The secret was bound to get out anyways.
It had been a month after the mission, Cross refused to talk to Horror about what happened, so the other eventually laid off. A month was all it took for Cross to consider the invitation, and actually go.
Of course, it took a bit of convincing, and lying to get the other's to have him go, even in his current off state. As long as he promised to come back, or at least call if he felt like he was slipping again. He didn't tell them he was heading to Underswap, or what he would even be doing. More or less, he said he was meeting up with a friend, and begged and pleaded until they budged. And yet, the moment he set foot on the snowy grounds of the AU, he felt nervous. With a bag slung around his back, filled with some things that he chose to bring, like Swap's scarf, and perhaps a comfort item or so, he approached the house. He couldn't head back now, it would seem suspicious, not to mention a few monsters of the place caught wind of his sights.
Inhaling sharply to gain confidence, he knocked twice. When the knob jiggled, Cross turned back to hide away, giving up on the thought of actually wanting to meet Swap on a personal level. A hand reached out, and grabbed his shoulder.
"Eh? You're not trying to knock and ditch are ya?" Asked a tall lanky skeleton in orange. Underswap Papyrus. The infamous lazy, lanky skeleton of this AU came to the door instead. Flipping the other around, he cocked a grin. "Oh, you're familiar. Your that...black and white skeleton my bro has been talking about all week." A lot smaller than he expected. Geez, did they all come fun sized? The two had bad history, but he could overlook it, especially if his Sans had something to do with the skeleton in question. Temporarily at least. If this monochrome cookies and cream of a skeleton pulled anything funny with his brother, things will not go over easy. "Well, don't just stand there, my brother has been waitin for ya for some time. He's in the kitchen. I'm sure you know your way around."
Orange Papyrus, as Cross will now secretly label him, allowed him in. As if things weren't awkward enough. To be courteous, Cross took off his shoes, cutting off another inch to his already small height. Just incase he wanted to feel anymore towered over by the orange light-post looming over him.
"Papyrus, who was that at the- Oh!" Swap came around the corner, the corners of his mouth turning up in a grin. Well, what a lovely surprise! He certainly wasn't expecting him anytime soon. "I would've come to the door myself had I known! I hope you don't mind staying in the kitchen for a while, I'm in the middle of baking!" Shooing off his brother with two hands, he motioned for Cross to follow him into the kitchen after setting down his jacket and bag.
Cross let out a breath he didn't know he was holding, glad to get away from him. Once walking into the kitchen, the sweet smell of fresh bakes hung in the air. He found himself now taking a deep breath to soak it all in. Wow, not even the kitchen at the castle smelled this good unless Horror was making his occasional pie.
"There's a bake sale happening in town to raise money for a gift exchange! I figured I should contribute too, since I have the time of course. Baking helps me wind down anyways. Would you like to help me make some cinnabuns?" Turning to the sink, Swap washed his hands, drying them with a clean towel to ensure he didn't get anything into his bakes. Talking over baking was so much easier, and wasn't as scary as being face to face. Truthfully, Swap was a little scared to chat too, but that wouldn't stop him from trying.
"Er-I'm no good at baking myself, but I guess I could help with like...dishes or something." He was no chef. These hands were not made for cooking.
"What! No way I would have a guest do dishes, trust me, you'll be a natural! Mweh! And with me helping you, it should be easy!" Swap had him wash his hands, leading the skeptical Cross over to a mixing bowl. "Alright, start with 4 cups of flour! There's a container over there full of it. Take the bowl with you while I warm the milk and butter. It helps activate the yeast better, which makes fluffier buns!"
Alright, should be easy? It's just some flour, how bad could it be? Four scoops and- "Oh shit-" His previously black sweater was now coated in a light layer of flour. All he heard was a snort from Swap, and an apron tossed his way.
"That's okay, were all a bit clumsy! Did you know Dream is actually horrible at baking? Gosh, he tried making a cake once and well...Let's say it was hard as a brick!" He could remember that day, his sides hurt from how hard he was laughing. Who knew you could weaponize a cake? "Anyways, how were things after you got back, I'm sure a lot has happened?" The atmosphere was light, a perfect time to make small talk! Swap came over to take the bowl, having Cross pull out the milk and butter from the microwave.
Dream, horrible at baking? Who would've guessed?! "Oh, well not really. Things tend to calm down at the castle after stuff like that. I uh- well you know after I got back.." Cross trailed off, swirling the buttermilk mix absent mindedly. Getting into it so soon huh? Talking about it was much harder than he first thought. "Oh-Oh! I brought your scarf back. I cleaned it up of course, I hope you don't mind."
"Did you? That's very kind of you Cross! How's your arm? I hope I didn't hurt you too bad, things are different in the heat of the moment." Considerate of the other to even return it. He had forgotten he gave it to Cross in the first place. Swap would keep the pace of the conversation moving, it was easier to keep him talking anyways. He was learning how quick the other locked up about certain things. "Crack three eggs for me okay? After this we have to let it rise."
"My arm is fine, healed up by now. It wasn't too bad." He wasn't about to admit he cried in the infirmary with Horror. "You sure got this...baking thing down." Cracking the eggs in separate bowl, he handed it over to Swap for mixing. Cross reserved himself by standing off to the side and watching. Soon, it was covered to rise some.
The two talked aimlessly for a while. Things they liked, didn't like. Swap tried to get him to open up, but he would always change the topic, or stare off into space as if searching for the right answer.
"Well-," Swap interrupted, cleaning himself off. "We have some time to burn." Turning to Cross, he grabbed his hands. His calm and slow method wasn't working. As much as Swap hated to pry, they had to talk about it, about that day. "We both know why were talking, we really shouldn't avoid it any longer."
The day which sparked a change in not just the two of them, but the day that started Cross's new adventure with the gang.
"I don't think I can- it's not that I don't want to I just-"
"We can take it slow. I've been needing to ask a few questions for a while. Please, for me? I promise, after this, no more questions, and I'll leave you alone." Swap slipped off his apron, helping Cross take off his before extending out his hand. No doubt his brother was going to be nosy.
Cross took a shaky breath, glancing over at the time. He supposed it was about time he told Swap too, it was only fair. If the gang got to know him like this, so should he. He took Swap's hand. "I'd like to take my bag with me, just incase."
A reasonable request, Swap was sure he already understood.
"Don't be afraid to tell me if you need anything, now come on, I think it would be better to talk in my room. Afterwards, we can come back downstairs and finish up to enjoy the cinnabuns!"
Papyrus watched as the two left upstairs, waiting a moment before following after them. Just what was going on between Cross and his brother that they were secretive about?