Sans was still mostly intact when Papyrus crashed through the door, syringe in hand. With the frantic speed that stemmed from months of envisioning this very scenario, he plunged the syringe into his own SOUL and fell to his knees, clinging to his melting brother while his own bones lost cohesion.
The town of Snowdin was alerted to the screaming.
“Come along, dears,” Toriel said gently.
“Nnnnno,” Sans said stubbornly.
“Yes. You’ve been in your room for too long, Sans. It’ll be good for you to get outside.” Toriel grasped Sans’s goopy hand in one soft paw, refusing through sheer force of will to recoil at the unnatural texture, and led them slowly down the hall towards the interior of the Ruins.
“Knock… knock,” Sans’s head began.
“Who’s there?” Toriel responded automatically.
“Knock… knock… knock…” Sans kept saying.
“Yes, Sans?” Toriel prompted.
“Knock,” Sans finished with finality.
Toriel smiled sadly. “That’s a good one, dear. I’ll have to remember it.”
Sans beamed. Papyrus looked annoyed.
“Nooot funny,” he slurred.
“Oh, Papyrus, lighten up,” Toriel chided. “Look, here’s a puzzle for you and Sans to solve together.”
Papyrus’s face brightened. “Sans! Puzz!”
Without warning, Sans fell asleep. Papyrus rolled his eyelights, but lumbered through the spiked floor nevertheless. Toriel supervised the antics from a safe distance, watching as an errant step sent a spike driving through Papyrus’s foot. He looked down at it with detached interest as it retracted, leaving a hole in his foot that was quickly filled in with white sludge. Papyrus continued shambling through the puzzle, his gait now slightly off-kilter.
Ever since the skeleton amalgam had moved in with Toriel and Frisk, she had treated them exactly the same as she had always treated her own children. In many ways, they are a child, she reflected. Their rudimentary intelligence, limited understanding of their surroundings and themselves, and their need for constant attention and companionship all brought to mind an inquisitive child in the early stages of development. Both Chara and Frisk had been older when she adopted them, but the skeletons’ infantile behavior brought to mind bittersweet memories of Asriel’s earliest milestones. His first steps, his first words, the way his tiny hands reached out for a hug…
She hadn’t noticed her eyes prickling with tears until Sixbones was standing directly in front of her, looking blurrier than usual. She tried to surreptitiously wipe her eyes with the back of her paw, but Papyrus was perceptive as always.
“Hug?” he offered, extending his slimy arms to her.
Toriel couldn’t help but smile. The unnatural texture of what had once been bones and clothing was rather off-putting, but Toriel still poured all the love she felt for this confused creature into the hug.
It didn’t matter that Sans could no longer share terrible jokes with her through the door. She didn’t care that Papyrus would wake her up at all hours with endless pages of scribbled nonsense. It didn’t bother her in the least when the boys would forget simple instructions, make messes, or wander off and force her to search for them for hours.
They were her children now, and she loved them. Simple as that.
“Better?” Papyrus asked as he pulled away from her, head tilted with concern. Sticky residue covered her robes, but she didn’t mind one bit.
Toriel gave him a motherly smile. “Yes, my child.”
“Not… sad?” he confirmed. Sans let out a snore.
“Of course not, Papyrus. I’m very happy,” she assured him. “Now we’d better get back home, Frisk will be waiting for lunch.”
Taking his hand, Toriel led Papyrus and Sans back to their home.