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The Surprise

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                Sans feels himself wake up before his eye-sockets manage to open, and he simply lays there for a moment, unwilling to wake up from the dream he’s sure he’s been having for the past two years. Slowly, he snakes his trembling hand under the covers, until his phalanges come into contact with something warm and soft. The slightest groan of relief ekes out of him, and he buries his bony fingers in his lover’s plush fur.

                “Good morning, dear,” Toriel’s voice is somehow even warmer than her fur is, “did you sleep well?”

                “Like the dead, babe,” he chuckles, and scoots himself forward to wrap his arms around her as best he can, burying his face in the thicker fur at the base of her neck. “How ‘bouts you?”

                The boss monster giggles softly, and Sans’s soul melts at the sound. Each of her various laughs are like music to his would-be ears. “Likely nowhere as well as you did, dear, there is hardly any of you left.” She reaches back with one of her paws, and emphasizes by lightly patting his ribs.

                He suppresses the reflexive shiver at her touch as best he can – god, it should be illegal to be that soft and warm – and reaches up to run his phalanges through the fluff on her ear. Toriel leans into the contact, pushing his palm flush against her head, and hums contentedly as he begins to rub at the base of her horns.

                After a moment, the skeleton mumbles sleepily, “Don’t you have work today, T?”

                “No, not today; it is the weekend, thank goodness.” Nonetheless, she sits up to stretch and yawn widely, her sharp fangs glittering in the pale light filtering through their window.

                Sans is still hanging onto her, dangling from her back with his feet just touching the mattress and his face still buried in her neck fluff. “That’s some good shit,” he mumbles.

                “Sans! That’s a quarter for the swear jar,” Toriel laughs again, and simply sits there awhile, content to let him hold her. Sans might only be half her height, but damn if he doesn’t try, when the mood hits him. Though he’s nothing more than bone, those bones are thick and solid, and he’s strong where it counts. Such as now, when he’s content to dangle.

                He sighs contentedly and loosens his grip about her chest, sliding his hands through her fur, down her belly and up her sides; after a minute or so, he leans forward a bit so he can catch that copper eye, and she turns to look at him better – he’s got a smug grin cocked under lidded eye-sockets.

                “You’ll have to furgive me,” he begins, his voice a touch lower even than normal, “but I just can’t seem to keep my hands off you.”

                Toriel blushes, and then feels a tugging at her sides.

                “Literally. I’m stuck, T.”

                They both laugh, and spend the next five minutes detangling her fur from his metacarpals.

-||-

                Normally, Saturdays are spent down on the living room sofa, watching cartoons with the kiddo and Papyrus. Today proves to be a different Saturday than normal, however, from the second Sans begins shuffling down the staircase in Toriel’s shadow.

                There’s no sound of early-morning television, and no clattering of pots and pans in the kitchen. Instead, there’s two figures busy putting on heavy snow-boots by the door.

                “GOOD MORNING, YOU TWO!” Papyrus announces. “I’M SURPRISED TO SEE YOU BOTH OUT OF BED SO BRIGHT AND EARLY! ON A SATURDAY!!”

                Frisk grins up at them, eyes bright, backpack slung over their small shoulders. ‘Uncle Pap and I are going to Undyne’s!’ Their signs are a bit sluggish, and they yawn widely, covering their mouth with a sleeve.

                “All right, dear, just make sure you stay warm.” Toriel crosses the living room to bend down and give the child a kiss on the forehead.

                “Eyup, and don’t give your Uncle Paps the cold shoulder, kay, kiddo?” The stout skeleton calls as he hops down the last two steps. “It’d be a shame if you came home a Frisksicle.”

                ‘Dunkle Sans, I’m nine! I know how to go out.’ They shoot him a ferocious pout, and Sans can’t help but laugh.

                “All right, all right, you got me, kiddo.” He steps forward and ruffles Frisk’s hair, dissolving their pout into a bright grin. “You go have fun with Undyne. Make all the spaghetti you can eat.”

                “AT THAT WE SHALL, BROTHER,” Papyrus crows, “AND THEN SOME!!” Scooping Frisk up onto his shoulders, he gives Toriel a valiant salute before ducking out of the doorway and practically galloping down the sidewalk.

                Toriel watches the two for a moment, smiling. With one paw resting on the doorframe, she turns over her shoulder to watch her lover shuffle his way into the kitchen. He hums tiredly to some kind of chill, jazzy tune as he sets up the coffee maker to brew a fresh pot, and then kicks a small footstool into place so he can lean over the counter and reach a calendar on the wall.

                The boss monster leaves her spot and reaches his side in time to watch him finish marking out yesterday’s date. Instead of crossing over the square on the calendar like most people, he writes a number upon it: 728.

                Her smile softens, even though he can’t see it from this angle, and she rests her paw gently on his shoulder. Sans gives a heavy sigh, and leans into her frame, dropping the pen so he can wrap his left arm around her waist, giving her a gentle squeeze through her dress.

                “Sometimes it feels like we just got out yesterday, y’know?” The skeleton’s voice is soft, contemplative. His phalanges curl into the fabric of her gown, and he turns his face into her warmth. “… It’s hard to believe.”

                Swinging her other paw around to rub his skull gently, she holds him tight. “You should believe it,” she intones, leaning down to peck him on the head, “because it’s very real.”

                They stand like this for a few moments longer, before Toriel quietly coaxes him to come to the living room with her, to watch some mindless television, as is their norm. As he heads to claim the best spot on the sofa, she lingers behind to fetch the coffee. Once he’s out of view, she begins to worry her lower lip between her fangs, and tug at one of her ears nervously.

                She’s got something big on her mind she’d like to run by him.

- || -

                He compliments the coffee as always, even when she informs him she didn’t add anything to his. “It’s better black than taken back,” he says with a wink, and she giggles. They’re curled up together on the sofa, watching a rerun of some old human TV show, one about a family of quirky and odd individuals who express a genuine love for each other.

                Toriel is quiet for the most part, watching the actions onscreen with a growing sense of wistfulness in her eyes, one that grows all the more when the mother interacts with her children. Occasionally, her mind wanders to the question hovering in the back of her throat, and she lifts up her free paw – the one not currently wrapped over Sans’s shoulders – and tugs at her ear, twirling the fur between her fingers and nibbling her lip all the more.

                Presently, his voice draws her from her thoughts. “Hey, T, uh, you okay?”

                She glances down at him quickly, forcing the heat in her face back down, but to little avail. The lights in his eyes are flickering gently with worry. “I mean, I know this show’s creepy and spooky, mysterious and cooky, altogether ooky, but you’re lookin’ kind of upset.” Incredibly, he manages to deliver the line in the tune of the show’s theme song.

                At this, she manages a smile. “No, Sans, I’m – I am fine.” With a peck on his forehead, she leans her cheek against the top of his skull and turns back to the television. Her paw around his shoulder strokes idly at the sleeve of his hoodie, and she feels herself becoming engrossed in the story unfolding before her. Her lover is warm beside her, his phalanges finding her free paw as if of their own will, and tangling with her fingers. With a sigh, her copper eyes slide closed, and she hums gently.

                It’s been so long since she’s felt so comfortable, so complete with another soul.

                “Sans,” she’s speaking before she entirely realizes what she’s saying, “how do you feel about… children?”

                His skull shifts a bit under her cheek, but she doesn’t pull away yet, too mortified with herself to move and let him see her face. “Well, uh, I mean, you should know by now, T, with how I’ve been dealin’ with the folks at the PTA, and how I’ve been takin’ care of Frisk. I like kids. They’re weird, but fun.“

                “That is… not entirely what I mean, dear.” She pulls away now to sit upright, running circles with one pad of her finger over Sans’s metacarpals. She glances at him, and the look in his eyes is something between confusion and mild panic.

                Oh, good, at least she isn’t the only one.

- || -

                She’s looking him in the eyes, and he’s glad he isn’t the only one incredibly nervous about the tone she’s using. Sans takes in a shaky breath – not like he needs it, but the feeling of air rushing between his teeth and over his vertebrae is relaxing – and tries to relax his features into something that doesn’t resemble panic.

                Judging by the way she grimaces, he isn’t very successful.

                “What’s on your mind, Tori?” he asks, making a valiant effort to keep his voice as cool and even as ever. It’s hard, when every bit of his mind is rattling off questions at a thousand miles an hour. Is she unhappy? Has he done something to upset her without realizing? Oh, god, he’s neglected Frisk. Before he can stop himself, he’s rescheduling various events in his mental calendar, five minutes off self-loathing here, ten minutes off drafting new machine plans there, all to make more time for-

                “Well,” her voice grounds him to the present, and god, if she doesn’t sound just as nervous as he is. Perhaps even more so, but he doubts that. “It is just… Well, as you remember, a long while back, I had… two children.”

                Ohhhh no. This is it. He’s brought up something to remind her of Asriel. Of Chara. She’s upset. She’s going to be gentle about it, tell him it isn’t a big deal. He looks back at the TV, where the strange human siblings are having some kind of squabble, and he hurriedly shuts it off, startling Toriel. She glances between him and the dark screen several times, before he laughs weakly.

                “I thought, um, this show might be a bit… sensitive, for you. With the, uh, the family stuff.”

                Her confused frown shifts to something almost… amused? “Oh, Sans. You’re such a dear.” Welp. Now he’s incredibly confused, but he can’t exactly complain when she draws him in for another of her soft and slightly tickly forehead kisses. “It is a sensitive subject for me, dear, but… not quite in the way you’re thinking.”

                He laughs again, and it sounds a bit manic this time. “T, you’re killin’ me here, with the suspense.” Bright blue beads of slightly-glowing sweat are rolling off his skull.

                “Sorry! Sorry,” she laughs, and she sounds a bit manic as well. “God, I’m sorry, just, give me a moment.”

                Giving a big sigh of her own, she shifts around on the sofa until she’s facing him directly. He mirrors her action, and they end up sitting cross-legged on the sofa, looking into each other’s eyes and gripping each other’s fingers like they might drown if they let go. Toriel opens and closes her mouth several times, and Sans can almost see a question swimming around in her copper irises.

                His soul is hammering at his bones, and every little thought in his head is screaming at this point. It’s gotta be something important. Does she want him to start taking up some embassy duties? Has he left too many socks on the floor again? Has Frisk told her about the bad times? He’s trembling, clenching his jaw, fighting to keep his cool.

                “So, you like children,” Toriel bleats, at length, her voice silencing the smaller ones in his head, “have you ever thought about… having any?”

                “Uh.” Comes his incredibly intelligent reply. Slowly, he blinks his eye-sockets, and finds his mind isn’t working quite quickly enough to catch up with where this might be going. “Well… no, not really.”

                She winces a bit, and for some reason he feels like he made a mistake. “Oh. Well, I was wondering… I mean, Frisk is going to be ten, soon, and well, when As-… when my son turned ten, that’s when we found Ch-Chara, and,” she sighs, letting one of his hands go so she can tug at her ear again, “heavens, Sans, would you… do you…”

                After holding her breath for a moment, she lets it out in a huff, and blurts, “Don’t you think Frisk would like having a sibling? I mean, if you aren’t comfortable, I understand, but I, I love you, so much, and I think you make a wonderful father for Frisk, already, and I just…”

                Her voice trails off, and she watches him expectantly. In contrast, he sits there, having gone slightly limp, the lights in his eyes staring at her, but unfocused. His hands are limp in her paws, and his trembling has ceased. His smile, normally set as if in cement, has fallen askew, with his jaw hanging slightly open.

                The gears are turning. Slowly. Very, very slowly, but they are turning.

                All too suddenly, his face erupts into a vivid blue, and he jerks upright, only to huddle back down into the neck of his hoodie. His gaze fixed pointedly on Toriel’s slightly alarmed and immensely concerned expression, he proceeds to wobble, then teeter, then slide completely off the couch and into a rattling heap on the floor.

                “Sans!” the boss monster cries, startled, unsure if she should rush to pick him up or leave him be. Before she can act, however, a soft, almost dreamy voice wavers up to her.

                “You… you wanna have a kid with, with me?” He turns his head to look at her again, and the lights in his eyes are so wide they threaten to overcome the darkness of his eye-sockets completely.

                She clenches her paws in front of her, still unsure what to do with them. “Y… yes, Sans, I do.”

                “… wow.” His voice is even smaller somehow, and he rolls over so he’s lying on his back, staring at the ceiling with a wide-eyed, dopey grin, his skull still bluer than ever.

                The skeleton looks back at her, seems to grin all the more, and whispers again, “wow.”

                Toriel bites at her lip again, and crouches on the floor beside him. “Sans, I… I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have sprung this on you, we’ve only been here – been together – for two years, it’s, it’s too soon, I’m sorry, I just-“

                This time, he’s the one to stop her racing thoughts, with a bony hand over her wringing paws. She glances up to his face, and her soul flutters in her chest as she sees the heart-shaped lights in his eyes.

                “T,” he whispers, gripping her paws with his hand and stroking one of her thumbs with his own, “th-that’s a wonderful idea.”