Actions

Work Header

It's Not Too Late

Chapter Text

Breathe. 

In. Out. In. Out. 

Your heart races wildly in your chest.

Breathe.

You wipe at your forehead, sweat pouring down in streams. Almost over. It's almost over.  

"Yes!" You gasp loudly as you approach the end of the sidewalk. A full circle complete! You come to a stop, leaning over slightly. Blood pounds in your ears. C'mon, stay strong! Pain is just weakness leaving the body! Ha! Whoever came up with that deserves to be punched in the face. Huffing, you check your watch. Hey, you managed to shave off a whole six seconds! You allow yourself a little victory air pump.

You never could have imagined the you from last year, the lazy couch potato, willingly running and exercising. Yet here you are, in an unfamiliar neighborhood, jogging in the brisk autumn air. You grab the water bottle hanging from your hip and finish off what's left. You head back towards your new apartment, walking briskly to keep your blood pumping. You look around as you walk, taking in the sights of your new home. You'd been extremely lucky in finding a place like this. It's a fairly new complex, each building arranged in a squashed kind of circle. The inner most ring of buildings hold apartments on the top three levels while the bottom is filled with various shops and diners. A small park sits smack dab in the middle of the complex. You can hear the shrieking laughter of children as you pass by. The park is mostly filled with monsters of various sizes, with a few humans sprinkled here and there. 

That's right, the management lady had mentioned that this was a monster heavy neighborhood, which probably explained the reasonable apartment rates. It had been about six months since the barrer at Mt. Ebbot had fallen and monsters swarmed out to join the human race. Of course at the time, you had been hundreds of miles away so the news, while startling, was a little detached and seemed more like a fairy tale. Monsters, real monsters had suddenly joined your world? It seemed like a wonderful, yet impossible fantasy.

But now you're right in the middle of it. It's only your second day in the city but so far all of the monsters you had come across had been open and friendly, if not a little strange. You're a little ashamed to admit you had stared upon first seeing them. Manners, as they were in most small towns, had been drilled into your head since you were little. But...monsters! Real monsters live in the city! How can you not stare?

You swerve past a group of strange jelly looking creatures on your way up the stairs, taking care not to step on any of them. You can already tell that this is going to take some getting used to. You haul your burning legs up to the second level. Your apartment just so happened to be in one of the few buildings in the inner circle where the shop below is empty, which makes being on the second level worth it. You don't want to deal with the noises that will undoubtedly come from a bar or other such thing. You reach your door and fumble with your keys. 

Your head suddenly jerks up as you notice a strong burning smell drifting from the apartment on the other end of the hall. Right on cue, a shrill beeping roars to life. Your heart starts to pound again, for an entirely different reason.

"BROTHER HELP ME THE DEVICE IS SCREAMING AT ME!"

The voice is loud enough to carry through the walls, though you have a feeling that's not entirely's the voice's fault. It sounds like a little kid. You quickly move to the door the shrill noise is coming from and knock as loud as you can. A moment later, the door opens and your jaw drops in surprise. 

It's a skeleton. He's close to your size and wearing a blue jacket dusted with what looks like flour. Small pinpricks of white stare at you from deep black eye sockets. He blinks at you for a second and tilts his head. 

"heya-"

“BROTHER! THE STOVE IS ON FIRE!”

You look past the first skeleton to see a second one, much larger than the first waving his gloved hands at a small grease fire, clearly panicking. Okay...not a kid. Or maybe he is? Is he wearing...armor and shorts? Despite the odd scene in front of you, your eyes are immediately drawn to the flames on the stove. Your breath catches and...oh no, this was a mistake, you shouldn't be here, not so close to the fire-

The skeleton reaches for a cup of water and true fear shoots through you. No time to be scared! "Don't!" You push past the shorter skeleton, running to knock the cup away. "Do you have baking soda?"

When you're met with a shocked "NYEH?" you instead look around and grab a large pot full of noodles on the sink and dump its contents. You only hesitate for a moment before slamming it over the fire. It only takes a moment for the flames to die out. You let out a deep sigh of relief. That was close. Your hands are shaking slightly. You hope they don't notice. Oh. Wait. You jerk back from the stove, realizing that you had just burst into a complete stranger's home and dumped spaghetti noodles all over their floor.

The two skeletons are staring at you.

"Oh! Sorry, I um...."

The one in the blue jacket suddenly smiles widely. "heh. looks like things got rather heated there, huh?" 

"BROTHER!" The taller skeleton's shriek nearly matches the still beeping alarm. 

Caught off guard, you can't help but snicker at the pun. You point up at the alarm, which is our of your reach. "Hold that button down and it'll stop." 

The taller skeleton reaches up and easily pushes the button. The harsh noise dies away and your shoulders relax slightly.  

"THANK YOU HUMAN!" Before you can blink, you're wrapped up in a bony hug, your feet leaving the ground. 

"Um, you're welcome," you choke out, patting the skeleton's arm. "I'm super sweaty...."

He puts you down and you take a moment to catch your breath. You gesture to the ruined pasta spread across the ground. "I'm really sorry about that. Water makes grease fires worse and I just grabbed what I could without thinking."

"don't worry about it." The short skeleton winks at you. "i don't wanna think about what pasta-bly could'a happened if you didn't."

You hold back a chuckle. "Well, water neighbors for?" 

"OH MY GOD." The big guy groans loudly and slaps a gloved hand across his face as his brother lets out a loud cackle. "NOT ANOTHER ONE." 

Fighting back your giggles, you stick your hand out. "Now that I've completely ruined your dinner; hi! I'm _____. I live down the hall." 

The short one takes your hand. Startlingly white bones grasp your palm and you can't help but stare for a moment. It feels odd, almost like smooth stone. You bring your gaze back to his face. The seemingly permanent grin on his face grows slightly. 

"sans the skeleton," he says.

Your other hand is suddenly gripped by much larger, gloved ones. He shakes your entire arm enthusiastically. "I AM THE GREAT PAPYRUS," the taller brother crows victoriously. "THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN FOR SAVING OUR HOME FROM ANOTHER FIRE."

"It's no problem-another fire?" you question, but Sans waves your concern away.

"happened a long time ago. no biggie."

"Um okay then." You shift a little guiltily. "I'm seriously sorry about the mess, can I help clean it up? Order you a pizza?"

"DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE MESS HUMAN. I AM WELL TALENTED IN THE AREA OF CLEANING. MY BOTHER ON THE OTHER HAND...." He glares at Sans who just shrugs.

"seriously, don't worry about it," Sans says to you. "we've got leftovers."  

You still feel bad despite their assurances. "Are you sure? I was gonna order a pizza anyway. All my cooking stuff is still in boxes." 

"OH SO YOU ARE NEW TO THIS APARTMENT COMPLEX?" For some reason Papyrus looks pleased at this news. "I SHALL MAKE YOU MY WONDERFUL SPAGHETTI AS A WELCOMING PRESENT. THAT IS A HUMAN CUSTOM YES?" 

"Oh you don't have to!" Your protest is cut off as Papyrus guides you to the door, talking over you.

"DO NOT FRET HUMAN IT IS NO TROUBLE. NOW GO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR DINNER! I SHALL WHIP UP A NEW DISH IN NO TIME!"

You send a glance to Sans, who once again just shrugs before the door closes behind you. Well, it certainly isn't how you were expecting the evening to go, but it looks like you've just made dinner plans with two skeletons living down the hall. 

Man, city life is crazy.

Chapter Text

It's not until you duck back into your apartment and lean heavily against the door that you fully realize what had just happened. You've moved in next to two living (?!) breathing (?) skeletons! Not only that, you somehow managed to ruin their dinner and get yourself invited over in the same night. You press a hand against your face. It's still slick with sweat from your run. Oh you must look like an utter dream. Soaking wet and screaming about baking soda. Fantastic start to making a good impression.

No, stop that. Thoughts like that only lead to bad places. You can do this! You had promised yourself that things would be different here. Worrying about stuff like first impressions isn't going to help. Thus motivated, you quickly hop into the shower. Papyrus hadn't specified when the food would be ready, but if he's making more spaghetti, you figure you've got at least thirty minutes. 

Exactly twenty-one minutes later the doorbell rings. 

Geez that was fast!

"Just a second!" you call around your toothbrush. You finish with your teeth, fluff your still damp hair and grabbed the bag of sugar cookies you had tossed on the counter earlier that morning. You had been planning on saving those for unpacking time but you can't go over with nothing when they're offering you dinner. You reached the door and have a sudden thought. Were they bringing dinner over here? You glance at the table. It's barely visible under the mound of boxes on and around it. Too late to worry about that now. 

It was still a bit of a shock to open the door to a grinning skeleton. It's the short one. He's alone, which put your worry about where dinner is happening at ease.

"heya," he says in way of greeting. 

"Hi," you say a little breathlessly, shutting the door behind you. "Man your brother wasn't kidding when he said he could whip something up in no time." 

"it's mostly leftovers," Sans admits with a small shrug. He eyes the bag in your hand and you hold it up.

"I'm not exactly prepared but I hope you guys like cookies." Do skeletons even eat cookies? For that matter, how do skeletons even eat spaghetti? The absurdity of the situation is enough to make you smile as you follow Sans back to his apartment. You have to assume there aren't like human skeletons. Following that train of thought, you really have to try not to make assumptions about anything else.

"HELLO AGAIN HUMAN!" Papyrus pokes his head out of the kitchen as the two of you entered the apartment. 

"Hey Papyrus," you say with a grin. Despite his booming voice and overall size, you find yourself oddly at ease with the cheery skeleton. "That didn't take long at all." 

"OF COURSE!" He shouts proudly. "A ROYAL GUARD MUST BE PREPARED TO LEAP INTO ACTION AT ANY MOMENT." 

"wow paps. sounds like you were really on guard." 

Your laugh comes out louder than you meant it to and you slap a hand over your mouth. Sans looks utterly smug with himself. Papyrus threatens to throw the bowl of spaghetti at Sans and you quickly take it from him. "Should I put this on the table?" 

"YES! THANK YOU HUMAN!"

You head over to their table, which you notice has a few of those small ketchup packets you can get from any fast food place. You pick them up and set them on the counter. A moment later, Sans strides by and sweeps all of them into his coat pocket. You give him a questioning look and he just shrugs before joining you at the table. 

The rest of the night quickly leads even more bad puns and cheerful talking while you eat as much of the spaghetti as you can stomach. You try not to think about how mushy it is and insist you're just a light eater when Papyrus offers you more. You talk mostly about the neighborhood, which places to visit for the best grub and what parts of the city to avoid. It seems, sadly but not surprisingly, that certain areas were less monster accepting than others. After dinner the conversation moves to the faded couch in the living room. You and Sans both take a side while Papyrus seems content to sit on the ground in front of you. 

"WHAT BRINGS YOU TO THE CITY?" Papyrus asks while munching on a cookie. 

It's fascinating to watch the food simply vanish in his mouth. Don't stare! You shake your head and think about what to say. You had already mentioned that you were from out of town but as to the WHY....well, you can't exactly tell your traumatizing story to a pair of monsters you've just met.

"You know," you say slowly, playing with a loose thread on the arm of the couch. "Just needed a change of pace. New scenery. I have a friend of a friend who said they could get me a job at a local radio station but it would mean moving here. So here I am."

"you work at the radio station?" Sans asks curiously. "which station?"

"99.5 EBBT. Technically I start tomorrow," you say with a light laugh. "Feel free to listen, you might eventually hear me." 

"WOWIE!" Papyrus' eyes are shimmering. "DOES THAT MAKE YOU A STAR LIKE METTATON?"

Like who? Oh that robot that could change his body from a square thing with wheels to a silver skinned 'hunk'. Or so the media called him. You've seen him on t.v before but he had never really held your interest. "No not like that," you say quickly, shaking your head. "I'm not going on the air any time soon anyway." 

"then what do you do?" Sans stretches out his legs while talking. The edge of his pink slippers brush against your leg.

You give him a bit of a bemused look before answering. "Whatever they want me to do for now. Pinch voice over work if I'm lucky. Printing out reports and fetching donuts and coffee I would imagine. Basically I'm a glorified intern. I'd like to be on the show itself," you admit. "But I don't have much experience." 

At that Papyrus stands up suddenly, striking a pose. "DO NOT FRET HUMAN! YOU SHALL BE THE BEST INTERN THEY HAVE EVER SEEN! THEN THEY WILL HAVE TO GIVE YOU A PLACE ON THE SHOW!"

His enthusiasm throws you a little and you give him a shaky smile. "I really hope so Papyrus." You glance over at Sans. If he noticed your odd reaction, he doesn't show it. You take the following silence as your cue and pull yourself up with a groan. "Speaking of the station, I'd better turn in. I start nice and early as it is and I'm pretty tired after my run." 

"run?" You had no idea how he does it, but Sans moves his grinning expression into a grimace while continuing to maintain a pained smile. He's made of bone right? Bone shouldn't be able to change and shift like that. Papyrus on the other hand looks like he's going to cry. 

"HUMAN Y-YOU LIKE EXERCISE?" 

"Um, call it a recent interest," you say, patting his arm a little cautiously. Are skeletons against exercise? They don't have an visible muscles, so you can't imagine it's something that they would do. "That's why I looked so sweaty and awful earlier." 

"i was a little too busy paying attention to the fire on the stove to notice that," Sans says dryly, snuggling deeper into the sofa.

Papyrus grabbed your hands tightly. "MAY I JOIN YOU IN YOUR RUNS PLEASE?"

That surprises you. You gape at his hopeful expression for a second. He's all puppy eyes and sweetness. How can you say no to that face? "Sure you can. Though," you glance at his absurdly long legs, "you may have to slow down for me. I'm not very fast." 

"THAT IS NOT A PROBLEM." He wrapped you in another (ha!) bone crushing hug. "I AM SO HAPPY! I CANNOT GET THAT LAZY BONES TO DO ANY SORT OF EXERCISE." 

Said lazy bones waves tiredly at you, eye sockets half closed. You purse your lips. "You know," you whisper in a conspiring voice as you leaned forward, "I too used to be...a lazybones!" 

Papyrus gasps like you had just admitted to a dark secret. You swallow your laugh, glancing at Sans. He's shaking slightly, bony hand pressed over his teeth to hide his widening smirk.

"I converted. Maybe we can change his mind together!"

Sans' loud laughter at that follows you all the way out of the door. After exchanging numbers and agreeing on a time to run the next evening, you head back to your apartment. Sudden exhaustion washes over you. You put on your loosest pair of p.j's and fall on top your your air mattress. It really needs to be blown up some more but honestly all you want to do now was sleep. You're about to close your eyes when your phone beeps at you. Groaning, you grabbed it to see a text from an unknown number. Papyrus already?

?: knock knock

Definitely not Papyrus. You smirk and decide to play along.

y: who's there?

s: water

y: water who? 

s: water you doing after work? 

y: unpacking I guess. Why?

s: i know paps isn't the best at cooking. i wanna say thanks for saving the kitchen. do you like burgers?

You feel your heart speed up slightly. OKAY slow down there sweetie.

y: yeah I like burgers :) I'm done at 4. 

s: cool

You put the phone down after double checking your alarm. An odd feeling lingers in your chest. It takes you a moment to place it. Excitement. Pure, happy excitement. Man, you haven't felt like this in a long time. That dark corner of your mind, the part the overwhelming fogginess came from, rears it's ugly head and whispers that you can't, you shouldn't feel such happiness. You roll over and tried to push that thought down. You let your fingers run over the faint scars on your arm. 

"I'm allowed to be happy," you whisper. It's just a phrase that some doctor had told you to say in moments like this. It doesn't always help, but the habit of saying it was born a long time ago. So now you say it every night because maybe if you say it enough times, you'll start to believe it. 

 

Chapter Text

You wake the next morning, slightly disoriented and sore from the flattened air mattress. It takes a few moments of looking around your new room to get your bearings. You rise excitedly, eager to get going. There had been no nightmares last night and that is as good a sign as any that the day iss going to go right. You shower, put on your best 'first day of work' clothes and duck out the door, grabbing a bagel to go. You glance towards the parking lot where your dusty car sits before looking at the time on your phone. What the heck, it's a beautiful morning and according to google maps you're only a fifteen minute walk away from the station. After the two day drive to get here, you're in no hurry to get back in the car. Besides, you've got plenty of time. 

You stroll along, taking nibbles of your bagel. It's still pretty quiet out. The sun hasn't quite chased away the chill of night and most of the windows you pass are foggy with dew. Soon enough you reach the station. A large sign proclaiming "Home of the Mountain's Best Music!" makes it hard to miss. The neighboring buildings on either side are a thrift sore you make note of for later and what looks like a grill/bar mix called Grillby's. It's too early for the place to be open but it might make a nice spot for lunch once in a while. You grin, a nervous excitement making your stomach turn. Taking a breath, you head inside. It's pretty much what you imagined it would be. The greeting room is simply furnished with a few chairs and a receptionist deck. The walls are covered in framed posters of various rock bands. All have signatures and little messages left by the members.

There's a dark skinned girl behind the desk who looks up at the tinkling door. She has the craziest hair you've ever seen. It's partially shaved in an undercut, and dyed crimson red. The curly top is a rainbow mix of purple, blue and dark green. You stare at her jealously. You could never pull off hair like that. 

"Hey!" She stands and comes to meet you, revealing arms full of tattoos and a halter top jacket with ripped jeans. Oddly enough, she doesn't have a single piercing. 

Suddenly you feel extremely overdressed. 

"You must be _____." She says cheerfully, brushing a few strands of her colorful hair back. 

Your voice gets stuck in your throat for a second. "Uh yep that's me! I guess I got the wrong dress code. I love your hair."

"Aw thanks." She proudly fluffs it. "Don't worry about dress codes. We don't have them. Just wear what makes you comfy. If that's slacks and heels, you do you."

Now that is a dress code you can dig. The rainbow girl introduces herself as Abby and leads you on a tour through the studio. It's a two story building, with the main recording booth and sound systems on the second floor. The first floor holds mostly offices and a break room, also covered in band photos. Abby leads you upstairs and the two of you stand outside the glass panel of the recording booth. An older guy on the soundboard in the same room as you barely spares a glance as you enter, fiddling with all kinds of buttons. 

"That's Joe," Abby provides. "He's friendlier when he's not working."

You nod a greeting at Joe, who grunts, and turn your attention to the two people in the booth. A tall elegant lady with bottle blond hair pulled into a loose ponytail and a man a few years older than you with a sharp scar running down the side of his right cheek and black hair that falls to his chin. That has to be Tod, the guy who had given you the job. The sight of the scar on his face makes your own arm itch a little. You've spoken with Tod a few times on the phone before moving out here. After a few words it had become clear that both of you had experience with...well anxiety to put it lightly. He hadn't asked for more details, and simply offered you the job. 

"That's the latest news for traffic. Not a bad day for driving huh Em?" Tod glanced up as he spoke and gives you a short wave, his voice carrying through speakers set up around the room. 

Em follows his gaze while smiling lightly. "Get out and enjoy that air while you can. Seems like we've got some serious cold fronts heading our way over the next week." 

Tod removes his headphones and nods at Em who seamlessly moves into the next segment on her own, talking about some local band performing a few days from now. 

"_____" Tod walks over to you and warmly shakes your hand. "Welcome! What do you think of the studio?" 

Oh good heavens he's a good looking man. Scar included. That combined with his wild locks made me look rather...wild. Sudden shyness made your voice a little quiet. "It's really nice. Thank you for welcoming me here."

He laughs good naturally. "No need to be stiff. We're an open book here." He clapped you heartily on the back. "No point in standing around then. Let's get you to work."

~~~~~~ 

This work turns out to be mostly sitting around and listening to the various types of music that the station specialized in. You recogniz several of the bands and songs, bobbing your head in time with the music. There are many pieces you didn't recognize but definitely make it on your 'to download' list. For a good two hours Tod has you sit by Joe as he worked. The time is spent in awkward silence, as you feel he wouldn't appreciate being interrupted by questions. Abby seems to realize this and takes pity on you and asks for some help with front desk work. It turns out there is a lot more to running a station than picking a song and hitting play. Artist permissions, royalties, guest appearances are just a few of the things that needs to be worked on. People always seem to be coming and going and the names and faces started to blur together in a whirl of introdcutions. The only one you don't get a chance to talk to from is the blonde from this morning. 

Before you know it, the clock hits 4 pm and then Abby is giving you a list of new music to familiarize yourself with "if you want to be hip with the latest hits!" on your way out the door. In a bit of a daze you leave the station. Talk about a whirlwind of a day! It's just a shame you hadn't had a chance to go into the studio itself where the various talk shows happened. Baby steps! You'll get there. 

"huh, look's like i was right." 

You nearly jump out of your skin at the sudden voice right behind you. You whirl, heart pounding. "Good g-! Sans!" 

The skeleton stands there, hands shoved in his jacket pocket. Aside from switching out the pink slippers for a pair of untied sneakers, he's wearing the same blue coat/sweat shorts combo as last night. He closes an eye socket in an exaggerated wink. "sorry pal. didn't mean to rattle your bones." 

You groan loudly. "First you scare me then you hit me with that awful pun. You're quite a guy." 

He only grins in response. 

"What are you doing here?" He couldn't have possibly...followed you, right? Oh great way to be a paranoid git.

Sans points up at the radio sign. "i didn't think of it til this morning. knew i recognized ebbt from somewhere. it's a funny coincidence. the place i wanna take ya for burgers is right next door. figured there was no point in making ya walk all the way back to your place."

Leave it to a lazy bones to be considerate about something like that. You glance past him to the bar. "Oh! Wow, that is funny. You could have texted me. Were you waiting long?

"nah. just got here myself."

Well at least you hadn't made him wait. "I was wondering if the food was any good. Have you eaten here before?" 

He laughs loudly and you wonder if you're missing a joke or something. "you could say that. c'mon let's eat." 

Sans leads the way into the bar. The moment the two of you step in, warmth washes over you, taking off the chill from outside. You haven't been in many bars yourself, but you're pretty sure they're don't typically smell like a campfire. You get your answer for the odd smell a moment later. The man behind the bar is literally on fire! The sight of the flames makes you tense up, bring up memories you don't want to visit. Instinctively, you reach out and grab Sans' sleeve. "He's-!" 

Sans stops and looks at you with mild concern. "you ok there?" He follows your horrified gaze to the man. "that's grillby. he's a fire monster. well, elemental actually. he's supposed to look like that."

Right of course. You flush. Stupid, letting yourself get worked up that. You give Sans a wide smile. "H-heh sorry! I thought maybe I was gonna have to swoop in to save the day again!" Sans watches you for a second, gauging your face. You look away from him before he can see how shaken you are.

"i guess if you're not use to it, seeing him could make anyone a little hot under the collar." 

You let out a relieved laugh and push at his shoulder slightly. "Nah, I just have a burning passion to be a hero." 

Sans chuckles, his grin reaching new levels. "nice." 

As he leads you to the bar and your initial shock over the burning man fades, you look around the rest of the bar. It's filled mostly with monsters, many of those of a dog like nature. They all seem to know Sans, calling out greetings as you pass by. You try not to feel self conscious with the sensation of curious gazes on your back. You quickly join Sans on the stools. You can't help but notice charred spots here and there on the surface of the table.

"hey grillbz." Sans waves lazily as the monster approaches. He turns to you. "you ok with the burger?" 

"Huh? Oh yes!," you say quickly. Grillby has a pair of glasses suspended on his face but you can't see any sign of a nose. Or even eyes! Grillby notices you looking and nods in your direction, letting out a pop and crackle, like burning logs. 

"drink?" Sans translates. 

"I'll take a water. Please," you add and Grillby makes another soft crackling noise. 

"too bad, he doesn't touch the stuff," Sans says with a wide smirk. 

Oh god! Of course he wouldn't! "I'm sorry!" you stutter out. "I'm good with just the burger." 

Grillby sighs in a long suffering way and glances at Sans. Sans just shrugs with an air of innocence. "what? ya never do actually touch it." 

Oh good grief he's teasing you. You groan and put your face in your hands. "You're kind of a jerk you know that?" 

"maybe. but you're smiling." 

Crap you are. Grillby leaves to get your order as you fight to keep the grin off your face. Sans turns and makes light conversation with a white dog wearing a suit of armor also sitting at the bar. You watch curiously, fighting your urge to pet him. These aren't normal dogs, you can't just go around petting them! The dog leaves quickly (and you're only slightly disappointed) right as your food arrives. You didn't see Grillby bring it, but there's a glass of water next to your burger. You look pointedly at Sans and take a deep swig. 

"so i've been dying to ash you since last night-"

You choke on your water and Sans thumps your back. "Gah! About what?" you cough. 

Sans turns back to his plate of fries, dumping almost the entire bottle of ketchup on them. Ignoring your horrified expression at this misuse of condiments, he says "'m not trying to sound ungrateful about the whole saving the apartment thing but i wanna know. why did you do it? you could'a just kept on going, doing your...running thing. but you came over and knocked on the door. i thought you were just gonna complain about the noise or something. first time we've had a neighbor actually run in and deal with it." 

"Have you ever had to deal with a screaming fire alarm for any amount of time?" you ask, picking up your burger. "It's torture. Honestly I was gonna just make sure you knew how to turn it off before the whole apartment was triggered." You took a bite of the burger and nearly moaned. "This is amazing!" You eagerly continued devouring the burger as Sans plays with his fries, not really eating them. 

"and that's it?" 

You swallow your bite and meet the white lights of his sockets. He's staring at you, like he knows that there's more to it than just that. You set your burger down and take a sip of water before answering him. "Well...I uh. I've had experiences with fires in the past." You're staring down at your plate, unable to meet his gaze. "I used to love campfires and candles but now even just the smell of burning makes me a little...anxious? It's hard to explain why. When I think that something might actually be on fire I just panic. So that's why I kind of freaked out when we came in here...."

And now you're babbling. Sans puts his hand over yours. Without realizing it, your fingers have curled into a fist. The feeling of his fingers on yours is soothing. The bones of his hand are thick, thicker than you would have figured skeleton fingers to be. Fingers? You didn't know the actual term for the individual bones. It's been a very long time since your last health class. He taps the back of you hand gently until you relax your grip.

"sorry kid," Sans says softly. "didn't mean to dig up old bones." 

"Was that supposed to be a pun?" Regardless, it brings a smile back to your face. "Sorry. It makes sense that you'd want to know why some strange girl would just run into your apartment without warning." 

"not gonna lie. it surprised me." Sans takes a large bite of his soaked fries and you can't help but feel a little disappointed when he takes his hand away. But even with that, you don't feel completely overwhelmed with regret at talking about it. It's odd. Normally you keep stuff like that bottled up. It's just easier not to say anything about it, especially since it's something that can't change. But Sans is so easy to talk to. You'll have to watch yourself and make sure you don't say too much. You don't want to scare him away with your history. You've literally known him for a day!  

"you got kinda quiet. you ok?" Sans has nearly finished his plate and is using a plastic spoon to sweep up the left over ketchup. 

You've got to keep it together. You give him a reassuring smile. "Yeah! It was just a very intense first day. And now I'm remembering all the unpacking I still have to do." You groan and put your head on the table. "I can't keep putting it off or I'm gonna be living out of boxes forever. Moving sucks."

"want some help unpacking?" 

You lift your head and put your hand over your chest in mock surprise. "Is the lazy bones offering to actually get off his butt and help?" 

"i was thinking more of a management position from the couch." 

You giggle and smack him lightly. "That's my role you bone head." 

His eye sockets seem to light up and you catch yourself. You groan. 

"that pun alone deserves a reward. i don't have anything else planned for the night anyway," he says, finishing off his plate. "put it on my tab grillbz!" he calls to the fire elemental, who you swear somehow manages to roll his eyes.

You make a face at Sans. "That much ketchup can't be good for you." 

Sans hops down from the stool. "don't worry. i won't let it ketchup to me." 

Your shriek almost matches Papyrus' from last night. "Okay just for that you are on dish duty for the night!" 

"well dish sucks." 

"Oh my gosh!"

Chapter Text

This is utterly surreal. You glance over at the skeleton seated among stacks of your books, making no effort to actually put them away. He's leaning against the massive beanbag that graced your living room, flipping through a thick book on various musical composers. Needless to say he had been thrilled to see the bag the moment the two of you got back from Grillby''s and made himself right at home. 

"i am officially declaring myself manager of the beanbag," he had drawled, almost disappearing in its depths. 

"I thought we agreed you were on dish duty." 

"you agreed to that." 

It's probably better that you handled your dishes anyway. You had put the CD Abby had given you on in the background and the beat had helped you fall into a groove of tidying up. Eventually Sans slid from the beanbag and pulled the box labeled books towards him and for a moment you had been hopeful he was actually going to help. Hence the moment of clarity that has you shaking your head in disbelief. You have a skeleton, in your living room and you're annoyed he's being lazy and spreading your books everywhere. It's almost like you've fallen into one of the stories you love so much.

"was it a requirement for all these old composers to have such out of control hairstyles?" Sans asks suddenly. He holds up the book, pointing to a page with a portrait of Johann Bach, wild gray locks and all. 

"Um, I think it was just the fashion styles of that time period," you say as you struggle to reach a higher shelf. Better to put the long term storage stuff up high and save the lower shelves for stuff you use often. "I'm not too familiar with older sections of classical music history. I'm more of a modern day music nut." 

"i guess you could say-"

"SANS." 

"it's not your forte!" 

"Ha. Ha," you laugh dryly. "You gotta try harder than that. Or are you just running out of ideas?" 

"i'll come up with something. i've been told i'm pretty clef-er." 

That one gets a giggle out of you. "You know," you point out as he closes the book and sets it down, "there is a bookshelf literally in arms reach. Could you maybe put my babies on there instead of the floor? Alphabetically by series please!" 

He groans loudly, pausing in his casual placement and moves them around. "yes ma'm."

You watch him do for this for a second, feeling that old sense of doubt poking its head up. "If it's that big a bother you didn't have to offer." You say this quietly, kind of hoping he didn't hear. If it truly was bothering him you didn't want to push but you really didn't want him to leave either. What was going on with you? 

He seems to hear the hint of your serious question. "nah. i don't mind. i just like messing with you." He looks at another full box of books he hasn't even opened it. "you really like reading huh?" 

"It's my drug," you say rather proudly. You finish with the dishes and stretch when it's all done. Sans has fallen silent and you turn to find him actually sitting up, nose deep in your encyclopedia of stars and space. His eye sockets are wide, the lights flickering quickly back and forth across the page with intense interest. You decide now is as good a time as any to take a break and join him on the bean bag. You plop down just above him on the bag itself so you sit a little higher than him. 

"Do you like spacey science stuff?" you ask him, curling your feet up under you. He doesn't answer until you actually tap him on the shoulder and he jumps slightly. His gaze flickers to you, his smile more gentle than you'd ever seen it. 

"heh, sorry. got lost there for a second. what did you say?" 

You laugh. "I guess that answers my question." You lean closer to him, trying to get a look at the page. It's the chapter titled 'History and Constellations'. "Ah, excellent choice! I love constellations. I think my favorite is the story about Orion chasing the seven sisters." You point to the illustration in the book, tracing the patterns of the stars. 

"that does sound like a good story." 

You can't quite place the expression on Sans' skull. He almost looks a little...sad? He notices you looking and a little sigh hisses out from his teeth. 

"we didn't really have stars. you know, down there." 

Oh that would make sense. Being underground there wouldn't be a view of the sky. You couldn't imagine what that must be like. Living and never seeing the sky, never seeing the stars or the sun? That alone would have made you fight tooth and nail to escape had it been you stuck down there. Curiosity eats at you but you don't ask. It didn't feel right to bring up a sensitive topic like that just yet.

Sans continues, his own bony fingers tapping against the book gently. "we had something that was close though. some of the caverns had glowing crystals in the ceiling. monsters used to visit there and make wishes on fake stars. i used to take paps when he was a baby bones. he was more interested in playing in the mud though. i actually found an old beat up telescope once," he adds, closing the book. "seeing the 'stars' up close made me want to know everything about them."

You lean back against the bean bag, trying to picture it. "I bet it was beautiful in its own way." 

He joins you in leaning back, his skull tapping gently against your arm. "it was, but it's not the same. seeing them for real...there's nothing like it." He's staring wistfully up at the ceiling. "kinda makes you think it's too good to be true. like it could just one day...disappear."  

"The stars aren't going anywhere silly." You point up to the ceiling, as if you two were outside and could actually see the stars. "That's why I love them so much. You can be anywhere in the world, at any point in time and the stars will be there. Even if you can't see them. They don't fade, and they don't vanish. They hold so much history and hope. I mean, people have been using the stars to pass on stories and navigate for hundreds of years! How cool is that?" 

He doesn't answer and you look down to find he's staring at you, with something almost akin to wonder. You feel you face light up with embarrassment. When did you turn into such a rambler

"I know it's a lot more sciencey than that," you say with a cough, hoping he doesn't notice how red your face is. "P-plus my grandpa was a big space nerd and used to tell me all kinds of stories like that. He liked the romantic side of space. Oh that reminds me of a joke he used to use all the time. What did the planet say to the asteroid?"

Sans grins again. "what?" 

"Comet me bro!" 

That sends the both of you into wild peals of laughter and you spend the next little while swapping every space pun and joke you can think of. In fact, it's not until you hear a knock at the door and a loud voice calling "HUMAN! IT IS TIME FOR OUR RUN!" that you remember your plans with Papyrus. You groan, not at the idea of running but at the fact you had spent so much time goofing off you had barely gotten anything done. 

"You are a distraction," you say grumpily to Sans as you stand to let Papyrus in. You open the door and immediately get swept up in a tight hug. "Oompf!"

"HELLO HUMAN!" Papyrus has swapped out his white armor like clothes for a large tee shirt with 'JOGBOY' written in uneven handwriting. A bright red sweatband is around his skull and his red scarf has been replaced with a slightly shorter cape. He narrows his eye sockets at you, noticing your attire at the same time. You hadn't bothered to change after work aside from losing your shoes. 

"THAT IS A VERY...INTERESTING CHOICE OF CLOTHING FOR OUR EXERCISE." 

You laugh, patting his arm lightly. "No, I'm sorry buddy. I was distracted by unpacking and completely forgot. Just give me a minute to change and we can get going!" 

"hey bro." Sans waves from his slumped position on the bean bag. At this angle it's hard to see much besides the gleam of his skull. 

"BROTHER?" Papyrus shouts in surprise. "I DID NOT KNOW YOU WERE HERE." 

"i was helping with unpacking," he says, winking in your direction. Papyrus looks so proud at this news that you can't find it in yourself to mention that his 'help' actually left more of a mess. You duck inside your room to throw shorts and a tank top on. You grab your shoes and water bottle, noticing that both brothers are standing outside the door, chatting together. You make sure to lock up and join the two outside. 

"Hey Sans," you say casually as you lean against the wall and tie your shoes. "Am I correct in assuming it would be pointless to ask if you wanted to join us?" 

"completely," he deadpans. 

"I thought so," you sigh heavily, pushing up from the wall. As Sans turns to go back to his own place you call out, "Guess I'll galax-SEE you tomorrow then!" 

The look he gives you is so completely filled with glee you can't help but laugh loudly as your stomach does little butterfly turns. 

Chapter Text

You follow Papyrus down the steps. You can't get the image of Sans' gleeful grin out of your head. You press your hands against your face, trying to stifle the butterflies in your stomach. You can't do this again. This is where you had messed up so many times in the past; people would get interested, you would share too much way too soon and they would freak out and leave. The thought of losing these two brothers was enough to calm you down. Take things slow, don't get overexcited. 

"AND THEN TO COME BACK AND FIND YOU, THE HUMAN WITH PUNS JUST AS BAD-!"

You guiltily realize that Papyrus has been talking to you this whole time. It's not hard to guess what he was ranting about. "Sorry Papyrus. No more puns tonight," you promise.

"I SHALL FORGIVE YOU HUMAN." He seems appeased and then his face lights up. "STILL, I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU ACTUALLY GOT MY BROTHER TO WORK AT SOMETHING. YOU MUST HAVE USED GREAT CUNNING."

"Actually he said it was to reward me for a joke I told him." 

"OH. WELL I APPRECIATE IT ANYWAY. NOW ON TO OUR TRAINING!" The two of you stop at the bottom of the building and you take a few moments to stretch. Papyrus watches you for a moment and begins mimicking your movements. It's surely not necessary for him but you appreciate his efforts. "WHAT IS YOUR USUAL TRAINING REGIMEN?"

You straighten up. It's chillier out here than you thought and goosebumps cover your arms. "Last night I just did a full circle around the park, twenty seconds running, ten seconds walking since I'm still kinda new at this. Once I get the know the area better I'll go further." 

"THAT SOUNDS LIKE AN EXCELLENT PLAN!" Papyrus looks ready to start bolting at any moment. You laugh and the two of you start. As you expected, the tall skeleton soon passes you by and gains quite a bit of distance. The temptation to go faster is strong but you force yourself to keep your pace. Wearing yourself out at the beginning wouldn't help anything. He notices you falling behind and jogs in place while you catch up. The rest of the run follows the same pattern, with him zooming ahead and waiting while your shorter legs fought to keep up with his long strides. After making the complete circle you end up back in front of the apartment. Papyrus is barely winded while you have to stop and take great gulps of your water. 

"ARE YOU READY FOR ANOTHER CIRCLE?"

Your legs and lungs scream in protest but he looks so excited you find yourself nodding. "S-sure...let's g-go!" 

You run much slower the second time around and you wind up walking the last bit. You wipe the sweat from your face with your shirt as you approach Papyrus, who long beat you to the finish line. Your legs are quivering slightly. "Sorry, I don't have much stamina." 

"IN THAT WAY YOU ARE VERY MUCH LIKE MY BROTHER. BUT YOU AT LEAST ARE TRYING TO TRAIN, UNLIKE THAT LAZY BONES WHO BARELY MAKES AN EFFORT." He pats your head like a kid and you grin. "YOU DID VERY WELL HUMAN."

"Thanks Pap." It seems trying out the nickname is right call because his eye sockets fill with joyful tears again. 

"WOWIE! HAVE WE ALREADY REACHED THE NICKNAME ZONE IN OUR FRIENDSHIP?" He gives you another massive hug, not caring about the sweat. "I SHALL HAVE TO THINK OF THE BEST NICKNAME FOR YOU!" 

A warm feeling blossoms in your chest. "I'd really like that," you laugh. 

Friendship. You never expected your first friend in the city to be a monster skeleton. But just being able to say it, have someone call you a friend, is nearly enough to make you cry.  You have missed this so much. 

~~~~~~ 

The next morning you drag yourself to work, body aching from a combination of the running and your sad air mattress. Next on your list, get an actual bed. You take Abby's advice and put on your most comfortable pair of jeans and a slightly over sized sweater that proclaims it's 'Time to Dance' and that helps you feel better. The door hasn't even finished its tinkling ring before Abby is on you, eyes shining. 

"Who was that yesterday?" she demands excitedly. 

"Uh, who?" you ask intelligently. 

"The skeleton," she whispers. "I saw you talking through the window and then you left with him! Was he waiting for you? Are you two...together?" 

"Wha-no!" you sputter. "I've known him for like two days. He's my neighbor. There was a bit of an accident with his stove that I helped out with. He was treating me to dinner to say thanks at bar next door." 

"That is fantastic!" She sounds far more ecstatic than the situation calls for. You find out why a moment later when she lifts her shirt slightly to show you a beautifully complicated tattoo on her hip. It's got birds, eyeballs and....oh. A large skull with emerald filled eyes glares at you, teeth pulled back in a wide sneer. "I've always loved skeletons and other spooky stuff from way back before I heard about the barrier falling. And you move in next to one? Totally awesome." 

"There's two of them actually," you say in a bit of a daze, finding it hard to look away from the tattoo. "He's got a brother." 

This news just excites her even more. "That is INSANE." 

"I guess it is." You run your hand through your hair. "But it's almost like I forget at times. They're so crazy and fun and just...alive you know?"

"I'm so jealous," she moans. "You need to tell me everything about them!"

So the rest of the morning passes with the two of you chatting about the brothers and other monsters you've seen around the city. Abby counters your 'no, he was actually made of FIRE' story with one about a pair of monsters, named Catty and Bratty who had oohed and ahhed over her hair at the mall the other day.

"Bratty is like this massive alligator with a total outdated blonde look that she actually pulls off," Abby says, reapplying a coat of nail polish. "Catty is-"

"Let me guess, a giant cat?" you ask with a grin.

"No way, how'd you know?!"

The two of you are laughing when the door opens and the tall lady you had seen in the booth comes in, her pretty face twisted in a scowl. Her name was...Em if you remembered right but it might be a nickname.

"There's some kind of...gathering happening at that monster bar next door," she says to no one in particular. "They're making such a racket."

The words and her tone send a feeling of apprehension through you, with just a bit of anger on the side. "It's probably the lunch hour rush," you say, not noticing Abby's quick panicked look at you.

Em glances at you, almost like she's surprised you spoke up. "It's no excuse for the place to act like a zoo. But I guess that's to be expected, given its patrons," she says coolly before sweeping upstairs to the booth. Your jaw drops and you gape after her. Abby whistles quietly. 

"I totally expected her to go off on you," she says, putting her nail polish away. "Emily doesn't exactly...like monsters." 

That much is obvious. Your stomach is churning with anger. "Humans are just as capable of making noise as monsters are. They're just people like us." 

"Well, if you know that, and I know that...who's driving the train?" She's obviously trying to cheer you up so you try to let go of your annoyance. 

Once again, the end of work arrives fairly quickly after that. Today ended up consisting of mostly sitting by Joe as he worked the controls and after almost thirty minutes of silence he asked if you wanted to help with the audio control. He spoke quietly and to the point, but it was progress! You step outside and stretch, bones in your back popping. The noise makes you think of a certain bony fellow and you pull your phone out. 

y: hey, are you and Pap busy tonight?

It takes a few minutes and you start walking home before your phone dings.

s: nope. 'sup?

y: As I recall, a certain lazy bones had promised to help me unpack and my apartment is still full of boxes.

It really isn't; there's maybe five boxes left and normally you would tackle those on your own but....

s: i dunno i thought i did a pretty good job last night. whats in it for me?

y: pizza, a movie and my charming jokes?

s: you drive a hard bargain

y: You can be manager of the beanbag again

s: deal. see you soon.

A wide grin lights your face. You quickly call the pizza place for delivery (you try not to think about how sad it is that you've already saved the pizza place's number in your phone) and hurry home. You've barely come in and managed to change into some sweatpants when the doorbell rings. 

"HELLO PARTNER!" You're expecting the hug this time and manage to actually hug him back. Sans gives you a quick pat on the head as he passes by and makes a beeline straight for the beanbag. "I WAS OVERJOYED TO BE INVITED FOR A MOVIE PARTY!" 

A movie party? Sure why not. "Uh yeah, I'm glad you could come Pap! Make yourself comfy. Pizza should be here soon." 

The sight of Papyrus attempting to fit his lanky limps on the bag makes you giggle. He finally gives up and slides down to the floor, leaning back against the bag. Hmm, you might have to add a couch to that IKEA trip. You grab your folder of movies and go through the options with the boys. Sans doesn't really care and barely makes a comment. Pap on the other hand is so overwhelmed by your collection he has no idea what to pick. 

"WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?" he finally asks. 

"Well...." Honestly, you're a huge fan of action flicks but all your favorites might be a little too intense for Pap. You have no idea how old he actually is but you can't help but see him almost like a little brother. You instead pick out Lilo and Stitch, figuring that would be plenty safe. You'll have to ask Sans later what kind of movies Paps was used to. The pizza arrives right as you put the disc in and you let yourself eat before tackling the remainder of the boxes. Halfway through the movie Sans finally pulls himself up from his nest and joins you in pulling stuff out. Papyrus is glued to the t.v, eye sockets wide.

"should i open this one?" Sans asks, pointing to a box labelled 'Decorations'. 

"Nah, Halloween is coming up. You can just put it in the corner." 

"what's halloween?" 

You freeze and turn slowly to look at Sans. You can't help but grin a little evilly. "Oh my friend are you in for a treat. Halloween is the best holiday we've got! Pumpkins, costumes, apple cider, candy and lots of spooooky scary skeletons!" You wiggle your fingers at him. An eyebrow bone ridge raises slightly in amusement. 

"is that so?"

"Yep! A haunting night when the spirits of the dead walk this earth once again!" you continue in a witchy tone, diving back into your current box. "Children wear costumes to frighten the dead away and are rewarded with candy. At least that's how it started. The wearing costumes to scare away the supposed spirits of the dead on a night called All Hallows Eve. Now people do it just for fun and for free candy."

"guess me and paps will blend right in." 

"I imagine you will." You grab the pile of sheets from the box and go down the hall to put them in the closet. You return, fully intent on telling him about haunted houses and pumpkin flavored everything, but then you stop short, feeling your heart drop to your feet. 

Sans is holding a small black wooden box that you've duct-taped shut, observing it curiously. He starts to peel the tape off. "ya know, i don't think this is gonna be much use to you taped shut like this-"

You're across the room in a flash, snatching the box out of Sans' hand. His eye sockets widen with surprise and just a flash of hurt. For a moment you two just stare at each other and your heart falls again for a whole different reason.

"I-I'm sorry," you say quietly, pressing the box to your chest. "I didn't want you to see this. I thought it was in the box over there. I'm sorry." 

His hand lowers and the wide smile returns to his face, but now it feels a little off. "don't worry about it. i shouldn't have tried to open it." 

"No! No it's not your fault," you mumble, looking at the floor. "I'm gonna go put this away. I'll be right back." You escape to your room and shut the door. That was the worst thing that could have happened. Sans probably thought you were some kind of possessive freak. You stare at the box miserably. You should throw this away. You know that but...damn it! Why did you forget which box it was in? Why did this thing have to pop up? You throw it across the room, watching it clatter to the ground.

That small chest held the remainders of the worst mistake you've ever made. The reminder that the anxiety, the depression was never going to go away.

You feel yourself sinking to the floor, that fog, that stupid overwhelming fog rearing its ugly head. Stop it! None of that! You put your hands over your ears. "I deserve to be happy," you mumble. "I'm allowed to make mistakes." You repeat it several times, focusing just on the words. 

This time, thank heavens, it works. Your heart slows down and the fog retreats. You breathe deeply for a few more moments, trying to recompose yourself. The longer you stay back here, the more you were gonna worry the skeletons. If they hadn't already just up and left. You leave the box in a corner of the closet, out of sight and head back to the living room. 

They're both still there. The movie is almost over. Sans, who has returned to his spot on the beanbag, watches you closely. He motions to you with a bony digit and you hesitantly walk over. He pats the spot next to him and you sit down with a sigh. You rub your thumbs together, a habit you developed a long time ago to calm yourself down.

"I'm sorry," you say again. "I had a freak out moment." 

Sans makes a motion, almost like he's about to take your hand but refrains. He's smiling, which should be good sign but then again, he's always smiling. "hey don't worry about it. it happens. are you ok?" 

You take a deep breath. The fog has left for now, so yes, surprisingly, you still are. You finally look up. Sans is watching you with concern. "I'm fine. Really." 

Sans hesitates for a moment, clearly mulling over something. "d-

"WHAT AN EXCELLENT FILM!" Papyrus claps loudly as the movie credits roll, interrupting Sans. "HUMAN YOU HAVE TRULY EXCELLENT TASTES IN MOVIES." 

Glad for the distraction from the awkwardness, you smile at Papyrus. "I'm glad you like it! It's one of my favorites." 

"I ONLY WISH THAT I COULD WATCH ALL OF THEM," he says wistfully, glancing at your large folder. You can't help but laugh.

"We can't watch them all at once, but I see no reason why we can't spread it out. In fact, tomorrow is my last day before my weekend. Do you want to have a movie night?" 

It's like you've announced Christmas has come early. Papyrus' excitement calms you down even more and your smile is genuine as you make plans. Papyrus insists on bringing some more of his spaghetti and you in turn decide to pick up some more movie like snacks. Soon after, you all decide to turn in for the night. Sans pauses at your door, waiting until his brother has vanished to turn back to you. His easy smile thins into an expression a little more serious than before. 

"hey _____." 

The sound of him saying your name sends strange tingles down your back. "What is it?" 

He rubs the back of his skull with his hand for a moment before dropping it to his side. "if you uh...well need anything at all, i'm here. ok? just wanted to let you know." 

He turns to leave and you can't stop yourself. You reach out and grab his hand, making him pause. It's oddly warm, for being made of bone. 

"Sans I-" You can't think of what to say. "Thank you. Really. D-do you want to grab burgers during my lunch tomorrow?" 

Perhaps it's just the lighting, you could almost swear a blue tinge colored his cheekbones. He nods wordlessly and you let him go. You wait until he's at his door to call "Good night!" 

He pauses and turns to give you that gentle smile. "g'night _____."

Chapter Text

You can't stop your leg from bouncing as you glance over at the clock for the umpteeth time. It's almost time for your lunch and your stomach is in knots. You had asked Sans to meet you at Grillby's but you have no idea what you were going to say. It was a spur of the moment thing last night but now you just want to smack yourself in the face. For that matter, why are you so nervous? Sans obviously hadn't been too bothered by your weird behavior last night. This was just lunch with a friend. A friend that you can't get out of your head. 

These thoughts are gonna lead to dangerous places. You shake your head. You barely even know a thing about Sans, or his brother for that matter! You're just slipping into that old habit of being clingy to anyone who paid attention to you. Okay, tonight you're gonna start asking about them! Papyrus you figure will be happy to talk; you had learned at least a little bit about the eccentric skeleton over the past few days. He loves spaghetti, he's an insanely passionate worker and wanted to be a member of the Royal Guard. Sans however is almost a complete mystery and you have a sinking feeling he likes to keep that way. You put your head in your hand, thinking. Maybe if you got him back on the topic of spacey science he'd be more willing to open up. 

A gentle tapping draws you out of your thoughts. Sans is peeking through the open window, knuckles against the glass. He waves at you and you give him a 'just a moment!' gesture. 

"Abby, I'm heading to lunch!" you call. You've been covering her spot on the front desk and she strolls back in from one of the offices. 

"Gotcha. Before you leave, just to let you know-ooh!" She spies Sans through the window. She's making no effort to hide her delighted stare and you see Sans shift slightly until he's out of sight. You slide just in front of Abby's view. 

"So uh, I'll be back soon. What were you saying?" 

She tears her gaze away. "Tod wants to see you when you're done, nothing urgent. I think he's gonna ask you to help out with the fall festival in the park." She wiggles her eyebrows at you, glancing pointedly towards the door and dammit now you're starting to blush. 

"Shush you," you mumble, smacking her shoulder lightly. "He's a friend. Barely." You're already thinking of him as a friend, oh boy.  

She says nothing to that and practically shoves you out the door. Sans is leaning against the building, scuffing his old sneakers against the ground. "heya." He's all smiles and suddenly the knots in your stomach are gone. 

"Hi! Sorry about Abby," you say, nodding towards the studio. "She's a bit of a skeleton fanatic. She's got a tattoo and everything."

This seems to take him a little off guard. "huh. that's...uh...." He's a little flabbergasted so you tug on his sleeve and pull him to the bar. 

"Let's eat! I'm starving." 

Grillby's is a little more packed than the last time you were here, most likely caused by a lunch hour rush. All the seats at the bar are taken so the two of you slide into a booth. A smaller flame monster, this one a bright green takes your order and hurries away. Sans reaches for the ketchup bottle and starts chugging it by itself. You wrinkle your nose.

"Okay, after you dumped the whole bottle on your fries last time, I figured you just really like ketchup. But good grief Sans!" 

He waves the bottle in your general direction. "c'mon, if your favorite food was available in a bottle, you'd have no trouble drinking it. right?"

"I guess," you mutter. "To each his own."

"paps won't stop talking about how excited he is for tonight," Sans continues, finally putting the bottle down. 

"I'm glad to finally have a movie buddy again," you laugh. 

Sans shakes his head. "'s not just that," he says, his gaze going to the table. "thing's have been kinda tough for paps. even back underground, he didn't have many friends. he's kinda intense for some people."

Intense Papyrus certainly is. But he's so sweet and considerate, you can't imagine someone like him not having friends. "Being passionate about how you live your life isn't a bad thing," you say. "I admire him for it. Sure he's a little loud about it but everyone gets like that sometimes. It just means he's got a ton of energy to spare." 

Sans looks up at you. Again, you can sense he's mulling something over, like he's trying to find the right words. "it hasn't been easy, being up here you know? most people aren't as open and inviting as you. you're his first human friend, aside from frisk i mean. or rather, our first human friend." 

"Frisk? That kid that freed you guys right? Man, I'd like to meet them someday-oh." The rest of his sentence hits you and you stop talking. You know you must be staring at him because he looks down again. He called you his friend. Your lip quivers and you bring your hand up to hide it. You're saved from saying anything by the arrival of your food and the two of you eat in silence for a few minutes. You finally clear your throat. 

"I'm really happy I moved in next to you guys," you say softly. Sans looks up at you, a fry dripping with ketchup halfway to his mouth. You see his shoulders ease up and realize that he's completely misinterpreted your silence. You hesitantly put your hand on top of his. You feel his bones twitch slightly, but he allows your hand to stay. "You took me by surprise!" you say lightly. "Seriously, you two are awesome. Meeting you guys has been the best thing that's happened to me in a long time." 

There it is again! His cheeks dimly light up with a blue blush. It's so adorable you can almost feel your heart burst. He hurriedly shoves the fry through a thin line between his top and bottom teeth.

"you're not too bad yourself," he says, the casual grin back on his face. "so you wanna meet the kid huh?"

He's changing the subject but you don't mind. "Absolutely! Just whenever they have some...time...." Time! You quickly glance at your phone. You've only got a few minutes before your break is over. "Sorry Sans, I gotta bounce."

"no problem bud. my break's almost over too." 

You look at him in surprise. "You're on break? Where do you work?"

"here and there. i got the bill," he adds, noticing you trying to signal the frantic waitress.

You feel bad but you don't really have any time to wait. "It's my treat next time!" You call as you hurry to the door. You don't see the gentle look that crosses over Sans' face as he watches you leave.

~~~~~~

"What kind of experience do you have with graphic design?" Tod is messing with something in the drawers with one hand, the other balancing a stack of files. You take the files from him before they topple over. 

"I took a few art classes back in high school," you say cautiously. 

"Perfect." He finds what he's looking for; it's a sloppy drawn sketch on a notepad with a list of information written at the bottom. "I want you to design the flyers for the upcoming festival. All the info you'll need is right here."

You exchange the files for the notepad and look at the scribbled notes. An odd twist of excitement and worry tug at your gut. "No problem boss," you say, smiling widely, squashing the feeling as best as you can. "When do you need it by?" 

"Monday at the latest." 

Okay, it's Friday now. That gives you the entire weekend to work on it. "Got it." 

"Also," Tod gives up trying to juggle the folders and sets them down, pulling out a thin envelop with the radio's logo on the front. "We need various businesses and sponsors to set up booths and such. Abby is handling most of that but I want you to try and find just one business, since it's your first go. You just need to ask a manager or leader of whatever business if they would like to participate and give them this letter, which has all details. It's best to go over this yourself in case they have questions. Can you handle that?" 

Just one business? You're pretty sure you can at least do that. "No problem! Should I shoot for like a cafe or something?" 

"I'll leave that up to you." Tod gives you a wide smile and claps your shoulder as he heads back up to the recording booth. 

The excitement of your assignments follows you the rest of the day and on your way back home you stare intensely at each store you pass by, trying to decide if it would be a good fit. You're so in to your task you almost forget to grab movie snacks. You duck into a gas station, grabbing some popcorn and licorice. Then, as a last minute thought, you grab a big bottle of ketchup. Gross as it is, you want Sans to have what he likes. 

When you get home, you shoot the brothers a text to let them know and get to setting the living room up. You feel bad about Papyrus sitting on the floor all last night so you drag your air mattress out from your room. You pull out your collection of various blankets and pillows. If there's one thing you know how to do right, it's movie nights! You're just putting on the kettle for hot chocolate when you hear a tap at the door. 

"Come in!" you call. 

Papyrus bursts into your place holding a massive pot of spaghetti, Sans casually strolling behind him. Both brothers are wearing p.j's; Paps has a shirt that screams he is the 'Spaghetti Master' and Sans is wearing one of those 'got milk?' tees. He joins you in the kitchen while Papyrus starts going through the cabinets looking for plates. 

"Next one over!" you call to him before turning to Sans. "Hey you." 

"heya." He's quiet and his smile is thin. 

"Everything okay?" you ask, turning off the stove. He doesn't answer you right away and with a bit of alarm you notice that the white lights of his eyes are small and a little dim. "Sans?" 

His smile grows wider but now you can tell it's fake. "'s nothing. just people at work with too much time to waste." It's clear that he doesn't want to talk about it so you reluctantly decide to drop it. 

"Okay. But if you wanna talk you don't have to hold back," you tell him as you reach for the bag of goodies. "Anyway, I don't got milk, but I got this!" You offer the bottle of ketchup and his expression eases just a bit. 

"i guess i can settle for this," he says with a wink. He pops the lid open and you smack his hand gently and waggle a finger at him. 

"Dinner first! That's for the movie." 

"SANS, HUMAN! DINNER IS READY," Papyrus calls the two of you over. This batch of spaghetti is actually decent compared to the first dish you had and Sans whispers to you that Papyrus had been cooking all day to make sure it was perfect. Your heart swells at this and you make sure to eat plenty. 

"HUMAN," Papyrus says suddenly as the three of you move to the beanbag. "I HAVE A QUESTION. WILL YOU BE RUNNING AGAIN SOON?" 

"Uh yeah I think so. I'll probably do it tomorrow night," you say as you put in the movie: it had taken a while but Paps had finally decided on Lion King. You debated on warning him about the Mufasa scene but hold your tongue. Might as well give him the full experience right? "Do you want to go again?" 

"YES! I ALSO TOLD MY FRIEND UNDYNE ABOUT MY NEW RUNNING FRIEND. SHE WISHES TO JOIN US." 

You had no idea who (or what) Undyne is but if she's a friend of Papyrus' you see no reason to say no. "Sure thing. That sounds like fun." Sans lets out a little grunt at this and you look worriedly at him. He's smirking. "Is that a bad thing?" 

Sans shakes his head. "undyne is...was the head of the royal guard. she's a very intense person. you'll be in for quite a workout." 

Oh geez. Well, tomorrow's problems can be dealt with tomorrow. Papyrus has made himself at home on your air mattress, stretched on on his stomach with his skull in his hands so you grab your sketch book and join Sans on the beanbag. Might as well work on the flyer design for a bit. You balance a bowl of popcorn between the two of you. "Don't get ketchup on my beanbag," you warn him as the movie starts. 

He pops the lid open and gives you another wink. "how dairy you suggest i would do such a thing," he says, pulling his shirt out a bit. You resist throwing popcorn at him since that seems a bit contradictory to what you just said. You give him a gentle kick instead. 

"Shush you. The movie's starting." 

Sans turns his attention to the screen and you start scribbling. You're not exactly a professional, but you did like to sketch so your various pumpkins and scarecrow designs don't look too bad. You get into it, barely paying attention to the movie until you hear a gentle sobbing. You look up in alarm. Shoot! The movie's already reached the end of stampede scene and Papyrus has his head buried in his hands. You scramble out of the bag and drop down next him. "I'm so sorry!" you say, rubbing his shoulder. You can feel the shape of his shoulder blade. It's so odd to feel that and no flesh but now isn't the time to focus on that. "I should have said something Paps. I'm sorry."

'W-WHY WOULD HIS BROTHER DO THAT?" Papyrus sobs. 'HIS OWN BROTHER A-AND POOR S-SIMBA-!"

"Shh Pap it's okay," you whisper, reaching over and pausing the movie. Scar is on screen, telling Simba to run away, mouth open in a snarl. "It's just a story."

"BUT IS WAS SO BRIGHT AND COLORFUL AND EVERYONE WAS HAPPY."

Oh man you messed up big time. "That's the story Pap," you say gently. "It's a story about how life can change so dramatically and through no fault of your own. Simba has to learn how to deal with this and what true family is." He's starting to calm down a little so you pat his hand. "Do you want to watch something else?" 

Papyrus sniffles. "NO. I AM FINE NOW. I WISH TO SEE THE REST." 

"Okay buddy. I promise the songs and the smiles come back. This is the saddest part and it's almost over." You turn the movie back on and look to the bean bag. 

Sans isn't there. For a split second you don't see him and a wave of panic hits you. Did he leave? But then you notice he's standing in the corner over the by the door. He's leaning against the wall, head turn down. You quickly go over to him. 

"Sans, I'm so sorry I didn't think it would bother you guys that much..." your voice trails off as you notice a quiet rattling. He's shaking. "Sans I-" What should you do? Papyrus you can understand getting upset but something must have hit Sans deeply to affect him this much. Or...maybe this has something to do with whatever upset him earlier? He lifts a hand to his face. 

"sorry. just give me a sec." 

Something about the movie, or maybe just seeing his brother upset has very clearly triggered something in him. You can't just stand there, seeing him shake like he's going to fall apart. You slowly step closer and when he doesn't move away, you wrap your arms around him, pulling him gently away from the wall. He's so solid, more so than you would expect a skeleton to feel. He tenses under your hug. "I'm sorry," you whisper softly. You don't know what else to say.

His shaking stops after a minute and he slumps like he's lost all his energy. You let him go and he takes a deep breath.

"Is is the movie? I'm really sorry, I didn't think it would upset you guys like this."

He shrugs. "nah, 'm not upset cause of that. heh, not upset at all. i just...got reminded of a bad time."

The two of you stand there in silence for a minute. The joyful tune of Hakuna Matata fills the room and you look back at Papyrus. He's calmed down and is completely engrossed in the movie again. "Do you want to go sit down again? I promise the worst is over," you say, gesturing back to the t.v. You would completely understand if he doesn't want to though. "I'll make sure the next movie isn't so sad." 

He nods wordlessly and follows you back to the beanbag. You tuck a thick blanket around the two of you and you feel him shift a little until he's pressed up against you. His bones are still now, and warm. How can he be warm without blood or skin? 

"sorry," he mutters after a few minutes. 

You turn slightly to look at him. "Sans you have nothing to be sorry for." 

He sighs, eyes dim. "didn't think a freaking cartoon about lions would get to me." 

"You can't control what gets to you." You had plenty of experience dealing with that. "If we could, then things wouldn't get to us. Right?" 

"heh. guess not." He lets his head flop back and closes his eye sockets. 

Guilt eats at your for the rest of the movie. When it's over, you slip out from the blanket and quickly put on How To Train Your Dragon. There was nothing too sad in that one. Papyrus is back to his cheerful self and offers you some popcorn. You take a handful and quietly slide back under the blanket. Sans still has his eyes closed and after a second, you realize he's asleep. His face is much more relaxed now and that gives you a little peace of mind. Halfway through the second movie you see Papyrus's head bobbing and soon he's fast asleep as well. You're feeling so comfortable and warm you can't bring yourself to move or wake the brothers up just yet. Just a few more minutes won't hurt. You'll get up in just a few minutes. 

And just like that, you fall asleep as well. 

Chapter Text

There's flash of blue, a deep tearing sensation, like your heart is being forcefully pulled from your chest and then you're falling...

Falling...

You jerk awake. The images from your nightmare are already fading and you can't remember anything about it besides the sensation of falling. You groan and shove your face into your pillow. Wait...this is too hard to be your pillow. Your eyes shoot open and you focus on the sight in front of you. You're nestled up against Sans, who is still sleeping. His arm is thrown over you and your face is lying against his shoulder. His skull is only inches away, his mouth set in a relaxed smile.

OH MY- You bite back the noise in your throat. You fell asleep on the beanbag with Sans! You can feel your face turning red with mortified embarrassment at yourself. How did...when....? First things first, you gotta get out of this awkward situation before he wakes up! Moving very slowly, you attempt to pull yourself out from under his arm. He's made of bone, how is he this heavy?! At that point you realize your legs are tangled up together and freeing them is not gonna be easy. You cup your hands with your face and stifle your moan. This is so embarrassing! 

He shifts slightly and sighs before his eye sockets slowly start to open. Oh god what should you do? Look away? Pretend to be asleep? Too late-!

Sans blinks sleepily a few times, his gaze meeting yours. "wha...." He focuses on your face and his eyes dart around, quickly taking in the situation, including the arm still thrown over you. Within a few seconds his entire face blushes bright blue and he gapes at you, pulling his arm away.

"M-morning bone head!" you say, your voice shriller than was at all acceptable.  "Sleep good? Yep! Guess we're a pair of lazy bones, twin skeletons you could say!" 

Seriously? Puns?! You're babbling complete nonsense! You decide it's better to just shut up and bury your face in your hands again. Maybe if you press hard enough you can sink right into the beanbag and disappear from the Earth altogether. 

Sans does the worst possible thing he could do. 

He starts laughing.

"heheheh. geez you're really tickling my funny bone here." 

Oh good grief! "I hate you so much," you mumble into the beanbag. 

He pokes you with a bony finger. "c'mon pal. don't let it get under your skin. i'm just ribbing ya." 

You bury your head under the blanket but now Sans is on a roll. "sorry friend, am i crossing your bonedries?"

You moan loudly at him. 

"geez, i know it wasn't that original but it was funny right? c'mon can't ya...."

"NO." 

"throw me a bone here?" He snorts, he actually snorts and that throws you over the edge. You start giggling uncontrollably. You peek out at him from under the blanket, eyes watering.

"Y-you are a BONEAFIDE disaster!" you gasp out. Sans is shaking with laughter and you don't think it is physically possible for his delighted, shit-eating smirk to get any bigger.

"what, you don't think my puns are sansational?" 

"OH MY GOD!" 

Whelp, Papyrus is awake. He sits up, blanket up around his skull like a cloak. He scowls and points a wagging finger at the two of you, still trying to stifle your laughter.

"IT IS BAD ENOUGH TO HEAR YOUR JOKES THROUGHOUT THE DAY BUT FIRST THING IN THE MORNING? UNBELIEVABLE. BESIDES," His eye sockets glint suddenly. "THESE JOKES REALLY AREN'T EVEN THAT HUMEROUS." 

And with that, all three of you completely lose it. Papyrus' NYEH HEH HEH's almost send you rolling off the bag. The larger skeleton is cackling, pounding his fist against the air mattress when there is a sudden loud bang and you can't help a scream of surprise. You all fall silent as a loud hissing fills the room and Papyrus slowly sinks to the ground. There is a large hole in the corner of the mattress, which his fist is currently filling. He had actually managed to punch a hole in it. He looks up at you with a distraught expression and you can't stop another snort of laughter. 

"Well I guess that makes today bed hunting day," you say a little breathlessly. You wipe away the tears in your eyes as Papyrus begins to apologize profusely. "Seriously Pap don't worry about it. I needed to buy an actual bed anyway. That thing wasn't very comfortable." 

He still looks a little miserable so you take a breath and decide to sacrifice one for the team. You reach over and pat his face. "How about this then? You make me the best plate of spaghetti you can for dinner tonight and we'll call it even. Deal?" 

There's a muffled snort from behind you which you try to ignore. 

Papyrus brightens almost immediately at that and nods vigorously. "VERY WELL THEN HUMAN. DO YOU WISH FOR ASSISTANCE WITH YOUR BED SHOPPING?" 

"Oh no! That's okay, I can manage...." You trail off, struck with a sudden thought. You look at Sans, who still has a wide smile stretched ear to ear. Or where his ears would be if he had them. "You know what? I really think that you guys would enjoy a trip to Ikea." 

Well...Sans would anyway. 

 

Sans is in heaven. And Papyrus is pretty sure he's in hell. After your giggle fit this morning, you had all split to clean up and change and met up about an hour later at your car. Sans had tried to pry answers out of you as to why Ikea was so great and you'd had a hard time keeping your mouth shut. Even when the three of you had entered the store, he had looked around in confusion. That is until you had spotted your first victim. You snatched it, hiding it behind your back. 

"So, what do you think?" you had asked, fighting to keep the smirk off your face. 

Sans shrugged. "it's cool i guess. but i don't really get why you were so excited." 

Cackling, you had triumphantly flourished the cooking dish. It's labeled SMARTA cooking. "You don't see it? I guess that means I'm SMARTA than you." 

He had blinked. And then he had gasped with utter delight. And there had been no stopping him since.

Sans strides up to you now, barely able to hold in his giggles. "say, i haven't had wine before but i've heard it makes you-" he waves the wine opener in your face. It's labeled 'Groggy'.

"SANS." Papyrus looks like he's about to either explode or cry. 

"sorry bro. didn't mean to be a 'jerk-er' anything." He stabs a thumb over to a desk display with a large sign proclaiming 'JERKER'. 

You let out a dramatic sigh, tilting your head slightly to draw Sans attention to a lawn chair set up on the other side of the room. "Don't you think you should give it a rest?" 

He takes your cue and shakes his head, plopping into said chair. "sorry pal but i can knutstorp now. i'm on a roll." 

If Papyrus had hair, he would have completely pulled it all out by now. Or maybe he already had. You giggle, trying to picture the skeleton with hair and continue on to the mattress section. They've got a ton set up and you fall onto the closest one, sinking into its feather soft surface. Hmm, perhaps a bit too squishy for your taste. You feel the side of the mattress sink down and Sans lets out a happy sigh as he lies down next to you. He's holding a clock.

"ya know, i'm glad you 'rusch'd us out here. i'm having a great time." 

You giggle and nudge his shoulder. "I think Pap is gonna hate me after this." 

"nah. i don't think it's physically possible for him to hate anyone." Sans sits up, setting the Rusch clock to the side. You move to the next mattress, sprawling out across its surface. Ooh now this one is nice. 

"Oh 'myrbacka' enjoys this!" you sigh, reading aloud the label. 

"comfy?" Sans sits on the edge this time, eye lights glinting with suppressed laughter. 

"Very." You stretch and a few bones in your back pop. Sans winces slightly at the noise. "Sorry! Does that bother you?" 

He shakes his head. "it's just weird hearing it. i almost forget you humans have bones sometimes. you look too soft and squishy." He pinches your upper arm and you flail away. 

"No tickles!" you squeal. He throws up his hands in surrender. 

"ok, ok. i'm gonna find paps." He slides off the bed and strolls away, hands in the pocket of his jacket. You sigh happily. The difference between the Sans of right now and last night is astounding. Bringing the brothers here was the right call, even if Pap was a tad cross at you for tricking him.

"Excuse me." 

You're pulled from your thoughts by an older man. He accompanied by three younger children, probably grand kids. You sit up. "Uh yes?" 

"Are you...with that skeleton creature?" The old man nods after Sans, who just barely in sight. Your gut twists unpleasantly at the grim expression on his face. 

"Yes, he's a friend of mine," you say a little coolly as you stand up. He frowns disapprovingly at you. 

"I know you younger people think that associating with those beings is hip and cool but you have gone far beyond that line." 

What on earth is he talking about? The gazes of the kids has you biting back your angry tone. "What, is shopping with a friends a crime?" 

The old man shakes his head, his eyes narrowing. "Your lost soul is your choice, but do not flaunt your...." he leans forward and spits "consummation relationships with that creature in public! It is not fit for children's eyes!" 

Consu-what?! "You think I'm having sex with him?" You sputter out and the man flinches, rage crossing his face. 

"Do not use such language! You were very clearly selecting a bed with that thing weren't you?" 

The commotion is beginning to draw attention but you're angry enough you don't really care. You take a step towards him. He's taller than you by several inches but you're filled with a rage that makes you feel rather invincible. "Excuse me? First of all, it's a furniture store! People buy FURNITURE here. Which is what I'm doing. Secondly, you don't know me and I don't give a crap about your opinion. So why don't you take your long nose out of my business and leave us alone?"

He pulls his grand kids away from you, shooting you a dirty sneer as they leave. "Your soul belongs in hell!" 

"Then I guess I'll see you there!" you snarl after him. What a racist pig! You turn, fuming, only to find Sans and Papyrus standing right behind you. Your remaining anger ebbs away. Shoot, how much of that did they hear? Judging by the thinness of Sans' smile and downcast gaze, they heard enough. 

Papyrus shifts uneasily. "HUMAN ARE YOU OKAY? YOU LOOKED VERY ANGRY AT THAT MAN." 

You pat his arm reassuringly. "Yeah Pap I'm fine. Some people are real jerks huh?" The murmuring from the crowd hasn't ceased so you tug on the brother's arms, pulling them away from the harsh stares. "C'mon. Let's head to the pick up area. There's a mattress down there with my name on it!" 

Sans is completely silent the rest of the time you spend in the store. You try to stay cheerful as you locate the mattress you want. Fortunately it's one of those rolled up and plastic wrapped ones so it'll fit in the trunk of your car. You decide to worry about the bed frame another day. Papyrus helps you carry the mattress out, easily lifting up the heavy thing like it's nothing. When you all pile in the car, Pap up front with you and Sans slumped in the back, you can't take the silence any longer. 

"Hey, just so you guys know, I'm not bothered by what that jerk said." You stare at Sans via your rear-view mirror until his gaze lifts to meet yours. The thin smile on his face is completely fake. "Okay? Please don't let it bug you." 

Papyrus stares down at his gloved hands, twisting them uneasily. "WE ARE USED TO IT," he says, his voice softer than you've ever heard it. "I AM MERELY CONCERNED FOR YOU." 

For you? You gently pat Papyrus' knee before starting the car up. "I'm fine. I just got a little heated that's all. It's one thing to figure that some people are ignorant dummies about you guys, but actually seeing it was a surprise."It had shocked you. News about the monsters hadn't exactly been warmly accepted when the barrier first fell but that was months ago. Monsters had moved in, opened businesses, played in the park! It was clear that while different, they weren't a threat to the human race. But to see an old man be so openly rude about a misunderstanding was a little jarring.

"you shouldn't have to deal with it," Sans mutters from the back. 

"And you guys should?" You can't stand the defeated tone of his voice. "It's not fair. And it's not gonna get any better for you, or monster kind unless we work together to prove people like him wrong. That's the only way things'll change. Besides, if you think a little old man with a greasy nose is gonna chase me away, you've got it all wrong. I like you guys too much to just drop you at the first bump in the road." 

Papyrus can't contain himself any longer and practically launches himself across the armrest to hug you. The movement makes you swerve wildly. 

"Pap! Driving! Not now!" 

He sniffles and you are startled to see little tears gathering in his eye sockets. They, and the space directly beneath his eyes are glowing a dim orange color. "YOU ARE SO KIND _____. I WISH THAT MORE PEOPLE WERE LIKE YOU." 

It's the first time he's said your name and not 'human' or some variation thereof. "I promise there are more people like me," you say with a smile. "You guys are just having a hard time finding them. It's a big city after all." 

"it is a big city." Sans is sitting up, leaning forward between the front seats. He hesitantly puts a hand on your head, rubbing gently. "we're pretty lucky we ended up with a neighbor like you." 

The feeling of his phalanges (you know what they're called now!) on your head is surprisingly pleasant. You can feel yourself turning red from the attention. "No way. I'm the lucky one," you murmur. They have no idea how much you mean that. You're shocked at how close you had become to these two in just the few days that you had known them. Has it really only been a few days? It feels so much longer than that. 

The tension in the car eases and you all chat cheerfully the rest of the drive home, carefully avoiding topics that could even possibly sour the mood. It's just starting to rain when you pull into the apartment parking lot. Papyrus is happily chattering about the spaghetti plans he has for tonight. You're so busy laughing along with his excitement, that you don't notice the lady heading to the stairs at that exact same moment. You yelp as you collide with her, more out of surprise than anything. You stumble back, trying not to slip on the wet sidewalk. 

"Sorry about that!" you say "I wasn't-"

Your breath catches as the lady turns to give you a sharp glare with one eye (the other covered by a patch). She's blue! And not only that...she's covered in scales! A pair of fins stick out from her cherry red hair that's pulled up in a pony tail, dampened by the rain. She turns slightly towards you, her sharp nailed hands leaving the pockets of her faded jeans. She's gorgeous, and utterly terrifying. You can't tell if her mouth is sneering or smiling at you. You're too distracted by the sharp fangs. 

"Bumping into people can be dangerous punk," she says, before her gaze flickers to the brothers beside you. Immediately her harsh expression eases up. "Yo Papyrus! Check your phone, I've been trying to call you all morning!" 

"I'M SORRY UNDYNE," Papyrus says cheerfully, shifting the mattress slightly so he can look at the fish lady. "I WAS HELPING MY FRIEND PICK OUT A NEW BED SINCE I ACCIDENTALLY BROKE HER OLD ONE."

THIS was Undyne?! She turns her gaze back to you. This time, you can tell she's smiling but that doesn't make it any less scary. 

"Oh, so this is the new human you've told me about." Her eye glints gleefully and you can feel yourself sweating a little. "Ha! This is gonna be fun." 

Chapter Text

"Well let's take a look at you!" Undyne paces around you, studying you up and down. She pokes at your sides, makes you flex and generally ignores all rules of personal space. 

"undyne teaches classes at the martial art school a few blocks down," Sans explains as Undyne leans in close, staring straight into your eyes. "this is how she assess people." 

"Ah...uh um." You can't do more than mumble as you try not to look away from her intense stare. You have a feeling you would fail whatever test she was doing if you did. Her bright yellow eye is clearly searching for something. You can only pray she likes what she sees. You shiver, partly from nerves but more from the rain still falling down. Your hair is more than a little damp now and water drips down your face. Goosebumps rise on your arms.

Sans must see this because he steps up and taps Undyne's arm; he's a good foot shorter than her. "hey, there's no point in standing out in the rain. let's go upstairs." 

Undyne's eye narrows and she backs off with a loud laugh. "Ha! Good point. Humans are so fragile they can't even handle being out in the rain!" She throws an arm around you and starts pulling you to the stairs. "It's a good thing you've got me now punk! When I'm done you'll be a warrior good enough for the Royal Guard!" 

What is even happening? You're in a bit of a daze as Undyne and the two skelebros follow you into your apartment. You show Papyrus where your room is so he can dump the mattress. When you come back to the living room, Sans (to no surprise) is in his usual spot on the bean bag. He's flipping through your space book again. Undyne is in your kitchen, examining your various pots and pans. 

"You've got some pretty good gear here," she admits. "You cook?"

"Um, a bit," you say.

Undyne brandishes a spatula at you. "Alright then punk, let's see what you've got! Create your best dish!" 

"Right now?" You sneeze and Sans looks up from his book.

"hey paps, why don't you and undyne go back over to our place and start dinner instead? you did promise that you'd be in charge tonight."

Dinner? You glance at the stove clock. It's barely three o'clock. "It's a bit early isn't it?"

"NONSENSE!" Papyrus proclaims. "THE BEST SPAGHETTI TAKES TIME AND LOTS OF WORK. WITH UNDYNE ASSISTING, THERE IS NO WAY I SHALL FAIL TO MAKE THE BEST SPAGHETTI YOU HAVE EVER TASTED AND MAKE UP FOR MY MISTAKE THIS MORNING!"

Undyne, despite not knowing exactly what is happening, raises immediately to the challenge. "Ha! As if any other outcome is possible!" She throws her arm around Papyrus' neck and the two of them head out, laughing wildly. The door slams shut and you immediately fall into a kitchen chair.

"Wow. She's uh...intense."  

"that's one word for it." Sans pulls himself up and sets the book down. "now go dry off. i'd better keep an eye on them and make sure nothing catches fire again. i'll let you know when it's ready." He starts to shuffle out and stops when he reaches you. He hesitates for a second. "listen. what happened back at the store-"

"Sans," you say gently, standing up. "I told you. It doesn't bother me." 

"but it should." His shoulders are tense, but he's staring at you with an unusual seriousness. "you need to be careful. people aren't always scared off with a few sharp words. there are worse things that can happen." 

His words bring back a memory from last night, when he had in visibly upset about something. "Did someone do something to you at work?" you ask quietly. When he looks away, you add. "Please, you can tell me." 

You don't think he's going to answer, but finally he starts speaking in a harsh whisper. "i uh, work at a hot dog place. y'know, the one by the library?" 

You nod. You'd seen it a few times. 

"well there are some regulars who weren't very happy to see a monster like me working the place. so i usually work in the back. s'not so bad and i don't really mind. long as i've got the job right? but yesterday we were short staffed so i was up front and uh...." 

His words are starting to sound strained, so you reach out and take his hand, squeezing it reassuringly. He smiles at you and takes breath before continuing. 

"after i met you for lunch i was back at the shop and a group of them came in. they saw me, did the usual grumble and walked out without buying anything. thought that was the end of it. but then later i saw a bunch of people outside the window. they were wearing all black, masks. the whole thing. they threw rocks at the windows. broke 'em all. no way to prove who it was but...ya'know."

You gasp softly, your grip tightening. What kind of complete jerks would do something like that? "I-I'm so sorry Sans," you say. It feels so pathetic that that's all you can say.

Sans shrugs. "tibia honest, thought i was gonna get fired." His mouth quirks upward at his own pun and you feel like your heart is going to rip apart. "but the boss, he's cool. said it wasn't my fault. he's not even gonna make me pay for it. even though it is cause of me it happened." 

"No!" You shake your head furiously. "Sans that was not your fault. Those people are assholes and they're gonna get what's coming to them. But hey, your boss sounds like a good guy. See? There are more people like me out there. Not everyone hates monsters." 

He doesn't really respond to your attempt to lighten the matter. You sigh. "Look I-" you're cut off by a massive sneeze and that brings a small smile back to Sans' face. He pulls his hand out of your grip and pushes you to your room. 

"seriously pal. go change before you catch a cold." 

"I'm not gonna get sick that easily!" You protest. You pause at the edge of the hallway. "I'm sorry that happened to you. But please just remember that you did nothing to deserve that. Okay?" 

He doesn't answer and you hear the door click softly. You sigh and does what he says, changing into a hoodie and take off your wet socks. You're a little embarrassed about going into 'mom-lecture' mode. But it's horrible to see him so sad and accepting of the actions of a bunch of jerks, the words had just spilled from you. You had no idea he had been holding on to it since yesterday. If he hadn't say anything about that, what else could he be holding onto? You want to know. You want to know everything about him. Slowly, you realize your heart is pounding wildly. Oh no. Are you actually starting to....

No! No thoughts like that! You clap your hands to your face and decide to work on the flyer for the festival until dinner was ready. You dive right in and work furiously, trying not to think about the confusing feelings rising in your heart. 

You don't get the text from Sans until close to five-thirty, just when your stomach is beginning to rumble. Good timing though. You've completely finished the flyer and send the email off to Tod before heading over. You grab the space book on your way out. Sans was clearly using it more than you were anyway right? Stepping out of your place, you're pleased to see that it's stopped raining. Maybe your evening run could happen after all! You'd hate to have to cancel it since Undyne had come all the way over. Though you had a sneaking suspicion that rain wouldn't stop her.

The door is cracked so you knock softly as you open the door. "Hey guys-"

The kitchen looks like a warzone. The walls are splattered with spaghetti sauce and noodles. An actual tomato is stuck on the ceiling, juice dripping to the kitchen tiles. Flour covers the ground and the resulting footprints track all over the living room. You gape at the scene as Papyrus waves to you cheerfully. 

"WELCOME HUMAN! UNDYNE SUGGESTED WE INCLUDE GARLIC BREAD IN OUR DINNER TONIGHT! I HAVE NOT HAD THIS GARLIC BREAD BEFORE BUT SHE TELLS ME IT IS A TASTY COMPANION TO SPAGHETTI."

"That's right it is!" Unydne crows. She's wearing an apron and under the various stains you can see 'KISS THE COOK'. "You'd better prepare to have your taste buds explode!" 

The tomato finally slips from the ceiling and falls heavily in front of you, hitting the ground with a thick plop. It takes every ounce of determination you have to not burst out laughing. Especially when you spy Sans on the couch, giving you a pleading look. There's a spot of sauce on his skull. 

"I can-pffft-can't wait for it," you choke out, closing the door behind you. Oh man was cleaning up going to be rough. But for now you set the book down safely out of the range of the mess and sit at the table, which is already set. Sans slouches over and plops into the chair next to yours. You grab your napkin. 

"Hold still, there's sauce on your head," you say, unable to stop a few giggles. You put your hand on his skull, making him lean forward a bit. The bone is smooth for the most part but you can feel a few nicks and rough patches. Huh, now that's interesting. You wipe at the mess, trying to be as gentle as you can. Is his skull sensitive? "You weren't kidding when you said you needed to keep an eye on them. At least nothing caught on fire." 

"this time," he mumbles, straightening when you're finished. "usually they do the cooking lessons at undyne's. so if she wrecks her place it's her fault." 

"PREPARE TO BE AMAZED! ASTOUNDED! AND COMPLETELY IN AWE OF MY TALENTS." Papyrus brings the steaming pot over, Undyne toting the garlic bread. It smells amazing and your stomach rumbles again. You prepare yourself as you take a bite...

It's actually...really good? 

"Dang Papyrus! This tastes awesome!" you praise him as you shovel more spaghetti in your mouth. 

"NYEH HEH HEH! DO NOT LET THIS MAGNIFICENT FEAST OVERWHELM YOU HUMAN. UNDYNE IS TO THANK AS WELL." 

You have a feeling it's because of Undyne, despite the mess, that it tastes as good as it does. You swallow your bite. "Thank you Undyne. It's really good."

She gives you a sharp fanged smile. "Glad to see you can recognize talent." 

"where's alphys tonight?" Sans asks, twirling as many noodles as he possibly can on his fork. "working at the lab again?" 

"Yeah." Undyne sighs but you notice an almost gentle look come over her face. "The geeks at the university are totally thrilled with her knowledge about all that sciencey crap. They've got her working on some alternative energy something or other. So she's got a lotta late nights."

"ALPHYS WAS THE ROYAL SCIENTIST UNDERGROUND," Papyrus explains to you. "SHE'S VERY SMART SO THE HUMANS LIKE HER. SHE'S ALSO THE ONE WHO MADE METTATON!"

Wow, that is really cool! The underground must have been a pretty tight knit community. You don't know how many monsters there are exactly, but it kinda seems like everyone knows everyone. "I'd like to meet her sometime," you say, gnawing on a piece of garlic bread. It's a little chewy but hey it's garlic bread. 

Undyne laughs. "Sure. But she won't be running with us. She's more like this sack of bones." 

Sans grins and shrugs. He's managed to produce another bottle of ketchup from somewhere. You frown at him disapprovingly and give him a pointed glance at his mostly untouched dinner.

"So tell me." Undyne leans forward towards you, all business. "What is your goal?"

"Huh?" Goal in what?  "Like, in my life?" 

"Do you want to get stronger? Is that why you go running?" She sweeps her hand dramatically and knocks over the pitcher of water on the table. Sans' hand shoots up and manages to snag it before it hits the ground. 

"Nice reflexes," you say to him before looking back at Undyne. The running had started because of a recommendation from a doctor. She had told you to give yourself something to do, something to distract from the dark thoughts when they came creeping back. Also, you had been pleased to find that running wore you out enough that if you went straight to bed afterwards, the nightmares weren't as bad. It was better than what you had done before anyway. Staying up until ungodly hours of the night until pure exhaustion gave you a dreamless sleep. But explaining that could lead to more questions you aren't quite ready to answer.

"Yeah, I want to be a stronger person. I'm...I'm not as weak as I was before but it's not enough. I gotta do more. Be more than the person I am right now. That's why I moved here."

Undyne leans back in her chair, once again giving you that studying look again. You can feel Sans watching you too but you're too embarrassed to look at him. Geez, when you say it out loud like that you sound like some immature kid. You should've just said 'oh you know, to get in shape!' or something like that. 

Undyne slams her hands on the table suddenly, making you jump. She starts laughing and stands up, putting her hands on her hips. You stare at her blankly, not sure what you said that was so funny. 

"You know what, I think I like you kid! You wanna get stronger? I'll make you the strongest human in this city!" 

"Oh, well I mean I don't need to be that strong-" you try to protest but she suddenly darts to you and pulls you to your feet and starts shoving you to the door. 

"Change!" she orders. "The rain is gone and that means our training is on! Go go go!" 

You're pretty sure you're supposed to wait a while before running since you just ate but telling Undyne no would be like smacking a brick wall. Considering you hadn't been able to eat much, you're sure it'll be fine. Still, you don't hurry to dress and Undyne is hopping from foot to foot outside your door with Papyrus when you go back outside. 

"I'm not very good yet," you try to tell her as the three of you head down the stairs. She merely claps you on the back.

"That's the point of training you dummy! Now then!" You've reached the sidewalk. "Paps told me you did two circles last time so tonight we're gonna do three!"

Three?! "I don't know-"

"GO!" 

Ah what the heck?! You're pulled along into running. Again, Papyrus makes long strides ahead of you and jogs in place until you catch up. Undyne however, matches your pace and constantly shouts encouragement at you. Oddly enough, having a tall, blue fish lady yelling at you does make you more determined and you can feel yourself speeding up slightly, walking less. It's at the start of the third lap, your lungs on fire, that a great boom sounds from above and the sky dumps a waterfall on you. It's pouring and within a few seconds you're completely soaked, for the second time that day.

Undyne looks up at the sky but before she can say anything you yell, "Let's finish! A-almost done!" 

She lets out a whoop and the two of you carry on, struggling through the rain. Finally, you reach the apartment and duck under the awning for some cover. You can't breathe, you're soaked to the bone (heh) and you feel like your legs might give out at any moment. But the exhilaration! You're smiling and once you catch your breath you can't help but laugh. Having an actual coach is amazing! 

"Not bad kid!" Undyne claps you on the back again and nearly sends you careening into the wall. 

"T-thanks," you pant. 

"YES YOU DID VERY WELL HUMAN!" Papyrus looks so proud of you. Neither he or Undyne appear to be bothered by the fact that they're dripping water. 

"Thanks Pap," you say as you straighten. "Whoo! That was intense." But you had handled it!

You all squish and squeak your way back upstairs. Papyrus insists on giving you some leftovers so you stop by his place. Sans is reading your book and looks up as the three of you trudge in. 

"hey, i saw you brought this over and...." He trails off, taking in your soaked appearance as Undyne and Papyrus head to the still wrecked kitchen.

"Oh yeah, I figured it'd be nice for you to actually be able to read it when you'd like." You wrap your arms around yourself and sniff. It's cold in the apartment. "You can just give it back whenever." 

Sans stands and quickly disappears down the hall. You can hear a cabinet squeak and he's back with a big fluffy towel. He comes to you and puts it over your head, covering your face. You can feel his hands on your head, gently rubbing the towel against your hair. "i know you said you don't get sick that easy, but getting soaked twice in one day probably isn't good for you." 

You laugh. The towel smells nice. Like fresh detergent. Guess that means skeletons take showers. "Thanks Sans." You lift the towel so you can see only to find that his face is right in front of yours. Your eyes meet and you feel yourself blushing. Oh great, you probably look like a ragged kitten all soaked like this! And not one of the cute kinds of kittens either. 

"so uh can you promise me something?" he says suddenly, taking you off guard.

"What?" 

Very slowly, he reaches up to your face, gently booping you on on the nose. "go take a hot shower and take it easy the rest of the night. ok?" 

Well if you weren't blushing before...! You pull the towel back down over your face. "Yeah, sure," you mumble. "I promise, mom!"

He chuckles at you and lowers the towel to your shoulders, keeping his hands there for perhaps a few seconds longer than necessary. Your stomach is doing that stupid butterfly thing again. 

"Well, I'd better hop to it then!" You say a little too cheerfully, stepping away from Sans. You take the plastic container of spaghetti from Papyrus, who has an odd grin on his face. "Thank you Pap, Undyne. I had fun tonight. Let's do it again soon!" 

Undyne is leaning against the counter and she too is grinning widely. "You got it nerd," she says and you hear her whistle after you as you duck outside. It's not until you're back in your place that you realize you've still got the towel wrapped around your shoulders. Oh well, it's not like it's a long trip to return it. You toss it aside for now and do what Sans says. Peeling off your dripping clothes, you hop in shower. You let the hot water pound against you, the steam easing up your shivers. What an insane day! Especially the last part. That had definitely been...something. The touch of his hand on your head, the gentle lights of his eyes, the genuine smile on his face. All of these sends your heart into a crazy spiral. 

You are in big trouble. 

You enter your room and groan. Ah crap, you had forgotten to unwrap your new mattress. And then you'd have to put sheets on and your head is starting to pound and your legs are aching. Well, Sans had told you to take it easy. You decide to sleep on your beanbag for one more night. Grabbing your laptop and your fuzziest blanket, you snuggle into the bag and start researching local cafes. The festival isn't for another two weeks and you have until Thursday to find a place for sponsors but it's probably a good idea to get a head start on it. You scroll around on the internet until your eyes start to droop. You fall asleep with thoughts of blue in your head. 

Chapter Text

You've made a terrible mistake. You moan and try to shift a little and instantly sharp pain flashes through you head. You try to breathe through it, but thanks to your clogged nose, you only end up coughing. 

Yep. You're sick. Damn it! You were supposed to get stuff done today! Your head swims with any sort of movement, making your empty stomach churn. But you're desperate for some water and moving inch by inch, make your way over to the kitchen. The trip wears you out like a workout but the water is heaven on your burning throat. Blearily, you look through the rest of the cabinets. No medicine or soup or anything of the usual things you use to make yourself better. You were used to taking care of yourself when you got sick but this time you were vastly unprepared. You slump into the kitchen chair, wiping your nose with your sleeve. Every movement feels like torture against your sensitive skin. What to do? The little shop down in the circle should have what you needed right? It would be a ten minute trip. You slowly pull yourself up, stumbling a little. Your legs are on fire after the workout last night. Maybe fifteen minutes. You put on shoes, not bothering to change out of your p.j's and shuffle to the door. 

Man, how pathetic to get sick like this after your big talk last night. Just from a little run in the rain! Sans would certainly have a thing or two to say if he saw you now. 

"_____?" 

Crap. Why are you not surprised? Speak of the devil and all that. You slowly turn away from your door. Sans is halfway down the stairs, clearly heading out somewhere. He's looking up at you with concern. 

"you ok there? you look awful." 

Gee thanks, why don't you tell me how you really feel? That's what you try to say but you only manage to croak out the "Gee, thanks," before you're seized by another harsh coughing fit. This one doubles you over and you brace yourself on the wall.  

"oh my god." Sans presses a hand over his face. "i don't believe this. you actually got sick." 

You cough a few more times and fight to get your breath back. You don't have the energy to retort. You stagger over to the stairs. "Believe....me. 'M not...happy about...it."

He's suddenly right by your side. You blink groggily at him. How did he move so fast?

"careful there," he warns you, pulling you back from the steps. "don't think you should be pushing yourself right now. where're you heading?" 

"Store," you murmur, weakly trying to push past him. If you lost your resolve now, there was no way you'd make it down and back. "Need medicine and soup." 

Gently, but firmly, Sans pulls you back to your apartment. He opens the door and leads you back inside. "i'll go get the stuff for you. what exactly do you need?"

You feel so bad, but now your head is spinning and you want nothing more than to lie back down. "Cough syrup. Chicken noodle soup. Crackers." You fish inside your wallet for cash but Sans takes it out of your semi-numb fingers and sets it aside.

"anything else?" he asks gently, helping you ease back onto the bean bag. You shake your head, wincing at the stabs of pain. 

"Sorry," you croak, letting your eyes close. After a minute, you feel his phalanges run through your hair. The movement is so soft and soothing that you sigh deeply, a small degree of relief filling your aching head. "Hmm that feels nice." He continues the motion and you dimly feel his other hand press against your forehead.

"you've got a pretty bad fever," he says grimly. 

You crack open an eye. "How can you tell without skin?" 

"'m not only made outta bone pal," he says with a smile. "i can feel things just like you. now go back to sleep. i'll be back soon." 

You make a little hum and let yourself sink back into darkness. 

 ~~

Everything feels so light. Everything is hazy but you still feel completely safe. Blurred images float in front of your eyes. The concrete of the floor outside, the squeaking of a door opening and closing. A deep murmur and gentle touch. The color blue? It doesn't make sense. It just feels good to float and not worry about it.

 ~~

You're not sure how long you've been asleep when you next open your eyes. You blink slowly, your vision blurry. That's not your t.v. The pictures of monsters on the walls aren't yours. And the couch beneath your aching body most certainly isn't yours. 

"you finally woke up." 

You turn your head slowly to the voice, propped up by a thick pillow. Sans swims into view. He's sitting in front of you on the ground, book on his lap. He closes it and sets it aside. He offers you a glass of water and you gladly take it. You sip at it for a minute before you find your voice. 

"Am I at your apartment?" 

"uh yeah. sorry." Sans rubs the back of his skull, grinning a little sheepishly. "i came back and you were asleep. you didn't look very comfortable on the beanbag and you don't have a couch so i'd figure i'd let you use ours. easier to keep an eye on you that way." 

So he had carried you over here. That's what the sensation of floating must have been from. Though you can't image what the heck that blue glow was about. Probably your fevered mind just playing tricks. 

Sans pulls a plastic bag towards him. With a simple glance, you can tell there's more than just the three things you asked for. He starts pulling stuff out; advil, various soups, a six pack of 7-UP, several packages of different types of crackers, honey, herbal teas, Nyquil, Dayquil, counter cough syrup and a hot water bottle.

"i've never had to deal with a sick human before, y'know? so i asked the store lady what i should do and she started listing stuff so i'd figured it wouldn't hurt to just get everything right? 'm sorry if it's the wrong stuff, i can go back if you need something else." He starts pulling off the wrapping of the cough syrup. "probably best to start with this. says it's supposed to help your throat. heh, makes sense. it's called cough syrup after all. i'ma skeleton, i don't even have a throat. paps hasn't ever needed something like this either so i hope it works." 

He's babbling. You reach out and put your hand on his cheek, stopping his rant. He was worried about you. You fight to keep tears from your eyes. "Thank you," you say softly. "It's perfect." 

He visibly relaxes, then pours you a cup of the syrup. He's watching you in a fascinated sort way as you swallow the medicine and make a face. "Ugh. Gross." 

"huh. guess human and monster medicine is the same in that sense."

"Monsters get sick?" You hand the cup back and he starts opening up a 7-UP.

"not quite in the same way that humans do. monsters are made up mostly of magic. there's a little bit of biology involved. obviously not for me and paps but every one is so widely varied, in terms of what makes them up that it just depends on the individual. but most illnesses have to do with a monster's soul." He hands you the soda. 

"Soul?" This was unexpected. "I didn't take you for a religious type." 

Sans waves a hand dismissively. "'m not talking about the idea of a heaven or hell kind of soul. it's an indisputable fact. everyone has a soul. paps, undyne. i have one. so do you." His gaze flickers downward to your chest for a brief second, like he's looking at something. You draw the blanket closer around yourself without thinking and Sans blushes lightly. 

"Can you see mine?" you ask curiously. 

"if i focus," he mumbles, playing with a can of soup. 

You glance at your chest. Now you were insanely curious. You squint, as if that would make your soul appear. Sans chuckles gently. 

"humans don't have the ability to make souls visible." 

You cease your efforts, leaning back tiredly against the pillow. "That's a shame. I'd like to see it."

Sans goes quiet for a minute. "if...if you want, i can show it to you. but-!" he cuts off your brightened gasp. "only when you're better. sound good?"

You pout a little, but nod. "Yeah. Thanks Sans."  

Sans smiles, and places his hand back against your forehead. His eye sockets tighten slightly. "you're still pretty hot." 

"Why thank you." 

He blinks at you. "heh. good one," he admits with a laugh and another, slightly deeper blush. He stands, still holding a can of soup. "feel up to eating?" 

Your head is still pounding, despite sleeping. "I think I'll just munch on some crackers. what time is it anyway?" 

"a little after three," he answers as he heads into the kitchen. Wow, you did sleep for a long time. You grab a pack of oyster crackers and start nibbling on them. Sans soon returns and sits back down on the ground and turns the t.v on. It flickers to the science channel and some show about dinosaurs is on. After checking with you, he leaves it there and starts sipping from a bottle of ketchup. The two of you watch the show for a bit. You tap Sans on the skull gently. 

"You don't have to sit on the floor." You sit up slowly and scoot down the couch a little, moving your pillow. You pat the spot your head had been and after a moment's hesitation, Sans stands up and takes the spot. He grabs the pillow from you and places it on his lap. Oh. That's not quite what you had meant but...well. The couch really isn't that big and your aching legs really don't want to squish up. You lay down, hoping that he'll take the redness of your face as a result of the fever and not your blush. You get comfy and glance up at him. His cheekbones are a deeper blue than you've ever seen them and you can't stop a giggle that turns into a cough.

"For a bony guy, you're pretty comfy to lay on," you say when you get your breath back.

"i told ya before; i'm made of more than just bone." His phalanges start brushing against your head again. "this ok?" 

"Uh huh," you say with a happy sigh. You resume watching the show, but you're not really processing what's happening. You're starting to feel sleepy again. Every brush of your hair brings a gentle wave of relief from your headache. After a while, you notice Sans' strokes are getting slower until he stops altogether, letting his hand rest against your cheek. 

"i can feel the heat. it feels like you're burning," he whispers softly. "i was reading about human sickness while you were sleeping. it said that fevers are human's way of burning out the illness." he rubs his thumb against your skin. "you humans set your insides on fire to get better." 

You're pretty sure it's not that intense, but you can't bring yourself to interrupt him. He had actually researched human sickness? Just because you got a little cold? 

"humans haven't had magic since the war," he continues. Now you can tell he's talking more to himself. "but your natural resources...your determination. it's astounding. you're astounding." 

"I'm really not." The words slip out, barely loud enough to hear. Your emotions are beginning to bubble up. When was the last time you had been fussed over like this? When someone had actually cared? Not because you were a responsibility, or a patient....but a friend? He was treating you with such genuine kindness. You didn't know what to do. "Just look at me. I got so sick for such a pathetic reason."

He starts rubbing your head again. "humans get sick. there's not always a reason for it. no point in blaming yourself for it." 

"I can't even take care of a little cold like this on my own. You were heading somewhere, right? I pulled you away from what you were doing, right?" 

"'s not a big deal ______." 

You can feel yourself starting to shake a little. Damn it no! You always got so emotional when you were sick! Tears are starting to leak from your eyes. "I'm sorry." You sniffle and rub at your eyes. Why? Why did you have to start crying? "I'm sorry." 

He silently offers a tissue, and you wipe at your face. A quiet sob escapes from you. You're not even sure why you're crying. 

"why are you sorry?" he finally asks. He hasn't stopped rubbing your head and you want to trust him. You want to trust him so bad it feels like your heart...like your SOUL is screaming for it. You open your mouth but the words are stuck in your throat. You're so scared. Scared of blurting out the terrible truth, of showing him the scars on your arms. The scars that YOU dug into yourself. You're scared that he'll leave. But mostly you're scared because you know that he would be right to do so. 

"You're being so kind to me," you finally whisper. "I don't deserve it. Sans, I'm a broken, messed up person. I'm trying so hard and I'm so happy being friends with you and Papyrus. But...things have happened in the past. Things I can't change. I don't want to be burden to you. If I get sick like this so easily, how can I possibly handle the rest of it?"

He doesn't answer, and you feel his hand leave your head. This is it. He's gonna tell you to leave. You grit your teeth, but another sob slips out. But then, his phalanges very gently cup your chin, turning your head slightly until you're looking at him. His eye sockets are glowing more softly than you've ever seen them and he's gazing at you compassionately. 

"listen to me _____." He rubs away some of the tears still falling down your face. "believe me when i say i know what it feels like to have nonredeemable sins crawling on your back. to feel like there's no point in life. no point in trying. there was a time in my life when i gave up. you wanna know what i see when i look at your soul?" He puts a single digit against your chest, just below your collar bone and your heartbeat speeds up just a little. "you've got a soul that's been hurt real bad pal. it's still hurting. even i can see that. it's been cracked and glued back together with pure determination. it's fragile, and solid as steel. it's known complete darkness, but is holding on to light. it's a soul that is still fighting. a soul like that? a soul like yours, is not a burden." 

His words, his kind, wonderful words unleash a flood in you. You turn over and wrap your arms around his stomach, crying heavily into his shirt. He's so solid; you can feel a very soft hum of energy pulsing through him, giving him shape. He holds you as you cry, rubbing your back reassuringly. You go through several tissues; your nose is dripping an unsightly amount of snot and your breakdown leads to several coughing fits. When you finally calm down, you continue holding Sans tightly. His physical presence is so calming you can't bring yourself to let go just yet. 

"Sorry," you murmur again. 

"are you feeling any better?" Sans had been mostly quiet while you cried, though you could tell that he was still concerned about your fever.

You cough loudly. "My head isn't thanking me for that, but I personally feel better. I should probably take some of that advil." You start to sit up but Sans gently pushes your head back down to the pillow. 

"i got it." 

You hear the rattle of the pill bottle and you're surprised to see it in his grip. You were certain the medicine was still in the bag on the floor. Your head hurts too much to question it. You take a few pills and lay back down. You groan, rubbing at your face. "Where's Pap at?" 

"he had work."

"Oh? Where at?" 

"he helps a friend with tending gardens. he's got quite a gift for making sculptures. i told him you were sick and he plans on bringing you a get well present. so i'll warn you when he gets here so you can pretend to be asleep." 

You tap your knuckles against his ribs. "You're mean." 

"the meanest." He starts rubbing your head again. Dang, he was pressing his full advantage with that move, wasn't he? As your eyelids start to get heavy again, you hear him clear his throat. "hey. so when you're all better, there's a place downtown i wanna check out. it's a space museum and theater. do you wanna go?" 

"Hmm," you hum, almost asleep. "Yeah. Sounds fun. Like a date." 

His phalanges twitch and a wide smile crosses his face. "heh. yeah. a date." 

You fall asleep before his words really sink in. 

Chapter Text

The room is dark when you next open your eyes. Man, that cough syrup had really done it's job of knocking you out. You squint over at the stove top clock; it's too far away for you to really see what time it is. Two thirty? Three in the morning? Your gaze falls to the coffee table. There's a stuffed teddy bear holding a heart that says 'Get Well Soon!' on it's surface. You can only assume it's from Papyrus. You smile to yourself. What a sweet guy. It must have killed him to stay quiet enough not to wake you. Or you'd been so dead to the world it hadn't mattered anyway. You stretch and groan quietly. You still feel awful, but at least that crippling headache is finally gone. At that moment you become aware that you're alone on the couch. An unexpected stab of disappointment hits you. Well, you can't expect Sans to stay with you all night. What was it he had been saying before? You were practically asleep, but you're pretty sure he had said something about going to a space museum. That would be a fun place for a date. Not that you would ever actually say that out loud. 

Wait. 

Did you say that thought out loud before?!

You slap your hands up over your face. You honestly can't remember if you had spoken your medicine/sick hazy thought out loud, but the simple fact that you are even questioning it is a bad sign. You might as well wear a sign that says 'Attention! Desperate for companionship!' at this rate. A breath hisses out from your teeth. You seriously need to figure out what the heck is going on in your head when it comes to Sans. Is he a friend? Yes, absolutely. He and Papyrus are the best things that could have happened to you. But is that it? If that was the case, then why does your stomach flutter whenever you see him? Why is he always the first thing you think of whenever something monster related came up?

You trust him, and care about him. But honestly, you barely know a thing about him. It was days, just DAYS ago that you met him! And even if you are starting to....oh geez, it's embarrassing to even think it! It's all too soon, too fast. Too many things were still left unsaid both on your end and his. Furthermore, when all was said and done, you are a human. He's a monster skeleton. Can he even see you in that way? You sigh deeply. Even if he could, it wouldn't matter in the end. Sooner or later, you would have to tell him everything about your scars, your fear of fire and the fog in your head. You would be extremely lucky if he stuck around at all after that. Maybe it's better to let these frightening and wonderful feelings lie quietly in your heart. 

You decide to try and sleep some more. You don't have to be in to work until the afternoon and hopefully your fever will at least be gone. You roll over and are about to fade away when you hear an odd sound. It's a soft groan and sniffle and it's in the same room as you. You freeze for a second and slowly push yourself up. What you see makes your heart melt all over again. 

The coffee table had been blocking your view, but now you can see Sans wrapped in a blanket lying on a small, worn mattress on the floor. You watch him sleep for a moment, a tender feeling rising in your chest. You felt bad for worrying him enough to drag his bed out here, but the fact that he cares so much almost makes you tear up again. 

He shifts in his sleep, eye sockets squeezed tightly shut. He's frowning and gripping the blanket tightly. Another groan escapes him and for a split second, you see a flash of blue seep from his left eye. What on earth? You slip from the couch as quietly as you can. He starts muttering words you can't understand, the words garbled and utterly foreign. It's like no human language you've heard before and it sends a chill down your spine. 

"...gaster...." 

Gaster? What is a gaster? 

Sans moans loudly and his feet start kicking slowly against the bed. He's having a nightmare. You reach out and gently touch his hand. He flinches away, curling into a ball. "g-gaster! paps!" There's no mistaking the blue light building in his closed eye now. Whatever he's seeing, it's clear that it's scaring him. You grab his bony shoulders, tightening your grip when he attempts to pull away again. 

"no!"

"Sans, wake up!" you plead, trying to keep your voice low. The last thing you want to do is wake Papyrus. "Sans, it's just a dream. C'mon, wake up!" 

His eyelids shoot open and you let go of him in alarm, falling back on the ground. His right eye socket is completely black, while the left is glowing with a large round pupil that flashes between blue and yellow. He's breathing heavily, staring at you with wide sockets and you find yourself frozen to the spot. You can't tear your eyes away from the utterly inhuman look on his face. In the dim light leaking in from the window, he looks like a monster from a horror movie.

He blinks and the blue light is gone just like that, replaced by his usual white lights in both eyes. The frightening image is gone and the Sans you know is back. "_-____?" 

"H-hey." Your voice is hoarse and for the first time you're glad that you're sick and can blame your shaky tone on your throat. "You okay? It sounded like you were having a bad dream." 

Sans sits up, rubbing at his sweaty skull. How is he sweating? "um. yeah." He drags his hand down over his sockets and sighs. "sorry i woke you." 

You wave your hands quickly. "No, no I was already awake! I did sleep most of yesterday." You lower your hands. "Do you want to talk about it?"

He shakes his head a little too quickly. "nah. i barely even remember it." 

"Okay then. Um." You're not sure how to bring it up but that strange light in his eye had scared you a little. If that isn't normal, you have to let him know. "Your...your eye was doing a...." You gesture at your left eye, a little lost for words. 

"oh." Sans presses his hand against the socket, a grim smile on his face. "it does that. don't worry about it." 

 "What was that?" 

Sans looks away from you. "like i said, i'm made up of more than just bone. all monsters have a little bit of magic in them. some more than others." 

You inch a little closer. "And that's what that flash was?" 

He looks at you and sighs again. "do you really wanna talk 'bout this now? at-" he squints at the clock "three in the morning?" 

"Well, I mean, you're awake. I'm awake," you mumble. But if he wants to go back to sleep it wouldn't be right to keep him up. He still looks shaken from his nightmare. You reach out and take his hands in yours. For a few minutes, you rub the back of his oddly thick and solid carpels with your thumbs. He watches you silently, eyelids heavy. "I just want to know more about you," you admit quietly. "But you're right, we should both go back to sleep."

He gives you a genuine smile and pulls one hand out of your grip, placing it against your forehead. "i think your fever's gone," he murmurs, brushing your hair back. "it's better to be safe than sorry though. i promise i'll tell you about my magic if you go to sleep for now. ok?"  

You squeeze his hand. "It's a deal."

~~~~

BANG!

You yelp and flail, rolling off the couch. You hit the ground with a heavy thud (thank heaven for carpets). "Gah!" 

"HUMAN! I AM SO SORRY!" Papyrus scrambles to pick up the many metal pots he had just knocked to the floor. "ARE YOU OKAY?" 

"Just peachy Pap," you groan, flat against the ground. "I'm just gonna stay here for a bit, 'kay?"

A moment later you feel yourself rising into the air, Papyrus lifting you with ease. With more gentleness than you thought possible from him, he sets you back down on the couch, pulling the blanket back up around you. He then tucks the teddy bear he got you next to your face. He pats your head, smiling at you. 

"YOU ARE VERY FUNNY ______. BUT A SICK PERSON SHOULD NOT LIE ON THE GROUND." 

You laugh, your voice still scratchy. "Thanks Pap." You look over at the ground. Sans and his mattress are gone. "Where's your brother?" 

"SANS HAD WORK THIS MORNING," Papyrus announces, going back to the kitchen. "I VOLUNTEERED TO REMAIN AND COOK YOU BREAKFAST TO HELP AID YOUR RECOVERY." 

Your heart sinks a little. But work couldn't be helped right? You didn't have long before you'd have to get ready yourself. "Sounds good to me." 

You watch him bustling in the kitchen for a few minutes. "Hey, I have a question for you," you say a little hesitantly. 

"YES? WHAT IS IT?" 

"Does-" you clear your throat. "Does Sans have nightmares often?" 

The clanking from the kitchen stops for several long seconds. "MY BROTHER...SANS HAS ALWAYS HAD TROUBLE SLEEPING," Papyrus finally says. "I HAVE TRIED TO SPEAK WITH HIM ABOUT THEM BUT SANS IS NOT VERY WILLING TO DISCUSS IT." 

"I see," you say softly. You play with the ears of the teddy bear. It made sense that Sans wouldn't talk about it. He wasn't the type to worry others, especially his brother. He had brushed you off last night, but he the way he acted made you think the dreams were a regular occurrence. It had happened enough to you so the signs were easily recognizable.

"DO NOT TROUBLE YOURSELF HUMAN," Papyrus calls to you cheerfully. "I AM ALMOST DONE WITH YOUR BREAKFAST!"

You just pray he isn't making spaghetti. 

~~~~

It's not spaghetti. Papyrus does his best to heat up a can of chicken noodle soup and with some directions from you, manages not to set anything on fire. You eat together, Papyrus telling you all about his gardening job. He's very proud of the fact that he's working with Asgore, the king of monsters (this news makes you choke on your soup) and how he uses his royal guard training with Undyne in shaping various bushes and shrubs. You're not quite sure how the two connect, but you give your full support and interest. When you finish you head back to your place, waving off his concerns. Your fever is gone and as you've experienced in the past, it takes a few days for a cough to heal. But it's not enough to stop you from getting back to work. Furthermore there was no way you were calling in sick less than two weeks since your first day. You allow yourself to take a very long hot shower, washing away the sick. You let yourself move slowly but finally make your way to the station. 

"Hey you! Woah." Abby takes in your bundled up appearance and the thick scarf wrapped around your mouth. "You okay?"

You wave, coughing a little pathetically. "I'm good. Sound worse than I am." 

She gives you a skeptical look. "All right then. Your flyer was approved, so there's that good news." She starts shuffling through some papers as you start shedding layers. "Bad news, there was a mix up with the food permissions for the vendors. They've gotta all be done over." 

Fantastic. You sigh and plop down next to her, popping in a cough drop. "Let's get to work then." 

You spend the rest of the day attempting to fix the mess and your head is starting to pound by the time you and Abby finish. It's boring and tedious work, but at least it doesn't make you use your brain very much.

"You know you could have call in sick," Abby says as you two clean up the remaining papers. "Tod is super chill about stuff like that." 

This you did know. Tod had told you early on if you needed a 'recovery' day, no matter what the reason, you didn't need to hesitate. But you didn't want to make it look like you were taking advantage of that. Besides, better to save those days for recovering from more serious things than a cold. "I promise I'm okay," you say to her, smiling as best as you can. "I'm much better than I was last night." 

"I'll warn you now, I'm gonna send you home early if you're like this tomorrow," Abby says in a semi-serious tone. "Now go rest." 

You wave goodbye and head home, looking forward to wrapping up in a warm blanket with another bowl of soup. It's as you're passing a bakery that you remember you still have to find a sponsor. Ugh. You had told Tod it was no big deal but your sickness had thrown a real wrench into the mix. You still have no clues about where to go and you are starting to run out of time. 

"Bake sale! Bake sale! Run by spiders, for spiders, with spiders!" 

The words catch your attention as you're about to head up the stairs and you pause. It's a new shop in the circle called Muffet's Web. You can see a monster standing outside the shop in a gorgeous red suit and tie combo covered in a spider web pattern. You grin and turn towards the shop, grateful you had thought to stuff the sponsor file in your bag. You approach the monster, a reptilian creature with deep purple skin. She gives you a large toothy smile and hands you a flyer as you enter the shop. The inside is covered in spiderwebs, which wasn't surprising considering the logo. There's a large black chandelier that casts the whole room in a slightly purple lighting tone. The walls are lined with shelves displaying various baked goods and your mouth starts watering. You approach the counter, which is covered in decorative spiders. There's no one there so you tap the little bell. Immediately, the decorations start moving and oh those are real spiders! A whispering fills the room. 

"Customer!" 

"There's a customer!"

The hissing grows louder and you feel your legs quivering. You aren't the biggest fan of actual spiders. Hold you ground! You can do this!

"Welcome." The voice melts out of the dim lighting and a huge spider monster appears before you, gently bobbing her multiple arms. Her many pitch black eyes blink at you and she grins, showing off fangs. The whole deadly spider look is a little offset by the pigtails on her head and the sharp bow on her classy outfit. "How may I assist you today?" Her 's' hiss slightly. You have to assume this is Muffet. 

"Um, hi I'm _____," you introduce yourself, trying to keep your voice from shaking. You pull the folder from your bag. "I'm with E.B.B.T radio, down the road a ways."

"Ah yes, delightful music," she hums and that sets you a little more at ease. So she's already familiar with the station. That will make this easier.

"I'm glad to hear that! We're holding a fall festival on the 21st and I was wondering if you would be interested in setting up a booth with us?" You hold the folder out and she takes it delicately with one of her many arms. "The booth itself would be provided by the station. You just need to provide the goods you wish to sell and any decorations you want to use." 

"Hmmm. Seems like an interesting prospect," she hisses thoughtfully as she scans through the folder. "Is this a monster friendly festival?" 

Honestly you hadn't thought about that. But Tod himself is very open to monsters. Abby of course would be thrilled to have a booth run by spiders in pigtails. "Yes of course. E.B.B.T values all listeners, regardless of race or species."

She regards you with those big black eyes. Her gaze flickers down for the briefest moment. Sans had done that last night when he mentioned your Soul. Could she see your Soul too?

Muffet smiles again and extends a thin hand. You swallow nervously and shake her hand (claw? feeler?) and her strong grip surprises you. You match her smile and explain the rest of the folder and what information she would need to send directly to the station. And then, because you feel it would be rude not to, you order a bag of muffins. You munch slowly on one as you climb the stairs. It's really good but you sincerely hope it's not actually made WITH spiders.

Your phone buzzes just as you reach your door. 

s: i have too much soup now. dinner?

You smile and walk down the hall.

Chapter Text

There's a sharp bang from one of the offices down the hall. You jump, almost scattering the stack of CDs on the desk. Abby seems a little less surprised but still looks up. Muffled yelling drifts through the door. 

"What the heck is that about?" you whisper to her. Abby shrugs. 

"It's probably Emily," Abby says with a scowl. "Happens every couple of weeks. She doesn't agree with all of Tod's decisions about, well, anything. And since her grandpa was the one who got this place up and running years ago, she gets to have a say in big decisions. She can get pretty vocal." 

Oh so it was that kind of set up. You try to get back to work as the argument continues. Well, it actually sounded more like a one sided yelling match. You had never heard Tod raise his voice since you had started working at the station. When you finish, you scoop up the stack and head towards the library closet where the CDs were kept. The trip takes you right by the office and the mumbled words become clear. It is indeed Emily behind the door. 

"-and you can't seriously expect them to adhere to the rules of conduct-" 

"Why not?" Tod's voice, still not yelling, is a little sharp. "What makes you think they would cause a scene? It's a festival Em, not a rave. They're participating to make a profit and enjoy the fall spirit, just like everyone else. Besides, it's an open event and I think that it would be a good step in welcoming the new monster community."

"Community?" Emily sputters. "Those monsters are not a community. They are a hive and you are making a huge mistake! Don't come crawling to me when they send our turnout rate plummeting." 

The door suddenly slams open, knocking you in the back. The CDs fly across the floor with a sharp clatter. Emily storms out the door and her sharp high heel lands directly on an Fall Out Boy album. It cracks under her shoe. She looks down at the broken CD, face twisted unpleasantly. She points at you. 

"That's coming out of your paycheck," she snarls before stomping back up to the booth. 

You gape after her for a moment. What a nasty-! You grumble quietly and kneel down to gather up the mess. The door creaks slightly and Tod pokes his head out. At the sight of you on the floor, he winches and joins you in cleaning up. 

"Caught in the crossfire huh?" he says, giving you a small grin. 

"Um, just passing by actually," you mumble. Well, you had been before you had paused to listen in. You gather up the broken CD. It was one of the older albums, but it had several of your favorites on it. "I'm sorry about this." 

"It wasn't your fault," Tod says firmly. "Don't worry, it won't come out of your pay."

It couldn't be more than eight bucks, but it's a relief to hear. "Thanks Tod." 

He follows you back to the library, holding a portion of the CDs and helps you put them away. You have a sneaking suspicion as to what the argument was about, but given that Tod was your boss, you're not sure if you should bring it up. 

"W-was the place I picked for sponsoring okay?" you finally ask, sliding an Owl City album in place. 

Tod sighs. Looks like you hit the nail on the head. "Of course, it's a wonderful place. I visited them myself after you sent me their information. Marvelous donuts. There are just some people who aren't open to different kinds of...people. Emily comes from a very, very old fashioned back ground and gets a little too passionate about things sometimes. Monsters in particular seem to be a tender subject with her."

That you had gleaned even before you had gone into Muffet's shop. From the way the argument had sounded, Tod had taken all responsibility when Emily had gotten mad about the spiders participating in the festival. Just hearing the fight had gotten you heated up. For the sake of your job, you didn't want to be on the receiving end of one of those yelling sessions. 

"I'm sorry," you say to Tod, guilt twisting at you. 

"For what? Ahh." He notices your expression and pats your shoulder. "You did good. Don't let it bother you. 'Kay?" 

So he says, but it's not so easy. The whole situation stays on your mind for the rest of your shift. The city was big, and not everyone was a complete jerk to monsters, but the majority of what you had seen was not exactly heart lifting. People were scared and in a way you could understand. Monsters from the stories and the movies now walked the streets among the masses. But to see such open hate and distaste still shocked you at times. Why couldn't people just give them a chance? 

Another worry ate at you as you walked home. You had tried to get Sans to talk about his magic and soul stuff last night at dinner, but he had been oddly hesitant and quiet about it. He had kept glancing at Papyrus, so you assumed he didn't want to talk about it in front of his brother. Was it a intimate, private kind of thing? What if you had been pushing him beyond his comfort zone? You had no idea what monster etiquette was about that sort of thing. You stare down at your chest and squint again. Curiosity was eating at you. You wanted to know what your soul looked like.

You enter your apartment, tapping the door with your foot. You were far too tense. You need to relax before you anxiety got too worked up and the fog crept in. Dumping your work bag and pants, you pull on your coziest sweats and fuzzy socks and hook your iPod up to a speaker. It was time to tackle those dishes that had been building up. Shakira pounds from the speakers. You let yourself sway a bit as you wash, humming along. Music really was the best. It spoke to you in ways that people never could. Your blood could match the tone and speed of a song, your heart pounding out the beat. You felt alive, really alive when you were listening. You could fly, you could escape to a world where your worries meant nothing. And the words, oh the words of a song told stories. Every song had a story behind it. A story that was meant to be shaped to your own experiences in this world. Not a single person experienced a song exactly the same as another. It could be light, it could be silly. It could also be dark and chilling, speaking to your darkest feelings and thoughts and giving voice to what you could not.

Shakira dies away and P!nk's 'Raise Your Glass' blares from the speaker, prompting you to step away from the sink. You start dancing, letting your body flow with on the spot moves. You let the music flow through you, shaking your hips and throwing your arms up. Your feet tap against the tile and you sing along as you skip around. You jut out your legs and arms in sharp movements, your head swinging swinging freely with every beat. You weren't exactly shy about dancing, but you never let yourself completely go unless you were alone. And you certainly didn't sing when anyone could hear. You arch your back slightly, drawing your arms close and then glide into a spin as the song comes to an end.

And scream. 

Sans is standing your doorway, his eye sockets wide with wonder. His cheeks are tinted bright blue and he's watching you make an utter fool of yourself. With your shriek of surprise, you lose your balance and your fuzzy foot slips against the tile. You're falling, the floor is rushing up and OH CRAP! You throw out your hands to break your fall and-

You slam to a stop, like someone tugs sharply on your chest, but there's no pain. You gasp at the sight of the floor just a few inches away from your face. Your body is completely frozen. You literally can't move. Not just that...you're floating! "What the hell?" you choke out. Your eyes flash to Sans. 

His hand is stretched out towards you. His left eye is glowing an intense blue, just like the night he had that nightmare. A bead of sweat rolls down his skull as he moves his hand slightly. In response, your body starts lifting until you're upright, feet hovering just above the ground. He blinks. The light vanishes and you gently touch down. The pressure in your chest disappears. For several long seconds, the two of you stare at each other. The awkward silence is broken when you realize that Colbie Caillat's 'Falling For You' is playing. How oddly appropriate. You can't help but let out a loud laugh. 

Sans rubs a hand against the back of his skull. His eye sockets are tight with a mixture of embarrassment and worry. "you ok?" 

You take a breath and pause the music. "First of all. DON'T sneak up on me while I'm dancing! And secondly, what the ever loving hell was THAT?" you gesture to yourself and then point at his eye. "I need explanations."

"i uh...heh. ok. guess i owe you that." Sans shuffles to, where else, the bean bag. "you've uh...got some pretty nice moves." He's blushing again. 

"Okay buddy, I need you to do something for me." You plop down next to him and stick your finger against his forehead. "I need you to forget you ever saw that. I would be overcome with humiliation right now if it wasn't for that levitation thing. Speaking of which, don't change the subject! Talk!" You pull your feet up and put your chin in your hands, staring at him intensely. Etiquette be damned! "So I'm guessing that eye thing is part of your magic? You can move things? People?" 

His skull is still bright blue and it's adorable. "uh yeah. that's part of it." He takes a breath, perhaps getting his thoughts in order. "all monsters have a certain amount of magic. it's what makes us up. so all monsters have certain abilities and attacks they can use." 

"Attacks?" 

Sans shrugs. "with the possibility of a human falling down to the underground, everyone wanted to be prepared. it's kind of like how you humans can arm yourselves with swords or spears. our weapons are just manifested with magic and are not physical objects." 

"Will you show me?" 

Sans hesitates, then nods slowly. His eye sockets close in concentration and he lifts his hand, palm up. There's almost a slight shimmer in the air, like the way you had seen it shift above an intense flame, and a long white bone blinks into existence, hovering just above his hand. Your jaw drops. It's as long as your arm. Without thinking, you reach out and Sans flinches back.

"careful. it's a weapon. just touching it will hurt you." 

You pull back, berating yourself. "Sorry. I wasn't thinking." You study the bone. Other than its large size and hovering state, it looks like a plain old bone. Was it hot to the touch like an oven or something? After a moment, Sans lets out a quiet sigh and the bone disintegrates into the air. He watches you, clearly waiting for your reaction. 

"That is insanely cool." You smile widely. "That must be so handy. No need to wear yourself out carrying a big old tool around. You can just-" you snap your fingers- "bam! and there it is. Does everyone's look like that?" 

He's taken aback by your enthusiasm. "uh, no that's just me and paps. everyone is different, according to their magic type and personalities. undyne uses spears. the king has a trident and fire abilities. stuff like that."

So cool. You sit back and ponder this for a minute. You wonder if you can get Undyne to show you her abilities the next him you saw her. Sans is still watching you and he shakes his head. 

"isn't this freaking you out?" His tone is low. "i just told you that monsters have powers developed to use against humans and you're just...smiling about it." 

When he put it that way, you guess it was a little frightening. But.... "I haven't seen a single monster hurt anyone since I moved here. I'm sure there are some bad monsters, just like there are bad humans. But like you said, humans can arm themselves too. Mankind has always found a way to defend itself against threats. I can't blame you guys for finding a way too." You shrug. "Maybe I've just read too many fantasy stories. I can't help but think it's pretty cool that you guys are literally using magic. I always wanted to believe that it really existed." 

"so you're not...scared of me?" Now his voice is so soft you barely hear the words. He's not looking at you and you can hear a quiet rattle coming from his hands. Poor guy was so nervous he was actually shaking.

"Of course not!" You grab his hands, squeezing tightly. "Sans you saved me from a broken nose! I think you're amazing!"

He squeezes your hand back and gives you a relieved smile.

"So you can use your power on anything? Make stuff move wherever you want?"

He nods and his phalanges flick. Your cell phone, which was over on the counter is encased in a blue light. It lifts up and drifts through the air into your waiting hands. "Sans this is so cool!" you squeal. You can't hardly contain your excitement about this and you tap him with your fist on his shoulder. "It's no wonder you're such a lazy bones! You literally never have to get up if you need something." 

A smirk lifts his smile. "there's something else i can do." He stands up and offers a hand. He pulls you to your feet and holds on to your hand. "do you want to see it?" 

You nod vigorously. "What is it?" 

"i'm pretty good with...heh, shortcuts." 

Shortcuts? You open your mouth to ask what he means by that and he takes a step forward, tugging you after him. You gasp as a strange feeling sweeps over your whole body, like a dull electric tingle combined with a the sensation of stepping through a stream of water. You blink, your head spinning and realize you're not longer standing by your beanbag. You're not even in your apartment anymore. 

You've somehow moved to Sans' place, smack dab in the middle of his living room. You whirl, eyes feeling like they're about to pop out of your head. You must move too fast because the room sways slightly. A groan slips out and you crouch, holding your hand to your mouth. 

"sorry!" Sans pats your back a little helplessly. "it's tough the first time. it'll pass in a sec." 

It does only take a second and you're back to normal. You stare at the carpet, not moving. He had just teleported. He could freaking teleport! YOU had just been teleported! By a skeleton!

"_____?" 

You practically launch to your feet and grab Sans by his shoulders. He jumps. 

"You are officially the coolest guy I know!" It almost feels like actual stars are in your eyes. You let go of him and start touching random stuff to make sure you're actualy at his place and it's not some scary weird illusion. "I-did we really-oh my-what?!" 

Sans starts laughing, his sockets scrunching up. "geez, you scared me for a sec." 

"Consider it payback for earlier. Oh my gosh!" You have a sudden thought. "Is that how you got me over here when I was sick? I don't really remember, but you had to have moved me right?" 

Sans shrugged and plopped onto the couch. "i was gonna use a shortcut but since you were sick i didn't wanna make it worse cause it was your first trip. so i just-" he wiggles his phalanges- "gave ya a lift."

It's not even a funny pun, but you're already so wound up it sends you stumbling to the couch before you fall to the floor, laughing so hard tears are leaking from your face. You can feel Sans shaking slightly with suppressed laughter as he watches you with great amusement.

"I'm sorry," you say when you catch your breath, wiping at your eyes. "You probably think I'm some kind of freak huh?" 

"you a freak? never." Sans pats your head. "you are many things but a freak isn't one of them."

You let out a breath and let your head slump to his shoulder. Definitely not the most comfortable of places to rest your head, but you don't really care. You can't help but notice he smells really nice. A hint of ketchup and something you can't quite describe. Like fresh mint only not as strong. "Okay. I have one more question for you. For now." 

"what's that?"

You look up at his face, attempting to look stern and serious. You're probably failing, going by the snicker he gives you. "Why were you in my apartment, peeping on my sick dance moves?"

Well that cuts his chuckles off. "oh. i was uh, coming over to ask you something. your door wasn't closed all the way and i was gonna knock anyway, honest!" he adds at your snort. "but then i heard music and i could kinda see you and i got curious and i just...walked in. sorry." 

You can't be mad at him with such a worried expression on his face. Besides it was your own fault for being lazy about the door. "That's fine. You still should've said something and let me know you were just standing there." You really don't want to think about how long he had watched you dance before you noticed him. "Is this about the space museum? I'm free tomorrow night," you say a little shyly. "Sorry, I guess we never agreed on a good time." 

"no, that's not-i mean yeah that's great." He starts drumming his phalanges against his kneecap. His cheeks flared blue when you mentioned the museum. "tomorrow is perfect. but that's not what i was coming to ask ya about."

"What then?" 

"well there's-"

He's cut off by a sudden knock at the door. You both look at it. It couldn't be Paps, he would just walk in. Sans grins at you a little sheepishly. "toriel and the kid wanna meet ya. so they kinda invited themselves over for pie. surprise?" 

Your jaw drops as he stands up to get the door. Toriel as in QUEEN of monsters, Toriel? And Frisk, the savior and ambassador to monster kind?

Surprise indeed.  

Chapter Text

"Sans!" You hiss, scrambling up from the couch. "I'm not ready! I'm wearing p.j pants and fuzzy socks for heavens sake!" 

You both glance down at Sans' usual attire of shorts and slippers at the same time. You groan loudly.

"trust me," Sans says with a smirk. "tori'll be cool with it." Then he opens the door and the queen of monsters steps through. 

She's big, quite a bit bigger than you or Sans and has to duck slightly to fit through the doorway. Honestly, the first thought you have is that she kind of looks like a goat. She's wearing some type of deep purple robe/toga thing with an odd symbol you vaguely remember seeing on the news a few times. It's probably the royal seal or something. The monster herself is covered in thick cream colored fur that seems elegantly cared for and brushed. A pair of horns poke up from between long floppy ears. She smiles warmly at you. 

"Hello my child." Her voice is soothing and just as warm as her expression. "I am-oh careful," she says to Sans, who takes the pie from her. "It's rather heavy." 

"don't worry. i goat it." he winks and she laughs. You never would have expected such a joyful sound to come from such a large monster.

She extends a paw towards you and finishes. "I am Toriel." You shake her hand and her fur is so soft you can physically feel yourself relaxing a little. 

"Uh buh....______," you blubber intelligently. "I'ts very nice to meet you." 

Toriel pats your hand reassuringly. "You don't need to be so stiff ______. I simply wished to meet you after hearing so many delightful things about you from Papyrus and Sans." 

That does absolutely nothing to ease your nerves. But it was interesting to know that even Sans had talked about you to the queen. At that moment, another face pokes out from behind Toriel, shyly watching you. They can't be more than eight years old, at most. This was the kid that saved the monsters? 

"_____, this is Frisk." Toriel introduces you to the child, gently nudging them forward. 

"Hi," you say, waving to them. They wave back, a smile growing on their face as they take you in. Then they skip over to Sans, who rubs their head affectionately. 

"hey kid." Sans is smiling widely. "how's school treating ya?" 

Frisk makes a flurry of motions with their hands, pulling out what looks like a math book from the bag on their back. Sign language? 

"now c'mon kid," Sans responds with a pointed look at Toriel. "you know your mom considers my help cheating." 

Mom?!

"It's only cheating when you give them the straight answer Sans. I don't mind you simply assisting them." Toriel sighs and turns back to you. "Let's sit down, my child. The pie is still a little warm."

The four of you sit at the table. Sans and Frisk lean over the math book, lost in chitchat about its contents while Toriel cuts you a slice of the pie she brought. "I hope you like cinnamon and butterscotch," she says, placing it in front of you. 

"Yes! Of course. You majesty," you add hurriedly. 

"Oh my." Toriel waves a hand, shaking her head and chuckling gently. "I haven't been queen for a long time my dear. Please just call me Toriel."

Your face goes a little red, but you nod and dig into the pie. It's absolutely amazing and you have to fight not to shove it all in your mouth. "This is fantastic Toriel!"

She smiles proudly. "You are very sweet."

"Just like this pie?" You wiggle your eyebrows and she breaks into more of that loud laughter. Sans grins at you. 

"I can see now why you like her Sans," Toriel says, wiping at her eyes. 

Sans pulls a piece of pie towards him as Frisk nudges him. They have a huge smirk on their face. Sans pokes them in the cheek, staring fixedly at the pie. "heh. yep. her sense of humor's a real slice." 

Frisk makes a quick sign with their hands and Sans almost chokes on his pie. "where did you even-tori what're you teaching those kids at that school?" 

Toriel giggles. "Oh believe me Sans, they don't get it from me." She turns to you and explains. "I've recently started teaching at a school close to the ambassador offices. Mostly monster children but there are a few humans, like Frisk. It's what I've wanted to do for a very long time. I'm very lucky that I've been able to secure a position so soon." 

"yeah, 'm sure that's got nothing to do with asgore," Sans mumbles. Toriel gives him a sharp look. "sorry. how are the negotiations going?" 

"They're...going." Toriel rubbed her face. "It's difficult to get the meetings set up. Always seems like the courts have more important matters to deal with." 

"What negotiations?" You felt terribly out of the loop and you weren't quite sure if it was your place to ask. 

"Oh, I'm sorry my child." Toriel gave you a gentle smile, but her eyes were strained. "Your human system isn't exactly built to accommodate monsters. The king and I, along with a few others have been working to get basic civil rights established. We're had some successes, like making sure our people at least have places to live and such. Those of us directly involved have fared decently in matters like housing and jobs but others have run into a lot of...difficulty." 

"that's putting it mildly." Sans' face was tight, the lights of his eyes dim. "majority of monsters still don't have jobs and are living on what gold they had saved up. not that it's worth here. can't imagine it lasting for much longer."

Your faith in humanity was dropping with every word that she spoke. You knew things weren't ideal, but fighting just to make sure monsters had a place to live? A way to make a living? You felt like scum. "I had no idea. I'm sorry. Is there anything I can do?" 

Toriel put her hand on yours, squeezing gently. "Oh my dear, simply having people like you as a friend and ally to monster kind is enough. It helps to show those not as willing that such relationships are possible."

There had to be something else you could do. But try as you might, you were drawing a blank. You really were useless. Sans patted your back, noticing your soft sigh.

"hey, she's right kid. don't sell yourself short."

Frisk tapped Sans on the shoulder and gestured towards you. Their hands formed fast signs and Sans grinned.

"kid wants to hear about the first time you met me and Paps," he told you. "i told them the basic bones of it but figured you'd tell it better."   

You laughed and told the whole story to Frisk and Toriel, who listened very attentively and laughed at all the right moments. You had just reached the part about trying Papyrus' spaghetti when the skeleton himself showed up, bursting through the door with a loud "NYEH HEH HEH! I HAVE RETURNED BROTHER!" It seemed Sans had forgotten to mention the visit from the friends to him as well because Papyrus had squealed loudly at the sight of Frisk and Toriel. Frisk jumped up with a happy yell and ran straight to the taller skeleton. Papyrus scooped them up and spun, nearly smacking into the walls. 

"BROTHER WHY DID YOU NOT TELL ME THE QUEEN AND OUR SMALL FRIEND WERE VISITING?" He sternly asked Sans as Frisk made themselves comfy on Papyrus' shoulders. Their head nearly brushed against the ceiling. Sans shrugged. 

"You're not the only one he forgot to tell," you say, glaring at Sans. "Hence the reason I'm dressed like a hobo." 

Toriel laughed. You really like her laugh. "I honestly hadn't even noticed." She takes in your pants, which have a large cupcake on the side and smiles widely. "But seriously Sans, your laziness must be baking your poor brother crazy!" 

"i'm 'fraid there's muffin i can do about that," he snickers as Papyrus howls in mock agony. Frisk placed their hands over where his ears would be, if he had any. Sans and Toriel launch into a pun-off and you could only watch and smile at the crazy scene. Oh, but speaking of baked goods....

"Hey Toriel, the station I work at is throwing a fall festival next week." You cut in as soon as they pause for breath. Otherwise, you're pretty sure the two of them would go on for hours. "You and Frisk should come! There's gonna be music and games and free food and there will be a big bonfire when it gets dark! I'm in charge of Muffet's booth and they're gonna have some pretty nice stuff for sale. It's open to the whole city and there's always a good turn out. Or so I hear. It's my first time doing it." 

She claps her hands together delightedly. "That's sounds absolutely wonderful! What do you think Frisk?" 

Frisk pumps a fist in the air, nodding enthusiastically. They tap at Papyrus' head and he lets them down and they scurry over to you excitedly. You feel bad when they start signing at you. 

"Sorry Frisk, I don't know sign language." 

They pout a little and open their mouth. "...w-will...."

"don't push yourself kid," Sans cuts in. 'i'll translate for ya. kid can speak but it's kinda tough for them," Sans says as a quick explanation. "go ahead." 

They nod and sign quickly. Will a lot of monsters be there?

"I don't see why not," you say with a shrug. "Like I said, it's free to anyone to attend. The more you spread the word, the more monsters will show up right?" 

They grin widely and make more signs. Sans doesn't translate right away. His cheeks go blue. 

"What?" you ask curiously. 

"uh, kids wants to know if we're gonna do the space museum before then." Frisk frowns and jabs Sans in the shoulder, leading you to believe he hadn't said quite everything Frisk had been trying to tell you. His blushing makes you go a little red too. 

"We're actually gonna go tomorrow, I think," you stammer. "How'd you even know about that?" 

Frisk grins and taps their nose knowingly before scampering back to Papyrus, who is eating a huge chunk of Toriel's pie. 

"Sans, what else did they say?" 

"nuthing!" He turns away quickly. "h-hey tori, maybe you should let asgore know about the festival and he can spread the word. it'd be fun for monsters to have a night out." 

Toriel, who has been watching the exchange, is smiling warmly. But at the mention of Asgore, her smile dims slightly. "Yes, I suppose I should," she sighs deeply. Well, there certainly was a story there. Papyrus had mentioned to you once before that the queen and king were no longer together but Papyrus, being Papyrus, didn't really know details about it. You chat with Toriel a little bit longer, mostly about the festival details and your job at the station. She admitted she hadn't heard of the station but promised to give it listen. Around nine, she glanced at the clock and declared that it was getting late. Both Frisk and Papyrus, who were playing with some of Papyrus' toy figures groaned loudly. As they two were getting ready to leave, Toriel pulled you into a tight hug. It surprised you and for a split second, you found yourself utterly frozen. The embrace was warm and solid. She smelled like butterscotch and cinnamon. You found yourself gripping the back of her robe, letting yourself sink into the hug. When had you last been hugged like this? 

Had you ever been held like this? 

Toriel seems to sense you needed the hug and tightens her hold slightly. "Be strong my child," she whispered to you. "You have a good soul. Do not forget that." 

~~~~~

"No, you can't wear that," Abby says, her nose wrinkling. "Nothing says 'I don't care' like plaid on a first date." 

"I told you! It's not a date," you mumble, tossing the button up on the bed. You've got Abby on facetime and about an hour before you're supposed to meet Sans. "We're friends who are going to a museum." 

"Yeah, a museum about space and stars!" She sighs happily. "I can't think of a better place for love between two nerds to blossom." 

"I'm ending the call," you threaten, finger hovering over the end button.

"Don't! Fine you jerk. Just show me what you've got in your closet. No skeletons hiding in there I hope." 

You groan, but pick up your phone and duck into your closet, sweeping the phone in a slow circle. 

"No. No. Hmm. How old is that dress?" 

"Old. It barely fits." 

"Perfect. Take it out." 

You hesitate, but grab the dark green dress. It's one you've barely worn so it doesn't look that old. But it was bought for a you that wasn't quite as developed in the chest area. You slip it on at Abby's encouragement. It fits surprisingly well, even though it falls pretty high up on your legs and stretches a little over your chest. Abby gives you a thumbs up when you show it off. 

"Nice! With those legs, he'll be after you in heartbeat! Do skeletons have hearts? For that matter does he even have a d-" 

"Yeah, I'm gonna stop you right there," you say quickly. "It's too cold to wear this without leggings anyway." 

"Fine, party pooper. Just make sure you wear the dark brown jacket then. And your ankle boots, not the knee high ones." As you gather up the rest of your outfit, Abby giggles. "I can't believe this is actually happening. Just answer this and girl, you better be honest. Do you like him?" 

You hesitate. "I-I think I do," you finally whisper. "It's just...confusing you know? I mean, we're not even the same species. That doesn't really matter to me, but what if he doesn't see it that way? What if he thinks I'm some kind of freak?" 

"Hey, listen, love finds a way. It always has, and always will. Beside, snowflake, you're not the only one involved with monsters." She says this so smugly, you turn and your jaw drops. 

"Abby!" 

"Yes!" 

"Who?!" 

Abby flicks her hair back. "His name's B.P. Tall, fuzzy and a total dork, but let me tell you something." She wiggles her eyebrows at you. "He's got the GOODS." 

"I am both proud and slightly disgusted with you," you laugh. "Seriously though, you go girl. I wanna meet him sometime." 

"He's coming to the festival. Make sure you bring your boy too!" she orders. "'Kay, you look fabulous. I gotta go but make sure you get something tonight!" 

"Goodnight Abby," you say dryly as she ends the call. You take a breath, your heart starting to pound. This was actually happening. Could you call this a date? Like a real date? No, it was better to go in with no expectations. It would be better that way. You finish getting ready, blasting your music to calm your nerves. Soon enough though, it's time and you hear a knock at the door. You pull at the sleeves of your jacket, making sure your scars are completely covered before opening it up. 

Sans has actually dressed up a little. He's wearing black jeans (it's the first time you've seen him in something besides sweat shorts) and a dark blue button up. The top button is undone and you can see his clavicle bone. Dang, when he puts in a little effort, he actually cleans up pretty nicely. He takes in your appearance and smiles nervously. His cheeks are tinted with the lightest blue. He holds his hand out to you.

"heya. you ready?" 

 You take his offered hand and smile. "Let's go, space boy." 

Chapter Text

You start to head towards your car when Sans tugs on your sleeve. 

"ya know, if you're in a hurry to get there we can use one of my short cuts," Sans says with a wide smile. "might save on some travel time." 

Oh right, duh. Man, having this teleportation thing around is gonna be really nice. "Sorry, I didn't think about that." 

He approaches you and you stick your hand out to take his, like before. Sans shakes his head. "since the distance we're going is gonna be longer than just the hop from your place to mine, i need to keep you a little closer." He hesitantly takes another step and you find yourself staring straight into his sockets. You haven't been this close since the night you both fell asleep on the beanbag. His hands brush against your waist and warmth blossoms in your stomach.

"i need to uh, hold you here." He hesitates for a moment longer before gingerly placing his hands on your sides. You feel heat bloom across your skin from the contact. Your checks flush red and you try desperately to calm your racing heart.

Sans tightens his grip, pulling you close. "is this ok?" 

You nod a little breathlessly. You don't trust yourself to speak just yet.

His cheeks are blue now. "and uh, just hold on to me where you can. ok?" 

With no idea of where else to hold, you grasp his shoulders. You can feel that strange humming sensation from before, just barely noticeable through his clothes. Combined with the awkwardness of your intense blushing and his tinted cheeks, you almost feel like the two of you are at a middle school dance. 

"You know, if you wanted to dance you could have just asked," you try to joke. Your voice is a little too shrill and your face a little too red to be convincing. Sans chuckles and the deep sound makes your heart race even faster. 

"i'll keep that in mind. hold tight." 

His left socket flashes blue and then the world jolts from under you. The rush of falling, the electric tingle and sensation of stepping through a waterfall is over in a few mere seconds. You gasp sharply as the world fizzles back into view. A roar of sounds assaults your head and you moan, clinging to Sans.

"Does it ever not make you dizzy?" you groan as your head spins. 

"you get used to it." He pats your back slowly. "you ok?" 

"Yep." You realize you've got your face buried in the front of his shirt and stand up quickly. "Ah, sorry!"

You quickly try to cover up your embarrassment by looking around. The two of you are standing at the edge of an alley, a little out of sight. You suppose that Sans didn't want to startle anyone by suddenly popping out of the air. Judging by the noise, you're somewhere downtown. Across the street from where you're standing is the museum. Dusk is just beginning to fall so its lights are on, illuminating the massive stone statue of the solar system outside the entrance. Sans is staring at the display with intense interest. 

"do you need to sit for a sec or...." he trails off, not taking his eyes off of the place. His obvious desire to run over makes you laugh and you tug at his arm. 

"Nah, I'm good! Let's go!" 

The two of you quickly head across the street and enter the museum. The place is huge and the first thing you see when you step in is an even larger version of the statue outside that takes up the entire first room with the greeting desk and ticket booth. Unlike the stone one outside, this one is painted with full color and each planet spins slightly. Sans stares upwards with open awe. He mouths the names of each planet, eye lights darting from display to display. You pull your phone out as discreetly as you can. There's no way you can't take a picture of his face. You snap a quick picture and your heart melts all over again as you study the shot. The enlarged lights of his eyes, the genuine smile of delight and the light blue blush across his face. You've never seen him look so...at peace and happy. 

You send the picture to Papyrus and leave Sans staring upwards while you buy the tickets at the desk. When you come back a few minutes later, he hasn't moved. You tap Sans on the shoulder. 

"hmm?" 

"There's a whole lot of museum to see," you tease him. "Unless you wanna stand here all night."

He looks like he's actually considering that so you grab his arm and drag him to the next room. The first area is all about the ancient methods of studying the stars and Sans is fascinated by the old tools. He reads every display and every card, excitedly pointing out various facts to you. When you reach a display with an very old and rusted telescope inside, he actually presses his face against the glass. He's like kid window shopping at Christmas.

"imagine being the person who invented this," he whispers almost reverently. "the first telescope had only a three x magnification but it was enough to inspire others to make even greater ones. in june of 1609 galileo happened to be in venice...." he trails off into a mumble, soaking in all the information the display had to offer. You had no idea that telescopes meant so much to him. You remember him telling you about the old one he had found in the dump underground. It was amazing how such a thing had clearly influenced what he held dear. 

Your phone buzzes. 

P: YOU HAVE MADE ME, THE GREAT PAPYRUS WEEP DEAR HUMAN. I HAVE NOT SEEN MY BROTHER LOOK SO HAPPY IN A LONG TIME

y: Aww pap I'm glad you like it :) don't tell him I sent you a pic

P: HE DOESN'T KNOW YOU TOOK A PHOTO?

y: No and I'd like to keep it that way

P: VERY WELL. YOU CAN TRUST THE GREAT PAPYRUS WITH YOUR SECRET. HAVE FUN ON THE REMAINDER OF YOUR DATE

y: Thanks Pap

y: p.s not a date

P: ;)

Seriously? A winking emoji? Where on earth did he learn that?

"who're you talking to?" 

You jump and slip the phone back into your purse. "Pap. Just letting him know you're totally spacing out!" 

Sans smiles. "it's cause i'm scoping out some stars!" 

You two laugh loudly, drawing some looks from the few other patrons in the room. Giggling, you shove Sans into the next area, which focuses on more modern day space sciences. Sans again acts like a little kid, hopping from display to display, excitedly spurting out confusing science terms that you only vaguely recognize. You had always been more interested in the stars and galaxies. The mathematical side of it was rather unknown to you. But you let Sans go on. His excitement more than makes up for your confusion. When you reach the section with displays and pictures of the various space missions, including the moon landing, his hands actually go up over this mouth. He goes straight to the side about the moon and NASA's missions. 

"i read that humans went to the moon," he says to you, staring at the exhibit for the moon landing. They've recreated the shot from the famous video, American flag, spaceship and all. "but i just couldn't quite believe it." 

"You wouldn't be the only one." You lean up against the railing. "A lot of people thought the whole thing was a hoax. That the video of Neil Armstrong on the moon was actually filmed in Africa."

His gaze flickers to you. "was it?" 

"No you bonehead," you laugh, tapping his skull gently. "At least, I don't think so." 

He sighs in relief. "good." 

You pull your phone out again and set the camera in selfie mode. "C'mere a second." You pull Sans close to you and angle the camera so that the two of you and the spaceship are in the shot. "Smile!" 

"cheeeeeese." He says this in such a deadpan tone it catches you off guard and you laugh just as the camera flashes.

"Sans! Not while I'm taking a picture!"  You pull the picture up and just as you feared, it caught you mid laugh. You mouth is open, eyes scrunched up and Sans is looking at you, a devilishly delighted grin on his face. "We're gonna do it again!" 

"nope." The phone is suddenly encased in blue light and sails right out of your hands. Sans plucks it from the air and looks at the picture. "it's perfect. i'm sending it to myself." 

"No!" You leap for the phone and Sans is gone, just like that. You blink and look around. He's moved behind you, humming innocently as he taps at your phone. "Oh come on, that's cheating!"

"it's called using a natural talent. aaand sent." He's all smiles as he hands your phone back to you. "still wanna take another?"

You growl, a blush rising up your face. "Nope. Moment's gone." 

"don't be mad," he chuckles as you move away from him towards the next exhibit. "i promise i didn't planet that way." 

Oh that deserves some payback. You turn back to him, striding up confidently. "Well, I suppose I can't blame you. Especially after I took this one! Ha!" You flash the picture you took of him earlier. "And don't bother telling me to delete it, I've already sent it to someone. It's on the satellite waves forever!" 

His smile falls just slightly and his face goes blue. "oh geez." He rubs his hand over his skull, like he always does when he gets flustered. "didn't realize i was that lost in space before." 

"Haha! Payback complete," you crow smugly, waving the phone at him. He makes a half-hearted grab for it and you hold it up just out of his reach. It was only then that you realize that the two of you had drifted close together without even realizing it. Sans is only a few inches away, still lazily reaching for your phone. His gaze falls back to meet your eyes and there's suddenly something there in the space left between you. Something full of warmth, promise and a wild storm. But it's a wall you're terrified to touch. You blush and take step back. 

"How about we take one more before we leave? And we'll make sure we both agree on it. Deal?" 

"heh, sounds good." Sans' voice sounds a little funny and you look around for something else to talk about. You spy a poster on the far wall, advertising ads for an IMAX film about galaxies on the upper level. Ooh and as luck would have it, there's another showing in ten minutes. 

"Hey, I've got a wonderful idea," you say with a wide smile. Sans was going to love this. 

The two of you head to the theater. Sans seems a little reluctant at first, clearly more interested in the actual displays than watching a movie. But when he sees how large the screen is, he stops in his tracks. It stretches across the entire wall, tilting in slightly at the edges to create an immersive experience. "oh. wow. it's uh...big." 

"That's why it's called IMAX, silly," you laugh as you find seats. The theater is pretty empty, only a few other groups scattered here and there. You've seen one of these before, back when you were little on a family vacation. But that film had been about the amazon rain forest and the section about piranhas had scared you so bad you'd had to leave. Still, from what you could remember, it was completely different from normal movie screens. 

The two of you chat quietly until the lights dim to black and turn your attention to the screen. Well, you do for a few minutes. The film begins with a wide shot of Earth and you glance over at Sans. His eye sockets are so wide they're practically circles now. 

"We as mankind cannot truly understand just how small our beloved Earth is," the narrator says softly, then with a loud bang, the shot on the screen zooms away from Earth, moving faster and faster, planets and stars zooming by. Sans jumps slightly at the noise and his hand suddenly grips yours. Your not sure if it was an accident or not, but you make no move to pull your hand away. His bones are warm, and solid and feel so wonderful against your skin. You smile and turn your attention back to the film. It really is stunning. With the over-sized screen you feel like you're actually up there among the stars. Your stomach drops and rises as the camera sends you flying through galaxies and nebulas. You feel your heart racing as you're dropped down into a black hole, only to once again sail up among clouds of light and smoke and stars.

Sans' hand tightens on yours slightly. You're sure he's never experienced something like this before and you look over to see his reaction. 

He's crying. 

Silent tears roll down his cheekbones as he stares at the screen. Your heart stops at the sight. You start to whisper his name but it dies in your throat. He's utterly transfixed by the movie. So much that he's letting his tears fall freely. You bite your tongue and simply put your other hand atop his. You rub the top of his bones softly and you hear his breath hitch slightly. Oh Sans. You feel an almost physical ache to reach out and hold him.

The movie ends soon after that and the dim lights turn back on. You sit there silently, still holding Sans' hand as the other viewers leave. He turns his face away from you, rubbing at his sockets with his sleeve. 

"sorry," he mumbles. 

"Are you okay?" you ask softly. 

A sniffle answers you. You tug gently on Sans' arm until he turns to look at you. The area under his eye sockets is dull blue. "Hey. You can talk to me. It's okay." 

He closes his eye sockets tightly. There's some kind of battle going on inside him and you stay quiet while he fights it. You hesitate, then rub your hand over his arm. Under the cloth of his shirt, you can feel the two separate bones. The ulna and radius, if you were remembering right. He shivers and you draw your hand back. 

"Sorry! Does that feel weird?" 

Sans shakes his head. You open your mouth again, and notice some of the museum staff standing awkwardly by the door. Probably here for cleanup. You stand, not letting go of Sans' hand. "Let's go somewhere quiet, okay?" 

He follows your lead silently. Where could you go in a museum for privacy? The answer actually comes pretty quickly. There's a room set up with projections of the stars and constellations. There are several cushioned benches and thank heaven, it's empty at the moment. Sans looks around as you enter and you have a feeling that he would be a lot more thrilled to be in such a room if he didn't have so much on his mind. 

And normally you would be mortally embarrassed to be alone in a dark room with a man. But well, Sans isn't exactly a man right? You sit down on one of the couches and Sans slowly joins you, staring up at the projected stars. You wait for a moment, then put your hand back in his. His digits twitch slightly before tightening around your fingers.

"i didn't think i was ever gonna see them." His voice is low, strained. "the stars. planets. the moon. the sky was so far away underground. we came so close, so many times. it just started to hurt to see it just outta reach. then i figured it was better to just...let them go. forget about ever seeing them. it was better that way. made it easier." He takes a shaky breath. "this place, that film, it just. i dunno. it got to me. it made me want to hope again. that first night the barrier fell, i stayed outside all night just staring at the stars. i wanted to burn the sight in my mind. i didn't want to every forget it. i wanted a memory to have when it was all gone."

"What do you mean?" Gone? You're a little lost. "Sans, the sky isn't going anywhere. Okay?"  

"it's just...hard to for it all to really sink in. the idea that it's here to stay." Another tear slips down his skull. "every morning i wake up and expect to be back there. back in the snow, and the cold and the fake stars in the ceiling. it could all just be gone. just like that." 

He looks at you, and he looks so torn about something. "s-say the barrier went back up. say everything went back to the way it was. monsters underground. humans with no idea we exist. no memory of our freedom." 

Like time travel? He's not making much sense, but he's finally opening up to you. You inch a little bit closer to him, trying to comfort him with your presence. "Sans-"

"i know i probably sound crazy," he cuts you off gently, finally looking at you. "i know it. but i can't talk about all that. not right now. it's...it's...." 

"Sans," you say as firmly as you can. He falls silent. "You don't have to talk about it. Honestly, I'm so happy you've trusted me with as much as you have." You rub your fingers against his phalanges. Seeing him cry, seeing him vulnerable, it was making your heart ache. Yet at the same time, an overwhelming happiness was filling you. "I-I hope that one day you can trust me with whatever is going on. I know what it's like to hold on to something you feel like you can't share with anyone." 

What a hypocrite. How could you be spouting all this when you had told him nothing about your scars? About that box hidden in your room?

"I'm not one to talk. I'm terrible about being honest," you say with a dry laugh. "But I know it hurts. And...I don't want to see you hurting Sans." You reach up and wipe away the moisture on his cheekbone. Without thinking about it, your thumb traces down his face, very gently pressing against the bone. It's beautiful. Unlike human bone, his has almost a sheen to it, glistening just enough to catch the dim light. He looks like he's made of stone, not bone. Yet the texture under your skin is warm and slightly malleable. But then again, it would have to be right? Otherwise, how could he make expressions at all? Looks of wonder, mirth...pain and sorrow.

You realize with a start that you've fallen silent, stroking his face like some kind of freak. He's frozen, staring at you with a look you can't quite name and you pull away. "Sorry," you mumble, suddenly feel self conscious. You look away, staring up at the projection of Orion on the ceiling.

What are you doing? You barely know Sans. Your heart screams otherwise, but it's the truth. And he barely knows you. You can't get carried away with this. Just help him with whatever it is that's so clearly causing him pain and leave it at that. Asking for anything else, hoping for anything else would be wrong of you.

But...would it really be so bad to want something with him? You feel so at ease when he's by your side. Safe. Happy. Isn't that why you moved out here? To start over. Let go of what happened all those years ago. Maybe, just this once, you can let yourself hope for someone who will stay by your side.

Maybe you can just let yourself enjoy this while it lasts.

You can't bring yourself to let go of his hand and sit in silence for a few more minutes. He makes no move to pull away, gently keeping his phalanges gripped around your hand. 

Finally, you whisper, "I'm went too far didn't I?" 

"no." His voice is whisper soft. After a moment, you feel his free hand on your chin, turning you back towards him. His gaze is soft, his eyes glowing in the darkness of the room. "i'm uh...heh, i'm not usually the type for talks like this. but...it feels ok when it's you. thank you. bringing me here and just...being you...it means more to me than you can imagine." 

You find yourself leaning into his touch. You meet his gaze, staring back into the gentle light that makes up his eyes. That warm feeling in your chest is spreading. It washes away the hesitation and doubt. The confusing thoughts and feelings you've been struggling with all seem to fade away in the moment. The truth of the matter is, you care about Sans. Perhaps more than you've ever cared about anyone. "S-Sans...." 

There's a shuffling cough at the door and you jerk away from Sans. Another couple has wandered into the room, talking softly to each other. Sans looks over at them too before giving you another easy smile. Your heart twists a little in your chest. His mask is back. But perhaps now it's a little thinner than it was before.

"i think there's still some more things to galax-see." He stands and offers you a hand. "shall we?"

"Oh. Um, yeah. What's left? The planets room?" 

The two of you leave the starry room. Instead of the awkward silence, you instead feel a strange happiness and contentment. You finish up going through the museum and Sans once again acts like an excited school boy with new toys, but with a little less enthusiasm than before. You stay until closing, lingering in front of the large display of the solar system. Sans is once again staring up at the planets. 

"i think i wanna see that movie again sometime," he finally says. "it was cool. really cool." 

"I agree. It was pretty intense." You check the time on your phone. 8:58 "Hey, I think we have time for that selfie. But you better not make me laugh again or I'm gonna smack you." 

Sans chuckles and slides up next to you. His hip bone presses against you and warmth spreads across your face. You try not to let it show as you get the camera ready. "Ready?"

"ready." 

You both smile widely and the picture turns out as well as you hope. There's only the tiniest hit of red in your cheeks, so you decide it's a keeper. You both take your time as you stroll outside. It's chilly and you press your arms close to your chest. "So was it as out of this world as you hoped?" 

"hmm. no comet." 

The two of you laugh loudly, your voices meshing in perfect harmony. You jump a little when you feel his bony hand take yours.  

"we should probably get home. i gotta read paps his bedtime story. and you look a little chilled to the bone." 

You don't want to leave just yet. You want to keep walking with him. But you know he's not gonna leave his brother waiting. "I guess you're right." You let yourself sink into his grip, pretending for just a moment that his hold was an embrace. You close your eyes as the world jolts again. Huh, it was a little better this time. You straighten, eyes adjusting to the sight of your door. He's brought you just outside of your place. 

His hands linger for a moment on your waist before pulling away. "sorry about...you know," he mumbles a little sheepishly. 

"Sans, it's okay. Really. Besides, you saw me cry, I saw you. We're even." You smile and rub your hands together. Okay, if this was a date, isn't this the part where you're supposed to share a kiss? Oh, you don't know if you can bring yourself to do it. "I had fun," you say quietly. "Grillby's for lunch tomorrow?" 

Sans nods, tucking his hands into his pockets. "sounds good." 

You both linger for a second. It stretches into a full minute. You can almost feel a nervous energy emitting him from him and desperately you plead with yourself to just move, just go for it! But you're frozen, a deep rooted fear keeping you from moving.

"whelp. g'night." Sans finally turns to leave and your heart shoots up your throat. 

"G-good night!" You croak out. Your legs won't move. Why can't you move?!

He pauses, and gives you a smile. Then he vanishes with a small flash of light. You jump when he reappears right next to you. You feel him lean in and something cool touch the side of your face. It lingers just long enough for you to realize Sans is pressing his teeth against your cheek. A kiss?!

He pulls back slightly and his low voice softly whispers, "thank you ______." 

Then Sans vanishes again and leaves you leaning against your doorway, hand against your cheek and knees trembling. 

Chapter Text

You don't meet Sans for lunch the next day. 

Or the next three days after that. In fact, you only see him in passing a few times, usually on your way to or from work.

It's not that you don't want to see him. In fact, it almost physically hurts to go without seeing him for so long. With the festival only a few days away, the station is overrun with activity and your usual lunch hour gets bumped up to much later in the day. The station is a storm of activity and you barely have a moment to breathe in your increasingly long work days. There are quite a few times when you get sent out with the traffic van, or sent with electrical crews for repairs and supplies simply to add another pair of helping hands. It's a lot of unfamiliar work and while you enjoy the activity, your stress levels are starting to sail through the roof. 

It didn't help that Tod himself was mostly absent at the station itself during this activity. He ran most of the programs and took it upon himself to oversee their progress and projects. So he was seen only in flashes as he moved from one place to another. Which meant Emily was left in charge at the physical station. You try to excuse her bad mood and shortness of temper on the stress of running everything but to be perfectly honest, you can't. Worse still, you have a sneaking suspicion she knows that you were the one who brought Muffet's bakery on board and is subtly punishing you for it by giving you several large tasks to handle completely on your own.

Sans had very understandingly accepted your multiple rain checks. Work has him busy too and he finally let's it slip that it's because another coworker had quit after the broken window incident. He hadn't said why, but going by the tone of his text message, he blamed himself. Still, through the craziness, the two of you continued to text back and forth, sharing a seemingly endless supply of jokes and puns. 

He doesn't bring up the kiss. You want to, oh you REALLY want to, but you don't know what to say. When you do have a rare moment to breathe and think, the memory of your night out floods your mind. It's like the touch of his teeth against your skin left a permanent mark that burned and tingled randomly. Was Sans just thanking you? Or had it meant something more? Do you WANT it to mean more? It's confusing and maddening and quite frankly, it's difficult to think about in the midst of everything else. 

It doesn't help that the nightmares are back. They're terrifying and confusing and you almost immediately slip back into your old habit of staying up extra late to try and combat the dreams with pure exhaustion. You do manage to at least go running for a bit every night. You even get Undyne to come out with you. She likewise has been busy with teaching at the martial arts studio. She was a hit with teen and young adult crowd and her few classes had filled up so quickly that she had decided to open a few more. Boy did you get an earful from her about getting sick from 'a pathetic misting of rain!'. But you notice that she does keep an eye on the sky and never once drops her encouragement while you are running. 

It's on the fourth night since the date that you finally work up some courage. You need some advice, and you certainly can't ask Sans or Papyrus.

"Hey Undyne," you pant as you wipe at your face. It's a colder night and the sweat on your body feels like icicles. "I was wondering, um...how did you meet Sans?" 

"The shorty? He worked for me for a while. Back underground." Undyne shrugs and takes a long swig from her bottle. "Worst sentry I've ever had. I only met him cause of Papyrus. Big goof would stay outside my place all night, waiting for me to train him if Sans didn't come get him." She laughs loudly. "For such a lazy bum he sure goes to some crazy lengths for his brother. He's a good guy. His jokes aren't all bad either." She gives you a wide grin and leans in a little too close. "So what's your actual question?"

Holy smoke, she saw right through you. You avert your gaze, blushing a little. "We kind of had an...outing?" 

"Like a daaaate kind of outing?" Her voice is almost shrill with glee.

"No! No, we just went to a museum he wanted to go to. I mean, I thought that was it. But afterwards he kinda-" you lower your voice until it's just a whisper "kissed my cheek."

Undyne lets out a whoop, pumping her fist and you frantically wave your hands at her, trying to quiet her down. 

"Wait, wait! I don't know if he meant anything by it! Look, he had a little emotional moment in the museum and I talked him through it so I don't know if it was just a thank you or...something else," you mumble. 

"Just a thank you?" Undyne wraps an arm around your shoulders, rubbing your head roughly. "Kid, I'm surprised he stopped himself at just a little kiss. He's been holding back for a long time, trust me." 

"Huh?" 

She rolls her eyes. "Did you even see the look on his face that night we ran in the rain? And then he dropped everything to nurse you back to health? It's like you're living an anime!" She suddenly whips her phone out. "I gotta tell Alphys, she's gonna flip." 

You groan, putting your hands over your face. "Please don't." You peek from between your fingers. Your heart is going nuts. "Do you really think he likes me? I mean, like you said, he's a good guy. He's just being a good friend-"

"When did this happen?" she cuts you off. 

"Uh, four days ago." 

"What!? Have you talked to him about it?"

"Well. No. We've been texting but-"

Undyne actually puts her hands under your sweaty arms and lifts you into the air.

"Hey!" 

"You know, for being the one with actual skin and stuff, you sure are a bonehead," she says seriously, her eyes narrowing at you. "That was his pathetic attempt at a move you dork. What are you waiting for?" 

Your feet dangle in the air. "Work's been busy for both of us, you know how it is!" 

"Excuses!" She plops you back down and slams both hands on your shoulders. "If you don't go see him right now, I'm gonna throw you both in the river!" 

You have a sinking feeling that she'd actually do it. Hah, you'd have to remember that one. You put your hands up in defeat. "Okay! He's at work right now, but I'll ask him to come over tomorrow. Promise!" 

Undyne stares deeply into your eyes for several long uncomfortable moments before her mouth spreads in a wide smirk. "Now that's more like it. Nerd." 

~~~~~

9:59 AM

y: Hey, I feel like you're neglecting your duties as manager of the beanbag

10:35 AM

s: u gonna fire me?

y: Hmm as tempting as it is to reclaim my throne, I guess I'll settle for a mandatory movie night. I have a feeling you'll like Star Wars. 

s: will there be ketchup?

y: Duh

s: see ya tonight then

~~~~~

You drop into the kitchen chair that night after work, head in your hands. You had been so nervous and distracted the whole day you could barely focus. You had screwed up so many times, taken files to the wrong places, played the wrong audio tracks and spilled an entire tray full of coffee all over the break room floor. Emily had called you out in front of everyone, threatening a dock in pay if your mistakes continued. A dull ringing pounds through your head. You can feel an attack building up. Panic is fluttering through your chest, making your stomach churn. No, no you can't have an attack now. Sans was going to be here any minute. You can't let him see you like this. If what Undyne said was true, and he did have feelings for you, you can't let him see. Deep breaths. 

In. 

Out. 

In.

As you breath outwards again, there's a knock at the door. 

Three more seconds. You let yourself stay still for just a moment longer, gathering your control. You can do this. This is supposed to be a happy night. You paste a smile on your face. You get up, open the door. The sight of him standing there helps to calm you. A warm feeling burns in your chest and your forced smile eases into a real one. You had missed him so much. 

"heya." Sans studies you for a second. "you ok?" 

"Yeah! Sorry, long day at work." You step back and he enters the apartment. You notice that he's carrying a small bag. "What's that?" 

"it's uh, for the movie," he says quickly, pulling it away when you attempt to look inside. "it's a surprise. no peeking." 

You laugh and cringe when it comes out strained. "Okay then." 

A long silence stretches out. Neither of you seem to know what to say. 

"Well, mister manager, you better take your place on the bean bag!" you say a little too loudly, heading towards the fridge. "I have your ketchup all prepared!"

"wait." His hand is on your arm. Did he seriously teleport three feet? You stop and look at him. His eyes are glowing brightly. The sight makes your knees a little weak. "before that...i wanna show you something. is that ok?" 

"Oh. Yeah, sure. What is it?" 

"it's uh. up there." He points to the ceiling. 

You look up. There's nothing there. If it was a prank, it wasn't a very good one. "Might want to work on that one my friend." 

He laughs a little. "no, i mean it's up on the roof. but i know a short cut." 

"To the roof?" What could possibly be up on the roof? You're pretty sure you guys weren't even supposed to go up there. Then again, there wasn't really a way to stop Sans' teleportation skills. "Is it safe up there? It's just an angled shingled roof right? Pretty easy to slip." 

"i won't let you fall." His serious tone calms your worries. You take a breath and nod, stepping a little closer. 

"Okay." 

His hands gently touch your waist and then you're flying through the air and within a few seconds, you're up on the roof. You instinctively grasp at his shirt as a sudden chilly wind bites at you. Dizziness from both the trip and the sudden height makes you close your eyes. You breathe deeply, face pressed against his chest. Sans smells faintly of ketchup and mint. 

"i've got you," he murmurs, rubbing a hand against your back.

"Haaah." You let out a shaky breath. "Sorry." You peek your eyes open. Sans has you sitting right on the top of your apartment building. There's a small flat surface, so it's not completely angled like you thought. The city stretches out in front of you, crowded, alive and thriving. In the distance you can see the mountains, including Mount Ebbot. The place that so many monsters had been forced to call home for so long. The sun is up just above its ridge, casting a deep orange light on the world around you. 

"Wow," you murmur. "You can see so much up here." You look down towards the circle and its park. The dull sound of children laughing and playing reaches you even up here. Is that Pap down there? You squint and just make out the shape of Frisk darting around, playing some sort of chasing game with the large skeleton.

Sans notices your look and laughs. "tori had to be at the courts this afternoon. paps and i watch the kid whenever she needs us to." 

"Oh, sorry if I pulled you away from that." You should have checked to make sure he was actually free before calling a 'mandatory' movie night.

He shrugs. "nah, paps has it covered." 

Another breeze rushes by and you shiver. "Should've grabbed my coat! It's chilly." 

"oh, i didn't even think. hang on." 

He blinks out of sight. 

"Sans?" Being on the roof along makes your heart clench slightly with fear but he's back in less than ten seconds. He's holding your jacket. He places it around your shoulders and you snuggle into the fabric, thankful for the warmth. 

"That seriously is a handy trick," you say with a laugh. You lean up against him, your heart still pounding from the scare. He hesitates, then places an arm around your shoulder, pulling you in to him. This is really nice. You let out a sigh. For the first time in several days you feel yourself loosening up a little. The fog of anxiety that has been hovering retreats just a little and the world grows a bit more clear.

"seems like you've got some stuff on your mind," Sans says softly. He starts running his phalanges through your hair. Ah, so he hasn't forgotten about that little trick. 

"Yeah. There's just a lot going on right now. Festival stuff, holidays are coming up. Tod isn't at the station much these days so Emily is in charge of the stuff I work on." 

"that nasty lady from the talk show? never did much like listening to what she had to say." If Sans had a nose, you're pretty sure he'd be wrinkling it. "seems pretty full of herself." 

"You have no idea." You lean your head against his shoulder. "Have you been up here before?" 

"yep. i bring paps up here sometimes. he loves to watch the sun rise. can't really see it from the window." 

"I've always like the sunset more. Don't have to get up early for that." 

Sans laughs. "i feel exactly the same. i do love to see it though. every one seems more beautiful than the last." His eyes are fixed on the setting sun. "i'll never get tired of seeing it." 

"I used to do this back home. Sit outside with friends sometimes. Or by myself. Just watching the sun go down. The different colors always made the clouds looked like cotton candy. I used to try and reach for them when I was little. Thought I could actually eat them if I just reached high enough." 

Sans chuckles. "sounds like something paps would do." 

The two of you sit in comfortable silence for a little while after that, just watching as the colors of the sky slowly darkened from orange to red to blue and finally faded to black. The city flickered with lights. All the colors and flashing lights made you think of a stained glass window. The noise and bustle of the city are oddly comforting to you. Looking down at it, you can't help but feel hope for the future. Surely such a creation showed that humans could show emotion and love. Surely now an even brighter future is ahead. If only people could let go of their fear of the unknown. 

Which is exactly what you need to do. 

You look up at Sans. He's not staring out at the city, or even at the stars now glimmering above. He's looking at you and the gentle expression on his face makes your lip tremble. 

"Sans, about the other night..."

He stiffens slightly.

You take a breath and push on. "When you dropped me off and you...what did you mean?" You press your fingers against your cheek. 

That deep blue glow you're beginning to love so much lights his face. He shrugs, fiddling with his phalanges. "um. you know. that was. a thing." 

"Uh huh. And what did that thing mean?" 

He doesn't answer for several long moments and your heart starts to sink a little. "i'm sorry if it was too much," he finally mumbles. "i shouldn't have done it."

Ouch. You sit up as he shifts slightly, no longer looking at you. "It didn't bother...I um, I liked it," you admit in a mumble. 

His blush deepens and you see his strained smile widen with genuine happiness. "oh."

You scoot a little closer. "You didn't answer my question."

"it...it was..."

You lean in closely. "Yeees?"

He lets out a nervous chuckle. "ya'know, this ain't easy for me to say. i just...ah hell." He grabs the hood of his jacket and pulls it up over his head, hiding his face from you. 

You can't help a soft giggle. 

"d-don't laugh," he mutters, tugging on the drawstrings. Almost his entire skull is covered now.

"Sorry," you say, putting a hand up over your mouth. You can't help it. Seeing him so embarrassed is beyond cute.

"....i really like your laugh." You can see a blue glow from the one little section of his hood that is open. "it's a really good laugh." A beat passes and then in a voice so soft it can't even be called a whisper he says, "it was a 'i like you' kiss."  

 Your heart is racing and there's a voice inside that's screaming at you to stop, that you're pushing too fast. But there's a deeper, stronger feeling that is prodding you forward that you just can't ignore any longer. You reach for his hood, tugging at it gently until you reveal Sans' face. He meets your eyes and you can feel yourself growing red. 

"Sans-"

"i told a fibula before!" he blurts out. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the small bag he brought with him. "'s not for the movie. it's for you. right now." 

You take the bag from him, unwrapping it carefully. There's one of those small black jewelry boxes inside. You lift the lid of the box. Your breath catches in your throat. It's a necklace of a skeletal hand holding a large gem, set on a fine silver chain. The stone itself swirls with an image of a galaxy, its colors bright and shimmering. It's absolutely breath taking. 

"Oh Sans," you breathe. "It's beautiful." You pull it from the box, unclasping the chain. "Help me put it on?" 

You can't help but notice his phalanges are trembling slightly as he takes the necklace from you. You turn slightly, and the feeling of his bones against your neck sends pleasant shivers up your spine. He lingers for several long seconds, his touch soft against your skin. He says your name gently and your heart nearly stops. You try to tun but he puts a hand on your shoulder, stopping you.

"i don't know what i'm doing right now," he admits. "i'm not the kinda guy who...i never try at anything. least of all relationships. given our circumstances down there, it just seemed pointless. even now sometimes i feel like this is all too good to be true and one day it's just gonna be gone. but now, being here, meeting you, i'm, heh, starting to care again. i'm starting to think that maybe something is worth a bit of work, even if it will be gone. somethings are worth having, even for a little while."

His voice is so serious it sends a shiver up your spine. "Are you talking about the stars again?" 

He very gently knocks a hand against your head. "'m talking about you." 

You can't help but make a small noise at that, blushing deeply. Is he...is he really...confessing?

At your silence, he releases your shoulder but you don't turn around. "i know that it would be hard. you're a human. i'm a monster. you've got no reason to want to be with a bag of bones like me. you're so bright and beautiful and your jokes are just as bad as mine. you love paps and you've stood up for us so many times. people have already given you a bad time just for being around us. it probably won't be worth it for you-"

"Of course it would be worth it. F-for me" Geez, your voice is strained, thick with emotion. You can barely speak. Tears prick at your eyes. He's got it all backwards. You're nothing special. You've always been nothing. But him?  He is like the moon to you, shining down on your  world that long ago went dark. He welcomed you, a complete stranger, into his odd and wonderful world of magic and bones. He has no reason to want you. "Sans, you're wrong about me. I'm not bright." 

His hand reaches out, brushing against yours. "if you could see what i see, see the way your soul is glowing right now, you'd never doubt that you're one of the brightest things in this world."

"I've got baggage. Like, really heavy baggage." 

"so do i." 

You finally turn to face him. "Sans, I've done bad things. I'm a mess. I'm just really good at pretending." 

His smile is gentle, hesitant and a little scared. "you don't have to pretend with me." 

You wring your hands, fighting the urge to both burst into tears and laugh at this impossible situation. He has no idea what you've done. He's never seen the scars. But you want to share that with him. You want to believe that someone might want you, just as you are. "If...if I say I feel the same, what happens then?"

He looks down at the park. "i dunno. i've never done this before. the movies and stories don't really show you what happens after. but...." He looks back up at you and his sockets are glowing brightly. He holds his hand out towards you. "i want to find out what happens next. and i'd like to do that with you." 

The soft laugh that escapes you sounds more like a sob. You hesitate for just a moment more and then you accept his waiting hand. "I think I'd like that too." 

His phlanges wrap around your hand and he pulls you closer. He's staring at you with an intensity that sends your already pounding heart into overdrive. The force of his blush casts a light over your face as he leans in. He hesitates, gaze searching your face for a moment. You smile and close the distance. Then, right there on the roof, looking out over a city filled with hope and life, Sans kisses you. You sink into him, gripping desperately at his shirt. He doesn't have lips, and yet you can feel a mouth moving against yours, warm and filled with tenderness. You would ask how he's doing it, but honestly at the moment, you don't care. His hands move to grip the back of your head. Soon, you're dizzy from the rush of his kissing but you don't want to stop. You want to live forever in this perfect moment. 

He finally pulls back slightly, gasping. His expression is one of pure delight, with just a hint of smugness. "so, does this answer your question?" 

You giggle and pull him back in for another kiss. 

Chapter Text

This was real, wasn't it? 

You look up at Sans. His gaze is fixed on the t.v but his fingers are tracing idly over your hands. It sends electric sparks up your arms. 

"they should really fire the guy who designed the death star," Sans murmurs, fingers dancing up your arm. "some one messed up big time if a single shot can bring it down." 

"Ah, but who's fault is it really? The architect or the builders? Could have been an on-site mistake." 

"Hmm." He sighs sleepily. You're honestly surprised he's managed to stay awake for the whole movie. It would be the first time you've seen him actually watch a movie to the end. Aside from the one at the museum.

"Don't fall asleep on me just yet," you laugh, giving him a little nudge. "We're almost to the end." 

"don't wanna sleep yet." His hands stop their movements but remain touching your skin gently. "don't you to be gone when i wake up." 

"Sans, we've been together" the word sends a thrill of joy through you "for three hours. I promise I'm not sick of you already." You give him a wide smile to let him know you're just teasing.

"'s not what i mean." His eyelids are half shut. "it's kinda like i'm already dreaming. don't want it to be over."

You get that. As happy as you are, there's a part of you that can't believe it's actually happening.  That such happiness couldn't be real. Not for you. You snuggle in closer to him. "This isn't a dream," you murmur, trying to convince yourself just as much as him. "You're here. I'm here." 

"right now is what's real." There's a heaviness behind those words you don't understand. He says it the same way you say 'I'm allowed to be happy'. Like he doesn't quite believe it, but desperately wants to.

You finish the movie in relative silence. But you can hardly pay attention. You can feel Sans breathing next to you, his bones rising and falling slightly. He shouldn't even need to breathe, let alone be able to. Yet, his solidness, his aliveness, is right there. It's still a little hard to believe. 

The credits finish and the two of you remain there on your beanbag, unwilling to move, unwilling to break this perfect comfortable silence. 

"what time's it?" Sans finally mutters. 

"Late." 

"huh." 

Another long silence stretches by. You're on the verge of nodding off yourself when-

"guess i outta go." He starts to slowly stir and your hand grips his arm. 

"You don't have to," you whisper. What are you saying?! "You can stay. If you want." 

There's a brief flash of blue across his cheeks. "heh, you wanna jump my bones that badly?" 

"No! Shut up." Heat rises in your face. "I just...you're having trouble believing this is real. I'm pretty sure this is just a really wonderful dream. So why not make it last as long as it can? Then, when we wake up, we'll both be here and then there'll be no denying it. Right?" 

It wasn't that big a deal anyway, was it? You were technically a couple now. And you'd already fallen asleep with him before. This wasn't a big deal. Sure, it was the first actual night you two were 'together' but...you feel safe with him. And after the long couple of days you've had, you really don't want him to leave. 

He's quiet for a minute. "heh," he finally whispers. He sets his head back down, meeting your gaze. His eye lights are shimmering slightly. "ya know, i like the way you think." 

You giggle. "Or maybe I'm just a big lazy bum and don't wanna get up. Like someone else I know." 

"that's even better. we're two of a kind." You feel the bones of his hands grasp yours. The soothing sensation of his phalanges running over your skin soon sends you to sleep. 

~~~~~

When you feel yourself slowly easing from sleep, you keep your eyes closed. You breathe deep. You can smell him next to you. It's a good smell. A wide smile is on your face as you slowly let your eyes open. He's still asleep, arm resting over your waist. It's just like that morning that feels so long ago. But this time, you don't struggle to escape his embrace. You slowly brush your fingers over his skull.  The open expression on his sleeping face makes you really want to kiss him. You hesitate and as gingerly as you can, press your lips against his cheek. The bone is solid and a little warm with a surprising amount of give. He isn't as squishy as a human would be of course. But given that he is able to make expressions and move his mouth and eye sockets, he couldn't be made of regular old bones. It's gotta be more of that magic bio-make up he talked about.

He murmurs slightly but doesn't wake up. At that moment, you stomach rumbles quietly. You ease out from Sans' grip. It's still fairly early, according to the clock. It's the day of the festival but it doesn't start until later in the afternoon. You've got some time before set up starts so you figure you might as well make some breakfast. You pad over to the fridge, bones popping as you went. You really needed to stop sleeping on the bag. It was never as comfortable after a full night of lying on it. You pull out eggs and the last of your bacon. Hey, it was a sort of special occasion, right? 

The bacon is sizzling, its sweet aroma filling the kitchen when Sans jerks awake. He sits bolt upright, looking around wildly. When his gaze falls on you, he visibly relaxes and flops back to the beanbag. His hand presses up against his face and he starts laughing. 

"heheheh. looks like we're still here." 

"Still here." You scrape the bacon and eggs onto the two plates you've set out. "Hope you're hungry, cause I sure am. And yes, ketchup on eggs is actually acceptable."

There's a quick flash of blue and Sans appears in the chair next to you. You jump slightly. "Really? Too lazy to even walk across the room?" 

"you know it," he says with a wide grin. "do ya mind if paps comes over?" 

Shoot! You completely forgot about him. "Of course! Pap is always welcome, you don't need to ask." Besides, there's plenty of food. 

It barely takes a minute after Sans sends the text for Papyrus to all but karate kick your door down. 

"YOUR HOME SMELLS DELIGHTFUL HUMAN! GOOD MORNING SANS!" 

"mornin' bro," Sans greets his brother as he drowns his eggs in ketchup.

You sigh, deciding it'd be a waste of time to scold Sans on overdosing on ketchup and pull out a plate for Papyrus. He eagerly shovels in the food so fast you wonder if he's even tasting it. 

"DID YOU ENJOY THE SUNSET LAST NIGHT HUMAN?" 

Sans chokes on his eggs. 

"Yeah, I did," you say, smiling at the memory. Wait. "Pap, how did you know about that?" 

Papyrus gives you a grin to rival the Cheshire Cat's. "NYEH HEH HEH! THE GREAT PAPYRUS TAKES GREAT CARE IN OBSERVING HIS SURROUNDINGS AT ALL TIMES. BESIDES, I KNEW MY BROTHER WAS UP TO SOMETHING WHEN HE ASKED ME TO WATCH FRISK FOR THE NIGHT. IT WAS ABOUT TIME HE PROPERLY FINISHED YOUR DATE!" 

So Papyrus had seen the two of you, all the way up on the roof. Your face goes red, but at least you're not alone. Sans is staring at his plate, skull lit up.

"not cool bro," he mumbles.

"OH COME ON SANS, YOU DID A TERRIBLE JOB OF HIDING YOUR OBVIOUS FEELINGS." Papyrus turns to you, eye sockets almost glinting. "DID YOU KNOW THAT NIGHT OF YOUR MUSEUM DATE-"

"aaaahh no!" Sans waves his hands at Papyrus frantically. "hey, the festival's today right? we'd better let ______ get ready for that."  

"BUT BROTHER I'M NOT DONE WITH MY DELICIOUS BREAKFAST!" 

"Yeah c'mon Sans. There's no rush," you say with a wide grin. "Pap, you take your time. Now, what were you saying about Sans?" 

Sans groans loudly and blips out of sight. He's actually running away? Okay, now you have to know what happened! Papyrus sighs deeply. He doesn't seem surprised at Sans' disappearing act, so you guess that means he knows about it.

"I DO LOVE MY BROTHER VERY MUCH BUT HIS LAZINESS IS A REAL PROBLEM," Papyrus grumbles, tucking back into his plate. "HE WOULD RATHER RUN AWAY FROM HIS PROBLEMS THAN FACE THEM." 

"I think he's just embarrassed Pap," you laugh, scooting your chair a little closer. "And speaking of, spill! What'd he do that has him so flustered?" 

Papyrus grins to himself, obviously reliving the memory. "WELL, AFTER HE DROPPED YOU OFF AT HE WANDERED IN BACK HOME LIKE HE WAS SLEEPWALKING OR SOMETHING. WHEN I ASKED ABOUT YOUR DATE HE JUST SMILED AND SAID IT WAS GOOD. THEN HE STARTED STARING AT A PICTURE ON HIS PHONE." 

"Oh no, the one where I'm making a weird face?" 

"IT IS NOT A WEIRD FACE!" Papyrus protests over your groan. "YOU WERE HAPPY AND IT MADE MY BROTHER VERY HAPPY TOO. I COULDN'T EVEN GET HIM TO READ ME A BEDTIME STORY. HE JUST WANTED TO LOOK AT THE PICTURE OF YOU TWO. THEN JUST JUST AS I WAS ABOUT TO SLEEP, SANS CAME AND ASKED ME, THE GREAT PAPYRUS ABOUT DATING ADVICE!" 

You almost choke on your eggs just like Sans did. "He asked you about dating?" You try to keep the surprise out of your voice. You don't want to sound rude but Papyrus, as great as he is, didn't exactly seem like the type who went on dates. Romantic ones anyway.

"OF COURSE!" Papyrus strikes a pose in his seat, knocking over his now thankfully empty plate. You manage to snag it before it hits the floor. "GOOD CATCH HUMAN. ANYWAY, I BEING THE GREAT BROTHER THAT I AM TOLD HIM ALL THAT I KNOW. I EVEN LET HIM BORROW THE DATING MANUAL I GOT FROM THE LIBRARY. AND I CAN SEE THAT HE MUST HAVE FOLLOWED THE INSTRUCTIONS PERFECTLY! HE EVEN GOT YOU A GIFT!" He points to the galaxy necklace still around your neck. "FOR ONCE HE ACTUALLY FOLLOWED THROUGH! I AM SO PROUD OF HIM!" 

A dating manual huh? You'd like to get your hands on it. "Well, he did do a fantastic job Papyrus," you say softly, your heart warming for the obvious love the brothers shared. "So I guess I have you to thank for getting Sans to act huh?" 

"DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT HUMAN." Papyrus pats you on the head. "YOU ARE NEARLY AS GREAT AS ME. EVEN IF I HADN'T HELPED MY BROTHER, I'M SURE YOU WOULD HAVE MOTIVATED HIM SOON ENOUGH." You smile at him.

"I'd like to think so Pap." 

Papyrus soon finishes and now you actually do have to get ready to head out. Papyrus cleans his plate and heads back home, promising to bring Frisk and Toriel to the festival. You see him out and start cleaning up. You put some music on, glancing around carefully to make sure Sans hasn't popped back in before letting yourself go and dance as you shower and pick out your clothes. For the first part of setting up and running the festival, you've got a black tee shirt that has the station's logo and a list of all the sponsors participating. Nothing fancy, but since it was close to Halloween, Tod had highly encouraged dressing up a little. You've got a witch's hat and a black and purple dress that you plan on changing into after your shift is officially over. You're painting a spider web and a few small spiders on your face with face paint when you hear a soft noise at the bathroom door. You glance over in the mirror, seeing Sans leaning against the frame. 

"Hey, you," you say as you try not to move your face. "Dating manual huh?" 

"heh. um yeah. believe it or not, paps knows more about this kind of stuff than i do." Sans scuffs his slippered feet against the ground. He curiously watches as you finish applying your spider make-up. "you're pretty good at that." 

"I used to take theater classes in college." You apply one last coat of drying powder to keep it in place and don your hat. You pose for him, hands on your hips. "Ta-da!" 

"nice," he says with a large grin. he nods towards your still bare feet. "your toes might get little cold." 

"Oh haha." 

He follows you out to the living room. You slip your boots on and grab your bag. "Do you remember where the university park is?" 

He nods.

Acting on an impulse, you lean over and give him a quick kiss on the cheek. "See you there then. Don't forget to lock the door!" You leave him standing there in a slight daze and escape to your car. You're grinning like a complete moron the entire drive over. The festival is taking place at the park near the university, a few blocks down from the station. When you pull up, there's already a flurry of activity going on. Booths are partially set up, cars are coming and going with various wares and food and right smack dab in the center, there's a bunch of firemen setting up the pit for the bonfire. It wasn't that big. After all, there would be a lot of children running around but it was big enough that it would require some of the firemen to stay on watch the whole time and make sure it didn't get too big. When this had been discussed earlier in the planning process, Tod had assured you that in the eight years they had been doing the festival, there had been no major incidents with the bonfire. Other than a few blackened s'mores and lost hot dogs that is.

Still, you're glad that the booth for the station is a little ways away from where the fire will be. You're quickly drawn into the craze of setting up, running here and there until you're actually sweating a little in the brisk fall air. You help out with Muffet's stand when you can. The whole thing looks fantastic! The spiders working the booth chitter excitedly the whole time, offering you samples every few minutes. Before you know it, everything is done and ready to go and the first of the party-goers start to show up. You finally get a moment to sit down. Abby and Tod are in the booth with you at the moment. Tod is talking into the microphone, once again welcoming everyone out. Abby nudges you as you sip from your water bottle. 

"Hey, your skeleman is coming tonight right?" She's got full skeleton make-up on and large bone earrings dangle almost to her shoulder. She looks good, and you grin as you imagine Papyrus' reaction when he saw it. 

"Yeah, him and a bunch of other monsters are coming-what?" 

She's grinning delightedly at you. "You didn't deny that he's your skeleman!" 

Oh. "W-well, I guess, we kinda got together? Officially just last night?" 

Abby squeals and hugs you tightly.

"Ah! Watch your make up!" 

"Oh right, sorry." She swipes her thumb against the side of your face. "All better. Girl, that's fantastic!" 

You can't help a pleased smile. "Thanks Abby. I'm actually really happy about this." 

"As you should be! When is he coming?" 

"Um, I'm not sure actually. The brothers are bringing Frisk so I think they should be coming soon?" You'd never actually talked about what time they would show up. Oh well. As long as they came, right? 

Tod stretches. "I need food stat," he groans loudly. You jump to your feet. 

"I'll go get you something if you want," you offer, but he shakes his head. 

He turns the mic slightly towards you, grinning. "Why don't you take over for a few minutes?" 

Your heart leaps up your chest. "Really?" 

Tod stands and all but pushes you into the chair. "You've got this kid. When this song ends, just make a general announcement about the bonfire and hit the next song when you're done. I'll be back in a few minutes." 

He leaves the stand and you glance at Abby, nervous butterflies in your stomach. She gives you a thumbs up. You take a deep breath. You could do this. You had seen and heard Tod do stuff like this all the time. The current song ends and you press a button on the mic. 

"Hey everyone, thanks for coming out to the 9th annual E.B.B.T fall festival! There's lots to see, and lots to do! Don't forget to stick around for the lighting of the bonfire, happening right here at dusk!" 

Your voice echoing throughout the park gives you a thrill of excitement running through your chest. There, that wasn't hard at all! You tap the switch to get the music rolling again. It takes you a second to register the clapping happening in front of you. 

"I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT!" Papyrus stands in front of you, wearing a pair of rabbit ears on his skull. He bounds forward and shakes your hand proudly. "I KNEW YOU COULD MAKE IT ON TO THE SHOW!" 

"T-thanks P-Pap," you stutter out, barely able to speak from the force of his handshake. "It's not really the show, but thanks! Nice ears." 

"THANK YOU! FRISK PICKED THEM OUT." 

Frisk peers around Papyrus, grinning widely at you. Their nose is painted black with little whiskers drawn on their cheeks. A pair of mouse ears pokes out from their mess of hair. They wave at you. 

"FRISK SAID YOU CAN'T GO TO A HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL WITHOUT COSTUMES. I CAN SEE THAT YOU DRESSED UP AS WELL!" 

"I sure did Pap," you laugh, tilting your witch hat. Then your eyes fall on Sans and you snort loudly, throwing your hand up over your mouth. He's wearing a grumpy cat shirt that simply says 'no' and a cheap pair of cat ears on his skull. He lifts one hand and winks at you, mouthing 'meow'. Oh you have got to get a picture of this! You pull your phone out, only to have it snatched by Abby. She pushes you out of the booth towards the trio. 

"Everyone smile!" She calls, clearly trying to hold back her squeals of joy at finally meeting your monster neighbors. 

You feel Sans slide up next to you, his arm gently wrapping around your waist and in that moment, you swear you've never been happier. Abby takes the picture and then you introduce her to the skelebros and Frisk. As expected, Papyrus is fascinated with skeleton make-up and showers her with compliments. Sans lets out an audible snort when she proudly shows everyone a picture of her standing next to a cat monster who quite honestly looks fed up with the world.

"didn't see that coming," he mutters to you. "burgerpants with a human. what a world."

You nudge him, holding back your giggles. At that moment, Tod returns and it's another round of introductions. Tod, while not bouncing with joy like Abby is more than polite and thanks the group for coming out. You notice him make the connection between you and Sans and you have to swallow down a blush at his knowing smile. After a while, Papyrus and Frisk wander away into the steadily growing crowd, yelling about candy apples. Sans lingers for a bit by the stand. 

"Where's Toriel?" you ask him as you set out more flyers. 

"with asgore, i think." Sans shrugs. "there's quite a few monsters that have turned up and they're sticking pretty close to the king. toriel's doing her mom thing of making everyone comfortable." 

You had seen quite a few monsters coming and going. Perhaps it was the Halloween spirit, but humans seemed to be more accepting of them than you would have expected. In fact, you had seen a lot of human and monster children chasing each other around, waving streamers. There was still a distance and a few cautious looks, but there had been no incidents thus far. It seemed that Muffet's stand was doing extremely well too. People were flooding her stand by the dozens, eager to purchase the spider themed goods. And with good reason. You could still taste the pumpkin muffin one of Muffet's helpers had dropped off for you. 

"The king himself came out? That's wild." You crane your neck to look over the crowd, hoping to get a glimpse. Sans laughs loudly. 

"don't worry, he'll stop by soon enough," he says in a suddenly dry voice. "but for now, i think you have some other company." 

"Oooh just look at those two nerds!" 

You know that voice. Undyne smashes her way through the crowd, on a warpath straight to your booth. She's followed by two monsters. The first one, clinging pretty closely to her is a small yellow dinosaur like creature with a pair of large glasses perched on her snout. "U-Undyne, don't move so f-fast." 

"Oh, sorry love." Undyne immediately slows down, giving the dinosaur a quick smooch. The small monster immediately goes red as Undyne turns to you and Sans. "So, did you two get your whole thing-" she gestures to you two "sorted out? Didn't chicken out did you _____?" 

Sans leans against the stand, giving her a lazy smile. "i guess you could say we're in skele-tune with each other." 

The yellow monster squeals quietly as Undyne pumps her fist in the air. You start to wonder if you can just sink into the ground out of sight. 

"S-sorry, I never introduced m-myself." The stuttering monster holds out a clawed hand. "I'm Alphys." 

Oh so this was Alphys! You take her offered hand, leaning over the booth. "It's so nice to finally meet you!" 

"You as well." She gives you a toothy smile. "Undyne t-talks about you all the time." 

You groan. "About how I'm a weakling who gets sick in the rain?" 

Alphy's eyes dart up to Undyne, who starts laughing loudly. "N-no! Well, I mean y-yes but she says nice stuff t-too."

"I'm just teasing," you snicker. Sans gives you a proud look. 

You suddenly hear Abby gasp loudly. "Oh no way! Is that....?" 

You follow her gaze to the second monster that had been trailing after Unydne and Alphys. They were turned away slightly, talking to a group young teens. 

"And that my darlings, is why you never agree to a to dance with a vulkin."

You notice with some surprise the monster is signing autographs and the kids are whispering excitedly to each other. They scamper off and the monster turns to you with great flourish. Sans groans quietly next to you. 

"Mettaton!" Abby squeals, just as you recognize the humanoid figure. 

It's the robot you've heard so much about on t.v. You never would have expected to see him here! He's even prettier in person than he is on the screen and good heavens, he's got legs for days. You can't help but gape at him as he looks over the two of you in the booth. 

"Hmm." His voice rings in a metallic way, oddly pleasant and yet somehow slightly annoying at the same time. He steps a bit closer, which makes Abby clutch at your sleeve. "Tell me darlings. Which one of you is the girl who's managed to steal the non-existent heart of this sorry bag of bones?" 

Chapter Text

Abby, in a show of true friendship and loyalty, immediately sells you out to Mettaton. She points to you, ignoring the quick glare you give her. The robot leans in over the table, closely examining you. A very strong aftershave smell assaults your nose and you have to fight not to cough. His intense gaze has you squirming a little. 

"Hmm, not a bad face." He plucks your hat off your head and tilts your head up slightly. Geez, he sure was getting friendly for a first meeting! "We simply must give you a fresh new style and quite frankly, a very serious eyebrow job-"

Hey

"Oh, but I do see potential in you darling." Mettaton gives you a glimmering smile, plopping your hat on your head with a little too much force. "You've already got the voice of a star!" 

"Oh, well thanks," you say, a little flustered at you re-adjust your hat. Given his popularity, that's actually a pretty nice compliment. 

"Now you must simply tell me how you got such a lazy-"

"hey buddy," Sans cuts in dryly. "pretty sure you have to work at the station to go behind the booth." He glances pointed at the table Mettaton has practically crawled over in his attempt to study you. The robot rolls his eyes and waves his hand at Sans.

"Darling, I've spent more than enough time in radio stations to be considered traveling talent." 

"then how 'bout you give _____ some personal space?" He's still smiling, but there's a little edge to his grin. "She's still working." 

Mettaton sighs dramatically and poses against the table for a minute. His eyes flicker to the cat ears on Sans' skull. He smirks. "Fine then. Don't get your whiskers in a twist, kitty cat."

Sans visibly shudders, quickly pulling the ears off. Mettaton turns back to you, handing you a silver card. "Darling, we simply must have a chat sometime soon! And if you are ever in need of some big talent on your show, just give me a ring." 

"Oh, wow! Thanks, but it's not really up to me." You glance at Tod, who has been watching the interaction with a bemused expression. 

"Oh but of course," Mettaton purrs, extending a hand to Tod. "Same offer to you as well. I would be more than happy to shed some of dazzling light of my talent to your station!" 

"I'll keep that in mind." He's clearly holding back laughter as he also takes a card. 

"Well then, my lovelies!" Mettaton swoops his hair back, shoots a wink to Abby (which nearly sends her swooning) and places a hand on his hip. "I must see to my other fans present at this quaint festival! Ta-ta!" 

"Ahh, M-Mettaton!" Alphys calls after the robot as he starts to saunter away. "D-don't forget about your maintenance check-up tomorrow!" 

"Of course Alphy dear!" And then he's gone, disappearing into the swarm of people. 

You're actually not sure what to say first. You look over at Sans, whose expression is just about as sour as you've ever seen it. "Guess you're, uh, not a fan?" 

"was it that obvious?" he says dryly. 

"Nah, it was just a feline." 

Everyone but Sans groans loudly. 

"Poor Papyrus." Undyne shakes her head. "It's a miracle he hasn't gone insane with the two of you around. Or maybe he already has." 

"that is pawsible." You can tell by the glint in his eye Sans has a whole list of cat puns prepared.

"W-well! I'd b-better keep an eye on Mettaton," Alphys cuts in, a small smile tugging at her snout. "Undyne, you wanted to try that bobbing for apples game too, right?" 

"Hell yeah I do!"

You're a little concerned for the apples due to the gleam in Undyne's eye but you laugh anyway. "Yeah guys, go enjoy the festival! Alphys, it was really nice to meet you." You give the small monster a warm smile. The couple waves goodbye, promising to stop by more often before heading in Mettaton's general direction. You turn to Sans, who appears to be making himself quite comfortable leaning against the table. "You don't have to keep me company. You should go find Pap and Frisk, spend some time with them. I've only got an hour-ish til I'm done. I'll text you after I change my outfit." 

He considers your words for a moment before nodding. He motions you closer. You lean towards him, not sure what he's doing. Then he reaches over and quickly snatches your witch hat, plopping it on his own skull. He places his cat ears on your head, fluffing your hair a little. 

"if you're sure you won't feel left meowt." He winks at you. "i'll leave you to your mewsic." 

"You're seriously too much sometimes. Shoo!" You wave him away and watch as your hat bobs into the crowd. What a goober. And he was your goober. You couldn't contain your smile. Of all roads you expected your life to turn on, this wasn't one of them. It was just so....so....

Abby let out a deep breath. "Holy crap. Holy crap! That was crazy!" 

Yep, that just about summed it up. 

The next hour passes fairly quickly, though you're definitely eager to get going by the time your shift draws to a close. Abby and even Tod had teased you about Sans. It was a far better reaction that you could have hoped for. Hey, at least Emily wasn't around. Though she was supposed to take over for the evening portion. You wanted to duck away before she showed up. When Tod gave you the go ahead, you eagerly grabbed you bag and headed straight for the bathroom to change into your more festive outfit. The cat ears didn't exactly match the way the hat did, but you leave them on anyway. You give yourself a quick look over in the mirror, making sure your new necklace was lying just right against the top of your sternum.

You pull your cellphone out as you leave the bathroom, letting Sans know you were ready. The stalls are set a little ways away from the actual festival, so you turn around the building, rather than going back out to the path, cause c'mon, it'd save you a whole five seconds! You're surprised to see two people standing there against the wall. You're even more surprised when you see one of them is Emily. She's talking to a tall man you sort of recognize. His dark hair is long and his back is slightly hunched. You're pretty sure you've seen him at the station a few times. A boyfriend maybe?

That gets confirmed when Emily hands the guy a large brown bag filled with...something and pulls his face towards her. You quickly turn away and head to the path after all, not wanting to be caught snooping. You have no desire to peek into her private life. You dive back into the swarm of the crowd; there's a lot of people and monsters here now and they all blend together in a wonderful flood of noise and color. You would be a little worried about finding Sans, tiny guy that he is but he's not the one you're keeping your eyes peeled for.

"I HAVE SPOTTED HER SANS!"

And there you go. Papyrus is easily seen above the heads of everyone else and a path naturally appears as the tall monster strides towards you. Sure enough, there's Sans and Frisk trailing right behind. The kid has chocolate smeared all over their face and is currently devouring a huge stick of cotton candy. Oh, Toriel's in for a rough night dealing with that sugar crash. Sans is holding a thing of cotton candy too. His gaze flickers over your witch outfit, taking in the the slightly ripped fabric and the way it sits on your body. You grin widely as he clears his nonexistent throat and offers you the cotton candy.

"the cotton candy clouds are outta my reach but i figure this stuff probably tastes better anyway." 

You delightfully take the treat. "How sweet of you." 

He nods, clearly expecting that, but pleased anyway. He pulls a piece of the candy and presses it up against his teeth. It vanishes and his sockets widen slightly. He's never had cotton candy before?! You giggle and take a large bit for yourself. Between the two of you, you make fast work of the cotton candy. You walk around with the brothers and Frisk. Papyrus is practically vibrating with hyper energy, running ahead and you wonder just how much sugar he's had. 

"I'm never going to get sick of that stuff," you sigh happily, tossing the stick in a bin. Then, you notice Sans staring at you. Or rather, staring at your mouth as you lick at your sticky fingers. Maybe it's the dress or the look on his face, but something emboldens you and you meet his eyes as you give your finger one last deliberate lick. You both blush brightly at the same time and look away from each other. Oh good grief, since when did you have that kind of courage?!

Frisk is snickering loudly at you two. They wiggle their hips slightly. You blink, not quite sure what they're trying to accomplish. They pout at you then chase after Papyrus again. 

"They look like they're having fun," you laugh as you and Sans move at a much slower pace after them. 

"hm. yep." His voice is kind of quiet. He's staring off at the crowd and following his gaze, you see that the two of you are attracting some weird looks from the humans passing by. Sans' shoulders are a little hunched and his smile is strained. The staring makes you a little uncomfortable, but for his sake, you reach out and brush your fingers against his hand. He jumps and looks at you. Your concern must be clear on your face because he laughs a little and gives you a reassuring grin. 

"hey, don't worry about me. i'm used to the stares. but it's gotta be kinda weird for you. right?" 

You swallow your nerves and take his hand. You're nervous but not because of the people watching. You're scared Sans might pull away. When he doesn't, you sigh a little in relief. "I've had to deal with stares before. It doesn't bother me much." 

"heh. you're an odd one." His grip tightens slightly. "thanks." 

You pull on his hand, trying to get him to move a little faster than a slow shamble. "C'mon, it's gonna get dark soon. I still have stuff I wanna see before they light the bonfire!" 

You two finally catch up with Papyrus and Frisk, who have been caught at another game stand. You quickly learn that Papyrus has a wicked and precise aim and have remind him to leave prizes for others. He's got quite a collection, and yet, by the time dusk begins to fall, he's given nearly all of them away to different children (both monster and human) he's come across. Most of those are currently trailing after him like ducklings. They're noisy, excited and Papyrus is loving the attention from the tiny beings. Frisk long ago claimed the position on Papyrus' shoulders, looking like a ruler on a throne of bones. 

You all follow the crowd to the large stone square for the lighting of the bonfire. A loud cheer echos through the crowd as the fire roars to life. A small chill goes through you at the sight. It's been a long time since the accident. But the fear of fire that was born from it never quite went away. It probably never will. Now that the fire is lit, the music swells through the speakers, prompting people to go up and dance. Funny enough, the song playing is 'Shake It Off'. You're gonna take that as a sign to shake off the creeping anxiety and have fun. 

"LOOK AT EVERYONE DANCING!" Papyrus bounces excitedly, nearly sending Frisk flying. They scramble down from his shoulders and tug on his hands. Their eyes are gleaming. 

"Go for it Pap!" You give him a tiny push and they need no more encouragement. You turn to Sans, only to find that he's managed to snag a spot on one of the many benches set up around the square. "Please don't tell me you're gonna be a party pooper." 

"dancin' isn't really my thing. too much work." 

You tug on his sleeve, pouting. "Come on Sans. It's fun!" 

He just smiles at you. "i'm having fun right here." 

He's clearly not gonna move so you sigh and say "Fine. I'll go dance with Pap then!" So that's exactly what you do. You join the skeleton and let the music take you. For being all bones, Papyrus is a surprisingly good dancer. More than that, he's just FUN to dance with. For several songs you dance with him and Frisk and whoever else you happen to bump into. Humans, monsters. Everyone is dancing. Finally, you're out of breath and starting to sweat so you decide to check on Sans. 

He's not on the bench. You look around. Did he actually get up to dance and you just missed him? You pull out your phone and are just about to text him when you hear a dull bang and distant yelling. It's coming from the direction of the booths. You stow your phone and quickly head towards the commotion. Your heart sinks when you discover that the noise is coming from Muffet's booth. There's a group of men standing there, mostly college age or older. The sign that the spiders had worked so hard on is on the ground, tattered and dirty. 

"Who the hell do you think you are?" One of them is snarling at Muffet. He's got one worst hair styles you've ever seen and faded, torn clothing to match. It's partially shaved on the side and falls down to his shoulder on the other. "Stay out of this!" 

"would you rather i go get the cops?" 

The group shifts slightly. Sans. He was blocked from your view before. His hands are in the pockets of his coat. His grin is still present, like always, but there's a strange energy about him that sends shivers up your spine. 

Nasty hair laughs loudly. "Like the cops are gonna help you freaks!" 

"Oh, but what about me?" You storm up, pulling your phone out. The group turns at your arrival, their surprise fading into sneering contempt. 

"And who the hell are you dolly?" Nasty hair gives you a piercing look up and down your body that makes your skin crawl. "This is none of your business." 

You stand your ground. "I'm with E.B.B.T radio," you say coolly. "This is my stand and my friends. So yeah, I think it is my business." 

The group of boys just laughs at your words and you flush with anger. A different guy, pimply and tall, saunters over to you. "Big talk for a little girl." He stops in front of you. He reeks of booze. "You're not gonna tell me you're one of those monster lovers are you? 'Cause that'd be a real shame." He reaches for you and you flinch back. 

But then his hand is stopped midway. Sans is suddenly standing right there, gripping the guy's wrist. The lights have disappeared completely from his sockets. 

"you're gonna want to rethink what you're doing pal." His voice is void of any emotion. His hand tightens and the boy yells out in pain.

"Shit!" He rips his hand away, glaring at the two of you. But now the group is rattled. You can see it on their faces. 

"Leave." You're proud of the fact that you manage to keep your voice from shaking. "Last warning." 

The group hesitates, looking at Nasty Hair. He snarls and points at you. "You're gonna get what's coming to you, freak." 

Sans tenses next to you and you put a hand on his shoulder. "'Kay, then, calling the cops." 

Those words are enough to finally send them away. One of them kicks at Muffet's stand as he goes, shaking loose several spiders and remaining decorations. Both you and Sans stare at them until they're out of sight. You're shaking with rage. 

"Muffet, are you guys okay?" You take a breath and turn to assess the damage. The sign is destroyed beyond repair, but everyone in the booth seems unharmed aside from being shaken. There are a few baked goods spread across the ground. Fortunately it looks like most of the wares had already been sold. Muffet nods sadly, holding her many arms out. The spiders shaken from the stand crawl up her arms, disappearing into the safety of her clothes.

"What happened?"

"made up some excuse about being cheated out of goods," Sans hisses. "starting throwing a fuss about being compensated for food they didn't pay for."

You hear footsteps. Tod comes running up with a security guard. He must have heard the noise. "_____! What's going on?"  

You explain the situation to them. Tod shakes his head, frowning heavily. But....

"You don't look surprised," you say slowly. 

He sighs. "I was hoping I was wrong, but I had a feeling something like this would happen." He turns to Muffet. "I'm very sorry. We should have been better prepared for something like this. _____, thank you for your help. I can handle things from here." 

You hesitate before nodding. There isn't much more you can do now. "I'm sorry," you say to Muffet. You feel miserable and utterly useless. 

Sans taps your arm. "let's go back to Pap." The lights have returned to his eyes, but they're dim.

You nod. "Yeah, okay." You head back to the bonfire. Both of you are quiet. You want to say something, but what can you say? Sorry could only go so far. The noise and the laughter from the dancing helps to calm your anger as you get closer to the fire. You tug Sans to a small clearing, a little closer to the fire than you would like, but it's further away from the dancers. The crackling of the fire is soothing in its own way. 

Sans is staring up at the stars. "you ok?" he finally asks. 

"I'm fine. But what about you? Don't say you're okay, cause I can see you're not." 

Sans sighs. "just sucks. y'know? can't go a single day without some kind of crap happening. underground had it's problems but...folks didn't go around smashing bake sale signs just cause." 

You take Sans' hand, squeezing tightly. "People do stupid things when they're scared. I'm not excusing those jerks. There's no reason for them to act like that. But humans don't exactly have a good track record of getting along with others. But with time, maybe things can get better. I mean, just look at Pap." 

You can see him still dancing. His army of ducklings are squealing and jumping around him. Human children are mingling with monsters while their parents watch on. "Those kids love him and I'm sure their parents were scared to death at first. But they saw that he's harmless. Their fear just needed a chance to be eased. It sucks, but what most people need is time. Even though we don't deserve it." 

Sans looks at you and he looks so tired. "i wish more people were like you," he murmured. He steps a little closer. He leans in, like he's about to kiss you and stops. "sorry. probably don't wanna do that with people watching." 

There are people watching, openly staring at the two of you. You reach up and touch Sans' cheek. "People will think what they think. Doesn't change how I feel." You gently kiss his cheek bone. A hint of genuine smile lifts his expression. 

The song playing on the speakers changes. "Look at the stars. Look how they shine for you."

Hmm, Coldplay. Nice choice. You take Sans' other hand. "Okay, I know you said you don't dance, but I've got news for you. There is a mandatory rule that everyone at the festival dances at least once. It's your turn now!" 

"oh, heh. um...." Sans looks at you, a little flustered. "i guess if it's mandatory. but i don't...i've never really...." 

You guide his hand to your waist, laughing. "Here, you hold me here and then I put my hand here-" you place one hand on his shoulder "then we hold hands like this." You start swaying and Sans follows your lead, looking down at his feet. You can't stop a giggle. "There you go, you got it!" 

He's blushing. "guess this isn't so bad." 

As the song goes on, his confidence grows and soon he's leading you, gently swirling the two of you in a circle. His grip is firm, but gentle and your body feels like it's humming with happiness. "Well look at that. You're a natural." 

Sans finally looks right at you. "nah, you're the natural. i'm just going with the flow." 

"Give me time. I'll make a dancer out of you yet!" 

"heh." He smiles gently. "you looked like you were having fun. before the jerks ruined things." 

You nod. "Pap is fun to dance with. You'd know if you weren't so lazy and actually danced with us." 

He hums, tugging you a little closer. "maybe i'll join you guys next time."

His body is warm. Or is that just the heat of the flames? You don't really know. You lick your lips. Sudden shyness makes you glance away. Oh you're definitely attraction attention now. People are watching you with a mixture of open curiosity and disapproval. But you are glad to see some who seem extremely happy about your circumstances. You even spot Undyne slow dancing with Alphys. She shoots you a thumbs up, toothy smile glinting. 

Suddenly your neck prickles. You catch a flicker of movement and notice a man staring at you with vicious hostility. It's hard to tell because of the lighting, but he almost looks familiar. Was it one of the pricks from the group before? You squint, but before you can really tell, he turns and you see him toss something into the bonfire. A brown bag? Oh, come on. There were trash cans literally everywhere-

Then without warning, the fire exploded. 

Chapter Text

There's screaming and a sharp popping and harsh whistling and colors exploding from the bonfire and it's all just noise mushing together as the world shifts and suddenly you're pulled away and dumped on cold cement. Everything is shifting and your head feels like it's swirling on your neck. You can dimly hear a low, urgent voice. 

"-re you ok? hey an-" 

You stare at Sans blankly. Your voice won't work.

You hear him swear under his breath. "Stay here.

His presence vanishes and you try to call out for him, but your voice is still closed off. You look around for him frantically. Odd details come into clear view. People are running. Papyrus is standing with his limbs stretched out, shielding a wailing group of children. There's a row of bones in front of him, towering impossibly tall. Smoke is everywhere, but it doesn't hide the bright flashes of blue and red light still exploding through the air. 

Blue? Red? 

The word comes slowly as you continue to stare. Fireworks. Someone threw fireworks into the bonfire. 

But now all you can see is the fire. 

Fire.

FIRE .

FIRE.

"What's going on with her?" 

"i dunno, she won't move or anything." 

Your body is trembling. Your nerves are screaming at you to run, to just move but your muscles are locked in place. 

"Hey c'mon nerd, you're freaking us out here." 

"_____?"

YOU CAN'T BREATHE.

His hand reaches out. 

"D-don't!" A timid voice warns.

Sans touches you gently and you flinch away like he hit you. The jerking movement unblocks your airway and a great gasping sob wracks your whole body. You're scrambling backwards and wrap your arms around yourself. Memories, bad memories are flashing in front of your eyes. The burning room, the suffocating smoke, burning, aching, screaming! No! No! Stay here, stay in the moment!

"what's happening?" His voice is tense with worry. 

"It's a panic attack. Sans, get in front of her. Block the fire. Don't touch her." 

A dark shape drops down in front of you. Sans. He holds his hands out hesitantly. "sweetheart? look at me. i'm right here."

You force your eyes to focus on his face. His eye sockets are tight. 

"Breathe with Sans _____." Alphys' voice is oddly calm. Focused.  

Sans takes a long deliberate breath, never once breaking eye contact with you. It takes several tries to calm your harsh gasping but you finally manage to slow your breathing. The panic turns into an overwhelming wave of shame. You put your hands over your face as you start to sob. 

"S-Sans....I'm sorry. I'm sorry." 

 "no, shhh. babe, it's ok. i just need to know if you're hurt." 

You manage to shake your head. It doesn't feel like anything is physically wrong.

"ok. that's good. undyne, go get paps and frisk."

"Got it." She leans and gives Alphys a swift kiss. "Stay with the kid. I'll be right back." 

"Be c-careful." Alphys watches Undyne head over to where Paps is trying his best to calm the crying children as their parents dart around in a panic trying to find their kids. "D-did you see anything Sans?" 

Sans shakes his head. "i was uh...distracted." He's still watching you. "babe, can i touch you? is that ok?" 

A quick nod. You hear him scoot closer. You let yourself lean into his arms, shoving your face against his shirt. Your heart is slowly starting to go back to its regular pace. Sans rubs his phalanges over your head. It's then you realize the cat ears are gone. 

"The ears fell off," you mumble. 

"that's ok," he assures you. "don't worry about it. i'll buy frisk another one."

 The other two are silent as you try to stifle your tears. You're suddenly exhausted and you want to just fall asleep in Sans' embrace. 

"HUMAN! ARE YOU HURT?" 

Papyrus' voice, concerned but booming makes you jump a little. Sans' grip on you tightens. 

"she's fine bro. are you and the kid ok?" 

"YES! I DEFENDED FRISK AND THE OTHER CHILDREN WITH GREAT SKILL." Papyrus frowns deeply. "WHAT HAPPENED BROTHER? WHY DID THE FIRE EXPLODE LIKE THAT?" 

"someone pulling a really bad prank maybe." His voice is sour. "i dunno. have you seen toriel?" 

Papyrus gestures off somewhere. "SHE IS CONTACTING THE POLICE. SHE HAS ASKED ME TO WATCH FRISK FOR JUST A LITTLE LONGER." 

Sans looks down at you. "i need to get _____ home. will you be ok here for just a bit?" 

"OF COURSE I WILL BE SANS. YOU DO NOT NEED TO WORRY ABOUT ME. I AM VERY CAPABLE OF HANDLING MYSELF." 

Sans lets out dry chuckle. "i know bro."

"I'm okay Sans," you protest, attempting to pull away. "We should stay and help."

"no, you're not ok." He fixes you with a stern look. "i'm gonna take you home and come back. got it?"  

There's no arguing with him. You don't have the energy for it anyway. "Fine." 

You shakily get to your feet. Sans keeps a firm hold on your arm, like he's scared you're going to run off on him, or fall. "are you good with a shortcut?" 

"Huh? I guess, but my car...."

"i'll bring you back tomorrow." He gives a short nod to Alphys. "thanks for your help." 

"Make sure you get her some water." Alphys gives you a shaky, knowing smile. "Panic attacks can dehydrate you." 

You press in against Sans' ribs. "Sorry you had to see that," you whisper to her. 

Alphys fiddles with her fingers. "Don't worry. I g-get them too. Now just go home and r-rest. Okay?" 

You nod and Sans takes that as his cue. The world spins and reforms. You blink. You're standing in a kitchen that is filled with startling amounts of spaghetti noodle boxes. Definitely not your place.

"This isn't my apartment," you say to Sans.

He gives you a sheepish grin that quickly turns into concern. "no. i just...i just want to keep you close tonight. you kinda scared me," he whispers. 

You stare down at the floor. "I'm sorry." Seems all you've done is apologize. You can tell that he wants answers. But he isn't pushing you and for that you're grateful. 

Sans releases you. "i can take you back to your place if you want. i shoulda asked." 

No, you're glad he didn't. You don't want to be alone tonight. "It's okay. But I don't have anything with me." 

He pulls you gently down the hall. "'s ok. i'll give you some of my clothes. why don't you take a shower and wash the smoke off? i'll go back for paps while you're cleaning up. just so you know if i'm not back when you're done." 

Sans sets you up for your shower, towel and pj's and all. He hesitates and leans in to give you a quick kiss on your cheek with his teeth. "i'll be back soon," he promises before blinking out of sight. 

You spend a long time in the shower. The hot water pounds against your body as you simply stand there in a daze. He had seen you in a full on panic attack. You haven't had one that bad in a long time. Granted, you've never been in a situation with an exploding bonfire before either. It was frightening, and you had every right to be scared. That's what you try to tell yourself anyway. At some point, you wind up sinking to the floor of the tub, exhausted tears running down your face. 

You were going to have to tell him. You should have told him before you even agreed to go out with him. Guilt eats at your heart. You stay there in the tub until the hot water turns cold before finally shutting the faucet off. You move at a snails pace getting dressed. The clothes Sans gave you consist of a pair of dark blue shorts and a plain black shirt. You press the fabric against your face. It smells like him. The shirt fits just fine but you have to pull the drawstring on the shorts as tight as you can. Which didn't make sense, considering you were the one with actual flesh and he was literally made of bone. 

Freaking magic.

The soft murmur of the t.v floats down the hall as you head back to the living room. Sans looks up from his spot on the couch. He's got a glass of water in his hand, which he offers to you as you join him. You sip at it and hope he doesn't notice how red your eyes are. 

"How's Pap?" You wince at how hoarse your voice is. "Was Frisk okay?" 

Sans nods. "kid's fine. they don't get rattled easily. they went through the underground by themselves remember?" 

Guess compared to facing off against monsters trying to kill you, a prank with fireworks gone wrong isn't gonna bother them. 

"pap is in bed now," Sans continues, his gaze drifting down the hall. "he saved a lotta kids from getting hurt tonight. it wore him out."

You tuck your feet up under you. "What happened after you went back? Was anyone hurt?" 

"nothing too bad from what i heard. a few minor burns, scrapes from falling over. the jackass used smaller fireworks. i think it was meant to be more of a scare than to hurt anyone." 

You sigh in relief. That was one good bit of news at least. You frown as you suddenly recall the man who threw the bag into the fire just before it happened. "Oh my gosh. I think I saw the guy who did it." 

"what?" 

"Yeah, some guy was staring at us when we were dancing. I saw him throw something into the fire and I just assumed it was a bag of trash or something and he was just too lazy to use a trashcan." You straighten and start to get up. "I gotta tell the police or someone." 

Sans tugs you back down. "it's late now. you can do that in the morning." He's pulled you a little closer to him and it's all too easy to sink against his solid frame. You're so tired. Sleep feels so close and yet completely out of reach. Your mind is still swirling and your body feels tense with the threat of nightmares lingering by. You always had nightmares after an attack. You didn't want to sleep just yet.

Besides, there's something you need to do before anything else. 

You sit up, pulling away from Sans. He lets you go, but with great reluctance. "hey, is everything ok?" 

You fold your hands together, looking away from his concerned gaze. "Sans, there's something I have to tell you. It's about what happened with my...attack tonight." Damn it, you're already starting to shake. 

"babe, you're barely holding on as it is," Sans says gently. "we can talk tomorrow." 

You shake your head stubbornly. "I need to do this now. There will always be an excuse to put it off and well, that's not going to make it any easier. Will you...will you just promise that you'll let me tell the whole story before..." 

Before he starts to despise you. 

Sans lets out a long breath of air. He pulls his feet up onto the couch and sits cross legged facing you. "ok. say what you need to say." 

You take a long, uneven breath. Then you begin. 

~~~~

You were one of those typical smart kids. Never had problems with acing classes, got along with everyone. Teacher's pet. 'We're expecting great things from you!' perfect child. But as you got older, you started to learn that you weren't anything special. The world around you caught up and suddenly, you weren't able to ease by on natural talent. What was worse, you'd never learned how to properly study, or even how to make real, lasting friendships. You scraped by, hiding the truth of your failures as best as you could from those who had such high expectations from you. But there was one person you never once had to pretend to be that perfect student and child. 

Your grandfather. He was a man who held little regard for expectations. He cared far more about the stars and the stories that they told. He taught you to love the sky and gave you that deep longing to reach them. He taught you to love music and stupid jokes and to take life at a slower pace. Your parents didn't see it that way of course. Many times you would flee to your grandpa's house, crying and feeling like a worthless disappointment and he never failed to bring a smile back to your face. He would let you vent, scream, cry, whatever you needed to do. 

But one day you went too far. You were still young. You couldn't even be called a teenager yet. A bad week, a bad failure on an important test and a harsh reprimand from both your teachers and your parents. You can still remember such odd, stupid little details. The sky was in that odd place of being sunny yet hovering on the edge of a storm. The grass in front of your grandpa's house was a little brown on the edges. A light bulb on the ceiling was out. The house smelled of cinnamon thanks to the large candles placed in random places like the coffee table and the shelf where the special occasion dishes were held. Your grandmother had died when you were barely a year old, so you'd never really known her. But what you did know is that she loved candles. All sizes, all scents. So in her memory, your grandpa almost always had at least one lit, its flame always steady and bright. 

He had stepped out to the store to get something. What that was, you couldn't remember. You went up to his study on the second floor. It was messy, like always. There was a candle burning on the edge of the desk, like always. You turned on the loudest, angriest song you could think of in his old stereo and just started dancing, letting your anger and frustration seep into your movements. You had closed your eyes and you must have bumped into the desk at some point, knocking the candle over. That was also something you couldn't remember. Then it got hot and hotter and your throat itched something awful and you finally opened your eyes to find the room engulfed with flames. The memory gets a little blurry at that point. You remember hitting the ground, crawling down the hallway, fire licking at your heels as it raced throughout the whole house. Your lungs were filled with smoke. You couldn't see. You could barely even scream. 

You remember being picked up. You remember crying. You remember your grandfather's face, red, blistered and burning as he pulled you out of the smoke and flames. A wailing siren. White walls. Waking up to be told that he hadn't made it through the night. His lungs had filled with smoke, his heart had given out. 

You had killed him. 

After that...well that was all a little fuzzy too. You simply stopped caring. Grades, friends, expectations. All that had fallen away. Everyone told you to your face that it was an accident, that it wasn't your fault. But you could see it behind the words and pitying stares. If you hadn't made such a stupid mistake, he would still be here. It was your fault. 

Eventually, your parents moved you to a new town. A place where the reminder wasn't a few blocks down the road. A place where you could hide your past. And for the first few months, things got a little better. You made a few friends. One friend in particular that you grew close to. She loved space and sci-fi. And as you grew closer, your guilt over hiding your past grew unbearable. You trusted her and wanted her to know. 

She told everyone. She called you messed up freak. All that pain and loneliness was only worse after that. For the rest of your high school days you were left pretty much to yourself. No one wanted anything to do with the new girl who had killed her grandpa, even if it was an accident. You fell back into that odd numb state that you had pretty much lived in since the accident. Days went by when you didn't eat a thing, then you'd eat everything in sight. You never slept. You slept for endless hours. The nightmares ate at your mind every night. You started having panic attacks, triggered by the smallest thing. You tried to hide these, but sometimes they happened where people could see. Their pitying stares burned you.

You always felt numb and the numbness hurt. It was an odd thing to feel, wasn't it? How could you be completely numb and yet in so much pain at the same time? You wanted to feel something, something besides the endless nothing. And so you made the worst choice you possibly could. 

~~~~

Your voice trails off. Sans has not said a single word this whole time. He hasn't even moved. It's like he's frozen, simply watching as you relive your past. Strangely enough, you're not crying. Maybe your body's just run out after your panic attack. Now you've reached the point that you're most scared to reveal. You're not sure how to even word it, so you decide to just show him. 

You push the sleeves of his borrowed shirt up, turning your arms palm up to face him. His gaze finally flickers down to your arms. 

"I just wanted to feel something," you murmur, running your fingers over the many thin, white scars on your skin. You had been so careful before. Placement, cleaning up, how deeply you cut. So the scars are easy to miss if you're not looking for them. "I just needed to be reminded." 

He's just staring at your arms. At your scars. Finally, he looks back up at you. "i...don't understand," he finally says slowly. "what does this mean?"

He doesn't get it. Of course he doesn't. He doesn't even have skin. Did monsters even have the concept of self harm?  

"I h-hurt myself." Your voice breaks. "I did this. I made myself b-bleed just to feel something. I did it to punish myself. The physical pain was easier than feeling just...nothing." 

You can see the moment it clicks. The lights in Sans' eyes vanish, like a flame on a candle going out. "oh my god."

There it is. The horror, the disgust. His voice is just a whisper and it makes your whole body quiver all over again. You pull your arms to your chest, hiding the scars. You stare at the couch cushion because you can't bear to see the expression he must surely be making right now. You keep talking because now everything is just pouring out and now he already knows the worst of it. You might as well finish.

~~~~

You somehow managed to graduate high school. Maybe your teachers just took pity on you, letting you slide by. It was a night not long after you had numbly accepted your diploma. You had nothing now. No plans, no more distractions during the day. You were sitting in the bathroom on some random night, on some random day. Blood was dripping down your arms and you were just sitting there and you just didn't care anymore. The world didn't need you. All it offered was pain. You pressed that blade against your wrist, ready to just get on with it. You were ready to let that pain end.

And you couldn't do it. It was almost like you could see your grandfather there in front of you. His gentle, rumbling voice begging you not to do this. And the dam in your heart finally snapped. You cried like you hadn't cried for years, sobbing in a puddle of your own blood on the bathroom floor. That was how your parents you. After that, it was constant doctor and therapist visits. You'd long since gotten used to seeing a therapist for the trauma of the accident but they had never done much for you in the past. 

Until you met Doctor Duncan. An intimidating woman in her fifties with a sharp pixie haircut and sharp eyes. She was the first one to acknowledge that yes, you had caused the accident. That couldn't be changed. But it could be accepted and you could move on. You were allowed to move on. She was the one who taught you that phrase 'I'm allowed to be happy'. She told you to find one thing in this life that was worth living for. 

So you put your broken heart and soul into music. You constantly had music playing, grounding you when the cloud of numbness started to sink back in. When the overwhelming need to see your own blood nearly sent you to the ground with the force of your panic attacks, you screamed along to songs until your energy ran out. Music helped you put yourself back together, one little piece at a time. You even managed to go to college for a while. You started to feel like a human being again.

That was how you met Tod. He had been a patient of the doctor's back when she lived in another city. She never told you his story and you never asked. But you knew that he had suffered many of the same attacks and self loathing in his past. You got his number, you chatted and he offered you the job. A safe place where you would be surrounded by music. You had decided to move to the city, give this life another try. 

You packed the razors and the match box and a burnt, crumpled photograph into that black box. You couldn't forget and you still couldn't completely let go. You still haven't forgiven yourself just yet. Then you picked up your life and moved to the city teeming with monsters. 

That's why you ran down the hall that very first day. A fire alarm meant fire and you couldn't bear the thought of having another person be claimed by flames, even if it was someone you didn't know. 

And that was how you met the monster that had changed your life.

~~~~~

Complete silence. You still can't bring yourself to look at Sans. You close your eyes, letting your head slump against the cushion. "I'm sorry." Your voice is hoarse from talking for so long. "I should have told you from the start. I should've been completely honest. I didn't want to lose your friendship. I was just so happy. I wanted a chance to be wanted by someone." Huh. You did have tears left. They're falling down your face slowly. "If you want me to l-leave, I understand. Just say the word and you and your brother won't be bothered by me any more." 

He says your name. Softly and full of emotion. "look at me." 

You shiver and open your eyes. You're expecting pity, disgust and maybe anger but you don't see it. The lights are back in his eyes and his face...it's full of understanding. And warmth. He's holding his hands out towards you. Simply waiting. You stare at his bones for several minutes. They don't waver and he doesn't lower them. Finally, you reach out to him. You place your shaking hand on his. His digits wrap gently around your wrist, pulling your arm towards him. He lowers his head and presses his teeth against the skin of your arm. Slowly and with precision, he kisses every single scar on your arm. A broken sob escapes you. 

"thank you," he murmurs. He holds your arm gently as he brings his face up to look at you. "_____ thank you for trusting me. thank you-" his voice catches "thank you for choosing to live." 

You place your free hand over your eyes as the tears fall faster. "Is it okay if I stay? Can I stay with you and Papyrus?" It's hard to get the words out. 

As an answer, Sans pulls you towards him, wrapping his arms around you. It's the first time he's hugged you like this. "yes. please, please stay." 

You cry for a good long while against his chest. It's like the words have finally released something dark that you've been holding onto for so long. That weight isn't gone, but now you feel like perhaps it's grown lighter. You feel like maybe you can finally hope that it will someday disappear altogether. If this wonderful, perfect skeleton is by your side, such a future doesn't seem like an impossible dream. 

You look up at Sans and you're shocked to see tears gathering in his own sockets. He's crying, for you. That warm feeling you've held in your chest bursts out and now you know for certain. You love him. You love him with every fiber of your being and nothing will be able to change that. You rub your hand against his skull and pull yourself up. He meets your kiss and for a long time after that, no more words are spoken between the two of you. 

Chapter Text

As expected, you have nightmares. Flashes of being thrown into a pit of flames, feeling fire eat at your skin. They're all ones you've had before but they still strike terror through your whole body. Your limbs feel bogged down by sludge as you try to force yourself awake, desperate to escape. But as soon as you feel the cool touch of bones against your face you stop struggling and almost immediately slip back into a slightly easier sleep. 

Sans is already up when you wake the next morning. The two of you are still on the couch. At your soft grumbling, he looks down at you and gives you a wide smile. "morning sleepy. thought i was supposed to be the lazy one." 

"Given the fact that you're still lying here with me, I'd say you're still the primary holder of that title." You yawn widely and rub at your eyes. "You know, I think I can count the number of times I've actually slept in my bed on one hand since I bought the freaking thing. no offense, but you're not exactly a goose feather pillow."

"rude. and after i stayed with ya all night to chase away the bad dreams," Sans sighs dramatically. You can't help but stiffen at little at that. He notices, and quickly pats your head. "sorry. i'm just messing with you." 

You let out a small, strained laugh. "Right. Um, I'm sorry about that." 

His bony finger pokes your cheek. "look, you really don't have to apologize. what you've been through...anyone would break down. hell, i'm surprised you've held yourself together so well." 

This was so weird. You poured your deepest and darkest secrets to this guy. You completely opened yourself up. But there's no regret. Instead, you feel an odd sort of contentment. It almost feels too good to be true. You pull the blanket up around your face. "Are you sure about this?" you can't help but ask quietly.

Sans tugs the blanket away from your face. "i'm probably the laziest guy we both know. so if i actually put effort into something, it means i want it. you're worth a bit of work." 

You blush at his admiring tone. "It's just embarrassing," you mumble. "Breaking down like that." 

"just as embarrassing as dancing in the kitchen?" 

"I told you to forget about that!" 

He grins widely and shakes his head. "nah, can't forget something that cute." 

You stick your tongue out at him. A sigh hisses through your nose and you play with the edge of his shirt. He's definitely made of bone, but his clothes have actual shape to them, like they would on a human body. You poke lightly at where his belly would be. Your fingers sink into the cloth slightly, but there is definitely some resistance there. "You don't actually have a pillow shoved under there do you?" 

Sans lifts up his shirt, letting you peer at the complete lack of anything but bone underneath. There's no visible sign of what gives him shape under his clothes. "That's so bizarre," you mutter. You can't stop yourself from running your fingers against his rib cage. His bones are oddly warm and you can feel the soothing hum of energy running through them. "How does this even work?" 

He makes an odd little noise. "uh...magic?" 

You poke him again and he squirms. Is he ticklish? You dance your fingers over his ribs and he starts to shake a little under your touch. 

"h-heya pal, that's-pfft!" He tries to smother a laugh and suddenly you're wide awake. Grinning devilishly, you tickle him until he can't hide his laughter. He tries to get away but find himself trapped by the couch. His laugh is contagious and soon you're giggling along with him. He attempts to tickle you back, but you pin his hand down before he can grab you.

"i give, i give!" he finally gasps. 

"Never give up! Never surrender!" You crow in your best Tim Allen impression. 

"what are you even-oh geez!" His face goes bright blue as your fingers brush against his neck bones. "o-ok that's kind of a sensitive area."

Now that's an expression that sets your heart racing. Perhaps a little too much. You finally cease your attack and fall back to the other end of the couch. Both of you spend a few seconds trying to get your breath back. You jump when you feel bones on your feet. "Ahh!"

"relax. this is far too easy for my revenge. i'll get you back later," he promises with a smirk. You ease up slightly as he studies your foot. He presses his phalanges against the top, turning the limb slightly. "huh. there's barely any squishy stuff here. i can actually see your bones a little. are humans actually ticklish here?"

"Some of them. Not me of course," you drawl. "Just warning you now, I claim no responsibility if I accidentally kick you in the face."

"noted." You wiggle your toes as he starts tapping his bony fingers against them. He's oddly fascinated with your digits. 

"You don't have a foot fetish, do you?"

"a what?" 

Your phone rings, interrupting that delightful topic. You lean over the edge of the couch and stretch for it, since Sans is showing no signs of releasing your foot. "Little help?" you groan as you fight not to topple over. The phone glows blue and slides within reach. "Thanks." You sigh as you look at the call number. Tod. You had completely bailed last night without making any kind of effort to help. Of course you weren't on the clock when the explosion happened so you technically didn't do anything wrong. "Hey, Tod." 

"Oh thank God," Tod breathes. He sounds tired. "Are you okay?" 

"Yeah I'm fine. I'm sorry I didn't stick around last night. I was...well I had a pretty bad attack." 

"I figured. Listen, I'm sorry to ask, but can you come back to the park to assist with clean up? Also, I told the police about that group of punks you dealt with earlier. They think that they might have had something to do with the explosion and want to get a statement from you." 

Sans runs a finger down the bottom of your foot and a shiver crawls up your spine. You make a face and kick him lightly. "I got something even better. I think I saw the guy who did it." 

"Seriously?" 

"I think so at least. I saw a guy throw a big brown bag in the fire right before everything happened so I think it's safe to assume it was him." 

"And you're sure it was a man?" 

Something in his tone sets your nerves on edge. "Yes, I'm sure. Why?" 

A deep sigh. "Look, it's not me making the assumptions but...there were a lot of monsters at the festival. Word has been going around that it was a monster trying to disrupt the dance and hurt people." 

You sit up and Sans stops playing with your feet. "People are trying to blame monsters for this?" 

"Word of mouth and it travels fast. Jerks say things to other jerks and suddenly you turn a campfire-"

"Into an explosion," you finish in a whisper. This was really bad. The festival was supposed to help the general public see that monsters were just like ordinary people. If they were being blamed for this, all that progress could be lost. Or worse.

"The sooner you can get down here to help clear things up the better." You hear a loud noise in the background. Tod groans. "I gotta go."

"Okay, I'll be there as soon as I can."  Sans is grimly watching you as you hang up and swing your legs off the couch. "I'm sorry to run, but can you give me a lift in a few minutes?" You couldn't exactly drive there without a car. He nods silently and you give him a quick kiss on his skull. You're pleased to see a blue blush dust his cheeks. "You okay?" 

"yeah." He sighs. "do you mind if i ask paps to meet you there? he'd be happy to help with cleaning up." 

"Sure, if he doesn't mind. I'm sure we can use the help. Where is he?" 

"he had a short shift at work this morning. which is where i've gotta go or i'd stay too." 

You snort. "And what, offer verbal encouragement?" 

"that is my strongest talent." He grins but it's a little sad. 

You lean down slightly so you're eye (socket) level with him. "Hey don't worry about what people are saying. I'm gonna talk to the cops and we'll get this cleared up. Okay? I'll see you in a few minutes." 

You run back home and throw on some actual clothes. You start to grab the p.j's from Sans and stop. Well, you were technically his girlfriend now right? It wouldn't be so odd to hang on to some of his clothes. He's waiting for you outside and holds his arms out. A few seconds later and you're stumbling back into a dark corner of the park. You stop and gasp, observing the damage. It looks like a few stands closer to the pit actually caught on fire from the fireworks and are just a piles of blackened wood and plastic. People are scrubbing at blackened marks on the stone and the air is still heavy with the smell of ash. Your breath catches in your throat as the fiery memory starts to rise in your mind. Sans puts a reassuring hand on your back. 

"don't push yourself if it gets too hard," he says softly. "do you need me to stay with you?" 

You shake your head, clearing it of the cobwebs. "No, don't skip work cause of me. Besides, Pap will be along soon right?" 

Sans chuckles. "yeah, i had to convince him to finish up his shift and not just rush over. got your keys?" 

You nod and squeeze his hand. "See you tonight." 

He disappears and you feel a slight pang of loss. Clingy much? You brace yourself and head into the thick of the mess. You soon find Tod, who is talking to a pair of officers; a black woman with the largest set of curls you've ever seen and a much smaller man. Tod notices you and waves you over. "_____ this is Officer Leinbach and Officer Beeson. Go ahead and tell them what you saw." 

The officers nod at you and you quickly recount what you saw just before the fire exploded. 

"Did you see any details we can use? Hair? Clothing?" The man, Beeson, is jotting down notes.

It's hard to remember. With all the noise and your panic attack, a lot of those details are fuzzy. "He had long hair," you say slowly. You try to conjure up that memory, being careful to remember the happiness you felt while dancing with Sans and not the terror from the explosion. "About to his shoulders. And he was tall. He looked familiar but...." You're forgetting something. You're forgetting something important but it's lost in the haze of your attack. 

"Could he have been with the group harassing the spiders before?" Officer Leinbach asks you. You shake your head. 

"No, most of those guys were college aged. I'm pretty sure this guy was older than that." 

The officers exchange a look. "So you were dancing with your boyfriend?" Beeson confirms slowly. "Did he see the man as well?" 

You really don't like the look he's giving you. "He wasn't on the look out for nut cases with fireworks," you say a little coolly. 

"That's fine," the female officer says quickly, tapping her partner on the shoulder. He sighs and scribbles on his notebook before ripping a page out.

"If you remember anything give us a call here." He hands you the paper and you nod. The cops soon take off, seeming to have all that they need. You hope that this will be enough to at least calm down the rumors that monsters were behind the prank. You dive into the clean up process, made quite a bit harder with the fire damage to deal with. You're honestly a little shocked no one was seriously hurt, going by how far the damage actually spreads.

You're there for a little less than an hour, struggling to put a large duffle bag filled with metal poles into one of the trucks when the weight is suddenly lifted from you. 

"BE CAREFUL HUMAN!" Papyrus peers down at you, easily lifting the bag into the back of the truck. "THIS LOAD SEEMS A LITTLE TOO HEAVY FOR YOU." 

"Oh hey! Thanks Pap." You give him a quick hug. "You're really doing me a huge favor. I hope I didn't pull you away from your job." 

"NOT AT ALL! THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS ALWAYS WILLING TO LEND A HELPING HAND," Papyrus says proudly. And sure enough, with his help, cleaning up finishes a lot faster than anyone expected. You and Papyrus are just finishing up with the last of the trash bags. 

"And the power forward makes her move!" You grab the bag, thankfully light and toss it to Papyrus. He easily catches it and slam dunks it into the dumpster bin. "And he scores! The game is won and the crowd goes wild!"

"NYEH HEH HEH!" Papyrus cheers as you whoop loudly. "THAT WAS AN EXCELLENT PLAY!" 

You blow on your finger guns. "I got mad skills bro." 

Papyrus laughs loudly. "YOU SOUND JUST LIKE MY BROTHER." 

"Oh yeah? I'll take that as a compliment," you say with a wide smile. You happen to glance past the still laughing skeleton and notice two guys heading towards you, one of them with a large camera on his shoulder. You recognize the logo on his jacket from the local tv news station. "Um, I think we've got company."

 

Chapter Text

The reporter, with perfectly slicked back ash brown hair and a glinting smile approached you without hesitation. Without realizing it, you step slightly in front of Papyrus. "Hey there!" 

Papyrus easily peers over your head at the two men. "HELLO! WHO ARE YOU?" 

The man extends a hand to you and you hesitantly shake it. "Drew Ranson, WELS News. I hear that you're the person who saw the one responsible for last night's incident?" 

"Yeah, that's right." You eye the camera man, who's already pointing his camera right at you and Papyrus. 

"Excellent, I'm glad we caught you." Drew smiles a smile to rival Mettaton's. "I'd like to ask you a few questions about the whole mess. There's a lot of speculation going around and the people are looking for answers."

Oh. Oh. You weren't exactly thrilled about the idea of going on the news, but if this was chance to help clear things up without waiting for the cops.... "Um, sure. I guess that's fine." 

"Excellent," Drew says again. "If you'll allow me, this will only take a few minutes of your time." He pulls out a small mic and clips it to your jacket. Papyrus watches the whole thing with great interest. 

"_____ I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. WHAT IS HAPPENING?" 

"They're from the news station. The one on tv," you explain. "They're gonna help spread the word about what happened last night."

"YOU'RE GOING TO BE ON TV?" Papyrus claps his gloved hands over his face in delight. "THAT MAKES YOU A STAR JUST LIKE METTATON!"  

"I'm afraid we're not quite on that level," Drew laughs. "Your name is...?"

Papyrus strikes a pose. "I AM THE GREAT PAPYRUS! I TOO-"

"Nice to meet you. Mind standing over there out of the shot?" 

You frown as Papyrus' expression drops slightly. "Hey, can he actually stay in the shot with me? He did save a bunch of kids last night from being hit by the fireworks. If anyone deserves to be on the news it's him." 

An brief flash passes through the reporter's eyes. He smiles widely. "Sure thing!" 

Papyrus beams at you and you can tell he's holding himself back from wrapping you up in a hug in an attempt to look professional. Drew attaches another microphone to him but thinks better of it when the camera man winces and points to his headset. Drew then launches into a stream of questions: your name, where you work, how long you've lived in the city and others like that. You can't see what it possibly has to do with the festival, but you answer as best as you can. 

"So, tell me exactly what you saw last night," he finally asks and you let out a small sigh of relief. 

"Firstly, there was a group of guys who attacked the stand I was in charge of. Muffet's Bakery. After we sent them on their way we went back to the bonfire." 

"'We' being you and the great Papyrus?" Drew asked, nodding at the tall skeleton. 

Papyrus burst out laughing. "I'M AFRAID YOU ARE MISTAKEN. I DO CARE ABOUT _____ BUT IN A VERY PLATONIC WAY. SHE IS REFERRING TO MY BROTHER." 

The speed at which the camera turns back to you is astounding. You feel your face growing red. "Pap!" you hiss. "They weren't asking if we were together!" 

"THEY WEREN'T? OH." Papyrus has the decency to try and cover up his blunder, but now Drew's eyes are glinting. 

"Please, continue," he says to you, whipping out a notepad and scribbling something down. 

You can't help but feel that something bad has just happened, but you continue on, telling Drew about the man you saw and as many details as you can remember. He nods the whole time, and snaps his notebook shut. 

"So, am I correct in assuming that you are in a relationship with this skeleton's brother?" 

Crap. "I don't see what that has to do with anything." 

"Is that a yes?" 

"That is my personal business." Your sense of unease is growing steadily with every passing moment, even though you don't really understand why. You had told Sans last night that you didn't care about people staring at the two of you. But announcing your relationship on tv? It felt a little invasive. "Look, do you have everything you need?" 

Drew's smile is far too wide and satisfied. "Yes, I believe we do." 

~~~~~

Papyrus is unusually quiet as the two of you head back to your car. It's only when you're almost home that he asks, "ARE YOU MAD AT ME?" 

You look at him in surprise. "No! Why would I be mad at you?" 

He shifts uneasily in his seat, looking miserable. "YOU SEEMED UPSET BY THAT REPORTER ASKING ABOUT YOU AND SANS. HE WOULDN'T HAVE KNOWN IF I DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING. I JUST WANTED TO HELP WITH THE INTERVIEW." 

You lean over and pat his bony knee. Now you feel bad. Pap had been so excited about being on tv and you were ruining it for him. "No, Pap. I promise I'm not mad at you. You did great!"

"WHY DO YOU NOT WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOU AND SANS?" 

You shrug, turning your attention back to the road. "It's just kind of a private thing. I'm happy with your brother and that's what matters. Bragging about it just seems a little...rude. I don't want people to get jealous after all."

Papyrus sniffs, wiping at his face. "IT IS TRUE THAT MY BROTHER IS VERY GREAT. ALMOST AS GREAT AS ME!"

"That's right Pap. Hey, I've got an idea," you say, changing the subject as you pull into the apartment's parking lot. "It's almost Halloween and I still haven't put any decorations up. Want to help me?" 

This cheers Papyrus up considerably and the two of you soon get to work on making over your place. He's fascinated by the spooky decorations and bombards you with questions about the holiday. He's hanging up a long chain of skull shaped lights across your ceiling and you're just about to put some snickerdoodle cookies in the oven when Sans knocks and pokes his head in. 

"there you are paps-woah." He looks around your transformed apartment and nods approvingly. Black translucent curtains are draped over windows, a plastic tombstone and fake skull sit by the door, cut outs of bats stretch across the walls and poofy spiderwebs cover the counter top. Papyrus plugs in the skull lights and poses under the flickering light. 

"GREETINGS BROTHER AND WELCOME TO HALLOWEEN!" he says in his best spooky voice. You can't quite hide your snicker. 

"Hey Sans," you say as you finish up with the cookies and wash your hands. "How was work?"

"it was fine-"

"SANS YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED!" Papyrus can't hold back any longer. "REPORTERS FROM THE TV INTERVIEWED US! WE'RE GOING TO BE ON TV!"

"interviewed? about what?" 

"The accident last night. And," you look at the clock. "it's just about time to it to air."

Papyrus drags Sans to the bean bag, bouncing up and down with his excitement. You join them and Sans tugs you a little closer to him. "an interview huh?" 

You nod, clicking the tv on. "Yeah, they wanted to know what I saw and hey, it's a good way to clear up the rumors right?" 

He grunts quietly and you all turn your attention to the tv as the news starts. It's the first story, which isn't surprising considering the nature of the accident. The announcer, a pretty Asian lady starts the story. 

"Last night's annual fall festival hosted by radio station E.B.B.T was brought to a sudden a dramatic end last night when an unknown being threw a bag of fireworks into the center park's bonfire, injuring at least seven. Drew Ranson has more on this story. Drew?"

The camera cuts to Drew, who is standing in front of the park. You can see people cleaning up behind him. 

"Thanks Erin. It's a terrible thing that happened and I think that everyone is thankful that there were no serious injuries. As you can see behind me, clean up is a little more difficult than usual. Now the big question is of course, who did it?"

A woman, holding her child. "I don't know of any person who could do something like this. Children were running around everywhere and honestly it was hard enough keeping an eye on our kids with all the...unusual crowds hanging around." 

The clip switches to a voice over, showing video of you tossing a garbage bag to Papyrus. "Though there are speculations that one from the monster community is responsible, I had a chance to speak with a woman who works at E.B.B.T and claims to have seen the one behind the prank." 

"HERE IT COMES!" Papyrus shouts excitedly, shaking Sans' arm. You bury your face in your hands as you see yourself appear on the screen, embarrassed. Sans nudges you. 

"who's that beautiful lady hanging out with my brother?" 

"Shut up!" 

"Miss _____, who was at the festival with her monster boyfriend-"

Your jaw drops and you feel Sans stiffen slightly. 

"firmly believes that the one she saw was in fact a human man."  

Your own face appears on screen, standing next to Papyrus, who is so much taller than you the top of his skull is cut off. "It was dark and kind of tough to see, but I'm positive the one I saw was a man. He was just watching me and my boyfriend dancing which is why I noticed him and then he threw something into the fire."

"So you don't think it was a monster?"

The you on the tv frowns. "There's no doubt in my mind it was a man."

It cuts back to Drew. "Though there is still much speculation about what happened, here's to hoping that the matter will soon be resolved."

 It cuts back to the woman, who finishes with "The police are currently investigating this incident and encourage anyone who might have seen something to contact this number with the information." And that's it. All those questions and you were only on screen for maybe thirty seconds. Poor Papyrus didn't even get to say anything. Papyrus himself, however, is absolutely elated. 

"DID YOU SEE THAT BROTHER? I WAS ON TV!" He whips out his phone. "I'VE GOT TO CALL UNDYNE! I HOPE SHE AND ALPHYS SAW IT!"

"i'm sure they did bro." The fake smile is back on his face. He grasps your hand tightly. 

He's upset but trying his best to hide it. "Hey Pap, do you mind if I talk with Sans for a minute?" 

"SURE. I WILL START DINNER." Papyrus heads out, phone pressed against his skull. You can hear his excited voice as he heads back to his apartment. You turn to Sans.

"What's wrong?"

"nothing's wrong. you made paps happy. nothing to be upset about."

"But?"

He sighs. "you're not exactly a self-preserving person."  

"What's that supposed to mean?" 

The fake smile on his face is wavering. He gestures to the tv. "well for starters, the whole city now knows that you're together with a monster and where you work. did you stop to think about what that means?" 

"Hey, I'm not happy about it either," you say, a little annoyed. "But it's done. I told them what I saw and they reported it. That was the whole point." 

"that was your point." His sockets narrow as he sits up. "they painted you as a monster lover. you're going to be targeted just like the rest of us. or worse." 

You squeeze his hand. "You're blowing this out of proportion Sans." 

"no i'm not!" He's raising his voice and it scares you a little. You've never heard him shout before. "you haven't seen what i've seen. kids have been beaten up by other kids just for playing with monsters on the playground. the window at work was smashed because people can't bear the thought of my dirty hands on their food. monsters have been hurt. monsters have lost everything." His bones are starting to shake. "what do you think people will do to you? a human who's dared to cross that line and openly announce that they're going out with one?" 

"Sans nothing is going t-"

He shakes his head. The lights in his eyes have gone out. "you don't know that. they might hurt you. i can't...." he presses his hand over his sockets. "i can't stand the thought that something might happen to you because of me."

You gently rub your hand over the bones in his arm. Now you get it. "So what then? Was I supposed to just hide it? People saw us at the festival. People will see us whenever we go anywhere. Am I supposed to hide away? I'm not ashamed to be dating you Sans." 

A shaky breath escapes him. "i know you're not," he whispers. 

"Are you ashamed to be with me?" 

"no. never." 

"That's that then," you say with finality. "If they want to paint me as a monster lover, that's fine. Because I love you monsters very much." You kiss his cheek. "You don't need to worry." The timer on the oven beeps and you move to stand. Sans' hand whips out, wrapping around your wrist. 

"wait." His voice is a soft murmur. He takes a deep breath and moves his lights up to stare right into your eyes. There's no color to see there. No 'eyes the color of the sea after a storm'. No deep green forest gaze. But still, it's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. He hesitates, face blushing. His hand comes up to cup your face. You lean into his touch. "promise me that you'll be careful," he whispers. 

You nod, your heart racing in your chest. "I promise." 

Then he pulls you in and kisses you, slowly and gently. Your hands come up to grip his shoulders as a soft moan escapes you. He feels so warm and every touch sets a fire burning across your skin. His hands move from your face to your shoulers, pushing you against the bean bag. He begins peppering your face with kisses and you giggle. The oven beeps again. 

"Sans, the cookies," you say as you wiggle under his hold. "They're gonna burn." 

He lets out a disgruntled noise. "hold on." 

You blink and he's gone. You crane your head back as the oven door opens and Sans hurriedly pulls the pan out. A few moments later and he's back where he was, his hip bones pressing into yours. His kisses feel almost desperate. A strange warmth blossoms in your belly as he shifts slightly, moving more of his body on top of yours. You drag your fingers along his back, trailing over the bumps of his spine. He shivers when you reach his neck bones. 

"Still sensitive right here?" you whisper. 

"it's a good sensitive," he says with a smile before he starts moving downwards with his kisses. You can't help but arch your back a little as his mouth tickles against your neck. "hmm, looks like you're sensitive too." 

"Looks like," you gasp breathlessly. 

He pauses and pulls back a little. "is this okay? am i going too fast?" 

You take a deep breath. You can feel your face flaming. "Look, I've haven't exactly been...physical with a guy for a long time. I want to know you Sans, really know you but...." 

"ok." He kisses your forehead softly. "we'll go as slow as you want." 

 Relief sweeps over you. "Thank you." 

"just tell me if i do something wrong, ok?" 

You nod and then the two of you spend quite some time just exploring each other's body. Sans loves every curve and every scar and his touches remain gentle. Not once does he demand anything of you. The weight of his words and worry from before seem to be just that. Empty worries. How could anything bad happen when you were loved like this?

~~~~~

For the next few days, nothing is exactly what happens. Sure, you get some stares and a few people slip some snarky comments to you about how your soul was damned and blah blah. It wasn't anything you couldn't deal with. On this particular day, just two days before Halloween, you were on the evening shift at the station. It was pretty late now and you were 'bone tired'. All you wanted to do was go home and crash. And hey, now you actually had a bed frame and not just a mattress on the floor. You had bullied Sans into transporting it home to save on the shipping time, even though he whined about it. Still, sleeping in your own bed by yourself felt really lonely. Maybe you'd ask Sans to stay over tonight. 

"Night Tod," you call into the office. "I'm heading home." 

Tod looks up from his papers. "It's pretty dark out. I'm almost done. I can walk you to your car if you don't mind waiting a few minutes." 

"Thanks, but honestly I am ready to crash. I'll be fine." 

You wave goodbye to the other bleary people who have been working all day and the overly cheerful night crew just coming in. You shiver as you step out into the cold night air, pulling your jacket tightly around yourself. You seriously hope it isn't too cold on Halloween night. You've had more than a few years in your childhood where the weather ruined your costume plans. You didn't go trick or treating anymore, but Toriel had invited you to go with Frisk and Papyrus, who was dressing up. Sans had already claimed working the candy bowl (though you were pretty sure he would just set the bowl outside and not bother with actually answering the door) so you weren't quite decided on what you were going to do. But you did invite everyone over to your place for movies and junk food on the eve of Halloween. You needed to remember to pick up said junk food for the party tomorrow night. 

You round the corner of the building, heading towards the parking lot. One of the bulbs in the street lamps was almost out, it's dim light throwing shadows across the area. You can see two people heading up towards the station. Your eyes land on them just as they notice you. Your heart stops as you recognize Emily and the man beside her. The long haired man with a hunched back who had stared so hatefully at you as you danced with Sans. The prick who had gotten his bag of fireworks from Emily at the festival. It all comes back to you and the clues snap together. Emily had been in on it with her boyfriend. How could you have not seen it before? You duck your head, hoping that your look of panic hadn't been seen. You reach your car, fumbling with your keys. Come on! Move faster!

You jump as a large hand slams against your car door, stopping you from opening it. "In a hurry?" A gruff, throaty voice, like a man who smokes too much. You whirl around and try to step back. He traps you with his other arm and you press yourself up against your car. 

"H-hey, it's rude to go around scaring people like that," you say, trying to keep your voice neutral. "Do you need something?" 

"Yeah, I think I do." He leans in, getting way too close to your face. You can smell the cigarettes on his breath. "You know me, don't you?" 

You look away from him, knees quaking. You see that Emily is standing right behind him, watching her boyfriend get in your personal space with a sour expression. 

"Look, I don't want trouble." Your voice gives your fear away and he sneers. 

"That's good. Because I don't want trouble either. Now, you're gonna forget my face. You're gonna forget what you saw that night. Or we are going to have a problem." 

Emily nods, but she won't meet your panicked eyes. "I will make your life at the station a living hell," she says to ground. "And then I will see to it that you never work in radio again if you breathe a word about this." 

"See?" You gag as the man breathes in your face. "Don't say a thing, and this whole thing disappears. After all, it was just a prank. It's not worth your job. Understand?" 

You nod, closing your eyes. Fear is eating at your throat. 

"Say it." 

"I-I understand," you choke out. 

The long haired man laughs. "Then we're good. But keep in mind what I said. If you blab, I will find out about it. And a nasty monster skank like you can't afford to lose much." He lifts his hand away from your car and wraps an arm around Emily. She gives you one last look as the two of them walk away. 

You gasp harshly as your knees give out and you sink to the cement. Your whole body is shaking. Your vision starts to swim and you press a hand against your mouth in an attempt to stop your panicked gasping. You can't have an attack now, not here. You start to reach for your phone and stop. What if they were still watching you? You couldn't call Sans to you now. That would just make things worse. You've got to handle this.

So that's what you do. You take several longs breaths until your attack subsides, gather your keys and shakily enter your car and drive home.

What were you going to do now? 

Chapter Text

10:27 PM

Y: Are you still awake?

s: barely. u bonely without me?

Y: Something happened

s: where r u

Y: Home

It's the fastest you've ever seen him teleport. You've got your head in your hands, sitting at the table. You sense more than hear his appearance and don't look up. The other chair scrapes slightly as he sits next to you and softly touches your shoulder. 

"It was Emily and her boyfriend," you say in a croaky voice. A dry chuckle escapes you. "I don't even know the dude's name." 

"we can call him asshole if that makes you feel better." 

"That actually does." You give him a weak grin. 

"so what did asshole one and two do?" 

You tell Sans about finally making the connection to the fireworks man, and how they cornered you by your car. How they threatened you to keep quiet about the whole thing. You shiver at the memory. "I don't know what to do," you finish lamely, looking over at him. His sockets are pitch black. "Sans, your eyes are doing that bottomless void thing again and it's not really helping me to calm down." 

"sorry." He closes his sockets. "it's hard to control. babe, tell me you're not thinking of doing what asshole says. you can't keep quiet about this." 

"I know I can't!" you snap. You take a shaky breath. "Sorry. I didn't mean to yell." 

"yell if you have to." Sans still has his sockets closed and his hands are curled into fists. You put your hand over his and rub his bones until his grip eases slightly. 

"Look, I've thought over every option," you say softly. "Best case, I tell the cops, asshole and Emily get in serious trouble and go to jail. But for how long? No one died, no one even got seriously hurt. What if they only stay in jail a few months? What would happen when they got out? Or, what if asshole gets arrested but Emily doesn't? She could claim she had no idea what he was going to do with those fireworks. Then there'd be nothing stopping her from firing me." 

He finally opens his sockets. The lights are back. "do you really think tod would let that happen?" 

He's right. There's no way Tod would just sit by and do nothing. "No, he wouldn't but-" 

"emily let her boyfriend threaten you right outside your work place. don't you humans have rules against work harassment?"

"Yes but-"

"they're just trying to scare you," Sans says firmly. "don't let them do that." 

You look away from Sans. "I am scared Sans," you finally blurt out. "The station means so much to me. But Emily has more pull there than you think. If I lost my job...if I had to leave-" you swallow the lump in your throat "Sans, I don't know if I could take it. I love it there. And I've nothing else. No other work skills, nothing that I could contribute to the city. And if I lose the job, I could lose this place and then I might lose you too-" 

"you're not gonna lose me like that." His voice is quiet, but steady. "if the worst happened, and you did lose your job and couldn't pay for this place, do you really think paps and i would let you go homeless?"

You wipe at your face as a few stray tears escape your eyes. "You'd do that for me?" 

He nods and straightens slightly. "i never showed you your soul, did i?" 

"Huh?" You're taken aback by the sudden change in topic . "My Soul?" 

"don't tell me you forgot." He taps a phalange against your forehead. "i don't like making promises, but i really don't like breaking the ones i do make." 

Oh. Right. To tell the truth, you had forgotten about him promising to show you your Soul. "I mean, yeah I want to see it but is it really the best time?" 

Sans rubs a hand over his skull. "i'm not exactly...." He trails off then sighs. "i learned the hard way that waiting is the worst thing you can do. wait for things to change, wait for things to get better. waiting doesn't do anything. and then before you know it, you lose your chance and you have to start waiting all over again. so yeah, it might not be the best time but i think i've waited long enough." 

He motions for you to turn towards him. Despite your hesitation, your heart is starting to pound with excitement. 

"look, uh...this is normally something monsters only do when they're about to fight someone. it's gonna feel a little weird but i promise it won't hurt. you ready?" 

You nod, holding your breath. Sans narrows his sockets, staring down at your chest. He releases a short huff of breath and twitches his fingers. Sudden pressure builds up in your chest and you gasp. The world feels like it shifts slightly, like it does when Sans teleports but you stay in the same place. There's a sharp popping sensation and all color drains from the space around you. It bleeds into the space in front of you and you gasp again as a shape floats out from your chest. It looks like a heart, but not a normal human one. Rather, it looks like something that could've come out of a cartoon. But it's real and solid and you can barely breathe as you stare at it. Even though the world around you has grown dull, your Soul is pulsing with color. Deep purple light swirls with a lighter tone of orange within its shape. It's full of life, hope and pain and it's completely and utterly you.

It's cracked. 

Sharp red lines span the surface of your Soul, glowing brightly over the softer hues of purple and orange. "It-it's broken," you finally croak.

Sans shakes his skull. "remember what i said before? when you were sick? you soul was broken but you pulled it back together with pure determination. that's what this is. those cracks are the glue holding you together." He's gazing at your Soul, the lights of his eyes wide and soft. "i've never seen anyone with as much determination as the kid. i've seen them do...impossible things. but i'm not sure that they could do this." 

You feel a sense of pride wash over you and your Soul pulses brightly. "Can I touch it?" you ask him. Even in the faded black and white state the world is in, you can see blue light his cheeks. 

"uh, yeah. if you want." He shifts his eyes away. "but don't hold on for too long. i don't think you're ready for something like that." 

With shaking fingers you reach towards your Soul. You stop just above it's surface and look at Sans. He's staring off at the wall. The way he was acting was a little odd. Was this something too intimate for him to watch? What kind of rules did monsters have about this? Your curiosity is burning and you decide that you can ask about that later. You gently put one finger on your Soul. 

Your body reacts instantly, tensing and filling with an almost painful heat. The most private and darkest parts of your heart feel like they're exposed to the open. The pain, the emptiness, the joy and sorrow and hope that you've held in your heart for so long hits you all at once, almost overthrowing you in its intensity. It hurts, but it feels good all at once and the sensation is so unfamiliar and intimate that you can't bear more than a few seconds of it. You pull you hand away like you've been burned. "That's enough," you whisper and you're not surprised to feel tears running down your face again. 

Sans looks back at you and his sockets widen. "oh geez, i'm sorry." His fingers flicker again. Your Soul descends back into your body and color flows into the world once again. You gasp at the rush of everything returning to normal and slump against your chair. "crap, crap, i'm sorry, i shouldn't have let you touch it." Sans' hands flutter over you, unsure of whether he should touch you or not. You decide for him, crawling into his lap. The bones of his legs dig into you but it's an oddly comforting reality check. You bury your face in his shoulder.

"Just give me a second," you breathe. That was by far the most intense thing you've ever experienced and your head is spinning. You take in Sans' smell, using it to calm yourself down. He wraps his arms around you, holding you in place and starts rocking you gently. 

"sorry," he mumbles again. 

"It's okay. I asked for that. I just...wasn't prepared." 

He rubs your back slowly. "i promise i had a point to all that." 

You laugh weakly. "And what was your point?" 

"i don't want you to give up. i did, over and over again because it was easier. being there in the underground, it got too hard to even try. i can see that there's a part of you that wants to give up. but i know that you wouldn't be able to do it. your soul is too determined to give up. i just wanted to show you that. a soul like yours doesn't know how to give up." 

You sniffle and give him a gentle kiss on his cheekbone. How had you gotten so lucky, to find this wonderful skeleton? He was right. This was nothing to give up over. Not after everything else you'd been through. "Thank you. You always seem to know just what to say." 

"nah. i'm just being your backbone." 

It takes a second for that one to click. You snort in a very undignified manner. "If I wasn't recovering from seeing my own Soul I would be very cross at you right now." 

"but you laughed." 

You nuzzle his neck and grin when you feel him shiver. "Because I appreciated the attempt." Then you sigh. Amazing Soul experience aside, you still had Asshole to deal with. "Look, I know you said waiting is the worst thing I could do. But I'm not scheduled back at work until the day after Halloween. I just want to enjoy the holiday with everyone. Can I just wait until then?" 

Sans shifts enough to give you a skeptical look. "not just an excuse?"

"I promise. And that will give me time to to figure out what I'm going to do about Emily." 

He sighs. "fine. but will you at least call tod tomorrow and let him know?" 

You really really don't want to. What if Emily overheard? But you nod. "Okay. Promise."

Soon after, you completely crash in Sans' arms. You wake briefly as he's putting you in bed, fumbling for his arm and manage to whisper "Stay". You sleep completely through the whole night, exhaustion from everything that had happened keeping your dreams uneventful and forgettable. In fact, you sleep a little too long. You finally wake up around one o'clock in the afternoon, tangled in Sans' grip. He whines quietly without opening his eye sockets as you struggle to escape the bed. 

"Sans we overslept!" 

Soft grumbles are all that answer you. He looks so cute curled up in your blankets that you can't bring yourself to force him to get up. You give him a quick kiss and start getting ready for the party. There's a lot of baking to be done. Cookies, puppy chow, hot dog spiders (per Sans request) and it takes you a while to find your brain shaped jello mold. Sans eventually drags himself out of your bedroom, rubbing at his sockets. The moment he sits down at the table, you slide over a bowl of melted chocolate and pretzel sticks. Ignoring his pointed sighs, you busy yourself with the rest of the preparation. This was the first time the group of monsters you called friends would spend time at your place and you wanted to make sure everything was perfect. 

"Sans, please move faster than a snail crawl!" you plead with him. "The chocolate is gonna harden up and melting it again could burn it!" 

"uuggh fine," he groans. He waves his hands and the pretzel sticks glow blue. He dips at least four of them at a time into the bowl. Lazy, but effective. "did ya call tod yet?" 

You almost drop the apples in your arms. You dump them on the counter top before you answer. "Not yet." Your phone floats next your head. You give Sans an exasperated look and snatch the device out of the air. "Make sure those pretzels are coated well enough, lazy bones," you mutter as you bring up Tod's number. He doesn't answer and you're not sure if you're happy about this or not. You decide to leave a message, feeling Sans' gaze crawling up your back. "Hey Tod it's me. Um, something happened after I left last night and I need to talk to you about it when you have a chance. Give me a call." You hang up. "Happy?" 

Sans hums in confirmation. At that moment you hear a massive thud against your door. You leave the phone on the counter and open the door. You're greeted by the sight of Undyne balancing an entire couch on her shoulder. 

"What kind of nerd doesn't even have a couch?" She shifts her grip slightly. "Well, c'mon, don't make me stand out here all day!" 

You quickly step back and wince as Undyne scraps the edge of the door as she forces the couch through. Well, there was a security deposit you weren't getting back. "Do I even want to know where you got this?" 

"The university was throwing it out. Move it!" she snarls at the couch when it gets stuck briefly. "Alphys told me that you didn't have a couch and she wanted to make sure have one for tonight." 

"And where did Alphys hear about that?" 

Sans coughs quietly from his spot at the table. 

"I see." You can't quite manage a glare at your boyfriend. "And they just gave it to you?"

She laughs loudly. "Like the weakling humans they are, they were having a tough time getting it out to the dumpster. So I said I'd take it off their hands and came straight here!" 

You can't help but laugh as you picture the blue fish lady walking all the way from the university to your place hauling a couch. Did it count as stealing if they were throwing it out anyway? Probably not.

Undyne finally succeeds in pushing the couch into your living room and you have to admit it looks good next to your beanbag. "Finally! You've gotta have somewhere for us to sit if you're gonna invite us over." She kicks the bag. "Did you think we could all fit on this?" 

"Hey, don't kick my baby!" You throw yourself onto the beanbag dramatically. Undyne glares at you for a minute before flopping down too. 

"Okay, this is pretty comfy," she grumbles. "Still not gonna fit everyone." 

"Fair enough," you laugh. You look up just in time to see Sans shuffling over. "Ah wait-!" 

He too drops down, landing on both you and Undyne and the weight of his bones on your stomach makes a great 'oof!' of air escape you. 

"What the hell!" Undyne yelps, shoving Sans' slippered foot out of her face. "Get off me!" 

"nah," he says simply, head on your chest. You give the top of his skull a quick smooch and Undyne sticks her tongue out at the two of you. 

"Gross." 

There's a tapping at the door and Alphys peeks her head in. "Hey everyone. T-the door was open s-so I-"

Undyne hops up and strides over to her girlfriend. "There you are slow poke!" She wraps the dinosaur monster in a bear hug and kisses her snout. Both you and Sans fight to hide your snickers. 

Toriel and Frisk show up with Papyrus in tow soon after and the party starts full swing. Toriel, bless her, has brought pie and a number of other Halloween themed dishes for dinner. Frisk is dressed up as a werewolf, little tuffs of fur sticking out of their ripped jeans and flannel shirt. The outfit is complete with a cheap set of fake teeth (which soon get forgotten on the counter). You all crowd around your small dining table, borrowing a few chairs from Sans' place. Your mouth waters as you sit next to Sans and stare at the feast spread out before you. With your spider shaped hot dogs, brain jello, apples and caramel combined with Toriel's signature pie as well as a steaming dish of hamburgers cut like skulls, veggie tray and pumpkin muffins and all the different deserts, you don't know how you're going to be able to eat it all. 

Papyrus has of course contributed to the feast with a worms and dirt dish (which turns out to be spaghetti). Frisk takes a huge helping of this, eyes glinting as they go for the biggest meatballs. Everyone loads up their plates and your apartment is filled with the sound of laughter and chatter. It's been a very long time since you've had a group so noisy over to your home and despite the slightly chaotic nature, you are filled with a content happiness. 

"You would not believe the creative ideas that many of the children have," Toriel is saying, talking about the kids in her class designing Halloween themed crafts. "Jimmy made an entire jack-o-lantern out of paper and paint!" 

"gee tori, you certainly sound delighted about pumpkins." 

"SANS!" 

You laugh loudly but then you're distracted by a piece of broccoli that lands on your plate. Frisk gives you a wide smirk when you look up. Oh is that how the night was gonna turn out? You pick up a grape and toss it back at them. They surprise you by catching it in their mouth, rather than dodging it. You give them an impressed clap. They excitedly motion for you to do the same, grabbing another piece of broccoli. They miss your mouth by an inch and frown. Wait, they sign and grab bigger ammo. The kid carefully selects a meatball from their plate, positioning it on the end of their fork. Okay, this might not end so well. 

"Um, Frisk-" 

Sans, finally noticing that the two of you are up to something, starts to turn. "what're you-"

Frisk slams their fist on the edge of the fork, sending the meatball flying through the air. It seems like the entire table watches in fascinated silence as the food sails gloriously through the air and lands smack dab in Sans' right socket. He yelps and flails and the movement makes his chair tilt backwards. He hits the ground with a heavy thud. The table explodes with various degrees of roaring laughter and horrified gasping.

"Oh my gosh!" You leap from your chair to help him. "Sans, are you okay?" 

He's flat on his back, bones twitching. "j-just meaty," he stutters, giving you a weak thumbs up. 

Undyne is howling, smacking the table with her fist. "Nice shot kid!" Frisk accommodates her high five, looking only a little guilty. 

It's absolutely horrible of you, but you can feel yourself shaking with suppressed laughter. Holding it back only gets harder when you notice spaghetti sauce on the edge of his eye socket. "Um, what should pffft I do? I think you've got a little something in your eye."

"Just reach in and pull it out," Undyne calls helpfully.

"i think that might be impastable," Sans cracks but you can't help but notice the lights are gone from his eyes. He's right though. You don't think you could fit your hands into his socket. Plus the idea of reaching inside his head sends shivers up your spine. You help him sit up and he groans. 

"i can feel it in my skull."  

"Okay, just stay calm. Maybe we can tilt your head and make it fall out again?" 

He nods slowly but before either of you can move, Frisk suddenly appears at your side. 

"don't-!"

They shove their smaller hand inside of Sans' socket and he jerks wildly. After a few seconds of fishing around, Frisk triumphantly pulls the meatball out and holds it over their head like a trophy. This sends Undyne to the floor with the force of her laughing. Poor Sans looks completely shell shocked. It's his expression more than anything that breaks your hold over your laughter. Papyrus and Toriel are the only ones not giggling at all.

"BROTHER, ARE YOU OKAY?" Poor Papyrus looks downright concerned. 

"i'm good bro." Sans slowly gets to his feet and pats Frisk on the head. "i'm gonna go wash my skull out for a few years." He teeters down the hall, disappearing in to the bathroom. You're not sure if you should follow him or not.

Frisk taps you on the shoulder. They look worried. "Is...Sans...mad?" 

You give them a reassuring rub on the head. "No, it was accident. And it was just as much my fault as yours. He'll be fine. Let's get ready for the Halloween movies!" 

You and Toriel clean up from dinner as Frisk, Papyrus and Alphys go over the movie selection. Alphys brought several dvds of her own, but she's thrilled to discover that you've got a decent collection of anime as well. You have to promise to have a few anime marathons with her before she actually looks at your Halloween collection. They decide on Nightmare Before Christmas to start, with Hocus Pocus next on the list. You all grab various snacks and make yourselves comfortable. Despite her methods, you're really grateful to Undyne for bringing the couch. You couldn't picture the regal Toriel attempting to fit in on the beanbag. You actually have to take a spot on the couch because, despite her complaining, Undyne has claimed a section of the bag. So naturally, Alphys is curled up next to her and Frisk wants to sit on the bag and be next to Papyrus at the same time, so those two take up the rest of the space. 

The movie starts and you're about to get up to check on your traumatized boyfriend when he finally slinks out of the bathroom. You make room for him on the couch and he wordlessly slides up next to you. He wraps his arms around your waist and buries his skull in your shirt. 

"You okay there? I was getting worried." 

He moans into your side. "that wasn't fun," he mumbles. 

"I spa-get-hetti why that would be the case. Ow!" You yelp as he jabs your side slightly. He looks up at you, smirking. 

"that's for laughing before. that's two times i gotta get you back for now." 

"Bring it on, bone boy." 

Sans chuckles before turning his attention to the tv. He keeps his arms wrapped around you and you notice Toriel watching the exchange. She gives you a warm smile and a nod of approval. For some reason, this makes you blush. You rub Sans' skull as you watch Halloween movies all night with the oddest company. Your skeleton boyfriend and his brother. The queen of monsters and the ambassador who freed them all. A fish lady and her dinosaur girlfriend. Despite everything that had happened- the explosion, the stares, the threats from Asshole and Emily- you've never felt so welcomed and at home. 

Chapter Text

You stood outside the radio station, your hand tightly grasped in Sans'. Halloween was over and now you had to face reality. Tod hadn't said much after you told him about what happened in the parking lot. He merely asked that you come in and act like normal, promising that things would turn out all right. Your hand was sweaty, but if Sans noticed, he didn't say anything about it. You kept trying to come up with an excuse for him to stay at the station besides 'just because', but eventually dropped it. If Sans wanted to stay, there wasn't much anyone could do about it. Besides, as long as he didn't go into the actual recording studio, there were no rules saying he couldn't hang around.

He had told you last night that he had a plan to expose Emily and make sure she got into serious trouble along with Asshole. It was a little risky but if it worked, you wouldn't have to worry about Emily at the station any more.

You suck in a deep breath of chilly autumn air. "Let's do this." 

Sans gave your hand a gentle squeeze. He wrapped his arm around your waist and pulled you close for a second. "it's gonna be fine." 

Together the two of you enter the studio. Abby was in her usual place at the desk and looked up. Her face lit up gleefully as her gaze fell to Sans. "Hey there! What's cooking?" 

"nacho much," Sans replies with a wide grin. You snickered as Abby's expression froze. She looked up to the ceiling. 

"Truly a match made in heaven," she groaned in monotone. "_____'s been nearly unbearable with her puns recently. Now I see why." 

"Come on, they're not that cheesy." 

Abby threw a pen at your head. 

Sans makes himself comfortable in one of the chairs in the waiting area, thumbing through a music magazine and you got to work. Tod isn't in his office when you duck in to check. No one seems to know where he is when you ask around, so with nothing else to do, you try to get started on your usual duties. You can barely focus and every little sound makes you jump. Abby noticed after a while and pulled you over to the corner. 

"Is he making you nervous by hanging around? 'Cause I can totally kick him out if you want." She jabbed her thumb over at Sans who, by all appearances, looked like he had fallen asleep in the chair. 

"No! No, it's not him," you say quickly. "I'm sorry, he's here because he's worried."

"About what?" 

You bit your lip. "Things happened the other night," you say in a hushed tone, looking around. "I can't talk about it right now."

Abby's eyes narrow at you. "Is this about the bonfire accident?" 

You nod. "I'm sorry."

Abby looks at you, chewing the inside of her cheek. "You can tell me what's happening," she finally says. "I want to help." 

The door clangs open and you jump, looking guiltily to it. Just a tech coming in. She waves and heads upstairs and you let out a frustrated sigh. "I can't take this waiting,"  you mumble, as the door swings shut. But just before it clicks, a hand reaches out and pushes inwards. Emily. You tense up, sliding a little closer to Abby without realizing it. Her eyes fall on the two of you and it takes every ounce of strength you have to keep your face clear of guilt. She frowns at you and starts to turn away and for a moment you almost relax. 

Sans coughs and Emily's head whirls to the sound. He's got one socket closed, a perfect picture of relaxation but the light of his open eye is small and oddly bright. "heya. you must be emily. i'd say i'm a fan but i'm trying to kick my lying habit."

Emily stares at Sans in a mixture of shock and open disgust for several seconds before arranging her face into something that resembled detached politeness. "Is there...something I can help you with?"

Sans stands slowly, putting his hands in his coat pocket. "oh you know. just keeping my girlfriend company with my booming humor." He sends an exaggerated wink in your direction. "they really crack her up."

Emily tilts her head, the plastered smile on her face slipping at little. "Girlfriend?" She looks to you and back to Sans, the connection snapping in her mind. You shift uneasily under Emily's quick glare. She turns back to Sans, no longer bothering to keep up the facade of politeness. "As...charming as that is, you need to leave. You have no business lingering around if you have no official reason to be here." 

"hey no need to explode lady," he says, lifting his hands up slightly. More firework puns?! What on Earth was he doing? He might as well just say 'hey I know about the fireworks!' at this rate. You glare at him desperately, trying to silently tell him to knock it off. 

Emily goes eerily still. There's no way she could miss Sans' obvious stabs at her secret. "_____, I need you to go print off today's weather report. Now." Her voice is ice cold. "Abby, see to it that this skeleton leaves or call security." She turns on her heel and heads down the hall. Right to the computer and printing office.

It feels like ice is crawling through your blood. This was not going well at all! Sans is staring after Emily, his grin tight and thin. Abby looks between the two of you, concerned confusion clear on her face. 

"Sans!" you hiss. "What was that? Weren't we supposed to go for subtle hints?"

He quickly crosses to you, expression softening. "trust me," he says in a low voice. "just follow the plan." He gives you a gentle push, prodding your frozen legs forward. You take a shaky breath and look back at him. This wasn't the time to doubt him. 

"I do trust you. But I swear if you get me fired, I'm going to kick your bony butt." 

He smiles widely, pleased at your renewed spirit. "that's my girl." 

Despite your show of bravery, your legs feel weak as you head towards the media room. Where on Earth was Tod? Your hand goes into your pocket as you pause right in front of the door. Oh, you really don't want to do this. You barely step over the threshold when you feel Emily grip your upper arm tightly, yanking you into the room. She slams the door shut. Her eyes are filled with rage. 

"What part of keep your damn mouth shut didn't you understand?" she hisses. 

"Let go of me!" You rip your arm out of her hand, backing away from her. 

"This could've been so easy." Emily runs a hand over her face, looking almost...shaken? "You just couldn't stay out of it." 

You take several breaths to calm yourself. "Why did you do this? People could've gotten really hurt. Someone could have died. Did your boyfriend force you to get the fireworks? Was it all his idea?" 

"Scott force me?" She glares at you between her fingers. Hey, now you knew Asshole's name! "Please, I was proud to help." 

"But why? There was no point!"

Emily actually throws her head back and starts laughing. It's such a pleasant sound, one that would normally be associated with a kind soul. But hearing it here just sends shivers up your spine. "You don't see it? I suppose you wouldn't, filthy monster lover." 

An entirely different kind of chill crawls up your back. "This whole thing was about monsters? What, to scare them?" 

She crossed her arms and shakes her head at you in an almost sympathetic way. "You have no idea how big this is. In fact, I'm doing you a favor." She takes a slow step towards you and you can't help but back away. She's frowning at you, but there's something else besides contempt and anger. You've gotten good at reading faces, thanks to Sans' subtle expression changes. Under all that, there's a hint of sadness and relief. She leans in close to you. "Do yourself a favor. Don't get involved. Leave that monster trash. In fact, you'd be smart to leave the city. Of course, I have to uphold my promise, so you'll never work in radio again. But there are plenty of options for a young lady like you. Do the smart thing and just accept this." 

"Is that a threat?" you whisper. 

She smirks in an almost mad way. "Absolutely." 

"huh. guess that's all we need then.

Emily starts, looking around for the source of the deep voice. You pull your hand out of your pocket, opening your palm to reveal the small black device hidden away. There's a dull light flashing on one end. She gapes at it as Sans' voice floats out again. 

"man, i thought it was gonna be tougher than that. good job sweetheart. i was a little worried you might get rattled.

"Please, I totally had it handled." 

Sans snickers. "that you did.

Emily's eyes are bugging out of her head. She flinches as the door to the media room opens. Tod, Sans and a police officer are standing there. Well, it was about time Tod showed up! He steps into the room, anger seeming to radiate off his tall frame. Emily shrinks back against the wall. Sans quickly heads to your side, eye lights bright and, despite his wide smile, a little concerned.

"you ok?" he asks quietly.

You nod, taking his hand. "Remind me to thank Alphys for the walkie-talkie thing." 

"Tod! What's the meaning of this?" Emily demands. 

"I can't believe you Em." Tod's voice is quiet but you've never heard such anger and disappointment from him before. "How could you let this happen? You helped to put countless people at risk and ruined our festival." 

"No! Please Tod, it wasn't my fault! I-I didn't know Scott was going to throw the fireworks in the fire!"

"Well maybe you should've thought about saying that before confessing to everything. What's worse, manhandling and threatening an employee in our station? Unacceptable." Tod locks eyes with Emily and there is no mercy there. "Emily, you are officially fired." 

Emily gapes silently for a second. "No! You can't do this to me!" Emily shoves a finger in your direction. "If you want to blame someone, blame this monster slut! She tricked me!"

Sans growls quietly and you put a hand on his shoulder. His smile stretches into a thin line. 

"you'd be smart to watch what you're saying pal," he says coldly. 

His tone makes Emily snap. "You're the one who needs to watch out! Freaks! You're all freaks! You're gonna regret this! Just you wait-"

"EMILY." Tod's voice, sharp and full of warning, stops Emily's rant. "Don't say anything else that you're going to regret." 

Her mouth opens and closes several times as she stares at Tod. "How dare you," she finally snarls. "After every thing I've done for you. You're gonna just cut me off?" 

Tod turns away. "You're only making this worse for yourself," he says tiredly. "Officer, if you wouldn't mind. _____ please come to my office once you've caught your breath." 

The cop steps forward and Sans puts a hand on the small of your back. "let's go," he says, leading you out of the room. Emily slumps against the wall, like a puppet who's strings have been cut. She meets your eyes just before your line of sight is broken and gives you a sneering grin. 

"Remember what I said!" She yells to you as the officer cuffs her. "Leave that freak before you regret it!" 

You have to fight not to turn back and sock the bitch in the face. Your hands tremble with rage. 

"breathe," Sans reminds you gently. 

You turn into him, wrapping him in your arms. He had reminded you to breathe, but you can feel him shaking a little too. "That was scary," you whisper into his shirt. 

"you did great." He presses his teeth against your forehead in a gentle kiss. "are you ready to talk to tod?" 

"Yeah." You take his bony hand and head down the hallways. The commotion has caused several curious heads to poke out of various offices. At the sight of you holding hands with your skeletal boyfriend, most of them duck back in. You reach Tod's office. The door is open so you knock on the frame, stepping inside. Tod is at his desk, head in his hands. He looks up and gives you a weary smile. 

"Good work kiddo," he says, motioning for you and Sans to come in. "God, that wasn't pleasant." 

"you're telling me," Sans groans, dropping into one of the seats. You are a little more dignified and sit on the edge of your seat. The Emily thing is over, but there's stuff that still needs to be address. 

"What about her boyfriend? Scott?" 

"The moment she confessed to Scott being responsible the officer sent a call for some cops to pick him up at his apartment. They shouldn't have any issue nabbing him." Tod sighs and rubs at his face. "I know she was a snob and I'll gladly admit she got on my nerves, but to think she would actually participate in a hate crime like this...." 

A grim silence falls over the office. Sans is staring at his knees, tapping a bony digit on the arm of the chair. "i'm worried about what she said. about this whole thing being bigger than we thought." 

You nod your agreement. "I don't think this was just a simple hate crime," you say slowly. "I should've tried to get more out of her." 

"That's the police's job. If there's something deeper going on, they'll find out about it." Tod leans back in his chair. "You did good." 

So he says, but there's an itch in the back of your mind that whispers that something isn't quite right. Ah, it had to just be left over nerves right? You let yourself smile, looking at Sans. "So, I guess it's over huh?" 

He gives you a genuine smile. "i think we can take a breather." 

"Hm, maybe not." Tod sits up suddenly and steeples his fingers together as he studies you intensely. You feel your heart drop to your stomach. Oh crap, were you going to get fired after all? Your anxiety must be clear on your face because he's quick to wave his hands. "Don't look so scared, you're not in trouble! I'm the one who's in a bit of a pinch now." 

"Is there something I can do?" you ask as your heart slows down from the scare. 

Tod smiles widely at you. "I'm glad you asked. After today's events I'm suddenly finding myself short a host for the show. Interested in filling the spot?" 

Your jaw drops. Uhhh what? "I-I'm sorry, did you just ask if I want to be a speaker on the show?"

He laughs. "I want you to be a host. Little more long term than a speaker." 

You've been rendered speechless. You, a host? An actual radio host?! Your heart swells and to your complete mortification, you feel your eyes filling with tears. You bury your face in your hands. You had to be dreaming. You had come in today fully prepared to lose your job, whether your plan to expose Emily worked or not but you never expected this!

Sans nudges you gently. He's gazing at you with open pride. "i think he needs an actual answer sweetheart," he says, nodding to Tod. 

"Oh my-yes! Yes!" You cry happily, reaching over to take Tod's hand. "Thank you so much!" 

Tod smiles at you, the scar on his face scrunching. "I'm glad I could make at least something good come out of this. I'll be honest; I've been looking for a way to let Emily go for a while. Not that I'm happy it happened this way!" he adds quickly. "But you know, when life gives you lemons!" 

"You make life take the lemons back!" You say through your laughter. Sans cocks his head in confusion but Tod laughs appreciatively. 

"Agreed. Now, I know you're excited but I want you to take the rest of the day off. Rest, recover, do whatever you need to. I'll pay you for your full shift. I'll need you in by eight tomorrow morning and I'll give you the rundown." 

You nod eagerly, all traces of your anxiety gone. "Yes! Of course! Thank you, thank you Tod!" 

Tod laughs again and waves you and Sans out of the office. Could this really be true? "I gotta tell Papyrus," you mumble in your happy daze as the two of you head out to the street. 

"can't wait to see that. the apartment might not survive his excitement," Sans says with a chuckle. "so uh...lemons?" 

You nuzzle his cheek. "Video game reference. And now I want some cake."

Sans pulls you close his side. "whatever you wish, starlet." 

~~~~~~

You stop by Muffet's shop and buy the biggest, most outrageously decorated cake in there. You've become a regular of the place and Muffet gives you a discount to help celebrate the news. You head back up to Sans place, balancing the cake and nearly drop it as you run into Papyrus himself. He catches it with his large hand before it hits the ground. 

"THIS IS THE LARGEST CAKE I'VE EVER SEEN! WHAT IS THE OCCASION?" 

You smile widely at Papyrus. "You listen to the show from my station right Pap?"

"OF COURSE! IT IS VERY ENJOYABLE, EVEN THOUGH I DON'T GET TO HEAR YOU."

You can't help but bounce a little. "Well, that's going to change! Tod asked me to help him host the show!" 

Papyrus stares at you for a second. Then he squeals, and wraps you in a hug, spinning you around and oh crap THE CAKE-!

Sans stops it with his magic just before it hits the ground. "careful bro. icing that you're excited but we don't want to make a mess."

"I AM SO OVERJOYED THAT EVEN YOUR TERRIBLE PUNS CANNOT RUIN IT SANS." Papyrus whips out his phone as he pulls you into the apartment. "I MUST TELL EVERYONE! THEY WILL BE SO THRILLED TO HEAR THE NEWS!" 

So Papyrus does just that and your head is still swirling from everything that's happened that day when monsters start pouring into the apartment. Alphys, Undyne, Frisk and Toriel and even Mettaton shows up (much to Sans' dismay).

"Oh darling, I knew you had what it took to be a star!" Mettaton wrapped you in a solid, metal hug, coating your clothes with traces of glitter. "Well, not as big as me of course. I would be happy to give you any tips on how to face the adoring fans you are sure to bring in!"  

"Thanks Mettaton," you laugh, trying to brush off the glitter and failing miserably. You thank Alphys for her help. Sans had asked for recording device and she had given it to him without question. She blushes at your thanks, stuttering out that she was just glad to help. She asks for details about why you needed it and you find yourself telling everyone what had happened, starting from the night of the bonfire, to the threat at your car and finally with Emily's arrest. 

Sans lets you do the talking, but he is practically oozing pride the whole time. When you finish and everyone start devouring cake, he slides up to you and plants another kiss on your cheek. Hmm, you could get used to this affectionate Sans. 

"i'm proud of you," he whispers in your ear. 

"Couldn't have done it without you," you say back with a smile that you can't contain. "Thank you. For everything." 

"Stop your nuzzling lovenerds!" Undyne calls. "Or we're gonna eat this cake without you!" 

You can't stop yourself from giving Sans another kiss before going to the table, dragging your skeleton boyfriend with you. 

What an insane day. But things had worked out, just like Sans promised. 

.

.

.

.

Right?

Chapter Text

Sans fiddles with the radio, smacking it lightly to clear the static. The thing is a piece of junk but it was the first machine he had tinkered with in a very long time and felt an odd sort of attachment to it. He leans back in his chair and smiles as the signal clears. It's still early and the shop is quiet. Not many people wanted a hot dog before ten in the morning. 

"-regret to say that Emily will not be returning to our show."

If he had lips, they would have curled. Yesterday had gone far better than he had hoped but he hadn't missed the light bruise on your arm where that nasty lady had grabbed you. He didn't point it out but it made his bones crawl. Honestly, the pair had gotten off lightly in his mind. Watching you follow after Emily, hiding your obvious nerves with bravado nearly drove him crazy. It would have been so easy to dunk her, right then and there. See if she or anyone else ever bothered you again.

But then you'd probably want nothing to do with him if he did that.

Tod continues. "The police have yet to release an official statement but I think it's safe to say the one behind the tasteless prank at our festival has been dealt with. Moving on to happier things, I am pleased to have my new co-host in the studio with me this morning."

"Hey guys! This is ______. It's wonderful to have the chance to be here." Your voice floats through the radio, strong and sure. Sans put his skull in his hands, sockets gazing at the radio. He wanted to be there in the studio with you. He could just picture your face. Bright, happy, eyes glimmering like you were holding an entire world of joy behind them. But he had to admit this was nice in its own way. Sans loved your voice. It could calm him in an instant then turn around and send his nonexistent heart racing. He could listen to you speak all day. 

"So _____ why don't you tell us a little about yourself?"

"Oh, well there's not much to tell."

Liar. There was an endless depth of things you could share. Wonderful, terrible, heart wrenching things. Still, he couldn't help but feel oddly smug about the fact that only he knew that side of you. Sans never thought himself to be a jealous kind of monster; that took far too much energy and it was pointless when everything he had was ripped away over and over.

Sans slowly got to work on unwrapping hot dog buns as you and Tod chattered about how life in the city was different compared to where you came from. He hated working here. The only thing worse than having to work at all was being forced to do the same mindless task day after day. His phalanges ached to do far more interesting things, like he did before the resets started. Hell, even in the early days of the hellish nightmare he found himself in he still made an effort. How long ago did he start to lose all energy and interest for things like that? The science, the inventions, simply trying. His memories regarding the time underground were more than a little screwed up. All he knew was that for the first time in a long time, he found himself a little bored and almost restless with doing nothing. All thanks to you.

"What do you miss most about your old home?"

"the stars," Sans mouths along with your response. He had asked you the same thing that very first night you had burst into his life.

"Ah, yes I suppose the stars are a little hard to see with all the city lights."

"Yeah, but I hear the mountains are a good place to go for stargazing." 

"I've heard that too, though I haven't been myself. Oh, looks like we've got a caller. Go ahead."

There's the sound of muffled giggling then a very familiar voice booms "Hey! Just wanted to congratulate the NERD on her new job and let her know this doesn't mean she's getting out of her training!" Sans can hear Alphys whispering in the background. "Oh and we wanna request a song!" 

"Thanks for the congratulations." You're speaking in that voice that means you're holding back laughter. "Don't worry, I plan on-bzzt- my running up. It's a good way to exer-bzzzt- folks, give it a shot! What song-bzzzztyou like to-bzzzzzt-"

Oh come on. Sans smacks the radio as the signal starts to give out. 

"Excellent choice. I think -bzzSANSzzz- arrange that."

Sans yanks his hand away from the little radio. What was that?

"At my good friend's request here is -bzzzYOUAREFORGETTINGzzz-

A semi familiar song starts to play but Sans was frozen. No. No he wasn't hearing this.

The radio fills with static again and scratchy words filter through. 

YOUMADEAPROMISE DONOTFORGET

Sans slams the power button, cutting the noise off. His hand lingers on the radio, shaking. Noise, it was just noise. He had to be hearing things. Yeah, that's all it was. With every thing that had happened recently, the fireworks, asshole, the news throwing his girlfriend to the raging throws of the city, sleep hadn't come easy for a while. He was sleep deprived. Of course, that was something he was used to.

He jumps when his phone suddenly rings. He doesn't have to look at the screen to know it's Paps calling. He doesn't get a single word out before his brother starts singing your praises.

"SANS SHE SOUNDS WONDERFUL! IT MUST BE THANKS TO THE BREAKFAST I TOOK SUCH CARE IN MAKING FOR HER." 

"i bet that's what it was bro." Sans can't take his eyes away from the radio. "listen, i'm gonna be back late tonight. i gotta check something."

"I-" Papyrus hesitates. Try as he might, it's tough for Sans to completely hide his unease from his brother. Paps can almost always tell when something is up, even if he doesn't understand what it is, or why he knows. But like he always does, he trusts Sans.

"WILL YOU BE HOME FOR DINNER?"

"i dunno," Sans says softly. "depends on what i find."

 ~~~~~

Your first morning as a radio host couldn't have gone better. You send a quick text to Sans at the beginning of your lunch and practically skip to Grillby's. You've become a regular here and you're greeted with cheers as you enter. Several slaps on the back and congratulations later you weave your way up to the bar and take a seat. 

Grillby nods at you, crackling gently. You smile widely at the fire monster. You were slowly getting better at being able to interpret what he was saying, thanks to Sans. 

"Thanks Grillby. I'll take the usual." 

Sans was late. Which was really odd for him. You glance at the door, worry starting to twist your stomach.

"you waiting for a hot date or something?"

You nearly fall off your stool. Grillby makes a noise you've learned is his version of chuckling. Sans smiles at you, hands behind his back. You pull yourself back up, scowling at him.

"Is that your payback? Cause I'll accept that." 

"you wish you were that lucky." Sans joins you and reveals a bouquet of flowers. "congrats on your first day." 

You gasp softly, taking them. It's a beautiful mixture of white carnations and pink roses. "Oh my gosh! Sans this is so sweet." 

He shrugs, watching you expectantly. "didn't know what kind you liked. store lady said these were popular."

"They're perfect," you gush. You bring the flowers a little closer to smell them. A shriek of surprise rips out of your throat when a sudden spray of water catches you right in the face. There nestled among the petals is a plastic flower you had completely missed. A fake flower? Really?! Sans howls with laughter as you sit there sputtering.

"geeettt dunked on!" Sans crows triumphantly. His eye sockets are scrunched with glee. Grillby puts a hand over the space where his mouth would be. It's the most expressive you've ever seen him.

You turn to Sans slowly as water drips down your face. You clap slowly. "Well done sir," you drawl. "Oldest prank in the book. Very original."

"and you fell for it." He wipes away an imaginary tear. "somehow makes it even more satisfying." He grabs a napkin and holds it out for you. You huff at him and reach around, grabbing one for yourself. His smile twitches but doesn't fade. 

You wipe at your face, trying not to smudge your makeup. "I'll admit it, I wasn't expecting that. Happy?"

He hums quietly. The mirth on his skull fades a little. He reaches for the ketchup bottle but doesn't drink from it. Instead he twists it around in his hands, examining it like it holds the answers to the universe. You sigh. You give him a quick kiss on the cheek to let him know you're not mad. "We even now?"

"for the moment. so how's the life of a star?" 

"Oh please, I'm not a star." 

He shrugs, staring at the bottle. "you are to me." 

His soft words make your heart swell and you blush. You nudge him with your shoulder, trying to hide your embarrassment. "Okay, I officially forgive you just for that." He smiles at you but it's oddly tight."Is everything okay? You're look kind of tense."

He nods quickly. A little too quickly. "yeah, i just have some work i gotta do tonight. I have to cancel my hot date with my bed."

What kind of work could he possibly be talking about? He occasionally worked doubles at the hot dog place, but going by his demeanor he's talking about something else. "Work like...?"

"just...just work. something i gotta check on."

There's something in his expression that's begging you not to pry. Sans has secrets, this you know. The logical part of your mind said that you couldn't force him to tell you everything that he had hidden away, but damn it, you wanted to know! 

"heh. you're doing the lip thing." Sans reaches up and pokes your lip. "when you want to know something, or get frustrated you bite your lip. it's cute."

"You're changing the subject," you say grumpily as he continues to poke at your face. 

"it's nothing to worry about," he mumbles. "i'm just making sure." 

"Sure of what?" 

"'s classified." 

You sigh and take a bite of the burger Grillby's placed in front of you. It stung a little that he didn't want to tell you what was going. That had to mean...he didn't trust you with this. "Okay," you finally say, forcing your voice to be cheerful. "I'll see you tonight then?" 

Sans shifts a little in his seat. "i might get back pretty late. you don't need to wait up."

Another small stab in your heart. "Okay. But if you need me or want to crash at my place, you know you always can. Right?" Your voice wavers a little. 

You feel his arm slip around your waist and he presses his skull against your shoulder. His grip tightens slightly, like he's trying to hold on to something solid. "i know," he whispers. 

You finish up lunch and head back, feeling a pit of worry building in your stomach. Why didn't he trust you? Was it because you had so easily told him about your past? Maybe he didn't trust you to keep a secret. Thoughts of what you did wrong, what you could do to try and get him to trust you and attempts to rationalize your own worries has you distracted the rest of the day. You spend the night at home trying to keep yourself busy, glancing at your phone every few minutes. 

It never rings. 

~~~~~

There was barely a breeze as Sans appears out of thin air, stepping into the forest clearing. His skull feels like it's spinning and he put a hand up against a tree, trying to balance himself. It's been a while since he's teleported that far and he can feel the strain on his magic. His bones are trembling a little, and it's not entirely because of the strain. He looks over the clearing. There is it. Like a great gaping wound in the side of the mountain, the entrance to the underground sits dark and silent. The darkness within seems to call to him, beckoning him in and he wants to run away. He wants to rush into your arms and shut out the rest of the world. 

But he had to know. There was no choice here. 

Slowly, one step at a time, he forces himself to walk over to the place where the barrier had stood for so long, keeping everyone he cared about trapped within the depths of the mountain. The ground right in front of the entrance is littered with rocks and chunks of wood. The force of the barrier breaking had caused some damage to the surrounding area and no one had bothered to come back to clean it up. He steps around a stone, his foot falling on a branch. It snaps loudly under his sneaker and he jumps. His limbs are locked at he has a sudden flash back. How many times had he crushed that massive stick by the ruins? How many times had he watched the kid pass by, sometimes nervous and twitchy and sometimes striding forward with utter surety? 

He shakes his skull, closing his sockets. The faster he moved, the sooner this would be over. He reaches the edge of the cavern and pauses, putting a hand up against the stone wall. The dim light from the rapidly falling sun lights up part of the path within but it is soon overtaken by darkness. He can smell the sweet scent of flowers drifting out. He takes a breath. Just go in. Go check and then he can run right to you. 

He can't move. He stares into that blackness and his breathing grows harsher. A soft whisper surrounds him, speaking words in a language he has not heard for an eternity. He stumbles back, his Soul slamming against his rib cage. He can't, he can't do it, he can't go back! His tibia knocks against a huge chunk of stone and he sinks onto its surface. He presses his phalanges against his skull as he gasps loudly. Breathe, breathe. He pictures you, remembering your smiling face. The way your eyes glinted and scrunched with mirth at his jokes. The way you so freely danced in your kitchen. The touch of your soft skin against his bones, warm and full of life.

It's enough to calm him slightly. He lets out a huff of air. He couldn't get trapped in there again. It was over. The kid had promised. There would be no more resets. He slowly stands. This time, he hesitates for only a moment. Then he steps into the darkness, heading back into the underground. 

~~~~~

9:02 AM

Y: Good morning. How'd last night go?

9:15

Y: You still sleeping lazy bones?

9: 47

Y: I'm heading to work, grillby's for lunch?

10:13

Y: You're starting to worry me, are you okay?

Y: Sans, please answer your phone. 

12:45

Y: Paps told me you were home, so that's good at least. Says you've been sleeping all day. You must have actually worked last night huh?

1:10

Y: Ok, I'm gonna stop by after work to check on you because you're seriously freaking me out a little. Are you sick?

s: not sick. sorry. just bone tired. gotta head to work myself. on evening shift.

Relief mixed with just a little bit of anger floods over you as he finally responds. You frown at your phone, trying to decide if you're going to yell at him or not. Abby notices your glare. Thanks to Sans' lack of response, you had decided to have lunch with Abby in the breakroom. Fortunately you had decided to keep a box of random lunch things in the closet when your lunch time had begun to fluctuate in case Grillby's didn't work.  

"Trouble in paradise?" she asks, slurping at her cup of noodles. 

You sigh, tapping your phone against the table. Your hot pocket sits in front of you, mostly untouched and boiling hot. "I don't know. Sans went somewhere last night and he wouldn't tell me where. I've been trying to reach him all day and he just now responded. I mean, he sleeps a lot, but he usually wakes up enough to answer the phone."

"He's a guy," Abby says, pointing at you with her fork. "Sometimes they crash like that."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. I've slept in like that plenty of times too."

Y: I was worried bone head. Glad you're okay. See you tonight?

s: yeah

You set your phone down, attempting to eat the lava mess that is your lunch. "Speaking of paradise, how are things with you and B.P?" you ask Abby.

"We broke up," she says casually and you choke, burning your tongue.

"Ow! When did that happen?" you cough. "You okay?"

Abby shrugs. "A few days ago. It wasn't going anywhere. Plus, I could see he had his eyes on this rabbit guy that sells ice cream near the library. It was fun, but I'm over it. Besides he was kind of..." she makes a face "uptight." 

"Sorry to hear that," you say as you attempt to soothe your burnt tongue with an ice cube. Your phone suddenly rings. Sans? You pick it up and are surprised to see that's it not your bony boyfriend, but Toriel. "Hey Toriel. What's up?" 

"Hello my child." She sounds a little breathless and distracted. "I'm terribly sorry to ask, but could you do me a huge favor and pick Frisk up from school and keep an eye on them for the afternoon? A spot opened up for our discussions with the city council and we have to take this before someone else does and Sans and Papyrus are both busy and I've asked them so many times-"

"Toriel, please slow down. I'm happy to watch Frisk." 

She lets out a huge sigh of relief. "Thank you so much. I should be finished no later than seven this evening." 

"Hey, it's not a problem. I've been wanting to hang out with Frisk. Just let me know where the school is." 

Toriel gives you the address, thanks you again and hangs up. The school isn't too far away and you're off the clock with just enough time to make it just as school ends. It's a small building, rather run down, but the bushes in front look spectacular. You have to wonder if it's Papyrus' handiwork. Most of the kids pouring out of the building are monsters, all shapes and sizes. Toriel soon appears at the door with Frisk, looking around. She looks a little frazzled. Ah, that's right she was a teacher here. She probably needed to book it over to the courthouses. You honk your horn and wave out the window. 

"Thank you so much my child," Toriel says with a wide smile as she brings Frisk over to your car. Frisk hops into the front seat, bouncing excitedly. 

"Seatbelt," you remind them. "It's seriously no problem Toriel. We're gonna have fun, right Frisk?" 

Frisk nods and waves at their goat mom. Toriel takes off and you start the drive back home. "How was school?" That's what you asked kids after school right? 

Frisk gives you a thumbs up. They lean forward, fiddling with your radio and Fall Out Boy blasts from the speakers. You laugh at the wide grin that crosses their face. Looks like the kid's got good taste. The two of you jam out the whole way back and take the party upstairs. Frisk is fascinated with your music collection and urges you to dance with them. The kid's got moves, you gotta give them that. 

"You're pretty good!" You sway your hips and spin. "Where'd you learn to dance like that?" The kid grins and strikes a pose that is remarkably similar to a certain, over the top robot. "Ah, guess that answers that!"

You dance until sweat pours down your face. Then the two of you sit at the table and Frisk starts trying to teach you sign language. You grab a notebook, jotting down the different signs and their meanings. There's a lot, but the alphabet itself is fairly simple. Frisk is a very patient teacher, signing slowly and repeating the same simple signs for you to memorize. After a while, they decide to give you a break and pull out a folder of homework. They hunch over the table, pencil flying across the pages. You watch them for a while, feeling an odd sense of amazement. 

"You're really something Frisk," you say finally. They look up, tilting their head at you. "I mean, after everything you went through down there, and what you're trying to help the monsters do now? It's amazing." 

Frisk smiles shyly. Monsters are good people, they sign slowly. Just needed to be shown love and mercy. 

"Love and mercy. I wish people up here could do the same. Hey, if you don't mind me asking, why do you live with Toriel? I mean, she's great and I love her, but I can't imagine the government would be too happy about a human child living with monsters. Even if the monsters are better than a lot of people." 

Tori is my mom. She loves me. I love her. Didn't want to go home. Frisk frowns sadly, looking at the table. Bad place. Bad memories. Got hurt and ran away. They point at their throat and you feel your own close up with emotion. You would be lying if you said hadn't wondered why Frisk used sign language. They could talk, but only with great effort and quietly.  

"I'm sorry Frisk, I didn't mean to pry," you say quickly. Frisk shrugs. 

It's okay. Happened a long time ago. Happy here.  

"That's good then! It's better to be around people you love, right?" 

Frisk pats your hand and points to your chest before making a sign you don't quite recognize. "Sorry buddy, didn't quite get that one."

They just smile and shake their head. You will. 

Oookay? You both start as a loud rumble echos from Frisk's stomach. They smile at you sheepishly. Dinnertime? 

You laugh. "You got it kiddo. What are you in the mood for?" You get up and peer into your cabinets. "I'll assume you're sick of spaghetti-"

They stick their tongue out and nod. 

"Hmm, how about some homemade chicken noodle soup?" You pull out various ingredients, spreading them over the counter. "It's good for cold nights like this. Mind getting the carrots out of the fridge?" 

Frisk eagerly helps you get everything ready and while you handle cooking up the chicken, Frisk washes the veggies going into the soup. They tap you when they're done and points to the drawer and back to the veggies. Knife?

"Okay, go ahead and slice up the carrots. But be careful with the knife, it's not a toy." 

They smile widely, nodding and pull out a chopping knife and get to work on the carrots. They hum as they work and you turn on some quiet music. "Sans should be getting off work soon," you muse, glancing at the clock. "He said he'd stop by. I hope he likes soup-" 

There's a loud bang. You jump and whirl around. "Frisk! You okay?" Oh God, you pray they haven't cut off a finger.

It's not Frisk. They're staring at the door, knife still in their hand and all limbs intact. You follow their gaze. Sans is standing at the front door. Standing actually isn't the right word. He's pressed up against door, practically leaning on it. He must have slammed it shut. 

"Geez Sans! That scared me. What-" You stop as you realize that he's staring at Frisk with wide, pitch black sockets. "Sans?" 

His left eye flickers blue. "K-kn-kn-"

Frisk takes a step forward and Sans flinches. The knife goes blue and flies out of Frisk's hand, embedding into the wall. 

"Sans!" you scream, rushing to Frisk. You pull the kid away from the knife. "What are you doing?" 

He doesn't take his eyes off the kid. It's like he barely notices you standing there. "knife they had a knife, they have a knife." 

"Sans, we're cooking! We're making soup!" You move towards him slowly, putting your hands up. "Honey, what's going on?" 

"frisk, you promised. you promised me!" He's quivering, his constant smile stretching further and further, growing far too big for his face. "not here, not her!" 

Frisk wrings their hands, shaking their head. "No, no," they croak. "P-promise!" 

You step in front of Sans, blocking his view. Your heart is going nuts and you're honestly scared. You've never, ever seen him like this. In fact, this looks eerily similar to... "Sans, hey, look at me." He stares right through you. "Sans, are you having a panic attack?" 

He flinches again, finally looking at you. He reaches up and touches your face. "you're okay. you're here." 

"That's right baby. It's okay. We were just making dinner." You take his hand. The bones are clammy. "It's okay."

He closes his sockets, trembling. "sorry."

Then he vanishes and you're left holding nothing.  

Chapter Text

"Sans!" You pound on the front door of his apartment, fist stinging. "Please, let me in!" There's no answer. Either he isn't in there, or he isn't answering. Your phone remains silent in your pocket, despite the numerous calls and you finally step back with a frustrated growl. You're gonna have to wait until Papyrus gets back. Man, this is a time when teleportation would REALLY come in handy. 

Frisk lingers in the walkway a few feet away, wringing their hands slightly. They're not crying, but they look so sad and so...old almost. Like they have the entire weight of the world on their shoulder. They start signing rapidly, too fast for you to see. 

"Hey, hold on Frisk." You put a hand on their shoulder and they stare down at the ground. "Let's...let's go back inside. Standing out here banging at the door isn't doing any good." 

They nod and follow you. They look so miserable you decide you might as well finish dinner. The two of you are silent and Frisk stays at the table this time. You finally look at the knife Sans flung into the wall. He told you once before, when you were pestering him with questions about his magic, that his ability to move and lift non-living objects without a Soul was pretty much equal to his own physical strength. So if you were holding onto to something tightly, he'd be able to make it wiggle, but not really go anywhere. "gotta have the element of surprise' he had said. 

The knife is embedded a good two or three inches into your wall. You have to really work and strain to get it out. When it finally slips free, you toss the blade into the sink and study the hole. That wasn't going to be fun to patch up. Frisk watches you closely and signs sorry when you make eye contact. The soup is simmering so you join the kid at the table. 

"Frisk, do you know what that was?" you ask softly. "I've never seen Sans like that." 

Frisk bites their lip and nods. You thought so. Long story. Hard to explain. 

"Can you try?" You push your notebook and pencil towards them. "Please." 

Frisk hesitates, staring at the pages. 

You sigh quietly, rubbing a hand over your face. "I know I'm asking a lot. But I can't help Sans if I don't know what's going on. And knowing Sans...he won't tell me a thing. He'll blow this off and I can't let that happen." 

It's going to sound crazy.

"I'm dating a magical, talking skeleton," you chuckle, giving them a weak grin. "I think I can handle a little crazy." 

Frisk grins a little at that and slowly picks up the pencil. I write. You cook. Then, they start writing. You leave them to it for a minute and finish up the soup. Frisk is bent over the page, scribbling furiously when you bring over some bowls. They pause to eat a few bites and then get back to writing. After about fifteen minutes, their pencil slows and stops. You've just about finished your soup and look up.

Frisk puts the pencil down, hand resting over the paper. They look over to you, their eyes tired and pleading. They start and stop signing several times and you put a hand on theirs.

"Frisk, whatever you've written here, I promise I won't judge. Okay?" 

Their shoulders slump and finally, they slide the notebook to you. You take it and start to read the most incredible, insane story that you could possibly image.

Resets. Timelines. A Soulless flower who used to be a prince. A demon awoken by a strange outside force that Frisk still didn't understand. As you read, your hand goes up over your mouth. Frisk's handwriting gets messier as they describe the times they killed every living thing in the underground, forced to do unspeakable horrors by an unseen hand. How Sans was the one who stopped them, over and over and over again. How they finally broke free and tried their very best to set things right once and for all. 

You set the notebook down and you can't find the words to say. "Frisk...I...oh my God...."

Frisk is staring down and their lap and finally starts crying softly. Oh, this poor, strong, determined child. You knew they were brave, but you had only ever heard the story of how they freed the monsters. How long had they been holding on to this? Did anyone else even know? Oh no. Suddenly, Sans reaction made sense. He knew about all of this. Knew, and hadn't said a word to you. You stand and kneel down in front of their chair. "Frisk, I am so sorry. I'm...I don't know what to say." 

They sniffle loudly. You believe me? 

"Of course I do," you say as tears threaten to fall from your own eyes. "Frisk, you are so brave and I'm so proud of you." 

Their small frame shakes with a sob and they climb down from the chair and throw their arms around you. "I-I did b-bad things," they cried harshly.

"Frisk, no no, that wasn't you." You wrap your arms around them and rock them gently. "You said you didn't want to, that you tried to stop. You said it was Chara, right?" 

"No. Not Chara." They pull back slightly, signing with shaking hands. Chara wasn't a good person but didn't do that. Things I did woke them up. It was something else. Someone else.

You don't fully understand, but they're starting to get really upset. "Okay, I'm sorry." You both sit there on the floor for a minute as Frisk wipes at their face. "Who else knows?" you finally ask. "Besides Sans obviously." 

You. Maybe Asgore. Never asked. And...Flowey. 

"Flowey? He's still alive?" 

In the mountain. 

Huh. That was a little concerning. But as long as he stayed there.... "How much does Sans know? Does he remember everything?" 

Frisked shrugged. We don't talk about it. Too painful.

You both jump slightly at the sound of a knock at the door. You glance at the time. It had to be Toriel. Frisk looks at you quickly. Don't tell mom. Please.

You don't even hesitate. "I promise." No matter what you personally felt, it was Frisk's decision who or who not to tell. "Thank you for telling me Frisk." You take a moment to arrange your face into a more happy expression and let Toriel in. Poor thing is frazzled and worn out but seems pleased. Looks like the court meeting went well. Toriel sticks around for a while and you offer her some soup. You're careful not to say anything about Sans or what happened earlier. She does notice the hole in your wall and you sheepishly blame it on dancing. It feels wrong lying to the sweet monster, but you can't exactly tell her Sans went nuts and almost hurt Frisk. 

As they're leaving, Frisk wraps their arms around your waist in a tight hug. "Help Sans," they whisper. "He needs you." 

You hug them back. "I plan on it." 

After they leave, you send a text to Papyrus, asking him to call you when he got home. You restlessly pace your apartment. You try to call Sans again. 

"heya. you know what to do," his voicemail answers. 

"Sans. I talked to Frisk. They told me about...they told me everything. Please call me. I'm worried about you." 

It takes an agonizingly long time, but your phone finally rings. Your heart shoots to your throat and sinks a little when you see it's Papyrus. "Hey Pap, where are you?"

"I AM ON MY WAY HOME HUMAN. IS SOMETHING WRONG?"

You hesitate. How were you supposed to explain this? Papyrus didn't know about the resets. "I need you to let me into your place. Sans had a...well he got upset. I think he's locked himself in his room but he won't answer his phone or open the door." 

"....I SEE. I WILL BE THERE SOON."

You're waiting out by the skeleton's door when Papyrus comes leaping up the stairs. His face is unusually serious and he doesn't say anything as he pulls his keys out. He unlocks the door and you bolt inside straight to Sans' room. It's closed and there's no light coming from it. Still, you try the handle, only to find it locked. You tap gently against the door. "Sans? Sans are you in there?" 

No answer. 

"Sans I-" Your throat is closing up. How could he shut you out like this? "Sans, please just let me know if you're in there." 

"HE'S IN THERE" 

You look over at Papyrus. He's watching you, gloved hands clasped together. "HIS COAT IS ON THE COUCH. HE'S SO LAZY ABOUT PICKING UP AFTER HIMSELF." He attempts a weak 'nyeh heh'. You can tell his heart isn't in it. "WHAT HAPPENED?"

You turn away from Papyrus. Even more than Toriel, it hurts to lie to him. "I don't know Pap. I think he got reminded of something bad. Something that happened underground. But he won't talk to me." Dammit and now you're starting to cry. You let yourself sink to the floor, leaning up against the wall. After a moment, Papyrus sits next to you, gangly limbs barely fitting in the hallway. He pats your shoulder gently. "Sorry Pap."

"My brother is...he does this sometimes." Papyrus is speaking more softly than you've ever heard before. His voice sounds...normal and for some odd reason, that feels so wrong. "He was doing so much better." 

"Has this happened before?" 

Papyrus nods, staring at the wall across from you. "It happened a lot. Sans has always been lazy, but there came a point where it went far beyond that. He slept all day, and if he wasn't sleeping he would just sit there, staring off at nothing or stay locked up in his room. When we finally got to the surface, I thought maybe he would get better, but after the first few days it only got worse. He tried to hide it from me, but I could see something was wrong. I tried to talk to him. I tried so hard but he...he never trusted me enough to tell me why."

Papyrus' voice hitched. You lean over and try to hug the skeleton. It's tough at this angle, but he seems to appreciate the attempt, putting his skull on the top of your head. "Pap, Sans loves you. I've never seen someone care so much for a brother as much as Sans does. He was just trying to protect you." 

"I told him that I, the great Papyrus doesn't need to be protected," Papyrus says in a quivering voice. "But my brother does like his secrets." 

You rub his arm. "Pap, I don't think it's just that," you say softly. "Judging from what's happened, I think I know what Sans is feeling. It's not that he doesn't trust you, it's just...difficult to open up. Especially to the ones we love. You get scared of rejection, or hurting them. You get scared to face what might happen even though all rational thought will tell you that they won't leave you. Rational thought is hard to hear in your own head." 

"Then what can I do?" Papyrus asks, shifting to face you. 

"Keep doing what you're doing. I know it doesn't sound like much, but acting normal and just being there if he needs you is sometimes the best thing you can do." You give Papyrus a wide smile. "I promise, you're the best brother that Sans could ask for just the way you are." 

"It is true that I am a very great brother." Papyrus returns your smile. 

"Hey, there's my guy," you say, patting his shoulder. "Why don't you go make some dinner and relax. I'm sure work was tough." 

"Heh heh. It is nothing that I can not handle." Papyrus stands, looking a little better. "VERY WELL. I SHALL MAKE SOME SPAGHETTI. WOULD YOU LIKE TO ASSIST ME?" 

"Tempting as that is, I think I'm gonna stay here. Maybe see if I can get Sans to open the door." 

Papyrus nods and starts to walk away. He stops and looks back at you. "MY BROTHER WAS DOING VERY POORLY, DESPITE BEING ON THE SURFACE. BUT WHEN WE MET YOU, HE STARTED TO MAKE AN EFFORT AGAIN. IF ANYONE CAN REACH HIM, I BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN. AFTER ALL, YOU ARE ALMOST AS GREAT AS ME." 

"I do try Pap," you whisper as he heads into the kitchen. You lean your head back against Sans' door. "I hope you heard that bonehead," you say a little louder. "You're making your brother worry about you. I know you probably don't mean to, or want to but those are the facts." 

More silence. 

You sigh and keep talking. "Sans, I'm not mad about what happened. I get it. I really do. Sometimes the way we react to a trigger can't be helped. Though tibia honest that hole in my wall isn't going to be fun to take care of. You owe me big for that.... Oh come on, no reaction? I thought my pun was pretty knife. Okay, that was a bad one, I'm sorry." You pull your knees up to your chest. "I don't know if you heard my message but...I talked to Frisk. They told me about the resets. I know I can't possibly understand what that's like. I can't even imagine. So I can understand why you wouldn't want to talk about it. But you don't have to shut me out when something like this happens. Even if I don't understand, I want to be there for you." 

You hear a slight noise from just behind the door, like a quiet shuffling. You force yourself to stay where you are. 

"It's easier to shut everyone out, isn't it? You told me it was easier to just give up. But I don't want to give up on you Sans. I can't do that. You may be the laziest, pun loving person I've ever met and your taste in ketchup is, quite frankly really nasty. But you're also kind and considerate. You say you hate making an effort and working at anything, but Sans, you've made it this long. You've been fighting your own fight this whole time. You're not weak Sans. You're so strong and I...I love that about you." 

Not exactly how you had imagined your first time saying the 'L' word to Sans, but in this moment it feels right.  "Sans, I love you. No matter what happened to you in the past, I don't care. I mean, I do, I care about you so much I don't even know what to do but I mean...geez, I'm a real master of words, huh?" You put your hand on the door, like you could reach right through the wood and touch him. "Sans I'm so sorry. I was so wrapped up in my own fight that I didn't even see that you've been struggling just as much as I have. I'm sorry."  

You knock at the door again and now you're starting to cry again. "Sans, please. I trusted you with everything. I told you my darkest secret and I've not once regretted it. You don't have to tell me everything. I won't ask you to do that. All I'm asking is that you let me in. Sans, please trust me." 

There's a soft tap, tap from the door. 

"Sans?" 

"supposed to say 'who's there." His words are just a mumble, strained and hard to hear. 

"Who's there?" 

"i do." 

"I do who?" 

"i do trust you." 

The lock clicks quietly. You scramble to your feet, grabbing the handle. "I'm coming in," you call and push the door open. The room is dark. Despite the amount of times you've been here, you've never actually gone in his room. Even on the nights you slept over, you never seemed to make it past the couch. It takes moment for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Sans has moved away from the door and is now huddled against the wall on a bare mattress. His knees are pulled up to his rib cage and he watches you as you step inside and shut the door behind you. "i-i'm sorry," he croaks and now you can make out faint blue tracks trailing down from his sockets. Oh God, he's been crying in here, alone in the dark. You immediately drop down beside him, pulling him into your arms. 

"Oh Sans, it's okay." You kiss the top of his skull as he starts to shake.  

"i didn't want you to see, i didn't want you to know-" 

"Shh, baby it's okay," you say again. "I'm the one who's sorry." 

He puts a hand up over his mouth, trying to stop a soft whimper that escapes. You continue to kiss him, murmuring his name and whatever words of comfort pop into your head. He wraps his arms around you and finally starts to sob softly. He presses his skull against your shoulder and soon your sleeve is soaked with tears.

"i should've told you, i'm sorry. i was just so...so scared and then you t-trusted me with your scars and i didn't...i had to be strong for you." 

"Sans, being strong for someone doesn't mean hiding your own struggles," you say softly. "It makes me far happier when you trust me with your problems." 

"i ran away." 

"Yeah, and scared the crap out of me. But I get it." 

"i'm a freak."

"I think we established that a long time ago."

Sans finally pulls back from you a little. His eye lights are dim and dark shadows line the underside of his sockets. "how do you do it? how do you deal with these...this...." He gestures at his head and chest, seeming a little lost for words. "hell, i don't even know what this is." 

"I call it a fog in my head," you say softly. "It's that numbing pressure that just builds up and keeps growing and growing until it feels like your body is going to give out. You want to run, want to scream and yet everything takes far too much effort. And then, even when you do feel something, it's like it's not really you that's feeling it. Is that what you mean?" 

He nods slowly. 

You take a deep breath. "That's why I cut at first. It's sick and wrong, but it helped in its own way. The pain brought me back, brought some clarity into my head. I could focus, only if it lasted for just a little while. That's why I use music now. It's a far healthier option."

"music," he murmurs, leaning back against you. "there was a statue in waterfall. kid got it to sing again. it was nice."

"Do you want me to get my iPod? I can-"

"no." Sans grip tightens on you. "don't go. please."  

"Okay, okay, I'm not going anywhere." You scoot back until you hit the wall, leaning against it as you held your still trembling boyfriend in your arms. "Do you want to talk about what happened?" 

He's quiet for a long moment. "i didn't want you to hate the kid," he finally says. "frisk is a good kid. they made mistakes but i know that they really did want to do the right thing. i know that thing they became, the thing controlling them wasn't them but...god, i saw the knife and it was like i was back there. back in that judgement hall and i just lost it. i didn't want them to hurt you. i've seen it happen over and over again to everyone else. i've seen, i've seen paps-i tried to stop it at first and it didn't matter, nothing ever mattered!" His voice gets choked off and the tears start again and for several minutes he cries quietly. You can't imagine it. Frisk said there had been times when they-the one controlling them- had slaughtered everyone and that means that Papyrus had died, actually died over and over again and every time Sans had to watch it.

You rock him, rubbing his back. "If this is too hard, you don't have to talk right now."  

He sniffles against your chest. 

You lean your head back against the wall. "You know, that thing you said about not wanting to lose the stars makes sense now. A lot of things make sense now." 

"i haven't made it easy for you huh?" He chuckles weakly. "sorry." 

"Easy is boring. You make my life exciting bone boy." He finally sounds like he's starting to calm down. His grip is less desperate and the shuddering in his bones is gone. "Everything is going to be okay. You're here now. I won't let you go anywhere." 

Slowly, he rubs a hand over your face. "thank you," he murmurs. 

You kiss him on his teeth, letting your lips linger for a long moment. "Always." 

He shifts and pulls you down to the mattress, curling around you like a cat. You pull up the blanket, wrapping it around the two of you. "i'd like to listen to your music," he says as you get comfortable. 

"I'll make you a playlist," you laugh quietly. 

"no i mean, i'd like to hear it now." 

You stare at him. "What, like you want me to sing or something?" 

He finally smiles a little and nods. 

"You know I can't sing." 

"that's a fibula. i heard you that day in the kitchen-" 

"Oh, you mean the day that never happened?" 

"i like your voice," he says, ignoring you. "please? will you sing?" 

Oh crap, he's somehow managing to make puppy eyes with his freaking sockets. You sigh and sit up slightly. "Fine. I'm warning you now, your ears will bleed." 

"i don't have ears."

"Do you want me to sing or not?"

"yes please."  

You clear your throat, trying to ignore the burning heat in your face. "Okay, a one night only special. I'll even let you laugh at me if you want." You think for a moment and decide on Vanilla Twilight by Owl City. It's a calming song, one that you listened to a lot after your panic attacks. "The stars lean down to kiss you, and I lie awake and miss you. Pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere.

You're too embarrassed to look at him, but you can feel him staring at you. Your voice wavers and cracks a few times and oh this is so dumb, but he is listening with rapt attention. When you finish, you lie back down and burrow under the blanket. He pulls it back slightly, revealing your head. You feel the cool touch of his teeth against your cheek.

"i love you." 

The words stop your heart. He pulls you tightly against him and he's so warm and you're just so happy that he's finally opening up to you that suddenly you don't care about your horrible singing. If it made him happy you would do it as many times as he asked.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

You are filth! Go back to the underground with those beasts you love so much!

Bitches like you will all burn in hell! Go f-

"Please tell me you're not reading the hate mail again." Tod frowns at you as you jump and click out of the email program. "It's just noise. Don't get yourself worked up over it." 

"I'm not getting worked up," you mumble. It's a lie. Even though you knew better, you can't stop yourself from looking through some of the vicious messages that have been pouring into the studio since you started working the show. People have realized that the new host of their favorite show was the one responsible for getting the 'beloved' Emily put behind bars. Never mind the fact that you helped uncover the ones responsible for putting the people of the festival in danger. All people seemed to care about was giving you hell for dating a monster. Being called a bitch was one of the nicer things you've seen. 

"Why do you force yourself to read them? It won't change people's minds."

You shrug. "I don't know. I mean, they're not all bad. There's one from a Jane who says I'm her new hero." Of course Jane was a proud death fanatic who had a rather unhealthy obsession with corpses and all things dead and you found her email far too creepy and TMI but still....

Tod reaches around you and powers the computer down. "Good. Read ones like that. Do I need to have Abby clean out your inbox each morning?"

"No." You give him the best smile you can manage at the moment. "I'll stop."

You don't stop. The next two weeks slide by mostly uneventfully. Mostly. You get approached a few times while out and about by various parents who snarl at you that you've ruined one of the family safe stations in the city, surely it's not too late for your soul, have you tried church? and other such garbage. You start driving more and though you tell Sans it's because it's getting too cold to walk, you're actually a little scared at times to walk alone, especially on your late nights. But you really don't want to bring that up to him. He's finally starting to talk about his time underground, bit by bit. You find out that while he can't remember every exact moment of each reset, the most painful moments are the ones that stand out the most in his mind. He can remember the color of the dusty walls in the judgment hall and the sensation of dying over and over. But he can't remember the number of times he's watched Papyrus die. He can't remember the number of times he's killed the kid. Said it just got too hard to keep track. You can tell he's trying to spare your affection for Frisk because he is very careful to never mention their name while talking. It's hard to hear sometimes but you can see it's far harder for him to finally say everything he's been holding on to for so long. So you try your best to understand and keep quiet about the hate mail. 

The two of you have started sleeping together every night. Sometimes at your place, and sometimes at his, but you both need the warmth of another body during the night. The night after you sang to him, Sans knocked at your bedroom door quietly, startling you from your reading. He eased around the door, expression hesitant but pleading. So of course you wordlessly scooted over and Sans practically ran to you, wrapping his arms around your waist as you finished reading. So now it's become a thing. Whoever was home first was where you would spend the night. It's a very nice advancement in your relationship. It was even nicer to have someone by your side when the nightmares woke you in a cold sweat or worse. Sans never complained about being woken up and thanks to his gentle reassurance, you found falling back to sleep easier than ever. Sometimes it was you who did the comforting when Sans woke in a panic, clinging to you and mumbling in that strange language you've heard only once before. And again, he often woke with the name 'Gaster' falling from his mouth.

But despite the new trust and deepened bond between the two of you, you can tell that Sans was still holding onto something big. He never told you where he went right before his panic attack about the knife. He always found a new topic to discuss every time you tried to bring it up. The one time you tried to mention Gaster, he went completely still and stared at the wall for a solid two minutes before loudly talking about a new joke shop that opened downtown. It was frustrating, but he needed time. You could give him that. 

 You slink into the boy's place after a particularly hard day. Someone threw rotten fruit at the studio windows during the night. Three guesses as to why. Clean up took forever. Sans sees the look on your face and says "early night sound good?" 

"Yes please." 

 ~~~~~

It's dark. Darker than a moonless night and far, far colder. Sans reaches out blindly, stumbling in the inky blackness. Oh, God not again. "paps! where are you?" His voice is sucked up into the darkness and he can feel it pressing in around him. He had to find Paps before it was too late. He fights to move, his bones sticky and heavy. He sees a flash of red in the distance, a single spark of color among the black. "papyrus!" He finally gets closer only to see that it's not Papyrus' scarf. No, no it's blood, thick and heavy and it's coating a human body. 

Your body. 

He wants to scream. He can feel it building up but no noise escapes him. He falls to his knees as he stares at your torn body. He calls your name, his voice no more than a whimper. Your head turns slightly, eyes dim and gray. More blood trails down from your mouth as you attempt to speak. Your hand reaches for him, trembling and he takes it with his own. But the moment his bones touch your skin, your hand starts to peel away. Your skin flakes and turns to dust, revealing the stark white bone underneath. Sans jerks back. No, no!  

You slowly sit up, your head limp until the very last moment as your body continues to disintegrate. Then it snaps up sharply and Sans trembles as the last of your features twist in pain. "Sans!" Your scream echoes in the space around him, shrill and filled with terror. You jerk once more as the face he knows and loves melts into nothing but an empty human skull staring blankly at him. There's a sharp snap and two cracks appear. One trailing down from your left socket, the other shooting upwards from your right. Sans scrambles backwards as the skeleton that used to be you shifts and starts to melt into a gooey heap, mouth turning upwards in a broken smile. The face of the man lost to the space within spaces gleams at him, glitching and fading in and out of the darkness. It's agony to stare at it, but Sans can't look away. Glistening white hands slowly bleed out of the mass in front of him. They reach up to its center and pull apart its own body slightly. There, dripping with black ooze is your Soul, pulsing weakly. Your strong, beautiful mess of a Soul has been utterly absorbed into the creature and it's his fault. 

SAAaAnnNsS

He can't breathe, he can't move, he can't scream. 

YoU dID thIS To ME. 

No, he didn't mean to. 

yOu BrOKE YOur WORD

He just wanted to protect Papyrus!

DO NOT FORGET.

The hands shoot towards him, the holes in the palms of the bony appendages filled with a blackness darker, yet darker  and then he sees falling snow and he's back there and he's all alone again and finally-

Sans screams

~~~~~

You jerk awake at the harsh scream that breaks suddenly from Sans. He thrashes violently, hand catching the edge of your face. You fall off the edge of the mattress, palm against your stinging cheek. You scramble back up, blinking the sleep from your eyes. What the hell?! A nightmare? He continues to scream, sockets tightly shut as you struggle to pin down his flailing arms. "Sans! Wake up!" 

"don't! gaster! gaster!" Sans starts sobbing your name as tears seep out from his sockets. "'m sorry, i'm sorry." 

"Sans, please baby I'm right here. Wake up!" You put your hand on his skull, rubbing his cheekbones. "Everything's okay. I'm here." 

He jerks under your touch and finally his sockets snap open. His gleaming blue pupil focuses on your face, then darts to the hand on his skull. He reels back, smacking against the wall. "no, don't touch me!" 

The door bursts open before you can do more than gape at him, and Papyrus strides in, wearing a extra large tee with a cartoon dinosaur on it and pj shorts. He barely looks at you as he kneels down next to Sans. "BROTHER, I'M HERE." 

Sans flinches away but Papyrus reaches down and pulls him up regardless, holding Sans like a child. "ARE YOU OKAY?" Papyrus asks you. He gently pats Sans' back. Sans is shivering, curling into his brother.

You nod wordlessly. 

"WILL YOU GIVE US A MINUTE?" 

You shakily get to your feet and leave the room. You wind up in the living room and sink onto the couch. You bury your face in your hands and even though you know that Sans was still caught in the hold of an obviously terrifying nightmare, his rejection hurts. It hurts far more than the still burning mark on your face and you have to take several long breaths. Your head is still spinning from waking up so suddenly. Leaning back against the couch, you close your eyes and listen to the murmur of Papyrus talking to Sans. It's not long before Sans runs out to the living room, startling you back into wakefulness. He looks around in a frantic sort of way and as soon as he spots you, he makes a beeline for you. You barely manage to stand before he smacks into you, wrapping you in his arms. You lose your balance at the unexpected force of his hug and fall back on the couch. Sans doesn't let go and you both hang awkwardly half way on and off the cushions. 

"Sans-"

"i'm so sorry. i freaked out, i thought you were...oh god, i thought i melted you." 

"Melted me?" 

You ease down to the floor and Sans follows, still not letting go. "bad dream. really bad. i touched you and you melted." 

You rub his skull, all traces of hurt gone. "Oh baby, I'm so sorry. I'm fine. See? Not melted."

Sans breathes shakily, running his phalanges over your face, trailing down your neck and arms. He's obviously not taking your word for it. He stops short when he brushes your cheek and you flinch at the brief contact on your swollen skin. "did i do that?"

"It's nothing."

He presses the lightest of kisses against your cheek. "damn it. i'm so sorry," he whispers in a voice rough with self loathing. 

"Sans it was an accident. It's okay." You study him for a second. His bones are glistening with sweat. "What did you see? Who is Gaster?"

He takes a deep shuddering breath. "he's...heh. he was...." Sans rubs at his skull. "it's a long story babe." 

You tap the edge of his nasal cavity. "This is fifth time you've woken in a panic shouting his name and those are just the times I've seen. Please just say it. Get it off your chest." 

Sans buries his head in his arms, pulling his knees up tightly. "ok. but i'm gonna warn you now. it's not a happy story."

"No offense love, but duh." You smile at him crookedly. You keep your voice light in hopes to help him stay calm. He stays silent for a while longer and you sigh. "Okay. If you're not going to talk, I'm going to go back to sleep." You shift slightly and faster than you can blink, his hand is on your wrist.

"he was the royal scientist. before alphys," Sans mumbles. "and uh. my dad."

Dad? Sans and Papyrus have a father? Well why wouldn't they? For a brief moment you wonder how on earth skeleton reproduction worked and very quickly shove those thoughts aside. Not important right now. "Okay. I'm guessing something bad happened to him? I've never heard Papyrus even mention him. You keeping quiet is kind of to be expected but-"

"papyrus doesn't remember him." Sans stares darkly down at the ground. "no does. not even the kid really knows who he is. was." 

"How is that possible?" 

Sans gives you a ghost of a grin. "i'll get there. i gotta start at the beginning if i want it to make any kind of sense. w.d. gaster was, if nothing else, a genius. he was essential in building the underground, making it possible for monsters to form some sort of life after the wars forced everyone into the darkness. i was made well after all that-"

"Hold on, made?" 

"babe we're not going to get anywhere at this rate." 

"Sorry." You snuggle close to him and mimic sealing your lips. 

Sans leans his skull against your head and his hand fishes for yours in the dark before he continues. "the underground is powered by a huge complicated system we call the core. it provides all the energy we used. before i was made, gaster created a simpler version, one that only worked for limited amounts of time and was very unsteady. it wasn't safe to use and despite all his smarts, gaster couldn't figure out how to create a source of safe, constant energy. this was probably because he was also researching ways to break the barrier. he believed that collecting the seven human souls would take too long, if it was even possible to do so. so while working to create a better core, he was also researching ways to create clones of the souls he already had. even for him, it was too much. no one else could match his brain and thought processes. that was when he had the bright idea to use his cloning research for his own benefit. if the only one smart enough to work on his level was him...well."

"You're a clone?" Your voice is almost a yelp. 

"babe." There's a teasing spark in his socket, despite his stern tone. "'m not exactly a clone. monster reproduction is all about soul magic anyway. but gaster wasn't interested in a son. he wanted a partner that could match his knowledge and share the load of trying to accomplish the impossible. plus i don't think he could find a monster mate no matter how hard he tried. the process is super complicated, but it's enough to say he succeeded. but unfortunately for gaster all his experiments still gave him a child to raise. he wasn't a bad dad but...let's just say i had to learn how to take care of myself very early on. thanks to gaster's brain power in my head i was working alongside him very quickly. but since i was his first success with the cloning process, there were some pretty serious drawbacks and flaws." 

You can't help but speak up again. "I think you're perfect," you whisper, smooching his cheek.

He glows a light blue. "well, personality wise, i know i'm a gem. but i'm talking about as a...weapon."

"I thought Gaster wanted a brain partner?" 

"yeah, but if we managed to break the barrier, what was to stop the humans from shoving us all back under? gaster knew the monsters needed something more, someone who could fight for them. so gaster threw in some extra ingredients when he made me, hoping that i could be a tool for the fight to retake the surface as well as a scientific genius. i've got some tricks but in the end, i'm not made for fighting. after some-" Sans' expression twists into something dark- "experiments, he soon learned that i was too fragile for constant fighting. one good hit in a fight and i'm dust." 

Your hand tightens around his at this. You can't image this solid and strong monster beside you as nothing but dust. From his tone, those experiments must have been extremely dangerous. Being put through something like that by the man he considered his father must have left deep scars in him that would never heal. 

"still, we managed to make great progress on the core. we were close to perfecting it when gaster decided to try cloning again. when i was eight i got a new baby brother." 

Holy crap, Sans went through all of that by the time he was eight?! "Geez, he's not winning any dad of the year awards is he?" 

Sans hesitates. "he...he tried. he really did. he knew nothing about being a father but by the time paps was created, he knew he had to do something different with the way he raised us. i think that's why paps is the way he is. can't even picture paps hurting someone, can you?" 

You shake your head. "Never. I don't think he could do it." 

"exactly. gaster's mind set was different at the time paps was made. when it was me, he was at the end of his rope and was almost out of hope. i was made from a desperate attempt to fix things. paps was made from belief in the future and hope for our kind." He smiles. "heh, paps and i used to get into all kinds of trouble. there was one time we covered the entire throne room in goop and gaster took the blame for us. i can still remember the way king 'fluffybuns' tried to give him a stern talking to and the whole time we could see gaster signing to us behind his back. stuff like 'look at the mess in his ears. i bet you can't get the outer hallways covered in the stuff before he finishes ranting.' always said i got my sense of humor from him. gaster used to love joking around and messing with his lab assistants and with me and paps helping, oh boy the pranks we pulled. he told me about the stars too. he described them so vividly, it was like i could actually see them with my own sockets."

Sans' voice is growing quieter and hoarser as he gets lost in the memories. He rubs his thumb over your palm in an absent minded sort of way. "still, when it became clear that papyrus had no chance at being a weapon and couldn't contribute to our research, he started to change. i dunno if it was an effect from working with the machinery and its constantly fluctuating levels of magic or if the years of failing finally started to wear him down, but he started to crack. the final step in settling the core was always just out of reach, and his soul research never left the experimentation levels. he was always kinda weird and socially awkward, but i was never scared of him until the day he got truly desperate. he started experimenting on me and paps again. i was still young, i didn't know how to stop him, or understand that he was doing something wrong. he was always careful to stop just before crossing lines. i guess i lied to myself and told myself that he did love us somewhere deep inside. that he wouldn't permanently hurt us and that everything he did was for the good of monster kind. he told us we would be heroes if we could just make that final breakthrough." 

"then it was like none of it mattered anymore. he was different. he wasn't the man i had grown to lo-to care about. he hurt paps babe. he really hurt him. i didn't think paps would recover. paps has always been so much stronger than me, so he could handle the harsher experiments. paps never told me what went on behind those doors and i was too wrapped up in my own research to see it until it was too late." Sans buries his head in his arms again. "i f-found him after a bad night. gaster went on a rampage while i was gone. paps tried to stop him and gaster b-broke him. i still don't know exactly what he did. paps was just lying there on the floor and he couldn't speak, he wouldn't even look at me. his hp was almost gone." 

"i was livid, outraged like i've never been before. i went to confront gaster. i found him in the heart of the core and he was completely lost in a frenzy of work, standing on a ledge overlooking the core. he was messing with the control panel set up on the edge of the cavern, kept shouting about how he finally had the answer to everything. i was too angry to be happy about that, or even care that the whole room was screaming with alarms. we fought and...i lost control. my powers have never really been my strong point. but all of my anger and hurt and confusion just manifested and i just attacked. and honestly? he kicked my butt. i screamed at him while he just held me down and laughed. he told me that i just couldn't see the greater purpose of our existence. then the ledge started to shake." 

It's not the only thing shaking. Sans himself is shivering, his bones rattling quietly. No tears are falling, but his quivering voice is practically wailing. 

"my attacks did some damage to the core. gaster was distracted and ran to fix what i had broken. he was just standing there with his back to me, completely ignoring me. i stood up and started moving to him. i don't even know what i planned to do. the entire room shook again and i lost my balance. i started to fall over the edge and i guess my scream finally broke his focus. h-he grabbed for me and in my scramble to get back on solid ground, i knocked him on the head. he slipped and fell, right into the heart of the core. i could hear him screaming as the force of the magic and contained energy ripped him apart. but then it like the addition of gaster's life energy triggered something in the core. everything went still and then everything just...broke." 

He gestures wildly, a dry sob breaking from him. "hell, i don't know how to describe it. i don't think i can. i don't even remember all of it. i just remember gaster screaming at me. he said, 'promise me you won't ever stop. do not forget.' when i finally had some sense of myself again, gaster was gone. it was like he had never existed. pretty sure people thought i was crazy. no gaster, paps was fine and the core was complete and solid. no idea how. somehow, gaster was taken away and i was the only one who remembered any of it." His voice trails off.

He's quiet for so long, you almost wonder if he's fallen asleep. You peer at him, gently rubbing his arm. "Sans?" 

"still here." He sucks in a deep breath. "basically, i figured that he's not completely gone. the signs were there. i had to dig, but i found traces of his existence. i think he's stuck in a space that can't be reached by any kind of normal means. something about the core reacting to his soul's magic sent him there. i tried to find a way to bring him back, but then the resets started and all my work would vanish. and finally i gave up. i thought there was no point. gaster was gone, and there was nothing i could do." 

"But?" you prompt him softly.

He closes his sockets. "but then i started hearing his voice again. not like in memories. like he was actually speaking to me. at night, in the wind, through the static in the radio. i had to check. that's where i went that night. there's a machine i developed in the basement of our house to try and track any traces of him in this reality. but there was nothing there, there's never anything there!" His fist slams against the ground as a frustrated tear finally slips free. "i thought maybe it was just a dream, maybe i was just being paranoid. but then tonight it happened again and he was there and he hurt you and i can't let him do that, i can't lose you too." 

You gather him in your arms, your emotions just as conflicted and fragile as his. How could he have carried all this for so long? How had he not gone completely mad? You kiss his skull as he cries quietly. "I'm so sorry. I know my words can't fix anything. Hell, I don't even know what to say."

"don't have to say anything," he sobs. "just d-don't go."  

"I won't ever leave you bone boy," you murmur. "We're stuck together now. Better get used to it." 

Sans pulls your face to his, kissing you in a desperate way. You return his affections, your heart almost bursting with love for this broken man. A promise rises in your heart to do whatever it takes to make him happy. You kiss him tenderly, your own fears and sins melting away in the heat of his passion for you. As daylight starts to slowly light the room, you pull back slightly from him. His sockets are hooded with exhaustion and he looks like he's on the verge of falling asleep again. 

You laugh quietly. "Man, this really has been a couple of sucky days hasn't it?" 

"yup." 

"You know what we need?" 

"hmm?" 

You trail a finger down his arm and you feel him shiver. You turn to face him, a slow grin crossing your face. "We need to have some fun." 

Chapter Text

"you're really kind of a freak, aren't you?" Sans mutters as the ticket gate lady scans his card. 

"What was that?" you call sweetly, already on the other side. 

"i said you're a gem, doll face." 

"SANS QUIT WHINING AND HURRY UP!" Papyrus is bouncing impatiently, eager to experience absolutely everything in the theme park. It's no Disneyland but the station did some promo work for a amusement park just a little ways out from the city that had a few roller coasters and other fun stuff. And bonus, you were able to pull some strings and get free tickets for everyone. 

Undyne pushes past Sans, almost knocking him to the ground. "Yeah, come on! We don't have all day!" 

"Um, actually we do," Alphys interjects quietly, handing her pass to another worker, who is openly staring at the strange party. 

"Not the point!" 

You smile widely at Sans as he joins you, nudging his shoulder. "You excited?" 

"for sure." He's trying to keep his voice casual but you notice that his eyes are bright as he takes in the main square of the park. Lively carnival type music pulses from several hidden speakers and overpriced shops line the stone square. The park's mascots, a collection of neon colored animals cover every possible surface. Sans is staring at one mascot in particular; a white dog with a wide, goofy smile.

"Got a thing against dogs?" you ask, noticing the slight smirk on his face.

"nah, i like dogs. i just can't seem to escape that one."

You pick up a brochure. "You can't escape...Snowdrop the Maltese and her band of wacky friends?" 

Sans grunts. "something like that." 

It's a school day, so there aren't very many people here. Getting Toriel to agree to let Frisk skip class for the day had taken a rather undignified amount of begging and bribing with babysitting promises. Speaking of Frisk, there they come now. The kid scans their card and bounces up next to you and Sans. You keep your face straight, but you watch Sans' reaction carefully. The two of them haven't seen each other since the knife incident. The smile on Frisk's face fades a little as they glance at Sans. They wave timidly at him. 

"heya kid." Sans smiles widely, ruffling Frisk's hair. "are ya missing school?" 

Frisk's shoulders visibly relax and they laugh before giving Sans a hug. They give you a tight squeeze as well before bounding over to Papyrus, who is loudly comparing the hats in one of the shops. Sans watches them, a genuine smile on his face. He sees your concerned look. "don't worry 'bout me. i don't blame frisk." 

You take his hand. "Good. But if it gets to be too much, let me know. Okay?" 

Sans shakes his head, but his fingers tighten around yours. "you're a big worrywart, you know that?" 

"I pride myself on it. Now c'mon, I think that hot dog hat is calling your name." 

The entire group ends up getting hats. Sans, instead of going for the hotdog hat like you thought, picks up a regular ball cap that has a picture of an ear of corn on a unicycle. You groan at the 'unicorn' pun and take a hat with bright pink spikes. Alphys and Undyne get matching bird hats and Papyrus (after debating for a good ten minutes) finally settles for a bright red slinky type hat that adds another foot to his already insane height. 

You clap your hands together as you all head back into the square. "All right! Now that we're properly outfitted, what should we do first?" 

Frisk, Undyne and Papyrus all immediately point to the rather intimidating roller coaster that is visible above the treeline. Thus decided, you all head over to the coaster, called Fire Cracker. Real original. It takes a lot of prodding from Undyne to get Alphys on the ride. As you're waiting in the short line, you feel Sans press up against you. 

"it's uh...kinda high isn't it?" He watches a cart take off, shooting up the steep incline. "and fast." 

"That's the whole point," you laugh. "Wait, you're not thinking of chickening out on me, are you?" 

"nah, it's uh...it's just. y'know. lazy guys like me like to take things slow."

You take a step forward as the people in front of you load the cart. You're up next. "But you don't have to do any of the work. You just have to hold on and enjoy the ride." You study his face. "You've never been on a roller coaster, have you?" You look over to the others. Poor Alphys is quivering with nerves but Undyne and Papyrus are practically glowing with excitement.

His grin is a little nervous. "they weren't exactly in high demand underground." 

You lean over the rail. Papyrus and Frisk are in front of you. Undyne and the still shaking Alphys are directly behind. "Frisk, you've been on stuff like this before, right?" 

They nod and hold up a single finger. The gate swings open at the moment and you all climb in. Sans settles next to you, studying the safety bar. "will this be enough?" 

"Of course it will. Stuff like this has to go through all kinds of safety checks before they let actual people on it." You smirk at him teasingly. "Wanna hold my hand?" He takes your offered hand, startling you with the intensity of his grip. "Easy there bone boy! Don't break it." 

"you're the one who told me to hold-" Sans is cut off as the cart shoots forward and a delighted scream rips from your throat at the intense speed. You can hear Undyne hooting and Alphys shrieking loudly. You reach the top of the coaster and Sans gasps loudly. His sockets are impossibly wide and the lights of his pupils are almost as large. He finally lets out a holler as you speed down the coaster and you can't help but laugh at the terrified joy in his voice. 

When it's over and you all stumble off the ride, giddy with exhilaration, Sans immediately announces, "i wanna do that one again." 

You flex your numb hand, laughing. "Let's check out some of the other stuff first, huh? Oh look! Pictures!" You hurry over to the screen on the shop counter, the others huddling around you. There must have been a camera somewhere on the ride and it's perfectly captured the entire group. You and Undyne howl with laughter over the terrified expressions on Alphys' and (surprisingly) Papyrus' faces. "Okay, I'm getting this one. Gotta get something to remember your first roller coaster!" 

You purchase the pictures, getting a sheet of wallet sized ones to give to everyone. Before you tuck the picture away, you smile at the delighted expression on Sans' skull and the sight of his hand wrapped tightly around yours. You move on to other rides and it's like a new side of Sans has awakened. He wants to try everything, much to Papyrus' and Frisk's delight. Everyone loves the towering drop tower ride, but you and Alphys decide to sit out on the spinning cups. You mentioned to Sans that it might be a good idea not to match Papyrus and Undyne up on this particular ride, given that the riders control the speed of the spinning. So he makes sure to share a cup with his brother. You grin as you watch them go at it. Frisk's and Undyne's cup is a mere blur, spinning so fast you're almost worried that it's going to fly off. It probably would if the two mega monsters were together. Papyrus is doing all the work in the skeleton's cup and Sans gives you a lazy wink as they spin by.

"How you holding up?" you ask Alphys. 

She wipes at her face, still sweating a little after the last ride. "I'm g-good. It's all so intense. B-but I am having fun!" she assures you. "H-how are you doing?" 

You tilt your head a little. "I'm good, having a lot of fun!" 

Alphys shakes her head. "N-no I mean...well I've been listening to your show and stuff and I've heard what some of those callers have to say and then you know, I hear things, being out at the university and it's not really nice things..."

"Oh. That." You shrug, watching the others for a moment before you give her a smile that feels a little too wide on your face. "I mean, it's not great. But it's just people being dumb."

She hesitates, then pats your shoulder. "Y-you're a good person. We monsters v-very lucky to have you on our side."

"I'm just trying to do the right thing. I care about you guys." You stand as the ride finishes. Poor Frisk almost immediately hits the ground and Undyne soon follows, cursing loudly at the earth. It sounds like she's demanding it to stop spinning. "Look, I appreciate your concern. But I'm really fine. And I don't want to think about anything like that today. I just want to have fun." 

Alphys smiles and gives you a shaky smile. "Y-yeah, that sounds good." She rushes over to help her girlfriend and you kneel by Frisk. 

"Hey buddy. Thanks for taking one for the team." 

Frisk groans and gives you a thumbs up without lifting their head. Sans joins you and pokes Frisk's shoulder. "ya know what they say; what goes 'round, comes around." 

They make a weak swat at Sans and groan. You can tell recovery might take a while so you suggest taking a food break. You find the closest food stand and study the offerings with everyone else. Hmm, corn dog or chicken? You take your time and everyone else wanders over to the picnic tables set up in the shade of the trees. You feel a sudden tug against your pants and look down. 

There's a little girl holding onto you, staring at the group of monsters. She can't be more than five. "Mommy, what are those?" she asks in a quivering voice. 

Uh...oh boy. "I'm uh...not your mommy sweetie." 

The little girl looks up at you and jumps away with a shriek. After looking around and realizing her mom is no where in sight, her eyes well up. Oh no, no no, no crying! You kneel down, getting onto the child's level. "Hey, hey it's okay. All legs look the same from down here, don't they?" 

She nods, lip trembling. 

"My name is _____. What's yours?" 

"Sadie." Her eyes keep going over to your friends.

Sans has noticed the commotion and is watching curiously. When he starts to rise, you make a quick motion for him to stay where he's at. "That's a nice name," you say to Sadie, smiling gently. 

"Are they monsters?" 

"Yeah, they're my friends." 

Sadie looks back at you, eyes wide. "You're friends with monsters?" 

"Well yeah." You shift slightly, knees aching from kneeling. "But they're not like the scary monsters under the bed. They're nice monsters. Good monsters. Like Mike and Sully, from the movie." 

"Nate says monsters are bad." 

You don't know who Nate is, but you shake your head. "No, not these guys. Most monsters are actually really nice. See the short one? That's Sans. He's my boyfriend." 

Sans waves and Sadie shyly waves back. 

"Would you like to meet them?" 

Sadie rubs at her eyes and hesitates before nodding. She takes your hand, or rather your finger, in her tiny hand and the two of you walk over. The others finally notice you're not alone and stop their chatter, staring curiously at the little girl at your side. She presses against your leg, hiding behind you slightly. "Hey guys, this is Sadie. I think she's lost." 

Frisk climbs down from their chair and smiles widely at Sadie. Seeing another kid seems to put her at ease and she curiously looks around at the monsters. Everyone introduces themselves and soon enough, she's sitting next to Frisk, laughing and smiling with the rest. She seems particularly taken with Papyrus and peppers him with questions. Paps of course loves this attention but you notice that he's taking care to keep his voice slightly lower than it's usual booming level. The level of tact and awareness Papyrus has still takes you by surprise sometimes. While she's being entertained, you manage to find a phone number written on a bracelet around her ankle and give it a call. The mother on the line sounds like she's in hysterics and you give her a detailed description of where you are. 

"Just look for the group of monsters," you say with a laugh. "Can't miss it." 

She goes quiet for a second and you brace yourself for the worst. 

"I see. I will be there soon. Thank you again." 

You hang up and let out a breath. Well, that could've gone a lot worse. Sans has his skull in his hand, watching you. "she on her way?" 

"Yeah. I thought I was gonna get screamed at for letting her daughter hang out with us. But I think she's just glad we found her." 

Sans grunts softly. "still might." 

You frown at Sans. "Hey now, don't sound so excited." 

"sorry. didn't know you were so good with kids." He nods at Sadie, who is running her hands over the scales on Undyne's arm. "you don't have a secret kid i should know about, do you?" 

"Oh no, you found my big secret," you snicker. "Nah, I just spent a lot of time in hospitals after the accident and...the other thing. I was still young enough to be put in the kids ward. You get bored real fast in hospitals so I got to know some of the kids there. Some were in for short term stuff. Broken bones, fevers. But then there were some that had no chance to leave. Cancer patients. Terminally ill. Some of those kids had more bravery than I ever will. The stuff they had to go through was terrible. But those kids were so bright and warm, despite everything. I learned a lot from them. Including how to comfort a child when they're scared. It's really not...what's that look for?" 

Sans is smiling gently at you, pupils almost fuzzy. "nothin'. you're just...glowing a little." 

You look down at your chest, but see nothing there. You hear a muffled snicker from Frisk and Undyne. Alphys has her clawed hands up over her snout in delight. A blush lights your face but before you can respond, you hear a voice cry out. 

"Sadie!" 

Sadie jumps down from the table, running to a woman with bright red hair. "Mommy!" She leaps into the woman's arms and you can hear her mom fighting back tears. She looks at you, patting her daughter's back. She's clearly out of breath from running. 

"Thank you," she says breathlessly. She eyes the monsters around you and her expression eases slightly. "Thank you all." As they walk away, you can hear Sadie excitedly telling her mom all about her new monster friends. You smile as a warm feeling blossoms in your chest. 

"Where should we go next?" Alphys asks once everyone finishes their food. 

"I WANT TO RIDE THE FERRIS WHEEL," Papyrus says excitedly. 

"No! Dummy, we can't do that yet!" Undyne protests, shaking her head viciously.

"WHY NOT?" 

"We have to wait until nightfall! Right?" she says to Alphys who, pushes up her glasses. 

"T-that's right! According to all the anime with a ferris wheel, the ideal time to ride is when it's dark and the city lights up!" Her voice has risen to an excited chatter but falls again. "W-we can still see the city from here right?" 

"I think so?" You think about how far the park is from the actual city. "As long as the mountains aren't in the way. But if nothing else, we'll see the town lit up." 

Undyne pumps her fist. "Good enough! We'll get that romantic setting!" 

A romantic, nighttime ferris wheel ride? You sneak a glance at Sans, your stomach fluttering slightly at the idea. He meets your gaze and by the light blue blush on his face, you can tell he's thinking the same thing. He clears his throat. "still have a while before night falls though. how about that house of mirrors?" 

You all waste time running around the park. Sans loves the house of mirrors, especially the one that makes him look stretched out and tall. For some reason, the disfigured reflections seem to spook Alphys, so you move on from there fairly quickly. By the time darkness starts to fall, you've ridden every ride and almost made yourself sick on greasy park food. Frisk and Papyrus insisted on getting their faces painted. Frisk has a star on their cheek and Papyrus has a place of spaghetti. You've been very pleased with how the park workers have treated your group. Work policy or not, everyone has been very kind and though they had trouble with staring, no one treated your friends any differently. 

You climb into the cart of the ferris wheel, scooting over to make room. However, after Sans gets on, Papyrus and Frisk hang back, smiling widely at the two of you. "WE'LL GET THE NEXT ONE BROTHER! ENJOY YOUR DATE!" 

Sans' blush lights up the dim compartment. "thanks bro." 

The ride starts, moving at a snail's pace. The sign in the front said it was a eight minute ride all around, so you've got some time. You peek at Sans, feeling a sudden shyness creeping over you. Sans is watching you too, and he moves to sit next to you. He looks out the window, peering around you. "huh, you can see the city from here." 

You follow his gaze. The city is bright and colorful, glittering like a lake of light in the darkness. "Wow. It's beautiful. I'm glad we can see it from here. Undyne and Alphys would be super disappointed if they couldn't."

"nah, after the day we've had, i'm sure they wouldn't have cared much." 

You look back to Sans. "So you had fun today too?" 

He smiles and takes your hand. "i did. thanks for bringing everyone out here. i think we all needed a day of fun." 

You rub your hand over his bones. "I'm glad they had fun. But...can I be honest?" 

"please do," Sans says curiously. 

You blush and look down. "I mostly did it for you. Your dreams have been so bad recently and...I felt like I was losing you a little."

"what do you mean?" 

You wave your free hand in the air. "I mean, like I was losing you to yourself. I mean, I even made the dumbest pun the other day and you didn't even notice. I'm so happy you finally confided in me, but I was starting to worry that it was all you were focusing on. I thought that because I kept bringing stuff up, it was my fault that your nightmares kept getting worse. But...." Oh geez, you sounded so selfish! "I just wanted to have you back. Even for a day." 

Sans is quiet for a moment. 

"I'm sorry," you mumble. "I'm probably not making sense." 

"am i scaring you?" His voice is barely a whisper. "telling you everything, is it making you scared of me?" 

You quickly look up, squeezing his hand in yours. "Sans, no. Of course I'm not scared of you. I'm just...worried. And I know you don't want me to be," you add, cutting him off. "But I love you bone boy. Worrying kind of comes with the territory." 

"that's why i didn't want to tell you." Sans looks away, brow bone furrowing. 

"Secrets in a relationship aren't a good thing," you tell him. "If it's on your mind, I want to know." 

Sans scoffs. "sure, cause you're a real pro at secrets, aren't ya?" 

You let go of his hand, a little stung. "What are you talking about?" 

"the radio stuff? the emails?" At your blank look, he adds, "abby told me. besides, I listen to the show. it's no secret people are harassing you, even though you try to hide it. when were you gonna tell me about that?"

You cross your arms a little defensively. "I wasn't going to keep it from you. Piling on the troubles while you were dealing with this Gaster thing didn't seem like a good idea. And it's really not a big deal. People in the media business get hate mail sometimes. That's just how it is."

"sure, but how often do those messages carry threats to end your life?" His voice has risen slightly. 

"You're overreacting!" 

"and you're not reacting enough!" 

You two glare at each other for a moment. You turn to look back out the window. You're almost at the top of the ferris wheel. Your eyes are stinging. "Fine," you finally say. "I'm a hypocrite about keeping secrets. I'm sorry."

Sans sighs. "damn it. i really am no good." You peek back at him. He's got his hand over his sockets. "this was supposed to be a romantic ride and i ruined it by being an idiot. i'm the one who's sorry." He reaches for you hand and you allow him to hold it. "you did all of this today for us. for me. i shouldn't have tried to push. i know you trust me. and i trust you." His pupils are dim as he meets your eyes. "are you mad at me?"  

You give him a pout with puffed up cheeks. Then you grab his 'unicorn' hat and swap it with your spiky one. You can't help but snort at the sight of Sans' befuddled look as he pokes at the soft spikes. He looks like a punk hedgehog. "Okay. Now I'm not mad." 

Sans laughs loudly and you feel the warm tingle of magic as he slides you up against him. His arm slips around your waist. "so, how much time do we have left for our romantic date?" 

"About four minutes. Better move fast, bone boy." 

"hmm. i prefer to take things slow," he murmurs as his hands gently rise on your back. "but i think i can make an exception for you." He presses his teeth against you and you feel the sensation of a mouth against yours. He kisses you deeply and makes you melt against him the entire ride down. 

Chapter Text

It's almost two weeks into December when snow finally hits the city. You wake up one morning to see a heavy swirl of white flakes outside your window. Sans is curled up against you with his back to the sight. You kiss his forehead gently in several spots, trying to ease him awake. "Hey sleepy bones."

He grumbles without opening his sockets.

"It's snowing out there."

That finally wakes him up a little. He rolls over to look out the window. "huh. look at that."

You snuggle up against his spine, wrapping your arms around his ribs. "You okay?"

He's quiet for a moment, idly rubbing your arm. "i am actually," he says with a little surprise. "probably 'cause you're here."

"Well, snow way was I gonna let you wake up alone with the year's first snowfall." You keep your voice casual as relief sweeps through you. You've noticed on more than one occasion that when Sans woke from his nightmares, the very first thing he did was look to the window. It took you a while to piece together that he was checking to make sure it was the glow of the city out there and not the quiet dimness of Snowdin.

Sans chuckles. "you see white through me." He startles you by suddenly rolling over and pinning you beneath him. His pupils are bright but fuzzy and his voice thick as he whispers, "sometimes it's still hard to believe that you're really here. that i was lucky enough to find you."

You place your hands in the back of his skull and pull him in for a slow kiss. "That's my line bone head," you whisper in an embarrassingly hoarse voice. You kiss and cuddle for a while after that, purely content with a comfortable silence. But eventually you drag yourself out from the warmth of the covers and into the shower.

You wrap your hair in a towel after lingering in the warmth for a while and head to the living room. Sans is on your beanbag, watching the activity in the snow filled park. He's wearing your headphones and bobbing his head slightly in time with the music on your iPod. You sink down next to him with a content sigh. Sans slips the headphones down around his neck. The music bleeds out quietly;

"-and IEE would walk five hundred miles and IEE-"

"you humans made wonderful inventions called cars and planes for traveling. why would anyone walk a thousand miles?"

You snicker. "It's supposed to represent just how far you're willing to go for the one you love."

"it's impractical."

"It's romantic," you correct. "Actually, a walk in the fresh snow does sound nice."

Sans groans. "ya know what else sounds nice? anything that doesn't involve getting up and going out into the cold."

"Come on you big baby." You tug at his sleeve and pout in that way he can't resist. "Go get Pap and we'll all go get some hot chocolate at this place Abby told me about. I promise it's not too far."

Sans, who had pointedly looked away at your pout, peeks back at you and sighs. "ok. make sure you bundle up." He grins widely. "we don't need the human getting sick again."

You throw your wet towel at his face.

~~~~~

You hate to admit it, but Sans does have a point. You put on your cutest scarf, black buckled boots and arrange your hair around a thick knitted hat with a little floof at the top. Sans has swapped out his usual blue coat for one that is...also blue but a slight shade darker and lined with fur in the hood, which he has pulled up over his skull. Papyrus is wearing a surprisingly stylish long black coat and his red scarf. You whistle as you approach the brothers at the bottom of the complex.

"Going my way boys?" 

You see Sans give your outfit a quick look over and smile cheekily. "sorry well dressed lady. 'fraid i'm taken."

You swing your hip around and start to prance off. "Oh, guess I'm just too hot for you!" You're so busy teasing you miss Sans sliding up behind you. You squeal as he wraps his arms around your waist, almost making you slip. 

"Sans!"

"just trying to cool you down babe," he snickers. 

Papyrus is obviously trying to be patient but his foot is tapping quietly in the snow so you choose to take pity on him. "C'mon boys, shop is this way." 

The wild snowfall from this morning has eased into a few gentle flakes glistening in the air. Your breath makes a cloud in front of your face, but curiously, not from Sans or Papyrus. You put a hand in front of Sans' mouth just to check. 

"uhh. what're ya doing?" 

"You are breathing right?" 

'i think so?"

He actually has to check?! He laughs loudly at your expression. 

"course i breathe. i just don't have the hot gooey stuff inside that you humans do." He pokes your belly. "thus, no breath cloud."

Freaking monsters and their stupid magic. 

You continue walking, finally letting yourself appreciate the Christmas decor set up in the shops and buildings you pass. As a personal rule, you didn't celebrate Christmas until after Thanksgiving. But now that everything is covered in a fresh layer of snow, it's easy to slip into the joyful spirit. Papyrus is entranced with the sparkling garlands and decorations and soon moves ahead. When he's out of earshot, you lean in a little closer to Sans.

"I've been thinking-"

"dangerous pastime." 

You scoff. "For you maybe. I was thinking about some of the stuff you said about Gaster. You said he wasn't a bad dad in the beginning."

"yeah?" Sans confirms a little hesitantly. 

"I know it's hard to let go of the bad stuff. But I think one reason it's so hard is because you did love him. He was family. When my grandpa died, all I could think about was everything I did wrong. But when I started remembering the good times, those mistakes and bad memories didn't seem so bad. Am I making sense?" 

Sans is quiet and doesn't answer you. You hesitate for a moment and squeeze his hand. 

"Will you try something for me? Whenever you start thinking about the horrible stuff regarding your dad, try to think of one good memory instead. It can be anything! Maybe he brought you a sweet or spilled a drink once or...or something." Your voice trails off in a mumble. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all. 

Sans looks at you from the corner of his socket. He's silent for several gut wrenching minutes. "when paps was still a kid," he finally says slowly, "i was at home taking care of him. gaster had been in his lab for two days. this happened all the time so i didn't worry too much. then that night he comes bursting through the door and he goes 'sans! sans, we have to move! i need you in the lab!'." His voice is growing slightly more animated as he talks, his pupils glinting. "i was so flustered i just grabbed paps and ran after him. we got to the lab and he started shouting about how he cracked it, he had found the solution but there was just one thing left. i said 'what? what do you need?' he looked at me and said 'go grab the updog'.

Your hands fly over your mouth. "Sans you didn't!" 

Sans covers his face in shame. "i did." 

You howl with laughter, actually having to hold on to him for support. "You fell for the updog joke?! Babe!" Actual tears are in your eyes. 

Sans is bright blue with embarrassment but he's grinning widely. "heh, you shoulda seen gaster. he actually fell down he was laughing so hard. real proud of himself for coming up with that one. even paps thought it was hilarious."

"Wait, wait," you gasp. You pull out your phone, setting it to video. "Okay, I need you to actually say it. For science." 

"no way." 

"Say it! Saaaay it!" you whine. When he attempts to walk away, you turn the camera to your own face and pout. "See that, future Sans? I'm wounded." 

He sighs deeply. "you're not gonna let it go, are ya?" 

"Nope!" You turn the camera back to him. "Might as well get it over with." 

After a slight scowl, Sans pulls the hood down over his face. "isaidwhatisupdog," he mumbles quickly.

It's so silly but you're grinning from ear to ear. You kiss his fluff covered cheek, giggling uncontrollably. "Atta boy!" 

"you are a stinker," he growls.  

"Well, it's a doggone shame you feel that way!" 

"WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING BACK THERE?" Papyrus asks, drawn back by your undignified snorting. "WHAT IS SO FUNNY HUMAN?"

"Just laughing at your brother's expense," you say cheerfully as you shove your phone away. 

Papyrus nods in understanding. "ALWAYS A FUN PASTIME." 

"yeah, yeah, laugh it up you two."  Sans shuffles off in a huff. You follow after him with Pap, fighting to control your laughter the rest of the walk. You soon reach the shop and it appears Sans has forgiven you because you two are holding hands as you head to the door. Through the wide windows you can see it's absolutely packed inside. Your stomach rumbles and you check to make sure you're not drooling. Hot chocolately goodness, here you come! 

"____." Sans says quietly. His grip on yours tightens. When you look back him quizzically, he silently points at the window. 

NO MONSTERS ALLOWED

The sign next to the door is loud in it's bluntness. Your jaw drops. How could you have missed it? "What the hell?" 

"think abby forgot to mention this." Sans' tone is bitter but not surprised. 

"No, no Abby wouldn't just forget about something like that." You can't stop staring at the sign as disgust crawls up your throat. "Hell, she'd never eat at a place that...I don't...." You're speechless with rage. Abby ate here not three days ago! This must have just happened. Your gaze finally shifts back inside to the crowded room, to the completely human crowd, that is beginning to notice the two monsters standing out in the snow. 

A few of them jeer, and though you can't hear them through the window, you see their mouths moving, uttering cruel, disgusting things about your closest friends. You sneer back at them and loop arms with Sans and Papyrus. Sans attempts to pull away and you hiss, "Don't you dare. Don't give them what they want."  

You drag the skeletons away, no direction in mind. You just need to get away from those hateful stares. Sans is silent but Papyrus is sniffling quietly. 

You have to say something. "Hey, it's fine guys. We'll just go somewhere else. You know, they say there's a Starbucks on every corner. Starbucks has pretty good hot chocolate and there's coffee and cakes and...crap." You stop suddenly. You're shaking. "I'm so sorry. I had no idea." 

Papyrus puts a hand on your shoulder. He smiles at you, clearly trying to put on a brave face. "DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT. THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME WE HAVE COME ACROSS SUCH A SIGN." 

"it's not your fault," Sans adds. Damnit the fake smile is back. So much for progress. You frown at him before looking around. Lovely. You've got no idea where you are. 

"Let's just...walk til we find something," you mumble. 

You wander for a while, each one of you lost in your own thoughts. Your stomach is still twisting. After a time you happen to look up and see a corner store with a large music note above its door. Ooh a music shop! 

Your feet have already started moving over to the store entrance. "Let's stop in here for a second." You pause to check for any more disturbing keep out signs and enter the store. 

It's like a balm on your soul. Some of the tension eases from you as you glance around eagerly. It's a lot bigger than your originally thought. All kinds of instruments of various colors and sizes line the walls. There's a brass section, strings, drums and entire section dedicated just to guitars. The middle is filled with rows of sheet music, CDs and pretty much everything a musician could possibly need. Sans and Papyrus look around curiously as they enter behind you. 

"Hey there! Welcome to-oh." The voice, belonging to a stick thin Asian guy covered in tattoos rounds the corner and stops short as he registers that two skeletons are standing in his store. You puff up instinctively. Oh hell no! You've had enough of dealing monster phobic assholes-

"Woah. You guys are real monsters right?" The guy is staring at Sans and Papyrus in awe. Sans is a little taken aback but Pap immediately leaps forward to shake the guy's hand. 

"HELLO! I AM THE GREAT PAPYRUS!" 

"Jake," the guy answers. His entire frame shakes from the force of Papyrus' greeting. "Nice grip there." 

Papyrus beams. "YOU AS WELL! YOUR SKIN IS SO COLORFUL. WHAT DO THESE PICTURES MEAN?" 

Jake looks at his arms proudly. "Oh man, each one has a story. Like the tree and snake was from-oh crap!" He seems to realize he's still working because he straightens and smiles sheepishly. "Sorry, kinda got off track there. You guys looking for anything in particular?" 

Put at ease by the fact that Jake clearly isn't a bigoted jerk, you smile back. "Just looking around. I kinda have a thing for music."

Jake cocks his head, frowning slightly. After a second, his eyes widen. "Holy crap! You're ____ right? I listen to E.B.B.T all the time! Excellent tune choices."

"Oh! Thank you," you say, a little flustered. This is a first. Usually people who recognized you in public immediately talked about your view on monster policies. You've never been complimented on the music before. "That's very sweet of you." 

Jake smiles widely and you can't help but notice the whiteness of his teeth. He looks to Sans and sticks his hand out. Sans shakes it, seemingly amused by the skinny guy. 

"sans," he says just as a farting noise comes from their clasped hands. Oh good grief! When he even pull that stupid whoopee cushion out? 

Jake jerks back in surprise. "Uhh, funny man. Huh."

Sans shrugs and puts his hands in his pockets. "just got a big funny bone."

Jake finally laughs. "Well, feel free to look around and let me know if you need any help." 

"got any trombones?"

"SANS I AM NOT LETTING YOU GET ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE THINGS!" 

"c'mon bro, how else am i gonna provide background music?" 

You watch in amusement as the brothers follow Jake over to the brass section, arguing playfully about why the previous trombone had mysteriously disappeared when they came to the surface. You had no idea Sans knew how to play. Though given its name, it does make sense in its own way. You head to the guitar section. There's a huge selection of acoustic and electric. You run your fingers over the strings of slightly faded older acoustic. A little tingle runs up your arms at the sound it makes. How long has it been since you played? 

You find you can't resist gently picking the instrument up. There's a stool near the wall so you sit and strum out a few notes, fiddling with the tuning. Just like riding a bike, your fingers naturally fall into place as you pluck out a simple song. The sound is so familiar and soothing and your heart aches painfully after such a long absence. 

After a few simple warm up tunes, you close your eyes and try to remember the notes for Mayberry. You hum quietly as you fumble through the first few notes. Then your fingers grow steady, falling back into the familiar rhythm.

"Well I miss Mayberry, sitting on the porch drinking ice cold cherry" -strum- "coke. Where everything is black and white." You sing softly to yourself, eyes still closed. 

You finally open your eyes as you reach the last few lines and it's no surprise to see Sans sitting on the floor in front of you, skull in his hands and a gentle smile on his face. He claps as you finish, the bones clinking together lightly. 

"didn't know you played." 

"Could say the same about you." 

Sans shrugs. "it was more to annoy Pap. i only knew like two songs."

You play a random melody, picking the notes at whim. "I used to play. Or I was learning to at least. I lost my guitar in the fire. After that time just...got away from me and I never replaced it." 

"do you miss it?"

A sigh slips out. "I really do. Maybe I'll get one soon. It'd be nice to start playing again."

Sans stands and runs his phalanges over the wood. "can i try?" 

You brighten at his curiousity and switch places with him. He picks up your instruction quickly and soon he's strumming out 'Row Your Boat'.

You watch him as he concentrates. "I'm sorry about the cocoa place," you finally say. "It makes me sick that people are so narrow minded."

Sans stops playing. "that's what tori and asgore are fighting so hard for. we've really been lucky so far. but now the shock of everyone comin' out of the mountain is starting to wear off. people are getting bold."

"It's not right. Monsters are people not...not mindless creatures to keep out." You're getting worked up and Sans can see it. He beckons you close. When you lean down, he gives you a light kiss. 

"it's gonna be fine," he whispers. It almost sounds like he's trying to convince himself. "look at it this way; never would've found this place if we had just gone in the cafe. jake looks like a good kid."

Jake is showing Papyrus how to use a drum set. He's completely at ease around the tall skeleton. 

Sans is right. You give him another kiss and straighten. "Let's just go make cocoa at my place. I think it's high time we broke out the Christmas movies." 

As you're heading out, Jake shyly approaches you. He hands you a torn out sheet of paper. "Hey, if you're ever looking for some new music, these artists are really good and totally under appreciated."

You take this list and glance over it. You don't recognize a single band name. Wouldn't hurt to check these out though. "Thanks Jake! I'll give them a listen." 

Jake blushes and runs a hand through his hair. You don't notice Sans slip a little closer to you, giving Jake a smile that was just a little too wide.

Chapter Text

"That last song was recommended by my new friend Jake. Shout out to him if he's listening." 

Tod nods his approval, shifting his headphones slightly. "Always nice to get recommendations. If any of our listeners have hot new or hey, even old music you want to hear, drop us an email at ebbtradio.mail. So moving on, it's been announced today that the committee for the integration of monsters have finally been granted a date when their proposed bill will be voted on. That will be happening mid January I believe." 

You nod. "As I'm sure most of you know, monsters have been on the surface for almost ten months now. While certain privileges have been granted, no legal rights have been passed. This bill will help monsters gain basic rights throughout the country. Stores will no longer be able to deny service and employers will face racism charges if they deny hiring a monster who meets job requirements and things like that." 

It was a huge step and Toriel was nearly in tears when she made the announcement to everyone a few days ago. Even Sans, doubtful as he was about the whole thing, had been swept up in everyone's happiness. Nothing was set in stone, and there was still a long ways to go, but progress was progress.

Tod motions to the intern manning the control panel. "Ok, we'll take a caller now. Mind your manners and we'll all have a good time." 

You can't help but grit your teeth at the fact that Tod has to say that now. Mostly because of you. You tap the call button. "Hey there! You're on." 

There's a few seconds of staticky noise then a man's voice comes over the speakers. "Hi, thanks for taking my call."

"Thanks for calling," Tod answers. "So tell us some of your thoughts on the monster bill." 

"I actually have a question for ____."

Your heart sinks a little. "Go for it," you say, bracing yourself.

"I've heard you say before that you are close to the human ambassador for monsters. Is that correct?" 

"That's right." 

"Are you fully aware of what happened down there?" 

You hesitate for a second, which is a mistake. The man continues, his tone growing harsher.

"I know the kid has mostly kept quiet about what exactly happened down there, but it is no secret that she had to fight against monsters. The monsters attacked her. Why should we as a people have our rights and safety put in jeopardy to satisfy beings who have attacked mankind before?"

"They," you answer, stressing Frisk's correct pronoun, "have indeed chosen to keep the exact events of what happened private. But I also know that when anyone is confronted with something they don't understand, the basic instinctive response is fight or flight. So if attacks did happen, they happened because of fear for their safety." 

"Humanity certainly cannot deny acting the same in the past," Tod chimes in. 

"Exactly. What happened in the past is in the past. What we need to be concerned with is what's happening now."

"What about the attacks that have happened in our city since monsters came to the surface?" Geez, this guy is persistent.

You tap your fingers against the table. "King Asgore has stressed that the few isolated incidents that have occurred have been based on misunderstandings and in self defense. And if you want to talk about attacks, I can name far more attacks that have been made towards monsters, rather than by them. Should I start?" 

The only answer is a dial tone. You sigh. At least it hadn't ended with the guy yelling at you. As you ready the next song, Tod continues talking. 

"To those still listening, such concerns do have a point. But fear is the real enemies here, not the monsters. Mistakes have happened in the past and I'm sure many more will be made." 

The music starts (Shakira's Try Everything) and you slip your headphones off. 

Tod sighs and tugs his down too. "Hey no screaming this time. That's a plus." 

"Yeah," you mumble. You stand up and stretch. "I'm gonna go grab something. Be right back."

Perks of being a host, you now have an office. It's small, more like a large closet, but it's your space. After Emily's stuff was cleared out, you put up a few framed posters of your favorite bands on the wall and pictures of you with the skelebros on the desk next to your work computer. You head there now, wanting to grab the list Jake gave you. You actually liked several of the songs and Tod wanted to see it. 

You round the corner just in time to see the gray haired and wrinkled Charlie, the station's resident custodian, step out of your office. It's not time for vacuuming is it? It's barely six. "Hey Charlie," you call. 

Charlie jumps a little and looks to you. His face is extra wrinkly, thanks to the frown on his face. "Miss ____ you shouldn't go in there right now." 

"Why?" You ignore his protests and peer through the door. 

Your office has been trashed. All your papers and files are spread across the floor, most of them ripped up. The framed posters are smashed. The picture of you and the boys is out of its frame and taped to the edge of your computer. Large red X's cover all of your faces and written on the cracked screen of the monitor are the words 'YOU'RE GONNA BURN BITCH!' in the same red marker. 

Your knees go weak. An odd ringing builds on your head as you sag against the door frame and stare at the destruction. 

"I'm so sorry miss," Charlie says in a shaky voice. "I heard a crash and came to see what it was. Found it like this." 

So this had just happened. And what was worse, this either meant someone from outside had managed to sneak all the way in here, or someone inside the station did it. You reach up and grab your galaxy necklace as your breathing gets harsher. Hold on, just hold on. "D-" you clear your throat- "did you see who did this?" 

Charlie shakes his head. "I'm going to contact security." He's gone before you manage to respond. 

You numbly enter the office. Something reeks like rotten eggs. You find the source to be your chair, covered in the foul goop. You stand there in a daze, hardly able to form a coherent thought. The only thing you can think is why? Why did this happen? You were just trying to do the right thing! In your whole crappy, fake life, you just wanted to do something good. Was it punishment? Maybe that was it. Nothing you did ever turned out right. You were just garbage who deserved this. How could someone like you ever accomplish anything good in this world?

When Abby bursts in, followed by one of the security guys, you realize you've sunk to your knees and you're gasping harshly. You feel her hand on your back and fight not to pull away. 

"Oh my God," she says in a horrified voice. "Are you okay?" 

No, no you're not okay. "I'm fine," you choke out. Panic is bubbling under the surface of your skin, screaming to be released. "I-I need to clean this up."

Abby pulls you to your feet, shaking her head. "No, Charlie and I are gonna take care of this."

You shake your head right back at her. You can't ask her to do that. "It's fine, I can help-"

"Where's Sans?" 

You take a gulping breath. "Work. I think." Sans has been so busy recently. Gone early in the morning and back late at night. With Christmas now only three days away, work has been insane for both of you and Sans had even picked up some holiday work for the extra money. It's almost hard to keep track of exactly where he is at any given moment.

Abby steers you out of your thrashed office. "Okay, I'm gonna walk you over to Grillby's. Will you stay there until Sans can come get you?"

"Grillby's," you repeat numbly. "Why?" 

Abbys's voice is tight. "Cause the freak that did this might still be around. And they aren't gonna walk right into a bar full of monsters after a stunt like this. Grillby can watch you til Sans can get here." 

"But the show-" 

"Girl, you are in no state to be working the show right now." Abby grabs your coat and purse, shoving them into your arms. She barely gives you a chance to slip the coat on before pulling you out into the cold. You both hurry to the bar but the warmth that washes over you when you step inside doesn't do much to ease your shivers. You let Abby direct you to the bar. Grillby is in his usual place and he looks at you, the usual crackled greeting fading away when he sees how pale your face is. 

What's going on? He signs slowly to you, the flames on his hands dimmed slightly. That's right, Frisk was teaching Grillby how to use sign language to help him communicate with the human customers that couldn't understand his fire speech. Abby, who doesn't know a speck of sign language, still gets the gist of what he's asking.

"Hey there Grillbz," she says in a low voice. She's been in here with you a few times and picked up on Sans' nickname for the fire monster. "Is it cool if _____ just hangs out here for a bit? There was an incident at the station."

Grillby tilts his head questioningly.

"Someone tore my office apart," you mumble, staring at the bar counter. The flames on Grillby's head crack sharply and the heat coming from his body rises slightly.

"And I'm worried the jerk might still be there and...well." Abby rubs your back gently. "I'm worried about her. Sans is still at work and I know she'll be safe in here while we clean things up until Sans can come get her. That cool?"

Well, Grillby is anything but cool. You snort quietly to yourself in an almost hysterical way. Grillby nods after giving you a long look and holds his hand up to his head like a phone. You shake your head. 

"I haven't called him yet," you answer, putting your head in your hands. 

Abby gives you one last pat. "Do that now. I gotta get back and let Tod know what's going on. Just let me know when Sans gets here, okay?" 

You nod, your voice getting stuck in your throat. Abby heads back and you continue to just stare at the tabletop, running your finger over a pattern on its surface. Grillby stays by you for a while, the gentle sound of his flames oddly comforting. But soon, he has to attend to other customers. He leaves you with a glass of your usual drink and points at your phone before moving away. You still haven't called Sans. It takes all the effort you have to finally pick up the phone. Unsurprisingly, you get his voicemail. 

"H-hey." You voice cracks. "Um, I'm at Grillby's. I need you to come get me. Call me. Please." 

You shove the phone back in your purse with shaking hands. You sip at the drink for a while, you leg bouncing uncontrollably. It's getting loud in the bar as the monsters pour in during the after work rush. The noise is making your head pound and you just can't keep sitting there. You get to your feet and almost run out of there, desperate to escape the noise and the crowd. You stand just outside the bar, your breath fogging up the air in front of you. It's freezing and night has fallen. You look at your phone one more time. No response from Sans. You swallow down a sob and start walking towards your car. You just want to go home. You want to be alone you so can fall apart without anyone seeing. It's honestly a miracle that you don't wreck your car on the drive back to the apartments. You can't focus through the panicked haze that's fallen over your mind and because of the distraction have several close calls that just rack up your anxiety.

When you pull into the parking lot, your chest is heaving with the force of the panic screaming to be released. There's no danger and yet your body is screaming at you to run. Your hands are trembling as you get out of your car. In your haste, you lose your footing and fall. A sharp cry escapes you as your hands scrape against the cement and you scramble to your feet. You can barely breathe as you climb the stairs and finally, finally reach your apartment. Great sobs escape you as you force the door open and fall inside. You somehow manage to close the door behind you before you start wailing. Your hands are wrapped around yourself and pain shoots up from your palms at the force of your grip. Slowly, you peel your hands away and look at them. The skin of your palm is torn from the fall, bright pink from the cold of the snow. Little hints of red peek at you from the cut, almost like a challenge. 

You stare at the trace amounts of blood and it's like a trigger is flipped. You have to release this overwhelming, terrifying panic before it consumes you. There's a voice, a tiny, desperate voice in the back of your mind that's screaming at you to stop as you lurch to your feet and stumble to the kitchen. But the rational thought is eaten up by the panic and you're almost numb as you open the silverware drawer. The knives in there glint coldly. The shaking has stopped as you reach in and pull out the sharpest one. It's the same one that Sans had embedded in your wall. It seems like a lifetime ago.

You sink to the ground, and oh god, you want to cry, you want to stop, you want to bleed, no you don't, you need to do something

The blade is cold against your skin and that numbness, that terrible, all consuming numbness has eaten all rational thought. You slide the blade across your lower arm. At first, it's just another thin line. It matches all the others. Then blood beads up along the slit and it starts to roll slowly down your arm. 

It's not enough. 

Another cut, another and another. You can feel your heart and Soul crying out, sobbing but now, now the panic is starting to ease, just a little bit and finally you can cry. Tears roll down your face silently and you lower the knife to the ground. Six cuts. Crimson trails cover your arm and a new kind of numbness is creeping up your limb. 

What is that buzzing? 

You sway slightly as you look at your purse. You had dropped it when you came in and phone slid out. It's lit up now and you can see it's Sans calling. You reach for your phone and topple over, your head smacking against the tile. The pain barely registers but it does make the room spin a little. Your non-bloody hand creeps forward and you manage to brush the accept button. 

"_____?" His voice is panicked. "shit, babe, where are you? i'm at grillby's and he said you left and-please tell me you're ok." 

You try to speak but all that comes out is a strangled sob. You can't let him see you like this. This is far worse than any panic attack. Oh God, what have you done? 

"shit," he says again. "baby, i'll come to you. just tell me where you are." 

"I-I...can't....Sans." 

"please." He's begging you. The pain in his voice is so much worse than the numbness. "are you at home?" 

"...Yes." 

It's barely a second later and the air shifts just slightly. "oh my god.

You can't look at him. You turn your face into the ground, harsh sobs racking your body. His kneecaps hit the tile with a sharp clang. "I'm sorry I'msorryI'msorryI'msosorry!" The words pour of you but they mean nothing. It fixes nothing

"baby." The word is strangled and no, no he's crying. You did this to him and it's another sharp cut to join the others. "i-oh god, what do i do? i don't...." 

You can't fight him as he gathers you up into his arms, rocking you gently. His tears splash down on your face but you still can't bear to look at him. Crap, you're getting blood all over his work clothes. You try to pull away but he crushes you to his ribs. 

"Your shirt," you croak out. 

"damn it, i don't care about the shirt!" Sans takes a long shuddering breath. His voice is trembling almost as much as his body. "ok, ok, i-i'm here now. tell me what to do. i gotta...i gotta clean you up. yeah, that's a start." 

The world spins as Sans stands up, holding you in his arms. You clutch at his shirt and moan. 

"i'm sorry," he whispers as he struggles to the bathroom. "just hold on. hold on for me." 

You blink slowly, head groggy. "I've been holding on for a long time," you whimper. "I'm so tired Sans." 

"heh, me too sweetheart. we'll make a club out of it. lazybones club. sound good?" Oh bless him, he's trying so hard and you, like the useless garbage you are can't even respond as he fights to open the door to the bathroom. He sets you down as gently as he can and you hear water running in the sink. You continue to stare at your knees and endless guilt eats at you. You're such a coward. You can't bear to look at Sans and see that pain you've carved into him. 

He kneels next to you, wet rag in his hand. "'m gonna...clean your arm a little first. ok?" You nod wordlessly and he takes your bloody arm. Some of the blood has started to dry and crack in a few places. He dabs at the cuts, flinching every time you whimper at the stings. Soon, the rag is stained red and some of the cuts are still bleeding. And it turns out that you hit your head a lot harder than you thought. His phalanges brush your hair and you hear him suck in a deep breath. 

"'m gonna...i'll get a bath ready," he says, voice thick with sorrow. 

You don't move as his does this and when the tub is filled, he kneels back down. "babe, i need you to just move to the tub for me. ok?" 

Wordlessly, you stand and start to enter the tub. A soft tug on your uninjured arm stops you. "might wanna take this off first, huh?" 

Oh. Your clothes. You start to tug at your shirt and stop. You've never been naked in front of him before and it feels wrong to just strip with him watching.

"i'll uh, i'll turn around. but m'not gonna leave you alone right now."

You wait for a moment, watching his reflection in the mirror face the door before undressing. Normally, such a situation would have you mortified with embarrassment, but your actions have already stripped you of any dignity. You slip into the tub, hissing a little as the hot water hits your cuts. He's filled the tub with bubbles that help to cover your nakedness. "I'm in," you say softly. 

Sans nods. "can i...can i help? please?" 

You can't manage more than a 'mm hm' and look downwards again before he turns. He kneels down next to the tub and with caution of one handling hot glass, washes away the remaining blood. He even washes your hair and the sensation of his bones running through your hair, gently massaging your scalp, makes your eyelids droop. When he finishes, he blinks out of sight for a few seconds and returns with pajamas. As you leave the tub and dry off, he digs through the cabinet, taking care not to look over until you are completely dressed. He has you sit on the toilet as he bandages your arm. Neither of you move when he finishes. His hands are gripping yours tightly and it hurts but you can't bring yourself to say anything. 

"look at me," he finally says. "_____. look at me." 

More tears seep out from your eyes as you finally look at him. The hurt and the fear in his face makes your heart feel like it's shattering all over again. Faded blue tear trails run down his face and his pupils are nearly swallowed by the darkness of his sockets. He sighs shakily and slowly lowers himself to the floor. He brings his skull down until it taps against your knees. 

"you can't do that to me," he whispers. "don't...don't ever do this again. i'm begging you." 

You want to curl in on yourself and shrink away. "I was doing so good. I haven't hurt myself in months. No, I guess it's been a full year." You sniff miserably. "I really am full of crap."

Sans looks up at you. He stands after a moment and starts to reach for you. At the last second he stops and looks at his shirt. The red polo is splattered with darker red spots. He tugs the shirt off and tosses it to the pile on the floor before picking you up again. His bare ribs press against you, warm and solid. Exhausted as you are, you can't help but notice that they're not shaped like normal human ribs. They're thicker and looked partially fused together in a few places.

Sans is puffing quietly by the time he makes it out to the living room.

"I can walk," you say quietly.

"just lemme do this." His voice gives no room for argument. He must be angry at you. As he should be. He sets you down on the couch, grabbing the throw you kept tossed over the back. He's silent as he wraps it around you and gets you some water. The quiet continues as he mops up the bit of blood on the kitchen floor and disappears down the hall. When he returns he's wearing your oversized Phantom of the Opera shirt and fuzzy star pj pants. The sight is enough to bring a ghost of a smile to your face.

It's not until he sits down next to you that he asks, "does it hurt?"

You glance at your arm. "Not as bad as it did." You resist the urge to press your fingers against the cuts and instead clasp your hands together. "Sans I'm so sorry."

He looks on the verge of breaking down himself, sitting there on the edge of the couch. "i thought i understood," he whispers. "god, i had no clue."

You shrink back against the arm of the couch. Tears are threatening to fall again. You are so sick of crying.

He must hear you sniffling because his skull snaps up. "sweetheart, it's ok." He scoots closer and puts an arm around your shoulder.

"Betcha thought I couldn't be more of a freak huh?" You smile shakily at him, but his expression remains tight.

"what happened? grillbz said someone trashed your office?" You nod and quietly give him the details. His grip tightens with anger. "why didn't you wait at the bar?"

"I couldn't. It was like this voice in my head was telling me to run." You gesture at your head. "I can't think clearly during attacks. I know it was stupid. And I feel worse because of that. It just...it got too loud and I knew I was gonna lose it." You reach for his hand. "I hate it when you have to see me like this, but you're the only one I trust."

Sans presses your hand against his teeth, sockets squeezed shut. "i should've paid more attention to my phone," he says hoarsely. "you were counting on me and i let you down."

"I can't expect you to be at my beck and call at all times-" 

"you would drop everything if it was me, right?"

Yes, absolutely. You don't even have to say it out loud before Sans continues.

"i heard it ringing. but i didn't answer it. i'm sorry." He hesitates, pulling you closer. "you...you weren't gonna..."

He can't get the words out, but you can tell what he's trying to ask. "I don't want to die anymore Sans. I have too much to lose now."

He sags with relief. He kisses your head over and over, trembling a little. That's right. You had people that did care for you and love you. Your actions now had consequences that went far beyond just yourself. You had thought that it couldn't get worse than seeing the horror in your parents faces when they found out. But the you've hurt Sans so badly tonight. You know that, despite his assurances, you've crossed a line here. You've left a wound on him and that hurts far more than any physical pain you've experienced.

"I'm so sorry," you whisper. "I'm sorry I gave in."

"no, no baby you are so strong. i swear if i find the asshole that did this-" His left eye flashes blue- "i'm gonna give them one hell of a bad time." 

The force of his promise sends a shiver up your back.

Sans starts rubbing your head, taking care to avoid the tender spot. "so. movie or music?" 

"music please." 

~~~~~

You pass out before the end of the fourth song. Sans watches you sleep for a long time after that. He rubs his thumb over your cheek. His Soul lurches as once again the memory of seeing you lying on the floor, arm covered in crimson flashes through his mind. He's seen you die in his dreams many times. As terrible as they are, he always wakes to find you right by his side, alive and warm. Tonight, for a single, terrifying second, he thought the worst of his nightmares had come true. 

He doesn't blame you. The human mind is complex. An ill human mind is even more so. He knows that you had simply lost control. No, he blames the scum that ripped your office apart and sent you into this dangerous spiral. He blamed the people the called the station just to scream at you. He blamed the asshole and Emily that started this whole thing.

But mostly, he blames himself. He could've, should've done more for you. He narrows his gaze and your Soul flickers into view. The edges are still slightly faded, but the swirl of colors has mostly returned to normal. The anxiety and depression effects your Soul in strange ways that he doesn't really understand. It scares him, far more than he's willing to admit.

He reaches over to grab his phone. The movement makes you shift slightly and mumble in your sleep. He freezes until you settle down again. He rubs your head as he dials up Alphys. 

"hey. i need your help with  something." 

 

  

Chapter Text

Tod gives you until the day after Christmas off. You protest, even though you honestly feel like you need it. He's livid about the whole thing, and the level of his anger quiets your protests. He promises a repaired office and lock on the door when you get back so it's with great guilt that you accept the sudden mini-vacation.

Sans tries to hide it, but you can tell he's relieved. There's an odd sort of tension between the two of you thanks to your breakdown. It's Christmas Eve now and for the last three days, Sans has hovered at your side like he's scared that you'll collapse at any moment. He has every right to be worried about you but his constant, quiet fussing is starting to drive you nuts. He wanted to take work off as well to watch you and it was only when you threatened to throw out his entire ketchup stash that he reluctantly left you alone for five minutes. You know that you're the reason he's acting like this. The fact that he cares so deeply about you only makes you love him more. But seriously! He won't even let you use the bathroom without waiting outside the door!

Not only that, but he has completely stopped talking about anything to do with Gaster, his nightmares or the underground. The smile on his face feels forced and at times, a little faked. It's like the door to his heart that you've worked so hard to crack open has completely shut once again. It's only been a few days but the emotional distance between the two of you feels like it's been ripped open. It hurts, but how are you supposed to bring it up?

The more immediate problem however, is that thanks to his constant hovering, it's been impossible to complete the last part of his Christmas present. But thanks to a clever bit of acting, you managed to send Sans running to the store on a last minute errand before the party at Toriel's place. You've got to hurry and finish before he gets back.

"Okay, now to the left. Your other left."

"GOT IT!"

You're currently balanced on Papyrus' bony shoulders in Sans' room. There's a sheet of glow in the dark stars in one hand and sticky tack in the other. Pap takes a step over and you start on the Scorpio constellation. It's the last one. "Can I see the paper again?"

Papyrus lifts the reference sheet so you check on the star positions. "SANS IS GOING TO LOVE THIS!"

"Of course he will!" You boast. "It's from me after all. Now hold still, I gotta finish before he gets back."

Papyrus stops shifting and goes stone still. "WHAT WAS IT YOU SENT HIM TO GET?"

You push your thumb against a star, smiling a little evilly. "Something that's gonna take him a while to find."

~~~~~

You're finished and lounging on the couch when Sans finally stomps in, brushing snow off his skull. He's got a brown bag under one arm.

"ya know what the store clerk did when i told her i was looking for 'sparkling spamberry' juice? she laughed at me! said there was no such thing." He's glaring at you as you put on your best confused expression.

"No way! That's so weird, it must be a country thing I guess, how silly of me, hey look at the time!" You bounce up and take the bag from him. A quick look confirms that he wound up getting the cranberry juice. Excellent. "We've gotta get going!"

You and the boys pile into your car, three separate bags of presents and overnight stuff in the back. Toriel wanted everyone to spend Christmas together and Frisk suggested that everyone just spend the night. It was gonna be a little tight in the goat monster's house but with you sharing with Sans and Papyrus in the Frisk's room, Alphys and Undyne claiming the guest room and Frisk sleeping with Toriel, you would make it work. You were excited; Christmas was always fun but this year you have a brand new quirky family to spend the holiday with. 

If you can even freaking get there! It's Christmas Eve at rush hour and though Toriel's place isn't actually too far, you've been stuck in traffic for almost forty five minutes. You got out much later than you wanted and now you can't even get off to a side road. 

"You know. What would. Be. Great?" you growl, smacking your head against the wheel in time with your words. "If we knew someone who could, I don't know, teleport?!" 

Sans has his feet up on your dashboard and pouts at you. "babe, all those trips would burn me out. you don't want me to sleep all evening and miss the party do you?" 

"YOU'LL PROBABLY END UP SLEEPING ANYWAY SANS," Papyrus points out from the back. He's more restless than you are. There's barely room for him back there as it is and frankly, holding still isn't his strong point. 

"probably. look, i'm not the one who insisted we stop at grillby's to drop off a present first." 

"The point of a Christmas present is to give it before Christmas!" You smack at his feet until he lowers them. "And who wanted to stay until he opened it?" 

"but his face!" Sans grins widely. You can't help but giggle too. Grillby was a little...well expressionless but when he finally spared a minute to open his gift, even you had been able to see the exasperated look on his flaming face. Sans could barely contain himself as Grillby unfolded the 'Hunk of Burnin' Love' apron. He seemed to appreciate your cd of best bar tunes you made for him a little bit more. 

"Okay, fine it was worth it." 

Sans puts his hands up. "but if you wanna point fingers at wasting time, we can talk about the interesting lack of spamberry juice-"

"Oh look we're moving!" You quickly turn up Jingle Bell Rock and start belting along and soon Papyrus joins you, filling your car with off key singing. It takes another twenty minutes but finally you pull off onto the road that leads up to Toriel's place. It's a quaint two story Southern style place, in a quieter section of the city. It was because of Frisk and Toriel's status that they were able to get such a place. Most monsters had to make do with smaller apartments and trailer homes or if they were extremely lucky, a shared townhouse. Despite the general mistrust towards monsters regarding large purchases, some people were still willing to take their money. Some places, like the apartment complex you lived in, had no issues with allowing monsters and humans to live side by side. That's why your complex was a very heavy monster community. 

The house is bright with Christmas lights and snow in the yard is kicked up from various snow-related activities. The university car that Alphys has access to is already parked in the driveway and you carefully pull up next to it. In a flash, Sans is on the other side of the door, opening it up for you. You snort. Burn him out huh? You accept his hand but when he also takes your bag from you a soft sigh escapes you. 

"Hey Pap, would you mind going in and letting Toriel know we're here? I want to talk to Sans for a second."

Sans shifts in the snow a little as his brother heads inside. A rise in noise reaches you when he opens the house door and then disappears. You turn to Sans.

"it's kinda cold out here, can't we talk inside?"

"This will only take a second," you promise. You're not sure how to word this without sounding like a prick. "Sans, I know I scared you. It was wrong of me. And I know I keep apologizing, but I'm going to do it again. I'm so sorry I did that to you." 

"i don't blame you for that," Sans starts to say, but you lift your hand. 

"I'm going to promise you something right now," you say softly, starting straight into his concerned sockets. "I'm okay now. I'm going to be just fine. If something like that...if I get into a bad place again, I won't hesitate to run to you. You've shown me just how much you care the past few days, but you can't treat me like I'm a cracked egg forever. It's not fair to me and it's not fair to you. I'm not so fragile that I can't handle being on my own." 

He blinks and a quick flash of hurt sweeps over his face. "you want to be alone?" 

You shake your head quickly. "Not like that. I want you to not be afraid of leaving me alone sometimes. I love you, but if you keep acting like I'm about to fall apart at any moment, I'll be more likely to do just that. I can't stand feeling on edge and I don't want you feeling like that either." You hands fiddle with the edge of your Christmas sweater. Why is it so hard to get your thoughts out? "Do you...do you get what I'm saying? I know we can't go back to exactly how things were but...I just want my pranking, goofy, lazy skeleton back. I want you to trust me again." 

"you think i don't trust you?" 

You bite your lip. "I-I don't know. It feels like it." 

Sans sets the bags down on the snowy driveway and pulls you close to him. He softly taps his forehead against yours. "you did scare me," he breathes. "i haven't felt anything like that in a long time." 

"I know." You hands clutch at the back of his jacket. 

"i don't wanna lose you." 

"You won't," you promise strongly. "Not ever." 

He sighs and his breath sweeps over you. Not hot or cold. It's simply there. It makes your face heat up. "you'll let me know if it gets bad again?" 

You nod as emotion clouds up your throat and makes your lips tremble a little. "Can we start over?" 

His hands move down your back slightly as he kisses you slowly and deeply and you kiss him back, hungry for this feeling of bliss. He hasn't kissed you since that night and your body was starved of his touch. Heat blooms in the places his hands grip you and oh heavens, you want to stand here forever. When he pulls back you have to fight back a whimper. You can't help but lean into his touch as he smiles at you. 

"ok. let's start fresh then. heya. i'm sans." 

You blink at him for a second before rolling your eyes. "I didn't mean that fresh bone boy." 

"how fresh then? like outta the oven fresh or week old fresh or...?" 

You giggle and poke his cheek. "You really are a sassy goofball." 

"and you-" you bite back a surprised yelp when he suddenly grabs your waist and dips you. His sockets are gleaming with mirth. "are a beautiful mess." 

You fan your face. "I think you mean a hot mess," you say a little breathlessly. Your face feels like it's on fire. 

Sans chuckles and shakes his arms slightly. "wanna me to drop ya? snow might cool you off." 

"Don't you dare!" 

"Are you two done flirting in the snow or what?!" Undyne howls at you. The door is crowded with monsters, all watching the two of you and smiling like crazy. Frisk is barely visible, but they give you a thumbs up. And...oh geez, is that Mettaton? You didn't know he was going to be here. Sans pulls you back up and you both hurry inside, blushing intensely. Of course the moment you step inside, you immediately find yourself under mistletoe (which you're pretty sure wasn't there just a moment ago) and when Papyrus and Undyne start chanting 'SMOOCH SMOOCH!' you give Sans another quick kiss. You can't help but laugh with everyone else when his entire skull goes bright blue. 

The interior of the house has been completely decked out in Christmas cheer. Garlands, lights, and paper strings are hung over the ceilings and walls. You can smell gingerbread and turkey. You drop your bags off in Frisk's room and it's time to start dinner. You're just glad that the food hasn't gone cold from your delay in traffic. Toriel has outdone herself with cooking. There's more food here than there was at Halloween and a lot more table space at which to eat it. The dining room is filled with noise and laughter, something you haven't experienced for a very long time. Sans keeps a careful eye on Frisk, pulling the bowl of spaghetti and meatballs (provided by Papyrus) close to him and out of their reach. A little bit of food did end up flying around, thanks to Undyne, but all eye sockets are spared from being targets this time around. 

When dinner finishes and everyone wanders off to do various Christmas related actives, you stay behind to help with the dishes. Sans hesitates, gaze searching your face for a second. You give him a gentle smile and motion for him to join Papyrus and Frisk. He nods and heads into the living room. 

"Is everyone alright with you two?" Toriel asks gently. 

You pick up a few dishes from the table, carrying them over to the sink. "I think it is now." You roll up your sleeves and start washing. It's only after you finish a few plates that you catch Toriel staring at the bandages on your arm. Crap! You hurriedly pull the sleeve down, soaking the fabric. "Sorry," you mumble. Stupid, stupid! You were so used to only having the faded scars that you didn't even think. Maybe...maybe she doesn't know exactly what it means. Sans didn't. 

"My child." Toriel pulls the wet plate out of your hands, setting it to the side. She wraps her arms around you in a tight hug. She smells of cinnamon and sugar. "I'm so sorry."

Crap. You shrink in on yourself, shame washing over you. "Toriel, I don't...it's not-"

Her paw gently touches your head. "You don't need to explain, my child." Her voice is full of understanding. "I could see it in your Soul the first time I met you."

You suppress a shiver and wrap your arms around her, squeezing tightly. "And you didn't say anything?" 

"I could see that you and Sans needed each other. That was enough. Frisk loved you too. What kind of mother would I be if I didn't love my child's friend?" 

A odd sounding laugh breaks from you. "You've goat to be the best mom ever." 

She laughs loudly, a bright cheerful sound. Soon, you're laughing along with her, eyes leaking a little. You finish cleaning up, chatting about her experiences teaching and the various recipes she has yet to try. She's thrilled when you promise to make a copy of the various dishes you've learned to make over the years. When all that is done you follow the excited chatter, most of which is coming from the living room. A rather beat up copy of Ticket to Ride is out on the floor. Undyne and Alphys are on a team with the green trains, Pap and Mettaton with the pink, and Sans and Frisk are on their own with blue and red respectively. From a quick look, it seems like Sans and Frisk are closely tied. Undyne isn't far behind but poor Pap....

"Darling, we can't win the game if you keep letting other people take our tracks!" Mettaton is obviously frustrated but trying his best to be patient. Papyrus is visible flustered. 

"BUT FRISK NEEDED THE TRACK FROM SALT LAKE TO LOS ANGLES!" 

"Yes, but we needed it too! Now we have to go all the way around!" 

"hey there buddy, watch your tone," Sans says cheerfully as his sockets go dark for a second.

Mettaton waves a hand distractedly. "Yes, yes, whatever." 

You sit next to Sans, peering at the cards in his hand. "Oooh, that's a tough track." 

He shrugs. "i'm almost there." He places down five new tracks and Undyne slams her fist against the ground. 

"Dammit Sans!" 

"Do not break the floor!" Toriel comes into the room as well, frowning at Undyne. The fish monster quickly pulls her fist up. 

"Sorry," she says sheepishly. She leans in to Alphys and starts whispering furiously. 

You lean against Sans' arm, watching the rest of the game unfold. You're pretty sure that Undyne would send the game flying at several moments if Toriel wasn't sitting there, watching with a sharp eye. The game is almost over when the doorbell rings. You hop up. "I'll get it!" No one else really seems to notice, as Frisk is on their last set of trains. You laugh to yourself as you head to the door. It's probably carolers. 

"Oh, howdy! Merry Christmas!" 

You jaw hits the floor. 

The King of Monsters peeks in, having to duck his head a little. "Oh, you must be _____. I have heard about you from Frisk." 

"I uh...yeah that's me," you say dumbly, staring up at the huge monster. He's a goat like monster, like Toriel but far bigger. He also has golden fur surrounding his face and extended horns. It takes you a moment to realize he's wearing a Christmas sweater with a large Santa face on it that's just a little too small for him. 

He smiles at you almost a little nervously. "I am Asgore. It is very nice to meet you." He sticks out a hand and you shake it, your limb disappearing in his mass of fur.

"It's very nice to meet you, your Majesty." You start as you realize you haven't even invited him in. Not that's it's your home to invite him into but...he's the King! Surely it would be fine. "Please, come in." 

He steps through with a deep laugh. "Please, just call me Asgore. Is...is Tori home?" 

"Wha...oh yeah! Um, hey Toriel!" you call. "There's uh...it's..." 

Toriel is already standing there and...oh boy. She's frowning heavily. "Asgore," she greets him coolly. Geez, looks like winter has come into the house too. Sans and Frisk peek around the corner and Frisk leaps towards the king. Asgore scoops them up, a gentle smile on his face. He looks back to Toriel. "I just came by to drop some gifts off Tori-Toriel," he corrects quickly. 

Frisk looks to their mom and signs something you can't quite make out. Toriel sighs. 

"Would you like some cider?" 

Asgore brightens like Toriel's announced a second Christmas. You slide over to Sans as Asgore follows Toriel into the living room. 

"Hey! Asgore, I didn't know you were coming!" Undyne sounds considerably more happy to see the King. 

"YOUR MAJESTY! MERRY CHRISTMAS!" 

You bump Sans with your shoulder. "So uh, did the room drop several degrees, or am I imagining it?" 

Sans glances towards the living room. "monsters splitting up just...it doesn't happen very often. tori's been holding onto those betrayed and hurt feelings for a long time. she gets along with him, but only just." 

"I see." 

He pulls on your hand and you follow him back into the living room. You finally take a moment to appreciate the Christmas tree that's been jammed into the corner of the room. It's huge and barely fits. The star on top is dangling at a dangerous angle and every branch is covered in various kinds of lights and ornaments. Most of them are hand-made, probably by Frisk and the students at the school. You study a macaroni framed one; the picture inside is of the entire group here tonight, excluding Mettaton. Everyone looks so happy and a little overwhelmed. It must have been taken right after everyone came to the surface. Several presents are already under the tree, including something large that is covered by a blanket. Maybe a small bike or scooter for Frisk? 

"this tree's a little more impressive than that sad charlie brown thing sitting on your table," Sans remarks, hands in his pockets. 

"Hey! Don't insult Chris!" The little twelve inch Christmas tree has been with you for a long time and you're fond of the worn out little thing. "Tell me this; how on earth do you know Charlie Brown well enough to make references, but have no idea what I'm talking about when I say 'beam me up Scotty'?"

Sans gives you a long look. "cause charlie brown is the only thing that's been on tv at work for the last freaking month." 

"...Okay fair enough." 

"SANS! _____!" Papyrus bounces into the room. "THE KING IS GOING TO HELP US MAKE COOKIES FOR SANTA!"

Oh good heavens. Pap believes in Santa? You give Sans a quick look and he smiles at you.

"every year babe."

You shrug and go with it. Why not? The rest of the night is spent making sugar cookies (this ends with multicolored icing on pretty much everyone) and Christmas movies. Mettaton insists on showing his Christmas specials, much to Papyrus' delight and almost everyone else's quiet despair. You've never seen any of his old stuff before, but fifteen minutes into the first movie and you understand. It's like some high schooler's drama film project. The film quality is bad, the writing is worse and good grief, why does everything keep exploding? You try to whisper to Sans about exactly why this was popular underground only to find that he's fallen fast asleep. As expected. 

Asgore stuck around for a while and while the initial impression you had of him was that of a gentle giant, there's almost something...unsettling about him. It's very subtle, a quick look of sadness in his eyes or a hesitation in his movements. It's hard to tell exactly what it is, but to you he just feels old. So much older than any of the others, more weighted down. But that made sense. He had to make a lot of difficult decisions for his people. Choices that left six humans dead. Maybe more. You're pretty sure that he was around for the war that put all the monsters underground in the first place. That would put thousands of years of experiences on his shoulders. That meant Toriel had to be just as old. For that matter, how old was Sans? With all the timelines jumping around and changing, he had offhandedly said he wasn't sure. He guessed around twenty six or so, but he honestly had not way to tell for sure. It hurts to think about so you decide to drop it. Monster aging certainly doesn't work the same way as humans do. It doesn't really matter at this point.

Mettaton has to leave as the second film is ending, dramatically blaming the constant rush of a star's life. You find out from Alphys later that he's going to be helping to host the city's Christmas parade the next morning and needed his full beauty sleep. Robots need sleep? That was new. Still, you all say your goodbyes and Mettaton gives you a kiss on the cheek that leaves a sparkling mark. You're quick to wipe it off before Sans wakes up and sees that. 

You manage to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas before everyone else starts nodding off and decide to head for bed. Papyrus has to carry Sans, which is one of the most adorable things you've ever seen. You crawl into the bed with Sans while Papyrus flops on to an extra foam mattress on the floor. 

"Human, will you tell me a bedtime story?" he asks in a soft voice.

You think for a second, rubbing your hand over Sans' skull. He mumbles in his sleep and curls into a ball. "Sure thing Pap." You strain to remember and you know it won't be accurate but... "There's a story I used to love as a kid called The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear." 

Papyrus falls asleep halfway through the story and you soon follow. Your dreams that night are full of sparkling square robots and tiny dancing white dogs. 

~~~~~

"IT'S CHRISTMAS!" 

At that volume, more than one person is shouting. You groan and snuggle closer to Sans. 

"CHRISTMAS!" 

Sans, in the lowest, sleepiest voice you've heard from him, mumbles, "please tell me it's not before seven." 

You peek open one eye, staring at the clock on the bedside table. "It's not. It's 7:03" 

A tiny huffing moan is his only response. Soon enough though, the constant shouting outside the door, as well as the tantalizing scent of maple syrup is enough to drag you and the semi-conscious Sans out to the kitchen. Toriel's been hard at work again (where on earth is all this food coming from?) and the three crazies are shoveling waffles and cinnamon rolls in their mouths as fast as they can. Alphys, a little bleary eyed, waves slowly as you join the others. Sans almost immediately slumps to the table, skull barely missing a plate of bacon. You move it away from him, taking a piece for yourself. 

"Morning Alphys," you yawn, nibbling at the bacon. Oh heavens, this is tasty. 

Papyrus' mouth is still full when he hops to his feet. "OMHWARDFS! TIMHF-" he swallows "FOR PRESENTS!" He scoops Sans up, who appears to still be asleep and practically runs to the living room, followed by Frisk and Undyne, who are pumping their fists in the air. You grin at Alphys and Toriel. You take a moment to scoop some breakfast onto a plate before heading to the living room. The amount of presents under the tree has grown considerably from the small pile last night, your own mixed in with the others. Sans is facedown on the couch and you nudge his feet until he lifts them just enough for you to sit down. They immediately fall on your lap as soon as you're comfy. 

"You awake yet bone boy?"

"no." 

You wiggle a piece of bacon in his direction. "I think this will help." 

After a moment of silence, he holds his hand out without turning his head. 

Everyone opens their presents from you; a cd of fighting tunes for Undyne, a collection of classic anime for Alphys, a snail shaped cake pan for Toriel and a handmade photo album and disposable camera for Frisk. Papyrus squeals as he opens up his present. It's a cookbook of famous Italian dishes, with a heavy emphasis on noodle and pasta dishes. "I LOVE IT! I SHALL COOK EVERY RECIPE IN THIS BOOK!" 

You smile widely. "I'd better be the first to taste each and every one." 

Sans snorts, finally lifting his head a little. He pokes your face with his bare foot. "aren't you gonna open your presents?" 

"Says the guy pinning me down. Oh, thanks Frisk," you say as Frisk hops up and hands you carefully wrapped box. The tag says 'Love Toriel and Frisk' in curvy writing. Inside is a bright instruction book for learning sign language and a folded up hand made blanket. It's soft and fluffy to the touch and you pull it out and wrap it around your shoulders. "Thank you!" you say to the two of them, beaming with happiness.

Frisk grins and signs slowly. I'll practice with you.

"I'll be a pro in no time!" 

As the present unwrapping continues, Sans eventually sits up and you can retrieve the rest of your gifts. From Papyrus, you get a hand made 'Jog Girl' t-shirt and a carefully crafted frame made with bones that contains a picture of you and Papyrus striking a heroic pose in the park. Oh yeah, you remember that day! That was the day you finally reached your jogging goal! You give Papyrus a big smooch on his cheek, making his face glow a bright orange. 

From Mettaton, you receive a signed figurine of himself and a note saying 'For my fellow star and fan, burn brightly!'. You can't help but laugh a little. What else did you expect? But it was very nice to be called a star. Undyne gives you pair of new running shoes and a pass to one of her classes. Knowing how full her classes are, it's a pretty big deal. 

"You're not half bad with running," she says when you thank her. "But we gotta work on the top half!" She pinches your arms, making you yelp. "You've gotta come soon, got it?" 

"I got it," you say with a laugh, rubbing at the red mark she left. You scoot over as Alphys joins you on the couch, handing you a small box. 

"Um t-this is from me," she says shyly. She's wearing a flower crown that Frisk made for her. 

You take the box and open it curiously. There's a cell phone inside, a little bit thicker and far fancier than the one you currently have. "Oh Alphys!" 

"It's a monster brand phone. I made it myself," she says proudly. She pulls it out, showing you the features. "I can directly download all of your info right here, you d-don't even have to change your number or anything. And this-" she points to a small red button and lowers her voice. "Sans asked me to put this here. It will send a special call straight to his phone if...if y-you ever have the uh, the need." She stutters, blushing brightly. "I k-know it's tough to talk about b-but if you ever need a fr-someone-"

You lean over and give her a tight hug. "Thank you so much," you whisper. "Sorry to be a bother." 

"O-oh!" Alphys waves her hands frantically, but she looks pleased. "It's n-no trouble at all! Sans was the one w-who asked me." 

"But..." You do the math. "That was three days ago! You made a whole cellphone in three days?" 

She fiddles with her glasses. "Actually it only took a few hours." 

"My girl is a genius!" Undyne says, having listened in on the conversation. She gives Alphys a kiss, which sends her swooning. You look to Sans, who has also been watching and he gives you a hesitant smile. You can see in his face he's asking if it's okay that he did that. You scoot over, practically sitting on his lap. 

"You are the best boyfriend," you giggle.

"aw shucks. and you haven't even opened your present from me yet." 

You tap his cheek. "You first." 

Frisk hands you one of the remaining boxes, which you pass to Sans. You scoot back a little as he unwraps it. His pupils grow larger as he pulls out a brand new iPod and set of Skullcandy headphones. He stares at you in awe. "babe this is..." 

"Ah, wait for a second!" You pull the player from his hand and bring up the playlists. "I put together some playlists for you. Here, take a look." 

A little dazed, Sans scrolls through, murmuring the playlist names out loud. "Shake That Bass', 'Breathe', 'Don't Know If You've Heard, I love You', 'Scream It Out' and...'The Best Music You Will Ever Hear'?" 

"A list of my personal favorites. Not to brag, but I've got pretty good taste." You bite your lip. "I know it's not hand made or anything, but...I just wanted you to have something that means a lot to me. And I mean...come on. 'Skull'candy headphones! And...I mean if you don't like it, I can take it back. And there's more, but it has to wait til later." You snap your mouth shut before you ramble any more. 

Sans smiles so widely his sockets scrunch up. He stands and takes your face in his hands. After giving you a long, gentle kiss on your forehead he says, "thank you. i love it. and now, i think it's time to open yours. close your eyes." 

You give him a puzzled look, but does as he asks. You can hear everyone in the room giggling and whispering to each other. "Sans, if you put a pie in my face, I'm taking the headphones back." 

"dang, my plan is ruined." There's an odd sounding twang and you fight the urge to peek. "ok. go ahead." 

You open your eyes and your hands fly up over your mouth. Sans is holding a guitar, the guitar from the store that you played on and fell in love with. There's a bright blue bow on the headstock. That's what was under the blanket! There's a quick flash as Frisk takes a picture with their new camera.

"it uh, it was a little too big to wrap and i suck at that anyway," Sans says, a light blush on his face.

You reach out with hands that are shaking just a little and take the guitar. You run your hands over the wood, lovingly stroking it's surface. It's a little hard to speak and you can feel your eyes welling up. "Sans, oh Sans! It's beautiful." 

"What are you waiting for nerd? Play something!" Undyne calls, making you blush. 

"Oh, I don't know, I haven't p-played for a long time," you stutter. The entire room showers you with encouragement, so you swallow and look right to Sans. He looks so proud and filled with joy. Oh geez, you're going to cry! "Okay," you finally say, wiping at your face. "But uh, it might not be very good." You strum out Learn to Fly and when Undyne and Papyrus start singing, you join in, voice a little shaky at first. But the love and support you feel from your new family soon turns your hesitation into confidence and you pour out song after song, no longer caring when you mess up, or miss a note. When you finally stop, everyone applauds loudly. You stand and bow, filled with an endless happiness. You set the guitar down and leap into Sans' arms, squeezing him tightly. 

"I love you so much," you whisper. A giggle escapes you as he picks you up and spins a little. 

"day's not done yet," he says, winking as he sets you down. 

Huh?

Frisk takes that as some kind of cue and vanishes down the hall. They return a moment later carrying a flat white box. Toriel is beaming as she takes it from her child and holds it out to you. "You're going to need this." 

Curious, you take the box and lift the lid. You gasp as you pull out a beautiful dark blue cocktail dress. The collar is lined with off white lace and beads and the fabric is smooth and cool to the touch. "What is this?" 

Frisk grins widely. That's what you're wearing to dinner tonight.

Dinner? You glance to Sans who clears his nonexistent throat and blushes. Oh. Oh.

Chapter Text

"Are you s-serious?" Alphys looks personally offended. "He hasn't taken you somewhere fancy even once since you starting going out?" 

"What a...a NUMBSKULL!" Undyne pounds her fist in her other palm.

You giggle, raising up finger guns. "Ayyye-mmph!" Undyne slaps her hand over your mouth.

"This is no time to be messing around!" She waggles a long nailed finger in your face. "This is a huge chance for you!"

"A chance for what?" you ask, voice muffled.

"For...I dunno! A chance!"

You push her hand off your mouth. She sinks on to your bed, still shaking her head. Alphys is currently going through your rather lacking make-up box.

"You can't wear purple face paint!" she practically wails. 

You shrug. "Look, I learned stage makeup. Big, loud, dramatic. I don't really know how to do this fancy dinner date kind of stuff."

"Maybe not darling, but I do!" 

Oh no.

The door to your bedroom hits the ground with a heavy bang as Mettaton kicks it open, practically flying in with a shower of light and sparkles. 

"My door!" You shriek, jumping up. "Mettaton!" 

"Don't start screaming, you'll splotch your face." Mettaton pats your cheek, oblivious to your rage. He's got a massive silver box with him. After shooing Undyne off the bed, he plops it down and opens the lid. Actual smoke oozes from the inside and now you just want to run. You shoot Alphys a glance, trying as hard as you can not to glare at her. 

She gives you a helpless shrug. "H-he overheard us t-talking and insisted." 

"He wrecked my door!"

"Shouting!" He scolds you. He forces you to sit back down and sighs. "Fine, I will make sure it's repaired. Happy?" 

"Not really," you grumble. "Look, I...appreciate you coming out, but I think my usual make up will be fine." 

Mettaton throws a hand up over his face like you've uttered the worst of curses. "Oh you poor, simple thing!"

Simple?!

"But I suppose you can not be blamed for your ignorance. You simply have not had the utter pleasure of being the subject of my talents." He grabs your face, turning you head slightly as he studies your features. "Now, ideally, I would love to spend at least six hours giving you a complete make over, but reservations will not wait. We shall have to make do." 

"Where exactly are the these reservations at?" you ask as he starts digging through his box. He waves a hand at you.

"Now darling, it's not very sporting of me to spoil the surprise, now is it?" 

You slump in your chair. "I guess not." You eye the many brushes and creams he sets out on the bed. "Seriously, I don't want to over do it." 

Undyne is clearing struggling to hold back howling laughter. "Just let the robot do his thing," she snickers. "He made be full of himself and a complete narcissist-"

"If you're going to make catty remarks you can leave," Mettaton says in a distracted sort of way as he pulls your hair back from your face. As he starts smearing some sort of green cleanser over your cheeks, you resign yourself to your fate and just try to get comfortable. Alphys starts chattering about her favorite anime to help pass the time; it turns into a very one sided conversation as Mettaton scolds you loudly every time you move your face too much. It's actually pretty relaxing and Mettaton is surprisingly careful with...whatever he's doing to your face. He covers the mirror on your dresser to 'build the suspense' so you've got no idea what you look like. 

Or at least, it's relaxing until Mettaton threatens to bomb Undyne out of the building when she won't stop messing with his supplies and you silently beg Alphys to...heh, defuse the situation. She quickly takes Undyne out into the living room and it's just you and the robot. You're not quite sure how much time has passed by this point, but surely he's got to be almost done. You're in your dress and he's messing with your hair, humming a mechanical tune to himself. 

"Hey, um, not that I'm not grateful," you say slowly, "but why are you helping me with this? You barely know me. Is it because of Sans?" 

"That lazy sack? Please, I barely know him. Let alone like him," he responds casually. 

Oh. Well, you'd gotten the impression that Sans wasn't fond of the robot either. "Then...?" 

Mettaton hesitates, which immediately perks your curiosity. "There are certain...people in my life who are very happy with you being with them." 

"People like Alphys?" 

"Well, yes her and...others." Mettaton clears his throat. "Anyways, you've had to deal with terrible people because of your relationship with Sans. It makes a nice change for once to be rewarded for your efforts, doesn't it?" 

"I'm not dating Sans for a reward," you say but you can't help but smile at the robot. "I like being with him. And everyone else. I know you're a super busy superstar but you should try hanging out with everyone sometimes. It's a lot of fun." 

Mettaton chuckles, the noise pleasant in an odd, metallic kind of way. "I'm sure it is darling," he says in an oddly subdued voice. He snaps his fingers (how does he do that with metal digits?) and steps back slightly. He makes you spin and pose for him before finally he deems you ready. Positioning you in front of your covered mirror he grabs the blanket, pauses for dramatic effect, and rips it away.

You barely recognize the girl in the mirror. Your skin glows with a subdued magical glimmer, soft to the the touch and you can almost swear that your veins are dimly alight with color, like a finger held over a flashlight. Your face is smooth and clear, lips lightly coated in a colored gloss. Your eyes almost seem to pop, the color of your pupils magnified by the solid black eyeliner rimming your lids. A dusting of shimmering eyeshadow extends just beyond your eyes, trailing down the side of your face. Your hair is bright and full, so different from your usual style. The dress hugs your body just enough to show off your curves and paired with the heels you dug out of your closet, your legs look extra shapely and long. To complete is look, your galaxy necklace hangs just above the cut of the dress, glinting brightly.

"Well darling?" Mettaton beams at you, looking very proud of himself. "Now I know that you could never be as glorious as me, but try to focus on yourself for just a moment."

You can't speak. You slowly touch your face, stunned. Your skin feels like silk. Never in your life have you ever imagined looking so...alive. After the accident, looks just didn't seem to really matter. You've never thought of yourself as beautiful or ugly. You just were. But now....

Mettaton sighs, giving your hair a gentle floof. "I know it was a rush job, but well, I've gone above and beyond. As expected of a star like me."

A rush job? You spin, surprising the robot when you grab his hands. You have to admit, he knew exactly what he was doing. "Mettaton, this is perfect. You're a genius!"

"Oh come now, no need to state the obvious." He tries to brush it off, but he's clearly pleased. "Oh, go on and say it again!" 

"A genius!" 

"Again!" 

There's a tap at the door. "You freaks done or what? There's a strangely dressed skeleton out here and he's getting antsy." 

A flurry of nerves wash over you. Sans has never seen you done up this way (you haven't seen you so fancy for that matter) and you're honestly a little worried about how he's going to react. What would be worse? Him not really reacting at all or thinking it was weird seeing you so dolled up?

"Darling, you're overthinking things," Mettaton says in a sing song voice, tapping your forehead. "Now no frowning. You're far too young for such wrinkles." Before you can say anything, he steers you out to the living room. 

Alphys and Undyne are still here and they've been joined by the brothers. Everyone looks up as the two of you enter and though you can hear their enthusiastic reactions, your eyes are focused only on Sans. He's staring at you, sockets growing wider as he takes you in. Are his pupils...star shaped? No way, you must be seeing things. Your heart races as you walk up to him. Holy crap, he cleans up nice. Sans himself is dressed in a dark blue suit and dark red tie. It's the first time you've ever seen him in something fancier than his button up from the museum night. The tie is knotted loosely and it's slightly off center, but it gives the whole look a sort of odd charm. That and....

"Are you going for a David Tennant Doctor look?" you ask as you look down at his sneakers. He follows your gaze, shifting a foot. 

"um...yes?" 

You put your hand on your hip. "You forgot to buy fancy shoes." 

"i forgot to buy fancy shoes," he admits in a mumble. He looks back up to you and...holy crap his pupils flash in that star shape again! "you uh...you look good. really good." 

"SANS! SURELY YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT!" Papyrus' sockets are gleaming. "YOU LOOK SO BEAUTIFUL! OH! THAT'S RIGHT, WINK WINK!" 

You flush, an embarrassed smile on your face. You're going to take his audible wink as his way of letting you know he managed to keep Sans out of his room so as not to spoil the surprise.

"Damn, girl!" Undyne whistles. "If I wasn't already dating the perfect woman...nah, I'd still pick my girl." She gives you a toothy smile and a thumbs up.

Alphys can't even contain herself. She bounces on the balls of her feet, whipping out her phone. "Go-stand-by-Sans-I-have-to-get-a-picture-this-is-too-cute-oh-my-god!"

"What is this, prom night?" You slide up next to Sans, who is blushing and still staring. 

"SANS! HOLD HER CLOSE!" 

"huh? oh, yeah." Sans puts an arm around your waist, pulling you closer and his awkwardness makes you blush. 

Alphys squeals, camera flashing. After a few uncomfortable moments, in which you feel very much like a daughter being doted on for her first date, Sans moves his hand from your waist to your wrist, tugging you to the door. "look, we gotta go if we're gonna make it." 

"Have fun and get in lots of trouble!" Mettaton winks at you. 

"Thanks Mom," you say sarcastically as you grab your coat. "Don't forgot to lock up when you all leave okay?" 

Laughter follows you out the door and then it's just you and Sans. He stops and just stares at you again. You squirm under his gaze. "Um, so where are we going?"

He blinks and starts, blushing furiously. "oh, it's uh, it's a surprise. but i uh, i know a shortcut." 

"Okay?" 

"ok." 

"....Shall we get going then?" 

"oh. yeah, probably should." He's so flustered that you can't help but giggle. This only makes his blush grow. "geez, you've got me a little tongue tied here," he says. 

"I noticed." Maybe all this makeup was too much. "I know Mettaton went a little overboard. You probably don't even recognize me, huh?" 

He shakes his head furiously, pupils shrinking a little. "no, no, it's not that! it's..."He reaches for his hood, phalanges grasping thin air for a second before he remembers that he's not wearing his hoodie. He gives you a shaky smile, instead running his hand over his skull. "geez, guess i can't hide in my hood this time, huh?"

"Looks like you're gonna have to fluff it out!" You give him finger guns. 

It takes him a second (it really is a terrible pun). He bursts out laughing but you really doubt it's from the joke itself. Still, you pretend to shoot off your finger guns as he wheezes and wipes at his sockets. The laughing fit seems to have calmed him a little. He holds his hand out, winking at you. "'m no tardis, but if you're ready." 

You step into his embrace, still chuckling. "We need to get you a catch phrase. Like allonsy or geronimo."

"already got one," Sans says in a smooth voice, pulling you close. He leans to your ear and whispers, "get dunked on."

Then the world spins and you spin right along with it. You cling to Sans' suit, closing your eyes until it's over. When the world stills, you stay right where you are, even though your head clears fairly fast. Sans keeps his hands on your waist, clearly hesitating to let you go as well. You can't stop yourself from licking your lips because of your sudden nerves. 

Ooh, strawberry flavored gloss. Good to know. 

Sans rubs his hand on your back gently. "you ok?" 

You smile and give him a tight squeeze before straightening. "Simply fantastic." 

He's brought you to a place you don't recognize. Dusk has fallen so the surrounding area is filled with a gentle golden light from the many high end shops and businesses that are still open for Christmas. It's crowded and even though he had teleported you to a semi-dark corner, it didn't take long for people to notice the well dressed skeleton in their midst. 

"Sans, this is a really fancy area," you say in awe. "Where the heck are we going?" 

He grins and points to a very large glass building. "over there." 

'Over there' turns out to be a fine dining establishment called La Reve, which you distinctly remember means 'The Dream'. It's up on the twentieth level of the building and it's packed inside, mostly with humans. As you approach the greeting table, the older man sitting behind it starts a little and fixes the two of you with an intense stare. 

"Welcome to La Reve. Name?" he asks, his strong French accent making you straighten a little. 

 "it's uh, snowdin," Sans says, smiling widely. You fight back a snicker.

The man flips through a book, a plastered smile lifting his face when he finds the reservation. "Margaret, table for Snowdin," he says to a girl with raven black hair. Her waitress outfit is fancier than most of the clothing you own. She takes the two of you into the restaurant and your jaw drops. Jeweled chandeliers light the large room, the light dim and soft. Each polished table has cushioned seats and candles. Most of the tables are full of elegant people who stop their chattering just long enough to stare as you and Sans pass. Margaret leads you to the far end of the place until you reach a two seater table right next to the large window that spans the entire wall. It gives you a perfect view over the city and you have to fight the urge to press your face up to the glass.

You sit and Margaret gives you menus to look over (geez, even the menus are printed on thick paper books!) and leaves to give you time to decide. Your jaw drops as you look over the options. Or more specifically, the prices of the options. "Sans! How on earth are we supposed to afford this?"

Sans peeks over the edge of his menu. "don't worry about the price. mettaton's paying."

"He is? Why?"

His sockets glint at you. "wouldja believe me if i said it was outta the goodness of his heart?"

"Not for a second."

"yeah, didn't think so." He vanishes behind the menu. "just order what you want. it's taken care of." 

Hmm, that sounds oddly shady, but you go back to looking over the menu. You're fairly certain there's a whole world of puns you could make from these dish names, but you can't even hardly read it, let alone pronounce any of them. But you manage to make a selection by the time Margaret returns. You kind of hopelessly point to your choice, shrugging sheepishly. She writes down the order before turning to Sans.  To your complete shock, he smoothly starts speaking in French. Margaret brightens, the waitress cheer slipping into actual delight. That is, until you catch the word 'ketchup' and her expression twitches. 

You stare at Sans with an open mouth as she leaves. "What the heck was that? You can speak French?" 

"sure, can't you?" he says with a wink. When you continue to gape at him, he shrugs. "it's a monster thing. what, did you think english was the only thing we spoke in the underground for thousands of years?" 

"Uh, yeah, actually." Huh, well that was certainly interesting. You sip at your lemon water and look out the window again. It's snowing again and the light of the city makes every flake glisten as it floats through the air. It's almost like the air itself is sparkling. You put a hand up against the glass; your veins are still glowing with that subtle translucent light. "It's funny isn't it?"

"what is?"

You shrug, still looking out the window. "It kinda feels like we skipped that part. The awkward dates, the getting to know you questions."

"hey, i recall plenty of questions."

You laugh. "Okay, yeah, but I mean. You know, first date kind of stuff. We went really fast. I mean, we went straight from movie nights to spilling our darkest secrets and needing to hold each other during the night. We full on flew over the small stuff." 

Sans is quiet for a moment, fiddling with his glass. "are we going too fast?" he finally asks in a subdued tone. 

You reach across the table and take his hand. "I'm not saying that. A drowning person doesn't ignore a rescue ring being thrown to them just because they've only been in the water for thirty seconds right?" 

He grins. "a tsundereplane might." 

"It-it's not like I wanna be rescued, dummy!" you pout, turning your head away dramatically.

"i can rescue myself!" Sans says with a suppressed giggle. 

You snort in a very unlady like way. "Point being, there's plenty of things I haven't done with you yet. I just think it's really cool to still be learning things about you after all the...heavy stuff. I honestly thought I was going to scare you away by telling you all my baggage so soon. But you're still here." 

"still here," he repeats. He rubs your hand with his thumb. "i know i'm not the best with words...but you trusted me. that meant a lot. it means a lot." He blushes again as he struggles to form his thoughts. "i uh...you keep surprising me. in good ways. i mean, you...you're beautiful." 

A flutter rises in your heart at his compliment. "Mettaton did a surprisingly good job," you laugh, trying to play it cool. 

He shakes his head. "not just tonight. i mean, you're stunning right now. you saw how much of a mess i was earlier. you're stunning and you're...you're with me." His pupils glisten brightly. "but you're always amazing. your laugh, your puns and jokes, the way you care so much about my bro and the kid and everyone else and your beautiful soul is why i wanted to be with you." 

Embarrassment washes over you and you stare down at the table. Sans tightens his grip on your hand. 

"you're right. i was drowning, but you didn't just throw me a lifeline; you jumped in and dragged me out yourself. which is good, cause i gotta admit something." 

"What?"

He puts his hands up in a 'what can you do' gesture. "i can't swim." 

For some reason, this strikes you as insanely funny and your laughter draws a few looks from the patrons. But you don't really care. "Are you serious?" you snort, hand over your mouth.

"no." Beat. "i'm sans." 

You nearly bust a lung containing your howl of laughter. "You're too much, that's what you are!" 

Sans looks entirely too pleased with himself. "aw, you know you love it." 

You stand and lean over the table, giving him a kiss which very quickly turns his smugness into embarrassment. "Yes, I do." 

~~~~~

Dinner finally arrives and as expected, it is absolutely wonderful. Since it's Christmas, a special dessert is thrown in for free which you very eagerly devour. When you finish up, you decide to walk around for a while, just enjoying the Christmas sights before they're gone. Sans tells you about the undergrounds version of Christmas, which seems to have started because of a bullying prank on a random monster, but thanks to the various media that got flushed in through the dump, turned into a very similar tradition. But without the religious bit of it. 

"so the whole thing started because of some guy being born?" 

"Well, there's more to it than that. But if you celebrate the religious side of it, then, yeah. I guess it kind of is." 

Sans nods thoughtfully. "huh. and here i thought it was just an excuse to get presents." 

You nudge him. "C'mon, it's about the joy of giving!" 

"still weird." 

You laugh, looping your arm through his. "I'm in the mood for something warm. Let's find some cocoa." 

You eventually come across a place and Sans offers to get the drinks while you sit on a bench and attempt to warm your hands. As you sit there, rubbing your palms together, a sudden flicker of movement catches you eye. You turn slightly to find a monster standing a few feet away from you. But it's like no monster you've seen before. They're shaped rather like a blob, with a wide smile that appears the cut through their body and a large round black eye that stares unblinkingly at you. Oddest of all, they're completely gray. Not a speck of color is on them. A trickle of unease crawls up your spine. 

"Um, hey there," you call. 

The monster doesn't respond. It just continues to stare. Okay....? You're about to get up and leave when it suddenly speaks. 

"It's rude to talk about someone who's listening.

Their voice, scratchy and void of emotion makes you shiver. What are they talking about? You glance around; maybe they're talking to someone else? But there's no one there. You look back and bite back a shout of surprise. The odd monster is gone. Stranger still, the snow where they were standing is completely undisturbed. Okay nope! Nope, nope. You run over to the cocoa stand, nearly knocking Sans and the drinks over.

"woah, hey, slow down there, where's the fire?" he teases. Seeing the look in your eyes, his smile thins into concern. "you ok?" 

"I-I'm fine. There was a...a..." You blink and shake your head. Wait, what was it? You know you saw...something, but now you can't even remember what the thing looked like. It said something, didn't it? Sans is still watching you, so you force out a shaky laugh. "Guess I just spooked myself." 

"you ready to head home?" 

You sigh in relief, nodding. "Yeah, let's go home." 

Chapter Text

"Wait, so instead of keeping a ketchup stash in a couple of sentry stands, you moved the entire station from place to place?" 

"yep." 

"How the heck is that easier?!" 

"more stations means more places to refill. it's simple math," Sans says with a smirk.

"That doesn't even make sense!"

He kicks off his shoes as you flop down on the skelebro's couch. "look, being lazy is an art. don't blame me if you don't get it." 

"Oh yes, you certainly have made it an art," you drawl, pulling your heels off. Oh sweet freedom! You wiggle your toes, sighing with relief. It's just the two of you in the apartment; Papyrus went to spend another night with Alphys and Undyne. Pap was eager to try his new dishes and Undyne was more than willing to offer her place for experimenting. You pat the spot beside you, but Sans continues to stand, fiddling with his tie, trying to loosen it. 

"Need help?" 

"nope, i got it." He clearly does need help but the look of mild frustration on his face is cute enough to make you stay right where you are. He soon gives up and you snicker as you stand up. 

"Come here you big baby." You move in front of him and start working on the knot he's somehow managed to make. "I really liked seeing you in a suit. You should wear one everyday." 

Sans groans. "only if you wear those shoes."

"Ew. No way. Ah, got it!" You finally manage to free Sans from the tie. You slip it off, laughing when you realize what you thought was just plain red fabric actually has imprints of skulls in it. "Okay, maybe we're both better off doing our usual look." 

"hm. i gotta say though, i wouldn't mind seeing you like this again." Man, it was nonstop blushing for Sans tonight. His hand came up to graze across your cheek. "i'm not the type of guy to really care 'bout looks but i  really really like how you look. all the time i mean. not just tonight. but you look really really pretty tonight." 

"Geez, you're a regular Romeo aren't you?" you say, trying to hide your happy embarrassment. 

"the guy who ended up dead along with his lover?" 

"...Bad example." You put his tie around your neck, leaving it untied. "Okay. How about once a month, we go somewhere nice. Just the two of us. We can dress up and...I don't know, go see a movie or go dancing or something." 

Sans grins, tilting his head slightly. "once a month? sounds like a lotta work." 

You poke his sternum. "Hey pal, you just have to put on a suit. I had to sit there with Mettaton fussing over me for like two hours." 

He grabs your hand and brings it up to his mouth, pressing his teeth against your skin. The magical glow is finally starting to fade but occasionally you see a soft flicker.  

"it's a deal," he says softly. His pupils flicker upwards. "did you have a good time tonight?"

You nod quickly, heart hammering. "Yes, of course I did. This was the best Christmas I've ever had."

 He gives you an almost nervous grin. "it's not quite over yet. will you wait here for a sec?" 

You nod again and he heads down the hall. Oh shoot! Your happy haze is momentarily hit by panic. He's not heading to his room, is he? A heavy breath escapes you as he stops at the hall closet. He looks back at you.

"close your eyes?"

You laugh, doing as he asked. "Okay, now you're going to shove a pie in my face, right?"

"eh, not quite." You feel his hand on your arm, guiding you back to the couch. Several long seconds pass before he finally clears his throat. "um. don't laugh, ok?" 

"Why would I-" A gentle strum interrupts your question and your eyes pop open. Sans is seated next to you, guitar in his lap. It takes you a second to realize it's not the same guitar he gave you that morning. "Sans, what is this?"

He plucks at the strings lightly, playing out a tune. He smiles at you, a dim blush on his face. "that day we went to get cocoa and found that shop, all it took was a little music to set your Soul at ease. i could see it. and then watching you play, seeing how happy it made you, i wanted to do the same. i knew right away i wanted to get you one. when i went back to get it, that scrawny kid jake asked if i played at all. he offered to teach me when i said i didn't." Sans shrugs. "not a bad kid, once i cleared up a little...misunderstanding." 

Misunderstanding? "So all that time you spent away at work in the time before Christmas...."

"i didn't lie. i was working hard," he says with a wink. "i thought it'd be nice to know how to play and surprise you. after a while...i started enjoying it. it's relaxing. and i uh, i wanna play you something." 

Your hands come up over your mouth. "You learned a song? For me?" you squeal. 

He shifts a little, pausing in his playing. "you can't laugh. ok?" 

You quickly pull your legs up, tucking them under you. "Sans, I won't laugh, I promise." Is this really happening? You press your hands up over your face, smiling with glee.

Sans clears his non-existent throat. Then, still blushing, he starts a new song, an acoustic cover of one that you recognize. His phalanges dance over the guitar and he closes his sockets. The music swells and he starts to sing softly, his voice a gentle rumble that rises and falls with the notes strumming under his hands. "aren't you something to admire, 'cause your shine is something like a mirror. and i can't help but notice, you reflect in this heart of mine."

You're barely aware of the slight shake in his voice. You don't notice the tears that are beginning to form in your eyes. Sans is singing to you. You've never once heard him sing before. The most he ever did was hum softly, in a way that was barely noticeable. 

"it's like you're my mirror, my mirror staring back at me. i couldn't get any bigger with anyone else beside of me." His sockets open and he meets your eyes. His pupils are glowing gently and the smile on his face is pure and genuine. The love and admiration in his face makes a soft sob escape you. You put your hands over your face. Shoot, your make-up is going to be completely ruined. Somehow, you can't bring yourself to care all that much. 

"'cause with your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul i can tell you there's no place we couldn't go. just put your hand on the glass, i'm here trying to pull you through. you just gotta be strong." Sans continues to sing, blissfully losing himself in the song. You can honestly say it's the most beautiful thing you've ever heard. As he finishes, the notes lingering in the air like snow, you can't bring yourself to speak. You just sit there, lip trembling. 

Sans rubs a hand over his skull; his blush is mostly gone now. "heh, that bad huh?" 

That gets a strangled laugh from you as you wipe at your eyes. "Sans, that was beautiful," you whisper. "I-I've never had someone do that for me. Thank you." 

He sets the guitar aside, taking your hand. "you did it for me. you've done so much. i wanna do the same. scars, tears and all, i wanna be here with you." 

In his eyes, you can almost see a glimmer of how he sees you. It must be the same way that you see him. Scars, imperfections and fears all helped to create the fascinating, beautiful puzzle that he is. To be seen in the same way is more than you could ever hope for. You grab the collar of his unbuttoned suit and pull him close, kissing him deeply. You try to put the full extent of your love for him in the simple act and he melts beneath your touch. 

When you finally part, he lets out a shaky laugh. "guess i chose the right song, huh?" 

"Yes you did bone boy." You stand and reach for his hand. "Now, it's time for your surprise." 

He's taken aback, but takes your hand and follows you down towards his room. "um, what kind of surprise?" 

"Kinda missing the point of a surprise dummy." You approach his door and you're so relieved to see the light seeping out from under the frame. The stars needed the light to properly glow in the dark. Well done Papyrus! You mentally make a note to high five him later. 

Sans notices the light too. "huh. that's weird." 

"You probably just forgot to turn it off," you say quickly, opening the door. As soon as he steps in, you flick the light off and he freezes. The walls and ceiling are covered in stars, arranged in constellations and patterns that extend nearly to the floor. Each star shines brightly, giving the room a semi-green glow. He spins slowly, taking in the sight. His pupils are almost the size of his sockets, shimmering brightly. You can't stop a laugh from escaping at his surprised joy. 

"you did this? when...." He slaps a hand over his sockets, a grin spreading over his face. "spamberry juice." 

You nod, shrugging sheepishly. "I needed you out of the apartment!" 

"and paps not letting me in here earlier?" 

"He helped me put the stars up. I had to sit on his shoulders and everything." You move behind him, wrapping your arms around his ribs. "I know they're not the real thing. But when you wake up in the middle of the night, you don't have to look to the window. As soon as you open your eyes, the stars will be right here. And you'll know exactly where you are." You rest your head on his shoulder. "Do you like it?" 

His hands are trembling as he takes hold of your arms, pulling away just enough to turn around before wrapping you in a tight hug. "i love you so much," he whispers in your ear. His hands move to your waist, lifting you slightly off the ground. You giggle as he spins a little, his bones rumbling with laughter. 

"Why Mr. Snowdin, I didn't peg you as one for dancing in the starlight." 

Sans gives you a wide grin. "i may be lazy, miss sassy pants, but i know when to grab an opportunity."

He lowers you back down, but continues to sway a little. Your bare feet brush against his, warm skin against bone. He hums a quiet song, one you don't recognize. It makes your heart swell. How did you get here? Dancing in the dim light on Christmas night with the man of your dreams, who just happened to be a skeleton. If the terrible things that happened in the past put you on the path that led you here, you would do it all again. 

"you do realize that we're gonna have to sleep in here every night from now on," Sans says lightly, phalanges dancing up your side. 

You look around the messy room (made slightly less disgusting thanks to Papyrus) and wrinkle your nose. "You're gonna have to do something about the tornado of garbage in the corner if that's the case." 

"hmm, you drive a hard bargain." Sans shrugs. "well, whatever. there's only one thing i need to see when i wake up." 

"And what's that?" 

"i'm looking at it right now," he says with a cheeky smile before kissing you. "merry christmas sweetheart." 

"Merry Christmas, bone boy." 

~~~~~

You scowl at the staggering amounts of socks and slippers spread across the floor. Good grief, would it kill him to pick these up!? You bend and scoop up one of his pink slippers.

"hey, easy on the lifting pal." 

You almost drop the slipper when a familiar voice sleepily emits from it. You look inside to find Sans, somehow shrunk down to the size of a small doll nestled inside. 

So. Cute!

"There's gotta be better places to sleep," you say, poking at his tiny cheek. He opens his sockets, lazily waving a hand at your finger. 

"it's fine."

"It's really not. You wear this thing everywhere. It's gotta be really dirty." 

He yawns, snuggling down deeper. "skeletons don't sweat."

That can't be right. You've seen him sweat before! 

"you don't believe me?" He reaches up, sockets closed. "come on in. see for yourself." 

You hesitate, the reach for his itty bitty hand when-

A loud, cheerful jingle rips you away from the odd dream. You jerk up, heart painfully rushing in your chest. What the heck? The noise plays again and you dimly recognize the sound as the opening song for that Mew Mew Kissy anime Alphys was so obsessed with. It's coming from your new phone. It's also telling you it's a little after two in the morning. A stream of sleepy curses slip from you as you blindly reach for it. "Hmm 'mello?" 

"I'm so s-sorry I d-didn't k-know w-whotocallpleaseineedhelp-!"

"Whoa, hey, slow down," you say, sitting up. Sans (properly sized) stirs slightly, cracking open a socket. "Take a breath. What's going on?" 

There's a loud sob on the line. "I-it's Undyne. She...she's b-been arrested!" 

~~~~~

You've never been to a police station before. Certainly not at three in the morning. You pull your car up into the mostly empty parking lot, stomach twisting. Alphys was too upset to really explain what had happened. All you know is that Undyne got in some sort of fight.

"yeah, we're here," Sans says into his phone, staring darkly at the station. "we're gonna get in there and find out what's going on. yep, sure thing tori." He hangs up and looks at you. "tori has to contact asgore but she said she'll start heading down this way if we need her too." 

"Okay." You hiss through your teeth. "Let's just figure out what happened." 

The two of you head inside and despite the quiet parking lot, it's rather busy and noisy inside. Officers and civilians are moving around, most of the latter either drunk or shouting. The police look exhausted and for a moment you almost feel bad.

Then you spot Alphys, who is off in a corner, trembling under the stares and harsh shouting of people who are being forced to wait as well. Papyrus is just in front of her, arms crossed defensively. When she spots you and Sans she runs right to you, eyes bloodshot and filled with fear. Papyrus follows closely behind. 

"THERE YOU ARE!" Poor Papyrus looks so shaken, but he tries to give you a smile. "I AM SORRY TO WAKE THE TWO OF YOU. WE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO." 

Sans looks to Alphys and tilts his skull slightly. You rub at her shoulder, trying to calm her down. 

"paps what happened?" 

Papyrus wrings his hands. "WE NEEDED ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS FOR A DISH IN MY NEW BOOK AND UNDYNE SAID WE SHOULD ALL WALK TO THE MARKET. WHEN WE ARRIVED WE SAW A GROUP OF MOLDSMALS AND HUMANS WHO...THEY WERE NOT BEING NICE TO THEM. THEY WERE HITTING THEM BROTHER. THE MOLDSMALS COULDN'T DEFEND THEMSELVES." 

"S-she w-was just t-trying to h-help," Alphys cries. "They p-pushed her a-and s-she t-tried talking b-but then one of t-them...h-he y-yanked m-my t-tail...."

You bristle with rage and it's clear that Undyne must have done the same and snapped. "Okay, look she was acting in self defense and protecting you. They can't keep her here because of that." 

"THEY WON'T TALK TO US." Papyrus' jaw quivers. "THEY SAID WE NEEDED A HUMAN REPRESENTATIVE."

You set your shoulders. "Well I'm here now." You head over to the counter, trying to keep a hold on your anger. Losing your head would not help in the slightest. The officer you approach is an older man with salt and pepper hair. He gives you a quick look, eyes flickering to the ensemble behind you. His badge says "Roberts"

"Hi," you say flatly. "I'm here for my friend. Her name is Undyne."

Roberts nods, looking almost bored. "Are you claiming responsibility for the monster in custody?" 

"Excuse me?" 

He sighs, going into a clearly rehearsed spiel. "Monsters are not recognized as beings with the country's inalienable rights and as such must be represented by an adult or ambassador with those rights when dealing with affairs of city and state." 

"Hold on," you say, trying to wrap your head around this. "Taking responsibility means what exactly?"

The officer pulls out a thick folder and slides it over. There's got to be well over fifty pages. "All details are here. All forms must be completed and filled out before release of the monster can be considered and granted." 

You take the folder, even more dread building in your chest. "What exactly are the charges against my friend?" 

"I can't answer that unless you are the established human representative." 

You fight the urge to growl. "Fine. I'll be back." You head back to an empty seat and start flipping through the forms. Long end of it, filling these out would basically make you like Undyne's guardian. "Geez, she's not gonna be happy about this," you mutter, reaching for a pen. 

Sans stops you. "hey, think about this. you can't just do this without considering the consequences." 

"What is there to think about?" 

Alphys wipes at her face. More tears have started crawling down her face. "S-sans is r-right _____. T-this is v-very s-serious. We s-should w-wait for-"

"Alphys, no offense, but you don't look like you'd last much longer," you say as gently as you can. "It's going to be okay. Let me do this." 

It takes another twenty minutes or so to fill out the forms. You just seriously hope you're not signing away your life because most of what this is saying is mumbo jumbo to you. When you take it back up, Roberts takes the files and starts flipping through them. You only wait for a few seconds before saying, "Okay, now tell me exactly why you arrested my friend." 

"The monster Undyne has been charged with assault of two human citizens and destruction of public property." 

"She was acting in defense of fellow monsters!" You gesture to Alphys and Papyrus. "These two were there!"

Finally, his bored persona slips. His eyebrow quirks upwards. "And did your friends tell you what happened to the two men she attacked? Did they mention that they ended up in the hospital with severe injuries?" Your shock must show on your face because he gives you a smug grin. "Didn't think so. Still want to be the representative?"

You scowl at him. "Yes," you say coldly. "How long will it take to get her out?"

"The forms need to be processed before a decision can be reached. It will take about an hour and a half. I suggest you get comfortable." 

~~~~~

It doesn't take an hour and a half. It doesn't take two. At this point, almost three hours have passed. Sans is fast asleep, leaning against your shoulder and you are very close to following suit. Poor Alphys is lying across Papyrus' lap; she fell into an exhausted sleep about two hours ago. You had asked her if she wanted to go home and just wait for you to call her, but she had no intention of leaving without Undyne. Papyrus is the only one still alert, rubbing a hand over Alphys' head. He starts suddenly.

"UNDYNE!" 

Alphys shoots up like she's been tasered, eyes wide. Roberts has just walked through the door leading deeper into the precinct. He's accompanied by another man, one much larger and far nastier looking, who has an iron grip on Undyne's arm. She's scowling so fiercely, you're shocked that she hasn't summoned her spears. But the moment she lays her eyes on Alphys, the rage on her face fades into something softer, more desperate and she barely waits for the man to let go before ripping her arm away. She sprints towards you, eyes only on her girlfriend.

"Alphys!" 

Alphys barely has time to stand before Undyne crashes into her, holding her tightly. 

You let out a sigh of relief, rubbing at your sleep heavy eyes. Sans, who jerked awake the same time Alphys did, takes your hand. Roberts approaches you as you and Sans both stand. He frowns, stare falling on your clasped hands. "Release has been granted. This counts as a first offense for the monster Undyne. A second will result in fees and a monster trial, which could lead to jail time. Do you understand?" 

"Yes." 

 Then finally, he says the words you've been waiting to hear. "Then you're all free to go. Bail information will be mailed to you. Failure to submit payment will result in legal actions." 

You'll take it. The group quickly heads outside, eager to get away from the station. It's now nearly six in the morning and the morning traffic has already begun. Oh sweet heavens, you have work in three hours. "What a nightmare. I am ready to crash," you say through a yawn. You start to head to the car, when Undyne suddenly grips your arm. You're too tired to yelp, even though it hurts a little.

"What the hell did you do that for?" she snarls. 

"hey." Sans is at your side, sockets black. "don't think you should be talking like that to the one who just saved your butt." 

"Stay out of this Sans," she growls. Her eye turns back to you. "Why'd you stick your nose in my business huh? I didn't ask you to do any of that!" 

Oh you are far too exhausted for this. "What are you talking about? What was I supposed to do? Leave you there?" 

"I don't need to be saved!" She's furious, but you can't understand why she's taking it out on you. You rip your arm free. 

"That's what friends do!" you yell back at her. "You were in trouble!" 

She folds her arms, scowling at you. "Yeah, trouble I got myself into. You shouldn't have gotten involved. And now you're like what...my owner? Like I'm some kind of freaky pet?" 

You run your hands through your hair. "Of course not! Look, the system is stupid and it's wrong, but you have to know I would never do that to you. I didn't exactly have a lot of options. It was either sign the papers or leave you there until who knows when." 

Alphys places a hand on Undyne's arm. "I'm t-the one w-who called her h-here. I d-didn't know what t-to do. It's m-my f-fault." 

Undyne looks at her girlfriend for a long moment, expression slowly softening into something you can't quite define. You sigh, rubbing your arms. It's really cold out here and in your rush to get to the station, you didn't exactly dress for the weather. 

"If you want to be angry with me, fine. But think about Alphys waiting without you, having no idea when she was going to get you back." You know you're being blunt, but you are too tired and now too cranky to care. "Sorry for caring about my friends." 

Undyne lets out a long breath, the air in front of her face steaming. "Damn it!" she finally says, pulling you into an extremely tight hug. "You're a dumb softie, you know that?"

"So I've been told," you choke out, patting her back. 

"Sorry I yelled. And uh, thanks," she mumbles. "Guess I'm the bigger moron." 

You sigh, pulling back just a little. "It's okay. Let's just...let's go home and rest. I think we're all too exhausted to deal with everything right now."

You take Alphys and Undyne home; the university is fairly close, thank goodness before heading back to the apartment. Your eyes feel like lead and it doesn't help that the car behind you has its brights on; the lights shine directly on your face, making you squint. Papyrus has passed out in the back seat but Sans, to his credit, is still awake. He rubs your arm gently. 

"you ok?" he asks softly. 

You nod. "Just need some caffeine asap," you say in a croaky voice. "And I need this freaking car off of my tail."  

Sans turns around in his seat. "how long's it been there?" 

"I dunno? At least a few miles now. Maybe since the university?" You can't really remember. Sans keeps his sockets trained on it until you turn into the parking lot and it finally moves on. Stupid, impatient driver. You rub at your face as you park. What a night. And now there's no point in going back to sleep. Even better, it's your first day back at the station since the attack on your office. 

Freaking splendid. 

 

Chapter Text

You're not the only one who feels (and looks) like crap at the station that morning. You blearily lift your head as the door to the booth opens. Tod walks in and the side of his face without the harsh scar is swollen and red with what looks like three deep claw marks running down his cheek. You sit up, your exhaustion momentarily replaced by shock. "Tod! What happened?" 

Tod winces, touching the wound gingerly. The scratches barely miss his eye. "Bad run in with a cat." 

"That looks pretty deep for a cat. What the heck did you do to the poor thing?" 

He gives you a bemused look. "And you assume it was my fault? I was trying to help the 'poor thing'." He sits down, taking a heavy chug from his coffee. "But you know how creatures are. They don't see that a temporary discomfort is better for them in the end." 

"Sure, but they don't know that." You rub at your eyes, another wave of exhaustion washing over you. 

"Not looking too good yourself," he drawls. 

You shrug, slumping back to the table. "I was at the police station all night. Don't ask. Did you know the police won't even consider releasing monsters in custody without some kind of human representative? I can't even imagine how many times Frisk has had to get involved. Poor kid." 

Tod scowls at his coffee cup. "The whole system is a mess. It has been for a long time, even before monsters came to the surface."  He starts pulling out papers, frowning heavily. "We have another problem on our hands that we need to deal with."

You take the papers, a sinking feeling in your chest. As you thought, there's been a dip in listeners, leading to a dive in profit. This isn't good. Honestly, you had gotten used to people being nasty to you. But for it have this bad of an effect on the station itself... "Tod, I-"

"If you even mention resigning or moving to a new department I'm going to force you to finish this God awful sludge they dare to call coffee," he grumbles. "Do you think that even if you left, I'd stop talking about monster issues? Trust me, you're exactly the kind of person I need right here."

You give him a smile, trying to convey your gratitude.

He gives the cup one last slurp before chucking it at the trash can way over in the corner. It hits dead center, landing with a dull clang. Dang, what you wouldn't give for an aim like that. "Now, if you were going to say you have an idea and I went on that heartfelt rant for nothing, please do continue."

You drum your nails on the table, thinking. What can you do to help up the listener count? You need something big, something exciting, something people already love... You stare at your freshly manicured nails and a lightbulb goes off. A smug grin crawls across you face as you pull out your phone. "Actually, I think I know someone who could help."

~~~~~~

"Oh darling, I saw you just yesterday and you're already desperate to hear the sound of my voice? If you were such a big fan then you should have said!"

Maybe this isn't such a good idea. "You uh...you know it. Do you remember Tod, who works with me at the station?"

"The man with that outrageous scar on his face?"

A twitch of annoyance flicks through you. "Yes. Please don't say mean things about his scar."

"Oh darling you misunderstand. The rugged, scarred look is a huge hit among some crowds. And his voice more than makes up for anything else."

You're not sure if Mettaton is trying to compliment Tod or not. "I guess? Anyway, are you still up for being on our show?"

Instead of the immediate 'oh darling if I MUST' response you're expecting, Metatton goes quiet for a second. "There's something I would need you to do first," he finally says, voice oddly subdued. "Two things actually."

"What is it?"

"First off, I have a cousin who is...well he has passion for music and he is quite good at it, but because of his nature, he isn't having any kind of luck with finding a job. Poor thing tends to send people running before he has a chance to speak."

You see what he's getting at. "I'm not the one to talk to about employing but...bring him to the station. I can't promise a job, but I can promise a fair shot."

"That's splendid darling!" Mettaton purrs in a warm tone. "Now as for the...the other thing. You cannot tell Sans about this."

That can't be a good sign. "Um, I kind of have a 'don't keep secrets from my boyfriend' promise I made to myself-"

"It's not even really a secret!" Mettaton says quickly. "He knows, he'll just throw a stink about it. For everyone involved, I think it's better to avoid that, don't you?"

With a growing sense of apprehension, you slowly say, "Tell me what it is you want first."

"I promise it is nothing drastic. Just a simple thing really."

"Spit it out then!"

"You really must work on that shouting," he grumbles. "Fine. I want...anightoutwithPapyrus."

"You want to hang out with Papyrus?"

"Not...not hanging out exactly." He sounds almost...shy? Your jaw drops. Oh!

"Mettaton, are you telling me you're crushing on my boyfriend's sweet, caring brother?" He doesn't reply, which is all the answer you need. No way! No wonder he didn't want Sans to know about this. "Wait, you said Sans knows?" 

"It's more like he has a sneaking suspicion," he admits. 

Ah. "Look, I'm not going to use Papyrus as a bargaining chip." Besides, Papyrus is the embodiment of love and sunshine. He's not stupid, but he is caring and trusting to a fault. And Mettaton is pretty much the exact opposite of that. It would be pretty irresponsible to just agree to this. "No offense, but Papyrus doesn't seem like the type of person you'd be into. What gives?" 

"Well...I just...he's refreshing to be around, all right? You don't need to worry about me corrupting the skeleton, Sans does enough of that already." Mettaton sighs in a great suffering kind of way. "I just want to take him to dinner. No tricks, no ulterior plans. Okay?" 

You bite your lip. It's not that you don't trust Mettaton...no that's exactly what it is. "I will mention the idea to Papyrus," you finally say. After all, he's a grown (?) skeleton; he can make his own decisions. And as you've seen, he can take care of himself if need be. "And I'll talk to Sans. Is that good enough?" 

"You're a star, love," Mettaton says warmly. "All right then! Charlie!" he calls slightly away from the phone. You have to assume Charlie is his manager. "Cancel my appearance tonight! I'm going on the radio!"

You hear an angry squawk, probably from poor Charlie. "No, not tonight!" you say quickly, taking pity on the poor guy. "We need time to properly advertise after all. We've gotta get the biggest audience we can!" 

"My word, you're already learning from me!" If Mettaton was in the room with you, you're sure he would be patting you on the head at this moment. "Very well!" 

You finish finalizing the details with Mettaton's manager (how does the guy do it?) and hang up. Tod finally looks like he's waking up a little, and he's clearly pleased with you. He gives you a thumbs up. "I need more coffee. Mind pulling up the news email? Abby probably sent it already." 

"You got it," you say as you pull up the program. It's the usual; crashes in the busier parts of the city, some politician was caught cheating on his wife and oh, some guy claiming that monsters were using mind control to corrupt the minds of the youth. How original. You roll your eyes and scroll down. As you read the next headline, your heart freezes and twists into an agonizing shape in your chest. 

~~~~~

"A five year old girl was found severely beaten in local park early this morning by a member of the gardening committee. Authorities believe Sadie Thomas was beaten by step father Nate McNevan after Sadie attempted to bring a monster child to her home. An arrest notice has been made for McNevan, whose whereabouts are currently unknown." 

Your fidget and try not to stare up at the tv in the waiting room at the hospital. Instead you fix your eyes on the bouquet of flowers in your hands. This has to be some sort of nightmare. Sadie had even told you about Nate not liking monsters. But like the idiot you are, you just brushed away the concern. A bunch of stupid flowers isn't nearly enough to fix this. But you don't know what else to do. 

Aside from a man who is currently buried behind a magazine, you're alone in the room; Sans was just as upset as you but the hot dog joint was severely understaffed thanks to so many of the employees taking vacation time. Also, as he pointed out, a skeleton in a hospital probably wasn't the best idea. Especially given the circumstances. He told you he would come regardless, but you said you would be fine by yourself. He made you promise to call him if things got bad. You half expect him to just show up anyway.

You look up as the door opens and the nurse walks out. Since you weren't a family member, or hell, even really a friend, the nurse had told you that he would have to check with Sadie's mom before letting you visit the room. It hardly seems possible, but your heart sinks even lower as the mother herself follows the nurse through the door. You barely have time to stand before the woman crosses you to and starts snarling. 

"How dare you show your face here." Severe bags line her eyes. "What do you want?" 

"I-I heard what happened," you stumble over your words. You lift the flowers. "I know that you barely know me but I just wanted to see if Sadie is okay." 

She crosses her arms. "Of course she's not okay. Ever since that day, she's gone on and on about how monsters are nice and monsters could be friends. Look at where it got her!"

"I just...I didn't know-" 

"That teaching my daughter that monsters could be friends would lead to my husband beating her nearly to death? No, why would you know? Because this is none of your business." She gives the flowers a harsh stare before turning away. "Just go. You are not wanted here. And tell your monster 'friends' that if I see any of them near here I will call the police." 

And that's all she has to say. The flowers fall from your limp hand as you watch her walk away. You can't bring yourself to pick them up. You can't form a clear thought. Finally, in a numb daze you head back to your car. You bump into someone on your way out; normally you would at least give a quick apology but your voice is lost somewhere in the storm brewing in your head. It wasn't your fault. That was the truth. You didn't beat the poor tiny child who just wanted to be friends with a monster. But it somehow feels like you handed the bat to the heartless animal that did this. 

As you drive home, a few tears make their way down your face. But under the guilt and horror and utter disgust, something else is brewing inside of you. Something hot and almost painful in its intensity.

Rage. Pure, agonizing rage eats at you. Your fingers grip the steering wheel tightly. How could such cruelty exist in this world? How could people like Nate McNevan and Emily and asshole have such mindless hate towards a race that had done nothing but fight for a chance to live under the open sky? It was disgusting and senseless and so...so wrong! You wipe at your face angrily. Enough! Enough of of this crap! Something needs to be done, before things get worse. 

You're jolted from your thoughts by the car behind you honking loudly. The light was green. "I'm going, I'm going," you mutter. You pull forward, only to have the car follow you right on your tail. Geez, what is it with drivers in this city? You speed up a little and when it matches your speed, worry finally gnaws at you. You change lanes, keeping your eyes on the car. It stays where it's at and you breathe a sigh of relief. You're being paranoid, that's all. You soon reach another light and your heart is starting to slow when-

A shriek escapes you as your car suddenly jumps forward with a ear piercing metallic screech. In your rearview mirror, you can see that the car you thought had just gone away is right back behind you. The engine roars and they slam into the back of your car again. The light goes green and you hit the gas, racing away from the car. You've gotta get off the road! You twist the wheel and the tires screech in protest as you whirl into the parking lot of a supermarket. You crane your neck just in time to see the attacker zoom by; the windows are dark but you just barely catch the shape of a figure in the drivers seat.

Shaking, you get out of your car. What the hell was that?! After waiting a minute to make sure the lunatic isn't circling back, you move to the rear of your car to check the damage. A long harsh scratch runs through the paint and there's a large dent on the left side. You grab at your hair and let out a scream of frustration. Seriously!? What an asshole! All because you didn't notice the light was green?

Your hands slowly lower. No. No that can't be the only reason. Not with the car that wouldn't get off your tail last night too. Was it the same car? No matter how much you strain, you can't remember. Thanks to the glare of their headlights and your own exhaustion, you can't get more than a dim image of a larger car. But there's no way you could have missed the dark blue SUV that just mashed up your car. Oh shoot, you didn't get the license number! 

"Are you all right there?" 

You jump and whirl around, but it's just some old lady. She's hobbling towards you, her wrinkled face tight with concern. She must have seen you drive into the parking lot like a madman. You put a hand over your racing heart, nodding. "Yes, yes I'm fine." 

"Goodness me, you're white as a sheet!" She reaches out to pat your cheek. Her mouth drops open when she sees the state of your car. "What kind of horrible person would do something like this?"

"That's what I would like to know," you say, letting out a shaky breath.

"Let's call the police; they can get this sorted out." 

Oh you've had more than enough of dealing with the police. You shake your head, attempting a reassuring smile. "Um, I think I'm gonna drive home first. I'm just down the road."

"Are you sure?" 

Absolutely. "Yeah, I don't want to stick around in case they come back." 

The old lady frowns. "Well, if you're sure. Here, take this." She pulls out a paper, writes down her number and hands it to you. "If you need a witness statement, call me. And here-" She drops a handful of mints into your palm. "Mint is calming you know." 

She waits until you get into your car, waving. You wave back, your throat going tight. What a nice lady. The world needs more people like that. It occurs to you as you pull into your apartment lot that you didn't even ask for her name. Well, given everything that's happened in just the last twenty-four hours, you really can't be blamed for forgetting some basic manners. You drag yourself upstairs and pull out the insurance information on your car. Uggh, you really don't want to do this. 

Calling the police and insurance company takes a good hour or so. The police get a description of the car from you and a promise to contact you once more information has been found. Given the nature of the accident, they seem pretty confident they'll be able to find the freak. And one sliver of light, your insurance will pay for all the repairs for your poor car. That of course leads to another thirty minutes of finding a car repair shop and setting up an appointment. It's looking like you're going to be without your car for at least a week. Well, at least you've got a transporting boyfriend to help out. 

Finally, you set the phone down and lean back in your chair. What a terrible day. You really just want to snuggle up on the beanbag with Sans and watch some crappy movie and just forget about everything for a while. But Sans isn't off work for another two hours. You groan and stand up, heading towards the bathroom. You need a bath. A long, boiling hot bubble bath. You get everything ready and sink into the water. Ahhh, now this is heaven. Steam rises from the tub, helping to sooth your body and mind. 

As you soak, you can't help but think about Sadie. You can't blame her mother for being angry. Hell, you're furious. But both you and Sadie had done nothing wrong. You both just wanted to treat monsters like regular people. Why couldn't the rest of the world see that? You close your eyes. You have to remember that the world wasn't filled with complete jerks. Jake, the old woman in the parking lot, Tod, Abby. Frisk. 

Papyrus, Alphys and Undyne.

Toriel.

Sans

Really, you haven't met a single monster that hasn't treated you with anything but respect. Why can't people do the same? 

You stay in the bath until your skin wrinkles. After you dry off and throw on some sweats, you grab your new guitar and head back into the living room. You plop down and start idly playing. You soon lose yourself in the music, closing your eyes. You even sing a little and finally, finally, you start to relax after the craziness of the day. 

You hear the door open and close quietly. Huh, Sans must be home early. You keep your eyes closed, finishing up the song you're on. "I've had the worst day," you say to him. "I hereby degree we have a night of movies and pizza." 

Sans doesn't answer. 

"Okay, movies, pizza and ketchup. Deal?" 

When he remains silent, you open your eyes. "Sans, is something wrong?" You sit up and freeze. 

It's not Sans standing there. 

It's three men wearing black masks, staring coldly down at you. 

You open your mouth and scream. 

Chapter Text

There's several impossibly long seconds, an infinite moment that passes as your brain simply tries to process what's happening. Then, of its own accord, your body shoots up from the bean bag, dashing towards your room. However, you barely take three steps before the burliest of the men snags your arm with an iron grip. You attempt to scream again and his gloved hand slaps over your mouth, muffling your cries.

"You know, I expected someone who dares to so publicly announce their love for monsters to have a better sense of personal safety." The one speaking, the smallest of the group, plops down at the dining table. The only part of his face you can see are bright green eyes that glint at you as the man holding you drags you over. You buck and struggle, but his hold is too strong to break. His hand lifts from your mouth briefly as he forces you to sit in the other chair.

"Help-!"

A rag is shoved in your mouth, making you gag.

"I mean really, an unlocked door? You're making this far too easy." Green Eyes digs around in a small bag at his side. Terror makes you freeze as he pulls out a hand gun and a large syringe. "Not that I'm complaining. Just a little disappointed. Now, let's get to business." He sets the gun on the table and you can tell from the way his eyes scrunch that he's smiling. "Then we can have some fun."

The third man grabs your wrist, forcing your arm to stretch out over the table. Small whimpers escape you as you twist your arm uselessly. What the hell is happening? Green eyes observes your scars and makes a small, knowing nod. He looks up at you.

"Betcha wish you had finished the job huh?" He jabs the needle into your arm, the pain making you shriek. You're expecting something, maybe a drug to flow into your veins. But instead, Green Eyes fills the syringe with your blood. When it's full, he pulls the needle out and pats your arm. A bead of blood bubbles up from the hole in your skin.

He must see the confusion in your eyes because Green Eyes laughs loudly. "Now don't you worry about this just yet. Our boss needs this and...well that would be spoiling the surprise now, wouldn't it?" He leans over the table and takes your face in his hand, squishing your cheeks painfully. "But don't go thinking this makes you special. Chances are one in a thousand you've got what the boss is looking for." He slaps your cheek before standing. "Go ahead and take that gag off her, I wanna see her lip tremble. But don't go yelling now, or I'm going to have to use this thing." He waves the gun almost playfully at you.

You fight to keep your lips from doing just that. You run your tongue over your teeth; the cloth reeked and left an awful taste in your mouth. "Who are you?" Your voice is surprisingly steady.

"Oh you don't remember me?" He simpers mockingly as he hands the syringe of your blood to the third man. He slides it into some strange looking device and starts tapping away at the buttons on its surface. Mr Macho still has a firm grip on your shoulders. Your mind races as you desperately think of something you can do. Your eyes dart to the counter; your phone is right where you left it. All you have to do is press the emergency button Alphys added and Sans would immediately come to you.

"I don't think I've had the pleasure," you drawl, trying to keep your face straight.

"Well I suppose we haven't officially met." He clears his throat. Then he speaks in what's clearly meant to be an impression of you. "I swear I didn't know poor little Sadie would get beaten to a bloody pulp because I thought humanity could be one with monsters. Sadie's mom really wasn't happy with you, was she?"

A chill runs up your spine. The man in the waiting room!

"How's your car by the way? Hard to tell, I was moving so fast, but I'd say at least your fender is going to need some major work." He moves closer until his face is mere inches away. "I've been dying to know, how did it feel, kissing that skeleton freak in the snow on Christmas Eve?"

Your entire body is starting to shake. "You've been watching me this whole time?" You whisper hoarsely.

"Not me exclusively," he says cheerfully. He straightens, laying a hand on the table. "Though I will say I'm the one who had the pleasure of ripping your stolen office to shreds. You see, there are people in this city, like me, who see monsters as the disease that they are!" As he finishes, he throws the table over, smacking it against the wall. You flinch as the big guy digs his fingers into your shoulder. Green Eyes heads into the kitchen, dumping all of your dishes onto the ground, shattering them. He even opens up your fridge and takes a swig from your milk before emptying it over the shards of your plates and glasses. You can do nothing but watch as he destroys the home you've made for yourself.

Green Eyes pulls out a knife, bringing it dangerously close to your face before sauntering into the living room. "And there are people like you who stand at every corner and preach your misguided notions about monsters being the same as humans!" He starts slashing away at your bean bag, sending the fillings flying through the air. In the same motion, he turns and kicks your t.v, sending it hurtling to the ground.

No, no! "Stop it!"

"And the only way people like you will learn," he pauses as his eyes fall on your guitar. Your heart freezes in your chest. Not that! "Is if you lose everything." He picks your guitar up, ignoring your begging screams and slams it against the floor. The noise it makes as the wood cracks and the strings snap sounds to you like an agonized scream coming from the instrument itself.

"No! No!" You scream, shaking with angry, tear-less sobs. How dare they. How dare they!

Green Eyes slips his knife back into the holster on his belt. "See? You've done wrong and now you are being punished. This is simply what you deserve."

The machine holding your blood beeps loudly and the man holding it frowns. "That can't be right."

Green Eyes turns away from you. "What?"

The guy gestures to the machine. "These readings. They're...they're all over the place. It's making the analyzer crash."

"You're just not doing it right!" Green Eyes stomps over to look himself.

"I'm telling you, it's her!"

You don't know what's going on, or what that machine does, but this is the best distraction you're going to get. You arch your head down, biting the large man's hand as viciously as you can. He yelps, loosening his grip just enough for you to wiggle free. You throw yourself at the counter, fumbling with your phone. One button, just one button!

Your hair is yanked painfully backwards and you shriek as you are thrown to the floor. Your phone clatters away. Green eyes kneels over you, eyes glinting with glee. "Well now! Looks like you're not just talk after all!" He digs his fingers in your hair and drags you up. You scream and thrash, eyes watering from the pain. He laughs in your face. "It's so much fun to break the fighters! And I-"

"P U T  H E R  D O W N."

Green Eyes flinches and looks up. You almost sob with relief at the sight of Sans standing in the hallway. His left socket is blazing with blue and yellow fire and pure, untethered rage is clear even through the wide manic smile on his face. But...oh dear heavens what the hell is behind him? It looks like some kind of floating goat or dragon skull. It's size is so massive it barely fits between the ceiling and floor and you have a feeling that it could swallow you whole if it wanted to. It growls and bares sharp fangs at the men. In the back of its throat, a blinding white light is building. The air is humming with energy. You can feel it in your head, in your skull, in your bones.

Green Eyes gets to his feet, dragging you with him. He wraps an arm around your neck, positioning you in front of him. "How the hell-"

A howl of terror interrupts him. The big guy is staring down at his chest, utterly petrified as a glow builds. With a pop his Soul floats into view, dim and almost brown. "What the hell is going on?" He yells, pawing at the air around his Soul. His fingers brush against it and his whole body goes rigid. His eyes roll backwards as his mouth drops open. There's a loud clink as his Soul goes blue. 

"buddy, this is hell," Sans growls and throws his hand down. 

The man hits the ground and in the same instant, a row of bones erupts from the floor, piercing his arms. You can only watch in horror as he thrashes and screams. Yet...there's no blood. The bones pass right through his body without actually cutting the skin. How-?

His Soul flashes back to its original color and as he scrambles to his feet, you notice that the edges are white. Before he can move, the thing behind Sans releases the built up energy in its mouth in a blinding flash of light and scorching heat. Your attacker is enveloped in the light and his screams reach a new level of agony as his Soul continues to lose its color. Finally, it clicks. Sans is killing him. No! You can't let this happen!

"Sans! Stop!" 

His gaze flickers to you as the giant skull ends its attack. The big guy is on his knees, panting. The smallest bit of color remains in his Soul. He reels back, eyes wide with terror. "What the hell is this?! They said the skeleton was a joke!"

Green Eye's grip tightens around your neck. "Looks like we were misinformed. Enough of this!"

You feel a sudden pressure against the side of your head. You can't help a terrified whimper as he digs his gun into your skull. Sans goes completely still, his blue pupil shrinking slightly. 

"you really don't want to do that," he warns, voice low and steady. Only you catch the tiny tremor that tells you he's just as terrified as you are. 

"You're right, I don't want to. But I will if you so much as lift a finger! I don't care how fast you are. I see you move, I pull the trigger!" You dig your heels as Green Eyes starts to walk backwards towards the door. He yanks you back, making you choke. "Get to the car," he says to the other two. You hear the clatter as the men make their escape through the door.

"let her go!" Sans is visibly shaking but he hasn't moved. The skull behind him growls again and then vanishes, blinking out like an image on a t.v.

Green Eyes chuckles in your ear. "You know, I'd really rather keep this one for myself. But you've gone and thrown quite the wrench into our plans. So for now...enjoy the time you've got left!" 

His arm suddenly disappears from your neck and he shoves you with such force you pitch forward. Sans is there in a flash, catching you before you hit the ground and Green Eyes is gone. 

"i've got you, i've got you sweetheart," Sans murmurs, wrapping his arms tightly around you. You clutch at his shirt, gasping and shaking and oh God, you're okay, you're still alive, you're right here and....

Your legs give out. Sans staggers a little, and you both sink to your knees. His hands run over your face, as if to assure himself that you're okay. Your chest starts to heave. 

"S-Sans. Sans. Sans!" 

"baby, i'm right here, stay with me." He cups your face, rubbing your cheeks. "i'm right here. are you-oh hell." His gaze falls to your neck and then to your arm, which is covered in bits of blood and an already forming bruise. His sockets narrow with rage. "i'm gonna kill them," he growls. 

You shake your head, still gasping. "No. No. You can't."

"babe-"

"Get me out of here," you whisper, pressing your face against his sternum. "Please."  

He takes a deep, shuddering breath. "ok. hold on." 

The moment the world stops spinning you lurch away from him and vomit onto the carpet of the boys apartment. You gasp and shudder as Sans rubs your back. 

"SANS? HUMAN?! WHAT IS-" 

"paps, watch her. i gotta take care of something," Sans says grimly. 

"No!" You try to reach for him but just end up retching again. You cough, mouth filled with bile. "Don't-!"

He's already gone. Damn it Sans! 

"HUMAN WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT'S GOING ON?" Papyrus leans over you anxiously, putting a hand on your shoulder.

"I...there was..." You can't talk. You squeeze your eyes shut and shake your head. Papyrus seems to understand that much at least. He scoops you up, holding you princess style and rocks you gently.

"IT WILL BE OKAY. I PROMISE. THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS RIGHT HERE."  

You wrap your arms around his neck, burying your face against his armor. It's not nearly as comfy as Sans' hoodie but it helps you to calm down a little. Papyrus gets you a cup of water and sets you down on the couch, sitting close enough you're practically in his bony lap. Slowly, you tell him what happened. Papyrus is utterly distraught that he didn't hear a thing, despite being just down the hall. "I AM SO SORRY _____." Great tears start falling down his face. 

You give him a weak grin. "Geez Pap, I'm the one who should be crying." 

Papyrus slaps his hands up over his face. "NYOO WHOO!" he sobs. "I-I AM SORRY. YOU ARE RIGHT. A ROYAL GUARD SHOULD NOT CRY." He wipes his sockets. "GIVE ME YOUR ARM. I WILL HEAL YOU." 

You had no idea Papyrus could do that. You stretch your arm out but then stop. "Wait, Paps. I'm gonna have to call the police. They'll need to see this first." 

Papyrus opens his mouth, probably to protest when Sans suddenly reappears, face grim. "they're gone. no sign of where they went." His sockets are black but his pupils start to flicker back as he sits down next to you and Papyrus. Paps lets you go so you can crawl over into Sans lap. Sans holds you tightly, stroking your hair. You sigh with relief, snuggling into him. You're glad he didn't find them. He was angry and rightly so and of course you didn't want them to get away with this but...

They had guns. They very easily could have shot Sans. You don't even want to imagine that happening. 

"paps, could you heal her please?" Sans asks quietly. 

You sit up, shaking your head. "He already offered but I have to have something to show the police." You sigh deeply before grinning up at Sans. "I can't believe I have to call them again. They might as well save my number at this point." 

Sans doesn't laugh.

~~~~~

Standing amid the destruction that your apartment has become as the police crawl around, you can't bring yourself to even accept this as real. This has to be some sort of prank or nightmare, right? Sans is right at your side and he brushes his phalanges across the back of your hand. 

"are you ok?" 

You blink slowly. "I can't stay here," you whisper. "They know where I live. They'll come back." 

"ok. ok, you'll move in with us-"

You shake your head. "It's too close." 

Sans is quiet for a few seconds. "shit," he finally mutters. "ok, we'll figure something out."

You take his hand as the lead investigator comes up to you. He's got a little notepad out, listing the damage done and other things. "Just want to double check," he says, tapping his pen against the pad. "Did the men take anything?" 

"Yes...well I mean...." You bite your lip. "They took my blood." 

Sans starts in shock. You forgot to mention that to him in the crazy rush of events.

"Blood?" The officer writes something down. "Did they say why?" 

You shake your head. "They put it in some kind of...analyzer? I don't know what it did. They took it with them." 

"I see." He taps the pen against his lip. "Well, I think we have all that we need. I would highly suggest staying somewhere else for at least a few days until we get more of a solid lead. I have a feeling that this wasn't just a random attack." 

"what do you mean by that?" Sans asks sharply. 

The officer hesitates for a moment. "Look, sharing details of other cases isn't permitted but...this isn't the only instance we've had of blood being taken from victims of robbery or assault. And lot of those have lead to disappearances."

Sans presses closer to you as your breath catches in your throat. "How many people?"

"Over half of those attacked."  He looks between you and Sans. "We can have a security detail put on you if you want. I would recommend it actually." 

You open your mouth, but Sans answers for you. "i know some guys in the guarding business. we'll take care of it." 

He looks dubious, but doesn't say anything more on the matter. You exchange a few more details before he and the other officers leave and you're left standing in the mess of broken glass and ceramic. Numbly, you kneel next to the remains of your guitar. You brush your fingers over the limp strings. A lump builds in your throat but damn it, you are so sick of crying. You're sick of simply giving in and wailing about how the world was being unfair.

You're too angry for tears. 

Sans kneels next to you. "i'll get you another one," he promises in a low tone. 

"But this one was mine." You blink furiously. "It was mine." It wasn't just a guitar. It was a gift from Sans. A gift that showed he truly knew you. It was a chance to finally let go of that guilt that still ate away at you because of the fire. 

Sans wraps an arm around you, pulling you close. "i know." 

You stay there in his arms for several long minutes, simply staring down at the ground. "Sans, what was that thing?" 

You don't have to explain. He knows exactly what you're talking about. "i didn't think i was ever gonna have to use them again." He shifts so that he's no longer kneeling but sitting down, leaning against your ruined beanbag. He looks so defeated. "they're called gaster blasters. a sort of...gift from my old man. my normal attacks are so weak. he wanted me to have something else i could use. something that dealt more damage. i was really hoping you would never have to see it." 

"You were going to kill him." It's not a question.

"they hurt you." 

You turn to look at him. "Sans, you can't do that. It's wrong." 

His pupils fade away before he answers. "i've killed before." 

"That doesn't make it right." You gesture to the mess. "We're trying to show people like them that monsters are not mindless creatures. Killing them will only give the others fuel."

His smile curls into a bitter snarl. "there will always be fuel for their fire. it doesn't matter." 

"It does!" you snap. "I love you Sans. And I understand that you went through hell in the underground. I understand that you did what you had to. But things are different now." 

"are you saying you wouldn't love me if i did kill scum like them?" 

You reel back, shocked at his toneless words. "Sans-"

"are you?" 

What's gotten into him? "Look, I don't know if you're trying to make me feel bad, or make me leave you to keep me safe." You poke his ribs. "To answer your question, I will always love you. No matter what happens, or what you do. But don't you dare try to pull this crap with me. We've already got people to fight. Don't let them make us fight each other." 

Sans blinks at you in surprise. He puts a hand over his sockets, groaning loudly. "i'm sorry," he finally mumbles. "that was a really shitty thing to say."

"Yes it was," you pout, crossing your arms. 

He peeks at you from between his phalanges; his pupils are back. "guess i'm carrying extra bag-age." He tosses some of the beads from the ruined bean bag at you. 

"Nuh uh. No punning your way out of this." You fight not to smile.

"dang, that's a shame. i guess that's just the way i've bead doing things for so long." 

You snort. "Did you even try with that one?" 

He shrugs, grinning. "you laughed." 

"I snorted. Not the same thing." 

He flops back dramatically. "no, i will not admit def-" The force of his flopping makes a shower of beads explode from a slit in the bag, showering him in the filling. Going by the shocked expression on his face, he wasn't expecting that. That finally gets a laugh out of you. You hold your stomach, laughing until your eyes water. Sans reaches up and tugs you down on top of him. Giggling, you brush a few beads off his skull. 

"there's my girl," he murmurs before pressing his teeth to your mouth. You kiss him for a long moment, letting your body sink against his bones. 

"We're gonna be okay, right?" You finally whisper against his cheek. 

"yeah. i promise." His hand comes up to stroke the back of your head. "we're gonna get through this." 

It's going to be okay. 

It's got to be.

Chapter Text

Not long after that, Toriel and Frisk show up. Turns out Papyrus called them while you were talking with the police. Toriel takes one look at your ruined home and immediately sweeps you up in a tight, furry hug. Frisk and Papyrus trail in after her.

"Oh my dear child," she whispers in a horrified voice. "I am so sorry." 

You pat her back, closing your eyes and letting yourself enjoy the warmth of her embrace. When she finally lets you go, Frisk immediately slams into you, wrapping their arms around your waist. They're shaking. 

"Hey, I'm okay," you say hoarsely as you pat their head. The movement draws Toriel's gaze to your arm, which by this point is a quite startling shade of purple. 

"Oh my! Child, please let me heal you." She doesn't give you a chance to answer before she quickly, but gently takes your arm and hovers her palm above your skin. Goosebumps rise on your arm briefly as a dim green light begins to emit from her. It's warm and sinks into your skin almost like water. The pain and stiffness in your arm is eased and before your very eyes, your bruise fades and shrinks until it vanishes. It only takes a few moments. Then she moves to your neck and it's similarly washed in a wave of gentle warmth. The essence of her magic fills your body and it speaks of home, and a deep, buried pain and unconditional love. And...butterscotch? 

You let out a deep breath, the feeling making you almost dizzy. You examine your arm. "Wow. That's incredible!" 

Toriel blushes, the color just barely lighting her fuzzy cheeks. "This is nothing really." 

Frisk releases you and Sans quickly gives you a once over before giving Toriel a relieved smile. "Thanks Tori." 

She nods and then the smile fades from her face as she looks around again. "This is...I don't even have words for it." Her eyes flash with something that's not quite anger, but most certainly isn't just sadness. "What happened here?" 

You're too tired to go through it again, so Sans gives Toriel the rundown while you attempt to start cleaning some things up. Frisk and Papyrus immediately join you. 

"HUMAN! I SHALL HANDLE THE BROKEN DISHES! AFTER ALL, I THE GREAT PAPYRUS, HAVE NO SKIN WHICH MAY ACCIDENTALLY GET CUT!" Papyrus brandishes your broom like a trident. 

"Okay Paps," you say with a smile. "Frisk, you wanna help me put the filling back inside my poor bean bag?" 

They nod eagerly and the two you get to picking up the beads that have spread across floor. Frisk has the bright idea of actually rolling across the ground and the beads stick to their shirt like some kind of human lint roller. They are so proud of themselves, standing there covered in fluff and dust. You giggle, keeping your hand up over your mouth. 

"I guess that's one way to do it," you snicker as you kneel and start plucking beads off of their shirt. Their small hands gently touch your cheek and you flinch. The memory of Green Eyes holding your face like you were some sort of doll is still too fresh in your mind. Frisk pulls their hands away and start signing slowly. You don't get it the first time so they do it again. 

Stay. Determined. 

Stay determined huh? You finish brushing Frisk off before you answer. "That's the plan kiddo." 

They grin widely for some reason and pat your head. 

"FRISK? COULD YOU ASSIST ME WITH THE DUST PAN?" Papyrus calls. He's swept all the broken dishes and glasses up into an impressive pile. 

"Be careful!" you call as Frisk bounces over. You get to your feet, brushing off your pants. Well, that's probably as much of the filling that could be saved. You'll have to find time to sew up the cuts in the fabric later. The t.v and your...guitar are beyond repair. You sigh and pick up the busted t.v, angling it so you don't brush your arms against the broken screen. You barely make it to the door when-

Sans appears just in front of you, almost making you drop the t.v. "Geez, I think I've been through enough scares tonight," you grumble, shifting your grip. 

"sorry. where are you going?" 

"Dumpster. Please tell me you're not going to go over protective boyfriend on me." 

He gives you a sheepish shrug before his expression changes into something more serious. "you were attacked like two hours ago. i think i deserve to feel a little protective right now." 

"SANS IS RIGHT HUMAN." Your protests are ignored as Papyrus lifts the t.v out of your hands. He places it under one arm before picking the trash bag of broken dishes back up. "I WILL TAKE THIS OUT. DON'T PUSH YOURSELF."  

You give Sans a withering scowl as he side steps enough for Papyrus to move around him. Frisk follows him out like a duckling, holding another trash bag. "Sans...." 

"just let me be a little protective, at least tonight. all right?" Sans' shoulders slump wearily as he meets your eyes with a pleading gaze. "i could have lost you tonight. i...i can't..." He takes a deep breath, clenching and opening his hands several times while he tries to compose himself.

Your annoyance fizzles away. You pull him into a hug and he slumps against you. "I'm sorry," you whisper, rubbing his skull. 

"i can't lose you." He's shaking. "i never thought...god, why is this happening?" 

"'Cause people are stupid." You kiss his cheek. "Well, some of them. I mean, Jake is pretty great." 

Sans snorts against your shoulder. 

"And um, the pizza guy from last week, remember him? He thought you were pretty rad." 

"'m pretty sure you were the one he thought was 'rad'." He nuzzles your neck in a way that makes you squeak.

"I said no tickles!" 

"yeah well you're being a stinker." The gleam has come back in his eyes as he steps back. 

Toriel clears her throat loudly and the two of you jump, blushing furiously. Geez, you'd completely forgotten she was standing right there! You give her a sheepish grin as you take Sans' hand and move away from the door. "Sorry Toriel." 

She tilts her head, smiling in a knowing way. "Please, do what you must to feel better." Her smile fades. "You're not planning on staying here after all this, are you?" 

You sigh and shake your head. "No. Even if there was no threat of them coming back, I don't think I could stay here anyway. It doesn't feel...safe here." If you stayed, you would always remember the exact places they stood. Every time you sat at the table, you would feel their hands on you. They had not only threatened and terrified you, they've violated your home. No, no you can't stay here. 

Sans tightens his hold on your hand. "we're gonna have to find someplace new. my place isn't exactly a trek to get to." 

We? You look over at Sans. He meets your gaze and gives you a lazy wink. You bite your lip, fighting down a smile.

Toriel nods, seeming to come to a decision. "Then, the both of you and Papyrus will come stay with me." 

Huh? You lift your hands. "No, no I couldn't do that. That would just be imposing." 

"No it wouldn't," Toriel laughs.

"I can just stay at a hotel for a few days while I find a new apartment," you stutter. "Really, it's fine."

Toriel places a hand on your shoulder, cutting off your protests. "My dear, it is really no trouble. You can stay for as long as you need to. You've been through a lot. You need a chance to stay someplace safe while you figure things out."

"I-" You hesitate. You want to say yes. You really want to. But.... You look at the ground. "I don't want you guys to be in danger. I mean, Frisk is just a kid. What if they come to your house?"

Toriel shakes her head firmly. "They will not get that chance. Not to toot my own horn, but I am a fairly powerful monster. They would be very unwise to mess with me or those I care about."

Sans nods. "tori's got a point. if it's a safe place you're looking for, it doesn't get much safer than her house. and remember what i said? i got friends in the body guard business. we get them on the job, no one will be getting in the house. besides," he taps your shoulder and jabs his thumb towards the door. "i think the kid can handle themselves." 

"FRISK, DO NOT BRING SNOW INTO _____ APARTMENT!" Papryus comes tearing in through the door, Frisk hot on his heels with a handful of snow. "SANS! I NEED ASSISTANCE!" In his haste, he trips over his own feet and falls straight towards your bean bag. There's an explosion of fluffy beads, raining down like a snow cloud burst in your apartment. Frisk tries to skid to a stop but winds up falling too. The snowball flies out of their hands, smacking against the far wall. Papyrus pops his head up; the foam beads are sticking to his skull. He looks like a vastly malnourished Santa Claus. 

"Pfft!" You can't hold it in. Laughter explodes from you and Sans and Toriel soon join in. The apartment, where two hours ago you had been threatened and filled with terror, is now alight with joy and hope. Yeah, how could you say no to this?

~~~~~

With everyone helping, it takes a surprisingly short time to pack up what you need. The long term stuff, as well as the rest of the cleaning you leave for tomorrow. You need the night to relax. The drive over is fairly quiet and when you pull up to Toriel's house, Sans is on his phone, chattering away to someone on the line.

"yeah. asap. what? uhh...well i got plenty of 'bones'. ok. yep."

Bones? You give him a questioning look and he just waves a hand. You unload everything into the house, settling down in the guest bedroom. For now Frisk is going to crash with Toriel and give their room to Paps while and you and Sans share. It occurs to you that, if Sans was a normal boyfriend, sharing a room so soon after you started dating would be rather scandalous. Of course Sans wasn't a typical boyfriend. And you've spent almost every night with him for the last little while anyway. But still. It was no longer 'your' room or 'Sans' room. It was yours together. An odd sense of shyness overtakes you as you unpack your clothes into the drawers. Well...it's not just the shyness keeping you quiet. Now that things are settling down a little, you can't shake the memories of those men. You can't stop feeling the needle in your arm.

Sans hasn't brought much with him. Some basic clothes and his guitar, which he has propped up against the wall. The one thing he did insist on bringing immediately was the glow in the dark stars. He's currently at work putting them up in the exact same way you had back at his place. The bedroom is slightly bigger than his old place and he's going on about how he wants to add more galaxies and stuff.

"hey, we could even put a moon in the corner. i bet i could make it one of those clap on, clap off things," he says in an almost overly cheerful voice. 

"Hmm." 

He pauses in his star sticking. "hey, you ok?" 

You quickly fold up your underwear and shove it in the drawer before he gets a good look. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just...a lot of stuff is happening so fast, you know?" You look over at him. "Is this really okay? Us staying here?" 

"sweetheart, tori would'a dragged you here kicking and screaming if she had to." 

You chuckle. "I don't doubt it." 

Sans eyes you for a few moments. Setting down the stars and sticky tack, he sits down on the floor next to you. "hey, um. i know you've been a lot in the last...hell when did the craziness start?" 

"I think when I first met you and Paps," you say with a smirk. 

He nods before fiddling with his phalanges. "fair enough. so that being said, there's um...i wanna do something for you. rather i wanna show you something. i guess? and you can totally say no if you want, i mean it won't hurt my feelings or anything. i just...you're hurting babe. your soul i mean. i wanna help." 

Huh. He's blushing furiously. Now he's got your full attention. You push your suitcase aside and turn to face him, crossing your legs. "Sans, if you think it will help, I'm up for whatever you want." 

"ok. ok." He nods to himself a few times before putting his hands out towards you, palms up. "i wanna...um. it's soul stuff. so if it makes you feel uncomfortable, just tell me and i'll stop. ok?" 

You put your hands in his and lock eyes with him. "I trust you. All the way." 

He takes a breath, a flicker of wondrous joy lighting his face. Then his gaze falls to your chest. To your Soul. You feel that tugging sensation and it materializes in front of you. Man, you'd forgotten just how beautiful it was. It hovers before you, still cracked, perhaps a little dim but pulsing strong. The light of your Soul falls on Sans' skull and you can see that he's staring at your Soul with utter awe. The complete adoration in his expression makes you blush. 

But he's not done yet. After a few moments of silent staring, he closes his sockets. You see a glow building up in his rib cage. A delighted gasp escapes you as his own Soul begins to appear. It's the same cartoon heart shape, but it's upside down. While the essence of his Soul is a startling white, you can see a blue aura that pulses from deep within. His Soul hovers in the air, just a few inches away from yours. Your Soul almost seems to brighten slightly in its presence while his takes on a faint hue of purple and orange. Their combined light dances with energy and life. 

"is...is it ok if i..." Sans lifts his hands, digits trembling just a bit as he stops just before touching your Soul. 

You can't bring yourself to speak, but you nod. Clearly and firmly. 

His phalanges oh so gently cup your Soul and you gasp as you feel yourself being opened up. When you touched it before, it was like peering down into a vast canyon of emotion and memories that threatened to sweep you away. Now, that vast, dark world is utterly exposed before the monster before you. You are fragile, like a newborn child and Sans has the power to utterly crush you. 

But he doesn't. Within his grasp, you feel only love, and worry and a deep well of emotion that you've only just begun to see. Your Soul holds a sea and Sans feels like strong wind, breaking over the surface and brushing against your most intimate thoughts and feelings. You can see in his expression that he is overwhelmed. Shock, love, empathy and fear all battle for dominance and are finally beaten out by understanding. In this moment, you know that Sans has felt everything. He knows you and your pain on a whole new level. 

He gasps for breath, pulling your Soul close to his chest. For a instant, for an eternity, he just breathes. Then his gaze rises from your Soul to meet your eyes, which are streaming tears. "now you," he whispers.

His Soul waits for you, it's light pulsing like a heart beat. This is Sans. This is his everything. You lift your hands and hesitate only for a moment before touching it and you're swept away. 

If your Soul is a canyon, his is a galaxy. The vastness, the knowledge, the pain contained within this tiny Soul makes you weep. He is patience, he is love, he is suffering. Oh, the pain he has endured. It's unbearable. He Soul contains so many fine cracks, spreading across it's contained power that you feel as if you are stepping on ice. Yet within that pain is a steady determination. There's is a speck of hope that will not, cannot be beaten. And his love, his love knows no bounds. He gives and gives and never expects a thing back in return. His love for you burns so brightly within him. It is woven into his very being and with it there is a terrible fear. A fear that he will one day lose you. 

There's more here, there are countless years of memories and emotions but you can't take anymore. You release his Soul and he does the same. Your Souls return to their place and then you're in his arms and he's crying and you're crying and you feel like there is no end to you and no start to him. You are together and in this moment you are one being, breathing, living. You are one in your past pain and your current love and hope.

Time passes. You don't know how long. You don't care. Eventually though, the tears stop. Your heartbeat slows and you realize that at some point, you both fell to the floor and are curled around each other. Your legs are tangled and your limbs are starting to buzz from falling asleep. Well, that's okay. A little static in your legs was nothing compared to what you just felt.

Sans brushes his hand over your face. "was...was that ok?" he murmurs. 

You let out a breathy sigh. "Yes. That...that was. Wow." 

He chuckles. "wow indeed." He presses a long, slow kiss against your forehead. "god, i've wanted to do that for a long time." 

You lift your head slightly. "Why didn't you?" 

He shrugs. "it's...well it's a serious thing. sharing souls. i didn't want to pressure you." 

Well that was for certain. You sit up, rubbing at your face. "I'm glad," you say as he sits up too. "I mean...that you shared your Soul with me. Thank you." 

Sans wraps his arms around your waist, pulling you into his lap. "i should be thanking you," he says in a hushed voice. "i just...." 

"I know." You turn slightly and kiss him. "I know." 

There's a knock at the door. "Sans? _____?"  Toriel calls. "I believe your bodyguard unit is here.

"Okay, we'll be out in a minute," you call. You really don't want to move. Sans is pretty reluctant to let you go as well. "C'mon Sans, we can't keep them waiting." 

His grip tightens. "i love you," he whispers in your ear. He's scared. He's so scared of what tomorrow will bring. You can hear it in his voice. You felt it in his Soul. 

You turn and kneel in front of him. Cupping his skull, you kiss him deeply. "I love you." Your words hold a promise and he understands without needing the words. 

The two of you walk hand in hand out of the room and head towards the door. You can hear a noisy commotion and when you round the corner, your hands fly over your mouth with glee. 

It's a dog! A dog in a suit of armor! Wait, you've seen this dog before. At Grillby's if you're remembering right. 

"hey there lesser," Sans calls cheerfully, sauntering out. "babe, this is lesser dog. less, this is _____." 

"Hi!" You walk up, stars in your eyes and hand outstretched. "It's very nice to meet you-"

Both Sans and Frisk reach out at the same time in a 'wait' motion, but your hand has already landed on the white dog's head, petting him gently. You jump back in shock as his neck suddenly extends, lifting his head up above yours. His tail is wagging furious, making his armor clink loudly. His snouted face is the definition of glee and happiness.

"sorry, shoulda warned ya," Sans says with a laugh as you stare up at the dog. "lesser uh, likes to be pet. a lot." 

Okay, so your new dog bodyguard has an extending neck and a rather enthusiastic personality. 

You can live with that.

Chapter Text

New Year's comes and goes and you slowly start to settle in to your new home. To say living in a house full of monsters (and a child ambassador) takes some getting used to is a massive understatement. It's not bad! Not at all but you're used to being able to play whatever kind of music you wanted and wander around in boy shorts or less. Now you have to actually pay attention to that sort of stuff. And it's not that being around everyone makes you self conscious. No it's because Toriel has so many freaking visitors!

The first incident happens a few days after you moved in and you could not resist the urge to pull a Tom Cruise on the wooden hallway floor. Thus dressed in an oversized shirt, fuzzy socks and sunglasses, you slide over the floor, belting 'Just take those old records off the shelf!' and triumphantly skid past the living room.

Only to find the room filled not only with Toriel, Asgore and Sans, but also six dog like creatures with huge round ears and small black eyes you later learned were called Temmies. You freeze as everyone stares at you in confusion. Then, as one, the Temmies cry out "It's HUmaN! Sooo cUte!"

And so faced with no other choice, you flee to your room, Sans' roaring laughter right at your heels. He comes to check on you soon after. "come on, it wasn't that bad." His reassurances didn't really do much thanks to the snorts and giggles he kept making.

You kick your feet against the bed as you lay face down, groaning into your pillow. "I looked like such a moron!" 

"seriously, it's no big deal. monsters aren't exactly the type to care about appearances." He rubs your back reassuringly. "even though it was pretty cute." 

"Call me cute again and I'm gonna kick you." 

His digits tap down your spine. "i find that acutely unfair." You smack at him with your foot, toes hitting the bone of his arm. "ow. you're really breaking my boney heart here." 

You lift your head, a smirk on your face as you wiggle your toes. "I told ya..." 

Sans grins at you, waving the stump that is his right arm. It's completely detached from the elbow down and sitting on the blanket. Your resulting scream brings most of the house hold running. When Sans finally stops cackling, he shows you that he can detach and reattach the arm as he pleases. You don't talk to him for an hour after that. 

Turns out that while most of the official meetings and discussions held with human representatives are held mostly at the courthouse, or other professional places. But most monsters felt very uneasy and overwhelmed in such imposing human environments. So those with issues to talk about were invited to the queen's house. So it seems like a steady flow of monsters come in and out and most of them are very eager to meet you. You shake hands, tentacles, claws, and even a piece of ice. It's all very...overwhelming at times. But everyone is so nice and you have to admit, it's kind of nice to be treated like some kind of star. 

It's also very, very nice to wake up almost every morning to find breakfast on the table. Toriel always woke before you or Sans did and unless she has to immediately dash, she takes time to prepare some kind of breakfast in the morning. Since she refused to accept any kind of rent or payment from you, you try to help with cooking and cleaning when you can. It's nice to keep yourself busy, especially when the noise in your head starts to grow to unbearable levels. 

Your nightmares, which had slowly started decreasing in both occurrence and intensity thanks to Sans' arms wrapped around you as you slept, surge to a new, terrifying set of dreams that plague you every night. It always starts and ends the same way. You are in a white room, with no windows or doors. As you scramble to find a way out, the walls turn crimson, burning with a bright flame that creeps closer and closer to you. And then, a dark figure with green eyes peels away from the fire and reaches for you with burning skin and needles in hands covered in blood. Every night you are locked in petrified terror as you are stabbed and burned by the laughing man, unable to move or breathe or escape. 

Sans has to fight to wake you from every nightmare. The first night it happens, you can only hyperventilate into his chest as he holds and rocks you, gently murmuring words that barely register in your panicked mind. There are a few times, when you're clinging to the bed sheets, shivering, Sans will press a hot mug of tea into your hands. The funny thing about that is he doesn't once leave the room when this happens. It wasn't until the third time that you were aware enough of your surrounds to see the door open just slightly and a large, furry hand set a steaming cup on the ground before retreating without a single word.

You owe so much to Toriel.

As the days go on, you can tell that Sans is barely sleeping. He's too busy watching you and stroking your head when you twitch and spasm with the horrifying images. You try to plead with him to get some sleep, even suggesting he takes a night or two to sleep with Papyrus. Get a good night's rest where your screaming wouldn't wake him. The first few times he shrugs it off, or dodges answering, but eventually he puts his foot down. 

"babe, even if i did sleep away from you, i'd be awake worrying," he says, peeking up at you from under the blanket on the couch where he's currently napping. "so there's no point." 

"Yeah but-" 

"i don't have a butt. stop worrying about me, ok?" He burrows under the blanket and promptly falls asleep, the matter closed in his mind.  

So there's that. At least he is still napping whenever you have a free evening at home where he can wake a moment's notice if he needs to. It's not ideal, but it's something.

Another huge adjustment you have to make is getting used to having an actual bodyguard. Lesser Dog is...well a dog. A dog with sharp, monster intelligence, but still a dog. But Sans is confident that Less can keep you safe, so you try your best to trust him but you can't understand him in the same way you can the others and that leads to a few frustrations and misunderstandings. Like him getting distracted by the most random things and eating the lunches you pack for work. And explaining him to the station...!

"So," Tod says slowly, staring at Less the day you sheepishly bring him to the station. Or rather Sans brings him, thanks to your MIA car. While it's in the shop he's your current ride, dropping you off with a shortcut before very quickly going back to get Less. "You were attacked in your own home, moved to a new place and got a dog? All within the time between Christmas and New Years?" 

"Girl, have you seen how high his neck goes?!" Abby squeals with delight, scratching Less' neck. The dog's head is currently lodged in the ceiling. 

"He's not my dog," you say to Tod. "He's...I mean, it was this or have cops hanging around me twenty-four seven." 

Tod isn't quite convinced, but thanks to Sans' assurances, he agrees to let Less stay in the lobby area. Sans himself is almost oddly calm about the whole thing, until it comes time for him to leave you for the first time since the attack. Less makes himself comfortable in the corner by the plants, neck shrinking and you give Sans' hand a squeeze.

"Well, back to work I go," you mutter. 

He tugs your arm, pulling you back slightly. He waits until Tod heads back to the booth and Abby suddenly has 'something to do, uh, somewhere' and gives you some privacy. Then he presses his skull against your shoulder. 

"you'll call me if you even think something is wrong?"

"Nah, I'll just curl into a ball and cry," you say with a weak smile. 

"'m being serious here." His tone is low, a little scared. 

You rub his arm reassuringly. "I know. I promise I will call if anything happens. But I have Less here and after what happened to my office, Tod made sure cameras were installed. This is almost as safe as Toriel's place. I'll be okay." 

He holds you for several long seconds more. "ok. i'll...see you at five then." He gives you a quick kiss and then he's gone. 

You take a moment to compose yourself and Less whines at you in concern. You pat his head (making his neck grow several inches) and head back to the booth. Tod is waiting for you and he wants to know everything. He's done so much for you so, as hard as it is, you quietly retell the story. He's silent the whole time, face growing grim and dark. 

"Are you okay?" he finally asks when you finish. 

You shrug. It's all confused and jumbled in your head. How could you be okay after that? The fear is there, just waiting for a noise, a slight movement in the corner of your eye. And yet, the love and protection that has poured in from those monsters who blamed themselves for getting you into this situation helps to keep you calm. "It's...it's really complicated Tod." 

He nods, like he understands. "May I see the phone you used to call Sans?" 

"Oh, sure." You pull it out, handing it to him. He examines it closely, a bemused look on his face. 

"This is fascinating," he murmurs, running a finger over the buttons. He pauses at the emergency Sans' button, finger lingering just over it. "And this works like what, a GPS signal?" 

"Something like that," you say as he hands the phone back. "It runs on magic. Alphys tried to explain it to me. You know that monsters have the ability to see Souls, right?" 

"Yes." 

"To an extent, they can sense them from far away and that's something Sans is actually pretty good at. That's how he was able to follow Frisk around when they were underground. But that was just one human Soul among monsters. Easy to spot. Here, there are so many that he said it's like looking for a single speck of color in a stained glass window. There's just too much. But this sends out a special kind of signal straight to his phone. It lets him know I need him and where I am just in case...well in case I need him." For your attacks. For the times when you can't bear to speak. And now, sadly for if you actually got attacked.

He gets what you're talking about. "Ah, I see. So you managed to contact him and he came running." He steeples his fingers, eyes going distant. "Imagine what humans could do with technology like this. Rescue missions in war, locating missing people. The potential is astounding." 

You give him a wry smile. He doesn't know about Sans' teleporting (not many people did) and while yes, having such a powerful, magical GPS would be very useful, without the skeleton and his shortcuts, it wouldn't be exactly the same. "Yeah, but people are still too scared to see that. Alphys is making good progress on combining human technology with monster science and magic at least. I think she's working on some kind of power source for the city?" She's mentioned it to you a few times but she tended to very quickly dive into complicated sciencey and magical terms that are difficult for you to understand. "And hey, the bill for monster rights is being voted on soon. So hopefully progress will be made after that gets approved." 

"That's if it gets approved," Tod says dryly. "When is the voting? A week from now?" 

"Eight days." 

He leans back in his chair, running a hand through his hair. "Well. We can only hope. Speaking of that, did we get a date for the Mettaton interview confirmed?" 

Ah, shoot. You've completely forgotten about Mettaton's requests. Particularly the one about Papyrus.

Well, you can do that tonight.

~~~~~

"you want to what?" Sans, who is currently flopped on the floor next to Frisk as they doodle in a large sketchbook, stares up at you like he can't believe what you just said. "please, tell me you did not agree to send my brother on an...outing with that robot." 

"Of course I didn't!" You join them on the floor, sitting cross legged. Frisk turns their book slightly to show you a drawing. It's some kind of weird...t.v looking thing with vines and a creepy, wide eyed face. "Very...nice Frisk. Anyway, all I said is I would bring up the idea. Which is what I'm doing. And you should be thanking me, he told me not to tell you." 

"for good reason," Sans growls, pupils shrinking slightly. 

You lie down, putting your head where his belly would be. There's just enough support from whatever it is that gives him shape to keep your head from sinking. "Sans, do you hate Mettaton?" 

He hesitates and lets out a breath. "not the word i'd use." 

"Then what would you use?" 

"...intense dislike and mistrust?" 

You turn until your head is facing his. "He's really not that bad. I mean, he did pay for our meal and made me look pretty for once." 

"stop that, you're always pretty." He idly runs his phalanges through your hair. Frisk makes a gagging noise. A pillow flies off the couch in a cloud of blue and smacks them in the face. He continues like nothing happened. "the dinner thing, well that was um. blackmail? kinda?" 

"You blackmailed Mettaton into paying for dinner?" You sit up, giving him a smack on his stomach. 

"all i said was it would make paps happy and that i'd um...spillhissecretotherwise."

"Sans!" 

He puts his hands up. "i wasn't really gonna!" 

You scowl at him. "Fine then. You've got no right to stand between a nice dinner for those two after that."

Sans shuts his sockets. "i just don't want paps to get hurt. met just...he seems like the kind of guy who would ending up doing that. intentionally or not." 

You sigh. He has a point. It's the same worry that's been eating at you. "Pap is a strong skeleton. Stronger than I think you realize sometimes. If Mettaton does end up...if he takes one step out of line I will be the first to smack him in the face."

Sans is still hesitating. "...that tacky robot has really bad movies anyway," he mumbles as he rolls over and reaches for the remote. Recently, he's taken to watching the evening news for any sign of the group responsible for attacking you. Not that there's been anything unusual aside from the fact that more and more businesses have begun barring monsters from entering. It seems now that the initial shock of monsters entering the city has worn off, people have begun to get more and more bold in their declarations of hate.

Sans clicks the t.v on. The three of you freeze as a screaming headline as well as the image of a snarling monster fills the screen. 

'MONSTER ATTACK IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA. PUBLIC WARNING ISSUED TO REMAIN INDOORS.' 

Chapter Text

The three of you watch the t.v in horrified shock as the live footage starts to roll in. The camera is shaky and dark shadows from the various buildings makes it hard to see the rampaging monster. But then it steadies and the creature on the screen is like nothing you've seen before. It's hunched nearly in half but it still has to be at least six feet tall. Its skin is gaunt and stretched thinly over its bony limbs. Some sort of torn, dark clothing barely covers its body. Its face has no discernible shape. In fact its head almost looks like a constantly shifting pile of goop set on uneven shoulders. But even with the shaky camera, you can see a mouth full of sharp teeth that is open and panting.

Suddenly, like it can sense that it's being watched, its head turns sharply to stare right at the camera. A chill runs down your spine. It lets out a roar that sounds more like a strangled scream. "What is that thing?" You look to Sans, who's sockets are glued to the t.v.

"i don't know," he says in a hushed voice. "i know everyone from underground. but i've never seen this guy before."

"Police are attempting to engage the monster but non lethal weapons have so far proven useless against the creature." The reporter, a man standing at a safe distance is clearly shaken but determined to report the situation. "Currently four civilians have been injured and transported to the hospital. Authorities have shut down all surrounding roads and are attempting to keep the monster in the current area."

The camera turns slightly and you realize you recognize the area. That's not far from Toriel's place. Sans realizes it at the same moment and blips out of sight for a few seconds, probably to check the locks. Frisk tugs on your sleeve and points to the t.v. You squint and gasp as you recognize the red headed figure charging towards the creature. Undyne's face is twisted in a snarl as a green spear materializes in her hand.

"I'm getting word that the monster confronting the creature is the old captain of the monster Royal Guard and-oh God!" Undyne chucks the spear at the beast and it-

Bounces off before falling to the ground and dissolving. The beast looks at it for several seconds before slowly shuffling to face Undyne. It screams again and Undyne's hands go up over her ears.

"It appears that even monster attacks have no effect on this creature!"

Not that that's stopping Undyne. She starts churning out spear after spear, dancing around the creature in a terrifyingly graceful way. The thing swipes at her a few times with claw tipped hands but she manages to jump away before it can hit her. Her attacks continue to either bounce off or pass right through the monster without doing much damage.

"tori, have you seen this?" Sans is back, talking urgently into his phone. "yeah. no we're at home. ok. i'll call al." He hangs up and starts typing on the keys when Frisk suddenly stands and puts a hand on his arm. Sans pauses. "what kid? we don't-"

He stops as Frisk points to the t.v, their face set with determination. They release him and sign quickly. You only catch the words 'help' and 'hurting'.

"no way buddy. do you know what your mom would do to me?"

Frisk frowns and points to the t.v again. Oh crap, they want to help.

"Frisk, it's too dangerous," you say, getting to your feet. "I mean, look at it. It's not even flinching at Undyne's attacks."

Frisk shakes their head. I want to talk. No fighting.

"No offense, but this doesn't look like a talk it down situation."

They're going to keep hurting people. I have to try.

You rub a hand over your face. "Look-"

"can you do it?" Sans asks quietly.

Your mouth drops open. "Sans you can't be thinking-!"

Frisk nods firmly. You can keep me safe.

Sans sighs. "fine. your mom's gonna dust me."

You can't believe what you're hearing. "Sans!"

"hey, the kid made it all the way through the underground and survived right?"

Frisk snorts loudly.

"not helping your case kiddo," Sans says, shooting them an exasperated look.

"Sans, if even you have no idea what this thing is, I really don't think you should be messing with it."

"The use of assault weapons is being discussed with the king of monsters Asgore." The tv man cuts in right at that moment. "The monster King is reluctant to use heavy firepower against the creature."

Frisk gives you a pleading look. They're in pain. I can see it.

You look back at the tv and let out a hissing breath. They both have a point. Frisk is the ambassador, as young as they are. They have experience with calming enraged monsters. And if something didn't happen fast, the police were going to bring out the big guns. Out of control raging aside, it was still a monster. Something must have happened to set them off. They deserved at least a chance to be reasoned with. "Fine. But I'm coming with you."

Sans' pupils shrink. "sorry, but i'd really like you to stay here."

You gape at him for a second. He's not serious is he? "If you say it's too dangerous I swear to God-"

"then i won't say it." He avoids your gaze. "sorry. paps."

You whirl around to find Papyrus in the entryway, wringing his hands together. He must have been upstairs. He and Sans share a long look. After several long seconds, Papyrus nods in understanding. Before you can move, he strides over and wraps his arms around you, lifting you a little and pinning you to him.

You kick and glare at Sans. "What are you doing!?"

"you can yell at me later. c'mon kid." Sans reaches out and grabs Frisk and then they're gone.

Oh forget Toriel. You're going to kill him when he gets back! You yell out wordlessly in frustration, squirming in Papyrus' grip. "Papyrus, put me down!"

"I HAVE TO KEEP YOU SAFE FROM HARM BECAUSE LESSER DOG IS OFF DUTY TONIGHT!" His voice is quivering and his bones are making a quiet clacking. "WILL YOU PROMISE ME YOU WON'T TRY TO GO AFTER THEM?"

You consider lying for a brief second. But you can't bear to do that to Papyrus when he's so clearly scared. Besides how would you even get there? Your car is still in the shop and even if you ran, you wouldn't make it in time. "I promise," you mumble, going slack.

Papyrus sets you down slowly. "I AM VERY SORRY." His chin is trembling. "I WISH TO GO AFTER THEM TOO. AFTER ALL, T-THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS THE B-BEST AT CAPTURING THOSE WHO NEED..." He trails off, looking miserable.

Oh Pap. You take his hand. "It's my fault you can't go with them. I'm sorry Pap."

He shakes his head, like he's clearing it. "NO. KEEPING YOU SAFE IS A VERY IMPORTANT DUTY AS WELL."

"The Monster Ambassador has arrived on the scene!" The reporter cries out.

You and Papyrus hurry to the t.v. You can see Frisk and Sans lingering just behind them. The rampaging monster takes its goopy eyes off of Undyne and turns to Frisk. The moment they lock eyes, the creature roars and charges towards Frisk, moving with terrifying speed. You gasp but Frisk has vanished. It takes the camera a moment to find them again.

The creature skids to a halt, slamming against a parked car and looks around in confusion for a moment before whirling. Again it charges and again Sans and Frisk vanish and reappear in a different spot.

Undyne continues to hurl spears at it but it's paying her no mind. It has become solely focused on Frisk. You can't help but continue to hold Papyrus' hand as the two of you watch the ones you love dance around the creature that is showing no signs of slowing or giving up. Simply watching, being unable to do a thing to help is infuriating. You want to be there by Sans' side, keeping him safe.

As the fight drags on, Sans is clearly slowing down and the beast nearly hits them a number of times. Every time it happens your heart freezes in your chest. Every time they reappear, Frisk holds a hand out towards the creature, clearly attempting to communicate with it. But finally, they take a different stance.

The camera zooms in on Sans; his tight smile is still in place but you can see sweat running down his skull. He lets go of Frisk and they take a step forward and open their arms wide, as if welcoming the monster in. The monster, spotting them again, takes a few steps forward, snarling. Frisk opens their mouth but you can't hear what they're saying. The monster freezes, limbs spasming. As Frisk continues to speak, it claps its hands up over where their ears would be, shaking its goopy head. It curls in on itself, screaming at such a velocity that it makes the speaker on the camera screech with feedback. It stands to its full, terrifying height, clawing at its chest. For a brief moment you see a flash of something. Something twisted and broken and wrong thudding where its Soul should be.

Then its legs give out and it collapses to the ground. Within a few seconds, its body disappears into dust and leaves behind a twisted, broken skeleton. Frisk is staring at the remains in shock and then chaos erupts and the camera is moving too fast for you to see what's happening.

Papyrus lets out a sob, covering his face with the hand you aren't gripping. From relief that Sans, Frisk and Undyne are okay or sorrow that monster died, you can't tell. You don't know what to say so you continue holding his hand, fear and worry and confusion all twisting your stomach into a knot.

That knot of worry only grows as time passes and you don't receive so much as a text from Sans. Or from anyone. You call Sans multiple times as well as Undyne and even Alphys. No one answers.  You start pacing in frustration. Papyrus watches you closely, lifting his hand slightly if you get too close to the door. 

"I AM SURE THEY ARE FINE!" He tries to assure you. "AFTER ALL, YOU SAW HOW FAST MY BROTHER IS." 

"Then why haven't they called?" You try not to snap at him. It's not his fault. You're just so scared. You feel like the fear and panic is running through your veins, screaming at you to do something!  

Almost an hour passed before you hear a car pulling up in the driveway and an exhausted Sans, Frisk and Undyne followed by a quivering Alphys stumble in through the door. You're furious with Sans but you can't stop yourself from almost knocking him over with the force of your hug. 

He stumbles back, almost hitting the wall. He pats your back a little hesitantly. "heh, not the reaction i was expecting." 

"Oh the yelling is going to come," you growl as you squeeze him tightly. "Count on that, bone head." 

You let him go and everyone trudges into the living room. Undyne collapses on the couch; her armor is dented. The thing must have hit her after all. 

Everyone is silent for several long seconds. "Where is Toriel?" You finally ask. "Since she's not here I'm assuming she went to the place where that thing was?" 

"Yeah," Undyne groans. "It was a freaking nightmare over there. I thought the cops were gonna arrest me again." 

"What happened after..." You glance at Papyrus who is trying valiantly to keep his bones from clacking "After it fell? The t.v cut out."

"Oh you know humans," Undyne groans, waving a hand in the air. "Soon as it was down they started swarming. Some guys in black suits took what was left of the thing before I could really get a good look. There were people everywhere, shouting at us, at each other. It looked kinda bad but then Toriel showed up and calmed things down a bit."

Alphys, who looks utterly miserable, pulls a tiny bottle from her pocket. It's filled with gray dust. "I m-managed to g-get a sample of what w-was left," she mumbles. "I'll run t-tests at the university."

"Do you have any idea of what that thing was?" Undyne asks her, tilting her head just enough to look at her girlfriend. "That wasn't an amalgamate was it?"

An amala-what? You start to ask but Alphys shakes her head. "There are s-similarities but I've n-never seen a c-creature like that."

You look to Sans, hoping he might explain but he's slumped in the armchair, sockets partially closed. He looks like he's barely even awake.

"Took forever to get outta there, 'specially since Sans was outta juice." Undyne continues.

Sans starts in his chair, lifting his skull. "you try teleporting two souls over and over. i never wanna work that hard again."

You bite at your lip. You know that using his shortcuts took a bit of a toll on him after a while but you've never seen him wear out so fast. Was this because he wasn't getting any sleep? You look to Frisk, who is just standing there by the fireplace, arms wrapped around themselves. "Hey," you say softly as you approach them. "Are you okay?"

Frisk slowly nods. Then they shake their head, lip quivering. That's right; they killed a monster tonight. Technically not for the first time...but those instances before hadn't really been them acting of their own free will. But this....

Like they hear what you're thinking, they slowly sign, I thought I was getting through. I found the right words. But then they started screaming. They hurt so much. Then they just.... Frisk's hands are shaking. They just...died! Frisk throws their arms around you, squeezing tightly as a noiseless sob breaks from them.

They didn't kill the monster? You glance at Sans as you rub Frisk's head.

He nods. "it was like it...gave up." His brow bone furrows. "when it started listening to the kid it's body just stopped working. it's soul just gave out. if you can call what it had inside a soul."

So you weren't just seeing things. You rub Frisk until they sniffle and pull back. "Hey, how about you go sit with Pap and I'll make you some tea. Sound good?"

They nod and you give them a push towards the taller skeleton. "Sans, come give me a hand." You don't wait to see if he follows you. You don't need to. You pull out the kettle and the monster tea that Toriel always made. Since it was monster food, it worked like...well like magic when it came to restoring energy.

You hear Sans slouch into the kitchen and pull out a chair at the bar. He's quiet, watching you pour water into the kettle. "alphys tried to help monsters that had fallen down by injecting them with human determination," he says in a tired whisper. "didn't work like she wanted. it made their forms unstable. sticky. they had to mold wth other fallen down monsters or melt away completely."

"And those are the amalgamates?"

"yep. thought maybe that was what that thing was. but it was something different. worse."

Worse than monsters forced to mold together to survive? The hairs on your arms stick up with goosebumps. You take a breath, focusing on the tea. "Did you get any of my calls?"

Sans pulls his phone out, flicking it open. "...crap."

"Gonna take that as a no." Breathe. Don't get worked up. "I was really worried. Paps was scared. We had no idea what was going on."

"i'm sorry."

"Did you seriously not think to at least let us know you were ok? I mean, since you forced me to stay here where I had to watch everything on the freaking news channel."

Sans puts his phone down on the counter. "you understand why i had to do that don't you?"

"How about you tell me clearly because I'm not fond of going off assumptions." You turn to him, crossing your arms.

"it was too dangerous!" His sockets narrow a little. "that thing could have come after your, or the men that hurt you could have shown up."

"Those are a lot of what ifs Sans. But what you're saying is that it was too risky for me, but you could take the literal eight year old-"

"yeah, a kid that has insanely powerful gifts who knows how to use them!" Sans stands up, irritation starting to lace his tone. He wobbles a little and has to balance himself with the counter. "what was i supposed to do? whatever that thing was, it was clearly not gonna stop. should i have waited for the police to bring out missiles? let humans kill a monster? don't you understand what that would mean?"

"Yeah, I get it. Which is why I didn't try to stop you. But you should have taken me with you! I could have helped!"

"how?" His tone is cold, rational.

You open your mouth, but nothing comes out. All of your fussing and now you can't even give him an answer. "Look I...I don't know what I could've done. But I wanted to be with you regardless. You just dove off into danger alone. I can't bear the thought of something happening to you. Especially when I'm not there." You gesture to him. "Just take look at yourself! You can barely stand! What if something had gone wrong?"

"i'm fine."

"No you're not!" You clench your fists. "This is because you haven't gotten a wink of sleep for the past week!"

He shrugs carelessly. "i knew i'd be ok. i'm fast."

"Doesn't matter how fast you are if you are too exhausted to move," you point out, jabbing a finger at him.

"you're right; it doesn't matter because as long as i'm not distracted by-" He stops talking as your jaw drops in rage.

"Care to say that again?" You say in a scarily calm voice. "I'm a distraction?"

"that's not what i'm saying."

"That's exactly what you're saying!"

He throws his hands up in exasperation. "fine! if you were there i would have been distracted making sure you were safe and possibly gotten myself and the kid killed! happy?"

Damn it, your lip is starting to tremble. "So that's that. I'm just the poor helpless human who needs to be tossed aside while the grown ups deal with the problems that get thrown our way huh?"

Sans rubs his hands over his skull, groaning into his palms. "you're not a helpless human-"

You shake your head, looking away from him. "No, I am. Fine, I'll...I'll learn how to fight. Undyne can teach me."

The lights in his sockets shrink. "that's not necessary."

"So what? Just continue how things have been? I see," you say sarcastically. "Oh no! My office was attacked? Get away from the site. Bad men sneak into my home and take my blood? Quick! Drop her off with someone else while the monsters search for them! Because clearly I'm too fragile to deal with the problems!"

"getting away the logical thing to do!" Sans is yelling now, in a volume that you've never heard from him before. "you don't stay and invite danger to come back! you leave and make a plan!"

"And what plan is that? Being followed by bodyguards for the rest of my life?" The tea pot starts to whistle and in your hasty anger, you accidentally brush your fingers against the boiling hot kettle. "Ow! Damn it!"

Sans steps forward, his anger easing into concern and you turn away from his outstretched hand. You run your red fingers under cold water as he continues to stand there, slowly lowering his hand. You shut the water off but don't turn around. "I know I'm not a powerful monster like you or Paps or hell, like Frisk." The savage anger has left your voice. Now you're just so tired. Tired of being afraid, tired of feeling helpless and weak. "I love you and everything that you've done for me. But I don't need to be coddled."

"_____." His voice is shaking.

"I...I think you should stay in Papyrus' room tonight," you whisper. Then, before he can answer you push past him and escape to your room. You manage to close and lock the door before the tears start to flow.

Chapter Text

At some point, you hear Toriel enter the house and she starts berating Sans for allowing Frisk to fight against the creature. Her words are too muffled to make out, but still loud enough to hear the rage in her voice. You sit there on the edge of the bed, cheeks stiff with dried tears. Guilt and worry battle in your chest and you wonder if maybe you should go out there. He's already been yelled at by you and despite your anger, he was just trying to do the right thing.

No. You don't feel sorry for him. 

You don't

Eventually, you fall asleep but the nightmares don't allow you to rest for long. It's the usual ones, except now the hulking figure of a goopy monster is the one reaching for you, screaming in agony. You jolt awake, your hand immediately reaching for Sans, only to meet empty air. You take several large gulps of air, body trembling. As your breath returns, you hear the door handle jiggle quietly. You never unlocked it before going to bed. You go still, staring at the door. Did you scream when you woke up? You honestly can't remember. You must have and now Sans is out there, trying to get in. He could teleport in here if he wanted to. A locked door was pretty useless when it came to keeping Sans out. But eventually, you hear the floorboard creak as he moves away. Giving you space? Or maybe he's angry with you. 

Going back to sleep is useless, so you pull yourself out of bed and grab Sans' guitar. Or as he kept insisting, your guitar. You told him you were fine with getting a new one, but honestly, you were so happy when Sans held on to the new one. This one held the memories from Christmas night. You run your hands over the wood and strings. It chimes quietly.  Even now you can see his hands gripping the neck with care, strumming out the song that he sang for you. You press your face against the headstock and close your eyes tightly. This is the first fight you've ever had with him that's lasted this long and with all your heart you want to run out there and find him. You want to wrap your arms around his bony frame and tell him that you love him, no matter what. But there's a stubborn, angry hole in your heart that won't let go. He was wrong to just abandon you like that. He was wrong to dump you off on his brother without even stopping to think. You are more than just a fragile human. Sans himself was the one to show you that. You have to do better, show him that he could depend on you.

You do manage to fall back to sleep, cradling his pillow in your arms. You wake with his scent in your nose and your heart lurches with guilt. When you open the door, you almost step on a tray that's been left there in the hallway. There's a single rose, a plastic wrapped plate with some slightly burned muffins and a folded up note. You bend down and pick up the note. 

heya. um, i tried to make a nice breakfast but 'muffin' really turned out. al asked me to go to the lab with her to help with the dust sample so i called abby to take you to the station. less ate something bad so he's taking day off. paps would like to keep you company.

but if you want me to

just give me a call if you need anything 

i'm really sorry 

i'd like to take you out someplace nice tonight, if that's ok?

i love you

sans

You press your hand up over the wobbly smile stretching over your face. Oh Sans. What an adorable, infuriating, goofball. You put the letter pocket and pick up the tray, heading for the kitchen for a vase. Frisk, Paps and Toriel are sitting at the table, talking quietly. Their conversation halts as you enter the room and they all give you a hesitant look. 

"GOOD MORNING _____!" Papyrus is, unsurprisingly, the first to break the silence. "DID YOU SLEEP WELL?" 

Frisk jabs Papyrus in the arm, shooting him a frantic look. Papyrus flushes. 

"UM, NOT THAT YOU WOULDN'T SLEEP WELL BECAUSE MY BROTHER WAS NOT THERE, I MEAN HE DIDN'T BUT HE NEVER SLEEPS WELL ANYWAY AND...OH NO." Papyrus buries his head in his hands, groaning loudly. "I'M SORRY HUMAN. I WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BRING UP YOUR FIGHT." 

You sit down at the table and pat his arm. "It's okay Pap. Couples fight sometimes. It's not like I hate him now." 

He brightens considerably. "THAT IS A VERY GOOD THING! BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH HE WOULD NOT SAY IT, I COULD SEE THAT SANS WAS WORRIED THAT YOU MIGHT DISLIKE HIM AND-" 

"Papyrus, I believe you are going to be going to the station with ____ right?" Toriel cuts in quickly, perhaps seeing the shock flash over your face. "You should probably get ready." 

"YES, YOU ARE RIGHT LADY TORIEL!" Papyrus stands quickly, checks still tinted orange. Frisk plants their head on the table as he quickly heads back to his room to change out of his oversized pajamas. 

You're not quite sure what to say, so you nibble on the muffins Sans left. They're actually not bad, despite being a little black on the edges. Toriel watches you eat with a sorrowful expression until you can't take it any longer. "You're looking better," you say to Frisk, desperate to change Toriel's focus. 

Frisk lifts their head off the table. They bite their lips and sign, The fight was my fault, wasn't it?

You shake your head. "Frisk, last night was...a mess. Everything happened so fast. Blame can't be put on any one but that thing hurting people. I'm just glad you're okay." You take their hand, smiling gently. "The fight with Sans was bound to happen sooner or later, thanks to everything that's going on. But I'm not mad any more. Don't worry, okay?"

They still look glum. You sigh and pull out your phone. There's a few texts from Abby left from last night. 

A: Hey, Sans said you needed a lift? Everything ok? 

A: He sounded bummed out

A: Are you fighting?

A: P.S just got word that we are good for the Mettaton interview today. 

Ah, that's right. Today was the day you were shooting and advertising for, but Mettaton had waited until the last possible moment to confirm that he was coming. But that gives you an idea. It's a Saturday, so that means no school for Frisk.

"Hey, Frisk, since Papyrus is going to be keeping me company today, do you want to tag along? We're doing the interview with Mettaton today so it's going to be a pretty interesting day at the station." 

Frisk perks up, smiling widely. They look to Toriel, signing quickly.

Toriel likewise seems to brighten a little until a thought occurs to her. "My child...after what happened last night and..." She frowns and clasps her hands together. "I don't know if it will be safe." 

You set down the remainder of your muffin. "Toriel, out of everyone effected, I know that you have the most right to be concerned. But Papyrus will be there and the station is filled with people who sympathize with monsters. I promise that Frisk will be safe. And I mean, after last night," You give Frisk a wide smile, which they return, "I think they can handle themselves." 

Toriel puts her head in her hands, sighing deeply. "I am still very unhappy about all of that," she says in an almost growl. "But I will agree that there was not much of a choice." She goes quiet and both you and Frisk give her puppy dog eyes. Her mouth twitches as she attempts to hide a smile. "All right then." 

"Yes!" You give Frisk a high five. "Thanks Toriel." 

This time, she does smile. 

~~~~~

Abby picks you and the others up around twelve. Poor Papryus and Frisk are crammed in the back of her tiny car but Frisk is so excited about spending time at the station they don't really seem to mind. Even better, you got a call from the car shop just before Abby pulled up; your car was just about finished and would be ready to be picked up after work. The shop was close to the station so you could walk there with the others. Maybe you'd treat the two to some ice cream or something as thanks. 

"So," Abby starts in as soon as you're settled, giving you a side eyed glance. "Do you want to talk about it or...?" 

You give a pointed glance up to her rear-view mirror, where you can see Paps desperately trying to squeeze his bony frame as closely together as he can. 

"Ah. Okay then." She sounds disappointed. "Just answer this; are the seas calm or raging?" 

You snort at her attempt at subtly. "He had to go take care of something first thing this morning so I haven't seen him since but...he left me a rose and breakfast. Wants to take me out tonight."

"So you're...?"

You lean your head back against the seat. "I'm not exactly mad anymore. He was doing what he thought was right and I can't blame him for that. He was just trying to keep me safe from that creature going crazy last night."

Abby likewise glances at Frisk through the mirror. "I saw all that," she says in a hushed whisper. "What the hell was that thing?" 

"That's what Sans is trying to figure out." You tap your fingers against the arm rest. Now that you've calmed down from last night, really, you're starting to feel stupid about starting up the argument. A petty fight was not the thing to be worrying about right now. "I just...I don't know what's going on. It's scaring me."

Abby sets her jaw, staring out the window. "This whole thing is scary. The attacks on you, the disappearing people, the rise in monster hate crimes. Do you remember what Emily said? That day her butt got arrested? " 

You do. Emily, the jerk who had been involved in the fireworks incident at the festival had told you that this whole thing wasn't just a simple prank. She said that it was a whole lot bigger than that and even said you'd be smart to get out of the city. At the time, you had thought that it was just talk. But what if it wasn't? "You don't think all of this is connected, do you?" 

Abby shrugs. "I don't know. I hope not." 

Goosebumps rise up your arms. You notice Frisk watching intensely from the back, so you decide to switch to a new topic. Soon enough, you pull up to the station and you're surprised to see a black limo already there. The interview wasn't scheduled for another two hours right? You give Abby a questioning look and she shrugs helplessly at you. Wait, if Mettaton was already here....

"Hey Paps!" You say, turning around in the seat. "I'm so sorry, I kept forgetting to ask you about something." 

"THAT IS UNDERSTANDABLE WITH EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON!" Papyrus says cheerfully, despite his current tangled position in the seat. Oh good grief, how did he even manage that? "WHAT IS IT YOU WISH TO ASK THE GREAT PAPYRUS?"

"Mettaton wanted me to ask you if you'd be up for dinner with him? His treat for his biggest fan." 

It takes a second for this to register. Then Papyrus lights up with joy, his sockets actually sparkling. "M-METTATON WANTS TO HAVE DINNER WITH ME?"

You can't help but laugh at his enthusiasm. "Of course! I mean, you are his biggest fan, right?" 

"OF COURSE I AM!" He struggles for a moment to strike a pose and fails terribly. 

"Let's get you out of the car," you snicker, feeling a little bad about laughing. It takes both you and Frisk to free the skeleton but he eventually pops free and you head into the studio. You open the door and the transformation that has overtaken the front office stops you dead in your tracks. Flowers, posters and oh good grief, cardboard cutouts all of Mettaton take up almost half the space in the room. And the other half is taken up by the team all dressed in color coordinated outfits putting up the decorations. 

"Phil dear, that frame is crooked by .25 inches. Don't give me that look, of course I can see it. I am a robot after all. Darling!" Mettaton spots you and makes his way over, throwing his arm around you in a hug. "It is about time you showed up!" 

"Mettaton, you're two hours early," you say, trying desperately not to burst out laughing. Poor Abby looks utterly scandalized that her area has been so completely transformed. 

"Yes, and not a moment of that can go to waste! Celia!" He motions to a woman holding a silver case. Oh crap that's the same case he used on your date night!

You wave your hands, trying to escape his hold. "Wait, wait, wait! This is radio! They won't see our faces!" 

Mettaton waggles a finger in your face. "You truly must embrace the future of technology! That is what live streaming is for!" 

Oh NO-

"Papy dear!" Mettaton beams with happiness as he spots Papyrus, who is staring at the chaos with an open jaw. He makes his way over to the skeleton as Celia drags you into one of the front offices, which has been set up as a temporary make-up room. Poor Tod is already seated there with another woman fussing over him and he does not look happy.

"Did you know he would pull something like this?" he grumbles to you as Celia forces you to sit. 

"I had no clue," you mutter back, resigning yourself to your fate. "Believe me, I would have warned you otherwise." 

Tod sighs. "At least we've still got Sam and Elizabeth on the booth for now. And they brought enough food to feed everyone and then some. So I guess I can handle this much." 

Well that was good news at least. You try to relax as Celia starts on your face. Tod is finished a lot sooner than you are and heads out to try and do some damage control. You pull out your phone while she fixes up your hair and send a text to Sans. 

Y: I got your note this morning. I'm sorry too. I overreacted. I just worry about you bone boy. 

He replies almost instantly. 

S: heh, we're a couple of boneheads i guess. i'm so sorry i made you feel that way. 

Y: Don't worry. 'Muffin' could make me stop loving you. 

S: omg i think i'm gonna cry. 

Y: Don't go getting sappy on me! If I start tearing up and ruin my make up, Mettaton's gonna kill me. 

S: knock their socks off. i'll be listening. see u tonight?

Y: Yeah :) Love you

S: love you too

Finally, some of the tension in your shoulders eases up. There were still things to talk about but you really didn't want to stay mad at Sans. You hear the door open and look up. Frisk pops their head in, grinning widely. 

"Hey kiddo! How do I look?"

They give you a double thumbs up, which you're gonna take as a good sign. Finally, Celia finishes up and you have to run to the booth. The booth itself has a camera set up in the corner, which is being manned by a guy wearing a skin tight purple suit that he somehow manages to pull off. Tod motions you over and you quickly take your spot, sliding your headphones over your ears. Mettaton cues the cameraman and you see the recording light blink on. 

"All right everyone it is that time," Tod announces into the mic.

You decide to just completely ignore the camera and turn your eyes back to the list of questions that have been prepared. "That's right everyone! We have with us in the studio today, the one, the only! Mettaton!" You flip the switch for the celebration music, a little tune that you used on a pretty regular basis. But you're taken by surprise when an odd slightly mechanical tune plays instead. Oh you know that song; it's Mettaton's theme that played before a lot of his movies.

"Hello and thank you all for tuning in," Mettaton says, turning to face the camera. You'd ask him to turn back but at the level he's speaking, the mic isn't going to have any issues picking him up. "A beautiful day for an interview with such a beautiful person, if I do say so myself!" 

It's all too easy to slip into the list of questions about himself and honestly, you barely have to give him any direction. He talks about some of his movies, current shows, plans for the future, things like that. It's oddly fun and Mettaton certainly knows how to handle himself during an interview. As he's talking, you notice Papyrus and Frisk standing out by the soundboard, watching with complete rapture. You wave and they both wave back enthusiastically.

But after a while, Tod leans in, his smile replaced by a more serious expression. "Now Mettaton, I wanted to ask you. Am I correct in assuming you are up to speed on all of the attacks that have happened to our very own _____?"

Mettaton nods solemnly, his own smile shrinking. "I am afraid I am." 

"And she is not the only one who has been the victim of hate crimes to those involving people who have shown basic human decency to monsters in this city. And to monsters themselves. What are your thoughts on that?" 

Mettaton takes a moment; as self absorbed as he is, surely even he realizes that what he says next needs to be worded carefully. 

"To be honest darling, I despise those who think that performing such hateful acts is at all acceptable. Creatures such as that don't deserve an ounce of my attention." 

Or not. 

"But to those who have suffered, I give this message." Mettaton locks eyes with you for a moment before turning back to the camera. "Be strong darlings. Monsters may be different and at times, perhaps a little overwhelming. Your strength and compassion makes you all stars in my book. If monsters could survive being held in the darkness for so long, then I believe that this too will pass. I want to have faith in humanity. Hold on to your determination. Let's prove the doubters wrong." 

You nearly applaud as Mettaton finishes. Holy cow, who knew he had such...inspirational words in him? "And with that, ladies and gentleman, here is Mambo No. Five." You cue the music and then those in and out of the booth do applaud as Mettaton stands and takes a bow. "That was fantastic," you say as you pull your headphones off. "Well done!" 

"Oh, it is all thanks to such fantastic hosts." Mettaton beams at you and Tod and then almost shyly glances to Papyrus. Paps looks like he's about to cry from happiness. The robot gives you a quick, surprisingly gentle hug before heading out to speak with the crowds of station workers that had gathered to watch the interview. You slump back in your chair, letting out a breath of air. For being just an interview, it sure took a lot out of you.

"That's Frisk out there, right?" Tod asks as he sets his headphones on the table. Frisk is dancing out there, getting a few laughs from the adults gathered around.

"Yep," you say, an odd sense of pride coloring your words. "They're a great kid."

Tod shakes his head, watching Frisk. A smile crosses his face. "It's truly amazing that a child was able to do so much. And is still doing so much for the monsters." He looks over at you. "Good job with the interview by the way."

"I was a little nervous," you admit with a laugh. "With everything that's happened recently, I haven't even had a chance to properly prepare. So I'm glad everything went smoothly."

"You deserve a bit of a break," Tod says, nodding. "What are your plans for tonight?"

You shrug. "My car's finally done so I think the three of us are going to walk over to go pick it up. I was thinking of surprising them with ice cream or something."

Tod brightens and pulls over a piece of paper. He starts drawing out a map. "If it's ice cream you're looking for, I know this fantastic hole in the wall place. It might be a little out of your way, but I promise you an experience you won't forget."  

You take the map and look over it. "Oh! That's right on the way to the shop! I think anyway. We'll check it out!" 

Tod smiles widely at you. "You won't regret it." 

~~~~~

"You sure you don't want a lift?" Abby asks as you gather up your things. "I'm off in twenty minutes. I really don't mind." 

"That's okay," you assure her. You gesture to Papyrus, who has become quite popular with some of the younger people who work the station. They're laughing and talking with him and he's loving the attention. "I've got Paps and Tod told me about this ice cream place that's on the way. It's still decently light out so we'll be fine." 

"Well, if you're sure." Abby finally relents and gives you a tight hug. "Text me when you get your car, okay?" 

"You got it," you promise. "Frisk, Paps, you ready?" 

"YES! FAREWELL MY NEW HUMAN FRIENDS!" Papyrus waves and quickly hurries over, opening the door for you and Frisk. The three of you head down the street, excitedly chattering about the interview. You show the other two the texts from Undyne, Alphys and even Asgore giving you congratulations and other such encouragement. How the King of monsters got a hold of your number, you're not quite sure but decide it's better not to worry about it. After walking for about twenty minutes, you start really paying attention to your surroundings, glancing at the map. 

"I think it's down this way?" You stop in front of a break between two buildings. This area is a little older and though there are a lot of shops around, not many of them are open. In fact, there aren't even many people around. A few people here and there, lingering on benches or leaning against buildings talking to each other. Papyrus looks at the map. 

"I BELIEVE YOUR MAP IS TELLING YOU TO GO THIS WAY," he says, pointing down into the alley. "THE SHOP SHOULD BE JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE." 

Frisk tugs on your sleeve, a worried look on their face. 

"I agree," you say to them. "I'm not a fan of alleyways either. But if Tod says it's this way...." You continue to hesitate, looking down the alley. There are a few lights down there. But then, as you're pondering whether the ice cream is worth it, you feel a sudden, harsh bump against your shoulder. You are pushed forward, nearly hitting the wall of the building. "Hey!" 

The culprit, a man dressed in a hoodie with the hood pulled up, is sprinting away. And-

"He's got my purse!" you shriek, as you realize that you've just been robbed. Seriously!? "Stop!" 

"DO NOT FEAR HUMAN! I SHALL RETRIEVE YOUR BAG!" Papyrus immediately takes off after the thief, his long legs very quickly carrying him away. 

You tug at Frisk. "Come on! We've gotta keep up!" The two of you take off after Papyrus, who has a huge head start on you. You run as fast as you can but keeping up proves to be impossible. You see Papyrus turn a corner and by the time you and Frisk reach the same spot, panting, he's gone. 

"Where...did...he go?" You fight to get your breath back, looking around. He's no where to be seen and now, you've got no idea where you are. And worse, you no longer have your phone. Frisk presses against you, pointing. They're looking at a pair of men, who are staring at the two of you. "Oh, good idea. Let's ask if they saw where he went." 

You only take a single step forward when the two men start moving towards you. Something whispers in the back of your mind and a shiver of unease makes you stop. You put your arm out, stopping Frisk as well. They look up at you in confusion. 

What's wrong?

"Frisk, I...I don't like the way those guys are looking at us," you say in a hushed voice. "Let's go in one of the shops." You turn and stop short. There's another man coming up behind you and oh shit, you really don't like the glint in his eyes. You pull Frisk's arm, leading them away. You run up to the first door you see and tug on it. It's locked. You glance over your shoulder and it's no mistake, these men are coming after you. And now there are four of them. 

Frisk pulls your hand, running down into one of the alleys. No, no! This is the worst place to run when being chased! And as expected, there's another two men standing at the end and now they're running towards you. Frisk skids to a stop; their hand is sweaty. 

"This way!" You push them down a break in the alley that leads into another walkway. The two of you run as fast as you can. It's darker down here and you can't see to the end. But what choice do you have? Your heart is pounding painfully in your chest. Where is Papyrus?!

"Oh shit!" The curse slips out as you realize there is no end to this alley. It's fenced off and just beyond is freedom back to the street. You whirl around and as you feared, the men are gathered in the entryway, terrifyingly close. You grab Frisk and lift them up. "Start climbing!" you order, voice shrill. "Over the fence!" 

Frisk scales the fence, their small hands fitting easily between the links. You jump and grab at it, scrambling for more of a foothold. Frisk makes it to the top and you hear them scream just as someone grabs the back of your shirt and yanks. You manage to hold on to the fence, kicking out at the man grabbing you. Your foot nails him in the groin and you hear a pained yelp. But the others have caught up and there are too many. You are ripped away from the fence and hit the ground so hard your head spins.  

Frisk pounds the fence on the other side, screaming and crying. 

"GO!" You scream as hands descend on you, pulling, ripping, tearing. "FRISK, RUN!" 

You see a man attempt to start scaling the fence and Frisk takes off, disappearing around the corner.

"Leave the kid! We've got this one!" 

You suddenly feel something smelly pressed over your face. Numbness begins to creep over your limbs and though you scream at your muscles to move, to fight, you feel your body going limp. No, no! You give one last struggle as your vision begins to blur and you see a face with bright green eyes grinning down at you before darkness claims you. 

Chapter Text

Sans never understood the hype for flowers until he met you. Well, to be honest, he still didn't completely understand. Given his history, he actually doesn't care for flowers at all. But the spark that would light up your eyes whenever he surprised you with a bouquet made him more than happy to participate in the silly human tradition. He glances over the huge display. Loud and gaudy arrangements don't seem appropriate for an apology. His Soul lurches as once again he sees your face, hurt and closed off from him. How could he have been so stupid? To you, a human who had fought through so much, being protected and removed from harms way wasn't a way of showing affection. It was a breach of trust. More than any else he understands the agony of being forced to stand by and watch while the ones he cared about were put in danger. Despite his good intentions, it wasn't the right thing to do.

But if anything ever happened to you....

Sans shakes his head. No, there's no space for thoughts like that. He'll make sure that you are safe. Perhaps getting lessons in defense from Undyne was a good idea. He'll bring it up tonight. After he gave you a proper apology. He finally picks up a simple bouquet of red and peach roses. These would do. Hopefully the flowers and his plans for tonight would be enough to help sooth things over with you. He'd found the perfect spot, just outside the city where the two you could see the stars without the city lights obscuring the view. 

He gets in line, clutching the flowers when his phone starts buzzing. He fishes for it, half expecting the call to be from Alphys. Despite his help in trying to analyze the sample from the monster that attacked the city, not much progress had been made on figuring out exactly what it was. It couldn't simply be a monster; he had seen for itself that when it died it left behind bones. Monsters, all monsters, left only dust. So that meant it couldn't be a monster. Well, not completely. After all, its outer shell did dissolve into dust and-

He's slipping into science mode again. Despite the knot in his Soul from the fight and the whole situation, it was actually rather...nice, getting back into the sciencey stuff. He'd missed it. But now's not the time to be thinking about that. He tries to clear his thoughts, flipping open the phone. It's Papyrus. Probably calling to tell him all about Mettaton's show and what happened at the station. He'd listened of course, despite his distaste for the robot. He listened for you and your voice. He heard you cry out last night and his Soul screamed at him to go to you. But the locked door surely must have meant that you didn't want him or his comfort. He'd spent all last night awake, worried...no...terrified that he had messed up too much. He was so scared that he'd finally drawn the last straw and that you were done with him. But then you'd sent him that message, apologizing when he was the one who had hurt you and made you feel unwanted. 

What in his sad, miserable life could he have possibly done to deserve a Soul like yours? 

He hits the accept button, pressing the phone up against his skull. "heya paps. how'd the-" He can't finish before Paps starts wailing, babbling and crying so hard he can't make the words out. "woah, hey bro, c'mon slow down. what's wrong?" 

It takes several, agonizing seconds while his brother fights to breathe before finally speaking. Then, Sans feels his Soul go cold. 

The bouquet of roses falls from his limp hand and hits the floor. 

~~~~~

It's the jostling and severe bumping that wakes you. You can't see a thing and your heart races, thinking the worst. Did they blind you? Bury you alive? No, no it's a cloth wrapped around your face, tied just below your nose. It reeks, but it's just a cloth. Your breathes eases just slightly and you fight not to move. They must have used chloroform on you or something. If whoever took you think that you're still out cold, you might be able to figure out what's going on. Okay, just breathe. Listen. Just figure things out one at a time. Where are you? You can feel a steady movement beneath you and the floor you're lying on is hard. You shift just enough to feel ridges in the ground. Okay, some kind of van or car maybe? Your arms ache terribly; they're pulled back behind you and tied together with rope. There's another bump in the road and you can't stop a pained groan. 

"Is the girl awake?"

You jerk at the voice coming just to your left. You hold your breath as you feel a hand pat at your covered face harshly. 

"Nah, just moaning in her sleep." The answer is bored, indifferent to the fact that there's a tied up girl right in front of him. "The dose was strong; she should be out for a while longer." 

"Hmm." A third voice hums. "Shame we only got the older one. Kid's got a pair of legs on 'em." 

Frisk got away! Relief sweeps through you. Maybe they were able to find Papyrus. You strain to hear more of their conversation but then the men fall silent again and you desperately try to listen for something that might give you some idea of where you're going. Are you even still in the city? Judging from the noise and honking that flares up whenever the vehicle slows, it's a safe bet to say that you are. You consider counting turns, but what good would that do? As delicately as you can, you start working your wrists together. Maybe you can loosen them, just a little and make a break for it when the car stops. And finally, after at least another twenty minutes, it slows and you hear the engine stop. You brace yourself, rubbing your wrists a little faster.

Suddenly, something hard slams into your stomach and you cry out. 

"Don't think I don't see what you're doing!" The first voice gleefully calls

Another hit sends you skidding across the floor. You cough harshly, barely able to breath. Someone grabs your arm, yanking you upwards. They pull you from the van and you stumble at the drop to the ground. You have no choice but to move forward, propelled by the man pulling on you. Even through the mask, you can smell the reek of oil and metal. It's noisy here. There's clanging and the roar of machinery. But it only lasts for a few seconds. The noise suddenly grows dimmer and the cold eases into the warmth of being inside. The floor must be tile, judging from the noise your shoes make against it. This time, you do try to count your steps. Twenty three steps and then a left. Another ten and then stairs. The air grows considerably cooler as you stumble down the steps. When it levels out, the man holding you spins you a few times, making you lose all sense of where you are. Damn it! Thoroughly dizzy, you start walking again. You can hear more machinery, but this noise is more of a quiet buzz. Almost like a hospital noise. You're led into another room and forced to sit in a chair. 

"I'm gonna untie you now," says a female voice, oddly gentle. "But don't try anything. There are a lot of us and only one of you." 

You hold still as whoever it is slides a knife up and slices the rope, freeing your hands. You fight the urge to rub your wrists and continue to stay still. You swallow your fear as best as you can. "What's going on here?" 

"You'll find out soon enough," the woman answers. Her hands fiddle with the knot of the cloth and it falls away. You take a look around, squinting a bit at the sudden light. 

The room itself is bland. Gray walls, a table, a few chairs thrown around. The furthest wall is one of those one way mirror type walls but the room beyond it is pitch black. You try to whip your head around to look at the woman, but she's already left, closing the door behind her. You get to your feet hesitantly. What's going on here? After a few minutes of absolutely nothing happening, you start exploring the room. It doesn't take long to determine that there really is nothing in here but the chairs and table. And a camera in the corner. It's on and recording, a small red dot the only clue that you're being watched. You face the camera, scowling. 

"This is kidnapping!" You say to it. Your voice is trembling, and you don't even know if they can hear you but you don't really care. "What the hell do you want with me?!" 

No surprise, there's no answer. You kick at one of the chairs in frustration and sit down against the wall. Your hands tremble as you pull up your legs and bury your face, hiding from the camera. You complete idiot! You should have taken Abby's offer! You shouldn't have tried to chase after Papyrus! Oh God, poor Papyrus. He has to be distraught over this! And Frisk, the poor kid was so scared. 

Sans

Your eyes burn. Sans must be out of his mind with worry. Knowing him, he's probably teleporting all over the city looking for you. True fear starts to set into your heart, making your body shake. What if that fight was the last time you saw him? What if you die here and Sans has to live his life never knowing that you truly did forgive him for the stupid petty argument? 

Your head jerks up at the sound of the door opening. Scrambling to your feet, you back away into the corner as several men enter the room. Two of them have guns and the others hold thick black rods at their belts. One of them gestures towards the chair in the middle. 

"Sit," he orders. 

Seeing as you don't have much of a choice, you do as he says. The chair is positioned so that it faces you away from the door and you really don't like that. You eye the men as they take up positions along the walls. They make a point not to look at you. "Geez guys, what a cold welcome," you drawl. 

The door slams suddenly, making you jump. Everyone is silent, but you can feel that someone is standing right behind you. For several long seconds, you stare down at your lap. Goosebumps rise up your arm. Why don't they say anything? 

Finally, a deep, heavy sigh. "You know, I was really hoping it wouldn't be you." 

Your blood turns to ice. You know that voice. No, it can't be him!

"I mean, it makes sense that it would be you, but I still hoped. So I'm sorry about all of this." Tod, your boss, your fellow radio host, your friend, steps carefully around you, one hand shoved in the pocket of his coat. He grabs one of the chairs, spinning it around and sits down in front of you. You can only stare, mind buzzing with shock and disbelief. Tod sighs and nods. "You're surprised. That's good then." 

Your hands clench together. "I...I don't understand what's happening here." 

Tod crosses his legs, leaning back in his chair. "That's why you're right here. Normally in this...situation, the less that our subjects know about what's going on, the better. You're lucky; I like you so I'm going to tell you exactly what your purpose is before we get started." 

Your shock is turning into rage. You try to stand and heavy hands slap down on your shoulders, keeping you in place. "I don't believe this! You're responsible for everything?" you snarl at him. "Tod, why?! I thought you stood with the monsters! Not these pathetic, narrow-minded-ow!" The hands squeeze your skin tightly.

"Easy there," he says softly. To you, or the man holding you down, you're not sure. "Now please, don't make such assumptions. Give me a chance to explain."

"Explain what?" Your voice is rising into a shriek. "Bottom line is, you sent people to attack me and who knows how many others. You made a fake map and sent goons to kidnap me! I'm not interested in any excuse you've got!"

He sighs, rubbing a hand over his face. "All right then. Let's explain by example."

At his words, the men in the room suddenly train their sights on the darkened window. The two with guns raise them up, aiming at the wall. Tod snaps his fingers and the light flickers on. The room inside is not empty, as you thought. You can't help but cry out as the light reveals a hideous monster trapped behind the glass. It looks like the creature from the attack, but this one is far bulkier and less goopy. It lifts a hand up over what remains of its face, shying away from the light. It turns and slams its palms against the glass, howling. The glass shudders, but holds. 

"Disgusting, isn't it?" Tod stands and the man behind you pulls you up as well. You dig your heels in as best as you can but you are dragged closer to the window. Terror pulses through your veins. 

"D-don't!" 

"Take a good look," he says softly, gesturing to the creature. A hand grabs your head and pushes you until you are mere inches away from the glass. The creature's face hovers right in front of you and you can't move or even breathe. Up close like this, you can see everything. It's goopy face holds more expression than the one from last night; its eyes are completely sunken in, and it's more like staring into pitch black holes in its face. One of them is smaller and slightly curved and its mouth holds less teeth. It's staring right at you, through you and you just want to run away as fast as you possibly can. It shakes its head and you see a brief flash of color in the darkness of its eyes, a silent plea for help before it roars. You flinch as its spittle hits the glass. It slams a fist up as well and this time, cracks web out from the force of the hit. 

"Enough, tap it out!" Tod orders and a sudden smoke fills the smaller room. The creature wails, digging at its face before falling to its knees. The room goes dark as it topples over and your knees nearly give out as well. The thug holding you hoists you up and drags you back to the chair. Tod remains standing this time, arms crossed. "Are you ready to listen now?" 

You can't manage more than a nod. It's finally hitting you just how much trouble you're in. Emily was right; this is all so much bigger than petty hate crimes. 

Tod rubs a hand over his chin, deep in thought. He taps a finger against the scar on his face. "Let's see now. I never told how I got this, did I? In fact, you never asked about it."

You stare at him blankly. His scar? What did that have to do with anything? "No. It wasn't my business."

He smiles warmly. "Another reason I liked you from the start. People are so nosy; it's never 'how are you?' or 'nice to meet you'. People see me and all they want to know is how I got this scar. Might as well call myself the Joker."

"You're certainly insane enough for it," you mutter darkly.

Tod laughs. "Now, now, remember what I said about making assumptions?" He finally sits down again. "Long story short, before I worked in radio I was in a very special unit within the army. One that worked specifically in developing biological and chemical weapons. You see, I'm smart. Very smart. The people running the program barely waited until I was out of high school to recruit me. They immediately sent me overseas. At the time, I thought it was the best opportunity I could have gotten. A chance to defend my country, to be a hero who saved lives." He frowns harshly, eyes flashing with a rage you've never seen from him before. "War is hell. Make no mistake about that. I have seen the lowest and foulest of humanity at work. And I was working right along side them. I was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. People who also thought they were doing their duty. And worse, people who had nothing to do with our war. They were merely caught in the crossfire."

Tod is no longer looking at you. You can see in his eyes that he is far away from here, caught in horrific memories you can't even imagine. "My story is the usual one; caught in an accident, hurt by someone trying to kill me. I was too injured and broken to continue working. And what did I receive as thanks for my efforts and work? A pat on the back and a ride home. I was left with only the nightmares and flashbacks. I had to try and rebuild my life in a world that acts on blind hatred and bigotry." His eyes snap back to you and he leans forward, putting his hands on his knees. "You are right; I am on the monsters side. I love monsters and their overwhelming ability to love and accept others as who they are. But be honest with yourself. How could the human race, who barely takes moment to breathe before starting another fight with itself, ever accept creatures so completely different and strange?"

You're loath to agree with anything he has to say, but he has a point. You even used to joke that if aliens did exist, there's no way they would ever try to contact the constantly squabbling human race. "But-"

Tod puts a hand up. "Yes, there are those who are willing and accepting. People like you, and like me. But we are vastly outnumbered, you must understand this. When the monsters came up to the surface, I did not feel fear or even excitement. All I felt was dread. Humanity has been given a gift and I knew that it was only a matter of time before that gift would be trampled and thrown away without ever being opened. But what could a radio host do?"

He stands up, offering a hand. You don't take it. You just glare at him until he lowers it and looks to Mr. Handsy. You're dragged upwards again. Tod moves to the door, opening it and holding it open. 

"Let's take a walk and I'll show you exactly what a radio host can do." 

Given no choice, you follow him into the hallway. It's dark down here, flickering lights throwing shadows over the whole area. All the armed goons follow as well, silent and focused. You all head down the dark hall and hit a pair of doors. Tod doesn't hesitate before throwing them open and striding in. The humming machinery noise grows louder as you enter. This area is a lot bigger and brighter; it looks like some kind of underground warehouse that's been modified into a makeshift lab. There are several medical tables set up against the wall. Each table is set up with complicated machinery and tubes. One of these tables is occupied by a skinny kid who is out cold and surrounded by several men and women in lab coats. They only spare you a glance before looking back down at their notes.The other side of the room has several computer stations, work tables and a huge device that reaches up nearly to the ceiling. It's shape is oddly familiar and after a few seconds it hits you. It almost looks like Sans' Gaster Blasters. But sharper faced and filled with tubes and wires. That's where most of the humming is coming from. 

Right in the middle of the room there are four clear boxed cells made with reinforced glass. Two are empty, but the other two hold more of the goopy monsters. These however, are more goop than monster and don't appear to be moving much. You feel your heart lurch with horror as you start to put the pieces together. 

"You made these things?" you blurt out as Tod leads you to the computer side of the room. 

He smiles widely. "Very observant! Of course, it was a joint effort." He waves to a woman currently bent over a laptop, furiously tapping away. She looks up, annoyed, but that slips away when her eyes land on you. She brightens and taps the screen once before quickly walking over. She's tiny and though she can't be much older than Tod, her long black hair is struck through with strands of gray. She excitedly walks around you, examining you like you're some kind of toy. 

"Ah, and here she is!" she says brightly, just the barest hint of a Korean accent coloring her words. She's oddly chipper, despite the fact that you're certain she knows that you are not here of your own free will. "I have to say, your blood has done wonders for our research!" 

Your blood? 

"This is Doctor Nahn," Tod says, clapping a hand on the tiny woman's shoulder. "We worked together back in the day." 

"And now I work with your dear friend Doctor Alphys," she adds. "Brilliant, but I have to say she really needs to work on her social skills." 

Alphys! No, she couldn't possibly....

The doctor laughs at the expression on your face. "Oh don't you worry; the doc has no idea what we're doing down here. I think even she'd have a few protests about all of this. But I've learned more about monster Souls and magic from her than I ever could from some dusty old history books." She looks to Tod eagerly. "When can we get her in S.A.A.M?" 

"Soon enough," he says, a little less enthusiastically. "There's a few steps before we get to that." 

You can't help but try to back away at that, instantly slamming up against a goon's chest. He shoves you forward, grinning widely. Tod sighs at your pathetic attempt to run. 

"Believe me, this will all go a lot smoother if you just cooperate."

You swallow harshly. "And what is it exactly I'm supposed to do?" you ask in a hoarse voice. "What is all of this?" 

Tod gestures to the room. "This is our fight to save humanity from itself. Nahn and I met up soon after the monsters surfaced. Nahn had already started working with Doctor Alphys and the knowledge she gained in just a few short weeks was enough to convince me that something had to be done to preserve this gift that the mountain gave us. We soon realized that a war was inevitable. And with monsters being as they are, they would not survive. This is a whole different world now than the one they knew. But what if the monsters were properly motivated? What if they were given a weapon that could fight against humanity's numbers and guns?" 

He takes your arm, steering you towards the glass cells in the center of the room. Each cell is empty on the inside but various scanners and other scientific devices are hooked up to each one. As you approach the cell with one of the creatures inside, it lifts up part of it's body, forming a vague head shape. You see black eyes blinking tiredly at you. It's so foul, so wrong that you feel bile creeping up your throat.

"We got our answer the day we found out about the Amalgamates," Tod says almost reverently as he comes to a stop in front of the cell. "Virtually indestructible and versatile. Imagine what we could do with a force like that."

Nahn taps the glass, making the blob within flinch. "Alphys brought one in to the lab for a check up. As her concerned friend I of course had to reassure her that she had done nothing wrong. Couple glasses of scotch and she told me everything I needed to know about human determination and the effect it has on monsters.

"Of course, after a few tests we knew we couldn't do it the way Alphys did," Tod continues. "Monster's bodies are too unstable to handle human determination. Every monster we tried it on just melted away." 

That means they've been abducting (and killing!) monsters as well. Why didn't anyone notice? Did Asgore know about the missing monsters? Did Toriel?

"So then we had the bright idea to try it the other way!" Nahn proudly points towards the unconscious boy hooked up to the machines. "We started injecting monster's magic into human Souls! Of course it hasn't been easy. Monster magic runs out pretty quickly. Keeping enough monsters here and alive without arousing suspicion has been a real pain. We've had more failures than successes but we've made great steps thanks to a little help." She gestures down towards your feet and you glance down. 

There's a monster standing there, gray with dull lifeless eyes. It looks like a miniature dinosaur with no arms. You shriek and jump away, colliding with Tod. As the monster looks up at you, a sharp pain flashes through your mind. A memory surfaces of another gray monster standing in the snow, leaving no footprints. You gasp sharply as Tod helps you regain your balance. That's right! How could you have forgotten?

Nahn laughs. "Ever see Doctor Who? These guys are kinda like the Silence. You just kinda forget about them until they show up. But they do every time we hit a road block and give us the clues and answers we need. Of course, there's still quite a ways to go. The experiments haven't exactly been what we hoped for. Human bodies aren't really equipped to handle monster magic. It's led to some unexpected...transformations. Worse still, they don't last very long." 

You push away from Tod, utterly disgusted with him. You give the monster another quick look. This monster...this creature was helping them? Why? Your gaze lifts up and you meet the eyes of the glob inside the glass cage. Within the tiny black eyes set in its melting face, you see only pain. A section of its body starts to lift up, forming a hand that presses up against the glass. Your hands fly up over your mouth. Oh God, you're going to be sick. "Are you saying...this is a person?!" 

Tod actually has the audacity to look upset. "It's not what we wanted. You have to understand that." 

"Understand what?" you scream. "Understand that you are killing innocent people and monsters for the sake of your war? That's your plan right? Create the ultimate monster, wipe out humanity and rule whatever is left?" 

Nahn rolls her eyes. "Oh please, don't be so obscene." 

Tod shakes his head, frowning heavily. "No, no of course we don't want that." He takes your hands, ignoring your disgusted shudder. "Please, you must understand. We want to save what is truly left of humanity. Those people out there, the greedy cooperate leaders, the twisted freaks who hurt others just for being different cannot be called humanity. It is the people like us, who care, who give a crap! This is a chance to cleanse the dark stain that they cause on this Earth! The ones who truly deserve this planet will survive and create a new life alongside the monsters. They will be our saviors!" 

He's so desperate for you to get it, so sure of what he's doing. And that is what truly terrifies you. He's completely insane and you missed it! This whole time, you were completely fooled by his act. "You're sick," you whisper. Shock and disappointment wash over his scarred face. You rip your hands away. "You can't seriously believe this is the right thing to do!" 

Tod straightens, his face growing frighteningly expressionless. "I'm truly sorry you feel that way. I was so sure that you would understand. But it doesn't matter; you will help our cause, willingly or not." 

Two men appear on either side of you, gripping your upper arms with enough strength to make you cry out in pain. You struggle uselessly. "What are you going to do?" 

Nahn shakes her head sympathetically. "We've got one last problem we need to overcome. Stability. As it turns out, humans who spend great amounts of time in close proximity with monsters can absorb the residue of their magic. They have a greater tolerance so to speak. We need hosts and Souls who can handle the amounts of magic needed to keep their form stable. And your blood sample held unbelievable readings. Just an ounce of it made our latest experiment last 45% longer than any of the others have before!" She approaches you, stroking your face. "So my dear, you are in for all kinds of tests. We need to find out what makes you tick." 

The men start to drag you away and you go kicking and screaming. "It doesn't matter! Monsters won't go to war again! They won't!" 

Tod gives you a sad smile. "Oh they will. We just have to find the right trigger." 

~~~~~

A tiny child in a stroller. An old man huddled under an awning. A boy with more tattoos than skin. All of them holding Souls that are similar, and yet completely different to yours. Sans spends no more than three seconds with each false lead, his panic growing as he teleports without thought and without direction. There are too many people in this damn city! He knows your Soul. It is so bright, so burdened and completely and utterly original. But this city holds an entire ocean of glimmering, glistening Souls. All he can do is search desperately for a single spark that might be you and go directly to it. How many has he sought out now? It must be at least fifteen Souls, all of them not you. His bones are screaming at him and he can feel his own magic beginning to sputter out. He wasn't meant to travel this fast and this far without stopping. 

But he can't stop, he won't. He has to find you! 

There! Another spark, a glimmer of purple and red. He reaches out with his Soul and takes hold of it, stepping through the code of space. No, it's not you! He oversteps his landing and instead of hitting the roof where a noisy party is being held, he winds up several feet away out in the open air. He plummets down and damn it, he's too dizzy! He reaches out blindly for the ground and he flashes through space once again, this time just a foot above the pavement next the space museum. He stumbles, knees buckling. His palms hit the ground and he can't breathe. Sweat rolls down his skull, leaving wet marks on the sidewalk below him. His left eye flashes sporadically, throwing harsh shadows over his quivering hands. He can hear people shouting, frightened by the scary monster suddenly appearing in the midst. He doesn't bother looking up, it doesn't matter

Damn it, damn it!

His phone buzzes, making him jump. He fumbles for it and it nearly slips from his hands. "what?" he barks into it.

Undyne's voice, just as sharp, roars out of the phone. "Sans, you need to come home and make a plan! You're gonna kill yourself if you keep hopping around the city like this!" 

"i told you not to call me unless someone found her." He shakily gets to his feet. 

"Listen to me you numb skull!" she growls. "Your brother is out of his mind with worrying and he won't stop crying. He's blaming himself for this and you need to be here for him!" 

Sans pauses, the words finally cutting through the panic induced haze that had fallen over him. At his continued silence, he hears Undyne take a deep breath. 

"Look, I know you're freaking out. But you can't help her if you run yourself into the ground. Come back to Toriel's. We're all here and we're gonna find her." 

He puts a hand up over his sockets, his eye fizzling out. "fine. i'll be there in a minute." He hangs up and then puts his hands on his knees, puffing slightly. That's right, he can't panic. That wasn't gonna help you. But damn it, he's so scared. He's completely and helplessly terrified. He shouldn't have left you alone. He shouldn't have argued with you. 

When he finds the ones responsible for this, and he will, there would be no mercy this time. 

The anger gives him the boost he needs and he steps through space once again, heading back to the place where you should have been waiting for him. 

 

Chapter Text

Your struggling and screaming does nothing to stop the men from dragging you over to the large machine that looks so eerily similar to Sans' Gaster Blaster. As you approach, the machine groans and then the jaws of the skull like feature open not horizontally, but vertically, splitting right down the middle. Inside is a black dentist like chair with leather straps and cuffs. You buck and kick, getting a few hits in, but the men soon succeed in strapping you down so tightly you can't do anything more than squirm. Directly in front of you, about twenty feet away is a sheet of protective glass which Tod and Nahn are currently standing behind. They're arguing; you can't hear what they're saying, but Nahn is clearly getting aggravated. She points to you and Tod shakes his head. Just like he did as the station, he doesn't once yell. Finally, she throws her hands up and starts fiddling with what must be a control panel of some sort. 

"Alright, we're gonna just do a scan and first layer probe. Is the subject secured?" Her voice carries over some sort of speaker system, scratchy and loud. One of the men gives a thumbs up before moving away. 

You can't help a whimper as the machine around you starts to whirl and groan, making the seat under you shudder. A dull light starts to fill the area around you, narrowing and focusing right on the center of your chest. For several long seconds, nothing happens. Then the light grows in intensity and your chest clenches tightly. Your back arches as you gasp and fight to breath. Your thudding heart races at a painful rate and it feels like something, someone is reaching down inside your chest, fishing around in your insides. Then there's a sharp tug and you scream as it changes to a pulling sensation. You can feel your Soul being dragged out of your body and it is resisting. You thrash as best as you can in the restraints as tears of pain start building in your eyes. You can't breathe!

Then your Soul appears with a slow, sluggish pop and air rushes back into your lungs. Color has bled away and as you fight to get your breath back, your gaze is drawn to your Soul. It is bright, pulsing with life and utterly exposed. When Sans pulled your Soul out before, you were completely open to him and yet you never doubted for a moment that you were safe. Here, in this dark place, you feel only terror and violation. This wasn't ever supposed to happen. No one was supposed to see this except for Sans. You fight not to cry. You can't give them that. 

A woman approaches, one you haven't seen yet. She's wearing a surgical mask over her face and she's gripping a notepad tightly. She peers at some numbers and figures that have appeared on a screen on the side of the device. "Initial readings are strong, over 80% percent," she says. 

"Okay, let's begin phase one," Nahn calls over the speaker. 

The machine whirls again and a pointed rod extends from somewhere above you. At the end of the rod is a huge metal ball. It clicks and shifts and the ball splits into two halves; the inside is hollow. It lowers down towards your Soul, each half of the sphere on either side. A dim glow rises from each half sphere and the air between the two starts to shimmer, like air above a fire. A shiver runs up your spine and your skin breaks out in severe goosebumps. You can feel something sweeping over your Soul, almost touching it. It feels like nails against a chalkboard. Just as it grows to an unbearable level, the machine beeps and the sphere pulls away. You can feel yourself shaking, skin covered in a layer of sweat. Your Soul remains out in the open and it almost looks like it's trembling a little.

"Scan complete," the woman announces, scribbling in her notes. "Subject's HP remains unchanged." 

HP? Your eyes flicker to the glass window. Nahn is grinning viciously. "Excellent! Start the surface examination." 

That was just the scan?!

The jaws of the machine open wider, as if mocking your terror. A new device drops down, one with extending metal arms with sharp edges that glint in the light of the machine. The cuffs cut into your skin as you fight to escape but there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. "Don't!" you scream hoarsely. This is wrong, this so wrong! The rods buzz with a magical energy and then they move closer to your Soul, hovering just above it's surface. No, they wouldn't!

The metal rods touch the surface of your Soul and you scream as your very being is ripped open.

~~~~~ 

Sans gasps loudly, falling to his knees as his Soul lurches with pain. 

"SANS?" Papyrus, voice hoarse from crying, drops down next to him as he curls in on himself. "WHAT'S HAPPENING?" 

He can't answer, bones clacking as he fights to regain his composure. His Soul throbs in his ribs. The world seems to spin beneath him and then, just as fast as it came, the pain is gone. His Soul shudders once before falling still again. He sits up, wiping at the sweat that gathered on his skull. What the hell was that?

The room full of monsters is staring at him in concern, Paps most of all. "BROTHER, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?" 

"i..." He shakes his head. "something...i felt something."

"What kind of something?" Undyne demands. Sans can tell she's trying her best to remain calm and focused. As the head of the Royal Guard that is her duty. But this has shaken her. It's shaken all of them.  

Sans looks down at his palms. He doesn't know how to put it into words. But somehow, he felt your Soul crying out, your pain reflected in within his own. "i gotta check something," he mumbles, getting to his feet. Ignoring the others calling him back, he runs to the room he shares with you. He doesn't have the energy to teleport right now. As soon as the door shuts behind him, he manifests his Soul, holding it just above his palm. At first glance, it looks the same as always. White with a pulsing aura of blue. But as he stares at it, he realizes that there's something new inside. The tiniest swirl of purple and orange hidden deep within. So deep that he hadn't even noticed until now. Oh. Oh

It's you. That night he opened his Soul to you, part of yours had mixed with his, leaving a scorch like a burn mark. He had unknowingly connected his Soul with yours. He didn't even know it was possible do that with a human Soul.  This is something that usually only happened between married monsters and the bond that they built over time. But if that was the case, then that pain...oh God! No, no you can't be-! 

He pulls his Soul in close to his sternum, closing his sockets. He reaches down deep, brushing against the glowing spot in his Soul. Warmth rushes over him and he nearly weeps with relief. You're still alive. You're in terrible pain, but you're still alive. 

There's a sudden knock at the door, making him jump. "Sans? May I come in?" 

"uh." Sans quickly pushes his Soul back inside his ribs, stepping away from the door. "sure tori." 

She enters hesitantly, concern clear on her face. Her eyes drop to his rib cage and Sans realizes he's still clutching the space above his Soul. He lowers his hands, attempting to hide his panic. "Sans, are you all right?"

No. No he's not all right. How can he be? He dragged you into his messed up life, he put you in danger over and over again, he made you feel unwanted and now you've been taken away from him and he has no idea where you are and what kind of horrors you're going through and-

"i'm fine," he says shortly. 

"Sans." Her voice is gentle and so familiar. Back in the underground, when he used to practice knock-knock jokes on her door, just hearing her voice helped to chase away some of the dark clouds that constantly hung over him. He didn't need to see her face to know when something was wrong and she was the same way. Of course, because they never saw each other's faces, Sans only had to worry about what to say to put concerns for him at ease. But now, standing in front of her, after everything that's happened, he can't do it. He can't pretend anymore. 

"tori...i...." He shakes his head, staring down at the floor. "god, tori i'm not ok." 

She moves closer and he doesn't pull away when she wraps her arms around him, pulling him close. "We're going to find her Sans." 

His hands remain limp at his side, but he lets his skull rest against her; with their height difference, he barely reaches her shoulders. "they're hurting her tori," he whispers. "her soul is screaming." 

"How do...oh." Her voice trails off as she realizes what he's done. Normally, she might berate him for something like that. But she says nothing and continues to hold him as he fights not to fall apart. "She's strong Sans. You have to know that." 

He does. Damn it, he does. 

"Asgore's already got the dogs out looking," she continues, pulling away from him. "And he's talking with the police as well-"

He laughs humorlessly. "yeah, cause they've been so helpful." 

Toriel frowns deeply. "We've had...rough patches with them in the past, I'll admit, but they are working with us now." 

Sans has to bite back another retort. Perhaps the one downside in which finding someone to completely confide in, is that he's finding more and more it's difficult to keep his true thoughts to himself. "sure tori," he mumbles. He rubs at his skull, which is a little sweaty. "look, i'm ok now. let's get going." They had all been in the middle of making plans for a sweep in teams before his new discovery interrupted everyone.

She gives him a long, piercing look. "Sans, you're exhausted and it's very late. You almost ran yourself dry looking for her. Why don't you stay here and get some rest while we-"

"i'm gonna stop you right there," he says, voice a low growl as he pushes past her. "don't bother with trying that crap with me." He knows Tori's right. He's burnt out and deep down, the voice of logic is telling him to get some rest while he can. But he can't bring himself to do that; not when he can feel the pain that you're in.

Paps is lingering at the end of the hall. "Are you all right?" he asks in a subdued tone. 

Sans blinks, bringing the lights back into his sockets. He can't always control when it happens, but he hates letting his brother see him unnerved. "i'm fine paps. just a little rattled, you know?" 

Papyrus opens his mouth, perhaps to pry further but Sans can see the words get caught in his nonexistent throat. God, he hates seeing his brother so upset. But he can't face the raw pain right now; not when he's barely managing to keep his own in check. He passes by Papyrus, tapping his arm. "come on bro. let's go get her back." 

~~~~~

When it's finally over, when your raw and ravaged Soul is finally allowed to escape back into your chest, you have no strength to resist as you're pulled up out of the chair and led into a side room. Your skin feels sensitive, like you're on the verge of getting sick. Every beat of your heart sends a odd pulse through your whole body. At some point during the ordeal, your tears stopped. Now you're just numb. 

The room they take you to is small and plain; there's a chair with straps in the corner, a simple cot and blanket line one wall and there are a few books carefully piled up next to it. How freaking thoughtful. You flinch when one of the goon prods you towards the cot. "Yeah, I got it," you mumble, sitting down on it's surface. You bend slightly, clutching at your chest. You know that you should be full of rage and hate, but all you feel is a terrible sense of hurt and humiliation. 

After a bit of time, in which you try very hard to look anywhere but at the guard lingering by the door, Nahn enters carrying a medical case. She hums quietly to herself as she pulls out a syringe and empty blood bag. You flinch when she approaches you and she gives you a quick slap across the face for it.

"Hold still now," she chides.

Cheek stinging slightly, you hiss at the pinch of pain that follows when she inserts the needle into your arm. 

"Tod wants to hold off on putting you back in S.A.A.M until we've had a chance to run a complete analysis," she says conversationally.

"Is that what that machine was?" you ask carefully. 

"Soul Analyzer and Manipulator. It's thanks to our monster friends we've got it." She seems pleased you asked. "But until then, I'll get some more of your blood to work with while we analyze the readings of your Soul." She beams at you like a proud mother. "You should be happy! Just the initial readings look very promising!"

You know it's probably useless trying to reason with her, but you have to try. "Please don't do this. You can't seriously believe Tod's doing the right thing here." 

Nahn pauses. Her cheerful manner very slowly slips away as she leans in close. "Listen sweetie. I'll tell you right now," she whispers coldly. "Tod is the nice one here. If I had my way, you would already be on my operating table. When that time comes, I'm going to have so much fun slicing your Soul into tiny. Little. Pieces." She backs away, a wide smile on her face as you stare at her in horror. "All right then! I'd say a pint should be enough for now. After all, we don't want to go bleeding you dry just yet!" 

You don't say another word as she continues to drain blood from your arm. When she finishes a wave of vertigo sweeps over you. 

"Hmm, that will do," Nahn murmurs to herself. She packs up her stuff, ignoring the way you're swaying on the cot. She taps the guard on the arm as she passes. "Get her food and water. We don't need her passing out." 

He nods and follows after her, closing the door behind him. You topple over on the cot, the world spinning. 

You're going to die down here. The thought occurs to you rather sluggishly. You curl up into a ball and wait for tears to come. 

But they don't. Instead, you close your eyes and think of your family. The monsters you know without a doubt are searching for you. They won't give up until they find you. You can't give up so easily. What was it that Frisk said to you?

Stay determined. 

You force yourself to sit up, gritting your teeth against the dizziness. The door opens briefly and a plate of food is set down. You stare at it and consider refusing to eat just to spite them. But...ugh Nahn is right; just standing up makes your knees weak. If you're going to fight your way out, you need strength. You eat the offered food (crackers, a sandwich and a bottle of water) and consider your situation. Locked door, no windows. No bathroom, which means they'll have to let you out once in a while to use one. Closely escorted you imagine. You need to see more of the outside. Maybe the next time they put you in that machine, and you know they will, you'll be better prepared for what happens and can fake falling into shock. It's not a solid plan, but it's the best you've got. Of course, that's assuming that you don't actually go into shock. You feel so fragile and violated and that was supposedly just a scan and first level analysis. You don't know exactly what they're hoping to find, but you know that if they go any deeper, you might not survive the ordeal. Or worse, you might end up like those poor people stuck in piles of goop.

Still, as time passes and nothing happens, you finally sink down onto the cot. It's got to be...at least midnight. Maybe later by this point. You lay down with your back to the wall and clutch at your galaxy necklace. Despite everything, you feel your eyes getting heavy. 

That is, until the door suddenly slams open. 

You sit bolt upright, pressing against the wall. 

"Well! Long time no see!" 

Your heart drops into your stomach as two men walk in. You don't need to see his eyes to recognize the voice and tone of the first man. He's just as ugly as his personality. Green eyes plops down a large bag, looking like a kid who's been told Christmas has come early. You can't bring yourself to speak so you sit there, utterly petrified. The man behind him is huge and glaring at you like he'd like nothing more than to crush your skull in his hands. It clicks in a few seconds where you've seen him before; you remember seeing his wanted picture in the news. This is the man that beat his step daughter nearly to death. McNevan, the man who hated monsters enough to hurt a little girl because of it.

"You know what I realized?" Green eyes grins widely and the two of them leap at you. You scramble off the cot, knocking it over. But there's no where to go and it only takes them a few seconds to grab you. Once again, you're dragged over to a chair with straps and locked down. 

"Help!" You scream for someone, anyone to help you.

But, of course, nobody came.

"Hold still and there!" Green eyes locks your wrist in place and grabs your face in his hand. "I never introduced myself at our last little meeting. My name is Austin." He pulls his hand back and slaps it so hard across your face you see stars. "And you're the little brat who put my sister Emily in jail."

~~~~~ 

2 Hours Earlier

Nahn almost skipped back to her desk. What promise! What potential! She's never seen a Soul quite like the one contained in the young female subject. This was the key she needed to break that finally wall in her research that she's been slamming against for months. Oh, how her fingers itch to dig into that bright Soul and see exactly how it works. Human Souls were supposed to be so powerful and yet all the ones she's had to deal with have been so...dull. Weak and single colored. Boring. But this Soul! Nahn's heart danced just at the thought of it! She would almost think that it resembled the Souls of the old mages that had been responsible for shoving the monsters underground in the first place. But those records were old and unreliable. Besides, the lack of monsters on the surface had led to the extinction of mages. It was funny; by 'saving' the human race, the old mages had doomed their own race. It was possible that the reappearance of monsters had awakened that old blood. There were just so many questions to be answered!

Tod glanced up from the analyzer screen, a sucker stick poking out of his mouth. "You've got the blood?"  

She wiggled the bag at him. "Of course. There's no time to play around." 

He grunted and turned his gaze back to the screen. 

She sighed and plopped down in the seat next to him. "Your attachment is getting in the way here. Surely you can see that it would be far better to use her as a host than-" 

"We are not using her as a host." His tone, sharp and final, was usually enough to shut most people up. But Nahn wasn't most people.

"You're the one who keeps saying that we must stop the monster bill from passing!" she snapped back. "Releasing S-12 into the public was a very good step in achieving that. You saw how well it held its form! We've never had an amalgamate last that long before. But we need something more solid, something that won't fall apart within the hour." 

Tod sucked on his sucker for several long seconds before answering. "If you have more of her blood and the Soul samples, you can solidify the experiments, correct?" 

"That's the theory," she admitted, snapping on a pair of gloves before placing the bag of blood up on a hook. "But if you want real results by the voting day, you have to let me go deeper into her Soul." 

"We've never had a subject survive more than a level three probe. Not to mention having any of their essence removed," he said dryly. 

She shrugs. "Our little gray friends have a new method for me to try. And either way, she's not walking out of here. You have to make that sacrifice, friend or not." 

Tod didn't answer, tapping his fingers on the table. Nahn swallowed her complaints and got to work on the blood. He was thinking and interrupting him would only make that process last longer. She took a portion of the blood out of the bag and set it aside as a control group example before mixing what was left into various solutions that would be injected into the 'marshmallows' first thing in the morning. Tod hated her nickname of the gooey creatures, but he couldn't stop her from thinking it. 

"Her Soul is going to be difficult to pierce," he finally muttered. 

Nahn discarded her gloves and came to take a look at the screen. She frowned, nudging Tod out of the way. "Huh. I thought Souls were a little more...malleable than that." 

"Yes, but look at the red cracks." Tod tapped at the screen which held an image of the Soul. "She's been through hell, emotionally speaking and now she's created a strong shell over it. It's like super glue; getting past that without shattering the Soul completely is going to be hard." 

"So we need to break her spirit," Nahn muttered, scrolling through the results. "Make her Soul nice and squishy again." 

He grimaced, but nodded.

"Looks like Austin and McNevan are going to get their chance after all." Nahn straightened and reached for the walkie on her hip. Tod put a hand out, stopping her briefly. 

"Just...tell them not to kill her. We need her broken, not dead." 

"And if she doesn't break?" 

Tod lowered his hand and spit the sucker stick at the trashcan; it hit bulls eye with a dull clang. "If she doesn't break in three days, we'll use her as a host." 

Chapter Text

"You were never wanted! Say it!" 

"No!" 

Austin presses the taser into your arm again, making you shriek. They've ripped the sleeves of your shirt off, leaving your arms open to the weapon. Your skin is covered in red splotches and bits of blood from some of the times he pressed the taster too hard against your skin. You gasp harshly as he pulls the taser away.

"Now, you need to be honest with yourself," he simpers. "If that monster really loved you, he would have come for you by now."

You shake your head, barely able to keep your eyes open. "No. He's looking. They're...all looking..."

"Even if they are-!" He shoves the taser into your side. "It's only because they don't want your disappearance on their hands!"  

You thrash and scream as he continues to hold the taser against your side. When he finally stops, you can barely speak. "Why...are you...doing this?" you gasp out, eyes watering from the pain. "Do you know...what Tod is doing? You hate monsters...and he's-"

"Trying to use them to wipe out humanity?" Austin shrugs, fiddling with the dial on the taser. "Yeah, I know about his 'save the gifted' crap. Load of bull if you ask me." 

"So you realize what he's doing is wrong!" 

He gives you a wide grin. "Never said that. I just don't think it's gonna work. And I don't care if it does either way." 

You flinch as he waves the taser close to your face. "Then why? What do you stand to gain from all this?" 

Austin laughs loudly, looking to McNaven. "Do you hear this? I think she's trying to get me to monologue!" 

McNaven shrugs, still scowling. "You're acting like you're not gonna do it anyway." 

"Well, yeah, but still. It's hilarious." Austin puts the end of the taser under your chin. You brace yourself, but he only uses it to lift your head a little. "Look sweetie, I ain't got some tragic backstory like scar face. I was hired to stir up hate between people and monsters and I do it cause I like it. I'm just helping to get the inevitable war started. And once it does, the monsters don't stand a chance, even if our boss manages to make a mega monster that doesn't melt away. And in the meantime, I get the immense pleasure of making sure you're in as much pain as possible." 

Your body spasms as he flicks the taser on, making your teeth rattle. This continues all night long. Exhaustion makes your entire body feel like jelly and yet every time you come close to passing out, one of them will taser you again or hit you, cruelly waking you up. The entire time they continue to snarl insults or try to convince you that Sans and the others don't care about you. Austin strokes your face, whispering that it would be better to just give up all hope. You spit in his face, receiving a blow to your stomach that makes you throw up the food you ate earlier. Finally, covered in vomit, blood and sweat, they leave you strapped to the chair and you immediately fall asleep, head slumping to your chest.

~~~~~

"walk me through it again," Sans says, staring down the alley where you were taken. 

Frisk nods, holding on tightly to Toriel's hand. It's morning now; Sans had been out nearly all night, retracing the path you had taken from the station. But Tori wouldn't let the kid wander around in the dark. Now that's it's light out, Sans brought them back out here, hoping that maybe there was something he missed. Some clue that would tell him something about the ones who took you. 

We went down that way. Frisk points and starts walking down the alley. Sans expects Tori to protest, but she just sets her jaw and follows. I think...we turned here and...no, it was here. The kid stops at the corner of the building, pointing down into a side alley. There's a chain link fence and several small trashcans that have been knocked over. Sans moves slowly towards the fence, trying not to picture what must have happened. He scans the ground; maybe in the struggle one of them dropped something? 

But there's nothing here. 

"you can go back to the square," he mutters, staring at the fence. 

"Sans-" 

Frisk tugs on Toriel's hand, shaking their head. He waits until he's alone before he finally uses his pent up rage to summon a Blaster. It rumbles as it hovers in the air, waiting for his command. He lets out a strangled yell and unleashes the power contained, his eye flashing blue. The Blaster roars, enveloping the knocked over trashcans with blinding light. But the attack effects beings with Souls, not objects and the cans simply roll around in the wind created by the force of his attack. The Blaster dissolves away as Sans continues to just stand there. You must have been so scared. Chased by men you knew were going to hurt you. And yet you had managed to help Frisk escape, putting the kid's safety before your own. 

He releases a long breath, staring up at the slice of sky visible between the two buildings. You were holding on. He has to do the same. He pulls his phone out as he heads back to Frisk and Tori. Abby should be back at the station by now. She doesn't know you've vanished. Unless she's involved somehow. She was the last one besides Paps and Frisk to see you and he wants to see her face, gauge her reaction when he told her the news.  

"Did you find anything?" Toriel asks as he walks up to them. 

He shakes his head. "i'm gonna head to the station, ask some questions. You should take the kid and go talk to the police, see if they've had more luck." 

She nods and places a hand on his shoulder. "Don't act rashly," she warns in a low voice. "If someone at the radio station is responsible, you might scare them off and then we'll be in trouble." 

"we're already in trouble tori," he says with a weak grin. "don't worry. i know how to be subtle." 

Toriel and Frisk take off for the police station while Sans turns on his heel and starts heading back to your workplace. He sends Pap a quick text. 

s: heading to radio station. gonna talk to abby

P: OKAY. UNDYNE AND I ARE STARTING A SWEEP OF THE WEST SIDE OF DOWNTOWN

s: k. be careful bro

P: YOU BE CAREFUL AS WELL SANS.

Sans looks around and, seeing that he's alone, takes a quick shortcut, landing in the parking lot by the station. His knees threaten to buckle underneath him. He's so tired and jumping around through space was hard enough when he wasn't running on empty. He rubs at his sockets until his head clears and ducks into the station. How can things look so normal when you're not here? Abby is behind the desk and her head pops up at the sound of the bell tinkling. Her expression eases when she spots him.

"Hey Sans! Geez, tell your girlfriend to answer her freaking phone. No, actually I'll do the yelling." She stands, confusion crossing her face as she realizes he's alone. "Um, is she outside or something? Where's Lesser?" 

Sans studies her face for a moment before answering. "abby she's..." It's harder to say the words than he thought. "she's missing. some freaks attacked her and...took her away." 

She blinks at him for several long seconds while this computes. Then Abby's hands fly up over her mouth. "Oh my God. Oh my God!" Her eyes start to tear up and she falls back into her chair. "Sans, if this is a prank of some kind-"

"you think i'd joke about something like this?" His voice is ice cold and she flinches. 

"God, no, you'd never...oh no. How could this happen?" 

She's very visibly distraught and Sans' tiny suspicion vanishes even as his Soul sinks a little. No, she's truly upset. She's not part of your disappearance. But that also means she has no information. 

She looks up at him, eyes red and puffy. "This is my fault. Crap, I should have made her wait for me to drive them over. Sans, I'm so sorry. I'm such an idiot." 

"it's not your fault." He shoves his hands in his pockets. He's no good at the comforting people thing. "look, i know you're upset. but you gotta tell me what you know. you were the last one who saw her before she was taken. did you see anything?" 

Abby shakes her head, rubbing at her eyes. "No. She just said she was going to stop and get Papyrus and Frisk some ice cream before getting her car."

Something prickles at the back of his mind, but Sans can't put a finger on exactly what it is. "anyone follow after them?"

"No. I cleaned up and left. I mean Tod headed home just before I did but-"

The door tinkles again and, speak of the devil, Tod walks through, exhaustion clear on his face. The guy always looked exhausted whenever Sans saw him. He brightens a little when he spies Sans. "Hello there. I don't think _____ is supposed to come in til later. Did she leave something here?" He looks between Sans and Abby and his smile fades. "What's going on?"  

Abby cuts in before Sans can say a word. "_____ is gone! Someone took her!" 

Tod's mouth drops open. "What?" He turns to Sans, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Are you okay?" 

Sans merely shakes his head, sockets narrowing. Why was he feeling so uneasy? He shrugged Tod's hand off, taking a step away. "i'm managing." 

"God, if...if there's anything I can do, please tell me." Tod runs his hand through his hair.

Sans nods shortly.

"I'll...I'll let the staff know." 

Sans watches the man go, his Soul shuddering. No, it couldn't be Tod. But...crap. He can't take the risk. He can't ignore the twisting feeling in his nonexistent gut. He turns back to Abby, who's wringing her hands. "abby, if you remember anything else, call me." 

"Of course," she sniffles. "I'm so sorry Sans." 

He nods stiffly again and leaves. As soon as he's out of sight of the doors, he teleports up to the roof of the neighboring building. From here, he can just see into the window of the sound room. He sees the soundboard and the old man who's always there...what's his name? Scott? No...Sully. He's got a perfect view of the back of his head. As he sits there and watches, Tod passes by, tapping Sully on the shoulder. Sully seems just as shocked at the news. Tod shakes his head and heads into the recording booth, vanishing from view. But if he leaves he'll have to pass by the window again. 

Sans' bones are starting to clack again and he laces his phalanges together. He knew that Abby was telling the truth about her shock. She was a good person, with a good Soul. But Tod's was damaged too and with a scar like that on his face, Sans had just brushed it off. Besides, your Soul was the only one that he had studied for any amount of time. And Souls didn't exactly reveal everything about a person.

So why was his suspicion of Tod growing?

Sans sends another message to Paps and sits down, making sure to stay hidden from view as best as he can without losing sight of the window. If he was wrong, then he'd apologize about all this later. But your safety was all that mattered to him. And this way he can try and recover some of his magic while he waits for Tod to leave the station. Then he'd follow the man and see exactly where he went after work. And if he led Sans to you, then no force in this world was going to stop Sans from sending his Soul to hell.

~~~~~

It seems like a heartbeat later that the door opens again and you jerk awake. Please, not again! You struggle, limbs heavy and weak as hands release you from the straps. They pull you up and your legs give out. The cold floor feels good against your face so you just stay right there, closing your eyes. You flinch as something wet touches your arm and it takes you a few seconds to realize it's a rag. 

"Clean yourself," a voice demands. Not Austin or McNaven. 

Your body screams at you as you force yourself to sit up. The room is spinning. Your head hurts and your vision swims slightly. A foot nudges your leg. 

"Hurry up." 

You blink and take the wet rag. You bite your lip as you dab at the harsh red marks on your skin, wiping as gently as you can. The vomit on your shirt has dried and the woman who brought you the washcloth tosses a plain white smock at you. You hesitate but she makes no move to leave or even look away so you pull your ruined shirt off. Your stomach and ribs are covered in deep purple bruises and more red marks from the taser. You try to change quickly; her bored gaze makes your skin prickle. But it hurts to lift your arms and the effort leaves you gasping and shuddering. As soon as you're dressed, the woman motions for you to follow her. You stumble after her, legs buzzing with static from being still for so long. 

An armed goon follows you as soon as you enter the main area. It's busier out here than it was last night and another creature has joined the two in the middle class cases. With a horrible twist of your gut, you realize it's probably the boy you saw strapped to the table. He's almost goop-less, though his human features are gone from his face. It's stark white, bald and slightly egg shaped, with his eyes sunken deep into his sockets. His body has still clearly been stretched beyond the normal human form, but has limbs that are more anatomically correct. They did this overnight? Your blood did this?

You don't get more than a quick look before you're ushered down a side hall and to a bathroom. The woman follows you inside, leaning against the wall as you use the toilet. As you wash your hands, you get a good look at your own face. Your skin already looks gaunt and pale. But your eyes still hold life and resistance. That and the soft glimmer of your galaxy necklace, which has been hidden under your old shirt, help your resolve. Sans is coming. He won't let them do this to you. You just have to hold on until you find some way to let him know where you are. 

You're hurried out of the bathroom and, unsurprisingly, led back to S.A.A.M. Tod isn't here (he's probably at the station, acting like he wasn't a maniac who abducted humans and monsters and allowed horrible experiments to be performed on them) but Nahn is bright eyed and cheerful as she approaches. She's got a syringe filled with a dark liquid. 

"You're moving pretty fast," you say as you crawl into the seat, eyeing the huge man with the thick gun on his hip. He hooks you in tightly. "I thought it'd take longer to figure out how to use my blood." 

"Oh, I've been preparing since we got your first sample. I just didn't have enough." Nahn takes your arm, tutting at the marks on your arm. "Those boys; it's going to be difficult to find a vein." 

"Gee that's a shame; guess we'll have to skip the cruel experiment today." 

Nahn very quickly finds a vein, despite her words. "You're spunky this morning. Not what I was hoping to see." 

"Sorry to disappoint," you mutter, fighting the urge to rip your arm away. Resisting was only going to result in getting hit again. Your heart is in your throat and you're honestly shocked you're able to hide it as well as you are. "What is that stuff?" 

She smirks at you. "We're not making you one of my marshmallows just yet, don't worry about that. That being said, this is going to be rather painful. Or so my monster friends have told me. We just need you a little...squishier." She jabs the needle into your arm and injects whatever it is before you can say another word. Instantly, a great chill runs up your arm and spreads through your whole body. Your body spasms and twitches and you fight to breathe. Something black creeps up your arm under the skin like those beetles in the mummy movies and you can feel it sinking deeper and deeper. It feels like your insides are being frozen. Then, like a light switch has been flipped, the ice turns to fire and now you're burning, melting away. You scream, your eyes popping. Your entire body feels like it's overflowing with heat and energy.

"Prep for extraction!" Nahn calls, backing away from your thrashing. "We've got to move!" 

Your eyes roll back and pained grunts are the only noise you can make as the machine whirls to life. You feel your Soul pop out and it does nothing to ease the burning in your blood. "P-p-ple....s-s-top...." Your whimpered pleas turn into a howl of agony as the pointed device touches your Soul again. 

"What's the give stats?" You dimly hear Nahn bark out. 

"Less than 40 percent!" A voice answers. "I wouldn't recommend more than level one." 

Nahn curses as you continue to flail. "It'll work! We're going to level two!"

The pointed device begins to spin and your screams reach a new level as you feel it pierce the surface of your Soul.

"Subject HP dropping! Doc, we gotta pull it!" 

"Keep going! We need extraction!" 

You're falling apart, you're being ripped away, you're dissolving.

"Extraction failure! Surface cracks detected." 

"Subject HP is fifteen and dropping!" 

"Oh God DAMMIT! Pull it!"

You're pulled back together with a painful force and you're a living ember and then the fire is extinguished and you let darkness embrace you.

~~~~~~

Twenty-six hours. It's been over a day since you were taken away from him. Sans sits at the table in near darkness; the only light in the kitchen comes from the stovetop clock. He's been sitting here for a while. He didn't bother keeping track. But he can't stop himself from keeping track of how long you've been gone. 

Tailing Tod was a bust. He'd waited, hidden away and an hour into his silent watch, his Soul had been wracked with a pain so great he'd nearly passed out. This time, he had been sure, you were being killed. And yet, at the end of it, as he lay on the pebbled surface of the roof thrashing through the agony, your spark remained burning. But God, you were so weak. They'd nearly extinguished you. He couldn't move for nearly another hour, locked in petrified terror and staring at your flame within his Soul. He begged whatever deity there might be that you would survive this and you did. His brave, strong girl.

When Tod had finally left the station, Sans barely had the strength to keep up. He teleported from rooftop to rooftop, watching Tod's car make it's way through the swarming traffic. He nearly overshot several of his landings and what did it get him? A view of Tod's dingy apartment complex as he went inside and turned on some t.v. Sans even waited another hour, watching the flickering light through the window before giving up and heading back home. 

Home. Could he call it home without you here? When you had been driven from the place that you had made for yourself? 

He'd nearly collasped upon landing back in the living room. He'd ignored everyone's concern, save Papyrus. Even then, he knows that he'd been short with his brother. But he just doesn't have the energy to fake it. So he'd sat himself down at the table, put his head in his hands and just

Stopped. 

Moving. 

A light flickers on in the hall. He can hear the kid's feet padding softly across the ground. The table shifts slightly as Frisk pulls a chair out and plops something heavy on its surface. 

"Sans?" 

They're speaking. His eyes flicker a little at that, looking over at the kid. "it's awfully late pal," he says, voice hoarse. "you should be sleeping." 

You're one to talk, they sign, smiling a little. They pat the object in front of them. It's a book. A photo album actually. Since we're both up, let's look at my pictures.

Sans sighs, putting his head down on the table. "kid, i really don't wanna do that right now."

If the kid answers, he doesn't see it. Instead, he just keeps his head down and listens to the sound of the pages turning and the occasional snicker or sigh. They tap his shoulder occasionally and finally, Sans turns his head just enough to see. The page Frisk is turned to is filled with pictures of them with Paps in the park at the old apartment. Heh, that's the time he got stuck in the monkey bars. It took forever to get him untangled. Frisk turns the page. Halloween pictures from the night of the party. Huh, he didn't even realize that Frisk had a camera that night. The kid giggles at a picture of them with you; the two of you have your fingers pulling at your mouths with your tongues out, making googly eyes. 

"when did that happen?" he asks softly, inching a little closer. 

When you were sulking in the bathroom, washing the sauce outta your socket. Frisk grins widely. 

"heh, i'm still cross with you about that," Sans says, gently shoving Frisk with his shoulder. They only giggle in response, flipping the page again. The two are mostly quiet as they go through the book, occasionally pointing out a certain picture or laughing softly at a memory. Then Frisk reaches the Christmas pictures and there you are. Frisk managed to capture the exact moment that Sans presented the guitar to you. In the picture, you face is alight with joy and shock, your hands caught in the midway motion of covering your mouth. Your eyes are sparkling. He can remember that moment clearly like it just happened. He'd never been so happy, so at peace with the life that he was living. You gave that to him.

A dark, wet spot appears on the page. It takes Sans a moment to realize that he's crying.  

He's terrified that he's never going to see you again. He's scared that you were going to spend your last days in agony, wondering why he hadn't rescued you yet. The thought that he might never see you again, never feel the touch of your skin against his bones, never curl his fingers in your hair and pull you close, leaves him paralyzed. His hands clench as he bows his head over the book.   

During those endless years in the underground, Paps was the only one who ever saw him cry. Hell, maybe he was wrong about that. He can't remember and his dreams and reality of that time was more than a little screwed. But he does know that he fought to keep those dark emotions to himself because there was no point in sharing them. All it did was make the pain worse when those he confided in simply forgot the next 'day'. It was agony to wake up and not remember who he had told, who he had confided in. If he had wept and opened his Soul. 

So he didn't do it. And after a while, he forgot what it was like to cry. He forgot what it was like to truly grieve.

But you taught him how to feel all of that again. Now he can't hold it in. He didn't want to cry in front of the kid, but he can't stop. The dam has been breached and tears roll down his face.

Frisk hesitates as Sans continues to weep quietly before placing their hands on his shoulder. The show of affection from the child that he knows he's killed countless times makes a sob break from him. 

"kid...god, kid what am i supposed to do?" he whispers, putting his skull against the table. There's a option there, an option that he doesn't want to voice. But time is starting to slip away. He's desperate now. "frisk, i'm the worst kind of trash bag for even thinking this but..." He lifts his head, meeting Frisk's eyes. "can...can you...." He can't say it. The word burns in his throat like bile. 

Frisk frowns, guilt and sadness clear on their face. "I can't anymore," they whisper. 

"what do you mean?" 

They open their mouth but pull their hands up instead of speaking. I promised. No more resets. 

"i know kid, and i'm going to hell for asking you to break that but-"

I can't do it. At all. Frisk looks away from him. I...tried to Load. Just to that morning. I tried but I couldn't do it. It's like it's just...gone.

Gone? How is that even possible? It doesn't make sense! Of course, the power to reset never made sense in the first place. Sans slumps in the chair, skull filled with an odd buzzing. There had been a time when those words would have filled him with unspeakable joy. But now, he just feels utterly wretched. 

"I'm sorry," the kid whimpers, voice broken and wavering. "I broke my p-promise." 

"don't be sorry for that," he whispers. He rubs his face, wiping away a few remaining tears. He laughs humorlessly. "geez, the hits just keep coming, don't they?" 

Frisk reaches out, taking his hand. "It will be okay. I promise." They drop his hand and continue with signing. We'll find her. We've got so many clues and so many people looking. We just have to make all the connections.

"it'd be easier to do that if she still had her phone," he says miserably. Which is why that freak had stolen your purse away before you were attacked. Paps had heard you screaming and had turned back before catching the guy so there was no way to know where your phone was. There was no connection there now. Wait.... 

He looks up at Frisk. "say that again." 

They tilt their head, confused. Say what?

"connections. we need a connection to her." He stands, a new, borderline manic energy surging through his bones. "i'm so stupid! i AM connected!" 

I...don't get it. Frisk frowns, clearly a little startled by his sudden excitement.

Sans jabs at his ribs, right above his Soul. "i've got the connection right here. if i can make it stronger, can make the bond more solid, i can find her soul without even blinking!" He whips his phone out, digits trembling a little. He presses the phone up against his skull as it rings. Come on, pick up! 

There's a click, a sleepy "Wha...?"

"al, i need you at the lab. now." 

Chapter Text

"You do realize it's three am?" Alphys grumbles, rubbing her eyes as she unlocks the lab door. 

"that's why i brought coffee." 

She takes the offered cup and enters the room, flicking the light on. The room hums with machinery and Sans can't help but once again admire the setup. It's a huge area, since several scientists and students work in here, but Alphys is one of the few given complete access to all the devices within. There's computers, huge freezers holding countless chemicals and other such things, tables covered in machines whose cords are spread across the floor to reach every outlet available as well a replica of the DT machine down in the underground lab. Alphys had asked for his help on that ages ago and he had very hesitantly agreed. That thing had only caused pain underground, but maybe up here it could do some good. 

And now, it might be the key to locating your Soul. 

"So, I didn't clearly get what you were saying on the phone," Alphys says, dropping down into a rolling chair. Exhaustion it seems has taken away her stutter for the time being. "You know. Because it's three in the morning." 

"sorry pal, but this can't wait. i need your help." 

His desperate tone seems to wake her up. As he tells her his idea, her eyes grow wider and she has to set her coffee down on a tiny clear space at her desk. She laces her fingers together. He can't tell if she's more shocked at the fact he managed to create a bond in the first place, or the craziness of his idea. Probably both. 

"Sans...I get what you're thinking," she finally says slowly. "But I don't know if it's p-possible. I mean, it'd be one thing if she was here too but...." 

You're not. Sans fights not to pace. "then you're thinking the same thing i am. if we use determination extract, we can make it stronger. right?" 

Alphys hesitates, pushing her glasses up. "That...is the obvious solution here. But it's not that simple!" 

"why do you think we're talking then?" He tries not to snap but it's hard. "sorry. but we're running out of time." He places a hand on his ribs, right above his Soul. "they're messing with her soul al. if we don't find her before they do it again, she might not make it." 

She wrings her hands. "T-that's another problem. Right now, a-according to my theory at l-least, you're just feeling an echo of what they're d-doing. But if we do somehow manage to m-make the bond strong enough to find her then you...." Alphys takes a shuddering breath. "You'll feel everything. And w-worse...it might affect your Soul too. And I'm s-sorry but with your HP level being w-what it is-"

Sans, waves a hand, cutting her off. "i don't care."

"But I do!" She snaps back, unusually sharp. "You know what DT does to monsters! I w-won't be responsible for killing another mon...a friend." 

Sans blinks at her, a little taken aback. She looks away from him, eyes tight with guilt and pain. After a moment, Sans pulls another chair closer and sits down in it. He looks at his knees, speaking quietly. "i can't lose her al. she's my world and if...if the worst does happen, i don't know if i'll make it. please. help me do this. i know we can find a way." 

Her tail twitches and she sighs, closing her eyes. Sans stays quiet, the only sound in the room the hum of computers and the steady ticking of a clock on the far wall. Finally, she opens her eyes, staring right at him. "It's a long shot but...I have an idea we can try. But I d-don't know how long it will take or if it'll even w-work-" 

Sans puts a hand on her trembling claws. "thank you," he says softly. 

She gives him a weak smile. Taking a deep breath, she stands, nearly knocking her cup of coffee over. "Okay! L-let's do this!" 

Of course, that is easier said than done. They start with a basic scan of his Soul. The feeling of standing in the machine, the familiar feeling of ice crawling down his spine as his Soul is analyzed, reminds him far too much of the 'good old days'. He spent countless hours under Gaster's various machines, sometimes strapped down and other times of his own free will. What would his old man have to say if he could see Sans now? 

After the initial scan they spend hours simply theorizing and debating on what to do next. His readings are fairly normal. Well, normal for him at least. Alphys is fascinated by the nature of his magic and Sans can tell the scientist in her is itching to figure out exactly how his magical biology works. But she stays focused and they make a little progress. Injecting pure determination into his bones is out of the question. They both know what the result of that will be. They figure if they can mix something into the determination extracts to help dilute it then the effect will work more in their favor. The problem is of course, time and the lack of things to experiment on. 

By the time the sun rises, Alphys has managed to help at least one of their problems; she uses a dummy injected with a hint of determination and magic donated by various monsters that works as a stand by for an actual monster. Of course, it's not perfect but it's better than purely theorizing. The problem is, magic and determination do not make a good combo. Sans pulls the googles off his face as the third dummy melts into a puddle on the lab floor. 

It's the same problem that he and Gaster ran into countless times before; they need the human element. It's something they were never fully able to understand and could never hope to recreate. Sans throws his googles on the table and sinks into a chair. He's exhausted and his excitement from finally being able to do something is starting to run thin. "i know it's possible," he grumbles. "mages existed and they used a combination of determination and magic. we know they did!"

By this point, a few students have trickled in, working on whatever school projects and experiments they had. Sans recognizes a few of them from the times he's been in the lab before. One kid, a girl with a bright pink mohawk, steps over to the remains of the dummy, poking it with a plastic rod.

"Does this have to do with the monster dust you've been trying to analyze?" she asks.

Alphys shakes her head. "No this is s-something different. More DT and magic work."

"Huh." The girl peers at the end of the stick, which is covered in goop and dust. "Want me to run a side by side analysis?"

"No that-"

"actually, yeah, do that please," Sans cuts in, a light bulb going off in his skull. As mohawk girl scoops up a sample and heads over to an empty table, Sans turns to Alphys. How could he have missed such an obvious thing? It's because he's a short sighted, arrogant skeleton, that's why! He didn't even consider the possibly that maybe, just maybe, someone out there was smarter than him."okay, what are the key elements that make up a human being?"

She blinks at him, a little confused. "Water, 35 liters; carbon, 20 kilograms; ammonia, 4 liters; lime, 1.5 kilograms; phosphorus, 800 grams; salt, 250 grams; saltpeter, 100 grams; sulfur, 80 grams; fluorine, 7.5; iron, 5; silicon, 3 grams; and trace amounts of 15 other elements."

She says this in such a way that he just knows she's quoting some 'historical' anime. And he's not sure it's entirely accurate, but that's besides the point. 

"and what do we know is contained in the dust from the monster in the city?"

"Not much. There are trace elements of carbon, nitrogen, calcium..." She trails off as it clicks. "Oh my God. It's a human!" 

Sans shakes his head, grinning grimly. "no. it's a human and monster amalgamate. whoever did it, somehow managed to fuse together a monster and a human, even though it didn't last for very long." 

Alphys has her hands up over her mouth in horror. Then she lowers them, shoulders slumping. "But how does that help us now? We have no idea how they did it. And worse, it...it very obviously killed the creature that was left from whatever they did to the poor guys involved." 

"it..." Okay, it doesn't help much. But it's something. "it means that it's possible. i don't need a massive transformation. i just need to be able to use determination." 

His Soul twinges suddenly and Sans hunches over, groaning. 

"Sans?!" 

Alphys jumps up, hands hovering over him as he fights to get his breath back. This one isn't as bad as the one on the roof, but it still leaves his Soul trembling. He freezes as a thought occurs to him. He's positive now that the people who took you, and your blood are the same people who are responsible for the human, monster mash up that wrecked havoc in the town. They're messing with your Soul which can only mean....

His SOUL!

"al that's it!" He jumps up, making her squeak with alarm. "it's not magic, it's the souls!" 

She gasps, catching on. "It's the one thing that all humans and monsters share!" 

"right. instead of trying to combine magic with dt, we need to mix it with the essence of a soul before it is injected." He practically sprints to the DT extractor, flipping switches and dials. "how long will it take to change the settings?" 

Alphys is right behind him and places a clawed hand on his shoulder. "Hold on Sans, we can't move rashly with this. Y-your HP might be permanently damaged." 

"as long as we only take a sliver, i'll be fine," he mumbles, already making adjustments to the machine. Besides, exchanging slivers of the Soul was how baby monsters were made. It'd be fine. How different could it be from extracting determination and magic? 

Very different, as it turns out. There are pages of calculations to be made, parts that have to be adjusted, moved or added to the machine. At one point, part of it actually catches fire (Alphys nearly quits right there on the spot) and threatens to break down altogether. But eventually and with only minimal screaming, they make it work. It's getting late now and Sans worriedly looks at the clock. Your Soul has been pretty quiet today but that doesn't mean they aren't hurting you. 

After hours of grueling work, taking very few breaks, Alphys deems it ready. Her students and some of the other staff had lingered around, offering help or advice but now that they're ready to go, she's shooing everyone out for a bit of privacy. As Sans steps back into the machine, a though occurs to him. If he can feel it when your Soul is being messed with, wouldn't that mean you would feel this? 

"hey al, just curious. uh, is this going to...hurt?" 

She gives him an incredulous look. "I've spent the last three hours trying to think of a different way, despite your stubborn protests and you're just now asking that?" 

"will it?" 

"What do you think?" she asks dryly, triple checking the settings. 

Well crap. Sans closes his sockets, brushing his magic against your flare in his Soul. This was going to hurt and hurt a lot. But it would be over quickly. For once, he hoped that you would be too out of it to feel the echo of his pain. "ready when you are al," he says, opening his sockets. 

"Sans, I really don't like this," she protest, wringing her hands again. "It's too fast, and there's no way to test it first." 

"alphys." 

"F-fine! Just...tell me if it h-hurts too much and I'll stop." She flicks a few dials and the DT machine whirls to life, humming loudly. It makes his bones rattle. It's louder now and he can hear the gears whining. For the first time, nerves start to whisper doubts in his head. What if his calculations were wrong? God, what if this somehow caused your Soul to shatter? 

It's too late to stop it now. He manifests his Soul on his own to speed the process up. Alphys is hesitating, her hand hovering over the final switch. She meets his eyes and he nods quickly. She swallows and slams the button down. As his Soul is enveloped in the magical outpouring from the machine, Sans feels his bones lock up and his left socket begins to burn. He's no stranger to his Soul being examined at it's most intimate level, thanks to all the experiments he had to endure as a baby bones. He's been poked, injected, squeezed and stripped down to the core. But not once did Gaster attempt to remove part of his Soul. That was just something that wasn't done.

And for very good reason. 

He can't stop a agonized moan as the device prods at his Soul. It instantly tenses up and tries to sink back into the safety of his rib cage. He grits his teeth and pushes it back out. 

"Sans, you have to let down your guard!" Alphys calls, her voice slightly panicked. "It's too brittle!" 

Of course it is. He takes deep breath and lets his thoughts drift to you. He brings up that memory of the first moment that he realized was in love with you. Of course, it wasn't the way it was in the story. There was no real moment that he fell. No, it was a slow but inevitable thing that only grew when he saw you smile, when you cracked bad jokes with him, when you held him close when he felt weak and vulnerable. But the moment that it truly became something he could not deny was the time he saw you dancing freely in your kitchen, released from all your worries and fears, just for a moment. His Soul had lurched, slipping from the rock he had forced around himself and he had fallen.

"That's it! Hold on!" 

He has to reach out and grab the bars set on the inside of the machine to remain standing as the drill begins to spin and pierce the surface of his Soul. But as it begins to dig a hole, he falls to his knees regardless, a pained shriek escaping. Icy fire shoots through his bones, making his limbs numb. 

"Sans?!" 

"i'm fine," he growls out. "don't stop." 

 He has to keep his Soul soft, open. Focus on the memories Sans! 

His Soul shivers and screams under the pressure of the drill. 

The way your mouth would turn into a pout when you lost at your little pun games.

He's being drained, emptied. 

The feeling of your fingers dancing over his bones while you watched stupid t.v with him, your warm body pressed up against him. 

It's only a sliver, only a moment. 

Your eyes sparkling whenever he walked into a room, full of love and just a hint of playfulness. 

Please, let it end.

Then it does. He's released and he sees Alphys running towards him and oh crap, he's losing his balance and as his face rushes to the floor he sees someone else standing there just for a fraction of a second. Dark, flickering with glitches, a face locked in a wide smile.

Then he sees nothing.

~~~~ 

When he opens his sockets, it takes him a second to recognize where he is. He blinks, looking around. Oh, that's right; this must be Alphys' office. It's small but big enough for a love seat couch, which he's currently on. He sits up, pushing off the thin blanket covering him. His ribs ache and his head feels like it's been dunked in candle wax. Instinctively, he checks his HP. 1.5/1. Well, if nothing else, sleeping had restored whatever HP was lost during the Soul extraction and a smidgen more. 

His head jerks up, the painful haze cleared by panic. How long has he been out?! He tries to jump to his feet, only to have his knees buckle under him, leaving him sprawled on the floor. He's seriously considering just taking a shortcut back to the lab when the door opens and Undyne stomps in. In fact, she nearly steps on Sans, leaping back with a yell. 

"Geez! Are you trying to get stepped on?" She growls, running a hand through her hair. It's not up in her usual ponytail. 

Normally, he'd attempt a joke, but he's too preoccupied with the fact that he clearly passed out after the experiment. "what time's it?" 

Undyne blinks in surprise; she must have been expecting the joke too. She sighs, sticking a hand out to help him up. "Almost seven. AM." 

"what?" He's been out all night?!

"Calm down," she says, tugging him up. "Alphys has been working on mixing your Soul piece with DT this whole time." She gives him a stern look. "You scared her, passing out like that. She was in hysterics when she called me." 

"sorry," he murmurs, a little unsteady on his feet. 

"When was the last time you slept? Not including just now."

Including the night of your fight before you were taken? "Um...three days. I think." 

Undyne opens her mouth, rage making her visible eye spark but then she just shuts her mouth and grinds her teeth. "You're a numbskull. And that's not a pun!"

"yeah, i know." He pushes past her, heading back to the lab. "you should've woken me up." 

"You nearly killed yourself!" she snarls, stomping after him. "How was I gonna explain that to _____ if-" The light-less glare he sends her stops that sentence very quickly. "Look, if you want this crazy idea of yours to work, you need to be ready and rested. Got it?"

He doesn't answer that, even though he knows she's right. They reach the lab; inside, Papyrus is standing next to a very bleary eyed Alphys, who's hunkered over several vials of filled with liquids that vary from bright blue to dull red to nearly white. Paps brought more cups of coffee, most of which are empty.

"SANS!" The relief in his brother's voice makes Sans' Soul twist with guilt. "DON'T EVER DO SOMETHING SO RASH WITHOUT CONSULTING SOMEONE!"

"i did consult someone pap," he says, trying his best to put an easy smile on his face. "she's standing right next to ya."

"SANS! YOU COULD HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY HURT! OR WORSE!"

"Stop with the yelling!" Undyne shrieks, gesturing at her girlfriend. "Alphys' head hurts!"

With a death glare only the truly exhausted can achieve, Alphys stands, snatching one of the vials. Sans does some quick math in his head. Except for a short nap she took yesterday, Alphys has been up for roughly twenty-six hours. Now, he's used to that, but she clearly isn't. Her fierce look softens as she holds out the vial to him. This one is hovering on a light shade of purple. 

"This is the one Sans," she says softly. "I made every combination I could think of and this one should give you enough control over the determination to expand the Soul's bond without..." 

"without making me a pile of goop. good to know." He takes the vial, studying it carefully. The scientist in him wants to run more tests but he doesn't have that kind of time. And besides, if Alphys was sure then he had to have trust that it was done right. He meets her eyes, which are tight with worry. "thank you alphys." 

She smiles and nods, hands clasped tightly. "I t-think it's time we got your girlfriend back, don't you?" 

This time, the grin that stretches across his face is one of terrifying rage. "oh hell yeah." 

~~~~~~

It's hard to tell how much time passes. You sleep, curled into a ball, you are woken and beaten, threatened, and torn apart with words. Then it's back to the machine that violates the deepest parts of your Soul over and over again, then it's back to the room and you're so tired and you just want this all to be over.  With every hit, with every probe, you retreat deeper and deeper into yourself because if you let yourself be aware what's, then you know that you will break. And you can't do that. Sans is coming. He has to be. 

Of course, the numbness can't block out the pain. At this point you're pretty sure some of your ribs are at least cracked, if not broken. Moving, blinking, breathing hurts. Nahn's taken more blood and judging from the scowl on her face when she did it, she's running into more problems than she expected. It's a sort of victory, seeing her so frustrated. But now you've lost a lot of blood and Austin and McNaven have to back off slightly on the physical torture. That doesn't stop them from continuing to spew filth from their mouths and that is still hard to block out. Somehow, they found out about the fire and they both seem more than pleased to tell you about the horrible person you really are. How you should have died in the fire that day. How you were weak for throwing the blade and the razors away. They touch your scars, they dig into your skin with their knives and needles, mixing the old white marks with harsh new ones that never seem to stop bleeding. 

You blink slowly, the haze slightly cleared by the panic that always sets in when you hear the roar of S.A.A.M and feel the now familiar jerk in your chest. You look away; your Soul must surely be shriveled up, the brightness of your Soul dirtied by all the gazes that have seen it, all the metal that has broken it. You brace yourself and yet, in that very moment, a strange new feeling starts to grow in your chest. It's warm, but it's not the burning agony of the black ooze that Nahn keeps injecting into your blood. No, this warmth is the sun on a cool day, the softness of a blanket heated by a living body, the overflowing love of the man you know is searching so desperately for you. It fills you up and though you had thought your tears had been utterly bled dry, your eyes flow with moisture that trails down your bruised face. You know this feeling, this wild yet contained magic dancing through your battered Soul.

Sans

"What the hell is that?" 

The shock in Nahn's voice makes you look over and your gaze falls to your Soul. It's not wrinkled and gray, like you feared. But it is covered in new cracks thanks to the violent beating it's undergone. Within those cracks there's something new. 

Your Soul is glowing blue. 

~~~~~

Sans snaps his head to the side, staring out the window of the lab. "she's that way. the old university. south end." 

He takes a shortcut, following the tugging in his Soul. It's not like he had hoped. No map appeared in his mind, no bright neon sign to show him the way but his Soul and yours are intertwined and he can feel your sobbing relief and he lets his love pour into you, gently stroking the flickering light in his Soul that, despite everything, is still you. It's leading him there, like a magnet. 

I'm coming sweetheart. 

Chapter Text

Sans crouches on one of the roofs of what used to be the main campus for the city's main university, staring at the large four story warehouse type building that his Soul continues to tug him towards. It may be old and used mostly for out of norm classes and film students, but the area is still crawling with people. Smart of them, to stick you in a place with so many Souls. But now, he can see you. Your glow is brighter than the others, a splash of color in the dark sea of Souls. You're in the basement, probably in some kind of holding area. He has to be smart about this. There are a lot of Souls in the same area, all of them blending together and he can be sure that many of those are armed, dangerous and willing to kill. He should wait for Undyne and the others, maybe scope out the area. Make a plan. 

Ha! There's no way he's going to sit here and wait! 

His bones are buzzing with power. He's never had such energy and such rage flowing through him before. It's...exhilarating. To think, humans had this power right at their fingertips. Determination. It's no wonder that monsters lost the war so long ago. Determination in and of itself was simply a feeling, a drive. But the possibilities that opened up because of it were endless. And terrifying.

Of course those are the last thoughts on his mind right now. His sockets flicker and a small part of his mind registers with dull surprise that both of his sockets are radiating power. There's no time to wonder about such trivial things. He spies a window that shows an empty room and takes a quick step through space. He has no idea what kind of state you're in or what kind of guard they have on you. Simply popping in blindly is out of the question. And besides, there are some freaks who are long overdue for a heavy dunking.

It's time to cause some havoc.

~~~~~

You're unceremoniously shoved back into your cell, Nahn seemingly satisfied with a mere scan of your now blue tinged Soul. When it sank back into your chest the intensity of the connection you felt with Sans was blanketed slightly, but you can still feel the warmth of his power moving through you, giving you back a spark of your energy. You squint down at your chest, but it's no good. Without Sans or...the machine, you can't see anything. What happened? Sans must have done something, but what?

A sudden alarm makes you jump and then groan at the painful protest in your ribs. It's muffled, coming from outside your room. Your heart leaps in your chest even as you feel the fire of his Soul swell. He's here! He's finally here!

And facing down a platoon of goons with guns. And by the sound of things, he's making no effort to hide his appearance. That stupid bonehead is going in guns-er...eyes blazing, isn't he? You drag yourself to the door, hissing with pain. You've got to do something. Cause a distraction, anything! You pound on the door. 

"Hey!" Your voice is hoarse, cracking sharply. It's the first you've spoken besides screaming in the last twenty hours. "Hey I need help! My stomach hurts!"

There's no answer outside the door. Ignoring you? Or maybe no one is there. After all, why would they guard a beaten up girl in a locked room?  You slap the door, throwing your eyes around uselessly. He's finally come for you and you're stuck in this stupid cell! It'd be one thing he if just popped in with a short cut and grabbed you but clearly, he doesn't know exactly where you are. Or...

A distant gunshot rings out. Terror grips you and you pull at the handle desperately. C'mon, open! Open! Your heart races, sending an odd tingling throughout your whole body. Please, open!

Your left eye suddenly stings and you cry out, slapping your hand up. At the same time, a loud click emits from the lock with a small puff of blue light. You slowly lower your hand, staring at the knob in shock. Did that just...? You reach out and very slowly turn the door handle. It opens easily. No way! Oh that can't be a good thing. 

Well, at the moment, it's exactly what you need. You gingerly push the door open. When you meet no resistance, you stick your head out. There's no one around. They're probably all being sent to deal with Sans and whoever else he (hopefully) brought with him. You slip out and into the hallway, every nerve on high alert as you sneak towards the lab area. Heading straight towards the most populated area doesn't seem like the best idea, but it's the only place you're familiar with. If there's anything you can use as a distraction, it's going to be in there. 

You slink along as best as your bruised and battered body will allow, staying in the shadows as much as you can. You peer around the edge of the hall; there's still people in the lab but they're all moving with a panicked energy. Getting ready to run probably. It's easy enough to hide behind various machines, though you do have some close calls. Slowly, you make your way across the room, looking around for anything you can use. You do find a medical scalpel, which you keep gripped in your hand. You just pray you don't have to use it. But other than that, it's all just medical supplies and papers. Nothing useful and certainly nothing that's going to cause enough of a distraction. Maybe it would be better if you just got out, found someone who wasn't part of this nut case cult. 

But as you hear more gunshots, you know you can't leave Sans while he's fighting the people who did all this. And you can't let these people get away with all the lives they've ruined. Argh, you feel so useless! Even with your sudden...magic like talent, which might have just been a fluke, you've got nothing you can do. Worse still, you're right on the edge of the heavy equipment near the center of the room. Your only choices are to sneak back and attempt to go around, which you couldn't do in the first place thanks to all the scientists and people running around, or bolt out in the open and make a run for it. Neither option is appealing.

The hairs on your neck stand up suddenly. You're being watched. You look around, attempting to shrink closer to the desk you're pressed up against. Then you realize, it's no human watching you. Or at least, not any more. The plastic cages in the center of the room still holds two of monsters that Nahn has created. You've never seen them taken out but there are doors, which are currently locked. During your torture in S.A.A.M occasionally you would see them staring at you, twisted hands pressed up against the wall of their cage. They're both doing that right now, slapping their hands slowly against the thick plastic. You lock eyes with the less goopy one. It tilts its head, mouth struggling to form words. 

"...elp...fr...ple..."

It's asking you to free it. Which means killing it. While contained inside the cubes, it seemed Nahn had managed to create an environment that the creatures could endure and survive, at least for a time. It was when it was released into the open air that its body fell apart. You chew your lip, glancing around before making a pained dash towards the containment. You crouch down next to a control panel set up between the cages, gasping. This might be a really bad idea but...you poke your head up, trying to make sense of the dials and buttons. The monsters are slapping the walls more desperately now, leaving trails of slime. 

"Shh," you gesture desperately. They go quiet and you finally locate the proper keypad and release. Of course, you've go no idea what the code is. You look back up at the monsters, pointing to the board. The goopier one forms a floppy hand and holds up a five, a six, one and then another five. You type in the code and hesitate. What if this was some kind of trick? Nahn made these guys to destroy humans. They might come after you. 

"There she is!" 

Oh crap. No choice now! You slam the button and an alarm begins to blare as the doors to the cages slide open. The monsters exit faster than you would have thought possible and you scramble out of the way as best as you can. The solid one heads straight for the remaining scientists, who scatter with screams of terror. The other one however stops and turns its head towards you. It reaches for you with its ill formed hand and you try to get to your feet. Your knees buckle, sending you back to the ground and you scream as you feel the cold hand grab your bloodstained shirt, pulling you back to it. You sink into the surface of its body, your struggles doing nothing but getting you more tangled in the goop. Was this seriously how it was gonna end?! Swallowed up by goop you set loose? "Let me go! Sans! Sans!"

You close your eyes as you feel the goop reach your neck but then it stops and suddenly you're moving forward at a terrifying speed. Past the machines and the people who scramble out of the way of the creature as it moves forward. Your body is stuck and you can do nothing but watch as it takes you...somewhere. You move down a hall you've never been down before until you reach a staircase. You only have a moment to wonder how it's going to get up before you feel the goop surrounding you bunch and roll upwards like some kind of anti-gravity slinky. The creature carries your broken body up the stairs and soon you hear the sound of men yelling and screaming and you can tell by the way your Soul leaps in your chest that Sans is close. 

As you near a door that says 'fourth floor' the creature slows and you can feel its body shuddering. You are suddenly pushed out of the goop and deposited on the floor like a human hairball. Your clothes are covered spots of goop, which you attempt to wipe off as you turn back to your unexpected savior. It's staring at you with sad eyes and you feel your own welling with tears. 

"I'm so sorry," you whisper, reaching out to what once was a normal human and monster before their lives were destroyed for a pointless cause. "Thank you." It nudges your hand, making an odd sort of rumble. Then before your eyes, it melts away, dissolving into a pile of dust and bone. Your hand is covered in a fine layer of dust. You stare at it, a bubble of panic trying to force its way up your throat. There's another gunshot. There's no time for panic. You pull yourself up and push on the door. It doesn't move. You brace your legs and shove, pained whimpers escaping you. After much pushing, you finally manage the crack the door open enough to slip through. You stumble away, the door slamming shut. It's blocked by several large pieces of furniture. An attempt to stop people from getting help? Sans probably put it there. You turn around.

The sight that meets you sends you reeling back, hitting the wall. It's another lab kind of set up, one that was probably an original part of the building. It's been smashed beyond recognition. Glass from both the windows and various tubes cover the ground, chairs and desks are knocked over and broken. The walls are filled with bullet holes and massive bones stretch out from almost every surface. Some are blue but most are white and...oh God, blood drips from many of bones, the red liquid bright against the stark white bone. But what makes your heart clench in horror are the bodies lying on the ground. There's at least three and two of them are groaning in agony, their limbs clearly broken. One isn't moving at all. You can't tell if he's dead or just unconscious. For Sans' sake, you hope it's the latter. 

A massive thud sounds from somewhere on this floor, making dust trickle down from the holes the bones have smashed into the ceiling. The fight must have moved further inside the building. Just recently too, since just a minute ago you could hear them shouting. You carefully skirt around the injured men, heading for the door out of here. You recognize them from the original group that kidnapped you. One of them stirs enough to spot you and he groans, reaching for a gun that's just out of his reach. You hobble over and kick it away before he can grab it. 

"Ha...hah..." he gasps for breath, a gurgling chuckle breaking from him. "Looks like your pet came for you after all," he snarls, struggling to lift himself up his unbroken arm. 

You back away. There's no point in staying to listen to his rambles. You've had more than enough of that in the lab downstairs. You start to walk away, fully intent on ignoring him when-

"Or maybe you're the bitch and he just came to fetch you." 

You stop and after a moment, turn around. He gives you a vicious grin. 

"You've got to really be something in bed," he drawls, watching you as you stride over to the mess of glass, searching through the remains. "I was hoping to find out what kind of kinky, nasty things you're into. Hell, I could've-" 

You dump one of the few unbroken containers of liquid over his head, dousing him in a smelly liquid. "He's my boyfriend, you jerk," you snarl before giving him a kick in the face. It's a rather weak, pathetic kick, considering your state, but it's enough to send him back to the floor. Then you head straight for the door, moving at your best shuffle down the hall.  As you tuck the small knife into your pocket, it occurs to you that maybe you should have grabbed the gun. But your hands tremble at the mere thought of touching a weapon like that. Despite everything that they've done, you don't think you could bring yourself to actually kill someone.

By sheer luck, you don't run into anyone. But you do come across more bullet holes and bones lining the walls. By this point your legs are starting to tremble and your head is throbbing with pain. Your left eye keeps itching and you have to fight the urge to rub it. Holy crap. You actually used magic, didn't you? Or rather, you used Sans' magic. As you get closer you feel his Soul throbbing with rage, boiling with power. It would frighten you, but right now you really don't care. You just want to see him. 

You want to go home. 

You reach a set of double door and you peek through the cracked glass. Flashes of blue, blurred shapes and bones are all you see. You push through, holding your cracked ribs and-

Oh. Your pain, your terror, everything is washed away because there he is. He's blazing, both eye sockets bright. His left is the usual cyan and yellow and his right is shimmering with red. Four Gaster Blasters of terrifying size zip around with his command, blasting scorching beams of light at armed men scrambling for cover in the remains of what used to be a massive ballroom. There's so many! One of them screams in terror as his body is suddenly encased in blue and he is sent shooting upwards and met with a row of bones that erupt from the ceiling. His cries are masked by the harsh roar of one of the Blasters as it mercilessly shoots energy at him. He flops back to the floor, utterly still and Sans turns to his next enemy. His mouth, which you so rarely see opened all the way, is bared in an almost animalistic way.  

"Are you reflecting on your actions?" His voice, normally so deep and soothing, echos hollowly with rage. "I dunno about you but I'm having a good time!" 

More bones burst from the floor, sending the men hiding behind an overturned table scattering. They aim at Sans, pulling the triggers of their guns and you feel your heart stop but Sans is gone. He reappears not two feet away, his grin manic. "like i'm just gonna stand there and take it!" He throws his fist out in several sharp movements and more men fly through the air, one right after the other. They hit the floor to ceiling glass walls, shattering them. It's a miracle that not a single one falls out and plummets down the four story drop.  

He's going to kill them. There's a part you, a dark, terrifying part of your mind that stood strong during your torture, that screams that he's right to do so. You should stand aside, let him finish these people who hurt you. These people were willing to start a war! They were willing to hurt innocent beings! If they died, it would be exactly what they deserved. 

But you can't let Sans become that killer. You don't know if it's already too late. You bravely step forward, standing as tall as your injured ribs will allow. "Sans!" 

At the sound of your cracking, weak voice calling his name, Sans freezes. His pupils snap to you and in that single moment, you see the monstrous rage vanish. The harsh colors in his sockets fade into black. In a instant moment, he is vulnerable, broken with relief. He's on the other side of the room but he reaches for you in pure desperation. Then horror snaps the colors back into his sockets and you feel an arm wrap around your neck. A gun presses against your skull. 

"Isn't irony the best?" You could never mistake the snarling voice in your ear. You scream as Austin squeezes your neck, choking off your air. "Here we find ourselves yet again!" 

Sans blinks out of sight and reappears much closer, his Blasters right behind him. He is beyond all reason, his mouth curling into a snarl. "L E T  H E R  G O. NOW." 

Austin backs away, dragging you with him. You don't have the energy to resist him. Glass from the broken window cracks under your feet as Sans and Austin circle and the remaining men who can still fight form a line behind Sans. You see sudden movement. "Look out!" you croak. 

A harsh bang rings out but Sans has moved again. He doesn't bother to look behind him at the man who attempted to shoot him. He merely slams his fist down and the guy hits the ground. "L A S T  W A R N I N G." 

Austin laughs hysterically. "Your stupidity truly astounds me! You should have run! You must be a glutton for punishment." He puts his face next to yours. The wind from the open window sweeps over you, carrying the reek of his sweat. "You should be proud of her, freak. She screamed and screamed while I played my games but she never stopped believing you would save her! How's it feel, knowing that you've so completely failed to keep her safe?" 

Sans' bones are clacking loudly as his pupils shrink to mere pinpricks of light. He's stuck, unable to pull you away while this freak has such a tight grip on you. 

Another shot rings out and though he moves, it's too slow. He grunts, stumbling to the side. His hand comes up to grip his arm. His jacket sleeve is ripped and spots of blood blossom under the fabric. The bullet just grazed him. Your eye twinges again as sudden numbers flash in your head. 29/1. Somehow you know instantly that this is his life force. You can see his strength and health in numbers. Another side effect from his magic in your Soul? 

His magic....

An idea starts to form in your head. A crazy, stupid idea. A quick glance to the side confirms that Austin's managed to drag you over to the windows. You release a breath, locking eyes with Sans. Trust me

Sans blinks slowly, sockets tightening. After a long second, he gives the slightest of nods. 

You try to focus your thoughts as Austin continues to laugh and taunt Sans. Breath. Think. Remember. You let that same desperation you felt in the cell sweep over you. It fills you up, making your limbs tingle with an electrical wave of energy. Your eye burns. You picture the gun in your mind. Move. Move! MOVE

"Let's face it! I've seen sides of her you never will-" Austin suddenly stops talking as the gun in his hand is enveloped in a weak blue light, shuddering in his hand. "What the hell?" 

It's not enough to pull the gun away. But it's enough of a distraction for his grip on your neck to loosen. You twist, grabbing the scalpel you put in your pocket. You plunge it into his shoulder, shoving him towards the broken window. He howls in pain and then his feet knock against the edge of the wall and he loses his balance. He drops the gun, hand shooting out to grab your arm and then he's dragging you with him as he falls into the open air. Sans screams your name and you see the ground so far below rushing up and it's too late, you're falling-!

And time stops

It's like the world has gone dark all around you and you can see everything in sharp, frozen detail. Austin is below you and his face is twisted in a scream, his hand still gripping yours. Shards of glass hover in the air, light glinting from it's surface. You hang there for an infinite moment, staring down at the ground below and suddenly you feel a presence wrap around you and the world jolts sharply, ripping your hand away from Austin. You feel time skip and you're back inside and arms are circled around you and Sans is whimpering your name and you press yourself up against his bones. Your gasps linger on the edge of hyperventilating.

"i've got you, you're here, i've got you." His voice is a quivering murmur in your ear. "i'm so sorry, baby i'm so sorry."

You can't speak so you press your face into his shoulder. He's squeezing you too tightly, it hurts but you don't ever want to let him go. Your Souls are dancing, bright and alive now that you're back together, just the way you should be. 

Until the illusion is broken by the click of guns. You jump, eyes popping open. The remaining men, recovering from the shock of Austin falling, have pulled out their weapons and every single one of them is trained on the two of you. Sans shifts and you can feel his magic attempt to swell but it falls short. Whatever he did to pull you back from the window sapped his remaining energy. He can't teleport.

"shit." Sweat pours down his skull and he turns his body, uselessly attempting to shield you. He stares down at you, his sockets filled with utter despair. "i love you," he murmurs urgently, running his hand over your matted hair. 

You grip his jacket in your hands and pull yourself up, pressing a deep kiss against his teeth. "I love you Sans." Your voice cracks with fear. "I love you so much!" 

He burrows his face in your neck, trembling and you brace yourself for the agony of bullets to riddle your body when-

"Don't shoot!" 

Tod rushes in through the doors, followed by a few more men. They're covered in goop. Your heart lurches as you realize it must be from the other creature. Sans lifts his head and freezes in shock. Then you feel the rage ripple through him as he stares at Tod. 

"i was right!" he snarls, getting to his feet. You follow, holding on to him for support. "how could you do this? to her? you're her friend!" 

"Sans, please, you don't understand." He puts his hands up, puffing a little. He must have sprinted from the basement. 

"i don't need to!" Sans is screaming. "nothing is worth this! look at her! look at what you've done!" 

Tod lowers his hand, face tightening. He gestures around the room, at the destruction and blood. "I didn't do this Sans. This is what you did." 

You're exhausted, terrified and lingering on the verge of passing out from the pain of your countless injuries. But at his words, you sit up slightly, still holding on tightly to Sans. "How dare you," you hiss at Tod. "Don't you dare try to place the blame on him. You took me away, you betrayed my friendship and trust. You let Nahn treat me like some kind of science rat! And for what? Your war to save humanity? War means people die! You started all of this!" 

He gives you a truly sad look. "I know you don't see it. But this is what must happen. People like you are the ones who deserve the gifts that monsters have to offer us." His gaze shifts to Sans. "I am truly sorry. Step away from her and I guarantee that she will survive. We still need her."

"but you don't need me." His voice is flat.

"Your help would be greatly appreciated. I was even going to approach you soon, ask you to help our cause but..." Tod gives him a weak smile. "You'd never work with me or my associates, right?" 

"go to hell."

Tod sighs and motions to the men at his sides. They lift their guns again. "You understand why I can't let you live then. Step away from her."  

Sans flinches but before he even has a chance to release you, you tighten your hold on him, pressing up against his ribs. "Don't you dare," you hiss at him softly. 

He takes a deep breath before letting out a low chuckle. "i'm never letting go of you sweetheart. besides, i think it's just about time for-"

"DIDN'T WE TALK ABOUT THE NOT RUNNING OFF ALONE THING?!" 

The doors are knocked off their hinges with a bang and Papyrus and Undyne, along with several of the dogs from the guard pour into the room, eyes blazing with fury. Papyrus waves a hand and with insane precision, a single bone shoots up in front of every goon with a gun, knocking it from their hands. In the same instant, Undyne pelts them with magical spears, knocking them off their feet. Tod spins in shock as his remaining men are subdued right before his eyes. 

Sans takes the moment and summons up more bones, which knock Tod to the ground. He shouts in pain, attempting to roll away. He's met with more and more bones until he's completely caged in. Sans takes your hand and storms forward towards your old friend. Another bone shimmers into view in his free palm. 

"you hurt what is most precious to me." His voice is a growl. Tod stares up at Sans, face nearly as white as the bones surrounding him. "you know what my job was when the kid went through the underground? i judged them for their actions. it's high time that you were judged and punished for yours." His sockets flash and he hefts the bone, holding the end over Tod's chest, right where his Soul resides. 

"Sans."

He flinches, looking over at you. He meets your eyes, his gaze pleading and filled with anger. "baby, please don't." 

"You can't do this," you say softly, touching his cheek. 

"i can't just let him go!" 

"That's not what I'm saying." You gesture around the room. Almost everyone has been subdued by Undyne and the others. "It's done. He can't hurt anyone else." 

Sans looks back to Tod, his mouth twisting in disgust. "i don't care. he...hurt you so badly! he...i let this happen and..." His voice cracks. "he deserves this." 

You tighten your grip in his hand. "I'm not saying he doesn't. But if you do this, you're no better than he is or any of these other people. Don't let him turn you into a murderer. Don't become a killer because of me. I can't take that."

He's shaking. With a frustrated yell, he plunges the bone into the ground, very narrowly missing Tod's head. Tod flinches, continuing to stare at the two of you. You pull Sans away, holding him close. You press soft kisses on his skull. You know just how hard that must have been. That same dark part of you that was born during your torture is disgusted that you stopped him. You look back to Tod as he slowly stands, still trapped by a cage of bones. 

"Please, you can't do this," he pleads. "War is going to happen, one way or another." 

 You regard the man you trusted coldly, taking a step closer. "Tod, I understand that you've been hurt. But pushing that same pain onto others is wrong. It won't make your scars go away." 

Finally, the calm, gentle facade fades away. He sneers at you. "If you think this will stop it, you're deadly mistaken. We have other plans, other courses of action that are already in place." 

"Then we'll stop those too." You reel your arm back and punch him square in the face. You feel his nose crunch under your fist and blood instantly squirts down his face. He falls on his butt as you pull your throbbing hand back to your chest. Owww

Sans stares at you in shock before bursting into laughter. 

~~~~~

The police show up just a few minutes later. Nahn, McNaven and several of the scientists got away. You're assured that the best of the police force is on their trail. There are several monsters and another human who are found and released from more cells in the basement. It seems that the human was the next to be used as a host, but Sans showed up before any of the serum could be injected. The entire area is under police and monster guard. Alphys shows up with Toriel and Frisk and is immediately sent in to help with handling the chemicals and machinery. 

Sans helps you outside to where an ambulance is waiting. Frisk, Toriel and Asgore are there. Sans barely manages to stop Frisk from tackling you with a hug. Toriel hugs both you and Sans, since he makes no move to let go of you. 

"Oh my dear child." She's crying softly, the tears matting the fur on her face. "I'm so sorry this happened. Come, sit down and I will start healing you." 

You shake your head. "Toriel, there are monsters who are barely holding on," you croak, tilting your head over at the rescued creatures. Many of them are still and had to be carried out. "I'll be okay for a few more minutes. Please see to them first." 

Sans lets out a grunt of disapproval. But he doesn't say anything as Toriel moves to help the rescue crew. "c'mon, let's sit down at least." 

You nod, following him to the ambulance. You're given a blanket and a woman starts checking your vitals. As you thought, your ribs are cracked and you've lost enough blood that the woman insists on blood transfusion as soon as you're taken to the hospital. But since you're not in danger of dying on the spot, she leaves to help attend to the men injured in the fight with Sans. None of them died, aside from Austin. You caught a glimpse of his mangled body on the ground as you were walking out. The sight only made you feel sick. 

Sans rubs your back gently. "i'm so pathetic," he whispers tightly. "i can't even help heal you." 

You lean over slightly and kiss his cheek. Your throat hurts too much to talk. You instead stare out over the crowd that has gathered because of the commotion. They're all staring, some recording the scene with their phones. It's noisy. There's a few news crews here too. A reporter is talking to both Asgore and Frisk. The kid's eyes are red but they're standing strong, answering whatever the reporters throw at them. You're too far away to really hear what they're saying. 

You're so tired. Your head is swimming and throbs with a headache. At least your eye has stopped twitching. After you sleep you're going to have to ask Sans exactly what he did. For now, leaning against him as he holds you is enough. You've been hurt so badly, but you survived. You're here, alive, with the man you love.

An officer approaches you. "There's more work to be done here, but the king wants you sent to the hospital," he says. "If you'll come this way we'll have a officer drive you both over." 

Sans lets out a pent up breath of relief and helps you to stand. Your legs are shaky but you manage to walk. The path the officer leads you down makes you pass right by Frisk and the King. There's a surge in noise as you come into sight and cameras flash blindingly in your face. You blink as a growl rumbles through Sans' bones. He steps in front of you, helping to block you from the prying press. You look over the crowd. There are monsters and humans gathered together, for once joined in their horror for what's been uncovered right here in their own city. 

It's kind of funny in it's own way. Tod had fought to split humans and monsters apart. Yet the result of his work seems to have brought them together. 

A flash of movement in the crowd catches your eye. Someone is weaving through, big enough to shove people aside. Everything stops as you lock eyes with the man who's face is covered by a scarf. Time slows to a crawl as you see him lift up a gun, pointing it not at you...

But straight at Frisk. 

Your body is moving with a surge of energy you didn't know you still had but you can't feel it. All you can see is Frisk, standing next to their family. There's a wobbly smile on their face because they believe that it's all over now. Everyone has been rescued. Everyone is safe. 

A scream. Yours? You can’t tell. Your hands lift up, shoving them out of the way. You feel a desperate grip on your arm, a sharp tug as someone tries to pull you back too. Then the air shatters with the crack of the gunshot and lightning rips through your whole body. Pure agony tears you apart and you thought you had known pain. Down in that room, you thought you had faced all that you could possibly endure. You thought it couldn't get worse than the nightmares you faced at the hands of Austin and the man who's just shot you. 

You're on the ground. You don't remember falling. Everyone is screaming. You see McNaven go down, tackled by people in the crowd. Red covers your vision and the world goes fuzzy. Your chest is bubbling, you feel it rising up your throat and then it creeps down your mouth and you're drowning in the blood. There is fire in your lungs and oh God you can't breathe, you can't breathe!

There's a face hovering above you, screaming. Calling your name but the words sound so far away. The face of the monster you love, the monster who is wailing your name in a heart broken cry of agony. 

"no, no please! please, please you can't!" He's sobbing, hands pressed against the gushing wound in your side, like he can stop the blood from leaving your body. It hurts. "Help! Someone help her!"

Sans. You can't do this to him! You try to answer his cries but there's blood in your mouth and your lungs are filled only with fire. 

"S...sa..." 

He holds your face in hands soaked with your blood. "i'm here baby, i'm right here. you're gonna be ok, i promise! you've gotta hold on, just hold for me! keep looking at me!" 

He pulls you into his lap and a weak whimper escapes you. The world is growing dark and you fight to keep your eyes on his face. Tears are pouring from his sockets, splashing against your face. You feel a numbness creeping over you and it's beckoning to you, begging you to let go. You grasp desperately at his jacket with what strength you have left. No this isn't fair! 

"I'm...sorry...." 

"don't you say that. don't you give up." He rocks you, body wracked with sobs. "i just got you back!" 

Tears leak from your eyes. You don't want to go. You can't die here, not now. Not after everything. Your life with him was just starting. There was so much life to live and you can feel it slipping away. 

"Tori!" He's screaming in desperation. You've never seen him so broken and helpless. "Help me! Tori!" 

There's a soft warmth helping to ease the pain. But it doesn't chase away the icy cold your body has been locked into. "It's...it's too late." 

"No!" He presses your hand against his face, nuzzling you desperately. "It's not too late! Stay here with me!" 

You...can't...move...breathe...you see only his agonized face. Then he's gone, swallowed by darkness.

"I...love...you...." It's just a whisper, the last of your breath escaping.

"NO! PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME ALONE!" 

You fall and fall deeper into the black nothingness and you're gone. Everything

Is. 

Gone. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a voice. 

 

 

 

aH. tHIS iS An oDd TurN of EvEnts. 

WELL. i CaN maKE tHiS wORK.

 

Chapter Text

A monster's body is made up of magical energy, all of their workings and life sustained by the Soul within them. That means that when they die, their body dissolves into dust, leaving nothing but ash and memories behind. 

You're still here. You're solid under his trembling, blood soaked hands. How can you be gone if you're right here?

"sweetheart? baby?" Sans whimpers your name but your eyes stay closed. He wants to beg you to end the joke, it's not funny, it was never funny. But he can't say a word. Mindlessly, he presses on your chest and tries to force air back into your rattling lungs because that's what humans did right? He saw it in movies all the time. Press on the chest, breathe into their mouth and then they'd gasp and sit up. Crisis averted. One, two! He presses his mouth to yours, blowing as much air as he can between your quickly chilling lips. He has to bring you back, he has to!

"c'mon, c'mon, c'mon!" It's a whimper that's building into a scream. "damn it don't do this to me!" 

"Sir, you have to move!" 

"Sans, they can help her!" 

"Move out of the way!" 

He feels hands grip his shoulders and he flinches, curling into you. No, he promised he would never let go!

"SANS PLEASE!" 

"Pap, move over!" Another pair of hands grab him, drag him away from you with a force he can't fight. He screams, kicking his feet. Undyne wraps her arms around his middle, hoisting him up. "Stop it! They're going to help her!" 

"put me down!" The shriek escapes him as paramedics swarm your bo-swarm around you, blocking you from his sight. Undyne holds on to him with an iron grip, her jaw set even as her eye waters. He can't escape. He can't do anything but watch as once again you're taken away from him. 

~~~~~

Bullet lodged in your intestine. Three cracked ribs. Multiple lacerations on the surface of your arms, face, legs. Severe taser burns. Bruises. Blood loss. Sans stares at your still frame, hooked up to machines that continue a weak steady beat as the doctor rambles the reasons why you should be dead.

But somehow, despite all medical logic, you're still alive. 

Your heart is beating. Blood is pumping through your veins. But something vital inside you is missing. YOU are not here.

Humans call it a coma. Certainly more professional and medical sounding than the monster's term of 'falling down'. It's just as much a mystery to the humans as it is to the monsters. After the human medics did what they could, Tori stepped in, pouring all of her energy into her healing magic while the human doctors watched on in awe. The problem was the extent of your injuries called for a greater healing than Tori could provide in a single go. And given the state of your Soul and the fact that the human system was so insanely complicated, she doesn't want to push too much magic into your system and heal something incorrectly. He can see you Soul now but it's painful to look at. The bright colors are almost gone. The purple and orange have shrunk down to a dull glimmer in the center. The red lines of determination are still strong, like lines of blood on your nearly white Soul. But perhaps most surprising of all is the dim blue scorch of his Soul seared into yours. But after all, didn't that make sense? Not that it really mattered now.

Shock is what they're blaming it on. They say there's a chance you might not make it anyway. Or you might not ever wake again. There's nothing to do but wait.

So Sans waits. 

People trickle in and out of the room and the entire time, Sans simply sits there, watching you breath through the mask set on your face. He doesn't respond to the soft assurances that things will turn out or the murmured sympathies of this damned situation. The nurses try to shoo him out at one point, but a silent stare from his light-less sockets and a quiet word from Asgore soon stops that. They wouldn't be able to keep him out anyway, but he's dully grateful that he's spared the effort needed to do that.

It's taking everything he has just to sit and count every breath you take. 

"-ld your hands out?"'

The voice of his brother, soft and subdued finally breaks through the haze in his head. He blinks, looking around. It's just him, Pap and you in the room. How long has he been sitting here? Hours? Days? "what?" 

"Your hands," Papyrus says softly. He's holding a washcloth and a bowl of water.

Sans looks down. His hands are still stained with dried blood. Part of it has flaked off but most of it remains as a stark crimson reminder of what's happened. "oh." 

Papyrus turns Sans' chair around slightly, taking his hands. He gently wipes the blood off his hands. The water from the cloth slips through the thin cracks in his carpals, splashing down on the tile floor. Pap has to scrub a bit to get the most of the stain out of his bones. Then he wipes at Sans' cheekbone; he didn't even realize he had blood on his skull. 

"All done," Pap says, still speaking in that odd, quiet voice. He sets the bowl of now pinkish water down and picks up a plastic bag. "The queen brought you some clothes Sans. Why don't you go ahead and change?" 

Sans makes no move to take the bag. Papyrus sighs and stands before pulling Sans to his feet. Sans lets his brother remove his jacket and shirt. Papyrus observes the bloody cloth, ticking a non-existent tongue, pulling the new clothes out of the bag before shoving the shirt in.

"I don't think I can save the shirt. But I know how much this jacket means to you, so the great Papyrus shall make sure that it is thoroughly cleaned." He makes a face at the jacket. "When was the last time it was washed anyway?"

Sans shrugs.

"Well, that's fine, as long we wash it now." He picks up the new shirt, shaking it out. It's a t-shirt speckled with stars and the words 'I Need Some Space'. You bought it for him after your first date at the space museum. Sans freezes as Papyrus tugs it down over his skull. "There we go!" Papyrus smiles widely but his eyes are tight. "Um, Sans. You need to put your arms through the sleeves." 

Slowly, each movement sending waves of pain through his Soul, Sans finishes putting the shirt on. It must have just been washed. He can smell that detergent you liked on it. It's almost enough to mask the sterile stench of death and illness that oozes from every inch of this place. You shouldn't be here. None of this should have happened.

"There! That wasn't so...." Papyrus trails off as tears start to pool in Sans' sockets. "Brother?" 

Sans falls back into the chair, staring at the ground. Papyrus kneels in front of him so their sockets are level. His jaw is quivering but for once the younger brother who has always been the loud, emotional one isn't crying. He takes Sans' hand, holding it tightly in his gloved one. 

"it's my fault." The words pour out of him uncontrollably, just like his tears. "i should've just taken her away, i shouldn't have tried to get them back for hurting her. it's my fault she's lying here. if she d-d-dies-"

"She's going to make it Sans," Papyrus cuts him off, voice cracking. "I know it!" 

Sans shakes his head, tears dripping onto his shorts. 

"You shouldn't doubt her! She's the bravest, strongest human I know! Just like our friend Frisk!" Papyrus looks over at you, lying motionless on the hospital bed. "Right? _____?" 

An odd, strained wail breaks from Sans and he puts his head on his brother's shoulder. "i w-want her back pap," he whimpers brokenly. "t-tell me she's g-gonna be ok. please." 

Papyrus returns his desperate hug, enveloping his smaller brother in his arms. "I promise Sans. She's going to okay. She just needs rest." 

He nods, unable to speak. It's odd in a way. The last time he felt this overwhelming sense of loss, it had been for the very person holding him so tightly right now. His memories are jumbled with images from his nightmares, meshing into a web of confusing and terrifying pictures but he knows that when he lost Pap before, he pulled away from everyone. He suffered that loss alone because it was just one more thing that was never certain or set in stone. He's sure that he even moved in with Tori once after the kid made a run and killed only his brother and never said a word about it to her. It never got easier when it happened, but he never broke down where others could see.

To let himself be comforted this time, to let himself openly weep is strange. It doesn't help but...well. It's too much effort to hide it now in this timeline that was here to stay. "thanks bro," he says in a watery voice, wiping at his sockets. 

"Of course Sans." Papyrus sniffles loudly before standing up. "I will prepare our bedding for tonight!" 

"you're staying too?" 

"Of course I am!" Papyrus looks almost miffed that Sans would even ask.

Bedding turns out to be the two of them squished on the two arm chairs set by the window with sheets borrowed from the staff. Papyrus falls asleep quickly. His limbs are splayed and askew, barely fitting on the chair. It's been a very long couple of days and even before the fight at the warehouse Pap had been running himself ragged searching through the city. Sans watches him sleep for a bit before getting up and adjusting the blanket around his brother. More guilt eats at him. Paps used to be his whole world and he still is of course, but when you came barreling into his life, suddenly that one solid anchor to this world turned into two. Paps never complained, never said a word about Sans spending less time and attention on him. He was ecstatic about it actually. Part of that is because Papyrus loves you too. But Sans knows he's been neglecting his brother. When this is over, he vows to spend more one on one time with Papyrus. 

He looks over to you, a still dark shape illuminated by the lights from the machines keeping you alive. He hesitates for a second before moving to the bedside. With the greatest care he can muster, he slips his hands under your shoulders and legs and moves you just enough to give him a slice of the bed to curl up on. He crawls in, pressing his face against your shoulder. He breathes deeply. Under the sharp tang of medical gel, he can smell your sweet scent. He lets that and the warmth of your body give him a small measure of comfort. His sockets fall shut, his endurance finally giving out now that you're back in his arms, even in this small way. Maybe Paps is right. You just need to sleep. You've been through hell and that's something that you can't just get up and walk away from. You'll wake up. 

You have to.

~~~~~

But you don't. 

~~~~~

It's dark here. 

Sometimes you see flashes of something. Colors. Sounds. They fade quickly. You're left alone with the flickering lights. Then they go out too.

It's just you. 

But...who are you? 

You can't piece it together. You have nothing and the silence and the dark eat away at you. It wants to take you away. It wants you to let go but something in you simply refuses to drift apart.

You're not supposed to be here.

Stay determined.

There are words that echo dully. Are they yours? Someone else's? You can't remember but you hold on to them because they help you stay focused. You have to hold on.

But what exactly are you fighting for?

~~~~~

Sans spends his every waking moment at your side, watching for some sign, anything that you're about to wake up. Your eyelids flicker a few times and the slight twitch in your hand nearly sent him into hysterics when nothing more happened. But you continue to sleep and sleep and sleep. He only leaves the room when the nurses come in to wash you and even then he paces out in the hallway, straining for any sound that you might make. 

News of what's happening outside comes to him in the form of Papyrus, Undyne and Toriel. He learns all about the insanity Tod had planned for monster kind, thanks to an arrested scientist who was all too willing to take whatever deal the police offered for information. It seemed that one of the plans set as a last resort measure to start their war was to kill the very person who brought everyone up in the first place. Without their human ambassador, monsters would surely give into their own fear and begin striking back at the humans who hurt their kind. The man who shot you, the same guy who beat up the little human girl from the amusement park, was facing a life sentence with no option for parole. 

His rage surges briefly when Undyne quietly tells him what you went through at their hands. But it soon fizzles down into despair and hopelessness. 

He only leaves the hospital itself twice over the next three days. Once, at Alphys' insistence, he stops by her lab so she can run a few quick tests to see if there are any lasting effects from the injected mixture of Soul juice and determination. But it seems that it was burned out by all the magic he used dunking the jerks in the building and saving you from tumbling out the window. The rise in his HP proves to be temporary as well and it's back to the usual 1/1. Alphys attempts to keep him there at the lab after her tests are done, stuttering about wanting to know exactly what did happen and how it felt to have DT in his system and any theories on why it worked.

She's trying to make sure he doesn't waste away at your bedside. He can see it, and dully appreciates the attempt. But after asking her about the possibility of using DT to help you recover and being told that all of her remaining samples were used to make his mixture he takes a shortcut right back to your side. Because if you're wasting away, shouldn't he do the same? With every second that ticked by, the remaining color in your Soul was beginning to fade away. He didn't notice it at first, the change was so gradual. But it was now something that always held his attention. It didn't matter what the doctors said about your physical wounds healing at an astounding rate, thanks to Toriel's magic. You were fading and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. 

The other time is at the end of the third day. Toriel shows up with Frisk and, after paying a brief visit and speaking with the doctors, she takes his arm and practically drags him from the room, saying something about replacing the flowers on the table. He follows without much resistance, only because it's too much effort to do so. A hazy cloud hangs over him and he's dimly aware of Frisk's hand on his arm, pulling him away from anything he might run into. He's silent as they leave the hospital and walk down the street to the market shop. Once they're inside, Frisk gives him a worried look before moving over to the greeting card section. Normally, it's a place Sans loves to check out; the sheer amount of 'punny' cards was almost always enough to pull him out of any hole he might be in, at least a little. 

He barely glances at them, following Toriel over to the flowers. She peers over the selection. "There are so many choices," she says, pursing her lips. "What do you think Sans?" 

Sans blinks, looking over the options. They're all the same to him. "um. those," he says dully, pointing to an arrangement with purple and orange flowers. At least those would match your Soul. What's left of it anyway. 

"These are beautiful," she murmurs, picking up the flowers. "Oh, by the way. I don't know if you've heard; the monster rights bill passed in our favor." 

"did it?" 

"Yes. It seems everything that was uncovered at the warehouse and Tod's actions was enough to tilt the vote." 

Yeah, that and a man attempting to murder the child ambassador. Sure that had something to do with it. 

"We did it Sans," she says, a odd mixture of pride and sadness in her voice. "It's a huge step for us." 

"...yeah." 

She stares at the flowers for a long moment before turning to Sans. He sees the pity in her eyes before she even speaks. "Listen-"

"i don't need more sympathy tori," he says, voice a little sharp. He's had more than enough of that from the humans and monsters that came to visit you. 

"That wasn't what I wanted to say Sans." Her voice is infuriatingly gentle.

Sans shoves his hands into his pockets, looking away. "are we done? i gotta get back." 

She steps in front of him, stopping him from walking over to the register. "Sans, I want you to listen to me. I understand what you're feeling. This...this agonizing loss. The guilt of not being able to stop it. I know it too." 

He knows. The two royal children. Asriel and Chara. Taken away by poison and humans an age ago. Out of everyone he knows, Toriel is the one who has truly suffered a loss that would never heal. He pulls his hood up over his skull. "tori...she's not gone. she's still here. it's not the same. i know it isn't." 

"And you shouldn't give up hope." She puts a hand on his shoulder. He fights not to move away from the gesture that right now hurts too much to accept. "This isn't me telling you to prepare for the worst. I simply want to help. You're my friend, and you're suffering." She pushes his hood back, forcing him to look at her. "No matter what happens, you have to understand that there are things that are simply out of your control. You blame yourself for this, but you never could have imagined that something like this would actually happen."

She's wrong. He had imagined everything that could've gone wrong. He'd seen it over and over again and still didn't do a thing to stop it.

She continues, seeming to guess what he's thinking. "Holding onto the past is going to eat you away. You can't change what's already happened Sans."

Ha. His gaze flickers to Frisk at that. Changing the past, rewriting the timelines. He'd never been in control of that. That didn't stop it from happening over and over again. And now, the time when he was desperate for a chance to go back, Frisk couldn't do it. Couldn't? 

Or wouldn't? 

"Sans?" 

"i know tori," he mumbles. "can't change the past." 

As if they feel his light-less stare, Frisk looks up, a card in their hands. They bounce over, showing the get well message on the front of the card while Sans' mind begins to whirl with a dangerous thoughts. The kid said they couldn't control the timelines any more. They promised him that they would never reset again. While his knowledge about how it all worked was extremely limited, he does know that it all had something to do with Loads and Save Points in time. To his knowledge, Frisk never created a new save point after they came to the surface. Why would they need to? Everyone was here and free. That's got to be why a Load didn't work when you were first taken. The kid couldn't reset that day because there was no point to go back to. 

But what if that point still existed? It couldn't have just vanished. 

Frisk touches his sleeve and Sans jumps, gasping quietly. 

Are you okay? They sign, watching him with concern. 

Sans stares at them for a long second before patting their head gently. "yeah. sorry kid. just lost in thought." 

He offers to take the flowers back to your room and after a moment's hesitation, Toriel agrees. As she passes him the flowers, she leans down next to his skull. "Please don't hesitate to call if you need me for anything," she murmurs. "We're all here for you and _____. Please don't forget that." 

His bones tremble a little and he has to look away. "i will. thank you tori." 

His Soul is in a knot the entire walk back to the hospital. He skips on the short cut to give him some time to wrestle out his thoughts. God, what's wrong with him? How could he even think the kid was lying to him? They loved you just as fiercely as everyone else did. He's losing it. That's gotta be it. 

As he approaches your room, the sound of broken strumming reaches his ears. He pauses, listening at the door.

"I KNOW I AM NOT AS GOOD AS YOU ARE AT PLAYING, BUT THAT IS ONLY BECAUSE I DID NOT WANT TO MAKE YOU LOOK BAD! AFTER ALL, THERE IS NOTHING I CANNOT HANDLE!" 

Papyrus always did this when he came in. He talked to you like you were awake, like you could hear him. Apparently a nurse had told him that sometimes coma patients could hear what was going on around them. If it was meant to be a sort of comfort, it had certainly worked for Papyrus. He chattered nonstop to you, sometimes asking questions he would answer himself, sometimes trailing off hopefully, like you would pop your eyes open and answer. He even read some of his favorite books to you while Sans sat on the chair, sockets lidded but open as he listened to the story too. 

Sans pushes the door open and Papyrus looks up from the chair pulled up by the bed. He's got your guitar on his lap and his attempts at playing trail off as he spies the flowers in Sans' hands. "AH HELLO BROTHER! I WAS A LITTLE CONCERNED WHEN I ARRIVED AND YOU WERE NOT HERE BUT LADY TORIEL SENT ME A MESSAGE EXPLAINING SHE WAS SUCCESSFUL IN HER ATTEMPT TO GET YOU OUT IN THE FRESH AIR!" 

"she sure was pap," he says, setting the new flowers in the vase. "what'cha got there?" 

Papyrus looks down at the guitar. "OH THIS! FRISK SUGGESTED IT! THEY THOUGHT IF WE PLAYED MUSIC LOUD ENOUGH, IT WOULD WAKE HER UP! AFTER ALL, SHE DOES LOVE MUSIC VERY MUCH. BUT..." he looks down sadly at the instrument. "MY ATTEMPTS THUS FAR HAVE BEEN...EMBARRASSINGLY BAD." His expression brightens and he holds the guitar up. "BUT YOU ARE HERE NOW! YOU MUST PLAY SOMETHING!"

Sans puts his hands up, backing up slightly. "nah, pap i'm sure your playing isn't that bad. why don't you try again?"

Papyrus sets his jaw and continues to hold the guitar out. "I WILL NOT LOWER MY HANDS UNTIL YOU TAKE IT!"

Sans reaches out and grabs the instrument, more out of concern Papyrus would drop it than acceptance. But at his brother's glowing face, he sighs and nudges him out of the chair. He sits, turning towards you. "hey babe," he says gently. He didn't speak out loud nearly as much as Papyrus or even some of the others did to you, but occasionally he can't stop himself. "any requests?" 

"OH, YOU SHOULD PLAY THAT ONE SONG SHE LIKES SO MUCH! THE ONE THAT WENT...THE ONE BY THAT GUITAR GUY! I BELIEVE IT'S CALLED 'EVERYTHING?'" 

He knows the one Papyrus means. His Soul lurches because this is going to hurt, all music hurts now but Papyrus looks so hopeful and he misses playing with you so much. "ok pap. but i'm not gonna sing." 

He hesitates, his phalanges trembling a little over the strings. He takes a long breath and starts to play. The notes are shaky but the music rings in through his Soul and he closes his sockets, the words to the song rising unbidden in his mind. 

Find me here, and speak to me. I want to feel you, I need to hear you.

He would do anything, give up everything to see your eyes open again. 

How can I stand here with you, and not be moved by you?

You shake his whole world to its core.  

Would you tell me, how could it be,  any better than this? 

Why won't you wake up? Is there truly nothing more he can do? There has to be something, some way that he can fix things. This can't be the way it ends for you. 

He won't let it be.

The song trails off into silence, save for the quiet crying coming from Papyrus. Sans sets the guitar down. There is something. Something that his very Soul quakes at even considering. He stands, staring down at your face. He reaches out, touching your skin gently. You're still so soft, so human beneath his touch. Slowly, he leans down and presses a kiss against your forehead, closing his sockets.  

"pap." His voice is a croak. "will you...will you keep an eye socket on her? i'm...going to grillby's for a bit." 

 ~~~~~

Ah! The colors are back! You reach out, brushing your...well, you don't exactly have a body here in this strange place but you imagine that you must have fingers. Whatever it is, you touch the strands of color that float and swirl around you and you can hear the voice within. Most of the time, you can't understand what they're saying. Random words, emotions are all that get through. This color, this bright orange is always full of kindness and cheer, yet holds a deep sadness within it too. This is the color you see the most and it almost gives you the sensation of warmth as it dances around you. 

Then, oh there it is. Blue, soft, gentle and so, so sad. It's here too. It's full of endless sorrow and you feel an empty place within you throbbing every time you hear the soft murmuring within. You know these colors, these voices. They mean everything to you. 

Why can't you be there? These voices, these colors. They're just echos. You want to go where they come from. 

But where is that? 

Why can't you remember?

The colors vanish suddenly and you voicelessly cry out, begging them to come back. Then, there's a new sound. Something strange, something darker than the darkness around you and yet somehow darker still. You twist uselessly, fear crying at you to move, but where can you go? 

aH. tHeRE yOU ARE. oh DeaR, yOU arE a MEss aRen'T You?

 A voice that is not speaking yet somehow is talking. It grates and burns inside your head. What is this?! 

LEt'S pUll yOu baCK tOgeTheR. 

The darkness closes in on you and you're being crushed beneath the weight and you want to scream and cry but there's so much and-

The world around you pops and suddenly where there was only darkness there is now endless white. It stretches before you and behind you and in every direction. For the first time in what feels like eternity, you are whole again and the memories come crashing back. You gasp but you're not breathing. Oh, oh God, you died! You were shot and you died!

No. yOu HaVE NoT pAssED FrOm tHiS wOrld jusT yEt.

You whirl and there's something...no, there is someone standing there. A tall black stain against the stark white and it burns your eyes to look. The features of the being are fuzzy and almost glitchy, like the image on a t.v with a bad connection. Their face is white and cracked. It stares for a long moment then it grins almost sadly at you. 

Who are you? Your voice makes no sound and yet somehow, you know that this thing can hear you. Where am I?

The being quakes briefly before speaking in that strange, painful way inside your head. tHeRe iS mUCH tO ExPLAin aNd nOt eNouGh TIMe. wE mUst be qUiCK.

Tell me who you are!

i tHiNK yoU KnoW tHaT alREady. The grin widens. bEsT tO BE pROPer i SUppoSe. i Am WiNG dinGs GASTER. AnD mY sOn iS abOuT tO Do sOmeThiNG vEry rAsh.

Chapter Text

The loud chatter of the bar falls to a complete silence when Sans walks through the door. God, he hates the pity and the stares. But monsters are monsters and it only lasts for a second. The noise starts back up, perhaps a little subdued. Hands in his pockets, Sans walks over to the bar and hops up on a stool at the end. Grillby holds up a finger and finishes pouring a drink before approaching Sans. He's quiet, as usual, but his flames look a little dim. 

"hey grillbz," Sans mumbles. "how about some of the strong stuff?" 

Grillby nods and soon returns with a bottle of his flame whiskey, a concoction he makes with magic, alcohol and who knows what else. Sans isn't a drinker, never has been but he's had this stuff a few times before and it's very good at burning out feelings of any kind. 

"leave the bottle." Grillby hesitates, and Sans catches the quiet hiss of concern. "please." 

Finally, Grillby nods and leaves to attend to other customers. Sans pours himself a glass and downs it in one go. The resulting wave of heat that rushes through his bones makes him shudder. Then he pours another and downs that one too before putting his head on the table and closing his sockets. He lets the sound of the bar sweep over him. It's a comforting, familiar sound. He spent a lot of time at Grillby's back when it was underground. Fell asleep there too, more often than not and Papyrus would have to come get him and carry him home. His magic is buzzing almost pleasantly, thanks to the whiskey running through it. It's almost enough to make him fall asleep. 

But he doesn't because there are dangerous, terrible thoughts whirling around in his head and he needs to speak to Grillby before he does something stupid. 

No one tries to talk to him as he sits there, though a few times he does hear someone approaching only to be chased away by Grillby's warning crackle. Good old Grillby. Sans himself barely moves, except to sip at more the flame whiskey. After a while, he pulls out his phone and stares at it, working up the courage to send a message.

s: kid i need you to be 100% honest with me. if you still could, would you reset if it meant saving a life? even if it meant erasing everything?

It takes a long time for the reply to come in and Sans stares at his phone during the entire wait.

F: I'm sorry. I couldn't do that to everyone again. I can't do that to you. We're finally here Sans. Erasing everything might get us caught back there again. We might not get out. I'm so so sorry.

Anger surges through him, probably thanks to the whiskey. Can't do that to him? They've already done it over and over and over again! What's one more reset?! He snarls in silent frustration and throws the phone back to the counter. It skids along the surface and falls off behind the bar with a loud clatter. What did the kid mean by saying 'can't'? Morally or physically can't? Either way, there's no reset coming from the kid. 

Not a voluntary one anyway. 

Sans quickly finishes the current cup of whiskey, horrified at himself for even thinking that. A sudden, quiet thud in front of him makes him jump and look up. A plate with a burger and steaming fries sits in front of him, as well as his phone. Grillby takes away the half empty bottle of whiskey, replacing it with water. 

"Eat," he says in his quiet, crackling voice that only monsters can understand. "This time it's on the house." 

He makes no move to leave so Sans picks up the burger and bites into it. He doesn't even taste it. "thanks grillby."

Grillby nods and goes back to work, occasionally looking over to make sure Sans is still eating. He eats it, piece by piece only because a dull part of him realizes it's been way too long since the last time he ate anything. By the time he's nibbling on the last fry, the bar is down it it's last few patrons for the night. They head out, chattering loudly to themselves and then it's just Sans and Grillby. Grillby finishes wiping down the counters and then takes a seat next to Sans. They sit in silence for a few minutes before Sans finally talks. 

"do you like it up here grillby?" 

Grillby folds his hands, leaning against the bar top. "It has its hardships. But I do. Things are better up here. Our people have more hope." 

Sans reaches for his glass before remembering it's just water. He pulls his hand back, rubbing his skull. "more hope of what? hate? violence? people who don't even try to understand us and hurt the ones who do?" 

"I have hope for my daughter," he crackles quietly. "Hope that she can go after any dream she wants. That her friends can do the same." 

Sans puts his head down on the table, bones shuddering with emotion. He feels the heat of Grillby's hand on his shoulder. 

"I am sorry this happened to you and _____. She has one of the brightest Souls I've seen in a human. My friend, you must have hope that she'll make it." 

Sans shakes his head. "it's not that easy grillby. i don't have a lotta hope to give. and sometimes hope doesn't do a single damn thing." Grillby doesn't say anything to that because what can he say? It's the cold, harsh truth. Sans takes a deep breath. "if...if you're faced with two choices, two terrible, unacceptable choices what are you supposed to do? how do you choose when both choices are hell?" 

"What do you mean?" 

Sans lets out a dry chuckle. "just speculation." 

The flames on Grillby's head spark and pop loudly. "Sometimes, you have to listen to what your Soul tells you. Even if it's not the wisest choice, or the one you want it to be. But don't choose rashly. I've seen the result of a choice made in sorrow and rage." His voice echos of past memories. Grillby is old, much older than Sans. He was there when the barrier was built and monster kind was forced into their prison, though he was just a young flame at the time. "If you must make a choice like that, make the one you can survive."

The words echo in his skull. A choice he can survive?

Even though Grillby doesn't have visible eyes, Sans can feel his concerned gaze piercing through him. "My friend, do not let grief cloud your judgement."  

Cloud? No, his grief has made the answer clear. It was just something he didn't want to see. He stands up, an odd weight in his ribcage. "thank you grillby. i'm sorry for...for the tab. i'm gonna pay it off next time." 

Then he steps through space before Grillby can say another word.

~~~~~

You stare at the shifting, glitching pile of darkness standing (sitting? He doesn't appear to have legs) before you. This is Gaster? Sans and Papyrus' sort of father? How is this possible? Sans said his dad was beyond reach, stuck in a place between places. "I don't...how are you here?" 

tHe beTTEr quESTiOn iS wHy YOU aRe heRE. His words echo in your mind, scraping at the edges of your skull. It's not english, but somehow, you can understand what he's saying, despite the harsh, broken speech. hUmaN SoUls arE nOt mEAnT fOR ThIS pLAne. The corner of his mouth quirks. n-n-nOt rEAllY meAnT fOR mONSTers eIthER. 

"Then why I am here? What happened to me?" You look down at your hands, which look solid and real and yet glow with a subtle light. 

yOU aRe hERe b-b-bEcAUSe i BrOughT yOu HErE. 

He's suddenly closer, looming over you. You try to scramble back, but you can't even feel the ground beneath you. There's nowhere to go. "Stay away from me!" 

Do you understand how long it took me to find the correct timeline? His voice is suddenly clearer, deeper and far more hostile. The edges of his body grow more solid and terror shoots through your Soul. Do you understand what eternity in this place is like? All of my efforts, all of my energy and focus is nearly gone to waste because of you and Sans. He hisses out Sans' name like it burns him.

Eternity is what it feels like as the endless darkness of his sockets stare at you, his body so huge and versatile it almost completely surrounds you and all you can do is curl in to yourself, unable to break his gaze as you fight to hold back from screaming. He suddenly laughs; the noise a loud, broken screech and you clutch at your head at the sound. His goopy body appears to shrink and he moves away, gliding over the nothing around you. 

But the results of his affection for you are truly fascinating. Your own self sacrificing love for monster kind and the child were unexpected as well. When you and Sans fought against the humans my assistants were working with and created the fascinating link between his magic and your Determination, you threw the set path into a whirlwind. You were not supposed to die that night.  It was a variable I overlooked. My own failure. But perhaps a better solution to my p-p-problem will be found thanks to this turn of events.

You lower your hands from your ears. "What are you talking about?" 

Gaster is quiet for a moment, the substance of his body twitching and flickering. It is something that should not be discussed here in this place. Enough time has been lost while locating you. Suffice it to say that you need my help just as much as I need yours if you wish to return to your timeline.

Your heart leaps at that and a deep, painful longing sweeps over you. "Please, please if you can take me back-"

I cannot. Not on my own. You think iF I HAD THE ABILITY- His voice grows sharply before he suddenly stops. Do you understand the concept of different timelines? 

You nod shakily. "Yes, Sans told me about them. Like branches on a tree right?" 

Gaster scoffs. A tree with infinite, shifting, changing branches perhaps. But yes, that is the most basic explanation. This place is like the wind between those branches. It brushes up against each and every branch, every sprout and stick. I simply ride the wind and if I move in precisely the correct way, I can reach out and touch the timeline. But without a link to that world, it is...d-d-difficult to hold on for long. 

A stark white bony hand emerges from his body, waving through the air. Suddenly the whiteness of this plane is struck through with endless lights, all of the streaming and floating about in this infinite space. They weave and dance around each other, not quite touching. If you focus on one, images flash through your head with painful brightness and intensity. A golden hallway, a town filled with snow, the same town destroyed and filled with flames. Frisk, bloody and dusty, struck through with bones. Toriel, a crown on her head standing in a throne room with golden flowers and sunlight. Papyrus, dressed in the garb of a solider, a terribly grim look on his face. A tunnel of webs, machines, waterfalls, and monsters, all of the sights moving at a speed that makes you dizzy. 

Then you see Sans. Sans sitting on a bench weeping, Sans laughing at a pub familiarly like Grillby's, Sans screaming over a pile of dust in the snow. Sans with Papyrus, Sans with Toriel, Sans and Frisk and then you see a Sans that you don't know. A Sans that blinks by with a flash of red and gold. A Sans smiling widely, the lights of his sockets shaped like stars. Those versions of him are so different so alien that you can sense that it isn't just the branches of time you're seeing. You're seeing something else, like the shadows cast by the original branches. You see everything. Sans, Papyrus, everyone of so many different variations and worlds and all of it is crashing down you and it burns, it's too much-!

NOT YET.

Gaster's voice cuts through the madness, rumbling in your very being and suddenly you're back in the white void, huddled in the fetal position. You gasp harshly, fighting to breathe in this place that doesn't have air. "W-w-what w-was..." 

The sights I have been forced to watch for an eternity. Gaster's voice holds just a hint of sadness. You saw just the barest scratch of the tree, of the endless timelines and possibilities. 

You want to sob but you can't stop shaking. Focus, stay focused! You try your best to push the overwhelming images of the different worlds from your mind. "H-how do we find my world?" 

It's not a matter of finding it. I spent more than enough time doing that, he says in an almost dry tone. Our problem lies in getting there. Gaster is beside you again and you flinch. A bony finger points to your chest and you see the glimmer of your Soul, like it's responding to him. You hold a bond to...the trunk of the tree, shall we say. The original timeline. The start of everything. That is where your Sans resides. That is where this version of you resides. 

This version? Your head hurts too much to completely understand. 

I have a grip on that timeline and can see into it. Unfortunately, he continues, I have no way currently of placing myself within that timeline. Worse, since your body is technically still alive in your timeline we are bound by the rules of time. And as we speak Sans is about to make a deadly mistake. Your timeline is the current true path yes, but if you had died, it would have become a branch. It would no longer be the true set of events and I would have to spend another century finding the 'trunk' again. We send you back, we get back on track. But Sans believes he has lost you and is about to force a Reset out of desperation to save your life. 

A reset?! Horror grips you. Sans can't force a reset, not for you! He would...you all would lose everything! "No, he can't do that!" 

I see we share similar views on that. This will also cause your timeline to break away into a branch and there is a very good chance that you as you are will never see him again. I cannot have that happen.

"What do I do? You said I have a bond, how do I use it?" Your voice is shrill with desperation. 

A second hand appears from within Gaster's goop. He makes a pulling motion above his general chest area, his sockets glowing dimly with two pupils of light. Something else bleeds from his chest, something torn and broken. He holds it in his palm and it hovers in the air. In that moment you realize that his palm has a huge circle in it, like someone took a cookie cutter to his hand. Then your gaze is brought back to what he's holding. It's almost like a thin shard of something white. One side is jagged, like ripped paper. The entire thing glows with a black aura.

You must absorb this portion of my Soul and focus on the bond you have with my son. He holds out the shard to you. I will then use your Determination direct your essence back into your body before Sans forces the Reset. 

Absorb part of his Soul? You stare at the offered shard, gleaming and broken. Being connected to Sans and having his magic leak into you is one thing but... "What will happen to me if I do this?" 

Gaster shrugs a goopy shoulder. It probably won't be pleasant for you. But no immediate, drastic changes will happen. In fact, I believe that you won't even remember having this conversation when you wake. So it doesn't matter. But you don't really have a choice. This is the only way. You must not hesitate.

But hesitate is exactly what you do. "Why are you doing this for me?" you ask slowly. "Sans told me about what happened. With the core and the explosion. Aren't you angry?"

Gaster's sockets flash and his black mass of a body swells up. That was- His gaze suddenly shifts and he's staring at something you can't see. No! We're out of time! 

~~~~~

One more kiss, one more time holding you in his arms. He doesn't want to let you go. "i'm so sorry," he whispers in your ear. You probably can't hear him, but he can't stop himself from speaking. "i love you so much."

If he looks past the mask and the wires and tubes, he can almost fool himself into pretending that you're just sleeping. He can almost imagine that you're just in the bed you share, a moment away from waking up and chasing this nightmare away. He presses his teeth to your forehead in a final kiss. He can feel his Soul shattering, leaving behind a vital part of him. "baby, i promise that i will find you again. i don't care how long it takes. i don't care if i lose the memories. i will never stop loving you."

Then he takes another step and he's surrounded by the dim light of the street lamps pouring into the dark bedroom. Frisk is fast asleep, their arms wrapped tightly around their pillow. For a long moment, Sans stands there, watching the kid sleep like a peeping tom. This is wrong, this is sick! 

But...what choice does he have? Grillby was right; he has to make a choice he can survive. And he can't survive without you. He can't survive knowing there is no other way to undo the hurts he's caused you. 

Still, his bones tremble. Going back there, back to the house in the snow and the cold and the fake stars...how can do it?! How can he willingly send everyone back there? Paps. Alphys. Undyne. Toriel. The kid. The poor kid fought so hard against the demon who made them hurt everyone. By doing this, he's spitting in Frisk's face. By doing this, he'll condemn them all. He puts a hand up over his mouth, so the whimper of fear doesn't escape. He has to be strong. He has to do this, for you. Everyone will forget. Everyone except Frisk. Frisk will probably hate him for this. Killing them in the judgement hall, that they had forgiven. But this? No, he can't be forgiven for this. 

His hands are trembling as he summons a bone to his palm. He'll make it quick. Painless. 

And send himself back into hell. 

But....

What if he's wrong?

~~~~~

You must do this now or it will be too late! Gaster's hand moves closer to you, attached to his body with only the thinnest string of black. There's no more time to waste. If this is the wrong move, you're going to have to accept the consequences. You reach out and take the shard. It instantly shatters in your grip and your gasping scream matches Gaster's strangled roar as you feel the Soul shard sink into your Soul. The piece of his Soul burns coldly as it fills in every crack and crevice in your Soul and the overwhelming power and knowledge from the creature threatens to drown you. 

Don't lose focus. His voice is somehow closer now, like it's your own thoughts speaking to you. Find him. Follow your bond.

You do as he says, reaching into your own heart, feeling that rush of blue magic responding to your call. The whiteness around you once again explodes with the lights of the timelines, surging, flying, massive and alluring in their call. You call on your memories, picturing the man you love. His laugh, his smile, the way he trembled in your hold after waking from a nightmare. The odd way you could feel the heat of lips against yours when he kissed you. You never did ask how he did that. 

There are so many Sans here. All of them so different, and yet at their core, they are still Sans. Each one of them calls to you, pulling you apart at your very seams.

Find yours. Gaster's voice hisses in your head. I cannot lead you. Find him, or lose him.

You look past the other versions of the monster you love, following the tugging in your Soul. The light of his world, of your world, is glistening and calling to you. You can feel it in your heart and you reach out, brushing your fingers against the shimmering image as it floats by you. Instantly, you fall, down, faster and faster and the whole time you cry out for him with your heart, letting your longing and love fill up your entire being. Something propels you through time and space, something dark and insanely powerful that terrifies you even as you rely on its help.

The world steadies slightly. You see him. He's standing there, tears pouring down his face as he stands above a sleeping Frisk, a bone poised to strike in his trembling hand. You reach out in pure desperation, a scream that makes no sound tearing from your throat. The very air seems to rip, allowing your hand to grab his shoulder. He gasps at the same time you do as you feel your Soul swell and pulse, the connection of your Souls hitting you like lightning in your chest. 

Yes! Gaster's triumphant crow echoes through your head and you're ripped away, spiraling through flashing lights and whirling images and for a split second you see yourself below, pale and hooked up to machines and you're falling again and you slam into your own body and then-

A fading laugh surrounds you as you once again are claimed by darkness.

~~~~~

Your chest is heavy. Every heartbeat pounds and throbs in your chest. You shift slightly; your eyes feel like they're glued shut. What on earth happened? A whisper of a memory, something dark and ageless and wrong, flies through you head before disappearing. You've forgotten something. That's the only thing you're sure of. 

Well, that and your entire body hurts like hell. That you do remember. McNaven shot you! What a grade a jerk! You struggle to open your eyes, squinting at the harsh lights overhead. You can hear the hum and steady beep of a machine next to your head. For some reason, this sends a overwhelming sense of relief through you. Relief to be alive? That must be it. You struggle to lift your head and-

Sans is right there, seated in a chair that's been moved as close to the bed as possible. His skull is resting against your leg. He's asleep, brow bone creased deeply in an expression of pain. The area under his sockets is nearly purple, the shadows are so dark. Your throat closes up. Oh Sans! He must have been so worried about you. You slowly reach up with your hand that isn't hooked up with wires and run your fingers lightly over his skull. 

"K-knock, knock," you croak. Your throat burns. How long has it been since your last drink of water? 

His head shoots up so fast you're almost surprised it doesn't fly off his neck. His sockets are wide and pitch black. He stares at you, utterly speechless as his pupils very, very slowly light back up and start to grow. 

You give him a tired smile. "I think you're supposed to say 'who's there' bone boy." 

The tears building in his sockets finally spill over. Holding your hand in a desperate grip, Sans buries his head on the bed and utterly breaks down. Every time you've seen him cry before, he's fought to stay quiet, subdued, like the tears are only barely escaping his iron grip. Now? He wails like a child, shoulders heaving with the force of his cries. Tears run unchecked down his cheeks, soaking the blanket.  

"i...i....uuuaaah!" He can't even form words. 

Your heart clenches painfully at the sight of Sans in such a raw state. "Sans, I'm okay, it's okay." 

He lifts his head, still sobbing as he presses his teeth against your hand. "y-you're h-here!" 

You rub his cheek. "Yeah, baby I'm here. I'm right here." You attempt to pull him up and he obliges, crawling into the bed with you. He's so gentle, so careful to make sure he doesn't bump against of the tubes but he still somehow manages to wrap around you even as he continues to sob. For several long minutes, there's no words. Your own eyes water as you try your best to comfort him. This pain and the overwhelming relief is almost too much to bear.

"i was...i almost...oh god!" He closes his sockets, breath hitching. "i'm sorry, i'm sorry, i'm so sorry!"

"Sans, please, it's not-" You cough harshly and his crying finally slows a little. 

Sans sits up, wiping at his face. He flicks his hand and a glass of water floats into his reach. You pull the breathing mask off your face; you don't need it now but you do need that water, badly. He helps you sip at it. The cool liquid feels like heaven on your throat and he has to remind you to slow down. You finish one glass, than another before the itch in your throat is finally appeased. Sans sets the glass down, not taking his eyes off you. It's almost like he's scared you're going to suddenly vanish.

"Come here," you murmur, holding your good arm out. "I need to hug you and I can't move right now."

His face twists with agony at those words, but he does as you ask, curling back into your side. You rub his head as he buries his face in your shoulder. "None of this was your fault Sans. No one could have stopped it. I just...I had to save Frisk. My body moved on it's own." 

He shakes his head as a fresh sob breaks from him. "no...i...i almost made the biggest mistake of my life." 

"What are you talking about?" 

His hand clenches the fabric of your hospital gown. "i..." He gulps harshly, his bones clacking. "i thought there was no choice. i...tried to reset." 

Your breath catches in horror. "You what?" 

He flinches, pulling away from you. Your Soul cries out for him to come back, but it's clear he has something he has to say. He stands, wringing his hands together. "i didn't know what to do. every time paps died, or everyone was gone but me, i never really had to worry, you know? a reset always happened, those deaths were gone, just like that. but with you? if i didn't...if i didn't do something i thought i was gonna lose you." He stares down at the ground in shame. "i was wrong. i was so wrong but...i went to the kid's house. i stood over their bed and...i..."

His voice catches and something, almost like deja vu flickers through you even as your heart hammers with the horror of what he's saying.

"i thought i felt you there," he whispers brokenly. "i...felt your hand stopping me. i looked and you weren't there and i was so ashamed and it was like that stupid fog in my skull broke and i...couldn't do it!" His knees give out and he slumps to the floor, burying his face in his hands. "i couldn't do it again! i couldn't go back, i couldn't do it to paps and al and tori and the kid and everyone else. even if it meant you never woke up, i couldn't d-d-do it!"

He's crying again and your body screams at you to get up, go to him, comfort him! But you can't move and you can't speak now, conflicting emotions clogging your voice. Finally, you call his name. "Sans." 

He hunches over, holding his shoulders. 

"Please come here." 

Shaking, great drops of blue rolling down his face, Sans stands up. You reach your hand out for his. He hesitates, clearly waiting for you to scream at him, or break up with him or curse him.

You don't do any of that. "Sans, I need you to promise me something right here." Your voice is thick with emotion. "No matter what happens to me now, or tomorrow or years in the future, don't you ever, ever try to force a Reset. You've been through too much, you've grown and changed too much to go through all of that again. You can't do that to yourself, or to Papyrus or anyone else. You can't do that to me. I don't blame you for choosing the lives of your family. But throwing everything away is the one thing I will never forgive you for." 

A great shudder rolls through him as his jaw wobbles.

"Promise me you won't do that again. Ever." You continue to hold your hand out, despite the numb feeling creeping up your limb from holding it out.  

He nods, a strained noise escaping him. 

"Say it Sans. Please." 

He finally takes your hand, dropping down his knees again. "i p-promise. i...i'm so sorry!" 

You let him cry and do a little crying yourself. But now these tears are cleansing, washing away the pain of your separation, the agony of your torture and the terrifying threat of the bullet wound in your gut. You both cry until you have nothing left and then you just hold each other, letting the beat of your heart and the thrum of his magic act as a reassuring comfort for each other. 

You're alive. 

He's alive.

You're both right where you want to be. And for now, that's enough.  

Chapter Text

The moment word gets out that you're awake, your rather small hospital room is almost instantly flooded with monsters, most of them weeping and/or dripping snot to various degrees. Papyrus, Undyne and Alphys, Toriel and Frisk. Papyrus, bless his sweet caring Soul, cries almost as much as Sans did, though his tears are from pure relief. 

"I KNEW IT! I KNEW YOU WOULD BE OKAY!" Undyne is holding him back from actually leaping on you. Is...is that a tear-like shine you see in her eye?

"Papyrus, calm down!" she shouts, her voice loud enough to make your ears ring. She grins at you. "Geez, way to make us worry nerd! You owe us big time!"

"Does that mean I have to go running tonight?" you tease, holding back a giggle. 

"Nah, I think you deserved a night off. But as soon as you're up and about, you're gonna come to my self defense class! No excuses!" 

You nod. Her voice holds affection, despite her ordering tone. "You got it."

Frisk scoots around the monsters and clambers up into the bed. Sans is seated in the chair next to the bed, still holding your hand and you feel him flinch slightly as he looks away from the kid. You squeeze his hand as you smile at Frisk. "Hey buddy. How are you doing?" 

They seem torn between trying to scold you and smiling with joy. You...don't do that again! They finally sign, pouting. 

"Can't promise that," you say, patting their head with your free hand. "I care too much about you Frisk. I'd do it again." After a moment you add, "You're talking about the taking a bullet for you thing right?" 

Their mouth twitches with a muffled snicker. They dig into a bag at their side and pull out a large folded piece of paper and open it up. It's covered in drawings and messages in different childlike handwriting. Right in the middle is a drawing of you done by Frisk. The crayon you is surrounded by various monsters and humans, all of them smiling and saying things like 'get better!', 'we believe in you!' and other things. 

"The children at school put this together for you," Toriel says, beaming with pride. 

"Wow!" You take the drawing, emotion making your eyes water. "Thank you Frisk." 

They smile bashfully and glance at Sans, perhaps seeking his approval too. Sans jumps and keeping his gaze downcast, mumbles, "looks good kiddo." 

The smile fades from Frisk's face, replaced by a brief flash of hurt confusion. 

"Um...hey, why don't you hang this up on the wall right there?" you say quickly, pointing to the wall opposite you. "It's kinda dull and white, don't you think?" 

Thus distracted, Frisk hops down and begins the search for tape while you shoot Sans a quick look. His brow bones are furrowed slightly. The remaining breath of his magic lingering in your Soul twinges with his guilt. You don't have the chance to say anything before Alphys approaches meekly. 

"I-I'm so happy that y-you're okay," she says, wringing her hands together. "I don't know how m-much Sans told you about what we d-did to-" 

"we haven't had time to talk about it much," he cuts in quietly, glancing over at Toriel, who has joined in the hunt for tape. "she just woke up al, can't it wait?" 

"Of c-course!" she stutters. "I was j-just concerned about any l-lingering effects and t-these things tend to get worse if they're ignored." 

You put your hand not currently being crushed in Sans' tightening grip against your chest where your Soul lingers. "Do you mean...that thing with Sans' magic in my Soul?" 

Her eyes look like they're about to bug out of her head. "His magic?" 

"Yeah, that's how I was able to get out of the room they kept me in. It was weak and pathetic compared to what he can do, but I managed to unlock a door with...um...." You wiggle your fingers in an attempt to explain the strange sparks of magic you had seen.

Sans' sockets narrow slightly, staring at your Soul. "i could feel you doing something back then but..huh. that's uh, rather unexpected." 

"To say the least!" Alphys' voice is on the higher end of a squeak. "Sans, did you have any idea this might happen?" 

His mouth thins and he shakes his head. "i wasn't exactly focused on the lingering effects of what we did." 

"This could mean huge things in our human, monster research!" Her eyes brighten. "Once you're better, you can come by the lab and I'll run a quick analysis-" 

At those words, quick flashes of the lab in the warehouse and the machine that ripped you apart fly through you mind and you feel your heart seize up with panic. No, not another lab!

Sans immediately notices your trembling and puts a hand on your face. He rubs his thumb over your cheek and you lean into his touch, your breathing shallow. "shh, it's ok. no labs, i promise." 

Alphys looks between the two of you in confusion for a second before it clicks. Her hands fly up over her mouth in horror. "Oh, God! I'm s-so s-sorry, I'm such an i-idiot, I d-didn't even think!" 

You close your eyes, swallowing back the fear. "It's okay Alphys," you whisper. "I just...I can't do it again right now."  

"Y-yes of c-course," she says miserably. "We can...do it where ever you like or...not all."

You really would rather not ever do it. But you know she's right and for goodness sake it's Alphys, not Na...not them. You trust her. But it's too soon. "I'll...let you know when I'm up for it." 

"Okay," she sniffs miserably, slinking back over to Undyne, who's been watching the conversation silently and with a slight frown. 

It seems the heart monitor, triggered by your spiking pulse, sent out a notice to the nurse because it's only a minute later and she strides in. Concern quickly replaced by shock then frowning disapproval as she takes in the room full of monsters. Judging by that reaction, they didn't exactly check in with the front desk before crowding into your room. 

"Okay, I need this room cleared out now, the patient needs peace and quiet!" She shoos them out, not intimidated or nervous at all, even when Undyne bares her fanged teeth slightly. "You, you and yes, even you," she says to Frisk. "Everyone...." She looks to Sans and it might be the sharp beeps that rise from the machine thanks to your suddenly clenching heart or Sans' sockets going dark for a split second that makes her sigh. "Fine. You can stay," she grumbles to Sans. "But she needs sleep! No keeping her up with any antics!"

"do i look like the kind of guy to cause a scene?" His very voice carries a wide smirk in its tone and you smack him lightly even as you grin. There's your boy. 

With promises of visiting again soon, the rest of your monster family leaves the room and the nurse, a stern yet good-natured middle lady named Karen starts fussing with the various flowers and cards in the room from your various admirers. Seems being tortured by maniacs then taking a bullet for a kid put you on a lot of people's good side. "It smells like a flower shop in here," you comment.

"Is the smell bothering you?" Karen asks, pausing in refilling a vase. 

"Not at all. Um...so how long am I going to be in here?" 

She snorts a little with incredulity. "Are you in that much of a rush?" 

"Well..." To be honest, the hospital scene is making you uneasy. You're trying your very best not to think of needles and vials and blood bags but with the sudden absence of warmth that your friends brought with them, it's getting hard to keep such thoughts away.  "I've been asleep for a long time." It's a poor excuse, but you don't feel like bringing up the real reason.

"And you've been awake for two hours." Her scolding tone softens. "Just relax. You're very lucky to be alive. And despite the care the queen has given you that has helped your healing progress at a frankly terrifying rate, you still need to recover. You won't be here for much longer. But the doctor wants you to stay at least another twenty-hours to make sure that there's no relapse into a coma." 

"that can happen?" Sans' voice is sharp with suppressed fear. 

Karen tries to give him a reassuring smile, which doesn't quite reach her eyes. "The chances are slim, but they are still there. It is better to be safe." 

She continues to tidy up your room and manages to shoo Sans away just long enough to help you shower and clean up a little. You can move but only just. Your limbs are locked and weak and you have to lean heavily on her to walk at all. Her professionalism helps a little with the embarrassment of her helping you bathe. But then again, she's been taking care of you all this time without you even realizing. Besides, privacy meant nothing down in that lab. This is quite a step up. 

After you've cleaned up and Karen's helped you back into bed, Sans pops back in. His skull is covered in a fine layer of sweat that you're pretty sure only you notice. Oh boy. Karen leaves, dimming the lights and he's back at your side, his hand slipping into yours. He takes in your damp appearance and you flush a little. Even with Toriel helping you to heal up, your reflection in the mirror had scared you a little. Gaunt, worn and battered. You'd barely recognized yourself. This isn't the worst you've looked in front of him but...for heaven's sake you're wearing a hospital gown! 

"So, do you prefer my drowned kitten in a hospital robe look or drowned kitten caught in the rain while running look?" you try to joke and pray that he doesn't notice your blush. 

His grin is a little too wide to be believable. "caught in the rain look all the way." He falls silent, lights in his sockets dim. "are you ready to sleep?" 

You are tired but... "Not yet. Can we just talk or something?" 

He's pleased but tries to hide it. "uh, sure. what about?" 

You laugh lightly. "You're asking the patient?" 

"oh. um, right uh..." He's flustered. You laugh again and decide to take pity on him. 

"Just tell me what I missed the last few days. Did the bill pass?" 

Set slightly at ease by having a conversation topic, Sans gives you all the information he's got, which honestly is not a lot. As you suspected, he's spent the entire time you were out right by your side. He does perk up a bit as you talk about the opportunities this will open up for monsters. 

"paps will be able to get that car he's always wanted," Sans says happily, rubbing his thumb over your hand. 

"Papyrus knows how to drive?"

"in theory; he's read the manual at least twenty-three times. only monsters with special job exceptions, like alphys and tori, were able to drive and get licenses. gotta get pap that driver's license first, but he's always been a fast learner." 

"Well, I offer the services of my...my car!" Whatever happened to it? Was it ever picked up from the shop? 

"asgore's got it for now," Sans reassures you. "he sent someone to go get it."

The King of monsters has your car? Well, stranger things have happened. "Papyrus has got to be happy about that!" 

Sans shrugs. "it's barely been on anyone's minds with everything that's happened. didn't feel important, you know?" 

You tug on his hood, making him lean forward enough to reach his skull. You give him a quick kiss, pleased at the blush that skits across his face. "We have a lot to celebrate now. But...." 

"but what?" 

You take a breath. "Sans, I saw how you were acting around Frisk." 

His gaze flickers away from you at that. 

"I know you must feel horrible about what almost happened," you say gently, rubbing his head. "But Frisk deserves to know. They deserve an apology. And you know it." 

His shoulders hunch. "it was sick of me to even think it." 

"It was wrong, yes, but you were scared and desperate. If it had been the other way around and I was about to lose you...I don't know what I would have done." Would you have done it? Erased everything to save his life? It's a thought that hurts too much to even entertain, so you push it away. "You have to set things straight with them." 

After a few moments of silence, he meets your gaze. He's scared. "what if the kid hates me? i...god, that kid's the only know who gets it. not that you don't," he says quickly, but you're already nodding. 

"I don't fully understand what that must have been like, reliving the same time over and over again. I never will." That's the sad truth.

He sags and nods. "i love that kid babe. i don't....i just...." He's losing his words now and he buries his head in the blanket. You continue to rub his skull. 

"That's why you can't keep quiet. You don't have to do it right now, or even tomorrow. But you have to tell them. They'll understand."

He nods into the blanket, keeping his head down. The two of you fall into silence and all too soon, your eyelids start to feel heavy. About the third time your head bobs, you tap Sans. He lifts his skull, the shadows under his sockets still very dark. He nods, not needing words and climbs up into the bed with you. He leaves the remaining lights on with no prompting. For that, you're glad. Having Sans with you helps to keep the memories at bay, but the darkness of night would only make them stronger. A great sigh escapes you as his phalanges start tenderly massaging your scalp.

"you'll wake up again, right?" His voice trembles slightly.

You kiss his cheek. "I promise. Hey, this is kinda like that first night, isn't it?" That night Sans confessed to you, that wonderful, blissful time spent on the beanbag afterwards watching a movie and simply basking in the impossible knowledge that you were with the monster who had stolen your heart.

"hmm?"

"We didn't want to sleep 'cause we thought it was a dream." 

He hums quietly, threading his digits through your hair. "so, we'll sleep and when we wake up together, that will prove that right now isn't a dream." 

"Exactly." 

"heh, sounds like a good plan to me," he whispers. He presses a long, lingering kiss against your head that makes your insides squirm pleasantly and causes the heart monitor to beep warningly. He gives the machine an amused glance. "getting excited are we?" 

"Around you? Always," you smirk, surprising him into blushing again. 

You honestly don't expect to be able to sleep and the fear of impending nightmares does keep you tense until Sans manages to sooth it out of you by continuing to rub at your head. Just before your eyes slide shut, you almost see something. Something dark lingering in the corner of the room. You blink and it's just a shadow once again. Your stomach twists a little and once again the sense that you've forgotten something very important flits through your head. No, it's just shadows of the terror you've faced. That's all. And paying attention to it will only make it worse.

It might be the exhaustion, it might be the medicine. It's certainly thanks to Sans' presence next to you, but you manage to slip into a deep, thankfully dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

You're woken by your stomach growling at a mortifying level. Sharp pain laces through you and you grimace as you blink sleepily. When was the last time you actually ate food that wasn't being pumped into your system through a tube? You honestly can't remember. Sans, already awake, is staring at your stomach with unveiled curiosity. He's always been fascinated by the noises your human body makes. Another rumble echos from your tummy and you swear you can actually see the blanket move from the force. 

"I need food," you announce to him.

"yes dear," he says, obviously holding back laughter as he reaches over and presses the nurse call button. A different nurse comes in and, after deeming you fit to eat solid foods, soon brings you a plate of eggs, applesauce and juice. It's not the most glamorous breakfast but your mouth waters and you can barely hold yourself back. Sans snorts loudly. 

"i take it that the food is eggcellent?" 

You wave your fork at him threateningly. "Nomp fhen 'm eating," you say around a mouth full of food. 

He shrugs. "i may speak a lot of languages but I pear-ly understand you." 

You swallow. "This is applesauce, not pear sauce." 

"i couldn't think of a good apple joke on the fly." 

You grin. "So you're saying this applesauce isn't the apple of your eye?"

The two of you are still laughing at that when a sudden knock comes from the door. A moment later, King Asgore himself steps through, barely fitting through the doorway. You nearly choke on your juice. "Oh!" 

Asgore smiles warmly at you, his eyes drifting to your food. "Oh, pardon me, I didn't realize you were in the middle of breakfast." 

You wipe your mouth quickly and set the napkin back down. "It's okay, I was pretty much done anyway." 

"Well, I won't take much of your time." He produces a basket filled with various tea boxes and what looks like bars of chocolate. "I hope this is acceptable as a gift. I'm afraid I don't know much about what is acceptable in times such as these."

"Thank you," you say, a little surprised as you accept the basket from him. It makes sense that he would be here; after all, you did save his adopted child from a bullet and helped several monsters be rescued from the scientists experimenting on them. But still, you're a little embarrassed and nervous. Besides seeing him at Christmas, you've barely even talked to the guy. You pull the blanket up a little closer to your chest, scrambling to think of what to say. 

Thankfully, he saves you the trouble. His easy smile turns a little serious and mournful. "On behalf of monster-kind, I want to offer my deepest apologies that you had to go through such a terrible ordeal. And I personally thank you for bringing this terrible matter into light. I truly believe that the monster rights bill would not have passed otherwise."  

Sans tensely slightly next to you. "course, it would have been better if she hadn't been taken away and experimented on, right?" His voice is sharp and accusing.

Asgore blinks in surprise. "Yes! Of course, I am sorry. I didn't mean to imply otherwise."

"It's fine," you say, giving Sans a quick look. "It's over and done now. Who knows how many more would have suffered if it didn't end when it did."

The King visibly relaxes at that. "Yes, is over now. The police have been in contact with me and it seems that they have solid leads on finding the remaining people who were involved."

"That's good," you say softly, feeling your own shoulders tensing at the thought that Nahn and her cohorts were still out there somewhere. "I hope they find them soon."   

Asgore nods in agreement. After a few seconds of awkward silence, he rubs at his beard and smiles. "Well, I shall leave you to your recovery then. Please feel free to stop by my home whenever you have a moment. I would like to chat over some tea. After you recover of course. Ah!" He smacks his head lightly. "That reminds me. I know that it doesn't nearly repay what you have sacrificed, but please rest knowing that all of your hospital expenses are covered." 

What? Your heart lifts slightly; it was a quiet concern that's been lingering in your mind, but you had decided not to worry about it until you were out of this place. The thought that you wouldn't have to worry about that did set you slightly more at ease but you can't just accept such a grand gift. "I have insurance. It's not a problem," you mumble. 

"You are quite correct; it is not a problem for me," Asgore laughs, a gentle twinkle in his eye. "The matter has already been settled." 

"I...but..." The protests die in your throat and you try to match his smile. Yours is a little more wobbly and emotional. "Thank you." 

He extends his hand to you and you shake it; like Toriel, his grip is fuzzy and warm. "No, it is I who must thank you," he says seriously. He releases your hand and smiles again, waving as he leaves. He isn't watching where he's going and smacks his head on the door frame. You wince as Sans snickers loudly. 

"Do you not like him or something?" you ask Sans once Asgore is completely out of the room. You had noticed it at Christmas too; Sans didn't say much to the King and when he did, it was with cool politeness. 

Sans nods and then shakes his head. "i guess? i mean, i don't hate the guy but....he hurt tori really bad. i mean, she didn't talk about it much during our knock-knock joke sessions but i could hear it in her voice. i see it every time she talks to him. and then there's all those other kids that..." Sans trails off, seeing your eyes tighten. "ah, it's in the past. he's trying his best. being a king can't be easy. i just don't agree with a lot of the choices he makes, you know?" 

Yeah. Asgore had to think of his people. Making such decisions for an entire race had to be a heavy burden. He must have great regrets. 

A knock comes from the door again. Nurse Karen pokes her head in. "Sorry love, but the police are here to speak with you. Are you up for it?" 

Ah yes. You had answered some questions about your kidnapping before but nothing too solid since you weren't in a good state. And then you got shot. They must want a statement. You sigh mournfully, eyeing what's left of your breakfast. "Sure. Send them up." 

Talking with the police ends up taking longer than you thought it would. They ask you to go over everything you remember from even before you were abducted. They ask a lot of questions about Tod, which makes your heart clench with an agonizing mixture of hurt and bitterness. Tod. You truly liked him. Trusted him as a friend. There's a part of you that still can't believe he had it in him to so completely trick you. But that's the thing, isn't it? He didn't think he was wrong. In his mind, he wasn't acting like a deranged villain intent on destroying the world. He was a hurt man trying to fix what was wrong with the world.

"Did he ever let slip some clue about all of this happening?" one of them asks you.

"I...I don't know. Maybe?" You think back as best as you can. "I guess there was something, but it was back when we busted Emily for helping with the fireworks thing at the bonfire. She was about to say something and he warned her to stop talking before she said something she would regret. At the time, I just thought he was trying to help her in his own way before she got into deeper trouble. But he must have been warning her to stop before she revealed anything."

The officers nod, scribble down some notes. Then they ask you about everything you went through down in the lab. You hesitate and struggle to even form words without breaking down right there in front of them. The rational voice in your head tells you that they have to know, they have to ask you now before time starts to cloud the memories. Like there's really a chance of that happening. Your voice is rough, breaking several times as you force the words out, even as they burn your throat. Sans too is shaken by the recounting. He wants to help but how can he? He wasn't there. It's not his story to tell. You tell him that he doesn't have to listen but he stubbornly shakes his head and simply grips your hands tightly. 

The officers are clearly appalled as well; one of them even shivers slightly, though they try to hide it. The two ask about whether you heard any of their plans (no) and where they got their resources (you have no clue) and if you had any idea how they managed to actually create creatures from humans and monsters. 

"Look, I don't know," you finally say, completely worn out. "All I know is they ripped me open and used me for their experiments. I was too busy being tortured to pay attention to the science of it." 

The officers seem to get the hint and they quickly pack away their stuff, thanking you for your time and promising updates as they came in. Fine, you just want them gone. You don't want to talk about any of that stuff anymore. They finally leave and you slump back against your pillow, covering your face with your hands. Your heart is racing painfully, the harsh waves of a panic attack beginning to sweep over you. You swallow harshly as Sans rubs your leg, silent but trying his best to comfort you with his presence. 

There's another freaking knock and you jump, a bit of a whimper escaping you. Sans' head turns sharply to the door. "i'll get rid of them," he says, getting to his feet. 

"No, no it's fine," you sigh, reaching out to stop him. "Unless it's the cops again." 

His expression tightens with concern, but he goes ahead and opens with door with a flick of blue magic. And the flow of visitors continues. First it's Abby, who's crying so hard you're almost afraid she's going to hyperventilate. She blames herself for letting you get taken that day and you somehow manage to convince her that no, you're not mad, and yes you still want to be friends with her. And you truly do. She leaves after talking for a while, mostly about how shocked she was to hear about Tod and the few people at the station who were revealed to be part of his organization as well. Police had come into the station to make the arrests pretty much shut down the station for the day.

After her, Undyne and Alphys stop by again, dropping off some manga you just know you're not going to have time to read. They also have a card from Mettaton, which they slyly hand to Sans to open up. He stares at the glittery card for a second, shrugs, opens it and is immediately doused in a thick wave of sparkles that explode from the page as a cheerful mechanical tune starts to play. Alphys and Undyne hit the ground laughing and your still healing ribs scream at you in protest as you cackle at the sight of his outraged, sparkly face. He looks like a scoop of ice cream covered in sprinkles.

You try your best to help him clean up, but you're pretty sure you're going to be finding glitter for the next few days.

You manage to eat lunch before your next visitor arrives. Surprisingly, it's Jake from the music shop. Poor guy looks super nervous but he smiles widely at your seemingly healing state. He's brought flowers with him, which Sans puts in a vase while the two of you chat. 

"Man, I'm just...wow, I don't even know what to say." He rubs at the back of his head in a flustered sort of way. 

"I'm just happy you came by," you say, smiling widely. "You didn't have to." 

He shrugs, a happy grin crossing his face. "I wanted to. I mean, I knew you'd have a ton of flowers but can you really have too many? And I uh...I was really worried. It's creepy I know, but I kinda feel like I know you after listening to your show so often." 

You pat his hand. "No, it's not creepy! That's kind of the point of a radio show. I'm just sorry I haven't had much of a chance to come by the shop more often. I'll have to drop in once I'm out of here." 

"I'd like that," he mumbles in a quiet sort of voice before looking at Sans. Sans is watching him with an amused glint in his socket. Jake jumps up as a quick flicker of blue flashes through Sans' pupil. "Oh r-right. So anyway, I'll um...dude you've got something on your face." 

Sans wipes at the speck of glitter you somehow missed while you cover your mouth to hide your snorts of laughter. "bye jake."

The last visitor who comes by, aside from various nurses who pop in to check on you, is Grillby. You actually hear the soft crackle of his fire before he steps through the door. His flames pop and brighten slightly in greeting. 

"Grillby! What are you doing here? What about the bar?" 

My daughter is there, he signs slowly to you. I am glad to see you awake. He turns to Sans, clearly saying more in his crackling language that you still don't understand. Sans surprises the both of you by suddenly standing and hugging Grillby tightly. Grillby seems stumped on how to react and looks at you, tilting his head questioningly. You shrug. 

"i'm sorry grillby," Sans mumbles. "i did the exact opposite of what you said to do and almost ruined everything. i'm sorry." 

Grillby clearly doesn't understand exactly what Sans is talking about, but he pats the small skeleton on the head, leaving a small dusting of ash on his skull. His visit is fairly short, with Sans promising to pay his tab off next time (both you and Grillby snort at this) and Grillby offering to help prepare meals while you're recovering. You assure him that he doesn't need to go to the trouble but he waves off your concern. Before he leaves, he stands next to you and extends his hand out towards your head. You look to Sans and he simply smiles and nods. 

When Grillby's glowing hand touches your forehead you feel a great rush of warmth run down your entire body. Your ribs and bullet wound, aching deeply despite the painkillers in your system, are soothed. You gasp as you physically feel your insides being repaired, the remainder of the cracks in your ribs sealing up and vanishing. Your chest, which has felt heavy since you woke is suddenly lifted and you feel your Soul responding to the magic, fluttering gently in your chest. But suddenly, there's a twinge of pain, something that almost seems to twist in your chest. It's gone in a flash and you put a hand on your chest. What was that? 

Grillby's flames pop, his head lowering slightly. Are you all right? He signs with flickering hands.

"Yeah, I'm fine." You feel better than fine actually. "I feel great! What did you do?"

"grillbz has some experience with healing up people who are hurting. healing bones and stuff like that. he might be even better than tori," Sans explains with a twinkle in his socket. "haven't seen that in a long time, huh grillbz?" 

Grillby doesn't respond, continuing to stare at the place your Soul resides. He finally looks at Sans and Sans frowns slightly in response to whatever it is he says.

"she uh...well there's been stuff going on with that," Sans finally says after taking a long look at your Soul for himself. "it wouldn't surprise me if there was stuff left over from what they put in her." 

That doesn't sound good. "What's going on?" you ask nervously. 

"nothing," Sans is quick to say. "grillby just thought he felt something in your system." 

"Oh." The light feeling in your chest is gone just like that. Grillby's flames pop with concern and you quickly smile at him. "I'm sure it was just a human thing. I feel perfectly fine. Thank you Grillby. That really helped." 

You're quiet as Grillby heads out, your head swirling with thoughts. How could you have even hoped that your Soul would be completely undamaged after whatever they injected into you? And then there's sense of dread that you can't seem to banish from your mind. Everything is over now, isn't it? So why do you feel so anxious? 

Karen brings in your dinner, which consists of turkey sandwich, apple slices and chocolate pudding. As she sets the tray up, she cheerfully informs you that the doctors have deemed you ready to head home after one more night just as a precaution. Sans steals one of your apple slices as you nibble at the sandwich. He starts to speak, doubtlessly to deliver an overdue apple joke, but he falls quiet, noticing your glum expression.

"hey, don't worry about what grillby said," he finally says. "he wasn't even sure he felt something and i've been watching your soul. if there was something wrong, i'd see it." 

"Yeah," you say softly. You pick up the spoon and start poking at your pudding. It's goopy and dark and...and it looks just like....

You barely manage to make it to the bathroom before puking. You're sobbing even as you continue to empty your stomach. Seeing that pudding, as stupid and pathetic as it is, brought memories of the poor creatures swarming to the front of your mind. Your skin itches and you can still feel the cold touch of the monster touching you. Your ears are ringing with their agonized howls. It's not fair. How did you survive and they didn't? You didn't even try to help them. You just let them out and tried to run. It was even because of them you escaped the lab and you had forced them out of your mind. What the hell is wrong with you?!

Sans hovers next to you anxiously. "should i call the doctor?" 

You shake your head, covering your face. You move back until you hit the wall and curl in on yourself, still shaking with uncontrolled tears. 

"sweetheart, what's wrong?" Sans reaches out and you flinch slightly. He notices, of course and his hand snaps back. "ok. ok," he says gently. He moves until his spine is against the wall too, keeping a few inches of space between the two of you. He doesn't say another word, but puts his hand on the floor next to you. When you finally slow down and the tears stop, he gets up to grab a cup of water and a bowl so you can swish your mouth out. You do so woodenly and then put your head on your knees. You speak, because if you don't, you feel like your chest might implode.

"Tod put me right next to one," you whisper. "One of those creatures.There was glass between us but it didn't matter. I could see it, see that pain and agony in it's eyes and I was terrified. I wanted it gone, I wanted it to just melt away like the one in the city. I didn't know what it really was. There was a boy there, that first night. He was the next host. They used m-my blood to turn him and some poor monster into that...that thing! I was going to leave them, when I got out. All I could think about was escaping. They died helping me get out of there. And I...Sans, I didn't even know his name! I don't even know what those poor creatures were called!" 

Sans inches closer and this time you let yourself lean into his touch. He rubs your shoulder. "that wasn't your fault. you have to know that they wouldn't have made it regardless of what you did. but you gave them that last chance to fight back against the people who did that to them. helping you escape was their choice." 

You shake your head. "I should have done something sooner. I should have seen that Tod was up to something. Maybe I could have saved him, if I had just fought back more." 

Sans pushes gently on your head, guiding it to the groove of his neck. You're trembling and you fight to regain control. "you also could've died," Sans murmurs. "if you focused on anything but surviving, you might not have made it. it's a sick thing that they did. it's ok to be upset about it. but don't blame yourself for putting yourself first." 

"I want to go home," you sniffle into his shirt. "I don't want to stay here any longer." 

He presses a kiss against your head. "i know sweetheart. i don't want to stay here either. but i'm gonna have to trust the doctor right now. one more night, just to make sure you're ok. i promise we'll leave first thing in the morning."

You know he's right but it still makes a fresh wave of tears run down your face. The reek of medical tools and death and sickness have been in your nose all day. You can feel it sinking into your skin. "I'm not okay Sans," you whimper. "I don't think I ever will be." 

Sans is quiet for a moment. He stands and picks you up. He does so with much more ease than he did the time he found you covered in your own blood, sobbing on the kitchen floor. You've lost weight, a lot of it. He takes you back to the bed and tucks you in before sliding up next to you. "it's ok if you think that right now," he finally says. "i've got our whole lives to show you that you will be. i'm gonna fix this." 

You take his hand, squeezing it tightly. "You don't have to fix me. Just stay with me." 

His arm wraps tightly around you. "ok then. i can handle that."

You don't sleep much that night. Your mind is too wound up with memories and every time you close your eyes, you only see the melting faces of those creatures. The most you manage is dozing for short spurts, waking up with a sharp jerk after thirty minutes at the most. So you and Sans wind up watching t.v all night. It's all terrible stuff and Sans tries to joke about whatever he can think of to keep you calm and distracted. It does help, but by the time morning light starts to peek in through the windows, you feel like your eyelids are coated in cement. 

But you manage to summon up some energy as Karen comes in and officially declares you free to go. You hug her, thanking her for all of her help, even though you were unconscious for most it. It doesn't take long to change and pack up; most of the flowers just get thrown away but Sans takes the freshest ones to the house with a shortcut while you're changing in the bathroom. Papyrus shows up as you're walking out and he gives you a surprisingly gentle hug. 

"ARE YOU READY TO RETURN HOME?" He asks you as he brushes off nonexistent dust. 

"More than you know Papyrus," you say with a tired smile. 

"ALRIGHT THEN! I HAVE ALREADY CALLED FOR A CAB! AFTER ALL, YOU CANNOT DRIVE JUST YET! YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE YOUR CAR HERE!" 

He bounds ahead, leading the way to the front entrance. You take Sans' hand and finally, start heading for home.

Chapter Text

You fall asleep at some point during the ride home, though you don't remember exactly when. You briefly wake when Papyrus pulls you from the taxi and carries you up to the house. Your fuzzy gaze meets Sans walking next to you and he pats your head. He whispers that it's okay to stay asleep. So you let yourself drift back into the comfort of unconsciousness. 

And then the terror starts. 

~~~~

The floor beneath you is hidden beneath a pool of blood. It splashes up to your ankles, splattering your legs with it. You can see faces in the blood, screaming in silent agony as they fight to escape their prison. They push against the blood, reaching up to you desperately. And you run away, your heart pounding in terror. Hands latch around your feet and you pitch forward into the faces as they open their mouths and swallow you up. 

You have to run! Have to escape!

You push yourself up even as the voices and faces beg you to stop, beg you to free them. But you don't know how. 

You see a door, outlined in a white light. You struggle to reach it, pleading with the suffering souls to let you go. You have to open the door, you have to see what lies beyond! Your hand reaches the knob-

You're tugged back, thrown to the mercy of the blood-soaked souls and as you sink deep into the depths of darkness, you hear Nahn's light giggle in your ear. "Oh please, my dear. We're not done yet!" 

Then blood fills your lungs and you're drowning in it and it's like you've been shot all over again and you can't breathe-!

~~~~

You wake up thrashing wildly, your mouth opened in a silent scream that won't come because your lungs are filled with blood and you can feel it pulsing from your side. You're shaking so violently you can't even focus on your surroundings to try and escape.

No, it's not you doing the shaking.

"please! breathe!" Sans calls your name desperately and that, more than his shaking you does, finally breaks the tight hold of terror in your chest. You suck in a deep breath and gasp harshly. "that's it, come on. deep breaths." 

 Your hands drop to your bullet wound. Slight tenderness. No gushing blood. You were dreaming. Only dreaming. Sans rubs your back as you continue to breathe harshly. "Sorry," you finally mumble. 

"sweetheart, if you apologize for one more nightmare, i'm gonna have to start thinking up some really bad puns to retort with," Sans tries weakly. "i don't think you want that, do you?" 

"Maybe one or two," you whisper, rubbing at your face. 

"um, ok. when do elephants snore?" 

"I don't know." 

"when they sleep!" He grins at you and you smack his arm weakly. 

"That is terrible. Even for you." 

"so it's a deal. no more apologizing and i'll stick to my regular, high quality puns." He watches you closely, wiping at your forehead. "do you wanna talk about it?" 

You shake your head silently. He doesn't push. Sometimes, when he was the one to wake in terror, he simply couldn't talk about what he had just seen. You never pushed him when he didn't want to talk about his nightmares and you're thankful that he does the same for you. "What time is it?" 

Sans checks the clock on the bedside table. "almost four. you slept for a long time." 

You only had one nightmare after sleeping that long? 

"tori and the others are planning a surprise dinner for you. uh, surprise," he adds guiltily. "so if you wanna take a shower, clean up a bit? if you're up for dinner that is." 

You take another deep breath. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. That's a good idea." 

You pull some fresh clothes together while Sans sets up the bathroom for you. The room is already warm and steamy when you enter and Sans looks up from lighting a candle labeled 'Relaxation'. "this would probably be better if you were taking a bath, but still." He sets it down on the counter and moves to leave. You catch his arm. Your nightmare is still bright and vivid in your mind.

"Sans." Your face heats up with a deep blush. You can't get the words out.

"...yeah?" He finally prompts after a few seconds.

"Um, could you...could you stay? I don't want to be alone right now." His skull goes blue and you stare at the ground. Geez, this is mortifying! You're almost regretting saying anything but you might as well plow through at this point. "N-not in the shower with me, I mean. Just right here." 

He nods quickly, still blushing a little. "right, of course. yeah, i'll stay. um, i'll turn around while you get in." 

He faces the door and after a moment of hesitation, you pull your clothes off and step into the shower. Somehow, this is far more embarrassing than the last time he prepared a bath for you and washed you up after your panic attack. You wash slowly, your thoughts stuck in a whirl that thankfully distracts you from your nightmare. You and Sans had never really pursued the physical side of a relationship. It wasn't that you weren't attracted to him. You definitely had sneaked glances at him when he wasn't looking and the way his body moved at times never failed to send twisting butterflies through your stomach. Certainly there had been times when you explored his bones while he examined your body but at most it could be called a mild make-out session that never grew into anything more. For you, the cuddling, the soft touches and gentle kissing had always been enough. You had fallen in love with him for his kindness, humor and the incredible vastness of his Soul after all. But is it enough for him? He is a skeleton after all. You had just always assumed that he wasn't interested in that sort of thing. Maybe he was actually repulsed by your human body and all its scars. Logic and memories of all the times he's kissed you scream otherwise, but you can't stop something in your chest from twisting tightly. Maybe that's why you've never felt a desire to pursue that side of the relationship. If he could see you completely vulnerable with all your wrinkles and scars lay bare, he would surely look away.

"Sans?" You call softly. You can just see his silhouette through the curtain sitting on the floor against the wall. "I realize this is the worst possible timing but...um, am I uh...are you attracted to me?" 

After a brief second of silence in which your heart clenches tightly, you hear him murmur. "course i am. what brings this on?"

You fiddle with the soap, nearly dropping the slippery thing. "I just...I've never really had a relationship like this. And after everything you've done for me, I'm just worried about...you know. Making you happy?" 

"of course you make me happy." He says this so sincerely you feel bad.

"I'm glad you feel that way. I really am. But I'm talking about...physically. I guess."  At this point, you're pretty sure most of the steam in the room is coming from your face rather than the hot water. 

"physically?" 

Oh geez, does he really have no idea what you're talking about? "Sans, I'm naked in the shower. Please tell me I don't have to give you the birds and the bees talk."

There's another beat of silence. "oh."

Crap, this was a mistake. "I'm sorry, just forget I said anything," you stutter, pouring way too much shampoo into your hands. "It was dumb." 

"it's not dumb," he says quietly. " i know about how humans mate and show love. monsters can sometimes do the same thing, but we tend to focus more on the soul. i just...god, this is going to sound horrible. i've never really even thought about that side of things with you." 

As you thought. You run your tongue over your teeth as your eyes water. 

"sweetheart?" 

"I'm fine." You take a breath. "I'm okay. You can go out now. I'll just be a few more minutes."

He must hear the catch in your voice. He says your name with a sigh, standing up. He almost reaches for the curtain, but stops. "i didn't mean it like that. it's a thing of...i wanna respect your body and that's why i look away and um. blush so much. it's not that i don't find you beautiful. i do, i really, really do. if i had a heart, i'm pretty sure it would have popped by now just from how insanely beautiful you are. but babe...i'm a skeleton. i don't naturally have the um...parts for stuff like that? i mean, don't get me wrong, i really like kissing you," he says quickly. "i'd never really done it before i met you but i do like doing that. i don't even know why. i just do. does that make any kind of sense?"

A strained giggle escapes you.  "Yeah. It does. I feel the same way. I guess that's why I didn't even think about it either." 

He groans, sitting back down. "i'm so sorry." 

"Don't be." There's almost an odd sense of relief sweeping over you, clearing away the brief fog that had settled in your mind. Geez, you're being ridiculous. Where did that train of thought even come from? Of course he loves you. "I just know that the physical side of things comes pretty naturally in human relationships. Well, not all of them. I guess it just never seemed necessary for us."

You can hear the soft clink of his phalanges tapping against the tile. "you're not just saying that for my sake are you?" 

"I promise I'm not." You poke your head out from the curtain just a little. His knees are pulled up to his ribs and when he meets your gaze he blushes again. 

"if i've been letting you down, you'd let me know right?" he mumbles as he continues to hold your gaze. "if you want me to, i can um...i can do some research and-"

"You don't have to do that," you interrupt him. The last thing you want him doing is searching around on the internet and finding all the nasty stuff people put there for the sake of research. "I'm happy with how we are right now. Are you?" 

He nods enthusiastically. "very. yes."

"That's enough for me then." You smile at him and duck back inside the shower. "Leave it to me to take so long to finally even think about this, huh? Guess I'm not a normal girlfriend." 

"we're not exactly a normal couple sweetheart." 

That's fine with you. Maybe someday, you will completely open yourself up to him in that way. And hey, you'd already shared your Souls with each other. How did it get more intimate than that? You finish showering and he turns back to the door to give you privacy while you dress. Once you're done, he holds up a green bottle of lotion that matches the relaxation candle. He must have bought a kit or something.

"um, do you want some lotion? it's um...supposed to help with relaxing. i can put it on your hands if you'd like?" He's still blushing slightly but it's so adorable that you can't help but grin. 

"I'd like that," you say as you plop onto the edge of the tub. You squeal a little, completely forgetting that the edge would still be wet and Sans chuckles. As usual, laughing calms him down and he pours some lotion into his bony hands. After he kneels in front of you, he takes your hand and gently rubs the lotion into your skin. It's a little cold after the heat of your shower and you shiver. If he notices, he doesn't say anything. It quickly warms up though and as the bottle says it would, it helps you to relax. Sans tenderly massages your skin, his phalanges moving smoothly up your arm. Toriel had managed to heal up most of the new cuts and wounds from the taser and other sharp items used during your torture, but she couldn't heal the scars that were already there. Sans gently kisses each one, as he usually did when he found you scratching at them during a panic attack. That's right; Sans has already seen the worst of your scars. You shake your head slightly at yourself. Maybe it was just the left over painkillers in your system making you think such a strange thing. 

Sans pauses, noticing your shaking head. "is this ok?" he asks softly, his teeth lingering above your arm.

You nod, placing your lips against the crown of his skull. "Yes. For you, always yes." 

When he finishes and you're thoroughly lotioned up, the two of you head into the kitchen. Your surprise at the sudden flash of lights and shouts of congratulations is genuine. You didn't think they'd go this far for you and honestly, with what had happened in the bathroom, you'd almost forgotten that Toriel and the others would be waiting. The whole gang is here, including Mettaton, who gives you a surprisingly gentle hug and apologizes for not coming to the hospital himself. The life of a star is very demanding after all.

"You did get my get well card, didn't you?" he asks.

You grin and glance at Sans. "Oh yeah. We got it. And it made me feel a lot better." 

"Of course it did darling!" He gives you a smooch on the top of your head before sauntering back over to Papyrus, who's helping to dish up everyone's plates. Toriel has made all of your favorite dishes. Your stomach rumbles at the sight. But before you can get your food, Toriel wraps you in a warm hug. 

"My child, I cannot tell you how happy I am to have you back home," she says, a little teary eyed. 

"It's good to be home," you say as you hug her back. You take your place at the table and Sans slides in next to you a few moments later. Frisk reaches over to grab the salt and gives the two of you a wide smile. Sans returns the smile easily. 

"i talked to the kid while you were sleeping," he says in a low voice. "you were right; they didn't even hesitate to forgive me." 

You take his hand under the table and squeeze it tightly. "I'm proud of you. I honestly expected you to keep putting it off." 

He shrugs. "well, normally i would've. but there's a certain someone who taught me it's better not to keep secrets." 

"Sounds like a smart person." 

"eh, smart-ish. her jokes are pretty awful."

"Oh please! Mine are far better than yours!"

"ha! now that's a good one!"

~~~~~

Dinner, as it usually is with everyone present, is a noisy affair. You stay a bit quieter than usual and the others are kind enough to give you a bit of space while keeping you included. After dinner the board games are brought out. You choose to watch rather than play as everyone splits up into teams for battleship. It's hilarious to watch, especially since you are allowed to see the whole board as long as you promise to keep your mouth shut about it. 

"Hey! Quit snickering!" Undyne says to you as Sans manages to land a hit on one of her ships. "You're helping him cheat!" 

"please, like i need more than your terrible poker face to guess where to go." Sans isn't even trying to hide his smug grin as he leans back in the chair slightly. 

"YOU ARE GOING TO NEED MORE THAN A POKER FACE TO WIN THIS GAME!" Papyrus crows triumphantly. "LADY TORIEL AND FRISK! B6!"

Toriel and Frisk smile widely at each other. "That's a miss my dear," she says, covering her mouth to try and hide her grin.

"WHAT?!" Papyrus' shriek of disbelief is enough to send everyone into a laughing fit.

You giggle and wipe at your eyes. You tap Sans on the shoulder; he's shaking a little with suppressed giggles. "I'm going to go to the bathroom," you say, standing up. 

He gives you a quick glance to make sure that it's just a trip for the normal reason. "ok. i'll have this game in the bag by the time you get back." 

"Oh please! Like you'll be able to beat Papyrus and I that easily!" Mettaton says bravely, despite only having one ship left. 

You leave them to it and head to the bathroom. A small smile lifts your mouth. This is where you're meant to be. Right here in the middle of your monster family. Whatever that weird feeling of inadequacy was during your shower was, it's been washed away by the warmth that you can still feel overflowing from the living room. All of them care about you so much and you care just as deeply about them.

As you're washing your hands, the bathroom light starts to flicker, throwing you in complete darkness for a second before flashing back to life. You glance up at it. Oh come on, you're almost done! You look back down to rinse the soap off your hands and your eyes are drawn to the mirror. 

It's only for a split second, caught between the flickers of light and darkness. Your eyes flash pitch black. Something translucent, faded and almost...skeletal hovers on either side of your head, like a pair of hands cradling your face. 

You throw yourself back, knocking over the bottles lining the sink, a soundless scream caught in your throat. You hit the wall with a loud bang. The light suddenly steadies and stops flickering and it's just your reflection in the mirror, eyes sunken into your face and wide with fear. What the hell was that?!

A sharp knock at the door makes you squeak with surprise. Your knees give out and you sink to the floor. 

"hey, i heard something, you ok?" Sans' concerned voice floats through the door. 

"I-" Your voice is cut off as a sharp pain pulses in your chest. You hunch over, groaning as the feeling shoots up into your head. Your ears pop painfully.

He calls your name, worry making it a little sharp. "what's going on?" 

"I'm...." You sit up, the pain suddenly gone. "I'm fine." The words come out of your mouth almost on their own. "The light went out for a second and I slipped." 

Slipped? No...no wait that's not right. Or is it? Wait, what just happened? Something bad. Something frighting and-

"oh. ok then. al brought some movies over. are you up for watching something?" 

A movie? Your thoughts are oddly sluggish. "Yeah. I'll uh, be right out." You get to your feet, groaning a little at the sudden headache that assaults your head. Again, that nagging feeling that something is wrong weighs heavy on your heart. But your head now hurts too much to think about it. Ah, you need to ask Toriel where she keeps the spare light bulbs. You don't want someone else getting startled and left in the dark when it finally did die out. You laugh at yourself in mild annoyance. Way to be scared by a flickering light! Already the memory of seeing...something in the mirror is fading away. It's just your traumatizing memories playing tricks on you. It's got to be.

You head into the living to join your family, trying to ignore the prickling sensation on the back of your neck. 

~~~~

Once again, you find yourself struggling through a thick pool of inky blackness, struggling to reach the door outlined in white. If you can just reach it, just open that door and see what lies beyond, everything will be fine. 

You know it will. 

But you can't reach it before the faces in the dark swallow you up.

Chapter Text

The funny thing, or rather not so funny thing about being healed up with magic is that your body doesn't seem to get that the worst of the injuries have been taken care of. Over the next few days you have to deal with a lot of phantom pains and aches, especially in your ribs and your side. At times, sharp stabs of pain would hit you out of nowhere and then vanish just as fast. These never fail to send Sans into a quiet panic and you have to work hard to convince him not to call Toriel every time it happens. What's even more annoying is that your energy vanishes very quickly and you have to spend most of the day napping and just laying around. Of course Sans is happy to do just that and for the first several days, you waste time watching movies, playing card games and your personal favorite, flipping through old photo albums. 

"I can't believe how tiny you were!" you squeal, pointing to a picture of a young Sans holding the hand of an even tinier Papyrus. It had taken a lot of digging to find, and the amount of pictures Sans has of his younger days are sadly in very short supply, but you finally managed to talk him into showing you what he does have. The young Sans in the picture, probably about ten years old has a tiny gap in his teeth and is grinning widely, waving at whoever is holding the camera. Papyrus is almost completely covered by a thick scarf and jacket that falls to the ground, but his sockets are gleaming brightly. "No, I can't believe Papyrus used to be so small." 

"yeah, he was a tiny squirt for a long time." Sans grins at the picture and the memories it's clearly bringing to mind. "i used to be able to hold him with one arm. course he'd cling to me like a monkey, so it wasn't hard. then he just pew!" He throws his hand up lazily. "shot up like a freaking tree. took a while to get used to looking up instead of down." 

You snuggle closer to him. "Does it ever bother you that he's taller? Even though you're older?" 

He shrugs, digits dancing up your arm. "maybe a little in the beginning. mostly cause i was uh, you know. scared that he might forget to look down sometimes. i thought he might be too busy looking up at the world to remember his squat big bro standing next to him. but he always remembered. he never got too busy for me. kinda feels like he's the older brother sometimes." His tone has taken on a slightly sad note, but he perks up and says "you know what they say; people grow til they're perfect and it didn't take me long at all. plus having a tall bro always keeps me looking up." 

You snicker while Sans quickly snatches one of your albums and starts cackling over your baby pictures instead of his. He gushes over tiny you in a way that soon leaves you utterly mortified and red in the face. 

Of course, while it is nice to be able to laze around, after a while you can feel yourself going stir crazy. Even though everyone tells you it's fine, you can't help but feel guilty at your complete lack of effort while everyone else caters to your needs. Even Grillby keeps his promise of bringing food, though after the first night he sends his daughter in his place, thanks to the crowds at the bar keeping him busy. She's the green fire elemental you had seen many times before working the bar and yet somehow never made the connection that she's related to Grillby. She's soft-spoken, like her father, but you are thrilled to find that she can speak English, thanks to her new human friends from her school. Her name is Fuka and you're surprised to find that she does a lot of the cooking at her father's bar on the weekends. It's impressive, especially since she's balancing a full schedule at college. Her face blushes a deep blue and her flames crackle loudly when you tell her as such. 

But it seems like every time you try to help out, the task, no matter how simple, is taken away by an overly cheerful someone who is all too happy to help. There's a voice in your head whispering that usual 'it's because they think you're too weak!' and other such bull that you try very hard not to listen to. But it's hard not to get aggravated with no solid sleep under your belt and a pounding headache that just won't go away and the twisting feeling of dread that just keeps building and building and damn it, if you want to make yourself a sandwich, you're going to make a freaking sandwich!

"Sans, I swear if you don't sit down right this instant, I'm going to throw this jar of nutella at you." 

Sans peeks at you from the safety of the hallway. "i just wanted to-"

"SIT!" 

He vanishes to the safety of the living room and you grumble to yourself about overbearing monsters while you slap together a nutella and strawberry sandwich. Perhaps not the most typical of sandwiches, but damn it you've had enough of the soups and casserole! Sans is curled up on the corner of the couch and he watches you with wide sockets as you plop down and take a massive bite out of your sandwich. You chew loudly, still miffed. Man, this is really good!

"What?" you finally ask as he continues to watch you eat. 

"i was um...i was just gonna ask if you could leave the nutella out so i could make one too." He seems torn between fear and great amusement as you stare at him. "babe, you're gonna lose your sanswich," he snickers, pushing your open jaw up with a finger.  

"Oh I'm gonna lose something alright!" you mock screech and pounce on him, smushing the remainder of your sandwich on his face. You quickly go for his ribs too, the only spot you know is ticklish. He's not expecting that and the two of you wind up toppling off the couch to the floor in a tangled mess of giggling bones and smeared nutella. Sans is gasping through his laughter and though he wiggles a bit, he's not really trying to free himself. "ok! you win!"

Catching your breath, you grab a nutella covered strawberry that's stuck to his skull and pop it in your mouth. "You owe me a new sandwich." 

"but i thought you wanted to be indep-ahh!" He squirms wildly as you wiggle your fingers threateningly over his ribs again. "ok! i'll make you a new sandwich!" 

"Lots of strawberries please," you say with a satisfied smirk, rolling off of him. 

Of course, it's not all food fights and fun. Your head pounds with a constant headache that just won't go away, no matter how much advil you take. The oddest things set you off. It's all stuff you wouldn't expect, like the pudding at the hospital. A bowl of red jello triggers a severe panic attack, the glint from a pair of scissors Toriel uses to open a bag of something dark and liquidy sends you running blindly to your room and loud sudden noises never fail to make you flinch. But worst of all is when you decide to watch the entire Star Wars set in a row. Sans has seen them all by this point, but never in a full marathon. You had your own issues with the prequel movies, but you agreed to watch the marathon with him. When you reached the end of the Revenge of the Sith and got hit with that death scene again, you couldn't stop yourself from wailing and clinging to Sans, who similarly starts crying. That death, which had been sad and admittedly made you shed a few tears the first time you saw it, hits far too close to home now for both of you.

Poor, sweet, wonderful Sans. At times you almost forget that despite that strength and love that never failed to pour out of him, he has more than his share of terrors too. Having you here with him, needing him so desperately, doesn't miraculously cure him of that. Seeing you struggling so much is taking a toll on him as well. There are mornings over that next week where he can't even move from the bed and seeing him so despondent and drained makes your own head fill up with that terrible cloud. Those are the hard days, when the two of you can only sleep and hold each other. Even the better days are heavy with fear and it makes you both angry and sad. You survived your ordeal. Sans rescued you. Yet the shadows of what happened continue to haunt you. It's been less than two weeks since it happened, but it feels like an eternity. Isn't this supposed to be the happy ending? 

Ha. Like life would be that easy.

"what'