* It makes a joke about spaghetti. It hates its own joke.
* It tidies up the place, then immediately scatters everything again.
* Its eyes flicker as it wraps its arms around itself.
* It works very hard at giving up.
* It wants to be your friend.
Undyne the Undying, captain of the Royal Guard and all-around tough-as-nails badass, nearly jumped out of her scales when she heard the dripping noise right behind her.
"Gghhh!" she hissed, whirling with her hands raised protectively. "Don't scare me like that!"
The creature that had once been Undyne's closest friend stared at her uncomprehendingly. Unidentified matter oozed from its every surface, dripping from what had once been bones and clothing to pool on Undyne's kitchen floor.
"Dyyyyne?" it asked slowly, the echoing sound issuing from Papyrus's mouth. "Puuuuzzzzz..."
Undyne relaxed, dropping her hands as the tension eased from her shoulders slightly. Taking a second look at the creature, she realized it was holding out a piece of paper.
"Oh, is this a puzzle?" she asked. "Thank you, I'm sure it'll be quite a doozy." She accepted the proffered paper, knowing that the only writing on it would be unintelligible scribbles. She felt a pang of nostalgia and grief, remembering the dozens of times that Papyrus had run up to her with his face alight, having devised some new trap in the forest that would be sure to stump her this time. Being his only friend besides Sans, Undyne had come to accept the fact that her over-eager friend would occasionally show up at her door in the dead of night because there was a Junior Jumble that he just couldn't quite solve (or, on one memorable occasion, the horoscope).
Sans's grinning head, with Papyrus's right hand melted into the top of it, huffed irritably. "Puzzz... are... easy..."
Papyrus glared at his brother, craning his head as far as he could. "Dyyyne... wans too..."
"That's right, Papyrus," Undyne encouraged. "I'll solve your puzzle. In fact, I'll put it out so everyone can solve it as many times as they want!"
Keeping her fanged smile in place, Undyne crossed to the refrigerator with a false spring in her step and stuck the chicken-scratch to the door with a magnet. The proud grin that lit up Papyrus's face made her insides churn with guilt and remorse. Why did this have to happen to you guys? Where was I when you needed help?
Sans's head yawned. At least, it seemed to yawn. With its mouth fused shut in a stretched smile and its eye socket melting impossibly over its face, it was hard to read its expressions. Regardless, Undyne jumped on the opportunity.
"You guys look tired," she suggested. "All that puzzle-making must be exhausting, huh guys? Why don't you take a nice nap?"
"Nnnnap," Sans agreed, nodding in a slightly sideways fashion.
Papyrus frowned disapprovingly. "Laazy," he chided his other head. "No... naap."
Sans raised one dripping hand to Papyrus's face. "Tired," he argued, covering Papyrus's eye sockets. "Isss... night."
"Nooott!" Papyrus whined, struggling against his other half. "Not..." he abruptly stifled a yawn, "tiiired!"
"Come on, boys," Undyne said softly, tentatively resting her hand on the fused joint of their left arm. The bone felt sticky and unnaturally flexible beneath her fingers. "Let's take a rest, yeah?"
Taking slow steps backward, she led the monstrosity to her couch and helped them sit down. What with Sans's dangling vestigial legs, sitting down and standing up again afterward was a bit of a complicated process for the poor amalgam. Most of the time when they weren't asleep or fashioning new "puzzles," they followed Undyne closely everywhere she went. When she was asleep or busy, the creature often simply stood blankly in the middle of Undyne's living room.
Undyne watched in silent melancholy as her vapid houseguest argued with itself over the TV remote. Passing it back and forth between their three good hands, the misshapen monster pressed random buttons until the channel changed to nothing but static. Seemingly satisfied, both heads leaned back into the sofa and seemed to drift off to sleep.
Of course, it was hard to tell.
"This is Doctor Alphys!" the voice chirped from the other end of the line. "What's up, Undyne?"
"Hey Al," Undyne greeted. "How's it going?"
"You know, the usual," Alphys said. "Just dealing with the c-crippling guilt of my sins."
Undyne grimaced. "Come on, Al, you did your best. You didn't know any of this would happen."
"It's s-still my fault," Alphys sighed. Even over the phone, her friend sounded exhausted.
Undyne had had this conversation too many times to hope that it would turn out any differently now. Fortunately, that wasn't why she had called.
"How are the rest of them doing?" she tried to sound casual. "Has there been any change in the other Amalgamates?"
"I don't know what you want me to tell you, Undyne," Alphys sighed. "They're always the same. They'll always be the same."
"Are you sure?" Undyne pressed. "Maybe you're just..." not trying hard enough... "not trying the right things."
Alphys seemed to have heard the words Undyne hadn't said. The silence stretched between them, more standoffish than friendly.
"Actually, Al, I've been thinking a lot about these... things," Undyne finally said. Alphys was silent on the other end, waiting for Undyne to continue.
"I've been around Sans and Pap for a long time now, both before and after the... incident," Undyne continued, glancing at Sixbones and moving farther away so she wouldn't wake them. "And I'm wondering, well... do you think it would be possible to separate them?"
"No," Alphys said immediately. "I've done extensive research and t-testing on the Amalgamates I've got here at the lab, and there's never been any indication that this change is anything but permanent."
"I know that, Al, but Sans and Pap weren't normal monsters to begin with," Undyne pleaded. "You haven't done as much research on skeletons as you have the rest, right? Instead of flesh and blood and... organs... melting together into a freakish blob, there's only bones."
She could practically hear Alphys shudder. "It... it might be a little bit different, but- the DT injections are irreversible," she protested.
"Still, don't you think we could pull them apart? It's just bones, Al," she begged. "They're nothing but- but bones and clothes."
Alphys was silent for the longest time.
"Alphys?" Undyne finally said.
"Sorry, I was just th-thinking. I d-don't want to get your hopes up, but... it might be possible. Bring them to the lab and I'll take a look at them."
"Thanks a million, Al," Undyne gushed, so relieved that tears were beginning to prick at her eyes. "You're the best reptile I've ever met."
"You want Papyrus back that badly, huh?" Alphys asked quietly. Undyne could detect the hint of resentment in her friend's voice, but she pretended not to hear.
"I'll bring them over as soon as I can. I owe you big time!" she cheered.
"You'll only o-owe me if this works," Alphys warned.
"Come on, what's the worst that could happen?" Undyne scoffed.
"That's what Sans said," Alphys muttered darkly before abruptly hanging up the phone.