a plan. A plan to silence the shrieks of the minions once and for all, just like how she had silenced the cries of her own brethren, back at the strawberry farm. 

So, with a decision made in your mind, you started mentally preparing yourself to be the sole functioning brain cell in the lodge.

But that didn't mean you'd be happy about it.

With frizzy hair covering half your face, foul breath, MTT sweatpants with a matching, over-sized shirt and a tired look that could kill, you rose out of bed and staggered towards the door.

Before you left, though, you made sure to open a small snazzy black case, and when you pulled out the golden instrument, your precious, the dragon within you smiled. 

+++

The broken lamp was the first thing you saw. Its clear glass base was shattered and spilled in shiny pieces across the living room floor, meaning that whoever broke it was aiming for someone.

Everyone was present except for Red and Edge. Your housemates stood in a circle around the room, each picking sides with their brothers while Sans and Papyrus stood in the center.  Judging by their position, you could tell that they originally tried to placate the rising tension, but soon got dragged into the argument themselves. Well, Sans did. Papyrus still seemed to be committed to playing the middle man's role.

Which was why he spotted you descending the stairs before the others did, and, with wide, relieved eyes, quickly covered his nonexistent ears when he saw you raise your instrument.

PPFFAAAAAAAABABABABABBAB ABABABBA!!!

Everyone except for Papyrus either jumped or yelled before spinning around to find you lowering the trumpet from your lips. Black drew a bone spear and aimed it, but when he realized it was you, he scowled and the weapon disintegrated. 

"Gooooood morning!" you stated sarcastically, swinging your instrument behind your neck as you did a little spin. "I hope you guys enjoyed my recital. I call it the 'Have You Lost Your Mind Because I'll Help You Find It' song."

"thank the stars that i don't have ears," Sans said rubbing his temples. 

Stretch, who was now slumped against a the love seat's arm, pulled out the broken lollipop out of his mouth. "you're tellin' me."

"you haven't lived with her for two years," Sans groaned. "i think i actually have tinnitus, and i don't even have an eardrum."

"lucky," Rus said, joining Stretch on the opposite end of the couch. "means you were deaf enough to be spared from that."

"(Y/N)!" Blue said, clambering over the sofa to properly greet you while Black stood in his place, glaring at you.

"DID WE WAKE YOU! I'M SO SORRY! I TRIED MY BEST TO KEEP MY VOICE DOWN." His blue eyes lowered to the lamp. "BUT I GUESS I GOT CARRIED AWAY."

"YOU ACCUSED ME OF STEALING, THAT'S WHAT YOU DID!" Black snapped.

"AGAIN, I DID NOT!" Blue said, spinning around. "I WAS JUST ASKING WHO TOOK IT!"

"BUT YOU KEPT LOOKING AT ME!"

"I DIDN'T!"

"YES, YOU DID!"

"Hey Blue?" you asked.

"YES?"

You pointed at his feet. "What's that sticking out from under the couch?"

Blue followed you gaze with curiosity, and his eye lights shrunk once he found his sleek, black PS4.

"I-I... UM..." he stammered, looking at you and then back at a fuming Black whose fists were clenched tightly at his side. A look of horror suddenly crossed Blue's face, and he urgently turned back to you with small eye lights. "I-I HONESTLY DIDN'T KNOW THAT WAS THERE! AND I REALLY WASN'T TRYING TO START ANYTHING! I JUST WANTED TO KNOW WHERE IT WENT!"

"It probably got lost during the move," you said, shrugging as everyone in the room watched Blue pick up and inspected his gaming system. "Stuff happens. Who threw the lamp?"

"I DID!" Papyrus said, raising a hand.

Huh. You weren't expecting that. "...Why."

"YOU WERE ASLEEP, THEY WERE BEING LOUD," Papyrus said, counting the reasons on his finger less gloves. "AND I NEEDED TO GET THEIR ATTENTION SOMEHOW. WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO? I DON'T HAVE LIPS! I CAN'T PLAY THE TRUMPET."

The one brain cell in your head started to scream as it was forced to process this at seven in the morning. "But.. but Sans plays the trombone...?"

"YES! HE DOES!" Papyrus chirped happily. "HE'D BE REALLY GOOD AT IT IF HE DIDN'T USE IT SOLELY TO PLAGUE MY LIFE WITH INCIDENTAL MUSIC!"

"But Sans doesn't have lips, either...?"

"WELL, OF COURSE HE DOESN'T! WE'RE SKELETONS!"

"You need lips? To play the trumpet and trombone?"

"YES?? I DON'T??? SEE YOUR???? POINT????????"

Flabbergasted, you looked at Sans for answers.

He winked and shot you finger guns from his spot on the love seat, and Stretch was holding a thumbs up for you, smirking as well. Blue was face-palming in disapproval, and Black was impatiently tapping his boot against the ground, all the while glaring at you as if you really were dumb enough to not be able to understand that, yes, they don't have lips, and yes, they can play instruments.  

You mentally decided to never bring up this topic ever again. 

You took in a deep breath. "Okay. So uh, I'm calling a house meeting. Preferably in the kitchen, over breakfast--aw, man, why is the kitchen on fire again?"

You weren't sure how you missed it, but suddenly everyone who wasn't on the couch was on their feet running towards the smoke that was seeping through the open door. When you stepped inside, you stood dumbfounded as you watched Edge toss a piece of charred bacon into a gooey mess of what seemed to be a bowl of uncooked scrambled eggs with their shells, spikes, mushrooms, milk, various other complicated things that the author refused to describe since she's tired, and something that smelled strongly like bleach. 

Papyrus, Black, and Blue ran past you as they started opening various windows to let smoke out, but you couldn't help but stare at Edge when he turned around with his egg soup.

"Dude," you said. "What the actual hell is wrong with you."

Edge's head snapped up at your approaching body. "WHAT DID YOU SAY TO ME, HUMAN?" 

"This!" you pointed at his bubbling cauldron. "What's wrong with you?! Who puts mushrooms in egg soup?!"

"IT IS NOT 'EGG SOUP!'" he yelled. "IT'S SCRAMBLED EGGS." 

"Oh," you watched something small swim around the murky yellow fluids. That something poked its head out and blinked at you. "Well, that makes more sense. But I think you forgot to cook it. And kill it. And make it edible." 

Edge sneered. "YOUR INFERIOR MIND HAS JUST NEVER EXPERIENCED FINE DINING FROM THE GREATEST CHEF WHO EVER LIVED!"

"Uh huh," you watched as the not-soup started to bubble black and green in the middle as the thing that blinked at you died. "Listen, if I were you, I wouldn't say that part out loud in this household or else you'll--"

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU'RE THE GREATEST?!" three different voices said at once. 

"Here we go again," you mumbled. 

Edge scoffed as Blue, Black, and Papyrus approached you two. "DON'T BELIEVE ME? THEN HOW ABOUT WE HAVE A COOK-OFF, WITH THE HUMAN AS THE JUD--"

"No no no no nononono," you shushed him, pressing a finger against his sharp teeth, earning a bewildered look from the tall, scary skeleton. "Shh. No. Cook-off. Not today. I already have a plan for today."

"I THINK THAT'S A GREAT IDEA!" Blue said, stars (how??) in his eyes. "BESIDES IT'LL GIVE ME A CHANCE TO SHOW OFF MY--"

"SHHHHhhhhhhhshs sha sha shaaaashhhhhh." You placed your hand over Blue's baffled face and leveled with him, ignoring the color in his cheeks. "The stars are not in position for this. No cook-off. Can't do it. Not today."

"WHY NOT?" Papyrus asked, making you audibly groan as you as you realized you were out of shushing hands. "IT WOULD BE A NICE THING TO--"

"SAAAANS, back me up, here!" you shouted into the living room.

"ey, sorry, pap. the stars said what they said. no cook-off." 

"CURSES!" he said, snapping his fingers. 

"But!" You released Blue and Edge in favor cupping Papyrus's face. "You know what the stars say we can do?!"

"WHAT!?"

"Baseball," you said with a sly grin. 

Several eyes blinked at you.

"WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!" Black demanded. 

"I'm so glad you asked!" You said, dropping Papyrus warm skull in favor of joining Black's side. He flinched when you leaned your elbow on him (easy to do, since you were both the same height), but made no move to push you away so you continued. You raised a hand in the air. 

"Picture it! It's 1942, and I'm a small girl with big dreams living on a strawberry farm with my family."

"careful, pinocchio," stretch called from the living room. "your nose is starting to grow."

You rolled your eyes. "Fineeeee. I'm not that old. But the point is that my siblings and I got in fights a lot. We lived in the rural south, so like, what else were we supposed to do? It was either that or smash mailboxes, but that's not the point."

You released Black and moved to open the counter window's that connected the living room with the kitchen. You were happy to see that the lazier skeletons were both watching you with interest as well, and Sans gave you a small wave as you sat on top of the counter, resting your trumpet in your lap. 

"But my sweet, beloved parents hated when we fought, and they quickly learned that the best way to get us to put our differences aside and work together was through group activities, like sports or card games with teams." You clapped your hands together. "And I just so happened to have the very same baseball equipment with me! I accidentally took the wrong box when I moved here, so lucky us!" 

"'LUCKY' NO ONE!" Black spat, crossing his arms while his purple eyes glared at you. "YOU STILL HAVEN'T EXPLAINED WHAT 'BASEBALL' IS, MUCH LESS CONVINCED ME TO AGREE TO PLAY IT!"

"I'LL PLAY!" Blue said, jumping up on the counter top with you with an eager smile. "I THINK A GROUP ACTIVITY WOULD BE PERFECT TO HELP US ALL BOND WITH EACH OTHER!" 

"AND NOT KILL EACH OTHER OR BREAK ANYTHING ELSE!" Papyrus agreed.

"Exactly!" You agreed. You looked back up at Edge, who was still standing there with his not-soup, watching you. A lock of your hair fell in front of your face as you tilted your head. "Well? How's about it, Edge? You wanna play?" 

For some odd reason, when you placed all of your attention on Edge, his eye twitched, and a maroon color began to spread across his face. Instead of answering you, he slammed his not-soup down onto the kitchen table and stormed past you and up the stairs before forcefully shutting his door with a loud BAM, leaving you and the others downstairs, perplexed by his sudden aggressive behavior. 

You broke the silence by swinging your arm back. "I'll take that as a yes!"

With new energy, you shifted your body down from the counter top and landed in front of Black, who stumbled back when he saw how excited you were. "It's your turn to give me an answer, Black! I'm not gonna force you!" 

His purple eyes watched you as you bounced on your heels. He slapped a hand on his skull and sighed. He placed his free hand on your shoulder to make you hold still as he spoke.

"IF IT'LL GET YOU TO SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE," he said begrudgingly, "THEN I'LL ACCEPT YOUR OFFER FOR A DUEL ON THE BATTLEGROUND."

"Not a duel, it's a sport, and there's not battleground, but okay!" With that being said, you skipped back into the living room, where the lazier skeletons watched you with raised eye brows. 

"Do I really need to repeat myself, boys?" you asked with a grin. 

"do i really need to get up, (y/n)?" Stretch asked while Sans snickered. 

You pretended to pout. "Pleaseeee. Your brothers said yes, and it'll be fun! Besides," you gestured towards the windows. "The sunlight will be good for you. The vitamin D will help your bones absorb more calcium, or something like that."

"we're made of magic," Sans said, giving you a smart-ass grin. "no calcium in us."

"I said what I said, and none of you answered me."

Sans faked a long sigh. "heh, well, if you insist, kitten. i suppose i won't strike out of this one." 

Stretch's shoulders shook as he laughed. "nyeh heh heh. i dunno much about baseball, but i knew enough to get that. good one, vanilla."

"thanks, stretch. don't worry. i'll tell ya a few before we head out."

"Is that a yes, then, Stretch?" you asked. 

He held his hands up and shrugged. "eh, i'm not much of an athletic guy like my bro is, but i gotta admit," he tilted his head at you. "you've caught my attention, (y/n)."

"Aaah, thank you, Stretch! I really think you guys will like it, in the meantime, though..." You looked at the skeleton that was sitting at the far end of the couch, watching on with no visible interest. "Rus?"

He raised an eyebrow at you. 

"Do you want to play baseball?"

He gave you a half-hearted shrug. "if that's what m'lord wants."

You looked over at Black to find him staring curiously at you and his brother. He quickly snapped his head in the other direction and crossed his arms with a "HMPH."

Well, that wasn't an audible no, so you decided to answer for him.

"I think he does want, so cool! This is gonna be great! We're just missing one more person..." You leaned your head back as you turned towards the second floor's wooden railing. "RED!!"

"DON'T ASK. I HEARD YA FROM ALL THE WAY UP HERE, AND THE ANSWERS NO!"

You winced and looked back at Sans. "What's his problem?"

"s'early," Sans replied, half asleep on the couch. "he's not much of a morning guy. i can relate, though."

You blinked and turned back towards the second floor. "I know it's early, but please don't say that just yet! Your brother's playing with us, I think, and besides that, everyone else is awake, so it's time to get up!"

"I'LL GET UP WHEN I FUCKING DECIDE TA GET UP! SO SCREW OFF!"

"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" Edge's muffled voice roared from his bedroom. 

"Ooookay," you shouted back. "I guess I'll just see ya later, then!"

No answer. 

You slowly turned back to the group of skeletons and ignored their stares as you reached for you trumpet.

"MISS (Y/N)? DOES THAT MEAN WE'RE NOT PLAYING BASEBALL?" Blue asked. 

You blew a quick rush of air on your mouthpiece in an attempt to warm your instrument up. "No. We're definitely playing, Blue."

Black scoffed. "HUMAN--"

You cracked a grin. "Skeleton--"

"STOP SAYING THAT!" he stomped his foot. "HOW DO YOU EXPECT US TO PLAY YOUR PATHETIC GAME WITHOUT COMPLETE TEAMS?"

"actually," Sans straightened in his seat. "now that I think about it, even with Red and Edge, we would still have seven players, which isn't an even number."

You laughed. "Did you actually think I was going to try to compete against members of the Royal Guard and three guys capable of manipulating gravity? No way!" You fiddled with your valves. "I was--am--going to referee so that we don't set the clearing out back on fire. Again."

"THAT WAS AN ACCIDENT!" Papyrus said. 

You smiled at him. "I know, Pap. It's okay. And we will get the others to play with us, too, so don't worry! In the meantime, though..." You placed your instrument to your lips and started heading up the stairs. "I guess now's a good time for me to practice controlling and holding my high C on the trumpet as loud as I can!"

As soon as you made it to the second floor, you tightened your embouchure on the instrument and sharply exhaled every last ounce of air that your lungs contained. A very loud, high-pitch sound immediately followed, and you chuckled lightly to yourself as you remembered how hard it used to be to get a perfect high C on the trumpet. Now, you were a professional who get that bread in her sleep

You paused at the top of the stairs to the second floor and waited. No one stirred, and the only other sound was Black, who was still downstairs, asking what the hell were you trying to achieve with this. 

You quickly shushed him, and, with an after thought, added. "Hey guys, no matter what you hear, don't come up here unless I call you!"

"UH (Y/N)?" Papyrus's nervous voiced called, halting you once again as you turned back to look at him. "ARE YOU SURE YOUR PLAN WILL WORK? AND IS IT FAIR TO REALLY FORCE THEM INTO SOMETHING THEY EXPLICITLY DON'T WANNA DO?"

Were... were you going at this the wrong way?

...

You thought back to last night at the coffee shop, when everyone seemed to open up for the first time since getting here, even if it was just a tiny bit. 

No one complained about their names, and no one showed any interest of moving out anytime soon. Everyone--except Rus, of course--seemed... not necessarily happy, but... better? They talked more, at least. 

But once they were all together again, like this morning... it was chaos.

A memory of you and your siblings fighting over Nintendo Dogs crossed your mind, and your dad's disapproving look as he took up the game cartridge and ordered all of you to go outside, where your mother was waiting with a glove in one hand, and a ball in another.  

They need this.

You shook your doubts out of your head and gave a concerned Papyrus a confident smile. 

"Ah, well, if they want to keep living under our roof, then everyone needs to play! If we all don't establish some form of trust among each other, then there won't be a roof for all of us to live under!" 

"OKAY!" He yelled back. "AS LONG AS YOUR SURE THAT YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING!"

You responded with a wink as you held up your instrument again and released another breath, this time working your way up from a relaxed C, to D, then E, and so on until you worked back up to a loud high C. When you ran out of breath, you paused and listened. 

There was a small creak of the bed from Red's room, but other than that, nothing. 

You grinned as you accepted their challenge. It might be a tough crowd, you but were a tough, determined cookie.  

"Not good enough for you, eh?" you asked the occupants of the second floor. 

No answer.

You huffed with a grin. "That was just a warm-up. Now, for the actual performance." 

With light steps, you started walking down the hallway, closer to the two doors that had somehow acquired scratch and a beaten-up in the two days that the skeletons have been staying in your house. 

"Skeleton and skeleton, thank you all for coming down tonight to listen to Miss (Y/N) (L/N)'s performance of Rhapsody in Blue. Please remain in your rooms like a bunch of cowards until you are willing to play a good game involving balls and sticks."

You heard someone snort from downstairs. 

"Until then, though, I hope you two enjoy the show!"

This actually was a song you were practicing on with your friend Evan, who usually accompanied you on the piano, so you decided to treat this piece like you would before an actual crowd.  With another inhale, you professional facade took over as you lifted you eyes and pretended to be on a stage with a warm spotlight over you.

You placed the instrument to your lips, and played the iconic opening. 

Ba da ba da ba aDaDaDadadadadabaaa--

You tilted you head back as you raised the note higher, higher, and higher. To you, this song was beautiful, but to others who were less appreciative of the creativity behind these notes...

daaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA da da da da da daaaaa da da daaaaa, da da da daaaaaaaaaa--

It was a train wreck that you were happily steering off the tracks and into the smooth genre that broke all rules: jazz. 

If it was any other time, you would've been proud for keeping the opening of the song as smooth and cool as you did. Unfortunately for you, though, your ultimate plan worked a little too well. 

No sooner had you finished holding that one, graceful note did you feel a sudden, menacing presence behind, and with pure luck you ducked and swung to the side as soon as Red's strong arms tried to encircle you in an attempt to grab the instrument. 

*Miss

If it wasn't for the fact that you literally spent two years living with Sans and Papyrus, he probably would've caught you, so you mentally thanked those two goobers for their pranks and japes. Feeling cocky and still missing one skeleton, you kept playing, making sure to dodge every now and then as Red, who was wearing nothing but a pair of basketball shorts, cursed as he tried and failed to catch you, slamming into nearby walls with every dodge you made. 

"you little--give it to me!"

*Miss

You took the trumpet out of your mouth and sidestepped another attempt to grab you, twirling around his body until your back was pressed against his. "Fun fact, my skelefriend: I've been in marching band since I was fourteen.

*Miss

"Holding notes while moving is and staying aware of others marching near me what I live for. Sometimes, I had to even dance on those uneven football fields!" You laughed, quickly leaning back as he tried to encircle you in his arms. "I mean, try doing that with a tuba or tenor drums! That shit takes some skill!" 

He slid down and tried to grab your legs this time, but you quickly stepped out of the way at the last minute, watching as he face planted in your previous spot. 

*Miss

"You know, in a way, this is kind of like dancing!"

*Miss

"I love dancing. It's been a while since I've danced just for fun and not for a choreography performance."

*Miss

This time, when Red once again failed to grab you, he slammed his back against a wall. Sweat poured down his face, and he looked like he was going to start cursing up a storm, but all anger drained from his face when you placed your hand against the wall, right beside his head, and his eye lights blinked out as you started to leaned down.

"Say... I think you'd be great at dancing, too," you said, looking at him with smug, lidded eyes. "Nothing complicated like choreography, of course, but I can tell you'd be a fun guy to be with at a night club on a hot Friday night."

"s-stop. stop lookin' at me like that. i-i don't fuckin' dance," he stammered. 

You watched with amusement as his face started to darken with a red hue. "Huh. That's too bad. I was gonna ask if you'd be interested in going with me sometime, but there's always plenty of other things we can do, instead..." You cupped his sweaty, nervous face, and smirked. "Like baseball." 

Red's eye lights snapped back to life as his entire face flushed. In one quick motion, he literally teleported out of your corner and left you standing there, with your hand still pressed against the wall, wondering what in the world just happened. After all, you thought he liked playful flirting. After all, he literally made several sex jokes about you the moment you two met. 

So that the heck? 

...Maybe you pushed it too far? Your shoulders deflated. Like, way to be a jerk, (Y/N). You probably made him uncomfortable in a bad way, and now he was probably locked up in his room again. There's no way he'd agree to do anything with you now, much less play a dumb sport. 

You had to ruin this, didn't you? 

Your shoulders deflated. 

...Maybe... maybe you should just leave them be, and call it off for now. You didn't wanna force anyone into playing; you just wanted the boys to bond and not burn the house down. 

With a sigh, you started to turn back--

Just to hear a crash downstairs, followed by a loud "oof!"

"stars, red! get off me!"

"can it, sans! it ain't like i wanted ta land on ya, idiot."

"RED? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?"

"s-shut it, blue!"

"I HEARD A LOT OF MOVEMENT UP THERE. WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND MISS (Y/N)?"

"i said shut it, blue!"

"DOES THIS MEAN YOU'RE PLAYING THE HUMAN SPORT WITH US?"

"fer the love of--yes, i'm playin,' alright?! now stop askin' me dumb questions!"

A small started to form on your face as all previous doubts began to melt away. Maybe they couldn't tell, but you knew that there was a bit of humor in everyone's voice, even if it did revolve around teasing Red. 

Nothing aggressive, just... just plain old, fun teasing. It was kind of equivalent to how your siblings used to crack jokes when you had braces, all those years ago. 

With a new spark of excitement in your soul, you started to turn away from your corner, eager to hurry up and confirm with Edge that he'd be playing. After that, you should probably change and grab a bite to eat. You of all people knew that it was very hard to do anything on an empty stomach, especially since--

A strong pair of hands quickly grabbed you by your arms, picked you up, and pinned you against the wall. Not aggressively, but enough to make sure you knew exactly what this skeleton was capable of doing if provoked. 

You blinked up at the glowering eye sockets that were leveled with yours. 

"Oh, hi Edge," you happily chirped. "I was just about to go look for you. So what's the deal, banana peal? You playing with us?"

Frustration practically radiated off of this guy, and he was so close to you, your foreheads nearly touched. 

"HUMAN," he began. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

"Oh, you know," you gestured towards your dangling feet. "Just hanging."

You felt his grip tighten as look of disgust crossed his face. "IF YOU VALUE YOUR ABILITY TO WALK, YOU'LL DROP THIS SARCASTIC ATTITUDE AT ONCE!"

You waved a finger and failed to hold back a smile. "You know, by the way you just said that phrase, there are, like, so many ways I can take what you just said, haha, so--"

Edge slammed a fist against the drywall right next to your head, cracking it and holding it there as he dared you to speak again.

Your dumb brain bit the bullet. "Ah, okay, that's what you meant..." You swallowed as you watched him pull his fist back, and flecks of the dry wall dropped off of it. "Um, gotcha."

"DO YOU THINK I'M STUPID?"

"Uh, no?"

"DO YOU THINK I ACTUALLY LIKE BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO FROM A LOWLY HUMAN, LIKE YOU?"

"Uh, no?"

"DO YOU THINK I WANT TO CONTINUE LIVING UNDER THIS HOUSE WITH THESE OTHER... OTHER COPIES?"

"Well, I mean, you did buy a lot of furniture yesterday, so--"

"I'M NOT LIVING HERE BECAUSE I WANT TO," he said. "NOR BECAUSE I WANT TO 'GET ALONG' WITH OTHER VERSIONS OF MYSELF AND MY BROTHER. I'M HERE BECAUSE THIS IS WHERE THE MACHINE IS, AS WELL AS THE IDIOT WHO TRIED TO FIX IT IN THE BLASTED FIRST PLACE! IF I HAVE ANY HOPE OF GOING TO MY ACTUAL HOME, IT DOESN'T DEPEND ON ME! IT DEPENDS ON THE VANILLA COPY WHO DECIDED TO PLAY WITH A  DEVICE THAT HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS CAPABLE OF DOING, NOR THE LIVES HE WOULD BE RUINING IN THE PROCESS!"

You looked down at Edge's hands, which although were holding up steadily, they were starting to shake pretty bad. 

You found yourself speaking before you realized you opened your mouth. 

"What do you hope to accomplish here?"

Not expecting your response, Edge's rage melted away as he blinked. "W-WHAT?"

"Here," you gestured to him holding you. "The machine's broken. We all know that, and Sans made an oopsie. A big, dangerous, life-changing oopsie. It sucks, don't get me wrong. I don't think anyone's really happy with the situation. You guys got pulled out of your universes, away from your friends, jobs, goals, and stuff. Again, it sucks. It sucks balls. But what do you hope to obtain out of trying to threaten or take it out on all of us, like what you were just doing with me?"

"I-I--"

"'Cause dude, I'll do my best to make you guys feel more at home, but like, what you're trying to do right now isn't gonna help anything," you jabbed a thumb to your face. "I'm just a college girl with big dreams and about $200 away from going into debt. If there's something else I can do, or something want to change, you need to say it."

His shock was replaced with repulsion. "SO IT'S PITY. THAT'S WHY YOU'RE ACTING THE WAY YOU ARE."

"Yes? No? I honestly don't know? I mean, why does it need to be labeled? I mean, I thought of it as just me just showing you guys some kindness."

"IN THE FORM OF A HUMAN SPORT?"

"Well, it sounds lame when you say it out loud, but yeah. The sport's just a game, though." You held a hand to your chest and tugged on a handful of your shirt. "I was looking at it as hey, I don't know you that well, but I'd like to, so how about we hit hard balls with metal sticks, run in the dirt, crack jokes, get to know each other a little better and try not to commit arson?"

"SO IT'S NOT A TRICK?"

Your brows furrowed. "No? It's not. I mean, what would I get from tricking you? Some angry words and distrustful looks? Got that already. Thanks, though."

He dropped you onto your feet and cradled his head in his palm. "CAN YOU NOT BE SERIOUS FOR THREE MINUTES?"

"I was!" you said honestly. Slowly, you moved to gently rest your hand on his arm, which caught his attention, but he didn't try to push you off. 

You looked up at him. "Edge, Papyrus," you pleaded. "I want to be your friend, if you'll let me. I was to know the things you like to do, the things you dislike, and although I enjoy making bad jokes and teasing you to some extent, it's because I like you. But if it ever got on your nerves to the point where it's not just friendly banter, I want you to tell me because the last thing I was do is upset you, or hurt anyone else." 

His gaze studied yours for a second before it dropped down to your hand on your arm. With reluctance, he sighed. 

"My World Wasn't Like This," he said bitterly, still watching your hand. "I Didn't Have Friends Outside Of Work, And Even Then, We Hardly Showed Any Signs Of Affection Because Doing So Made You So Vulnerable. Much Less Did Any Activities That Didn't Make You Stronger, Or Show Off Your Power. Playing Games Meant That You Were Soft. Pathetic." Another deep, long sigh, but this time his gaze returned to yours. "But... I Suppose I Misjudged You And This World Once Again, Human. I See That You're Not Just Trying To Get Me--Us--To Lower Our Guard, But That You... Y-You Actually W-Want To..." 

A red color began to bloom on his face, but before you could get a good look at it, he pushed you off and turned to cough. 

"W-WELL, ANYWAY! I'M FORMALLY ACCEPTING YOUR CHALLENGE FOR BALLBASE!"

"Baseball," you corrected, mentally questioning his sudden change in behavior.

"THAT'S WHAT I SAID! AND, IF YOU PROVE YOURSELF, THEN PERHAPS I WILL CONSIDER YOU AS MY... U-UH... W-WORTHY ACCOMPLICE! YES, THAT'S IT! NYAH HAH HAH!" He snapped his fingers and started to walk away, but as he did so, he suddenly stopped and turned back to face you with an unreadable look. Then, he began to take two, long strides to get back to where he was previously standing, and then a third one until he was much closer than he before. Dumbfounded, you tried to back up, but when your back hit the wall, you realized that he once again cornered you, but this time he was radiating something that wasn't anger. 

You swallowed as Edge raised his hand. "Uh..."

*Pat... *Pat...

You felt yourself sink and bounce back up with every pat on the head, like you were no longer a person, just an inanimate accordion made of awkwardness and jello. Most likely strawberry flavored. Maybe even with a touch of lemon. 

Wait, no. Scratch that. No lemon. 

"What... are you doing?" you asked when Edge dropped his hand. 

"RETURNING YOUR KINDNESS," he said in a matter-of-fact tone. "LIKE THE WORTHY ACCOMPLICES WE ARE!"

"Ah," you said, nodding your head with your mouth slightly gaped. "I don't have any words that can describe how weird that was, but thank? You? I guess?"

"OF COURSE, YOU'D BE SWIMMING IN GRATITUDE AND ADMIRATION AFTER THAT! IT JUST GOES TO SHOW THAT I, THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE PAPYRUS, AM NOT ONLY A MASTER AT MAKING WORTHY ACCOMPLICES, BUT CAPTURING THE HEARTS OF SWOONING GIRLS AS WELL!"

"Master at doing what now?"

"BUT THAT'S ALL I CAN SAY AND DO FOR NOW! AFTER ALL, WE, DEAR ACCOMPLICE, HAVE A BATTLE TO WIN!"

"Who are you and what have you done with the Edge I was talking to exactly three minutes ago. I don't even know what you're saying anymore. There is no battleground, and I'm not on anyone's team since I'm the referee."

"NYAH HAH HAH!" And with that, Papyrus twirled on the heels of his boots and started retreating down the stairs, leaving his scarf flowing in the the nonexistent win like he was a warrior returning home after a great conquest.

You slumped against the wall and tried to process your thoughts, ignoring the chattering downstairs.

As you did so, something in your head clicked, and a small smile formed as you started to understand Edge just a little bit more. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

After quickly stuffing another bowl of your favorite (and, most importantly, cheap) cereal, you hurried up to the attic where your room was and started to strip out of your pajamas. Kneeling down, you pulled out a small suitcase that contained nearly every piece of clothing that you owned, despite the fact that you've lived here for nearly two years. If anyone asked why you usually just told them that living out of a suitcase made it convenient for you when you went on band trips or other school tours, but honestly, you just couldn't afford a closet right now.

Which wasn't a big deal! Your suitcase was big enough to hold a majority of your clothes, and those that were too nice to be stuffed away like this were usually only meant to be worn for performances, so you left those in the hands of some of your performing buddies.

Since you would be moving around a lot today in the cool October weather, you decided to wear some of your athletic clothes, such as a pair of dark blue leggings that rose to your waist, a cropped white sweatshirt, and a pair of sneakers. While you were in the middle of clipping your hair up, you heard a knock at your door.

"Come in!" you said, not bothering looking away from the small broken mirror that hung from your wall, giving you perfect view of you sitting on top of your neat bed.

"uh, hey, hun," an awkward voice said. To your surprise, it was Stretch, who was standing awkwardly in the doorway as his eyes inspected your room, aka the attic. He gazed at your instruments before looking back at you. "huh. i was expecting this place to be more crowded, but... s'pretty empty."

You snorted and finished pinning your hair up. "You would think so, but honestly I prefer it this way." You looked back at the mirror and smiled at your reflection. "It leaves me just enough space for my ego."

This time, it was his turn to snort. "you'd be the last person in this household that i'd considered having an ego."

"Eh, you don't know that. Maybe I'm just that good at hiding it."

Both of you shared a chuckle, and you watched as Stretch relaxed a bit.

"So anyway, what brings you up here?"

"oh! uh, yeah, uhh..." he sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. "to be honest, sa--blue, sorry, sent me to find you. something about making sure you didn't miss out on the 'most important meal of the day' or something like that. If you haven't, he's making pancakes right now, I think..."

You moved off the of the bed and reached down for your mini laundry basket, where you proceeded to stuff your pajamas inside. "Well, that's sweet--err, pun not intended--of him to do, but I had cereal a few minutes ago."

Stretch snickered. "nyeh heh. sweet. good one."

You paused, half listening to his laughs as you eyed your dark circles in your reflection. "Oh yeah. You like puns too, don't you? I forget that you and Blue have swapped personas of my Papyrus and Sans."

"uh, no offense, but... how can you forget? i mean," he gestured to himself. "we're the same monsters, basically. s'like you said. we're just switched around, maybe tweaked a little since i smoke and your sans doesn't. i figured you'd just, you know..." He started to look uncomfortable. 

"I know...?"

"how me and blue both work, just like how you know how your sans and papyrus work? that we're just copies of your roommates, and not any different than that...? like, you act so calm and happy all the time, (y/n), but i know this has to be weird for you too? at least a little? i mean, heck, at least Edge and Red and the others act and sound different enough that you can tell they're their own people and not just... copies," his shoulders sagged as his eyes dropped. "heh. kind of makes me wonder that, if we were in a book, and if we had to pick, which one of us would've been from the original universe, if there even is one... is there one? nyeh, am i even making sense to you?"

You blinked.

He let out a groan and rubbed at his forehead. "the multiverse theory sucks, and everything i said is more confusing that the legend of zelda timeline. i'm starting to get a headache. you know what, i'm sorry, you're obviously trying to get ready, but i was thinking about what you said to blue the other day at the coffee shop and i'm just... i'm sorry, i'll go and--"

You kicked your laundry basket under your bed and stood up, causing Stretch to snap out of his thoughts. "Oh, sweetie, nooo! Don't think like that! It's not that simple, and even if it were, what would it matter? It's just like what I told your brother the other day when he said he thought he wasn't much different than my universe's Sans and Papyrus. But listen: you're still Papyrus, not the Great Papyrus, not the Terrible Papyrus, or the bastard downstairs that has said less than three words to me kind of Papyrus!" you grabbed his arms and forced him to look at you. "And you're especially not my Sans, either! You're you! Not a rendition of someone's imagination. Despite the fact that I said you two have switched personalities doesn't mean I think any less or different of you or your brother. Me forgetting that you liked puns is proof that I don't see you as a copy."

He shook his head. "but how can you say that? like, i know the plan is for us to all get along until the machine is fixed, but it's weird tryin' to make friends with someone that acts just like you, eats like you, talks like you, flippin' naps like you, like, like--" he took in a deep breath. "in all honesty, the only reason this house hasn't crumbled to the ground is because you're the one different thing that's keeping us together and sane."

"Do you like pranks?" you asked, shaking him a little.

Stretch blinked. "uh... what?"

"Pranks," you repeated. "Like placing a whoopee cushion on a bar stool right as a tough motorcycle guy sits on it, or shaking the hand of a CEO guy who's completely unaware that yours contained a ruptured ketchup packet in it, and now there's ketchup everywhere, and you're on the news in the middle of a live interview between monsters and humans."

"oh my--what!?" Stretch gaped at you like you had grown a second head. "no! no, i--i like jokes, like really cheesy jokes and stuff, but when it comes to actually pulling pranks that require me to deal with the fallout from stuff like that, i, uh." You watched as a light orange hue appeared on his cheeks. "okay, i don't know if you know this, you might, but most people don't, but i'm the younger brother, and a lot of people think i'm this cool and laid-back guy but i'm very much an introvert and a borderline coward. i'm saying that because i don't even like talking to people if i can help it, which is where blue comes in. my jokes are usually just something to keep the conversation going on long enough to where it isn't awkward and people can't tell how badly i don't want to be there but i also like socializing to some extent but once that meter fills up i'm ready to go home right then and there which is why my shortcuts are really useful but also many people keep asking me for more jokes and stuff and i end up just digging my own grave until blue shows up and--"

"Whoa whoa!" you said, once again shaking him once again. "Stretch."

"huh?"

"What you just told me," you said slowly. "Is proof of what I've been trying to say this entire time."

"i-i don't...?"

"You're shy. My Sans isn't. The pranks that I told you about were actual things that he did a while back, and you panicked at the idea of them!"

"okay panicked is kind of a strong word--"

"Papyrus," you said, cupping his face in your hands. "Just because you're in a different world doesn't mean that you're not still you. I get that being away from home is weird. Not to your extent, of course, but trust me when I say this, my dude," you tipped your head back towards your suitcase, which was sticking out from under your bed. "You're not the only fish out of water here. Okay?"

Stretch swallowed, and took in a deep breath. "okay. okay. i uh... nyeh." He gently reached up and pulled your hands away from his face, but didn't release them from his grip. "i swear. i, er, really did only come up here to tell you about blue's pancakes. i didn't mean to... to... i'm--"

"If you say the s-word one more time I'll kick your ass."

"uh, i d-don't have--"

"I know! I know! I'm just trying to make a point here."

Your sincerity finally clicked in Stretch's head, and he managed to crack a smile. He reached down and ruffled your hair. "you're so weird."

"You're not wrong. But hey, now that you're up here, do you mind helping me drag a few things downstairs?" You kicked a cardboard box that was sticking out from under your bed, and the box slid to Stretch's feet. He looked down and inspected the objects inside.

"sure, but what is it?"

"It's my old baseball gear," you said. "I've only got one bat and one ball, but I did find enough gloves to cover all four bases."

Stretch's arms barely had enough time to register you pushing the box into his hands, and if he reacted a second later, he would've dropped the box entirely.

"uh, okay." He fumbled with the box. "i don't have a problem carrying this, but if this is it, then why do you need my help?"

Stretched looked up to find you ripping open a pack of crackers with your teeth before popping two of them into your mouth. When you got to the third one, the two of you made eye contact, and you brushed the crumbs away from your mouth before speaking.

"Guitar," was all you said before cramming another one into your mouth.

Stretched slowly nodded his head before turning on one heel and exiting your room with a small smile on his face.

He really wasn't the only fish out of water here, was he?

+++

"IT CAN'T BE THAT SIMPLE! I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY PARTICIPATE IN A SPORT WITH SUCH LITTLE COMBAT!"

"Edge," you, said, looking up from your comfy position on the grass. "I promise it's not—"

"I DEMAND YOU REPEAT THE RULES ONCE MORE."

You held a finger up in the air. "Hit the ball."  You turned your finger to the side. "And then run."

Edge huffed and stalked over where you were laying. He placed his hands on his hips and leaned down to your face. "AND WHAT SOMEONE GETS CAUGHT?"

"Then they spontaneously combust and we send their ashes off to sea."

"THERE YOU GO AGAIN WITH YOUR SARCASM!" he huffed. "I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU'RE GIVING ME THIS ATTITUDE. IT'S ONLY THE TWENTY SEVENTH TIME YOU'VE EXPLAINED IT—"

You decided to save the next few hours of mindless arguing in favor of exhaling a puff of air into Edge's face. Immediately, he shut his mouth and stumbled back, giving you the perfect opportunity to climb back to your feet. You brushed your leggings off and whistled at the others, who had long since returned to the living room as you listened to Edge's rants about how the slightly unkept yard could potentially affect the results of the game. 

It was during this time that you also remembered you're slightly allergic to grass.

Itchy skin aside, you went through the line of skeletons and handed nearly all of them a glove, except for one.

"It's your lucky day, Rus!" You dropped the bat in his hands. "You get to go first."

The bastard looked down at his new tool with disinterest before raising an eyebrow at you.

"Well, don't act too excited." You gave his shoulder a friendly punch, but Russ didn't show any reaction to it except a slight sway. "Now come on! Don't keep them waiting. And by them I mean Blue, because he's pitching first."

Rus shrugged and swung the bat over his head, not bothering to look back at you as he strolled towards the open field. 

There were two teams, obviously, and their names were the Bone Boys and the Musketeers. Why these were the names that the others decided these were the best was unknown to you, but regardless, you rolled with it. 

The Bone Boys consisted of Sans, Rus, Red, and Stretch, while the Musketeers had Edge, Blue, Black, and last but never least, Papyrus. 

Other than Rus, you were surprised to see that everyone seemed actually kind of excited about the event. 

"SO I JUST THROW THE BALL?" Blue asked, looking unsure.

"Yep! And if he misses, then it's called a strike. Three strikes and the batter is out! Also, throw at a pace that works for you, usually the faster the better, but make sure it's within some sort of range that Rus can actually hit it. Like, don't aim for his head or anything crazy."

Blue's eye sockets widened. "I WOULD NEVER!" 

"i would," Red snickered from his position on the sideline, along with the other members of the Bone Boys. 

Stretch narrowed his eyes at him. "watch it."

"no, you watch it," Red retorted.

"CAN WE GET ON WITH IT, ALREADY?" Black shouted from his position on third base. 

"Sure." You tugged on the convenient whistle around your neck and held it up to your mouth. "Ready, everyone?"

There was mix of grunts and shouts and no reply from Rus, so you took it as a yes.

With that being said, you puffed out your cheeks and blew into the whistle. "Play ball!" 

No sooner had you said that, Blue stuck his tongue out, swung his arm back, and propelled the bar towards Rus at an intense speed that had to rival professional baseball players. 

SMACK!

Rus's bat sent the ball flying towards the forest behind your small clearing, but just when Papyrus had jumped into the air to catch it, Mutt appeared on first base, startling Edge.

"HEY!" He shouted, stomping his foot into the ground. "YOU CAN'T TELEPORT HERE! THAT'S AGAINST THE RULES!"

You blew your whistle. "He's right. The only time you can use one of your shortcuts is when you're the ones catching the ball. It's only fair since none of y'all can jump as high as your brothers."

"y'all?" Sans asked from his position on the sidelines.

You shushed him and looked at Rus. "But hey! That was a pretty nice hit, so feel free to go back and try again."

"WHAT?!" Black and Edge shrieked. 

"C'mon, guys!" You pleaded. "It's your first time ever playing this! I would've done the same for you both!"

Both of them opened their mouths to protest.

"Consider it as another chance to show him how good you are at this game!"

And both of their jaws immediately clicked shut as their egos overrode any further complaints. 

So, Rus walked back to the base and Blue threw another ball at him. 

*Miss

"Strike one!" you yelled, but there wasn't any real excitement behind your voice since the only reason why Rus missed was because he didn't even bother holding the bat up. 

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, MUTT?" Black yelled, placing his hands on his skull. "I GET THAT WE'RE ON DIFFERENT TEAMS, BUT IT'S A COMPETITION, SO ACT LIKE IT!" 

Blue, a bit hesitant this time, tossed another ball, but slightly slower than the first one. 

*Miss

 "Strike two!" 

"uh, rus?" Stretch said, rubbing his chin. "nyeh, no offense, but uh, it's a bit early to throw in the towel, don't cha think?"

"plus, yer makin' us look bad," Red added. 

"eh, just let the guy do his thing," Sans said, leaning against the house. "s'just a game."

Biting you lip, you looked back at Rus just in time to see a less energetic Blue readying his next throw. You briefly made eye contact with his unsure blue eye lights, and you shrugged.

Blue looked down at the ball in his hands and clenched it. With a serious face, the skeleton pitched the ball towards Rus one last time. 

S L A M !

The ball soared over Blue's head and went high into the air, causing Black and Edge to both make a run for it while Papyrus tried to defend first base. 

The problem was, though, that apparently Rus remembered that he had two long legs that could get him places fast. The lazy, nihilistic, lanky skeleton was nothing more than a blur of gray and purple as he shot through first base and made his way towards second. However, at this moment Black had caught the baseball in midair and was now making a beeline for his younger brother. 

As soon as Rus and Black both skidded second base, a cloud of dust exploded from their intense speeds, and you winced when you heard the sound of something slamming against the ground. With several coughs, you played your part as the referee and walked over to the scene, all the while doing your best to clear the air with some waves of your hand. 

"well, i'll be damned," Red said, slapping his knee.

"WHAT IN THE WORLD...?" Blue said, covering his gaping mouth with a gloved hand. 

There, with a hand on the ball that was pressing against Rus's skull as he laid on the ground, was Black.

"HAH!" he laughed. "SORRY, BROTHER, BUT ONCE AGAIN THE MALEVOLENT BLACK MUST SHOW YOU WHY HE IS CAPTAIN OF THE ROYAL GUARD!"

Rus coughed and cracked a smile at his older brother. "nyeh heh. i think you might wanna check again, bro."

Black blinked, and everyone glanced down once again as the dust completely cleared. There, on top of the frisbee that acted as a base, was Rus's hand.

"He's safe..." you whispered, and as your words hit you, you jumped up and screamed with a big grin on your face. "He's SAFE!"

"woohoo," Sans said, giving Rus a lazy thumbs up. 

"way to go, dude!" Stretch shot two finger guns while Red started howling in disbelief. 

"I can't believe it..." Black mumbled, staring down at the still smirking skeleton. He blinked, and his light purple eye lights returned with newfound energy.  "YOU DID IT! YOU ACTUALLY BEAT ME HERE!"

For the first time since you've met him, Rus actually laughed. LAUGHED. 

"aw, c'mon, black," he snickered, his face still pressed against the ground. "we both know you were going easy on me, right, m'lord?"

Black slapped his brother's back started to stomp off, his cheeks puffed out as he blushed. "YOU'RE DAMN I RIGHT I WAS! IT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN AGAIN, THOUGH! MWEH HEH HEH!"

And just like that, the game continued. But something changed, and somehow the air seemed lighter, as if a tension that you didn't realize was previously here was now gone. 

It made you smile.

Stretch was up next, but instead of hitting the ball as hard as he could, he simply cracked a couple of puns that got his brother riled up and swung his bat with very little effort, causing it to fly just beyond the outskirts of the base. Nevertheless, it was somehow enough for Rus to make it to third base and him to first. 

But then it was Red's turn. 

And you quickly learned that when it came to competitions, Red liked to show off. 

The big bad skeleton sauntered over to the home plate and tapped his bat on the ground for good luck before sending a suggestive wink over in your direction that caught you off-guard. 

Huh, you thought, looking away so no one would see your slightly warm cheeks. For a guy who can't take a compliment, he sure does like to flirt. I can kind of relate, though...

Red smugly looked up at Rus and Stretch, who were both ready to sprint at any second. 

"alright, boys," he growled, slinging the bat over his shoulders as he fixed his stance. "lemme show ya how a pro does it."

You watched as Blue rolled his eyes at Red's cockiness, but nonetheless threw the ball, albeit harder and more intense than his previous pitches. 

*SMACK!

A bright red light briefly blinded you as the ball blasted off into the air at a very fast speed, and Red immediately threw his bat down as he broke off into a sprint towards first base. 

"GOTCHA!" Papyrus proudly declared as he thrusted the ball into Red's face, causing him to stumble back and hit the ground hard. 

"Red, you're out!" you yelled, blowing into your whistle for dramatic effect. 

"what ta--" Red stared at the ball and watched as his fellow team members walked back to their previous bases. "no way. no fuckin' way! i made sure ta--"

"YOU USED MAGIC!" Blue scolded, his hands crossed on his chest as he looked down at Red. "THAT'S AGAINST THE RULES!"

"what? no i didn't--"

"we all saw it," Stretch said, shaking his head. 

"SERIOUSLY, BROTHER?" Edge huffed. 

"ah, well, you tried, buddy." Sans patted Red on the back, who shoved his hand off and pulled his hood up before stalking back to the sidelines, grumbling under his breath about rules being stupid or something.

Before he could make it back to the sidelines, though, you grabbed his arm and turned him around to face you. 

"That was a nice attempt to try to impress me, big guy, but if you really wanted to do that, my dancing offer is still on the table."

Red bristled. "i ain't--for the last time, i don't dance!"

"I know you can," you sang the tune out of reflex, and to your surprise, Red quietly hummed the next line back.

"not a chance. n o~"

You spun around on your heels and landed directly in front of red. Tugging on his hands and pulling him with you, you continued singing. 

"If I can do this, well, you can do that."

Red brushed you away, but still humored you with the next line. "but i. don't. dance."

"Well, flip my flapjacks! I can't believe you actually know that song!" You squealed, jumping on the balls of your feet. 

Red shrugged out of embarrassment and looked away. "well, when it came to human media content, we didn't exactly have that much of a variety. we took what we could from the dump, and my alphys 'n undyne made us watch a bunch of those High School Musical videos so that the all sentries would be up to date on their human knowledge," he grumbled. "if ya ask me, though, the royal scientist just wanted us to stay over for a movie night."

"Well, being forced to watch a movie is one thing, but going so far as to memorize the lyrics." You waggled your eyebrows. "Is a whole other level."

Red choked. "i d-don't--"

"buddy, it's best if you just walk away right now." Sans called from his position on home base. He was leaning against his bat and looking at the two of you with one lazy eye socket. "'cause if you get kitten riled up about musicals, then we're gonna be here all night."

"Aw, c'mon, Sans!" You pouted. "If you stand for nothing, Burr, what'll you fall for?"

"THERE SHE GOES AGAIN WITH HAMILTON!" Papyrus screeched. "WAY TO GO, SANS!"

"IS HAMILTON THE IMMIGRANT GUY? THE ONE WHO WAS SINGING ON HER ALARM CLOCK THE OTHER DAY?" Blue asked. "THAT WAS A CATCHY SONG!"

"WILL SOMEBODY THROW THE BALL BEFORE I BURRY MY HEAD IN THE GROUND?" Black yelled, throwing his glove down. "I CAME OUT HERE TO PLAY BASEBALL, NOT TO LISTEN TO A BUNCH OF REFERENCES OF MUSICALS THAT I HAVE NEVER SEEN!"

"We're changing that!" you said, spinning around with a grin."I'm actually supposed to be staring in a Heathers musical next week, so all of you should totally come!"

"THAT SOUNDS FUN!" Blue shouted. 

"NO, WE SHOULDN'T!" Black huffed.

"Are we going to have a problem?" You pointed, doing your best to make a sassy pose with your hips out to the side. "You've got a bone to pick?"

"IS THIS ANOTHER REFERENCE?" Black asked, feeling bamboozled and confused. "IS SHE ACTUALLY SPEAKING ENGLISH?"

"it's a Heathers reference, so no." Sans shook his head.

*Miss

"Strike one!" you yelled, not missing a beat. 

Sans blinked as a smug Blue readied another ball. 

"the heck, blue?" he asked. 

"SORRY!" Blue said back, clearing not looking sorry at all. "BUT AS SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY SAW THE ORIGINAL HEATHERS MOVIE BACK UNDERGROUND, I WILL NOT LET YOU DISRESPECT IT IN MY PRESENCE!"

"The musical is better than the movie!" you yelled. 

"I'LL HAVE TO TAKE YOUR WORD FOR IT!" He threw another ball.

*SMACK!

"HOMEEEE RUNNN!" You happily shouted as you watched the ball disappear somewhere into the forest. "And uh, can someone help me get that? That was our only ball." 

To your surprise, everyone offered to split up to search for the ball, and soon the game began once more. 

As it turned out, the more energetic brothers were just as good at playing the part as batters as they were being catchers. There were several moments where your group had to pause the game in order to relocate the ball from all of the home runs, but not as many as you thought there would be. Sans had a great talent for guessing where the ball was going to land, and Stretch's height advantage allowed him to simply stretch (heh) his arm out to catch it. Red was also eager to make up for his cheating loss, and Rus was still just as fast as he was earlier, and you caught him and his brother exchanging competitive grins on more than one occasion. 

You all decided to call it quits when lunch time came around, and it was at this point that you had to shyly shrug and admit that you forgot what the score was hours ago. 

To say that all of them took it the news lightly would be a lie (Black and Edge's s eyes twitched while Red slumped against the floor), but it seemed that everyone still maintained their good moods, and you and your friends all filed into the living room to watch one of Mettaton's old movies. 

A movie turned into movies, and you thought this was how you were going to spend the rest of the day, snuggled up between Papyrus and Blue, but then you got a phone call from work. It was your boss, asking if you could come in early today and perform since the scheduled band's main singer had a bad case of tonsilitis. 

Part of you wanted to decline since you were having such a great time with your new friends, but when you remembered how poor you were and that gas was expensive, so you reluctantly agreed. 

"Don't forget, my little star," your boss, dubbed Mama by everyone who worked for her, said. "It's a Halloween performance. So please make sure you wear something... showy." 

You smirked into the phone. "Yes ma'am." 

"Ciao, then." 

Click!

Without further ado, you excused yourself from the others and walked upstairs to pull out your old suitcase. You had a costume planned for this year's Halloween festival down at a nearby park, but you knew that Evan was still working on it. So, you would have to go with an old number that you hadn't touched in years. 

The red skirt around your hips was a little short, and the black corset and white shirt were a little tight and low, but a pair of leggings and boots helped make the costume modest enough to where you were comfortable with wearing in public. You secured the red hood and cape around your neck, packed a bag full of back-up makeup and a little cash, and made your way towards the stairs. 

"Hey guys," you said, your eyes focused on the steps as you continued walking. "I hate do this, but I just got called in for work, so I'm gonna have to leave for a bit." 

"THAT'S OKAY!" Papyrus began. "YOU DON'T HAVE TO--" he stopped. 

You looked up to see six blushing skeletons who were all eyeing your outfit, and some of their eyes were not on your face. 

You frowned. "What? Is there something on my shirt? This outfit is old, but I think I have a Tide pen or something if there's a stain--"

"WOWIE! YOU LOOK FANTASTIC!" Papyrus exclaimed, jumping up and nearly knocking over a gaping Blue in favor of picking you up.

"Thanks!" you beamed, patting his arm. "I was worried that it looked dumb or something."

"hot damn, doll..." Red drooled. "yer that riding hood girl, aren't ya?"

You giggled. "My, what big eyes you have." 

"sweetheart, that ain't the only big part about m--"

"DO YOU HAVE NO SHAME, BROTHER!" Edge yelled, slapping Red on the back of the head. When Red muttered out an apology, Edge looked back at you with a maroon hue across his cheeks. "SO THIS IS YOUR TRUE FORM, I SEE."

"My true--what?"

"I'VE HAD MY SUSPICIONS," he continued. "BUT THEY WERE NOTHING MORE THAN HYPOTHESIS UNTIL NOW. YOU'RE AN ENCHANTRESS!" 

"Uh, no." 

"OF COURSE YOU ARE!" he shouted, slamming his hands down onto the armrest. "YOU'RE A SUCCUBUS WHO'S SOLE PURPOSE IS TO SEDUCE THE LIVES OF UNSUSPECTING, STRONG, HANDSOME MEN LIKE MYSELF!" 

"here we go again," sans groaned, but his eyes never left you.

"EDGE, YOU'RE MAKING HER UNCOMFORTABLE, AND THAT'S A REALLY CREEPY WAY OF COMPLIMENTING HER!" Blue said, snapping out of his trance. He jumped over the couch and bounced over to you. "YOU REALLY DO LOOK BEAUTIFUL, MAIDEN!" 

"Maiden?" you asked, and Blue nodded. 

"YES! YOU LOOK LIKE YOU CAME OUT OF A STORYBOOK! AND I KNOW YOU'RE STRONG, BUT..." he grabbed your hand. "IF YOU WANT, I CAN ESCORT YOU TO WORK SO THAT YOU WON'T GET SNATCHED AWAY BY ANY WOLVES! IT WOULD BE AN HONOR!" 

Your heart swelled. "That's sweet, but you don't have to worry Blue. the bar's not that far from here, and mama's place has four bouncers who know me by name, so I'll be fine."

"mama?" Stretch asked, and Sans waved his hand. 

"s'her boss," Sans said. "real name's cheryl morton, but if everyone calls her mama. nice lady, and always willin' to call in a few favors for you if you're willing to do the same, but don't ever get on her bad side."

"huh..."

"Well, I'm off to work boys!" you said, picking up your keys and closing the front door behind you. "Call me if the house is on fire. Again." 

They all stayed quiet in favor of listening to the sounds of you walking away from the door. Soon, they heard a car door slam shut, and then one of them finally spoke.

...

"uh..." Stretch slid off of the couch and jabbed a thumb at the door. "anyone else worried about the so-called wolves?" 

"OH, THANK GOODNESS I WASN'T THE ONLY ONE THINKING THAT!" BLUE said, wiping the sweat off of his forehead. "I'LL DRIVE!"

"ME TOO," Edge said, ignoring all the looks sent in his direction. 

"I'M COMING AS WELL!" Black shouted, his face purple and his voice louder than usual since he had been too busy admiring your attire that he actually forgot to voice his own opinions about his look. "ARE YOU COMING, RUS?" 

Rus shrugged, seemingly the only one unaffected by your charms. 

"well, count me out," Sans said, sliding off of his chair and stretching. "i'm gonna go work on the machine instead of chasin' after a girl like some sort of lovesick dog just because she looks nice."

"BULLSHIT!" Black yelled, jumping to his feet. "I KNOW YOU HAVE FEELINGS FOR HER, YOU COWARD!" 

"THAT'S NOT IT! I MEAN, HE DOES, AND I'D BE LYING IF I SAID I DIDN'T GET BUTTERFLIES WHEN SHE LOOKS AT ME WITH THAT SMILE, BUT UH... (Y/N) IS NOT REALLY IN THE MOOD TO START DATING AGAIN AFTER... UH..." Papyrus twiddled his thumbs. 

"listen, buddy," Sans said, giving Black a wide smile. "she's part of my universe, not yours. she's been me 'n pap's roommate for two years, not yours."

"who are you to speak on (Y/N)'s behalf?" Stretch asked. 

Sans ran a hand down his face. "i'm not tryin' to pull one over your eyes, but none of you know her like me 'n pap's do."

"WHAT'S THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?" Edge snapped.

"you know what, how about you all go down to mama's bar and see for yourself?" Sans grumbled. "i'm pretty sure her shitty ex still works there sometimes. ask him if he regrets breakin' her heart about a month ago, and then go see if she's willin' to start somethin' with any of you."

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

You parked your old Jeep and after waving to the bouncers, you made your way inside towards the bar in the back, where a dark, curvy lady with short midnight curls smirked at you.

"My my, look at you, my little chickie," she mused, her fake green fingernails poking at your skin as she turned your face and inspected you. "Add a touch more highlighter to your cheekbones so that they'll pop when the lights hit you and switch out your pink lipstick for red instead. You're Little Red tonight, but instead of being a little girl, you're a lady of the night, running from the pinning Mr. Wolf. Got that?"

"Yes Momma," you said automatically. After all, Mama's bar was well known for helping rising stars getting noticed by the public. That woman spent most of her years working with some well-known publicists before owning a bar, so she knew what was best.

The woman's black eyes lowered, and she gave your corset a good tug towards your hips. 

"And don't be afraid to show off some skin, sweetie! It doesn't matter how big your boobs are, you have them, and they are here to be seen along with you!"

"You of all people know I don't have a problem with showing off the girls," you laughed as she fussed over you. "This costume was just something I dug up last minute."

"Well, I know it's not something your friend Evan made, judgin' by the fraying ends of your cape." Her nose wrinkled. "But it's cute, chickie. I've always said you look good in red. Now go on and get ready! You're up in fifteen after Ryan finishes, that is." 

Your smile was instantly gone. "Ryan's still here?"

"Of course!" She said casually, throwing a rag over her green shift as she pulled out a martini glass. "He's been out of town for the past few weeks, but the boy still comes in every now and then." A thought crossed her mind, and Mama placed the glass down as she noticed your smile. "Now, wait just a second. Why the long face, chickie? Aren't you two datin--"

"Excuse me, ma'am," a man said as he walked pushed you aside in favor of grabbing the bartender's attention. "I ordered a martini about ten minutes ago--"

"Excuse you?"  Mama sneered, placing her hand on her hip. "Can't you see I'm in the middle of a conversation with my employee?"

The man, who was obviously a newcomer, didn't catch her tone and placed his hand on the counter. "I can see that, ma'am, but again, I ordered my drink nearly ten minutes ago and--"

"Boy," Mama hummed. "Listen to me real closely, because I'm only gonna say this once. You're gonna get your damn martini when I get to it, but if you don't shut your entitled mouth and take your ass back to your seat right now I'm gonna climb over this motherfucking counter and drag your ass out 'cause I ain't gonna put up with your shit. Do I make myself clear?"

"You can't--"

"Do I make," Mama leaned against the counter. "Myself clear? It's a yes or not."

A bead of sweat ran down the man's face. "Y-yes." 

"Then sit your ass down and apologize to Miss (Y/N) here."

The man ducked his head and mumbled out an apology to you as he walked away. 

You looked back to Mama as she sighed. "Well, chickie, I guess that's my cue to get back to work or else the boss will fire me. Oh wait, I'm the boss. Ha-HA! Now go on and get ready. Shoo!"

You obeyed, taking your makeup bag and heading out towards the bathrooms. On your way there, though, one of the customers suddenly slid their chair back, causing your foot to trip on one its legs. But just as soon as you closed your eyes and braced for impact, a pair of strong arms circled your body and hoisted you up.

You opened your eyes to see an unbutton black flannel and white shirt, and when your vision drifted upwards, your body froze as your ex's baby-blue eyes locked onto yours. 

Shit. 

"Whoa, there!" he chuckled, his hand reaching up to tuck away a piece of your hair. "We can't have you breaking that pretty face, (Y/N)." 

Even though it's been only a month since the two of you split ways, Ryan Ben Jordan still looked just as good as he when you first met him at the beginning of sophomore year. Sun-kissed skin, swept-back honey-blond hair, a foot taller than you, a surfer body (he was, after all, a lifeguard at the local beach), and two dimples that only showed when he was really happy,  just like... just like how he was looking at you right now. 

Shit shit shit. 

"U-uh, hey!" you said, very aware that he still had his arms around you and that you were stupidly doing nothing about it. You weren't mentally ready for this. You didn't know how to react. Angry? Sad? Happy? Incredibly turned on by his smile? Aah, you didn't know where you two stood in terms of your now platonic relationship if there even was one.  "Um, thanks for uh, saving my face, I guess."

AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaa.

"Ah, it was no problem. Besides..." he cupped your cheek with a warm hand and oh gosh, he smelled really good, and oh no when did he get so close to your face

"It gave me a chance to have you in my arms again," he whispered against your cheek.

Something tugged in your chest, and you pressed your hands against his shirt. 

"Ryan, I can't--"

"AHEM." 

You and Ryan both looked up to see Papyrus, his arms crossed over his chest. 

As he always did whenever Ryan talk to your roommates (well, back when there was only two of them), your ex put his acting skills to use and turned his body so that only one of his arms still lingered on your shoulders, making the skeleton's marrow boil.

"Papyrus!" he cheerfully greeted, ignoring his glare. "It's good to see you again."

"I BET IT IS!" he retorted, and your eyes widened at his unusually sharp tone. "(Y/N) TOLD ME SHE WAS WORKING TONIGHT, SO I AND OUR OTHER ROOMMATES CAME OUT TO SEE HER PERFORM. ALTHOUGH IT'S TOO BAD SANS WAS BUSY..." Papyrus narrowed his eyes at Ryan's arm on your shoulder. "I'M SURE HE WOULD'VE HAD A FEW THINGS TO SAY TO YOU."

Ryan chuckled, still unfazed. "I'm sure he would've. It's been a while since we've talked." 

"(Y/N)!" Your boss called from the back, no doubt noticing the rising tensions in her bar. "You're on in ten minutes. Hurry up!" 

"Excuse me, boys," you said, biting your lip and ducking out of Ryan's grip and ignoring his protests. You briefly made eye contact and mouthed a silent thanks to your roommate before slipping back into the crowd, this time bumping into...

"Black?" you asked, puzzled to find him not only outside the bathrooms but alone as well. "I know Papyrus said that he came here with some of the others, but I didn't think you'd be interested in something like this." 

Black huffed and averted his eyes, and it was then you noticed the purple hue on his cheeks. 

"W-WELL YES, IT DOES MAKE SENSE THAT I WOULDN'T BOTHER WASTING MY TIME IN SUCH A GREASY, RUN-DOWN ESTABLISHMENT," his nose wrinkled and his blush disappeared. "HONESTLY, WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME THIS PLACE WAS CLEANED? THE TABLES ARE CRACKED AND THE STAGE CURTAINS--" he gestured over to a wooden platform that contained heavy black curtains around it. "--ARE COVERED IN DUST!"

"Black, listen," you sighed, really not in the mood to hear another one of his rants. "I'd love to talk, but I'm supposed to perform any minute now. Is there something important that you wanted to say? Because if not, I really need to get ready."

"HUMAN, I JUST WANTED TO T-TELL YOU THAT YOU LOOK... YOU LOOK... Y-YOU..." Black stomped his foot on the ground and fumed. "GAH! THE OTHERS SAID IT JUST FINE! WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR ME

Feeling a little trapped, you glanced over your shoulder to see that your ex was once again making a beeline towards you, and you let out a low whine. 

"Five minutes, chickie!" Mama called once again from the bar. 

"Aaa, listen Black, I'm so sorry," you squeaked, maneuvering around him. "But I really can't talk right now. I have to go get ready, but I promise I'll talk to you later!"

"Who Is That?" Black's voice came out small as he whirled back to see who you were looking at. Was that the ex Sans had warned him and the others about? He already didn't like him. "WHO IS THAT? HE'S SAYING YOUR NAME."

"I gotta go. I'll talk to you after the show. Bye!" And with that, you sprinted off into the ladies bathroom, leaving a confused Black behind. 

You slammed the bathroom door shut and locked it since it was a single bathroom and not one filled with multiple stalls. With a sigh, you quickly rummaged through your makeup bag and took out a fanned brush and a highlighter palette that had been with you through high school, just like your costume. After touching up your cheeks, you reached back into your bag and pulled out a tube of red lipstick. 

On the outside, you were just a twenty-two-year-old that was filling in her lips. But on the inside, you were a hot mess. 

What were you thinking, letting him touch you like that? You were the one who broke up with him. You were the one who hated him. 

You hated him. 

Right?

Right....

Right. 

He was bad to you and your friends. He stole money from you, broke promises, lied, and left you stranded at a party once when he decided to go home with another... with another...

Your hands were shaking. It was hard to see now.

Deep breaths.

One

Two

Don't cry. Don't cry. He's not worth ruining your makeup. 

Three. 

How... how could he just cheat--

No! Don't cry! Save it for later. You paid good money for this makeup! It was Jeffree Star approved!

Four--

...Five. 

You exhaled and checked your eye makeup. No smears and not a single eyelash out of place, and your lips were perky and your highlighter was poppin'.

You are (Y/N) (L/N).

Rising star. 

Future celebrity. 

He's just a boy. 

And you're a motherfuckin' queen.

You got this. 

And with that thought and one last smile at your reflection, you packed up your things and strolled out of the bathroom with your head held high. 

+++

"And now, ladies and gentlemen," Mama hummed from the stage, the microphone held close to her dark lips. "I'd like to ask you all to silence your cell phones and take your seats during the performance, the highlight of the night." The lady swung her thick hip to the side as she stepped off the stage, cueing for the lights to dim. With the snap of her fingers, a single spotlight switched on and beamed at the center of the stage, where a dark curtain currently stood. 

Mama's curls bounced with every step she took. "So do yourself a favor and put your hands together for the stunning, beautiful, and talented little showgirl, Miss (Y/N)!"

The curtains were pulled back to reveal you, standing at the center of the stage in your costume. Though the spotlight used to blind you when you first started working here, you were unfazed as you smiled at your roommates, who picked out a large table in the middle of the establishment. Through the brightness, you could see Blue and Papyrus giving you thumbs up, a winking Stretch, a drooling Red, a smirking Edge, a bored Rus, and Black, whose mouth was slightly gaping open. 

From the small pit containing the musicians, the person on the piano and the guy on the bass struck their cords, and suddenly, nothing outside of you and the song mattered. 

You tilted your shoulder to the side, held the microphone up to your lips, and began to sing in a soft voice that slowly grew stronger along with the song's confidence.

"Hit the road, jack~ 

And don't 'cha come back no more, no more, no more, no more--

Hit the road, jack~

And don't 'cha come back no more." 

You were completely in your element, singing a song and toying with pitches that few dared to even attempt. The song choice was an oldie but goodie, and already the crowd was snapping or clapping their hands along to the beat, including your roommates. All eyes were upon you as you opened your mouth to sing the next verse, but your voice was never heard, for another challenger had approached the stage and stole the words right out of your mouth. 

"Oh woman, oh woman, don't treat me so mean~!

You're the meanest old woman that I'd ever have seen."

You watched in horror as Ryan began climbing up the stairs to the stage, mic in hand and smirking at you with his baby-blue eyes that always took your breath away. 

"I guess if you say so," he continued, singing in a tenor voice so smooth that it could melt butter. "I'll have to pack my things and go."

"That's right!" You flinched when the crowd shouted the next lyric. They had never done that before, and soon you realized that the closer Ryan got to you, the louder they cheered and clapped. 

Uh oh. 

You... never told Mama that you guys broke up, did you?

Uh OH.

But now wasn't the time to panic, and your will to not ruin the show tonight overpowered any fear you had. 

So you continued singing, even when Ryan stepped dangerously close to you, like a wolf eyeing its prey. 

"Hit the road, jack~

And don't 'cha come back no more, no more, no more, no more--

Hit the road, jack~

And don't 'cha come back no more." 

Ryan grabbed your hand and spun you close to him, causing the crowd to go wild at the gesture as he purred into the microphone, mimicking the voice of a man who was heartbroken and in denial. 

"Now baby, listen baby, don't you treat me this way

'Cause I'll be back on my feet some day."

When he pressed a chaste kiss to your cheeks, you weakly pushed him away and sang the next verse. 

"Don't care if you do, 'cause it's understood

You ain't got no money, you just ain't no good."

Ryan stumbled back with a smirk and shrug at the crowd, which made your heart do flips. 

"I guess if you say so,

I'll just  have to pack my things and go."

"THAT'S RIGHT!" The crowd clapped. 

You continued on with the next verses, but now you couldn't tell if your malice behind your lyrics was as sincere as it used to be since your head was swimming in the ocean that was his eyes. 

"Hit the road, jack~

And don't 'cha come back no more, no more, no more, no more--

Hit the road, jack~

And don't 'cha come back no more." 

Ryan turned his back on the crowd and strolled over to you as you took turns singing the ending lines of the song. 

"Well--" he began, but you interrupted him. 

"Don't 'cha come back no more."

"Uh, what you say?"

"Don't 'cha come back no more."

"I didn't understand you." He was two feet in front of you, still wearing that smile.

"Don't 'cha come back no more."

"You can't mean that." His hand was touching your face again. 

"Don't 'cha come back no more."

"Oh now, baby please."

"Don't 'cha come back no more."

"What you tryin' to do to me?"  Both of you were starting to lean in, and the spotlight was dimming. 

"Don't 'cha come back no more." 

"Oh, don't treat me like that, baby~!"

The song ended right before Ryan's lips could make contact with yours, and although the stage--and the room in general--was now pitch black, you were still frozen in his embrace, the roaring of blood in your ears louder than the screaming crowd outside. 

"Meet me in my truck?" Ryan whispered in a hot breath, and you, feeling weak at the knees and a little under the weather, nodded and said, "Okay."

Another chaste kiss was pressed to your forehead and suddenly, your ex's warm body was gone, leaving you alone in the dark. 

Using only your memory, you managed to find the exit in the back of the stage and stumbled out into the now lit bar, blinking as your eyes adjusted. Before you could gain an awareness of your surroundings, a dash of blue tackled you and two arms wrapped around your waist, picking you up and spinning you. 

"MAIDEN! YOUR PERFORMANCE WAS AMAZING!" Blue said, his grin so big and infectious that you found yourself giggling. "IF I WAS WEARING SOCKS, YOU TRULY WOULD'VE KNOCKED THEM OFF!"

"Thanks!"

"nyeh heh," Stretch said, resting his head on top of yours as he lifted up his barefoot. "can confirm, honey. i'm no longer wearing socks." 

"Eww, put your shoes back on, Stretch," you snickered, shoving him off of you. "I'm glad you liked the show, though!"

"nyeh, how could i not? you and that actor guy were pretty good," he playfully elbowed your shoulder. "you two almost looked like a real couple. i got a little jealous for a second there, but that's part of the show, right? nyeh heh."

"I THINK THE CROWD ACTUALLY THOUGHT YOU WERE A REAL COUPLE!" Blue added. "THEY WERE GOING ABSOLUTELY WILD, AND NEARLY CORNERED THE OTHER HUMAN WHEN HE STEPPED OFF STAGE!"

Your smile twitched. "Uh, yeah, about Ryan--"

"HUMAN!" Edge boomed, and you cracked another smile as he stomped over to you. "ALTHOUGH IT WASN'T MTT QUALITY SINGING, YOURS WAS ACTUALLY SOMEWHAT WORTH MY TIME. CONGRATULATIONS. YOU ARE ADEQUATE!" 

"Awww," you said, fanning yourself. "Edge thinks I'm adequate."

"DON'T GET COCKY, MISSY!" he jabbed a finger at your nose. "THAT PERFORMANCE WAS ONLY ACCEPTABLE BECAUSE I AM STILL FULLY CONVINCED THAT YOU ARE SOME SORT OF LOWLY, PATHETIC SIREN. AFTER ALL, IT CERTAINLY TAKES A LOT TO SEDUCE SOMEONE AS GREAT AS I AM!"

You lowered his hand and coyly blinked at him through your long eyelashes. "So what you're saying is that someone as lowly as I seduced you, right?"

The sound that came out of Edge's mouth was not human, and as his face's white color started to deepen into a blush, Red popped up to drag his flustered brother off. 

"s'cuse us fer a moment. oh, and sweetheart," Red winked. "great job tonight. maybe you can give me a private show sometime."

You winked back. "Depends if you can afford what I'm selling, Red~!" 

Instead of teleporting away as you expected, Red just let out a bashful chuckle. "heh heh. we'll see about that." 

You turned back around just in time to watch as a stoic Rus and a... stern-looking Papyrus walk over to you.

Uh oh. 

"Uh, hey, R--"

Without stopping, Rus reached out and weakly gave you a single shoulder pat before continuing on and disappearing into the crowd without another word. Puzzled and wondering where his brother was, you started to go after him but a hand reached out and tugged on your wrist. 

"(Y/N)."  Papyrus was not pleased. 

UH OH. 

You flinched and slowly turned around, a weak smile on your face. 

"Hi Pap," you swallowed. "D-did you like the show?" 

Papyrus released your wrist reached up to pinch his nose bone (nose bone?). 

"IT WAS VERY ENTERTAINING, AND YOU DID EXCEPTIONALLY WELL, AS ALWAYS, BUT I BELIEVE YOUR SONG WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A SOLO, CORRECT?"

You bit your lip and nodded your head. 

Papyrus raised a finger in the air and opened his mouth as if to scold you, but when he locked eyes with you once more, he grimaced and ran a hand down his face. 

"Bunny,"  he mumbled his nickname for you with a sigh. "You're A Sweet Girl, And My Best Friend. I Know You Are More Than Capable Of Making Your Own Decisions, And Although I Truly Don't Enjoy Watching You Cry, I Will Always Stand By Your Side And Be There For You. Just Please, (Y/N)," he took up your hand and pressed his teeth against it, which made you flush. "Think About Your Choices Tonight." 

Your heart fluttered. "Papyrus..."

Papyrus dropped your hand and ruffled your hair, the playful look already back in his eyes as if nothing happened. 

"NOW THEN!" he exclaimed, straightening up and fishing his car keys out of his blue jean jacket. "I BELIEVE IT IS GETTING RATHER LATE, AND ALTHOUGH I AM NOT ONE WHO ENJOYS SLEEPS, MY BROTHER NEEDS TO, SO I BETTER GET HOME AND MAKE SURE HE ISN'T LOCKED UP IN THE BASEMENT, WORKING ON THAT TRICKY MACHINE, FOR WE BOTH HAVE WORK TOMORROW. SO IF I DON'T SEE YOU WHEN YOU COME HOME, PLEASE TEXT ME AND LET ME KNOW YOU'RE IN FOR THE NIGHT. IS THAT OKAY?"

You grinned and punched his arm. "Of course, you big mother hen. Are the others going with you?"

"ACTUALLY, RUS AND RED MENTIONED EXPLORING THE TOWN TONIGHT, AND BLACK AND EDGE DROVE THEMSELVES, SO I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE UP TO TONIGHT. PERHAPS THEY'LL BE PARTICIPATING IN A 'GUYS' NIGHT' SORT OF SHENNIAGIAN." 

"That's not a bad idea. They should enjoy the surface!"

"EXACTLY WHAT I WAS THINKING," Papyrus said, and then he huffed. "I WISH SANS WOULD THINK THE SAME. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT A WORRY WORT HE IS SOMETIMES!"

"I'm sure things will be fine. No go on, Papyrus!" you laughed. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"GOOD NIGHT, BUNNY!" he said, patting your back before walking into the crowd. 

You smile slowly dropped as you watched him leave, and through the sea of dancing bodies and tables, you saw the entrance door open and close. 

Then, without any hesitation, you sprinted off towards the stage once again like a woman on a mission, expect your plans for the night weren't so graceful. 

Maybe he's changed, you thought to yourself as you entered backstage and opened a locker containing your makeup bag. From the cracked, small mirror taped to the locker's door, you saw the bathrooms and considered going back to fix your makeup in there instead of out in public. 

Singing with him... we haven't done that since we broke up weeks ago. It's been, what, barely a month since you caught him with her...

No no no no. He looked really sincere tonight. He had to have changed, right?

People forgave their significant others for cheating all the time, didn't they? So, in theory, if he really did change, you could forgive him as well, right?

But he did more than just cheat on you...

Maybe... maybe it was your fault. Maybe you should've offered to help him more with money issues instead of just wasting it all on five dollar coffees or that new guitar you had been saving up for since you moved here. He needed the money, and you were his girlfriend, so you were supposed to help him, right?

Maybe things would've been different if you agreed to move in with him when he asked you to a few months after finding out you lived with two other guys. 

It was your fault for making him jealous. You should've known how bad that made you both look.

Right?

Right?

Right...

Fed up with the broken mirror that made you terrible, you pulled your bag out and slammed it shut, half-expecting the cheap thing to come crashing down.

What you didn't expect was to find a certain skeleton with a scarf, looking at you with purple eye lights.

You jumped. "What the heck? How long have you been there? You scared me half to death, Black!" 

Black's face was twisted into a look of disgust and anger, but you didn't feel like it was directed at you. His purple eyes glanced over to the bathroom doors for a split second before landing back on you.

"DID YOU GET YOUR STUFF?" he asked, not bothering to answer your question. He looked at your bag and then tsked. "GREAT. LET'S GO HOME."

He tried to grab your arm, but you side-stepped at the last minute and gave him a crazy look. 

"Black, what is up with you tonight? You've been acting really weird and--hey! Stop!" You jumped back when he tried to make another grab. 

"Dude! Seriously! I drove here, okay? I can get home by myself just fine, and I'm not leaving yet." You turned and started to go head towards the restroom, but this time, Black succeeded and caught your hand. 

"Human, Seriously!" he said in a quiet but frantic tone as if he was afraid of others listening. "Don't Go In There! I'm Telling You For Your Own Good!" 

"Black--"

His eye sockets narrowed as a scowl formed on his face. "YOU WANNA SEE WHAT'S BACK THERE SO BADLY? FINE! THEN HERE!" 

Without letting you go, his right eye went out as his left eye glowed a bright purple. He raised his free hand and sent it flying open, wide enough for everyone standing backstage to look inside. 

And inside the bathroom was your ex, his back facing the entrance while his front was towards the wall...

Where another woman with bleach-blonde hair was, kissing him. 

Black slammed the door shut before anyone else could notice, but you enough time to register that Ryan's pants were around his ankles. 

Nobody came running out of the bathroom. They didn't even notice. 

You were shaking. 

"I TRIED TO STOP YOU," Black said, matter of factly. "BUT YOU WOULDN'T LISTEN. SO AT LEAST I SAVED YOU FROM BARGING IN THERE LIKE A LOVESICK LITTLE--HEY! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!"

You took off, not bothering to listen to him. You expertly maneuvered yourself through the crowd, ducking and dodging and not making eye contact with anyone because you didn't want anyone to see you cry. 

You won't cry.

Not here, at least. 

Not with him here. 

The front doors burst open as you staggered outside into the freezing cold. The parking lot was empty, and the streets were deserted. The tall, dark buildings acted as a makeshift fence to Mama's Bar, because everyone knows that what happens at Mama's, stays at Mama's. 

It was a quarter past midnight. 

No birds were singing as you reached your old Jeep and popped the trunk open and grabbed a Louisville Slugger, the one you and the others were using earlier during your baseball game. 

No flowers were blooming as the icy wind beat against your cheap costume while you hunted down Ryan's Ford truck. 

The alarm on the truck wasn't set, and the vehicle wasn't even locked. 

Too easy. 

What an idiot. 

As you took one last look at the perfect vehicle, owned by a man who had broken your heart, your trust, and possibly your ability to love anyone ever again, a short memory of you and him singing tonight filled your mind, you smiling, him almost kissing you...

And the unsure part of your soul immediately died to flames of your hatred. 

"Hit the road, Ryan," you spat, swinging the bat over your shoulder as you manically laughed, hot tears streaming down your cheeks. "And don't 'cha come back no more." 

CRASH! 

SMACK!

SHATTER!

WACK!

"THAT'S ENOUGH!"  someone yelled, and the bat that was raised over your head was sent flying to the ground, rolling out of your reach. 

You whirled around to find Black staring at you, raised hand quickly reaching out to you and he ran over and cupped your face. 

"You're Freezing," he muttered, more concerned over your well-being than the damage you just made.  "Where Did You Park? Let's Go Home. I'll Drive You Back To The Lodge."

You rapidly shook your head and scrambled out of his grip. 

"N-no," you stammered. "I can't l-leave yet."

"(Y/N)--"

"Just--" you paused to wipe the tears out of your eyes. "Just give me one minute to talk to my b-boss. Then I'll leave with you."

"BUT--"

"She won't get me in trouble. I promise," you mumbled. "I just have to ask her for a favor. That's all."

Black looked at the smashed truck before nodding his head at you. You tugged your hood up and turned, but before you could even take another step forward, something warm was placed over your bare shoulders. You looked down to see Black's purple scarf around your body, but instead of being tied around your neck it was draped over your shoulders similar to a shawl. 

Puzzled, you looked at him, but he just waved off your concerns, ignoring the heat on his cheekbones.  

"I DON'T GET COLD. DON'T WORRY ABOUT. JUST HURRY UP SO WE CAN LEAVE." 

You nodded and wiped away the last of your tears.

"The bat," you muttered. "Go get it. I can't leave without it."

"OF COURSE," he said. There couldn't be any evidence, after all. 

While you walked back inside, Black snapped his fingers, and the bat came flying towards him before blipping out of existence and back into the safety of your Jeep. He looked back at your ex's wrangled truck and shook his head. 

"STUPID HUMAN GIRL," he tsked, magic enveloping his hand as he raised it, causing bones to shoot out from the ground, piercing the man's tires before sinking back down. 

"YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO GO FOR THE TIRES FIRST."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Mama, I need a favor," you said in one exhale. Your fingers curled into your palm, but your entire being was so numb that you didn't even feel your nails digging into your cold skin. 

The entrance door slammed open and close as Black pushed through the crowd to join you by your side. He only spared you a quick glance before crossing his arms and standing at attention.

It took Mama only one look at your tear-stained face and another one at the door to know what had happened. Several people thought she must've been some sort of psychic since nothing shady or dangerous ever got past her watchful eyes. But you always chalked it up to her natural maternal instincts. 

She was called "Mama" for a reason. 

And a mother hen looked out for her chickies. 

The owner's sharp green nails clicked in unison against the counter as she leaned down to your level. Her predatory black eyes casually scanned behind you for any nosy eavesdroppers, but, seeing none, she spoke. 

"You come in next week for two nights and work for free. One performance on Wednesday and one full waitressing shift on Thursday since my coward of an ex-husband has a meeting with the court for the child support he owes." 

"THAT'S--THAT'S ABOUT SIXTEEN HOURS OF FREE LABOR!" Black fumed.

"That's business," Mama snapped. Her fake lashes fluttered over to you, and her dark lips curled into a smile and she cocked her head at you. "Let me tell you something: it doesn't matter who you ask. A favor will always cost you something in return because it's a dog-eat-dog world out there that doesn't give two shits about anything unless money or sex is involved." You boss's eyes landed on you. "So if (Y/N) pulls out a little free labor then I'll make sure every camera footage within a two-block radius of this place is wiped clean."

"No witnesses?" you asked.

"Chickie, every lip around these parts will stay sealed," she chuckled, sliding back from the counter to stand tall like a proud bear defending her cub. "I'll make sure of it myself."

"YOU CAN'T--"

"I can," Mama hissed.

"It's a deal," you said quickly, shaking her outstretched hand.

Mama clicked her tongue at Black before her dark eyes landed on you once more. "Pleasure doing business with you, my little showgirl. Now, get out of here before Ryan crawls out of the bathroom to find daddy's truck took a tumble with a couple of Halloween pranksters. But chickie," she hummed. "I can't promise you that you won't be scheduled to work at the same time as him. After all, Ryan's brought in just as much of a crowd as you have during his shifts."

"It's just business." Your mouth moved on its own.

"Exactly."

"Have a good night, Mama," you mumbled, turning away and heading for the exit with a fuming Black on your heels. 

It wasn't until you were outside and standing by your Jeep did your roommate bother to break the silence. 

"SO. I TAKE IT THAT RYAN WORKS HERE?"

You nodded and continued searching for your keys in your bag. Oh look, you found your chapstick. Nice. 

"AND YOUR BOSS--ERR, MAMA--IS STILL GOING TO LET HIM WORK HERE?"

Another nod. Damn it, where are those keys...

"AND YOU'RE OKAY WITH THAT?"

You looked eyes with Black and shot him a warning glare. It didn't faze him, and he returned the look with twice as much venom.

"I don't need to deal with this," you huffed, unlocking your car door and opening the driver's seat only to have it slammed shut. 

Black leaned against the door, his anger far from fading as he leveled with you. 

"GIVE ME THAT," he commanded, gesturing to your keys. 

You stepped back. "I can--"

"NO. YOU ARE IN NO CONDITION TO DRIVE. HALF OF THE ROAD'S MAY BE FROZEN OVER, AND IT'LL ONLY TAKE ONE LITTLE MOMENT OF HEARTBROKEN SELF-PITY UNTIL YOU HIT THE ACCELERATOR TOO HARD AND GO FLYING OFF THE MOUNTAIN," he opened his hand. "NOW GIVE ME THE KEYS BEFORE I TAKE THEM FROM YOU."

You didn't want to. Gosh, you didn't want to. But deep down, you knew that Black had a point, and you were both going to the same place, anyway. So in the end, it didn't matter. 

Slowly and still holding his gaze, you pulled your hand back and dropped the keys into his, where they landed with a loud clink. 

Black mumbled something under his breath before climbing into your Jeep, and you reluctantly joined in on the passenger side. Soon, the old engine shuttered to life, and Black pulled out of the tiny parking lot and onto the high way were the buildings grew fewer and fewer until only the sick yellow from the headlights stuck out against the smooth pavement and black sky. You didn't try to speak, and every time your eyes flickered over to Black's face he was staring straight ahead with a grimace on his face. The only sound came from the radio, a soft, longing and betrayed song that all too perfectly fitted with the mood. 

"There's no sunshine, this impossible year

only black days, and sky grey

and clouds full of fear..."

You slid down your seat and pressed your forehead against the window. It was cold. You just wanted to sleep...

"YOU'RE AN IDIOT."

Ah, ouch. Okay, true, but it still stung. 

You decided to ignore him in favor of silently staring out the window. Wow, trees. And more trees. Big wow. 

"I SAW THE LOOK ON YOUR FACE BEFORE AND AFTER YOU STARTED CHASING HIM AROUND THE BAR LIKE A LOVESICK PUPPY. SANS SAID YOU'RE THE ONE WHO DUMPED HIM," he sneered, gripping the wheel a little tighter. "I DIDN'T TAKE YOU AS THE TYPE WHO LIKED TO GO FOR LEFTOVERS, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY'RE ROTTEN."

Just ignore him... more trees... 

"AND YOU'RE LITTLE MELTDOWN--" There was humor in his voice. "--JUST PROVED TO ME THAT YOU'RE JUST AS WEAK AS I THOUGHT YOU WERE. YOUR LOVE FOR HIM RAN AS DEEP AS THOSE DENTS YOU LEFT ON HIS TRUCK."

Ignore ignore ignore.

"HONESTLY, I HAD NO IDEA YOU ENJOYED BEING TREATED LIKE TRASH. NO WONDER THE OTHERS HAVEN'T SWEPT YOU OFF YOUR FEET YET. YOU'RE TOO BUSY BEING STOMPED ON TO NOTICE."

Alright, you've had enough of this.

You sluggishly rose from your seat and began blindly patting down the door in search for the handle. Without another thought, you dully tugged on it and opened the door. Immediately, ice-cold air overpowered the Jeep's heat, but before you could so much as look down at the road the door was slammed shut once more, and you heard the unmistakable sound of the child lock click on. Shit.

"ARE YOU INSANE?" Black said, his hand and eyes both facing you in utter disbelief. 

"No, I'm (Y/N)."

"ARE YOU TRYING TO GET YOURSELF KILLED?" 

"My brother's a policeman. He taught me how to properly tuck and roll out of a moving vehicle if I ever got kidnapped or something. But are you trying to make me feel like I'm some sort of stupid whore? 'Cause it's working!" You tugged on the car door. "Let me out."

"YOU'RE ACTING LIKE A CHILD."

"And you're acting like an asshole. Let me out!"

"AT LEAST I'M NOT DELIBERATELY PUTTING MYSELF IN A POSITION WHERE I KNOW I'M GOING TO GET HURT. OR ONE WHERE PEOPLE CAN USE ME."

"Are we talking about Ryan, me jumping out of this Jeep, or the fact I'm two seconds away from punching you if you don't let me out right now?"

Suddenly, Black slammed on the breaks and the Jeep lurched forward on the road, dangerously skirting close to a cliff before coming to a halt. The seatbelt knocked the wind out of your lungs, but you managed to catch yourself before your face could bang against the dashboard. 

"YOU WANT OUT? THEN GET OUT!" The doors clicked as they unlocked. Black sat straight up as he watched you try to catch your breath, but when you didn't do anything more than return his stare he frowned. 

"YOU REALLY CAN'T MAKE UP YOUR MIND ABOUT ANYTHING, CAN YOU? STARS ABOVE, YOU REALLY ARE--" 

"You don't know anything about me," you shot, the numbness replaced by anger as you gripped the old leather seat. "So stop acting as if you do." 

"THEN ENLIGHTEN ME."

You... weren't expecting that, and although it did cause you to falter, you made a quick comeback. "What? Oh, hell no. You don't get to go from being my friend to being an ass and then back to being my friend. That's not how it works, Black." 

"I THOUGHT YOU SAID WE WEREN'T FRIENDS?" Black cocked his head with a smug smile on his face.

"You--" 

"LOOK, IT'S JUST LIKE YOU SAID. I MET YOU A WEEK AGO, AND MY ONLY OBSERVATION ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR EX IS WHAT HAPPENED TONIGHT. BEFORE ANY OF THIS, I TOOK YOU AS A SARCASTIC, HEAD-STRONG WOMAN FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH DETERMINATION. AND NOW ALL I CAN SEE IS A WIMPERING LITTLE BIRD WHO FLEW TOO FAR FROM HER NEST," his bright purple eyes burned into yours. "SO WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT CHANGED YOU?" 

You were only able to hold his gaze for a few seconds before you curled into your seat and covered your face in your hands. Black didn't say a word, nor did he move the entire time you ran through all the ways you could express your relationship with your ex, but no words could exactly fit with what you had experienced. A minute passed until you managed to open your mouth.

"Have you ever... have you ever been in love?"

Black's eyes narrowed, but without hesitation, he replied with, "NO."

You sighed. "It's... an interesting, intense feeling. Starts off somewhat cautious and light-hearted, but then it... it changes." Your eyes fell to your lap. "Especially when you think that they might be the one."

He didn't interrupt. You continued. 

"I met Ryan my freshmen year of college when I was nineteen. I just moved here from the country, and he was one of the few people around here who was willing to show me around, and since he's also a music major with a minor in acting, we had nearly every class together. He was... different, back then. Kinder, somewhat sensitive, and more open about his life, his friends, his work, and, well, my friendship with him turned into a crush, and a crush turned into..." You waved your hand. "Something that I thought would last longer than two years. Everyone thought that we were just meant to be with each other. He treated me like a queen, and I felt like one. This went on for two years, but when school was over for this spring semester, he got... noticed."

"NOTICED?" Black asked, and you bit your lip.

"Everyone who wants to be in the entertainment business wants to get noticed by some higher-upper, be it another star, a company, a producer, an agent... Just something or someone that will help you get to the next big thing. And Ryan got noticed by a big record label that wanted to sign a contract and create a music video with one of his songs." Your vision blurred as your memories lingered. "I was so happy for him. He even wanted me to be in it, as a lead actress, so I agreed, but after that he just... he just changed."

You sighed and tugged on a piece of your hair. "May rolled around, and suddenly, he wasn't replying to my messages or calls like he used to. I chalked it up to him being busy with striking new deals with the multiple companies that noticed him and brushed it off as me being needy. Then he started inviting me to all these fancy dinners that I knew he couldn't afford, and he always wanted me to dress and act a certain way when we went to those because they weren't actually dates. They were business meetings or publicity stuff with other famous people, and I was supposed to be nothing more than his arm candy during those times. He sort of made up for it with real dates after, and I did get free food  and spoiled with gifts in the process, so once again, I ignored it."

"August was when it got weird. He went out more and stayed out later. I got maybe a handful of messages saying he needed some space to sort out his life and that I needed to stop being so dependent on him, and the other half of them were just booty calls that I couldn't reply to since I was so busy with school and work. I hardly saw him anymore since he was skipping classes all of the time. And then in September... last month... he started texting more. Calling more. Wanting to see me more, and at first I was ecstatic, but then he kept 'forgetting' his wallet on dates, and every time I spent the night at his place I would find myself searching for the twenty bucks that I knew I had left in my wallet. He denied everything, said it was rude to accuse him of stealing, and then would later ask me for money for this and that, but I never had any money to lend him. This went on for a few weeks until everything came crashing down at a frat party."

"FRAT PARTY?" Black asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Err." You wrung your hands. "Rich college boys using daddy's money to host parties where everyone gets drunk and shirtless."

"SOUNDS SWEATY AND POINTLESS. CONTINUE."

"Well, I was excited about the party. A couple of mutuals were hosting it, the drinks wouldn't be watered-down like they usually were, an actual DJ would be there, and Ryan was looking better than ever, but he was acting strange. He kept zoning out in the middle of a conversation, and more than once I had to yell at him to get his attention. Eventually, I went to get a drink with a friend, and when I came back, he was missing. Confused, I asked around, found out someone saw him going upstairs, went to check a nearby bedroom, and uh..." You let out a sour laugh. "That's when I met Hannah. Sweet, pretty, Instagram model girl. She had no idea who I was, or that the guy under her was my boyfriend. So uh..." You grabbed the ends of your skirt and clenched your fists. "I just sort of left the party and broke it off in a text before blocking his number. Didn't even wait for a response. Today was the first day that I actually saw him, much less talk to."

You thought you would start crying again, but for some reason, you just felt really numb and tired, but the latter part was probably because smashing a baseball bat against a car with everything you've got is harder than it looks. 

"..." Black stared at the dark sky for a moment before sighing. "So Before Everything Happened Tonight, Did you Still Love Him?"

"...Yes. It's stupid, gosh, I know it's stupid, but--"

"It's Easier To Watch A Fight Happen While Standing On The Sidelines Than Actually Being In the Fight," Black muttered, his eyes somewhat unfocused. "It's Harder To Rationalize Your Thoughts In Situations Like That. I Used To Kick Myself Over Stupid Mistakes I Made In Fights Until I Forced Myself To Control My Emotions."

You pulled your knees up to your chest. "How... how did you do that?"

Black shot you a dark look, and for a second time since you've met him, you were remembered just how dangerous he could be. Those purple pin-pricks in his eye sockets were reticles, and they were both trained on your like a deadly weapon.

"Rus Got Hurt. Badly, So I Had To Get Better," he said in a low, terrifyingly calm voice.

"...How--"

"Do you still love Ryan?" he asked, leaning back into a more relaxed position but still watching you like a hawk. 

You hesitated. Part of you wanted to push with your question, but one last look at his burning eyes told you that that conversation was off-limits. 

"No," you said, pausing to clear your throat. "As weird as it sounds, I think seeing him today gave me some form of closure."

The corner of Black's mouth hitched up. "Good. You're Stronger Than I Thought, Then, Although I Figured As Much After You Smashed His Truck."

"Heh, uh... thanks." A genuine compliment. 

"Does This Mean You Won't Try Jumping Out of Vehicle, Again?"

You snorted. "Hah, dunno about that. Depends on how much you piss me off."

"WELL, CONSIDERING YOUR SIDE IS ON THE EDGE ON THE CLIFF, I WISH YOU A HAPPY LANDING," he turned the Jeep on and started backing up to readjust himself on the road.

"I'll send you a postcard from Hell."

"NO NEED TO," Black chuckled, a strange gleam in his eyes. "AFTER ALL, THE POINT OF A POSTCARD IS TO RECIEVE ONE FROM A PLACE YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO. NOT ONE WHERE YOU'RE FROM."

That one made you laugh so hard that you ended up wheezing for a solid minute until you calmed down, only to get fired up once more at another joke. It finally seemed as if you found another buddy who enjoyed sarcasm just as much as you did, but he hid it well, and you doubted that this would become a regular thing. Still, it was nice. 

When the car finally reached the lodge, you swung the door open to step out, only to find Black's hand on your arm, stopping you from his position on the driver's side. 

"FOR THE RECORD..." he said, a little bit of uneasiness in his voice. "THE REASON I SPENT MOST OF THE NIGHT TRYING TO HUNT YOU DOWN WAS BECAUSE I WANTED TO TELL YOU THAT YOU... YOU LOOK... YOU LOOK--," he hissed through his teeth. "YOU LOOKED NICE. IN YOUR COSTUME, THAT IS, OR WELL, YOU DID, BEFORE YOUR BREAKDOWN. NOW YOU JUST LOOK LIKE A HOT MESS."

"Thank you?" You pulled your arm back, surprised by the sudden shift in the mood. "And you look like a walking corpse, so uh, fuck you?"

"SUCH VULGAR LANGUAGE. AND TECHNICALLY, I AM A WALKING CORPSE. AT LEAST TO YOU," Black said.

"Congratulations!" you clapped your hands together as you both approached the porch. "You found the joke."

"I'VE BEEN LOOKING AT A JOKE SINCE YOU STEPPED OUT OF THE BAR."

"Oof, too soon, dude--"

"where have you been?" 

You jumped while Black calmly turned to face his younger brother, who was standing in the doorway with a heavy frown on his face.

"RELIVING A CRAZY DR. PHIL EPISODE," Black said, staring at Rus. "I THOUGHT YOU WE'RE GOING TO EXPLORE THE CITY WITH THE OTHERS?"

"got bored," Rus replied simply, his eyes wandering over to you. "heh. did pretty boy break your heart, darling?" 

You didn't like the humor in his voice, but before you could reply, Black grabbed Rus by his shirt and jerked him down. 

"YOU'RE DRUNK." It wasn't a question. 

"and you're still wearing your clothes, so i guess she didn't fuck you after whatever happened with that other guy. damn, darling," Rus chuckled. "yer just not gettin' any action tonight, are ya?"

"I wouldn't--"

"sure, sure you wouldn't," Rus pushed himself out of his brother's grip and stood. "doesn't matter to me who's chasing your entitled ass, s'long as it isn't my brother, 'n it sure as hell ain't gonna be me."

"YOU'RE TALKING NONSENSE," Black huffed. "SHE HASN'T DONE ANYTHING TO YOU, AND ALL YOU'RE DOING IS JUST DRIVING THE NAIL FURTHER INTO HER HEART. I THOUGHT YOU LEARNED TO KEEP A FILTER ON WHEN YOU'RE DRUNK."

"and i thought you learned that not all your mistakes can be fixed when you let your guard down, but uh," Rus gestured to you. "guess not."

The already cold air dropped another ten degrees when Black froze in his spot, staring at his brother with a look of horror, betrayal, and pain while his brother looked on with mild interest. You watched as purple smoke started billowing out of one of Black's eye sockets, but just when something sparked to life in there, it was gone, and Black was shaking his head. 

He turned to you with a tight grin, and you briefly saw an uncanny resemblance with him and Sans, except his teeth were sharper and his smile was very unnatural.

"YOU'RE FREEZING," he said in a hollow voice. "AND MY BROTHER IS DRUNKER THAN I THOUGHT. LET'S GO INSIDE BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT."