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Papyrus was probably waiting for the River Bun to return you from your check-up with Undyne by now. All because you sneezed. It's not all that big of an overreaction considering the last time you did that was when he first found out that humans needed coats to live around snow (and totally failed at lying to Undyne about why he needed information on how to keep humans from shivering and changing colors).

 

He wanted to go with you, but one of the Dog Guard got his armor stuck in a puzzle of some sort, so he just walked you to the river on the way to help with that and called Undyne to let her know you were coming.

 

Undyne had too much of a workload to babysit you back to the Hotland dock, so here you were.

 

In Waterfall.

 

Bopping and twirling and singing at the echo flowers for a little more accompaniment as Naptstabot's awesome new song blared through your mind.

 

Despite almost losing a shoe in the marshes and slipping on a couple of loose papers by the garbage piles you hadn't fallen yet!

 

So, drunkenly dancing on a bridge with no handrails was the next logical step and totally a great idea.

 

Well, if nothing else, it was good exercise.

 

A kick here, a stomp there and a sliiiiiiiiiiiiiide forward.

 

Jump, spin, skip, throw your hands up and catch your foot on a loose board.

 

Somehow through the haze of magically-imbued alcohol and dancing mania you noticed the ground approaching your line of sight a bit faster than it should and took two short, rapid steps before successfully planting both feet firmly on the bridge.

 

Which is why it was more surprising than it should have been that you toppled headfirst anyways.

 

It was the momentum that caused it, but you blamed gravity because why not?

 

Either way, physics's an ass.

 

So's that solid dirt...rock...thing. That thing the paths are made of.

 

You know what you mean.

 

Whatever it was, despite being soft enough for flowers to grow out of practically overnight, it's apparently firm enough to bruise your face.

 

There was definitely going to be a bruise there tomorrow. It already started to hurt...

 

With a groan, you turned your head to the other side to relieve the pressure on your eyebrow and cheekbone, noting that those wavy lines on the walls looked kinda blurry. But still dark enough to be there.

 

Sometimes you count the lines on the walls. If a ring in the stump of a tree is one year... then how many years make these lines?

 

It took you a moment to remember that monsters carved these walls, so they probably weren't down here when the lines were formed. You think. At the very least, they weren't settled in this area of the Underground.

 

Either way, they'd been down here long enough to be forgotten by humans.

 

...Maybe you'd been forgotten, too.

 

Queen Toriel would rather not lose any military advantage, so you wouldn't be leaving the Underground until the monsters did. Maybe not even then. Hotland's always a pretty good reminder of that. Those two Royal Guards made it very clear that there's places you shouldn't go and things you shouldn't see. And an entire city that didn't want to know you exist. Politics were such a pain.

 

And physics's an ass.

 

Magic was kinda cool, though.

 

Not when it's sealing you inside anything, but it tasted great.

 

And doesn't kill your liver!

 

Magic doesn't burn through the physical parts of human anatomy the way anything on the surface does because blah blah sciency magicy words. It's all about intent and feeeeling. Then Undyne mentioned the possibility of emotional dependency and...Paps' been sort of a worry wort about it ever since.

 

That sight's been carved into your brain for months. Papyrus's sockets creased with poorly-hidden anxiety—more than usual, even!—as he clumsily danced around unpleasant questions, trying so hard to distract you from your own mind in a way that was less...hangover-inducing. You could also hear his bright-eyed brother's chipper voice asking a little too loudly if you were feeling well the next morning. If maybe you should go back and visit Asgore for a while. All while making waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much noise in the kitchen. Who needed a stewpot and colander for scrambled eggs, anyway?

 

So naturally, you decided to walk through Waterfall on the way back to Snowdin instead of going back to the River Bun for a ride. "Fresh air" is an entirely relative thing in the Underground, but at least the added time and exertion kinda sobered you up. A little. Well, enough that it hurt to blink.

 

And to think about the Surface.

 

You kinda wished that nice fire monster in Hotland let you take a bottle to go...

 

And then you saw those eyesockets again and decided that dozing off where you were was a bad idea.

 

Where were you, anyways?

 

You started to push yourself up, almost immediately sliding your leg into the water beside you and completely soaking the front of your shoe and pant leg up to the knee.

 

Ah, yes.

 

The skinny bridge.

 

At least you're more than halfway to Snowdin.

 

You crawled to dry(ish) land and after a few stumbles were back on your feet and walking, though less rhythmically than before.

 

Now that you were walking, you kinda wanted to sit down.

 

But you didn't want to get your butt wet...

 

...Maybe the table with the crystallized cheese was still there.

 

Was that under a drip?

 

Was the cheese stuck to the table?

 

Was this hallway always this long?

 

And that door...it's a lot less...stone-looking than other doorways in Waterfall.

 

Ok, maybe you were a liiiiittle tipsy, but there was no way that door was there that morning.

 

Sure, it was gray, but everything around it was a dark, muggy blue. There's no way that just blended in!

 

Maybe it's new?

 

You knocked on the door, forgetting the mystery of the expanding hallway in favor of a room you didn't know existed.

Maybe it's a store? Most houses down here were built sorta separate from the cave walls...

 

Ooooh! Maybe the stretchy-faced cat guy got a new location!

 

You could always go for a burger, so you turned the doorknob.

 

And lost your appetite.

 

It was an empty gray room with just one...something standing in the middle.

 

It might have been a monster...but it didn't seem to move.

 

Not consciously, at least. At the same time, it's entire being seemed to be shifting somehow. As though being pushed and pulled in all directions by some invisible force.

Even moldsmalls and elementals seemed more...together. More like an actual living body with some control.

 

This thing...

...it honestly reminded you of a movie you saw as a kid, years before you fell into this bizarre prison.

 

Someone was trapped in a burning building, surrounded by life-like wax figurines. Their flesh-colored faces would start to liquify and sloughed off what should have been their skulls.

 

You'd had nightmares for months.

 

And now one was staring right at you.

 

It might've been shocked to see you, too, since it's face stretched into what might have been an open-mouthed smile or a silent scream before evaporating.

 

Like, no dust.

 

No liquid.

 

No residue.

 

Just. Gone.

 

Well.

 

Shit.

 

Here's hoping you're still drunk enough to forget that.