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Wild Caught

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Wild-Caught /ˈwīldˌkôt/ ~ adjective ~ (of an animal) taken from the wild rather than bred from captive stock. 

 

Not all monsters were sealed away under a mountain. Some managed to survive the war. Barely alive and scared, the last of the monsters hid themselves away in the wild. Many perished in the harsh wilderness. Only those who adapted lived.

However those who survived changed. Transformed into something that could not be taken back. They became something… new. Something different.

They grew into wild beasts. Beasts shrouded by legend and fiction before the stray monsters came along. Mermaids, fairies, dragons, and many more went from mere folklore to reality.

Soon, instead of hunting monsters because they feared them, humans began to hunt them for their uniqueness. No longer monsters, but something strange and forgein. In managing to survive, they became something even lesser in humans’ eyes. Yet humans desired these special creatures even more, many of the reasons twisted.

Humans didn’t care, they were selfish. Mermaids were caught in nets and had their scales torn off one by one. Dragons were killed for their hearts and their eggs smashed because of the precious metals that made up the shells. Fae had their wings torn off and placed up on display. If it was mythical, humans hunted it.

In response the creatures hid even more, and in doing so became more desired for their rarity and beauty since they were seen so little. Even when monsters were freed from the underground, the creatures had refused to come out of hiding. Centuries of being hunted had made them wary. Time passed and hunting lessened, but humans never stopped searching.

Sans was one of these so called creatures. Instead of a pair of legs, he had a thick tail made up of magic. His scales were a light blue, and when the sun shone just right they glittered like the richest of gems. His fangs were long and sharp, ready to inject a lethal venom at any time. Not many have seen Sans in action and lived to tell the tale. Sans’s deadly venom made that feat quite difficult.

He was what humans called a Lamia, a half monster half snake creature. And he was a skeleton monster at that. A rarity even among monsters and mythical creatures.

Currently Sans wasn’t living up to his title. Like. At all. He had, admittedly, made some dumbass choices. Such as actually letting his lifestyle get to him. Mythical creatures were typically solitary in nature, and Lamia especially so due to their venomous nature. Because of these reasons Sans had grown pretty lonely over the years.

He’d always been by himself, his only company being hunters who wanted him dead. Murdering them was a necessary evil, but Sans got tired of it. He just wanted to be left alone with at least one companion to starve away the loneliness. He wanted a friend who he could spend his days with, if only just to tell each other dumb jokes.

Papyrus changed everything when he came crashing into Sans’s life. After so many hunters ringing his doorbell for a chance at his pelt, Sans had immediately taken a liking to the monster. So, foolishly, he let Papyrus live. He had been the friend that Sans had always wanted. He was kind and thoughtful, and when he came around he hung out with Sans for hours.

Time that had been spent lazing around doing nothing changed into time Sans would spend with Papyrus doing something new or chatting up a storm (Sans loved trying out all of his jokes on the other, and Papyrus’s faked outrage always tickled Sans’s funny bone). Sans began to look forward to Papyrus’s visits, even going as far as to wait eagerly at their meeting spot far earlier than needed.

That had been the worst decision he had ever made. And that was saying something, because he’d made a lot of stupid mistakes.

Papyrus had been special. At least… Sans had thought Papyrus was special. He’d hoped that Papyrus would be the one who would see him for more than his scales. Turned out, wishing on a star never did Sans any favors.

He should have never allowed the monster to see him (as accidental as it was), much less talk to him. Sans should have bitten the other and that hadn’t worked, made his getaway that very day. If he had been smart and kept his head on straight, he might not have felt so trapped right now.

He definitely wouldn't be nestled away in a system of tree roots. Trying not to make a peep and his soul beating hard enough that it felt like the loudest thing in the forest. At the very least Sans had managed to keep his bones from rattling. Though he couldn’t help the small tremors that raced through him every couple of seconds, but thankfully those weren’t audible.

“Sans!” It echoed through the forest like thunder. Sans flinched, tail curling tighter into the roots. It was borderline painful at this point.

“Sans please come out! We can talk about this like adults! I promise I won’t do it again!” Dirty liar.

Papyrus didn’t even have the courtesy of facing Sans head on. Hell, he’d given Sans drugged prey in the hopes that it would slow him down. Too bad Sans had tasted something off with the meat and turned it down after the first couple of bites.

Sans should have suspected Papyrus immediately, but he’d trusted that it was just bad meat. Fat chance.

Sure Papyrus had acted like it was no issue, but now that he looked back on it, the other had seemed to grow more tense at that point. Like a wire drawn taunt. Until he had snapped.

Sans could still feel the cool metal cutting into his throat, another tool quick to hook around his tail in an attempt to hold him in place. Only the slightest loosening of the hold after Sans had whimpered in pain had given him the chance to escape.

“I will find you Sans.” Papyrus’s voice echoed once more.

Sans tensed, eyes wide.

That.

That had been close.

Papyrus was getting close.

Oh stars he was getting close. It was far too late to run away now. Even if Sans tried, whatever Papyrus had fed him was definitely kicking in now. He was in no condition to run. What was he going to do if Papyrus found him?

What would Papyrus do if he found Sans?

Sans turned his face to the tree, eyes prickling. Shit. Maybe the meat was a little more potent than Sans had thought. He was starting to feel really, really dizzy.

“Oh!”

Sans almost gave himself whiplash at the speed his head snapped towards the entrance.

There he was, squatting down as he peered into the tiny cave where Sans had managed to entangle himself within. He wasn’t even three feet away now. Just within grabbing distance. If he wanted, Papyrus could reach in and tear Sans from his hideyhole. It’d be all too easy for the strong skeleton.

The pounding in Sans’s soul grew to a roar.

With a gentle tilt of his skull, Papyrus smiled. How something could be so sweet, yet so threatening was beyond the lamia. Sans could make out every single one of his pearly white teeth.

A soft chattering filled the air.

It took Sans a moment to realize the noise was coming from himself. He was rattling. Like a frightened nestling. It was downright pathetic.

“There you are, Sans.” Papyrus had no right to look that soft, his eyes kind and almost relieved? How cruel.

“You thought you could hide from the great Papyrus? Silly snake.” He teased.

The faintest hiss escaped Sans. He felt as threatening as a kitten.

Of course, Papyrus only smiled wider in response.

“Now come here, it’s time to go.” He reached his hand out, fingers spread and palm to the sky. Welcoming and open in all the right ways but for all the wrong reasons. Sans eyed his hand like it was a bear trap, ready to snap shut at the slightest hint of movement.

Sans had to admit that he wasn’t a very determined lamia. Giving up was sort of his motto in life. Why try when you’re destined to fail, right? Even so, Sans still found enough strength left in himself to keep going. Maybe it was the fear talking. Adrenaline does crazy things.

So, despite knowing how futile struggling was at this point, Sans shook his head in denial.

Still shaking his head, he leaned closer into the wall of roots. Maybe if he got close enough to the tree it’d come to life and swallow him whole. That was one way to escape from this nightmare.

Papyrus frowned, bemused, before shrugging, “Fine, be that way.”

Then his gloves were on Sans’s tail.

“Nhno!” It was the first word Sans had managed to say all day.

Papyrus didn’t even pause. His hands were warm even through the gloves. He made quick work of the mess Sans had made of his tail, untangling it from the roots with ease. No matter what Sans did to slow him down. Lunging at him, hissing, even attempting to tangle himself further. Nothing worked. Even trying to bite him failed miserably.

Soon Papyrus had a nice, firm grip on Sans’s tail. The tug wasn’t harsh, but it was still enough to send Sans into near hysterics. He clawed at the ground for purchase, but nothing halted the slow pull.

“No no no no nonono-” In his blind panic, Sans only made it easier for the other to drag him out into the open.

A flash of red streaked across his eyes, and without thinking he snapped forward and bit down as hard as he could. Papyrus grunted, and for a second Sans was sure that in his panic he’d actually managed to get the other. WIth that realization came an odd mixture of hope and horror. Stars what if he actually hurt Papyrus? What if he hadn’t? But what if he had?

Lost in his panic fueled what-if scenarios, Sans flinched hard when something brushed against his skull. Focusing his eyelights, Sans was met with Papyrus’s patient stare. Crossing his eyes to look down his nose, Sans saw that he’d latched himself onto Papyrus’s glove. He bit harder, testing the material. Nope. No give. Just thick leather.

Papyrus grinned.

Clearly, he was more than fine.

Manually unhinging Sans’s jaw to free his hand was all too easy for the skeleton. Venom drooled from Sans’s mouth, responding to his fear. He didn’t get a chance to bite again. Something was slipped over his head, covering his mouth with ease. He reached up, only to have his hands caught and bound. Despite himself, Sans whined softly.

“Shhh, you won’t be restrained for long.” Papyrus said, latching whatever was on Sans’s face around to the back of his skull.

It was firm, looping around both sides of his face with another strap winding around his nose and going up his forehead. There was some give, enough for Sans to slip free if he had the use of his hands. However whatever Papyrus was doing involved tightening it, because soon it was flush against his skull. When Sans’s head was finally freed, he tried to paw at the thing to no avail.

A gloved hand pet his skull, and Sans wanted to struggle but he was too dizzy now. Slumping into papyrus with a whimper, Sans had to admit that the petting was nice.

The whole world spun on its axis, but Sans was helpless to stop it in its tracks. When it was done, Papyrus was on his feet walking in some random direction. Fine then. Sans did what he was best at. He gave up and did nothing. He just wanted the spinning to stop.

"I know you're feeling pretty loopy, but it will go away soon." Papyrus almost cooed.

His arms were warm where they pressed Sans against his equally warm body. It was impossible to stop his tail from wrapping around the other in search of more warmth. That seemed to please Papyrus.

“For now though, let’s get you home.”

Struggling proved futile.

No matter what Sans did, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get away. He might as well have been fighting against the air itself. The drugs only made him weaker.

Clearly, Papyrus felt the same way because he thwarted all of Sans’s attempts with a soft hum. After shoving the lamia into the front of what Sans assumed was his car, he proceeded to start it.

Having never been close to any sort of vehicle, much less inside of one, the noise alone made Sans want to clap his hands over the sides of his head. He couldn’t do that though because his hands were bound. Everything was just too much for the little snake to handle.

Apparently noticing this, or having planned on doing so in the first place, Papyrus lifted him up and started pulling a soft black sack over his tail. Sans struggled, but the sack swallowed him up with ease. Soon the world disappeared, replaced with cool darkness. Even the sounds had been muffled a great deal.

He couldn’t get out of the bag when he tried, but at least he could breathe a little easier. The drugs made it next to impossible. Despite himself, Sans started to relax. He was so tired. Maybe he should rest his eyes for a bit? Try and save some of his strength?

Woozy, Sans curled up the best he could and hugged his tail. Just a few minutes, then he’d start looking for a way out again. He just needed a few moments to recover.

Sans passed out.

 

Chapter Text

Dis·play /dəˈsplā/ ~ verb ~ To make a prominent exhibition of (something) in a place where it can be easily seen.

 

He missed his sunbathing rock.

Sunbathing was one of Sans’s favorite hobbies, and his rock was perfect. Perfect size, color, texture, and it even had a nice dip in the middle. It was almost fairly tall, making it easier for Sans to nap in peace. That rock was almost tailor made for Sans to curl up and soak in the rays.

Sans would look back on his napping spot fondly if it weren’t for one little tidbit. He’d been napping on that very rock when he met Papyrus. (The other had been surprised to see Sans there, but very friendly nonetheless. If only Sans had seen any hint of the monster Papyrus truly was.) Now Papyrus’s intrusion on his spot marred the happy memories. It seemed like everywhere he turned, Papyrus was there.

That didn’t stop him from missing his rock, but anger flared up everytime he accidentally thought about it too much. And he certainly was very angry lately. Who could blame him though? He was in hell.

When he had woken up, Sans found himself inside what he could only assume was an enclosure of some sort. It was filled with plants and thick rocks and logs for Sans to hide in or climb on.

The walls were green, with one wall that was completely transparent. Sans hated that wall. It allowed Papyrus to look at him. Sans tried his best to avoid that side of the cage, but his only water source was pressed right up against the goddamn glass.

Letting Papyrus see him was unavoidable, so Sans attempted to make drinking water a quick and sneaky affair. Though the few times Sans had been thirsty enough to venture out of hiding, Papyrus always seemed to know that Sans was coming.

He would be waiting inches from the glass, watching Sans. It was very unsettling. (The first time it had happened Sans had squeaked in terror and scrambled back into hiding like his tail was on fire. Not that he would ever admit doing such a thing.)

The ground was covered in strange shavings that had no smell to them. They were surprisingly soft against his scales. The layer of shavings was thick (maybe a couple feet?) and if Sans wanted to, he could burrow deep down and make a nice tunnel. It would be somewhere he could actually be out of sight, and that would probably help him relax.

(The thought of being even a tiny bit comfortable in this hell made Sans uncomfortable, so he didn’t.)

Sans stayed hidden, and the time passed in tense silence. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been here exactly, but the lights seemed to dim and brighten at fixed times so Sans counted those as days. The fake days could have been going twice as fast as a normal day, or even twice as slow as far as Sans knew.

He waited for the day Papyrus would drag him out this false oasis and finally finish the job. Sans certainly wouldn’t make it easy on him, but at this point what was Sans supposed to do? He was nice and trapped, and from what he could see there was not a single weak point in the enclosure. After everything, Sans was going to die in a cage. It left a bitter taste in his mouth.

His whole life Sans had been hunted. Eavesdropping on a few humans gave him a pretty good idea what would happen if he got caught. Every hunter seemed to want him for one thing, and one thing only: His shiny blue scales.

His scale were vibrant, glittering like baby blue sapphires. Sans thought they were pretty, sure, but not enough to warrant getting hunted. Even now the very idea of being hammered to a wall and skinned was not a very pleasant fate to think about.

At first Sans had assumed that that was the reason why Papyrus wanted him too, but now he wasn’t so sure. Sans had been trapped here for a week now and there had been no skinning of any kind. Not even a single one of his scales had been ripped off.

In the time that Sans had waited fearfully for the other shoe to drop, it never did. Nothing. Nada. Absolutely zilch. It left Sans in a weird limbo of being scared, but so much time had passed that he couldn’t manage the energy to really feel scared anymore.

Papyrus’s looks were always like a shot of adrenaline straight to his soul. Nothing like good ol’ paranoia to get the soul pumping.

“Sans!”

Speak of the devil and he shall appear. Sans’s soul suddenly jumped into double time, thudding painfully in his chest. He hid even further inside the hollow rock he had tucked himself into. Sans hadn’t quite managed to get himself to leave the thing yet that day, the false sense of security it brought him was too compelling to resist.

“Sans!” Came the call once more. Sans continued to hope that he would suddenly disappear from existence, just ‘poof!’ gone into the void.

Sans jumped when he heard a loud clicking sound. It was loud enough that it echoed throughout the tiny space. Well then, that was new.

Crunch!

Then another crunch. And another. It kept repeating and Sans tried not to feel unnerved. Sans stopped breathing altogether, hyper focused on what he assumed was someone walking around his cage. He felt like the side character in a horror movie.

Humans would be surprised what kind of things a lamia can sneak into. Old and rundown movie theaters weren’t all that secure, especially since most of the people there were young enough to not give a damn. Sans recalled cliche moments where a character hid under their bed, only for the monster to be right there ready to tear them to shreds. And Sans? Sans was that character.

“I’m fucked.” Sans decided, soul pounding in his ribcage.

“Language!” Papyrus admonished, his voice coming from right besides Sans’s rock.

Sans jumped so hard he bashed his skull on the roof of his hiding place. He hissed in pain, reaching up to rub his skull.

Papyrus’s face popped into view, grin just as perky as ever. Sans felt sick to his soul just looking at him.

“Why hello there! We really have got to stop meeting like this.” Papyrus chirped.

Sans was nowhere near as cheerful as Papyrus was. He immediately wanted to try his luck and attack the other, but he wasn’t sure how Papyrus would react.

Sure Papyrus had been ‘nice’ so far, but he had shown just how easy it was for him to play ‘pretend’. Sans was completely at the other’s mercy if Papyrus decided that torture was a better route.

Instead, Sans backed up further into his cubbyhole. He hissed at Papyrus, his tail twitching in warning.

“Still in a hissy mood, I see.” Papyrus joked.

If anyone else had said that Sans would have laughed, but this jerk had been the one to say it so Sans forced himself to scowl out of pure spite.

“Pft. I can tell when you’re trying not to smile.” He giggled, clearly testing Sans’s patience when it came to violence.

More of him came into view, and he squatted at the entrance to better see into the rock. It got pretty dark inside, but with how close Papyrus was getting he could probably make out San’s form. Sans’s bright eyelights certainly helped, because Papyrus met his glare with an empty stare.

At that realization, Sans forcibly gutted out his eyelights and curled up even tighter at the back of the rock. Despite Sans’s efforts, Papyrus followed his movements with an unnerving intensity.

Papyrus shook his head as if to clear it, before he brought out a bottle of ketchup and a little bag.

“Anyways, look what I brought! It’s your favorites!” Papyrus said, holding them out towards Sans. As if the lamia would ever in a million years get closer just because he was curious.

Sans sniffed the air which suddenly smelled heavenly. Despite himself, his tongue flicked out to get a better idea of what exactly Papyrus had brought that smelled so nice.

Sans flinched when he realized what the familiar scent was. He’d know the smell of Grillby’s anywhere.  Sans went way back with the flame elemental’s food. As a hatchling, Sans would dig around in dumpsters for neat trinkets and a bite to eat. Grillby’s was one of his favorites, at least until Sans grew too wary of getting caught to go near any populated areas.

The first time he had told Papyrus, the very next day the monster had shown up with a takeout bag. Sans still remembered the way he threw himself at the monster in a hug. Every bite had been amazing, and Papyrus had fake complained the whole time about how unhealthy it was. That day had been really fun.

Sans tore his gaze away and curled up tighter, furiously blinking back tears. Taking a deep breath, careful not to use his nose, Sans glared at Papyrus.

Papyrus was unphased, his smile just as gentle as that day.

Sans hated how much that hurt. He also hated that despite how upset it made him, his tongue refused to be dispelled. A mixture of saliva and venom welled up in his mouth, as if ready to devour his prey. If Sans had a stomach, it would be rumbling.  Sans swallowed, trying to hide his hunger from the other.

Papyrus wasn’t fooled at all if his smug grin was anything to go by, and he shook the bag a little.

Sans hissed.

“Are you going to come out or am I going to have to pull a snake charmer on your cute tail.” Papyrus teased. It was honestly one of the most creepy things Sans had ever heard. Papyrus made it ten times worse when he began making a little clicking sound as if Sans was a mindless animal that came when beckoned a certain way. Creeeeepy.

Sans kept hissing.

For a long moment Papyrus stared at Sans in silence. It was long enough that Sans stopped hissing and started to panic. He was about to rethink his stance on burrowing into the ground in one last bid for freedom when at last Papyrus unfroze. Papyrus’s face melted into an affectionate expression, looking at Sans fondly.

“Not even if I promise not to do anything to you today?” Papyrus tried to bargain.

Sans stiffened in shock. He mentally blue screened, unable to process the fact that Papyrus was going to do something, it just wouldn’t be today . When Sans still refused to move, unable to even think in the face of whatever Papyrus had planned for him, the skeleton gave up with a nonchalant shrug.

“Fine, be that way!” He said lightly, getting to his feet. After thinking for a moment, he set the food down at the entrance.

“I’ll come get you later! Bye Sans!” He called over his fading footsteps.

Freed from Papyrus’s watchful gaze, the first thing Sans did was bury his face in his hands.

“Wow, that wasn’t ominous as hell or anything.” Sans muttered, trying to shake the feeling of unease and failing. If anything was able to make Sans want leave his hiding place even less, that most certainly did the job.

Apparently Papyrus had still been close enough to hear his comment because he barked out a surprised laugh.

“Language!” He scolded once again through his laughter.

Sans hoped he choked.

When Papyrus was long gone, Sans snatched up the food and scurried back into his rock. Despite the fact that it had been sitting out for some time, the burger and fries were still nice and hot. The perks of fire magic. The first bite nearly sent Sans into a crying fit. He just barely managed to avoid crying, but his vision was blurry with unshed tears even after he had finished eating.

Hunger gone, Sans curled up around the bottle of ketchup and tried not to exist for a while.

 

Chapter Text

Ex·am·ine /iɡˈzamən/ ~ verb ~ To inspect (someone or something) in detail to determine their nature or condition; investigate thoroughly.

 

That bastard. That creepy bastard.

Papyrus had made good on his promise to come get Sans. Of course it had been when Sans had ventured out for a drink. (He was also still pretty thirsty, but that didn’t matter anymore now)

He had only managed to get a sip of water when Papyrus appeared out of thin air and yanked him up into his arms. The lamia hadn’t stood a chance.

Sans had froze, surprise stunning him long enough for Papyrus to get a good grip on him.

With a wild snarl he thrashed in Papyrus’s hold, fighting tooth and nail to get free. 

The lack of drugs in his system gave him a better chance of escape this time, and Sans was not going to waste it. When Papyrus proved too strong for him, Sans tried to sink his fangs in him. However it seemed like Papyrus was already two steps ahead of the lamia at all times.

Biting was quickly cancelled out when Papyrus brought back the weird mouth covering leather (A gag..?). When Papyrus brought the thing close, Sans snapped at his fingers with his teeth. Sans whipped his head back and forth in an attempt to keep the thing away from his face, but Papyrus wrapped an arm around his throat and forced him into place.

With his main method of attack was quickly put out of action, Sans felt panic rising in his throat. He tried to get the gag off by clawing at it but Papyrus snatched up his hands next. 

“No! No no sstop!” Sans cried out through the leather, trying to wiggle his wrists out of Papyrus’s tight grip. It was no use. 

Papyrus wrapped his free arm around Sans’s waist to pin him flush against his chest, and used his other hand to bind Sans’s hands together. Of course only after some frantic flailing on Sans’s part. 

Once more, Sans was bound with no way of getting free. Sans was quickly losing any chances of making it out of this. He had lost, Papyrus was free to do with Sans whatever his heart desired. 

He was going to die.

Oh stars he was going to die. He was going to die and Papyrus was going to kill him. Sans began to hyperventilate, breathing stuttery and growing shorter and shorter with every gasp for air. His head felt hot, and the air was on fire.

Sans distantly realized that he was having a panic attack. Knowing that he was panicking did nothing to quell the panic. If anything it only made it worse. His vision was starting to go hazy, unable to get enough air in his body to properly breathe. He couldn’t breathe . He was dying and Papyrus hadn’t even started whatever he had planned yet.

Sans was so out of it, he barely noticed the way the tight grip went slack. Even if he had, he was too far gone to do anything more than shake uncontrollably. Papyrus readjusted their positions, properly scooping Sans up into his arms. This time he was far more gentle, cradling the trembling lamia against his chest like Sans was something precious. 

Papyrus pressed his teeth against the side of Sans’s head, and Sans froze when Papyrus went, “Shhhhh.” It was gentle, echoing in his skull like a soft hiss. Sans shivered, eyes wide and staring straight ahead. Papyrus was terrifying.

“You’re okay Sans. It’s gonna be okay. Nothing’s going to hurt you. I’m here, I’m here. Shhhh. I’m right here.” He squeezed Sans tightly, but not painfully. It was the perfect amount of pressure, but still restricting enough to help Sans center himself.

The soothing words echoed through his skull like a memory. A promise from a time that felt like centuries ago instead of weeks. Papyrus knew how to do this. He’s had plenty of experience after all.

A hand curled around his skull, stroking Sans’s spine in fluid motions. Papyrus ignored the rivers of sweat running down every inch of Sans’s body.

Chest heaving, Sans felt a sharp keen building up in his chest with nowhere to go. He beat the noise down through sheer willpower. He needed to calm down. Sans wasn’t dead yet. If he calmed down and kept a level head, he might just get out of this. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the world around him.

“It’s okay. It’s okay, Sans. Everything is gonna be okay.” Papyrus whispered over and over, as if stuck on loop.

Soft murmurs kept vibrating against his head, the reverberations echoing through his skull. He tried blocking it out at first, but Papyrus's overpowering presence was unavoidable. Everything Papyrus did was exactly what Sans needed to calm down. Every technique worked like a charm.

Sans felt nauseous.

The first time Papyrus had done this, Sans had been fresh from getting rid of yet another hunter. Shaky and unstable, Sans had broken down in front of him. Papyrus hadn’t judged him, he only pulled Sans close and shushed him until Sans could think again. After that, Sans would always go to Papyrus for comfort. He always knew exactly what Sans needed, and never hesitated to gather Sans up into a tight hug.

Wrapped up in those arms Sans had never felt more safe. 

What a cruel joke.

Sans has never felt more in danger then he did right now. 

The irony was enough to make Sans choke out a chuckle. Taking deep breaths, he focused on slowing the fluttery thud of his soul. Papyrus’s presence made it easier. 

The moment Sans had managed to catch his breath, his head ringing like a bell, Papyrus seemed to decide to continue on with where they had last left off. 

Another piece of leather popped up out of nowhere. Shiny and new and just for Sans. The lamia tensed, shaking his head slightly but stopping when even that triggered motion sickness.

“Paps. Please ssstop” He slurred out, begging Papyrus with his eyes. 

His voice was muffled, but clear enough to be understood. Papyrus seemed not to hear a word he said, choosing to completely ignore him. That stung more than it should have.

Sans shook his head, but the attack had left him too shaky and off balance. 

Papyrus shushed him, tilting Sans’s head up so he could wrap the leather around Sans’s throat. It wasn't tight enough to hurt, but Sans still felt like the leather was cutting off all circulation (It was a collar, Papyrus had put a starsdamned collar on him-).

Sans whimpered.

“Don’t be so upset! You look super cute right now!” Papyrus said cheerfully, making sure Sans was nice and secure in his arms before he set off. His long legs carrying them forward in an easy gait.

Sans was too dizzy to fight, his head falling against a warm chest. The metal on the gag dug into the side of his skull, but Sans didn’t care. Dazed, Sans didn’t get a chance to appreciate the fact that Papyrus was taking him out of his cage. He still didn’t know what Papyrus had in store for him, and the prospect loomed over Sans like an unshakeable night terror. 

The rooms quickly blurred together, becoming akin to a labyrinth. A maze that Sans tried to follow but he just couldn’t get himself to focus.

The walls stopped spinning when Papyrus finally set Sans down on something smooth and warm. Burying his face in his bound hands, Sans attempted to get his head on straight. Something brushed against Sans’s neck, and he jumped when a sharp ‘Click!’ snapped right next to his head. Looking down, Sans felt his soul clench. 

A strange leash was clipped onto Sans’s shiny new accessory, but it wasn’t attached to anything (yet). Sans stared at the leash in horror, then at Papyrus, only to find that the other had his back turned to Sans as he rummaged through drawers. 

Using the lack of attention to his advantage, he immediately started to mess with the restraints. He didn’t get much further than trying to pull up the straps to the gag before Papyrus was back. 

"Now what do you think you're doing?" Papyrus frowned in disappointment, hands on his hips.

Fight or flight instincts took over. Sans didn't have any way to fight, so he chose the next best thing.

Sans eyed Papyrus warily, before deciding to make a break for it. He darted off, trying to make a getaway for the door but he was easily thwarted. He squirmed when Papyrus caught him around the waist. 

It felt like Papyrus wasn’t taking this seriously at all, barely paying attention to Sans’s struggling. As if Sans was just acting up like a mere child and not fighting for his life. That was simultaneously very frightening and aggravating at the same time.

Papyrus manhandled him back onto the table with ease. One hand on Sans’s sternum and the other on his wrists, Papyrus pushed downwards, forcing his back flush against the table. Grabbing a hold of the leash Papyrus twisted the collar until the leash hung from the side of Sans’s neck. Moving so he was at the head of the table, Papyrus quickly wrapped the leash underneath the table until it looped to the other side. He clipped it onto the other side of the collar.

Papyrus surprised him when he unbound his wrists, pulling back for a moment to get something. Stunned, Sans didn't have enough time to do anything with his freed hands before Papyrus returned and began grabbing at him. Panicking and not really thinking things through Sans started trying to push the demanding hands away. Of course his flailing attempts were easily caught.He attached thick cuffs to each wrist, and then attached them to the leash.

Another strap was added, going horizontally across Sans's waist to keep him from arching up. Sans was left with his hands pinned next to his neck, preventing him from even covering himself. He was exposed, and there was no getting away. He felt very vulnerable under Papyrus's hands, which checked over everything to make sure Sans was properly pinned to the table.

The whole setup was painfully tight, constricting in all the worst ways.

"There we go! Now was that so hard?" Papyrus said at last, looking satisfied with his work.

Sans hissed but even he knew the sound was downright pitiful. 

"Yes, yes, I know. But this needs to be done." Papyrus said while taking off his thick leather gloves and replacing them with thin blue ones. 

Sans watched in terror, eyes glued to every move. An epiphany hit Sans like a truck. He was totally fucked . Struggling couldn’t save him now. Whatever Papyrus had planned was happening and Sans had no way of stopping him.

Papyrus inspected his skull first, running his fingers along the natural lines and curvature. He was undeterred by the straps held flush against Sans’s head, clearly in the way. Moving on, Papyrus clicked a tiny stick and flashed a light in one of Sans’s sockets. 

His eyelights disappeared under the brightness, temporarily blind. Ouch that was bright. Sans hissed in pain at the harsh light, trying to jerk his head away. 

Papyrus paid no mind to the behavior. Hooking his fingers in Sans’s eye, he tilted Sans’s skull to his liking. With a contemplative hum, Papyrus moved on to the other socket. Sans tried to close his eyes but Papyrus pried them open, dreadfully slow in his examination. His eyes started to throb and burn like he was being forced to look at the sun. When Papyrus finally pulled away, Sans furiously blinked away the white spots in his vision. 

“Diurnal, but I already knew that. No obstructions in either socket, and internally you have a basic skeleton bone structure. Looks nice and sturdy.” Papyrus murmured, and Sans would think he was talking to himself if he didn’t glance over occasionally to meet Sans’s eyes.

Next Papyrus checked up Sans’s nasal cavity. Thankfully he didn’t shove his fingers up there, but it was a close shave. Papyrus ignored Sans’s covered neck bones as well, moving on to his hands. He flexed Sans’s fingers and checked out his clawed fingertips. 

“Your hands are so tiny, Sans! It’s really adorable.” Papyrus said at last after playing with Sans’s hand for a few moments. 

Sans would say something, but his jaws were really starting to ache from being forced so tightly together. He only averted his eyelights, not wanting to see what Papyrus was doing to him but needing to so he could brace himself. Not that bracing himself did much to make him feel any better.

Papyrus moved on after one last warm squeeze. He poked Sans’s joints with a weird metal stick, checking the end of it thoughtfully everytime he waved it close to Sans’s bones. It wasn’t awful persay, but every poke was ramping Sans’s anxiety.

Sans was drawn tight as a bowstring from nerves alone when a hand was shoved into his ribcage through the tiny space just beneath his jaw. Sans squeaked, arching his back in an attempt to get away from the intrusion but failing miserably.

“Don’t worry I’m not touching your soul.” Papyrus said distractedly, his head ducked to peer inside. 

“Stooop.” Sans bit out through a soft whimper. He was starting to feel really violated, his bones tingled wherever Papyrus touched. Sans shuddered, barely breathing because it felt funny with Papyrus inside of his ribs. 

Papyrus ignored him, shining that stupid light into his ribcage and running his fingers along the inside of his sternum. What Papyrus was even doing was beyond Sans but he needed him out right this second or he was going to freak. Thankfully Papyrus seemed to sense that because he pulled away.

Sans sucked in air as deep as he could, trying to ignore the way it felt as though Papyrus was still rummaging around in there.

Papyrus clicked the light off and set it aside, “Hmm, overall you don’t have much scarage, and you aren’t showing signs of vitamin d deficiency or any other health hazard. Pretty healthy overall, especially with daily meals. You don’t get much exercise, but you seem more built for short bursts of energy.”

Sans wanted to strangle him so badly. Or run for the hills because this was stupidly terrifying. He was fine with either or.

When Papyrus rested his hands on Sans’s tail, Sans’s breathing hitched. He couldn’t take this anymore.

"D-don't hurt me anymore. Please don't hurt me, Papsss. I’ll do anything." He begged, trying not to fly into another panic attack. Every word made his aching jaws twinge but he didn’t care. He wanted out, now. He needed to be anywhere but here.

At last, Papyrus paused. He looked down at Sans, his eye sockets scarily intense. He hadn’t removed his hand from Sans’s tail, but he had stopped.

Encouraged, Sans continued, “I’ll be good! I won’t struggle, just don’t kill me.”

Papyrus blinked, before rocking back onto his heels with a heavy sigh. Relief filled Sans when his hand left his tail. That relief quickly vanished when Papyrus leaned in and placed his other hand on his skull. Sans winced, the binds taking away any choice of shaking the touch off. (As if he could have in the first place.)

A warm hand settled on his head, and Papyrus shot Sans a stern look as he said, “I don’t care if you struggle, or attack me. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I won’t punish you for something you can’t help.” He started nonchalantly running his hand down his skull, ignoring the way Sans shivered.

“Please don’t hurt me...” Sans whispered, squeezing his eyes shut.

“Sans, I’m not going to hurt you just to hurt you, I promise.” Papyrus said comfortingly, trying to soothe the poor lamia.

Sans shook his head, refusing to open his eyes.

Papyrus was lying, he had to be.

“I would never lie to you Sans.” 

Shit did he say that out loud?

Sans refused to answer, trying to block out the world in an attempt to delay the inevitable. He couldn’t help the way his eyes flew open when warm hands touched his tail. Tensing, Sans started trying to imagine he was anywhere else but on this weird table

The hands ran down the length of his tail, caressing each scale with careful scrutiny. Sans shivered when finger poked at certain spots. His tail curled involuntarily, only for Papyrus to gently straighten it out to continue his investigation. 

It felt like hours had gone by when all of a sudden the probing hands found a spot that Sans hadn’t even taken into consideration. Papyrus’s fingers brushed over Sans’s slit, sending a jolt of shock through the lamia. 

He tensed so hard his spine almost popped. 

If it wasn’t for the strap pinning his pelvis to the table, he would have twisted in an attempt to get away. Instead, all Sans could manage was to arch his back before freezing in place. Only after nearly having another meltdown did Sans freeze in place, closing his eyes and hoping like hell that Papyrus wouldn’t realize what exactly he was touching.

Horrifically enough, his fingers didn’t leave after a few pokes. They lingered, lightly tracing the slit in curiosity. 

Breathing coming a little faster, Sans finally cracked. 

“S-stop stop stop! Not there! Please, I’m begging you anything but that, Paps.” He choked out through tears, trying like hell not to break down into sobs.

A moment passed where Papyrus stared dumbly at Sans and Sans fought like hell to control his breathing. Then Papyrus jumped, immediately yanking his hands back. 

 “I’m sorry! I didn’t realize that was-!” Papyrus cut himself off, looking flustered.

“That won’t happen again, I promise. I’m done with your tail for now anyways.” He said firmly, still blushing. 

Thankfully he kept his hands far away from Sans for the time being. In fact, Papyrus even gave Sans some room to breathe, going to the other side of the room to do something.

Thank the stars for small mercies.

Relief washed through Sans, and he went limp on the table. The sudden change from having no control over anything, even his personal space, to having a little bit of privacy helped Sans calm down some. Despite everything being so horrible, at the very least he wasn’t about to get sexually assaulted. 

If that happened, Sans didn’t know what he would do. The fact that he was completely at Papyrus’s mercy pinged again in his skull, pointing out that Papyrus could do anything he wanted. Anything

Sans rested his head against the table, and closed his eyes. Sans felt so confused. So hurt and so scared out of his mind. What was the endgame here? He had thought he’d known at the start. Then Papyrus threw in all the weird stuff and Sans wasn’t really sure what was happening anymore.

Was Papyrus going to kill him or not? He was tired of waiting for the guillotine to take his head, but knowing for sure that he was on the chopping board was a terrifying concept.

At this point Sans was too scared to ask.

 

Chapter Text

Pre·text /ˈprēˌtekst/ ~ noun ~ a reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason.

 

Papyrus let him be for a few minutes. He searched his cabinets for a while, possibly to give Sans some space to calm down. In the end leaving Sans be for a moment was pointless because Papyrus only undid most of that calm when he returned to the table toting more tools of torture. 

Sans’s soul practically leapt into his throat when he spotted the shiny new toys in hand. Yeah, Papyrus leaving him in was very counterproductive. It only ramped up his anxiety, leaving him in suspense.

Papyrus had also changed back into the thick red gloves, something Sans couldn’t help but notice the moment those finger stroked his skull.

At Sans’s wary look, Papyrus smiled, “Just one more thing and you’re free to go.”

Sans was honestly starting to miss the stupid cage at this point. The enclosure was worlds better than this hell.

When Papyrus reached towards his face, Sans braced himself for more unwanted touching (seriously what was with all the petting?). Papyrus didn’t do any of that this time, surprising Sans when the gag loosened without any warning. 

The monster gently pried the painful contraption off of his face, and Sans was too relieved to even snap at his fingers. His jaw had been starting to ache something fierce, and Sans let his mouth hang open to try and relax the tense bone.

Just as quickly as they came on, the straps were loosened. Of course Papyrus didn’t take them off, readjusting Sans to his liking. Sans wanted to struggle, but he was too worn out to put up much of a fight at this point.

Soon his arms were locked in behind his back. Sans yelped when he was flipped onto his stomach and pinned down once more, this time with his head hanging off the top of the table. He squirmed the whole time, but even that proved tiring. 

Papyrus seemed to realize just how exhausted Sans was because he was considerably more gentle this time. The straps were tight, but they weren’t painful like before. All the while Papyrus kept running his hand down Sans’s spine. 

Soothing magic tickled his bones, and Sans was too sore to feel anything other than sheer relief. Sans fought back a shiver, quivering like a leaf in the wind. His shakiness wasn’t from fear, but from pure exhaustion. He just wanted this to be over so he could crawl under a nice rock and shake for a while.

“Almost done!” Papyrus chirped.

Sans groaned, “Thank the stars.” 

Papyrus had the audacity to chuckle.

Sans wanted to feel offended, but that was just too much effort. Especially for the amount of energy he currently had. He hung his head, mouth open and uncaring of the drool that dribbled to the floor. Having his mouth open right now felt like heaven. 

Of course he immediately regretted that because Papyrus used it to his advantage. Sans choked in shock when gloved fingers were shoved between his teeth, hooking so Sans couldn’t just turn his head to free himself. The grip wasn’t painful persay, but at this point any touch irritated his aching jaws.

“Ngh!” Reinvigorated Sans tried to jerk away, but the grip was like iron shackles.

Knowing that he couldn’t get away no matter how hard he tried, Sans went limp with a soft pained whine. Struggling only made the pain worse anyway. Enduring the ache, Sans closed his eyes and hoped that this whole nightmare really was almost over with. He just had to get through this one last thing and Papyrus might leave him alone for a while. 

Seeming to notice how subdued Sans had become, Papyrus eased his hold. Not wanting to do anything to make Papyrus tighten again, Sans remained limp. He even opened his eyes some, manually relaxing his whole body. 

His vision went a little hazy, staring off into the distance as his mind began to dissociate away from the situation. His mind didn’t wander too far, anxiety keeping him hyper aware of the fingers in his mouth. Fear and pain kept him nice and trapped in his predicament, not allowed to forget what was happening to him.

Something rather large was waved in front of Sans’s face, and without warning the object was brought in close. 

“Bite down.” Came Papyrus’s soft command.

Not really thinking things through Sans did as ordered, a startled sound escaping him when his fangs sank right in. The material was thin, flimsy enough that he barely felt his teeth puncture through. Sans tried to stare at whatever this thing was, almost going cross-eyed, but the thing hovered just out of view.

Despite how much biting aggravated his jaws, instinct had Sans chomping down harder and injecting venom. The material clung, and Sans could feel the way venom practically poured from his fangs.

“Very good.” Papyrus purred, looking very satisfied.

The praise sent sparks up his spine, leaving him feeling all sorts of negative emotions that made him want to puke.

“You don’t have to do anything but stay still and be the cute little noodle you are. I’ll handle everything.” He said, shoving his fingers deep in the corner of Sans’s mouth.

Sans tried to brace himself, but he still wasn’t prepared for the way Papyrus’s fingers groped around feeling his teeth up. He lowkey choked when a finger brushed against one of his venom glands. That seemed to be what Papyrus was looking for, because the touch returned to his gland, this time pressing down.

Liquid practically exploded from Sans’s fangs, gushing down in a toxic torrent. Papyrus pressed harder, rubbing his fingertips into Sans’s gland. He seemed to be very focused on the task, occasionally turning to whatever Sans had latched onto to check on it.

Sans desperately wanted to dispel his glands but no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t. Once he was biting something, dispelling his glands was practically impossible, so he could do nothing but allow Papyrus to do as he pleased. The feeling wasn’t awful and that was exactly why it was so awful.

No one had ever touched him in this way, not even Sans himself, so he was completely unprepared for the strange sensation. It wasn’t painful, far from it. In fact the touch felt like a wonderful massage, kneading out all of the aches and hurts in his mouth.

As sore as Sans was, Papyrus’s ministrations felt wonderful. He couldn’t help the soft moan that escaped him, flushing immediately afterwards. 

His face burned.

This was so embarrassing. 

At the soft sound, Papyrus paused, before continuing. The only mercy in this situation was that he couldn’t really see Papyrus’s face, but that didn’t really matter. Sans could practically feel Papyrus’s stupid grin. Smugness radiated from the skeleton like the sun.

So embarrassing.

Sans involuntarily shivered again as Papyrus massaged his glands, venom steadily dripping from his fangs. Without meaning to, Sans relaxed slightly, leaning into the touch. It felt really good. Closing his eyes, Sans ignored everything but the nice touch even though his bones felt hot from embarrassment. So focused on this task, Sans full on whimpered when the fingers withdrew from his mouth. Catching himself, Sans tried to recover and regain his composure.

Only for Papyrus to switch sides, shoving his hands right back in to search for Sans’s other gland. Now with a general idea of where Sans’s glands were located, Papyrus found this one much faster. Getting right into milking his venom. 

Papyrus started to feel oddly distant, withdrawing emotionally. After his smugness from earlier, the contrast was unsettling. Though hazy vision, Sans tried to catch Papyrus’s eyes to get a feel of him. He regretted it immediately. Papyrus’s face was shrouded with an ominous look, staring down at Sans with scary intensity. 

Sans couldn’t help but compare the gaze to one of a hungry predator about to pounce on its prey.

Sans shuddered, squeezing his eyes shut as he tried to rid himself of the sight. Too late. It was already seared into his memories, scorching his insides with vigor. Sans swallowed lightly around the intrusion, trying to quell the fierce blush on his face.

One last press, and the fingers finally left his mouth. Hopefully for good this time. Sans’s whole mouth was tingling. He felt oddly empty, completely depleted of venom. 

The instrument was carefully pulled from his fangs, and at last Sans could dispel his glands. Sans felt better, if a little tingly and flustered. He also got a good look at whatever Papyrus had forced him to bite. It was a glass container, now filled with bright blue venom. Something clear was attached to the top with a rubber band, two large puncture wounds in the material.

Papyrus pulled the cover off, screwing a proper top on the glass container to prevent a single drop from escaping. 

“What do you even want my venom for, anyway?” Sans asked warily.

“I need it! For stuff and things.” Papyrus said casually.

Feeling brave, Sans ventured, “Stuff and things?”

“Just checking to see how lethal you are by testing the amount of zootoxins you produce and seeing how much venom your venom glands can store.” Was all Papyrus said, turning away to store the dangerous substance somewhere safe.

Sans wasn’t quite convinced that that was all there was to it, but the clear dismissal was too nerve wracking to try and protest.

Papyrus was quick about finishing up, unstrapping Sans’s limbs and helping him sit up. The only binds that stayed were the collar and wrist cuffs, which really put a damper on Sans’s relief that this whole thing was over for now. With one last glance over, Papyrus scooped Sans up into his arms.

Sans did nothing to stop him. He didn’t even fight the way his tail curled around the warmth that Papyrus’s body provided. He was just too drained. After being on that cold table for stars knows how long the warmth was soothing.

The trip back was much shorter this time. The maze a little less confusing now that he’d already gotten a good look before. A couple of long hallways and twists and turns and they were back in the small room connected to Sans’s prison. The sight of the cage was only a relief right then, and all Sans wanted was to curl up in a ball and sleep for fifteen hours. 

With a couple button presses the door slid open and Papyrus walked in. The cage was nice and warm, the humidity making it easier to breathe. Sans inhaled, eyes half lidded as his tail curled tighter around Papyrus on pure instinct. In return, the hold grew just as tight. For a moment, Sans grew panicky at the thought that Papyrus wouldn’t let go. Just when he was about to try and force his tail to uncurl from the warmth, Papyrus found a good spot and gently untangled Sans’s tail from his person. 

Sans was placed at the entrance of one of the hollow rocks. He didn’t have the energy to make a fuss over Papyrus choosing where he would hide. He just slithered in, the darkness swallowing him up. The little den was nice and comforting and exactly what Sans needed right then.

He could still feel Papyrus’s eyes locked onto his form, but it was easy to ignore now that he was out of reach. Sans coiled up, tucking himself deep inside the cave. He even shimmied until there was a nice indent in the bedding.

Finally away from that awful room, Sans sighed in relief as he cuddled his tail like it would hide him from the world.

“I’ll let you rest for now. Does Grillby’s sound good for today?”

Sans didn’t bother dignifying that with a response.

Papyrus seemed to understand that, and murmured to himself, "Grillby's it is." He sounded faintly grossed out, making Sans feel both amused and angry.

“Sleep well.” Papyrus said at last, finally leaving Sans in peace.

The silence was practically a balm for Sans's headache, which had flared up when the adrenaline had finally left him. Sans felt empty and listless, emotions a distant thing that just wasn’t computing in his skull anymore.

He didn't jump when the lights dimmed, the darkness making him feel just the slightest bit better. Papyrus had probably done it for that exact reasoning, which was extremely odd. It was strange that he cared more about something like lights hurting Sans’s eyes after all the awful things he did to him. Why would Papyrus even care about something like that?

The mixed signals were starting to make his head spin. Beyond the apathetic cloud protecting him from breaking down into another panic attack, Sans felt more confused and hurt than ever.

 

Chapter Text

A·wry /əˈrī/ ~ adjective ~ away from the appropriate, planned, or expected course; amiss.

 

Sometimes, Sans would catch himself hoping that this whole thing was just one big nightmare. That one day he’d wake up and he’d be back home, under the big sky and basking in the sunlight. Or that Papyrus would suddenly come to his senses and they could put this whole mess behind them. 

That one day he’d suddenly change his mind and they could go back to how things were before. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, Sans truly didn’t want to lose Papyrus. Part of Sans desperately searched for some way to rationalize what Papyrus did and forget his anger. To forgive Papyrus for everything and go home together.

When Sans caught himself thinking like that, he shut himself off. Hiding away in one of the crooks and nannies of the cage, he’d try to forget about the one person who mattered and this entire situation. Everything would be so much easier if the person who captured him wasn’t Papyrus. Anyone else would be worlds better. 

Why did it have to be Papyrus?

There was no one in the world Sans cared for more, and trying to suddenly turn off how much he still cared was growing impossible. Still, Sans tried his best to squeeze all of his positive emotions associated with the monster into a little ball and ignore it. He hated when Papyrus would try to poke at his emotions, bringing up sweet memories and little inside jokes that only they knew.

Papyrus certainly tried to get close as he possibly could. After the examination, Papyrus had started coming into the enclosure whenever. He always hunted Sans down wherever he was hiding and sat there, watching him and talking at him. 

He never forced Sans out or tried to make him talk during these times. Every visit was still awful because it felt like he was trying to recreate all those hours he and Sans relaxed on his sunbathing rock. Luckily he never stayed terribly long, and he usually brought some type of food.

Sometimes when Sans was too tired to be scared, and a joke took him off guard, he had to hide a small smile. The fact that Sans was already starting to slip up scared him. He didn’t want to be here. He hated every single second he was forced into this stupid cage.

All that was nothing compared to the times when Papyrus came to give him a check up. No matter how hard he struggled, Sans would be dragged out of his hiding place and brought back to that horrifying table. Again and again, Sans would be forced to bite the glass container, and have all of his venom extracted. 

Sans produced a ton of venom on a daily basis. The fact that Papyrus needed so much was very concerning. Also the fact that he couldn’t figure out why Papyrus was collecting his venom kept Sans paranoid. Especially since he had no way of stopping whatever Papyrus had planned. 

Sans still had no idea why this whole thing was even happening and the not knowing was killing him. More than the questions burning San’s insides up, the desire to go home lit his soul on fire. 

Sans desperately wanted to go home. Back to his rock, back to the forest with its lush greenery, and the sun . He missed the real sun so badly it hurt. He wanted to leave, no, he needed to leave this place. This fake shell trying to masquerade as a home.

That settled it. 

Sans needed to get the hell out and he needed to do it fast. Unfortunately Papyrus was all too ready for Sans to try. In fact, he expected Sans to. He had even teased Sans about it one day. 

After milking all the venom he could from Sans’s poor fangs, he had asked, “Why haven’t you tried to escape yet?” 

Sans couldn’t do anything more than stare, Papyrus’s casual tone throwing him for a loop.

“Is my lovely cooking too delicious for you to resist?” Papyrus teased, lovingly petting the top of Sans’s skull.

Papyrus wasn’t deterred in the slightest by his silence, carefully unstrapping Sans’s limbs to free the lamia. 

“Don’t worry about any sort of punishment or trap! Any good snake owner knows that their snake will escape at least once no matter how cautious they are. Snakes are very curious creatures, and I’m not about to stop you from exploring a little.” He said with what was supposed to be a reassuring smile in any other context.

Chills crept up Sans spine just thinking about that smile.

Fuck Papyrus. If he was trying to psych Sans out, it wouldn’t work. Sans would escape this place, even if it meant killing Papyrus to do it. He was done wishing that Papyrus would suddenly change his mind, or that this was all one awful nightmare.

Sans was done.

He was getting out of here.

'Even if that meant losing the one person who mattered to him?' Some traitorous part of his mind whispered, and Sans recoiled in disgust from his own weakness. He could do it. He would escape. (Sans had no other choice.)

About a half hour before Papyrus was supposed to show up, Sans put his plan into action.

The cuffs had become a permanent accessory, as well as the stupid collar. Sans would have to be careful not to move around much and risk hitting the metal bits on anything. He didn’t want Papyrus to hear him and give away his plan before it had even begun. 

Digging a tunnel under the shavings, Sans made his way over to the entrance. He wasn’t sure how Papyrus knew where he was in the cage, but there must have been a camera of some sort monitoring Sans’s movements. As creepy as that was to think about, he had to make sure that the tunnel didn’t disrupt the surface level to give him away. 

It was surprisingly easy to make his way to the door, wedging himself right next to it. He wasn’t quite sure where he was exactly since he couldn’t go above ground to check, but if he had done this right he was right where he needed to be. This had to work, Sans didn’t know how much more he could take.

Now to wait.

Sans didn’t have to wait for long, but it still felt like an eternity before the door slid open. His bones locked into place, barely even daring to breathe. 

Not yet.

“Sans!” Papyrus called, taking a step onto the ground.

Not yet.

Another step.

Almost.

“Sans?”

Now!

Sans erupted from the ground, blindly lunging for Papyrus’s legs with his fingers stretched wide. (Please don’t miss he would for real cry if Papyrus dodged him and Sans face planted like a dumbass)

Sans was almost surprised when he actually collided with Papyrus’s legs, but he didn’t allow his shock to slow him down. Calling on his experience with hunters, Sans dug the tips of his claws in the tight space behind Papyrus’s patella. Once Sans got a good hold, he proceeded to wrench the bone to the side as hard as possible. 

A violent popping sound ripped through the air. 

Papyrus’s sharp gasp of pain was sweet, sweet music to Sans’s ears. 

Shoving away, Sans didn’t waste time watching as the tall skeleton went down like a tree struck by lightning. Sans scurried for the door, one eye on his fallen captor and the other glued to the electronic keypad. Almost breaking his finger with the force of his jabs, Sans punched in the code he’d memorized from all of Papyrus’s little visits. Slapping the final button, Sans almost sobbed in relief when the door slammed closed with a resounding slam. He did it. Papyrus was trapped, and Sans was on his way out of here. Now to find the exit to this hellhole and he’d be home free. 

Sans glanced through the glass, watching as Papyrus struggled to his feet, his kneecap jutting horribly out of place. Yep, definitely dislocated. At the very least partially.

Pride welled up in his chest. Comforted by the knowledge that Papyrus was stuck with no way out, Sans turned to leave. Of course he should have relied on his movie knowledge. Things are never that simple, especially with Sans’s awful luck. Because one second he was leaving, and the next the whole enclosure exploded.

Correction: The glass wall exploded, spitting pieces of glass like bullets out of a gun.

Sans just barely managed to duck behind his own tail, gasping in pain when shrapnel pierced his tail. He felt like he had gotten stabbed over and over. Once the coast was clear, Sans hesitantly pulled back to inspect the damage. Several shards of glass had impaled his tail, embedded deep in his ecto flesh. Every move shot sparks of agony through the injuries, making Sans regret even checking the wounds out.

“Sans...” 

Sans’s skull swiveled towards Papyrus so fast he almost gave himself whiplash.

There he was, stood at the open frame into Sans’s enclosure. Papyrus was definitely limping, leaning heavily on one leg as he stared Sans down. 

Sans locked eyes with what could only be a vast pit of darkness. He felt like he was staring into the abyss and it was grinning back. It felt as if massive hands were curling around Sans, swallowing him up within their possessive grasp. 

Sans choked on air, scrambling backwards uncaring of the glass digging further into his tail as he dragged the appendage against the floor. His back hit the wall with a dull thump. If Sans looked he would realize that he was right next to the doorway, but he didn’t move a single muscle, unwilling to look away from the eye of the beast. It was as if the moment he dropped his gaze, it was game over for Sans. 

Papyrus only watched, unmoving. His eye sockets were hyperfocused on Sans’s face, observing every facial expression like if he didn’t Sans would vanish forever. 

Then he spoke, his voice as hard as ice and twice as cold, “Sans, I don’t think you quite understand the lengths I’ll go for you. I’ll do anything if it means keeping you by my side.”

“Take your lengths and shove them where the sun don’t shine, buddy.” Sans mocked, suddenly feeling brave despite how close Papyrus still was. Only for a pained hiss to escape him when he put too much pressure on a certain part of his tail.

Papyrus froze at the noise, looking like his mind had been going a hundred miles an hour only to smack right into a brick wall. 

“Wait...” He muttered softly, seeming to take a mental step back to give Sans a proper once over. Papyrus really looked at him, his dark look dissipating quickly under a fresh wave of concern. 

“Be honest with me, are you hurt?” Papyrus asked, worried. He took a small step forward, Sans noting that Papyrus’s own injury slowed him down considerably.

“Did the glass do that? Oh no, it did do that! I’m so sorry! I shouldn’t have been so hasty. There were better ways of getting out, I’m sorry for hurting you. Please come here, I need to stop the bleeding.” Papyrus babbled, frantically assessing every wound he could see littering Sans’s poor tail.

At this point Sans was barely listening to a word he said, his soul throbbing so hard it felt like the world was thudding along to the beat. When Papyrus got closer, Sans immediately scrambled away. He pushed away from the wall and darted out the doorway, leaving a bright blue trail of blood. 

Papyrus reached out in panic, “Wait! Sans get back here right this instant! I’m not joking around! I will not have you trying to escape while injured you dummy!” 

Sans didn’t pause. He didn’t even process the words, only felt the fiery anger exploding out of the skeleton as he started chasing Sans down.

“Sans! Stop!” Papyrus shouted, the word echoing like thunder in Sans’s skull. 

Luckily, the injury had made Papyrus much slower than usual. He was hot on Sans’s tail, but thankfully he couldn’t quite catch the lamia. Sans quickly gained distance. Pure fear fueled Sans to the point where it was all too easy to ignore his own wounds.

Papyrus seemed to understand that, because he slowed down to a casual walk. 

“Sans, please stop running!” Papyrus called once again, trying for sickly sweet.

Hell no. If anything, Sans ran even faster.

The lamia practically zoomed down hallways, not slowing the slightest bit even after he was sure he had lost Papyrus in the maze that was Papyrus’s home. He practically threw the doors open, uncaring of the loud noises he was leaving in his wake.

Every option led nowhere, each room filled with junk that Sans wouldn't even know where to begin to figure out how they functioned. The exit had to be here somewhere, he just had to keep looking. Despite his handicap, Sans knew that if Papyrus got a hold of him that was it. Any chance of escape would burst into smoke, slipping through Sans’s fingers.

Sans hadn’t been very subtle either, his blood creating a trail that made it pathetically easy for Papyrus to follow. As much as Sans wanted to stop and dig out the glass to help stop the bleeding, he couldn’t, not with Papyrus so close. 

Sans couldn’t help but feel like he had become injured prey trying to flee for his life. While the predator hunted him down, his insatiable hunger driving him mad. And the predator was getting too close for comfort. 

Another room, another dead end.

After some time Papyrus had stopped talking altogether, his footsteps the only clue Sans had to his whereabouts. Sans couldn’t see him yet, but he could feel him closing in. With a sudden start, Sans realized that he had run out of time to get away. He needed to hide, and fast. Panic rising, Sans frantically searched the room he was currently in.

There!

Wedging himself behind some boxes covered in a while sheet in the corner, Sans hunkered down. Tucking his tail nice and neat was impossible with his wounds, but Sans did his best. He also hoped that his frantic running around had smeared the blood trail enough that it wasn’t obvious which room he was in.

He had hid just in time. Soft steps could be heard in the distance, steadily getting closer. If Sans was lucky and Papyrus went into a different room for long enough, he could try and sneak past him. He just had to stop shivering. Luckily his bones were drawn tight enough to stop himself from full on rattling. Sans gripped the edge of the sheet, trying to stop his trembly fingers. It was no use, now his whole hand was shaking something fierce.

Shit he was so fucked. Was this his life now, living out every horror movie cliche in the book? 

If he got enough of them would he win bingo? If the prize was a severe case of ptsd then he wanted nothing to do with it.

Sans quit breathing altogether when the footsteps came to a stop right outside the door to his room. Wide eyed, Sans stared at the sliver of light peeking in from underneath the door, two shadowy intrusions blocking the light. Sans was sure Papyrus knew exactly where he was hiding. The blood trails weren’t that smeared. Readying himself to make a run for it anyways, he let go of the white sheet.

Sans tried to suck in silent gulps of air. It’s be awful if Sans had a crippling episode trying to get away. The sudden vivid thought of Papyrus gathering him up into his arms and shushing him until he calmed down was unsettling. Sans tried to shake the thought away.

Just when he was sure Papyrus was about to open the door and drag Sans out by his tail, the ominous shadows moved. Papyrus walked off the same way he came, calm and steady.

When he was finally gone, Sans collapsed into a shaky mess. That was close. Too close. He didn’t know if his soul could handle another close call like that.

As if reminding him that they were there, Sans’s cuts throbbed. If Sans didn’t know any better, he would think Papyrus hadn’t been injured at all judging by the casual way he moved. Indestructible bastard. 

(If he got caught and Papyrus didn't kill him, next time he’ll light Papyrus on fire. See if he can shake that off as easily. Oh, wait demons were impervious to heat. So much for that plan. Too bad, so sad.)

 

Chapter Text

Lim·i·ta·tion /ˌliməˈtāSH(ə)n/ ~ noun ~ a limiting rule or circumstance; a restriction.

 

Sans waited with baited breath for Papyrus to return. For him to magically appear in the room, gag in hand and an enraged glint in his empty eye sockets. But even after a few long, tense minutes... Nothing happened.

Cautiously, Sans crept out of his hiding place and slithered through the darkness with only a sliver of light to guide him along. Careful not to make a single sound, Sans opened the door a crack and peeked through. Seeing nothing nefarious going on, like Papyrus lying in wait like a creep, Sans poked his whole head out. 

The hallway was clear.

Suspicious.

Narrowing his eyes, Sans poked his tongue out to taste the air. Still nothing? Nope, not a single trace of Papyrus’s warm scent. Except a lingering hint from earlier, but it was far too faded for him to still be close by.

Forked tongue still hanging out of his mouth, Sans pushed the door all the way. When the swinging noise didn’t alert Papyrus to his position, he snuck out into the open with no small amount of wariness. Sans looked around, even glancing up just in case Papyrus had climbed up the walls and was crawling on the ceilings horror movie style.

Again, nothing.

Sans wished he hadn’t snuck into so many horror movies. He felt like he was about to get jump scared. The prospect was definitely much less funny in real life. Especially when he was the poor sucker living it

The tension alone was enough to put him out of his misery.

Slithering down to the end of the hall, he was met with two large obstacles. There were two doors and unlike any of the others Sans had come across so far, they didn’t have a handle. Instead there were two small windows revealing another intersection of hallways. If he squinted, he could make out more rows of rooms down the adjacent corridor.

As much as Sans wanted to go investigate, he couldn’t get the metal gateways to budge an inch. He gave up after noticing a keypad right next to them, and Sans put in the code to his cage. A little light at the top of buttons lit up a bright red telling Sans that he’d failed miserably

Sans broke out into a cold sweat. He tried once more just in case he’d messed it up. 

Another flash of red.

Nope. He’d typed the numbers in correctly. Well shit. Now what would he do?

Sans barely stopped himself from trying again just to be sure. After fruitlessly pushing at the unforgiving metal for a bit, he was forced to cut his losses. Having checked every room in this hall, Sans reluctantly deemed it a dead end and slowly made his way down the same path Papyrus had taken. 

Before long Sans was back at the crossroads right smack dab in front of his cage. There were four paths here, Sans had already explored two of them, one going back to the enclosure and the other being the way he had just came from. 

Sans realized that the options leading to hallways also had those giant metal doors with no way through other than a code. Earlier he hadn’t really been paying too much attention, but now it was glaringly obvious that if he wanted to get anywhere in this place he needed to know the codes. He had gotten lucky earlier when one of the doors had already been open for him, but he dreaded the thought that this was where his luck ended.

Being where he started was more than a little unnerving, so after trying one of the unexplored doors (locked unfortunately), and Sans was forced to go down his last option. With a soft click, the metal gave away under Sans’s hesitant push.

All the while, Sans cursed himself for not paying better attention to his surroundings whenever Papyrus had taken him out for more of his venom. Thinking back, Sans realized that Papyrus had always left the doors open when he came to get the lamia. 

Most likely so Sans couldn’t memorize the codes. Or perhaps to make them less noticeable? If so Sans hated that the stupid trick actually worked on him. Too focused on Papyrus, they hadn’t really registered as anything too difficult to get past. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

There were also strange screens everywhere, written in a language that Sans couldn’t understand. Touching them made the symbols ripple and shift, but not much else. Sans quickly lost interest and carried on.

The more and more Sans paid attention to his surroundings, the more he was starting to realize that his plan hadn’t really been much of a plan at all. He’d been too narrow minded and underestimated Papyrus. If Papyrus was confident enough to encourage Sans to escape, this place must be very secure. 

Originally Sans had thought that all he needed to do was take Papyrus out and figure out a way out of his cell. If he could manage that, then he could figure out the rest along the way. Turned out that was the bare minimum of what he needed to do if he wanted to leave. 

(If so, was his plan doomed to fail from the start? Why was he even trying anymore…?)

Feeling sick to his soul with nerves, Sans crept down the hall. Along the way, Sans noticed that a lot of doors actually had small narrow windows. That made it much easier for Sans to peek inside, but most of the time the room’s lights were off so the gesture was moot anyways. Still, it gave him some idea of what was inside.

Everytime Sans needed to open a door that didn’t have a window, he would press his skull close to try and listen. His tongue also made the occasional appearance, scenting the air for any hint of Papyrus. Truth be told, Sans wasn’t the most confident in his scenting. He wasn’t a starsdamned bloodhound or anything. Scenting the air was more for his own comfort than anything else.

Sans really wasn’t used to artificial lights, besides the ones in the enclosure that tried to imitate natural light the best they could. So the fluorescent lights were really starting to burn his eyes and get on his already frayed nerves. Sans tacked on annoying lights as another reason for him to try and escape, even if the reasoning was pretty insignificant. Sans really just needed the motivational boost, this maze was really starting to overwhelm him.

Sans reached the end of the hallway, and thanked his lucky stars when the doors opened with ease. Another intersection, Sans chose left on a whim and breathed a sigh of relief when they swung open just as easily.

More doors, more hallway, more bright ass lights. Sans was starting to get really sick of this hellhole. Everything was such a glaring white too. He only ever saw so much white when winter came, and even then Sans didn’t really need to deal with it for long because he hibernated through most of it.

The glaring lack of color made the place feel sterile. Not a hint of life could be seen anywhere. Having lived all his life in a forest where every inch was practically bursting at the seams with colors and noises, he felt very out of place.

Nearing the end of the corridor, Sans shot a brief glance through a door’s window only to do a double take. Unlike other rooms, this one had a bright blue light inside. Carefully, Sans got close to the window to look through the room. The blue light blinked out the moment Sans looked at it, but Sans had caught a glimpse of a big rectangle at the other side of the room. A doorframe of some sort?

The light flickered back on, then disappeared once more. Then again, and again. Maybe this was a way out. This was the first room to lead somewhere else, if what Sans was correct in his assumption of what the blue light was. Even if it wasn’t, the object looked important. 

When Sans pulled down the handle and gently pushed the door open, there was no resistance. The door opened just as silently as all the others did, a gentle click and Sans was free to explore. Every time he had to do this, he felt like a bomb was about to go off in his face.

Sans inched into the dark room, eyes straining to try and make out any semblance of a shape. He didn’t bother turning the light on, wary that it would give away his position. Paranoia prickled at the back of Sans’s skull, feeling eyes jabbing the back of his head.

He tried to brush it off, but then a loud creak echoed through the room before the door was slammed shut. Leaving the room pitch black. In an instant, Sans realized that once he’d came in, the blue light had vanished for good.

Sans froze in place like cornered prey, soul pounding and his mind racing. The lights flickered on with finality of a gun shot through the skull. Slowly, his soul beating to the sound of war drums, Sans turned to find exactly what he was dreading most.

Papyrus.

Papyrus stood right next to the door, still as a gargoyle. Instead of warding off evil spirits, he was the evil itself, ready to steal Sans and drag him down into the depths of hell. Papyrus stared down into Sans’s very being, his eyes glinting with amusement. 

He had been lying in wait for Sans to check this very room, and Sans had walked right into his trap. 

Curiosity over a pretty blue light had Sans falling right for it hook, line, and sinker. He had fucked up royally.

Oh no.

“Hello there, fancy meeting you here.” Papyrus purred, his voice silky smooth as he leaned against the wall for support.

Then he frowned, eyeing Sans up and down thoughtfully as he said, “Now come here, I need to clean those nasty cuts.”

Oh stars no.

Sans started to look around for some sort of weapon, but stilled when a bone construct appeared in Papyrus’s hand. 

“I’m sorry, Sans, but that wasn’t a suggestion.” Papyrus really did look genuinely apologetic, a strange mixture when combined with his threatening stance and his glowing eye.

“Come here. Now.” 

Sans shook his head, eyes wide as he shied away from the other. He was not giving up just yet. He just had to get a clear shot for the door and he could make a run for it.

Papyrus sighed heavily, suddenly looking like he was tired of Sans’s antics. As if this was all just some big game and Sans was acting unreasonable out of nowhere. He took a step forward.

Sans’s brain kicked into high gear, realizing that he was wasting time that he could have been using to escape this hell. The moment Papyrus moved, Sans darted for the door. 

It was no use. He was fast, but Papyrus was faster. Sans was jerked to a halt, something hard digging into his spine. Pumped to the brim with fear, Sans lashed out blindly. 

He got lucky. His tail bashed something hard, and normally any sort of hit coming from Sans wouldn’t be enough to even phase Papyrus, this wasn’t one of those times. A sharp gasp escaped Papyrus and his hands lost their grip. It was just enough give for Sans to yank himself away.

Freed, Sans ran like the wind. 

Yanking the door open, he burst into the hall like a bat out of hell, eyelights frantic and searching. The exit had to be around here somewhere, he just had to keep looking. Sans couldn’t get caught now, he was so close. He knew he was, he could feel it.

He didn’t get very far.

Something massive rammed into Sans, knocking him senseless. 

Papyrus had tackled the lamia, crushing him with his weight. Sans choked as all the air got suckerpunched out of him, leaving him a breathless mess. It felt like he’d been hit by a truck, but through sheer will Sans persevered. 

He’s gotten so far. He couldn’t be stopped now. Not now when he was so close. As if a switch had been flipped, Sans transformed into a wild creature, snarling and clawing at the other. 

For the first time Papyrus was forced on the defensive. He seemed to be wary of Sans’s fangs, rightfully so, because he focused on keeping Sans’s snapping jaws away from his person. 

It meant nothing to Sans, who focused on hurting Papyrus as much as possible, in any way he could. If he could just manage to get Papyrus to loosen his hold, Sans might be able to slip free once more. 

They rolled, Sans using his tail to spin them around so he was on top. He used the height to his advantage, lunging for Papyrus’s unprotected throat. The monster jammed his forearm under Sans’s chin, playing keep away. 

His jaws clicked shut, catching nothing but air and Sans snarled in frustration. Sans pressed against the arm on his throat, uncaring off the way it cut off his own air supply. All he cared about was sinking his teeth into bone.

“Quit struggling! You’re too hurt!” Papyrus glared, barely managing to avoid Sans’s fangs.

“Fuck! Off!” Sans spat, borderline feral at this point.

Papyrus openly winced when Sans used his claws instead, raking the sharp points down his sides as he drooled venom onto the other. If Papyrus got any in his cuts, he was a goner. Sans was banking on that.

Sans yelped when Papyrus suddenly twisted, using his strength to roll them over once again. It was difficult to do so while keeping a good hold on the lamia, Sans made sure of it. He fought the whole way, biting and scratching.

However Sans knew he could do nothing to free himself once he was pinned in place. His frantic thrashing was nothing in the face of Papyrus’s sheer size and strength. Fighting was meaningless so Sans shoved at the other, getting some distance. He tried to bolt but a deft hand wrapped around his tail and dragged him back between Papyrus’s legs. 

Straddling the lamia’s back, Papyrus pressed down with all of his weight, forcing Sans down onto his stomach with a pained wheeze. Papyrus’s knees pinned his arms to his sides, making sure that Sans couldn’t use his claws to try and attack or get away. 

Sans tried to wiggle his arms free, but hissed when the bone construct returned, pressing into his spine and crushing his shoulders down against the hard floor. A demonic screech ripped out of his throat, his rage masking his rising panic.

Sans couldn’t help but start screaming, “Let me go! Let go! Stop-!”

The gag appeared in Papyrus’s hand, so predictable but still just as nerve wracking. All of his rage was snuffed out by all consuming terror.

“Nononono please no-” Sans started to beg, only for his teeth to click shut under the force of Papyrus's hand. 

Papyrus grabbed his mouth and forced it shut, practically grinding Sans’s jaws together. The torture device was slipped over his face, even as Sans tried to frantically shake his head free of the contricting hold. 

Sans fought as hard as he could, but they had played this song and dance too many times. At some point Papyrus had become a master at handling Sans, and Sans had run out of ways to fight. 

Papyrus’s well practiced hands bound Sans’s wrists together, then he proceeded to attach the cuffs to the vile collar wrapped nice and snug around Sans’s throat.

Once again Sans was bound and tied, and Papyrus was back in control. Manipulating Sans’s body however he pleased. When the binds were secure, Papyrus’s anger melted away in an instant, going soft and sweet.

"Shhh shhhh it's okay. You did your best." Papyrus comforted, caressing Sans’s head. 

They both knew he was really checking to make sure the straps were tight enough. Sans tried to headbutt Papyrus, but the move was easily thwarted. When Papyrus picked him up, Sans was powerless to stop him.

"Let's go get you cleaned up, does that sound like a plan?" He asked, knowing damn well that he wouldn’t listen to a single word of Sans’s input. Not that Sans would try and talk civilly with this bastard.

Sans hissed, his eyes burning from his failure. His tail, cut up and bleeding sluggishly, hung limply. 

“You look so pretty when you’re upset.” Papyrus cooed, nuzzling the top of Sans’s skull. 

Sans didn’t bother trying to headbutt him this time, too busy choking back tears that had nothing to do with the painful mess that was his tail.

He had failed. Sans wasn’t sure if Papyrus would give him another chance to slip away. The thought that he’d spend the rest of his life here, stuck, was horrifying.

Other than Papyrus’s quiet murmurs telling Sans that everything was okay and other sweet little words that meant nothing, neither spoke. They were quiet all the way to the medical room, where Papyrus promptly set Sans down on the table. He didn’t bother strapping Sans down, instead turning to the door and locking it. 

Sans went to take advantage, only to pause when Papyrus ordered, “Stay.” 

Despite everything in his soul screaming at him to lunge for the door, Sans stayed. He blamed the decision on his injuries, and not due to the dark tone in the other’s voice, shooting sparks of fear up his spine. Warily, Sans decided not to press his luck just yet, instead wisely choosing to coil up on the table the best he could.

That seemed to be the correct choice, because Papyrus relaxed slightly, looking less like he was about to tie Sans up and leave him there for a few days. Pulling up a chair to the table, Papyrus sat down and dragged Sans’s tail close. 

Sans hissed threateningly, trying to wiggle away but Papyrus’s grip was made of steel.  Armed with a pair of tweezers, Papyrus carefully began to extract pieces of glass. In spite of everything that just went down, Sans was forced to relax just the slightest bit.

Looking around for the first time, Sans realized that there was a thin sheet on the floor and another on the table. A metal bowl filled with a sharp smelling liquid was placed on another table just besides the one Sans was lying on. Another bowl sat right beside it, this one empty. Lying innocently next them was a frankly excessive amount of bandages. Clearly Papyrus had been prepared.

Wait.

With a sudden jolt, Sans realized that at some point Papyrus had to have come back and gotten the room ready to treat Sans’s injuries. It hit him again that Papyrus had been more worried about the cuts than the possibility of Sans escaping. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard to believe, what with the excessive amount of metal doors and hallways. The place was pretty much a labyrinth at this point. Still, the realization hit Sans like a bag of bricks.

For the first time, Sans wondered if his inexperience with how houses functioned had tainted his view of Papyrus’s home. He had been operating under the assumption that Papyrus had brought Sans to his house. That didn’t seem so likely now.

Even if Sans had only seen homes from the outside, none of them could possibly be big enough to hold this many rooms and hallways. Sans’s enclosure alone was massive enough to be a house in it’s own right. It begged the question: If Sans wasn’t in a typical house, what the hell was this place? 

Where in the world had Papyrus taken him? It had to be close enough that Papyrus could drive to Grillby’s, but Sans had never seen any building big enough to contain this much space.

The thought that he didn’t have a clue as to where he was being kept was daunting, leaving gaping pitfalls of information that could get Sans caught next time he tried to make a break for it. Escaping was becoming less of a dash for the exit, and more like a labyrinth full of traps and deadends with no real way out once Sans was ensnared within. 

How was Sans supposed to escape when all the odds were stacked so heavily against him?

It seemed like Papyrus had noticed Sans’s wandering eyelights, because he spoke up, “While you were hiding, I decided it was best to get the medical room ready. I’d rather not fumble around trying to find the proper tools while you fight me every second of the way.”

Sans startled from his downward spiral, before grimacing when the words registered, only confirming Sans’s suspicions. Papyrus definitely wasn’t worried about Sans escaping. 

Sans didn’t bother responding to Papyrus, the gag making it hard to talk without pain. 

Even if he wanted to speak, he wouldn’t dare try. Papyrus’s continued calm reaction to Sans’s escape attempt made Sans feel like the other shoe was just waiting to drop and squash Sans like a bug.

“On that note, we do need to have a little chat about your behavior today.” Papyrus began, all too calm.

Each bit of glass pulled from Sans’s flesh was dropped into the metal bowl with a soft ‘tink!’. The small noise lowkey made Sans jump every time it happened. It was incredibly distracting.

Again, Sans didn’t answer, extremely cautious of where this one-sided conversation might be heading.

Papyrus seemed to expect Sans’s silence, because he went on to say, “What happened today was completely unacceptable, Sans. And I will not tolerate it happening again.”

Sans tensed, eyeing Papyrus warily. Like he was a bomb ready to go off at any second.

Rolling his eyes at Sans’s reaction, Papyrus waved the tweezers at Sans as he said, “Stop looking like I’m about to punish you for escaping! If anything, I’m proud that you’re capable enough to strategically incapacitate me and memorize your room’s keycode on top of that. It was very clever!”

The praise was completely unexpected, and Sans was thrown off. All of his apprehension was barreled over by complete bewilderment. 

“However!”

There it was. 

The catch.

Sans braced himself.

“You should have stopped the moment you got hurt!” Papyrus scolded

What?

No seriously, what?

Papyrus could kidnap him. Tie him up with torture devices until his joints creaked in pain. Take his venom and touch him however he pleased. But Sans getting injured trying to escape is too much?

For some reason, out of everything to be upset about Sans’s mind latched onto this, unable to let it go. He knew he should just forget about it, Papyrus was clearly insane and Sans had been lucky so far to avoid Papyrus skinning him and being done with it all. 

Knowing that didn’t stop Sans from wanting to set this whole place on ablaze with his anger alone. The burning hot rage seethed within him, barely held in check by his survival instincts. 

“Next time you try and escape, please don’t try it while you’re injured. I will not stand for you hurting yourself like that.” Papyrus said sternly, eye sockets narrowed.

Unable to answer with the gag practically crushing his teeth together, Sans only glared.

Papyrus still seemed dissatisfied, because he went on to say, “I mean it! You almost gave me a heart attack! And I don’t even have one of those!” 

When Sans still didn’t move, glaring at his tormentor with rage filled eyes. Sans’s control snapped, the rage boiling up inside his throat.

“I don’t care, maybe next time I’ll hurt myself on purpose. You probably secretly get a kick out of it anyways.” Sans spat through gritted teeth, anger making it easy to ignore how talking hurt his already aching jaws

Instantly, Sans wanted to take everything he said back, because Papyrus suddenly looked furious.

Apparently if Sans had to say anything, anything at all, that was the worst thing he could have chosen. His words seemed to snap something in the monster, because for the first time ever, Papyrus got angry with Sans. 

Papyrus’s eye blazed a toxic orange. His magic practically screamed ‘danger!’. The air felt electric, as if Sans had touched a live wire with his tongue. Sans could taste ozone.

One moment Papyrus was sitting there picking glass from Sans’s tail, and the next he towered over Sans, a bone construct appearing in one hand. Rage twisted his face into something ugly, and Sans shied away, unsettled. Papyrus made quite the intimidating monster, tucking the tip of the bone under Sans’s chin and making Sans to look into his eyes. 

Sans was forced to bare his throat, not that he tried to fight it. Papyrus’s anger made him want to curl into a ball and disappear into the floor.

Then Papyrus grinned.

“I’m fine with you trying to escape or hurting me to do so, but I draw the line at you letting yourself get hurt. Maybe a lesson will teach you not to test me.” Papyrus threatened, teeth bared at the lamia. Smiling all the while.

Sans shivered.

“Do I make myself clear?” Papyrus said, false cheer dripping from his words.

“Crystal.” Sans muttered, trying to regain his composure. He was downright terrified, but being scared also made his anger flare oh so hotter. Between his own red hot anger and Papyrus’s charged threats, Sans felt like he was going to be burnt to a crisp.

At last the bone construct was dispelled as Papyrus chirped out a playful, “Good!”

He returned to working on Sans’s injuries, the shards of glass growing smaller and smaller. The sharp smelling liquid was now tinted blue.

Sans watched dully, still wanting to fight but not wanting to risk Papyrus’s wraith.

“You’re such a faker.” Sans said at last, he felt childish saying it, but it was true.

“Is that so?”

A hint of darkness returned, yet Sans still couldn’t help himself. Some part of him kept telling himself not to poke the bear, but then his anger flared and Sans just could not stop. 

“Don’t pretend like you actually care.” Sans hissed.

“Oh Sans… Sans, Sans, Sans, that’s where you’re wrong!” Papyrus tsked, casually waving the treezers at Sans. He seemed to like doing that.

“I prefer the carrot, I really do, but I don’t mind getting the stick. Maybe a little demonstration after we’re done will get that through your skull.” Papyrus said. The finality of the statement was cold enough to freeze Sans solid.

“Take your demonstration and choke on it.” Sans muttered defiantly after a while, turning to stare at the wall. He didn’t want to admit it, but the ominous promise made him lose every ounce of courage he had.

Unfortunately, Papyrus could read Sans like a book and could probably tell that.

“Now that we’re done bickering, let’s get my cute little noodle fixed up!” Papyrus returned to pulling glass from Sans’s poor tail, now humming a soothing tune with a serene smile.

Once more Sans didn’t answer, trying to conceal his fear to no avail. It was clear that Papyrus noticed the shaking, but thankfully chose not to comment. 

Sans couldn’t understand. He really couldn’t. One moment Papyrus was awful, binding him so tightly it ached. And the next he was shushing Sans and taking care of his wounds with a soft smile. 

Sans didn’t know what to do, frozen in place both mentally and physically.

 

Chapter Text

Sen·so·ry dep·ri·va·tion /ˈsensərē ˌdeprəˈvāSHən/ ~ Noun ~ a process by which someone is deprived of normal external stimuli such as sight and sound for an extended period of time, especially as an experimental technique in psychology

 

After cleaning up Sans’s tail of any leftover glass, Papyrus flushed out the cuts with a warm liquid that was tinted brown and smelled bitter. A couple wounds had been deep enough that Papyrus was forced to get out a thread and needle and stitch them back together.

Of course once any sort of needle came into play, Sans wasn’t having any of it. He had been quickly restrained and given some shots to ‘help with the pain’. Papyrus had also given him several other shots, muttering the entire time about infections and other odd words. Urgh.

Turned out the bandages had been for Papyrus to use when he had finally sat down to fix up his knee. Patella still grossly dislocated (seriously how was Papyrus just walking that off??), the skeleton took a deep breath before wrenching it back into place. 

His kneecap made a harsh pop as Papyrus violently twisted the bone. Hissing out a slow breath, Papyrus began the task of neatly wrapping his knee, face looking much less pinched. Most likely due to the fact that his patella wasn’t shrieking at him in agony anymore.

Sans eyed the colorful dark orange bruises already forming around the injury. Yeah, Papyrus would definitely be hurting for a few days at the very least.

After that, Papyrus spang up like nothing had happened, picking Sans up to inspect the damage to his cage. He didn't have to use any codes because the doors were already opened, so Sans didn't learn anything new there. 

“Oh dear, what a mess...” Papyrus said to himself, eyeing the broken enclosure.

The glass made a nice crunching sound under Papyrus’s boots, and the whole side room to the enclosure was nice and humid now because of the air being freed.

“We’re going to have to figure out somewhere to put you while I clean this mess…” Papyrus said.

Papyrus looked thoughtful, and Sans knew that never boded well for him.

Eyes lighting up, Papyrus nearly shouted, “Oh! I have an idea!”

Sans winced at the volume of his voice, which was normally louder than the average person’s anyway, but that had been too loud even for him.

Papyrus whisked him out of the room and down a couple new hallways. These ones he had to use codes for. Sans tried to peek at the codes without giving away that he was peeking, but Papyrus carefully hid the keypad from Sans’s wandering eyes.

Damn him.

They eventually made their way to a room that Sans had never been in before. Unused equipment was covered in white sheets, the tables clean of dust despite the fact that it was clear no one had used them in quite a while.

“Here we are! Your punishment!” Papyrus said cheerfully.

It was a box.

Confused, Sans looked up at Papyrus.

Papyrus met his eyes with a frown, before scolding him, “Just because I’m proud of your escape attempt doesn’t mean I’m going to encourage that sort of behavior!”

What was he supposed to say to that? Sans knew that if he tried to escape and he got caught, that there would be some sort of punishment if not outright death. He just didn’t expect this.

“This should be fine for a couple nights. I’ll take you out in the morning so don’t worry about getting trapped. It’s not too bad a punishment, right?”

When it became clear Papyrus expected a response Sans only shrugged, completely drained. What was one small cage for another? Besides, it’d probably be like hiding under one of the hollow rocks.

Without further ado, Papyrus opened the top of the box and set Sans down inside. Not before slipping off the gag, which Sans was stupidly grateful for. He felt like his jaw would have broken if he had been forced to wear the awful thing any longer.

It was a tight fit, forcing him to curl up unless he wanted to get his limbs chopped off when Papyrus closed the thing. His tail was carefully tucked underneath him, wrapping around Sans in an awkward fashion. He fought a grimace as the movement jostled his injuries, not wanting to show any hint of negative emotion due to this ‘punishment’.

Papyrus grinned as Sans got into a good position. Sans refused to look at Papyrus as he closed the top. The motion was slow, full of suspense that unnerved Sans slightly.

“Goodnight, Sans!”

The box clicked shut, darkness swallowing Sans up and filling him with an odd sense of foreboding.

Sans traced the corners of the inside of the box, weirded out by how smooth the interior was. His scales practically glided against the walls. There was next to no friction, almost slippery wherever his body touched. Sans idly attempted to dig a claw into the material. No give. What was this thing made of? Steel??

He sighed, shifting to try and get comfortable. Nothing worked, so Sans finally settled for a position that vaguely resembled relaxing if he tilted his head and squinted. His neck was bent at an angle that practically screamed discomfort. Whatever.

All of the day’s events started to catch up to Sans, exhaustion seeping into his bones.  His aches and pains made him sluggish. Even lighting up his eyes to better see felt like way too much effort at the moment. He might as well sleep. It wasn’t like Papyrus had thrown a word scramble in the box with him to pass the time.

Despite how snug the tiny compartment was, Sans quickly slipped under, answering sleep’s beckoning call.

~*~

Sans woke up confused and unsure of where he was exactly, but only for a moment. The crick in his neck was quick to jog his memory. Sans wiped away the sleep in his eye sockets and blinked away his blurry vision.

Properly lighting up his fuzzy eyelights, Sans glanced around once more to see if he missed anything before in his tired inspection. The box was small enough that his eyes were more than enough to provide him with a good look at the container. Of course everything was still incredibly dark, but anything was better than nothing at all.

He wondered how long he had been asleep. A few hours at least.

Now that he had some time to process everything, Sans buried his face in his hands and laughed bitterly. How in the world was he supposed to escape this place? It seemed impossible, and Sans had no clue as to where to start looking for a way out.

What would happen once he found the exit? Was there another door with a code unique to that door alone? Was it boobytrapped so when Sans tried he’d only get himself caught? The possibilities were endless and all Sans could do was speculate.

Now he was trapped inside a cramped box, at the mercy of a madman. All he could do was wait for Papyrus to decide to come get him. Papyrus had already been able to do that before, but at least it felt like Sans had some semblance of control over the situation. He was just a fish in a barrel like this.

“Or a sardine stuffed in a can.” Sans tried to laugh his nerves off, but the chuckle sounded downright wrong. He was quick to stop laughing. 

Uncovering his face, Sans heaved a sigh and stared numbly at his hands resting in his lap. Fiddling with the cuffs on his wrists, Sans reached up to brush his fingers against his collar. He settled down the best he could, and waited for Papyrus to return.

Sans shuddered to think about facing this ‘punishment’ in pitch black. He could easily imagine the darkness creeping in and shrouding him, squeezing him until he was paste. Crushing that paste until there was nothing left. Like a black hole.

“I'll admit that that thought got away from me just a bit.” Sans said, his own voice feeling loud in the small space.

Time seemed to crawl onwards.

The fact that he couldn’t tell how much time had passed hit Sans like a slap to the face. It could have mere hours or even days (It felt like years ). The thought that he could have been here for only a few hours so far was maddening. He barely managed not to panic through sheer willpower so far, but he knew for a fact that he couldn’t take this for much longer without breaking down.

Time passed, but Sans had no way of knowing how long. He tried counting at one point, but he soon learned that counting the seconds was more a curse than a blessing. As the numbers grew, Sans felt his sanity dwindle into thin threads of cohesive thought. Either way, Sans forced himself to stop counting after the digits went beyond five numbers. 

Stubborn, Sans tried to count again, but dwindled off once more as the numbers grew too high for comfort. Counting was the only way to tell the time, but it really wasn’t worth the anxiety.

Sans started fidgeting, trying to find a relaxing position only to find none. The box was too small for anything resembling comfort. The cold, hard walls were unforgiving. Sans didn’t know how long it had been when he decided that enough was enough. He needed out of this stupid thing.

“Papyrus?” Sans tried, hesitant.

His voice seemed too soft for anyone to hear.

“Papyrus!” Sans called, his voice booming inside of the box.

There was no response.

Sans kept calling for him. Pleading with the other to let him out. His voice eventually reached decibels that he hadn’t been aware he could reach.

Again, nothing.

Sans waited a few minutes(?) before trying again. And again. And again.

Eventually after what must have been hours, Sans was forced to quit due to his hoarse voice. That’s when the panic really began to set in, digging its claws into his soul. What if Papyrus forgot about him? The thought was irrational and Sans quickly shook it off, his fear spiking only a little. The damage was done though, because paranoid ‘what if’s began to seep in.

What if Papyrus wanted him to suffer? What if Papyrus wanted him half dead from dehydration and/or starvation? What if this whole thing was a test to see if Sans would dare try to escape from the box?

What if Papyrus decided he was done with Sans and left him in the box until he died?

Now that thought, that thought shook him to the core. Sans tried to fight it off, but his soul was lodged in his throat, paranoia and fear rising. He couldn’t do this anymore. He didn’t want to die here. Oh stars, was he going to die stuffed inside this tiny box?

Deciding that he didn’t care about the consequences, Sans tried to open the box from the inside. Bracing his lower half against the bottom, Sans pushed at the lid with all of his strength. It didn’t budge the slightest bit. Slumping, Sans ignored the stinging in his eyes in favor of the panic tinged frustration welling up his throat.

Sans violently punched the top of the box as hard as he could, reeling back as pain shot up his arm. The action did nothing, but Sans pulled back a fist to punch it again. And again. And again.

Sans pounded his fist against the lid, smacking his hands against the roof to his prison. Until eventually his bones stung like he had shoved pins and needles straight into the marrow. He was forced to stop unless he wanted his hands to straight up bleed.

At this point, the thought was downright tempting.

Sans held his hands close to his chest, his fingers vibrating with aftershocks. Clenching and unclenching them, Sans tried to use the pain as a centerpoint to focus on. It worked up to a certain point. Then the feeling of invisible bugs returned, and Sans broke out into a cold sweat.

He didn’t know how much longer he could take this. His whole psyche was plagued with panicky irrational thoughts, making Sans feel as if his whole skull was stuffed with white noise.

And the silence. That, more than anything was driving him crazy. It surrounded him, becoming a heavy weight on his chest. 

The air itself was a thick blanket, growing heavier by the second. Rather than bringing him peace, the silence became more and more unbearable the longer Sans had to suffer through it. Sans pondered how strange it was that something that usually brought made him feel secure was now being weaponized against him.

Soon enough it felt like the weight of the world was bearing down on his chest, making it impossible to breathe. Nothing was actually stopping Sans from breathing, but he couldn’t breathe all the same.

Sans kept having to remind himself that this was all in his mind, he could breathe. (He could, he could , there was air, so why can’t he-) The box wasn’t airtight, Sans had slept for hours with no issues. Even knowing all of this, Sans had to manually swallow down air, deep gulping gasps that did nothing to help his spiraling mental state.

Sans outright whimpered when the walls around him seemed to start closing in, the small space tightening around him. For a split, irrational moment, Sans was sure that he was going to be squeezed to death. Throwing his arms out, Sans pressed his stringing hands against the walls of the box in a last ditch effort to keep the walls from pressing in further. 

Oh stars he was having an episode in this tiny little space. Unable to escape, trapped at the whims of his own panicky thoughts. This was literally his worst nightmares come to fruition, carefully cultivated by his own personal demon. This wasn’t just a punishment anymore. This was pure torture. 

The worst part was that Sans knew it was all in his head. He knew it. However knowing better did little to help him.

Sans knew that his fears were unfounded. That his panic was doing more harm than good. His anxiety was honestly the thing that was turning this whole experience from an uncomfortable timeout, to sheer agony. The stupid punishment wouldn’t be as nearly effective without his stupid emotions heightening every single thing and amping his nerves up until his head was ready to pop.

Sans pressed his hands to his sockets, but the darkness combined with the silent impenetrable walls closing in around him was too much to handle. Yanking his hands away, Sans blinked furiously, eyelights making this whole experience just the slightest bit better.

The light was kinda pointless when his vision kept getting blurrier by the second. Unshed tears trying to leave his burning sockets. Sans summoned his tongue only to bite down hard, sure that if he started sniffling then he was finished for sure. A little pain was much better than breaking down into tears.

In the time that he had been trapped in this place, he had cried more times than he’d like to admit. Knowing that he didn’t want to cry did nothing to stop to stop the tears from coming. 

Why couldn’t Sans control his emotions? What was wrong with him? He used to be much more relaxed and chill. It felt like every day that he spent exposed to Papyrus, the more every layer of defense he had got stripped away. The more he broke down, the faster Papyrus tore him apart with gentle touches and sweet nothings. 

Crying alone was awful enough, but crying in front of Papyrus was even worse. 

If Papyrus saw him now, Sans was certain that the monster would gather him up and calm him down with ease. Papyrus would hush him, wiping his tears away with his gloved fingers before pressing a soft skeleton kisses to his temple. Sans hated that the gentle touches worked better than anything Sans could do on his own. He despised how intimately Papyrus knew him, how he used that knowledge to his advantage.

What Sans hated most of all was that right now he needed that comfort. He much rather get cuddled by a demon than be stuffed in this awful torture device a moment longer. And he hated that.

It wasn’t long before Sans dissolved into shaky whispers in a pathetic attempt to comfort himself, anything to break the deafening silence.

“It’s okay, it's gonna be okay. I can breathe and there’s air and I’m not dying. I’m alright.” Sans mumbled to himself, uncaring that he sounded like Papyrus. At this point he did not give a fuck.

“The walls are not closing in on me. I’m not gonna die. I’m okay, I’m fine.” Sans wrapped his tail around himself the best he could and tried to calm down.

Unsurprisingly it didn’t work.

Despite the first time he counted the seconds going horribly, Sans tried again. When he reached the fifth digit once more, Sans stopped. And started over. 

Eventually that grew too much, so Sans returned to talking to himself like a crazy person.

He talked to himself. And talked. And talked. He didn’t know how long. (Didn’t know how long. He didn’t know. It’s gonna be okay. He could breathe. There’s air. It’s fine. He’s fine.)

(...)

( He was not fine.)

Sans needed out of this box right this instant or he was going to go insane. He needed out now. Oh stars he couldn’t take anymore of this. He didn’t care how weak he sounded, this was too much to handle. 

He couldn’t even scratch at the walls. His claws bounced right off them.

It felt like tiny invisible insects were crawling on him. Like ants scattered over his bones, burrowing inside and infesting his insides. The feeling was intense enough that Sans actually had to pat down his bones just to be sure that he wasn’t actually covered in bugs. Scrubbing his face, Sans took a deep breath and slowly let it escape.

He kept talking to himself, trying to distract himself from the feeling. The sensation didn’t go away. In fact it only got worse the longer time dragged on. 

Whispers eventually dissolved into mumbling. Mumbling into dreadful silence when he couldn’t handle the sound of his own voice.

All the while the walls kept closing in. Never close enough to actually crush him, but just enough to cut off his air. Choking him.

The stress grew to be too much.

Silence itself began to ring in his skull, despite his desperate words. Like a buzzing white noise that grew louder and louder the more he tried to ignore it.

The harder Sans shut everything out, the louder the noise felt. Soon, white noise began to fill him up from head to toe without his sayso. 

(He couldn’t stop it anymore. He wasn’t fine, he couldn’t take it. Someone, please, anyone-)

The panicked thoughts were soon washed away by the white noise, leaving him feeling vaguely empty and jittery. Sans welcomed the change with open arms. 

His head felt like it had been stuffed with cotton. The feeling was much more preferable, and Sans was grateful for the blanket wrapping his mind. The situation, his thoughts, and his very being grew distant in favor of soft cotton balls and cloudy thoughts. 

Slowly, Sans forced himself to curl up into a ball, eyes glazing over as he rested his against his scales. His limbs moved, but they didn’t feel real. Like he was piloting a body that wasn’t his. Soon enough he couldn’t even feel his fingertips, or the tip of his tail. He quickly lost feeling in the entirety of his body, left with only his mind, but even that was muffled with cotton. 

The world grew blurry as Sans retreated within his own mind. He stared blankly into the distance, feeling as if his skull was full of fluffy clouds and helium. Sans was vaguely aware of his body, his eyelights fuzzy and unable to focus even if he wanted to (Which he didn’t). All of his stress and fear vanished. If he tried, Sans could vaguely feel them through the wall of cotton, but he was quick to stop.

Instead, Sans willingly slipped further underneath the wall of white noise, allowing the protective bubble to encase his head. At last, he felt nothing. He didn’t feel real, but at least he was blissfully numb.

His body wasn’t real, he wasn’t real. It was all just a movie playing on the big screen as Sans watched numbly from the theater seats. 

Everything was fake.

He wasn’t real.

 

Chapter Text

Discombobulated /diskəmˈbäbyəˌlādəd/ ~ adjective ~ confused and disconcerted.

 

Eyelights dimmed, Sans drifted along. He had no idea how long he had been in the box now, long given up trying to track the time. Only vaguely aware of being aware, Sans allowed his mind to float away from his body. He made no effort to anchor himself, content to feel nothing but buzzy numbness.

Time became a distant concept.

Then with a dizzying suddenness the whole world lit on fire, shocking Sans’s systems. There was no warning, no nothing. Just burning flames eating his nerves alive. He felt as if he had touched a live wire. The sudden stimulus after so much nothingness was awful, bombarding his every sense like a hammer to a drum. Or a cheese grater grinding against his bones. Even wincing was strange, as involuntary as it was.

Sans squeezed his eye sockets shut, struck blind. Beyond his discomfort, Sans realized belatedly that the top to his prison had flown open and the sudden increase in light had blinded him. Blinking furiously, he squinted up dumbly at none other than Papyrus.

“Hello, my darling!” Papyrus greeted sweetly.

Sans only stared.

And stared.

The longer Sans didn’t make a single sound or move, the more Papyrus grew confused.

“Sans?”

Slowly, Sans sat up, his every bone making their protest at being forced to move clear with every creak. Sans felt as though he had unplugged his mind from his body and locked himself deep inside his skull, reconnecting everything all of a sudden was next to impossible.

Papyrus seemed to relax at the movement, taking it as a good sign. “Oh, wowie, I didn’t realize that the container was actually getting to you, Sans!” He teased.

For some reason, his words shot through Sans like a dagger to the heart.

He couldn’t take it.

It was all too much.

Sans burst into tears, choked sobs stabbing through him like knives. He curled inwards, wrapping his shaking arms around his waist. Hugging himself in a feeble attempt to hold his pieces together, the world began to rip into his fragile mind. It was all just too much, too much, too much. Sans sobbed brokenly.

Papyrus immediately changed his tune. The look of upset on his face had Sans hiccupping out a hysterical laugh. Even though the very sound his voice grated against his overstimulated mind, Sans couldn’t stop chuckling.

“Okay, um, perhaps that punishment was a little too intense.” Papyrus said slowly, hands twitching with the urge to pull Sans close and comfort. He seemed to be a little wary of Sans’s fragile state, so he refrained. (For now.)

Sans ignored him, frantically trying to swipe his tears away but they just kept coming. He couldn’t stop giggling either, little choked hiccups that vaguely resembled laughter escaping him every couple of seconds.

“Ugh.” Sans sniffled, feeling weak.

Crouching down so he was at face level, Papyrus asked, “Would you like to come out?”

Sans nodded frantically, holding his arms out like a hatchling. It was pitiful, but he didn’t care. He needed out of this torture device now.

“Come here then. I can’t let you out until this is on.” Papyrus teased gently, shaking the gag in one hand almost playfully. They both could tell that his heart wasn’t in it in the slightest. The other hand beckoned Sans closer.

Sans weighed the pros and cons of being in the box versus being gagged. Being trapped in a cramped dark space clearly beat the gag in fear levels at the moment. Warily, Sans forced himself to crawl over so Papyrus could put the stupid thing on.

“Good boy!” Papyrus praised jokingly, still trying to lighten the mood.

Sans’s mood refused to be lightened, and another unhinged chuckle (sob) escaped him.

Papyrus was extremely gentle as he pulled the gag straps over Sans’s skull. Sans didn’t dare move for fear of Papyrus suddenly changing his mind and slamming the lid back over Sans’s head. Sealing him back inside for who knows how long.

Once the gag was secure (admittedly much looser than usual), Papyrus wasted no time in scooping the lamia up into his arms and fast walking away from that torture box. He could still feel echos of walls closing in around him. His achy bones also reminded him of the tight space crushing him into the most uncomfortable positions.

He curled around Papyrus the best he could on the off chance he decided to put Sans back in the box. Digging his claws into the fabric, Sans held on as tightly as he could. Every step away from the container almost felt unreal to Sans. Scratch that, everything felt unreal, even him. The only thing that did feel real was the warm body pressed against his own, the steady thrum of a soulbeat easing some of his anxiety.

The desperate hold did not escape Papyrus’s notice.

Glancing down at the lamia’s tear stained face, Papyrus frowned, before saying, “Nope, that was definitely too much. Next time I’ll look into something much less traumatizing. I’m sorry, Sans.”

Stars, did Sans hate this son of a bitch. The urge to claw at the bastard’s eye sockets was almost overpowering, and Sans barely withheld his violent urges. Instead of getting angry and attacking Papyrus, which would most likely end with Sans trapped once more, Sans chose to hide his hot tears in the other’s warm sweater.

“Now, are you hungry by any chance? I have a bag full of greasy food with your name on it!”

He wasn’t actually hungry, but Sans still nodded, refusing to leave the safety of the sweater all the while.

Papyrus did, in fact, have a bag of Grillby’s at the ready.

Setting Sans in his lap, Papyrus carefully took off the gag so Sans could eat. Sans didn’t bother fighting, only upset that he couldn’t hide his crying anymore.

Despite being trapped inside of that box for who knows how long, Sans wasn’t hungry in the slightest. Even the smell of his favorite food felt like it was assaulting his senses, making him feel nauseous.

Hesitantly, Sans reached for a fry and took a nibble. The first bite of a fry did nothing to awaken his appetite, so Sans carefully set down the fry to return hiding in the sweater. Or try to at least.

Papyrus didn’t let him get much further than twisting halfway, keeping him facing forwards with two firm hands on his shoulders. Probably so the lamia couldn’t have a chance to bite him.

Only then did Sans start struggling, and Papyrus’s hands tightened in response. Sans started panic the further he got from the only thing keeping him calm. He really needed something to cling to, no matter what the source was.

Sans felt disconnected from his own mind. As if his own body wasn’t his anymore. He had never taken drugs before, only watched dumbasses get high behind the local Denny’s and seen (most definitely exaggerated) depictions in movies, but he was pretty sure that this was what getting ‘high’ felt like. He felt like he was about to float away into the sky.

The only thing grounding Sans was the steady contact of another person. The fact that it was Papyrus of all people didn’t matter. He needed a goddamn hug and he was getting one. Even if he had to suck up his pride for some cuddles.

At last Sans gave in and pleaded, “Please? I just need a hug. I won’t bite, I promise. Please Papyrus.” He whined as pitifully as he could

Papyrus let go at once, surprising both of them.

Sans immediately turned to hide in the other’s chest. He didn’t try and attack Papyrus, or bite him. Just like he promised. He hated how much his actions screamed, ‘See? I can be good! I’m good! Look how sad I am. Please hug me. Please please please.’

Still, Papyrus seemed ready to push him away at any moment. The longer Sans huddled against him, however, the more he began to relax. At last, it seemed like Papyrus realized that Sans was too out of it to use this moment to his advantage.

‘Maybe next time.’ Sans thought distantly.

Hesitantly, strong arms wrapped around the snake, pulling him close. A shaky purr escaped the lamia. So quiet that one could easily mistake it for one of the whirring machines nearby.

Sans wondered whether Papyrus’s caging embrace would set off Sans’s panic mode, but nothing happened. If anything Sans relaxed further, sinking into the hug as much as he could without actually returning the favor.

“Sans?” Papyrus asked eventually, sounding completely bewildered by the sudden change in attitude towards touching.

“Mnh?” Sans managed.

“As much as I’m loving every second of this, your food is getting cold.”

“M’not hungry.” Sans said.

“Would you eat if I got you something a little healthier?” Papyrus asked, hopeful.

A pause, before Sans muttered, “No...”

There was no response, and Papyrus seemed to give up on feeding him. Good.

A gentle hand caressed his spine, causing Sans to tense momentarily. Manually unfreezing, Sans slowly leaned into the contact.

As if praising his passiveness, Papyrus clicked another kiss against his skull and pulled the lamia closer. Sans felt small in his hold, yet the floaty feeling in his soul was starting to dissipate.

The more they sat there, the more Sans was starting to feel normal again. Not much, but it was enough for logic to rush in full force. In the back of his mind, the realization struck that he was lying in the arms of the very monster who had done this to him. Some part of Sans wanted to start screaming, and another larger part wanted to get away as quickly as he could.

For now, Sans chose to completely ignore rationality. Shoving down his logic, fear, and rage, Sans allowed himself to bask in the warmth of the body pressed against his.

If Sans imagined real hard, he could pretend that none of this had ever happened. That the hard floor was his favorite rock, and the bright fluorescent lights was the sun. He could pretend that he was cuddling his Papyrus, and not whatever this monster was.

After a few minutes of blessed silence, Papyrus ruined it by saying, “Sans, I know it’s hard, but you need to eat.”

“Noooo.” Sans whined.

Papyrus sighed.

Things were quiet once more.

Sans hoped that that would be the last of the food issue. At least for now. He knew he needed to eat, but if he had a stomach the organ would be twisted in knots. Sans really didn’t think he could handle eating a single bite, much less keep anything down. He really wasn’t in the mood to vomit.

Papyrus leaned forward, low-key crushing Sans as he reached for something behind the lamia. If Sans was being honest, the sudden squeeze was nice. Like a physical force was holding him together when he didn't have the willpower to move or even think. Another anchor to weight him down to reality.

Papyrus was quick to stop squeezing Sans with his own body, leaning back with one arm wrapped around Sans's waist. He pulled back, and Sans only allowed him to do so because of the way his arm pulled Sans closer. Shooting a quick smile at Sans, Papyrus caressed his cheek with his free hand.

Sans leaned into the touch, eyes fluttering closed. He really just wanted a hug but he'll take what he could get. Too bad Sans wasn't in the right sort of mindset to notice that Papyrus's grip was tightening fast. Not until it was too late and he was held firmly, but not painfully, in place.

Even so, Sans still tried to slip away. He froze when Papyrus's finger curled into his eye socket to help keep a good hold. The finger in his eye didn't hurt, but something was still wedged in his socket obviously. Sans tried not to look at the finger, the feeling of his eyesight mingling with the glove felt like it should hurt but didn't and also made his vision go funny.

A small whine slipped out without Sans's consent, and the grip loosened slightly. Sans stared up at Papyrus, feeling betrayed by the sudden shift from affection back to the forceful bullshit. He stopped trying to get away though, giving into the uncomfortable sensation and staying in place. This was much more pleasant than being inside the box, and he really didn’t want to do anything that would make Papyrus put him back.

Papyrus only shot him an apologetic look, holding up a fry with his other hand. Apparently he had dragged the bag of food close enough that he could dig around and grab what he needed. Which was apparently french fries.

"Please eat. I don't want to resort to getting out a tube. Being force fed from a tube is never fun, trust me." Papyrus said, waving the fry around in little circles.

Sans listened, staring at the fry and trying to imagine himself actually eating the food item. If he had a stomach it would rolling. He really, really didn't want to eat. However it seemed like being cute and cuddling wasn't going to change Papyrus's mind on the matter. Ugh. 

Going limp, Sans reluctantly opened his mouth so Papyrus could feed him.

Papyrus beamed, and the fry was brought up to Sans's mouth so that he could take a bite. Sans bit down, grimacing. 

Once the first fry was gone, another quickly took it's place. He went at a snail's pace, but Papyrus seemed to smile brighter with every bite. Half-heartedly chewing the food in his mouth, San tried to ignore his protesting insides. His insides churned uneasily with every bite, the magical food sinking like a rock.

Awarding Sans's compliance, the hand slipped from his socket and returned to petting. That was nice. Sans tried to focus on the gentle touching rather than the food going into him. He really didn't want to puke. Luckily, Papyrus didn't try and force Sans to eat the burger, only wrapped it back up to save for later.

Papyrus cracked open a bottle of water Sans hadn’t noticed before now. Twisting off the cap and setting it to the side, Papyrus brought the bottle up to Sans’s teeth. Taking small sips, Sans slowly started to feel better. He drank about half the bottle when he couldn’t handle anymore.

Pulling away, Sans shook his head.

The abrupt action startled Papyrus into spilling some on Sans, but he recovered quickly. Sans really didn’t care.

Wetting a napkin, Papyrus took his face in one hand and dabbed at his cheeks. At first, Sans assumed that it was because he was a messy eater, but he quickly realized that Papyrus was trying to wipe away his tear stains.

The gentle touch was almost enough to send Sans into another crying fit, but he bit back the tears.

Once he was done with that, Papyrus pulled away with a satisfied expression. His eye sockets softened the longer he looked at Sans, and Sans? Sans looked away the best he could, not wanting to see those kinds of emotions directed at him. Not now. They only made him hyper aware of himself and how awful this whole situation was.

The sudden kiss to his forehead startled him, but Sans didn’t fight it. The kiss did remind him once again that he was sitting in Papyrus’s lap, and that he wasn’t struggling to get away. Sans bit the urge to fight or scream down alongside his tears.

Papyrus almost undid all of Sans’s hard work with his happy smile. Especially when he pulled out the dreaded gag. Again, Sans remained limp. The gag was loose, and Sans made no moves to scratch at the leather. 

The world was still distant, but every touch against his trembling bones was just shy of Too Much. Yet at the same time the touch wasn’t nearly enough, leaving Sans in an uncomfortable area between overstimulated and needy. A double bladed sword.

In a quick, graceful move, Papyrus bounced to his feet. Sans felt his soul lurch at the sudden action, the heavy food adding to his discomfort.

“Okay! Time to go!”

Go? Go where?

Sans froze like a deer in headlights, eyelights gutted out.

Sans shook his head, clinging to Papyrus with all he had. He couldn’t go back. Not yet, oh please not yet. He buried his face in Papyrus’s chest, trying not to feel ashamed of his weakness and failing.

Papyrus stilled, and Sans could practically feel the skeleton’s eyes locked on him. Shivering, Sans held on tighter. Slowly, Papyrus sat back down, mindful not to sit on Sans’s tail. He tucked the lamia into his lap, gently petting the shaky snake.

“Hey...” Papyrus began tenderly, “What’s the matter?”

Sans didn’t answer, fighting to hold on when strong hands pried him from his death grip on the other. He met Papyrus’s worried words for a split second, before averting his eyelights.

When Papyrus began to pull back further, Sans panicked, grabbing a fistful of Papyrus’s shirt and yanking himself back into his hiding place. Startled by the sudden action, Papyrus let him. This time Sans swallowed up his shame, and fear, and all of his negative emotions. He wrapped his arms around the other in a desperate hug, claws digging into Papyrus’s back.

“I don’t wanna go back to the box. Please don’t make me.” Sans blurted out, his face burning with shame. Luckily his face was hidden.

“Sans, wait-”

Sans wasn’t fully listening anymore, fueled by adrenaline and fear.

“Please please please, Papyrus, please.” Sans pleaded into Papyrus’s chest, curling his fingers in the back of Papyrus’s sweater.

“You don’t have to beg, you know?”

Sans only hissed in response.

It was a soft, sad sound.

“Oh Sans…” Papyrus sighed, gathering the lamia into a loose embrace.

Pressing his teeth to the top of his head in a skeleton kiss, Papyrus nuzzled him. Struggling away was the last thing on Sans’s mind. If there was one good thing about cuddling Papyrus, it was how warm the monster was. Sans gladly soaked up the heat, tangling himself deeply into the other in the hopes that if he did so he could forget everything.

“That box is clearly too much. It was supposed to be a little punishment, not torture. I wasn’t planning on putting you back in it, I was just going to lock you in my room.” Papyrus said.

Sans relaxed just the slightest bit, eyelights still faint.

Oh thank the stars. Sans wasn’t sure whether Papyrus was lying about what the punishment was actually supposed to accomplish, but he really did not want to test Papyrus’s mood.

“Such a strong reaction is... concerning. I think I’m going to keep you by my side where I can keep an eye on you.” Papyrus eyed Sans, worried.

Sans nodded so fast he almost got rug burn from Papyrus’s shirt. He didn’t care. As long as he didn’t have to go back he’d put up with anything. Even if he had to roll over and do whatever Papyrus said.

“Wanna go see me do some chores?” Papyrus asked, bright and cheery.

“Sounds good to me...” Sans said, hesitantly. At the very least he might get a better idea of the place or even get the codes to some doors.

Sans glanced shyly up at the other, and Papyrus positively beamed with joy. He quickly looked away, burying his face in Papyrus’s scarf. The fabric smelled like citrus (his laundry soap maybe?), with a hint of sweetness underneath. Sans had never been able to place the sharp yet sweet scent, but it was distinctly Papyrus.

He was lucky that Papyrus hadn’t decided to keep him in that horrible box from the start. Or that he wasn’t constantly tormenting Sans. Technically Papyrus hadn’t even punished Sans, only locked him inside a box and his fears did the rest of the tormenting. Either way, why make it worse for himself? Besides, if he was stuck in a stupid box there would be no chance of escaping.

With every moment Sans had endure this treatment, he kept reassuring himself that this was only temporary. Once he figured out how to leave this place he would never have to think about Papyrus again. Until then he could put up with the venom milking, with the uncomfortable touching, and all the weird staring. He could act the part of the perfect captive if it meant Papyrus would relax his tight grip enough for Sans to get the drop on him. Even if he had to beat down every single instinct blaring red alerts at him.

Sans could be good.

(He would have to be.)

 

Chapter Text

Tem·po·rar·y /ˈtempəˌrerē/ ~ adjective ~ lasting for only a limited period of time; not permanent.

 

Sans had never been on a bed before.

After making a quick stop in the medical room to check up on Sans's injuries (Sans noticed with no small amount of disappointment that Papyrus wasn't limping anymore), Papyrus dragged him around his home. He cleaned up rooms and filled out papers for hours, before finally calling it quits for the night and bringing Sans to his room. 

In that time, the lamia had managed to calm down a bit. Papyrus’s constant presence and hugs helped him along (unfortunately). Sans still felt two seconds away from mentally floating into the sky, but at least he wasn’t about to have a meltdown if Papyrus looked at him funny.

Papyrus’s room was a lot less intimidating than the rest of his home. For one thing, the whole room actually felt lived in. It was was colorful too. Not a single bit of white could be seen, and unlike the harsh lighting everywhere else the room’s lights were soft and dim. It was cluttered, but in a neat way.

Sans could feel his soul clench when he spotted a couple gifts he had given Papyrus before this whole mess. When they had gotten closer, they had started to give gifts to each other. Sans had found some old action figures in a dumpster. They had been cracked, chipped, and several were missing limbs. Still, Papyrus’s eyes had lit up like a kid on giftmas.

The figurines were clearly well taken care of, to the point that there was a small bottle of polish sitting next to them. Each figure had its own space, clearly placed on a higher scale than the rest of his things, which were stuffed and cluttered together.

Seeing where Sans’s wandering eyes were going, Papyrus flushed and scooped the toys up to place them on the highest bookshelf in the room. He glanced worriedly over at Sans, like the lamia would snap at any moment. It seemed like he thought Sans would try and break the gifts, as if Papyrus was undeserving of them now.

Smart of him.

(Sans ignored the way Papyrus’s meticulous care for Sans’s stupid gifts made his soul feel soft and gooey. This was already so messed up, he didn’t need anymore wires getting crossed.)

It was times like this that made it difficult for Sans to remember that Papyrus had kidnapped him. The one person who he had cared about had kidnapped him and borderline tortured him.

His brain had a hard time connecting the Papyrus who was sweeter than honey and treated Sans like a treasure to the Papyrus who was a sadistic asshole that thought he had every right to steal that treasure for himself. The pieces of the puzzle were there, but they refused to slot together, leaving Sans with all these pieces with shapes that didn’t connect no matter how hard he tried.

They looked like they should, and it seemed like they would, but Sans just couldn’t. He was left with scattered bits while the whole picture refused to be shown, stubbornly out of reach.

(He eyed the red scarf wrapped innocently around Papyrus’s throat, and when Papyrus glanced over, he quickly averted his gaze. His soul throbbed painfully.)

Shaking his head in an attempt to free himself of those kind of thoughts, Sans reminded himself that trying to figure out Papyrus didn’t matter. What mattered now was what Papyrus did to him, and what he would continue to do to him. Sans would escape, because Papyrus’s kind side didn’t excuse his cruelty.

Love didn’t excuse abuse.

Sans sank further into the mattress, sighing. Papyrus’s bed was soft, covered with thick orange blankets. They were all covered in bone patterns, and pillows were the same.

There was even a bone shaped body pillow, perfect for coiling around. Sans refrained, curling his bandaged tail up and feeling lost in a sea of blankets and pillows. The blankets were soft against his scales, and Sans barely resisted the urge to grab a handful and hide underneath.

He really, really didn’t want to feel comfortable. Especially when he was in the same room as Papyrus.

...

Actually, nevermind.

Fuck it.

Sans had just decided to play nice a few hours ago, might as well try to look like he was accepting things. He would make the best of a bad situation, even if it was something as tiny as getting comfortable in bed. He’d save his defiance for when he needed it.

So Sans did exactly that. Sans pulled the blankets over and buried himself underneath. The blankets were thin but there were enough layers that the chilly air didn’t bother the lamia as easily. Burrowing within the blankets, Sans sighed again and shut his eyes.

Zoning out, Sans focused on relaxing for once. He still felt out of sorts, his mind threatening to drift away from his body if he let it. The wall of cotton was all too ready to take over, but Sans fought the sensation. He wanted to be alert.

A few minutes passed.

Weirdly enough Papyrus didn’t bother him. Only the small shuffling as Papyrus cleaned or did whatever he was doing told Sans that he was still in the room. Speaking of, what was Papyrus even doing anyway?

Curiosity rising, Sans finally forced himself to peek out from under the blankets to see what Papyrus was doing, only for his mind to bluescreen.

“Why are you getting naked?!” Sans nearly screeched, sitting up fast enough to make the blanket fall off of him.

The memory of Papyrus touching him down there immediately came rushing back, and horror gripped Sans’s soul in a chokehold. His eye sockets went wide as his soul hammered away like a siren in his chest.

Papyrus froze in place, still in the process of lifting up his sweater. His long legs seemed to go on for days, and his tail bone was on complete display. His bones were a nice milky white, the only hint of color was at his joints which were airbrushed with a soft tangerine. That pretty orange grew more intense the longer Sans stared.

Actually wait a moment. 

When Sans looked a little closer, he also noticed long orange crosshatch marks running along every inch of Papyrus's legs. 

Abruptly, Sans realized that Papyrus was absolutely covered in what he could only assume to be scars. Once he noticed them, he couldn’t stop. It looked like someone had taken a handsaw to his bones and had the time of their lives. Then, somehow, magically put everything back together so every line seemed seamless unless you noticed the slight coloration giving them away.

“Oh stars, I thought you weren’t looking.” Papyrus said dumbly, knocking Sans out of the whirlpool of questions and thoughts racing through his skull.

“Um.” Was all Sans could say, still feeling horribly off balance. The emotional whiplash was ridiculous.

The sound seemed to knock some sense back into the other. Unfreezing, Papyrus shoved down the long sweater to cover his pelvis, blushing furiously.

“I’mgonnagetchangedinthecloset! Okaybye!” Papyrus squeaked out in a rush, jumping into said closet and slamming the door.

“Ahhhhh so embarrassing!” Came the loud shout a moment later, Papyrus seeming not to realize that the door was not soundproof.

Sans sat there, still unable to process what just happened. There was just so much to unpack, so much. Sans wisely chose to take that piece of luggage and toss it out the window. There, now he didn’t have to think about it ever again. Nope, he still couldn't stop thinking about it. Starsdammit.

One thing in particular seemed to linger on Sans’s mind, sticking to him like glue. What the hell was with those scars and how the fuck did Papyrus get so many? His legs were covered in them, but they seemed to be especially targeted at his joints. And stars, his pelvis looked like it had been absolutely pulverized before being carefully pieced back together. How the hell did someone withstand that much damage yet come out of it looking just fine and dandy?

It wasn’t long before Papyrus opened the closet door and stepped back out. He still had a slight blush high on his cheek bones, but seemed to have recovered from his embarrassment. Papyrus had changed into button up baby blue pajamas, covered in a whole bunch of tiny skull and crossbones. The words 'RAD GUY' were splayed across the chest area, clearly added on by Papyrus himself with fabric paint.

He was also still wearing his gloves and scarf, the bright red clashing with the soft blue. The leather gloves looked especially weird when paired with the baby blue night cap resting on top of his head. When Papyrus turned his head, the giant puffball at the end of his cap bounced.

Sans noted quietly to himself that his pajamas easily covered his scars, and the only bone left exposed was his skull.

The question slipped out without Sans thinking about the possible consequences, “What happened?”

Papyrus paused, before saying, “Well, I thought that you were being lazy and napping, so I took the opportunity to get changed into some pajamas! Apparently I wasn’t quick enough!”

If Sans actually cared and Papyrus hadn’t done what he did, Sans would avoid the subject like the plague.

Papyrus had given Sans a chance to turn back on his comment. Instead, Sans gathered his courage and ignored it, marching on, “No, not that. I meant the scars.”

He found that he really didn’t care about Papyrus’s feelings on the matter, finding a sharp satisfaction in the tiny wince that gave away Papyrus’s discomfort. Papyrus’s whole face closed off in an instant after the small hint of weakness, devoid of any earlier enthusiasm.

“What? Oh, those things? Yeah, they’re pretty ugly huh?” Papyrus mused with a shrug, but Sans could tell that this was a touchy subject. One that maybe he shouldn’t poke so eagerly.

Too bad now that Sans had some time to bounce back and regain some of his sense, his anger was coming back to knock the sense right back of him.

“How’d you get ‘em?” Sans probed, aiming for a curious yet casual air.

Papyrus raised an eyeridge, “Usually I do not tell those who have not taken me out to dinner first, but if you must know I shall bestow the story upon you! Come closer!”

He waited for Sans to lean forward slightly before saying, “I got them from,” Papyrus paused dramatically, as if waiting for an imaginary drumroll to finish.

“-None of your business! And if you enquire any further, imagine the great me losing a noble battle with a mighty beast! Perhaps a dragon!” He struck a pose, as if in the middle of slaying said dragon with a sword.

Leaning back, Sans lost most of his nerve due to the warning glint in Papyrus’s sockets

“Sooo, a dragon, huh?” Sans ventured hesitantly.

If he hadn’t been looking for it, Sans wouldn’t have noticed that way his shoulders relaxed as Papyrus said, “Yes! Exactly! I was very brave! And the battle was very great!”

Sans highly doubted that.

Papyrus dropped the pose as something seemed to come to mind, and he said, “Now if you’ll excuse me! I will be right back!”

Sans watched as Papyrus sprinted from the room like his pajamas had caught fire. Leaving Sans alone in an empty room, surrounded on all sides by blankets and still feeling cold. Some part of him felt out of place, being left by himself after having Papyrus attached to his side like a leech. He felt lost and didn't know how to fix it.

Shaking his head, Sans ignored his feelings, shoving them down deep. He didn't need Papyrus, besides the bastard would be coming back before Sans knew it. Taking the alone time as an opportunity to snoop, Sans carefully climbed down from the bed to look around more thoroughly than before.

He knew that he had to be quick about it, Papyrus rarely left him alone and when he did it was only for a minute or so at the most.  So Sans only checked under the bed (nothing, not even dust bunnies), speed flipped through a few books filled with dogeared pages and little post-it notes (he didn’t even understand the language of most of them), and snuck a peek at the inside of Papyrus’s closet (Filled with random clothes and shoeboxes? What was with all the hot pants? Why did Papyrus need four pairs of hot pants??). 

Sans knew he didn’t have time to look through any of the boxes or the paperwork on the desk. Time was running out, he could sense it, so Sans scurried back to the bed to crawl back under the blankets.

Right on cue, the door slid open, and Papyrus walked in with a big metal contraption. Sans carefully peeked out from under the covers to watch. Papyrus set the strange device on the floor, and Sans blinked when Papyrus began to manually unfold it.

Feeling Sans’s eye on him, Papyrus simply said, “It’s a cot. We use them for sleeping!”

Now that he said that, Sans could see the thin mattress fixed to the metal bars.

Sans nodded in understanding. That made sense. Why should Papyrus give up his bed when he had a bunch of ‘cots’ lying around? Sans wondered if the metal bars were so he could chain Sans down by his cuffs. He really hoped that wasn’t the case, but Sans knew how awful his luck could be.

Dragging a bookshelf in front of the door, Papyrus stole a blanket and pillow from the bed and dropped them onto the cot.

“There! Now that sleeping arrangements are out of the way, it’s time for cuddles!”

“Wha-”

Sans didn’t have time to brace himself as Papyrus divebombed on the bed and pulled Sans close in one swift motion. Cuddling the lamia to his chest, Papyrus breathed deeply as he nuzzled their faces together. His strong arms wrapped around Sans, pinning his arms to his chest.

Flustered, Sans squirmed, but wasn’t strong enough to get free.

“Yep, really not loving this right now.” Sans muttered.

He was gracious enough not to headbutt Papyrus as hard as possible. He really wasn’t in any position to attack Papyrus and not have it blow up in his face. So Sans decided to just grit his teeth and power through the touching.

Besides, Papyrus was warm, and he still felt like he was floating on air. The touch was a nice anchor, as awful as the person holding him was.

“So you don't need hugs anymore?” Papyrus pretended to pull away quickly, only to be stopped by Sans's panicky grab at his shirt. 

Sans stared at his own hand, betrayed. His fingers were fisted tightly enough to stretch the fabric. Jitters raced up and down his spine at the thought of being left alone.

Flushing, Sans let go, “Asshole.”

Papyrus only grinned, sticking out his tongue at Sans childishly. 

“Language!” Papyrus singsonged, gently knocking their skulls together and petting Sans with the hand that wasn’t wrapped underneath his back.

Sans didn't fight it when Papyrus returned to cuddling, going limp in the hold. Cuddling Papyrus left Sans feeling an odd mixture between safe, warm, and wanting to scrub his bones with steel wool until they were raw and covered in dust and marrow. It was an awful feeling, but one Sans forced himself to put up with. He even cuddled closer, ignoring the way part of his mind screeched with discomfort.

Sans had one last question on his mind. One that he couldn't help but ask, “How long was I in that thing?”

“The box?” Papyrus asked, looking faintly surprised at the sudden question.

Sans flinched and then nodded, not daring to even speak of said torture device.

“Only a few hours.” Papyrus sighed in obvious pleasure as he wrapped a leg around Sans’s tail and squeezed the lamia even closer. It wasn’t a sexual sound, just pleased and happy.

“How many?” Sans asked, feeling uneasy by how Papyrus carefully worded his answer (so Sans wouldn’t know the exact amount?). The uneasiness was heightened by how intimate they were becoming.

Papyrus seemed to ponder the question for a few moments, before he said, “Maybe eight? Or nine? I figured that you would sleep through most of it due to your little adventure beforehand.” His tone was light. Suspiciously so. Was it due to anger at Sans's escape, or something more?

“Oh.” Sans said, voice tiny. Had his punishment really been only nine hours? He did remember sleeping for a while, but had it really only been a few hours?

The whole experience felt much longer than that. Much, much longer. Sans wasn’t sure if he could believe Papyrus, but he also wasn’t sure if he could even rely on his own memories of the incident. At some point Sans had started to feel bugs crawling on his bones and that clearly hadn’t been real. The walls hadn’t really been closing in on him either. How could he be sure that he had actually counted all those numbers too?

Was Sans really so weak that he couldn’t handle some time inside of a box? He didn’t know how to feel about this whole thing.

Their hips being so close together made it even harder to think rationally. Papyrus’s core radiated heat, and Sans could actually hear his soul thrumming away. He was sure his own soul was pounding away from anxiety. He hoped that Papyrus couldn’t hear it, but Sans doubted that he would be so lucky.

Fingers brushed under his chin, before his face was tilted up to meet dark eye sockets. Papyrus pressed tender kisses against Sans’s skull, and Sans squeezed his eyes shut to distance himself from the sensations.

Finally, Sans couldn’t take anymore. Twisting his head away sharply, Sans buried his face in Papyrus’s warm chest. Now that he was even closer, he could hear the strong thud of the other’s soul as clear as day.

“Back to hiding?” Papyrus snickered, content to press one last kiss against the top of his skull before firmly wrapping both arms around Sans and holding him even tighter.

Before everything, cuddling with Papyrus had been nice. Nicer than nice. Gentle touches were welcomed, cuddling under the sun was pure heaven, and kisses were easy as breathing. Sans had never felt so safe then when he was with Papyrus, but now everything had grown twisted and corrupt. Every single bit of contact made his bones crawl and he all wanted to do was take an ice cold bath in some liquid soap. He felt dirty, used.

The words had been so kind, so sweet, so distracting. Sans had been blind fool, naive enough that a little kindness was enough to lower his guard. He had completely missed the obsessive gleam in his friend’s eyes.

The sudden return of the kissing after days of snarling and dark threats felt awful and out of place. He didn't want them, but he had no choice in the matter. Sans needed to get his head on straight and start planning a proper escape route. He couldn't do that if he was constantly getting mindfucked and having punishments sprang on him at every inch of the way. 

Closing his eyes, Sans focusing on his breathing. There was no need to get worked up. Instead, Sans let himself enjoy the warmth coming off the other, using the sensations to anchor himself. 

Rubbing his face in Papyrus's chest, Sans hissed slightly when the gag dragged annoyingly. Papyrus seemed to catch onto the issue Sans was having after a couple annoyed drags against his pajamas.

“Let me adjust that real quick before we sleep.” Papyrus said as he sat up, pulling Sans into his lap to mess with the gag’s straps.

Instead of tightening it even further like Sans expected him to since the gag wasn't even on that tightly, it was loosened generously. Sans probably shouldn’t be surprised by Papyrus’s confidence that Sans couldn’t get the damned thing off and bite him in his sleep, but he was. Also a tad offended. Just a tad.

Pulling back, Papyrus examined the straps and asked, “Is that better?”

“Sure.”

Papyrus smiled, “Good!”

A few minutes passed, before Papyrus sighed and with one last squeeze let go. Sans just barely stopped himself from reaching out to pull Papyrus back.

"I think we've both had a long day. Why don't we get some rest?" Papyrus carefully set the lamia down in the middle of the bed as he sat up. 

Oh, shouldn't Sans get on the cot then? He might as well try to be good. However when Sans started to get off the bed, Papyrus shot him a baffled look and pulled the lamia right back onto the mattress.

“What are you doing?” Papyrus asked, bewildered. He stopped Sans from trying to get off the mattress again, pressing Sans firmly down by his shoulders for a good second before slowly backing away, allowing his hands to drop to his sides when Sans remained in place.

“Going to bed?” Sans said after a moment, just as confused. Eyelights darted towards the cot before refocusing on Papyrus, growing more and more confused by the second.

Papyrus followed his brief glance, before a huff of laughter escaped him.

“Nope, you’re taking the bed and I’m taking the cot.” Papyrus insisted.

“But-” Sans started protest, unsure why he was even trying in the first place. He didn’t even want to sleep on the cot, but the kindness was off putting. He just wanted a pattern to this wild behavior, something, anything.

“The cots are too uncomfortable and don’t provide enough support. Besides, if we shared I’m sure that you wouldn't sleep a single wink!”

The prediction was all too accurate, leaving Sans feeling both offended and incredibly relieved. He had dreaded that very thing, but for Papyrus to drag that fear out into the open. Knowing him to the point where he expected that reaction made Sans feel oddly childish.

Like Sans was the one being unreasonable, yet also like it was the most simple conclusion to come to in the world? As if he was being silly, but couldn’t help feeling that way so it was understandable? Ugh.

Not for the first time, Sans wished that Papyrus was a simpler monster and stuck to one side. This whole teeter tottering between sweet and psycho was making it impossible for Sans to wrap his head around anything Papyrus did. Predicting anything about Papyrus based on his words and actions was impossible since both seemed to flip at the drop of a dime.

Sans didn’t bother fighting as Papyrus fluffed his pillows and threw the blankets over him. Backing away, Papyrus frowned and came close once more to fidget with the blankets and pillows until he was finally satisfied. Papyrus tucked Sans in, only to frown again, eyeing him up and down.

“This still isn’t right.” Papyrus mumbled.

“What?”

“Gimme one second!” Papyrus chirped, bouncing over to his drawers and pulling one open. He dug around inside, before frowning and opening another.

Sans watched the other search through his drawers, muttering to himself the whole time.

“Not here, not there either, hmmmm-Ah ha!” Papyrus cried out in triumph, pulling out something blue.

Turning with his back to Sans, Papyrus fiddled with the object in his hands. He seemed to be concentrating pretty hard. Some orange smoke flickered in the air above his head, and Sans subconsciously flicked his tongue out to taste the magic in the air.

The forked appendage immediately vanished when Papyrus deemed whatever he was doing satisfactory and spun around. Apparently he wasn’t fast enough, because Papyrus stared at his mouth for a split second before shaking his head wildly. (Um?)

Glancing at Sans to see him watching, Papyrus returned to ‘normal’, smiled slyly as he hid the thing behind his back. “Close your eyes and raise your hands in the air!”

Not really up for struggling at the moment, Sans did as told. He didn’t even peek. He was a good sport like that.

Sans jumped about a foot in the air when cloth brushed against his fingers, even though he had expected it. Sans barely managed to keep his eyes from flying open, squeezing his socket shut when the fabric seemed to eat his hands and forearms.

The piece of clothing slid down his arms, enveloping him within. He wanted to start fidgeting when the strange thing slipped over his head, feeling trapped.

As if sensing Sans’s apprehension, Papyrus thankfully hurried up. Maneuvering the lamia and popping his skull and hands through holes at the top, Sans sensed him take a step back.

“Okay! You can open them now!” Papyrus said, sounding excited.

Sans blinked in surprise, inspecting the blue hoodie covering his bones. The cloth was thick and felt like heaven against his bones. And it was super toasty, like basking in the sun on a hot day toasty. It was absolutely wonderful.

“I made it a while back with you in mind! I’m really glad it fits!” Papyrus said, then he frowned.

“Though it might be a tad too large. I’m too used to making things in my own size.” He thoughtfully muttered to himself, eyeing the large hoodie swallowing Sans’s tiny frame.

“Oh.” Sans said dumbly.

Papyrus beamed, downright ecstatic, “If you don’t like it you can take it off, but I figured since you get cold so easily a hoodie would go a long way! I even threw in some fire charms to help!” 

Sans stared at his hands, sleeves partially hiding his fingers. He had worn clothes before, but anything one could fish out of a dumpster was always scratchy and made him itch. This hoodie was clearly high quality. Reaching back, Sans felt the equally soft hood.

“Thank you...” Sans forced himself to say, but he was shocked to find that the words ringed genuine. He immediately shut up after that, meeting the other’s eyes for only a moment before returning to messing with the hood.

Now Papyrus looked bemused, seeming genuinely shocked by the gratitude. “Um, you’re welcome! I guess?”

Papyrus stared a moment longer, before furiously shaking his head and taking a flying leap onto the cot. The poor thing bounced under the sudden weight, scrapping noisily against the ground.

Sitting up with a happy noise, Papyrus called, “Sleep, Sans!”

Sans blinked at the odd way Papyrus said that, like it was an order. The thing was, Papyrus didn’t sound like he was ordering Sans to sleep. Which was very weird.

“Sleep?” Sans said without thinking.

“Did I say something weird?” Papyrus asked, faltering.

Shit, now Sans had to explain and talk even more, “Did you mean goodnight?”

“Ah! Yes! Of course! Goodnight, Sans!”

Without further ado Papyrus flopped onto the cot, sockets closed.

The room was still for several seconds, before Papyrus lurched back up fast enough to cause Sans to flinch.

“I forgot the lights!” Papyrus leaped off the soft mattress and bounced across the room. He slapped a hand on the lightswitch, throwing the room into complete darkness.

Despite himself, Sans’s soul clenched.

Papyrus seemed to sense the lamia’s stress, because he said, “Don’t panic, I have everything covered!” His voice echoed throughout the room, even with how quietly he said the words. Along with the light, his loud voice seemed to vanish with the darkness, replaced with something more fitting.

Soft lights flickered on, bathing the room a soft warm yellow. Sans examined the tiny glowing stars lining the walls, having somehow missed them in his earlier inspection.

“Much better.” Papyrus sighed, still much quieter than usual.

Sans watched him lie back down, the metal springs creaking under his bones. Once he seemed to get into a comfortable position, Papyrus didn’t move again. The only things that gave away the fact that he wasn’t a statue was the steady rise and fall of his ribs.

For a while, Sans sat there huddled under his blankets. When he was sure that Papyrus was asleep, Sans harshly tugged at the straps until he was able to slip free of the stupid gag. It was a close call, and the leather scrapped painfully against his skull, but he managed. He was careful not to jingle any of the metal bits together. The moment Sans was done he chucked the awful thing at the end of the bed with all the spite he could muster. 

Sliding out of his makeshift nest, Sans crept over to the bookcase covering the door to test how heavy it was. He pushed hesitantly at first, before giving it his all. To no avail. Other than a soft creak, which made Sans glance hurriedly at Papyrus, it didn't move an inch. Alright then, the book case was pretty fucking heavy. (How the hell did Papyrus make it look so easy?) 

If Sans wanted to, he could take out some of the books and tip the whole case over. Maybe then he could squeeze out the door, but that would no doubt make a lot of noise. Sighing silently, Sans gave up on for now and slithered closer to where the unconscious skeleton lay.

His forked tongue flicked out, tasting Papyrus's magic. He could also taste just how warm the other body was, and Sans didn't realize that he was resting a hand on Papyrus's arm until a couple Papyrus began purring, the sensations vibrating up his arm. He quickly yanked his hand away. 

Sans didn't need that closeness anymore, he was completely fine now.

Eyeing Papyrus, Sans leaned in close. His fangs drooled in anticipation, sensing weakness.

After a few very long moments of hesitation Sans reluctantly withdrew.

With a small huff of frustration, Sans retreated to the bed. Snarling as he shoved the stupid gag back on, Sans crawled back under the covers, laying on his side as he buried his face in his hands. His face burned with tears, but he didn't cry. What good would it do? What good would doing anything other than being the perfect little pet do him right now? Killing Papyrus was out of the question, and he knew it.

Besides, what would Sans even do if he managed to kill the bastard anyway? Be stuck in this prison until he wasted away without any food and water? Sans would rather not die that way, thank you very much.

No, for now he’d play it safe. If Sans wanted to get out of here, he was going to have to get Papyrus’s guard down. That still didn't stop the feeling of helplessness from rising up. Papyrus was right there, not even five feet away, and Sans couldn't kill him. It was maddening. 

Sans glared down at the monster sleeping away in the stiff cot.

Papyrus was good at mind games, but he forgot that his opponent could play as well. Sans would let him think he was winning. He knew from personal experience that with a few good tricks and an ace in the hole, Sans could level the playing field. 

The hunter could become the hunted. 

 

 

 

(They stared with dead sockets as the lamia shifted in his sleep, sleepy gibberish escaping him before going quiet once more)

(Rising up, they were completely silent as they came to a halt right next to the bed's edge

(The figure didn’t do anything)

(They simply stood there)

(And watched)

 

Chapter Text

Gnaw /nô/ ~ verb ~ bite at or nibble something persistently.

 

Apparently Papyrus had decided that Sans couldn't stay holed up in his room alone while his cage was getting fixed,

So that was how Sans found out that Papyrus had chores. Little tasks that he had to do to keep up with the 'frankly obscene amount of rabid dust bunnies that try to devour everything in sight' (Papyrus's words, not his). Sure, Sans had already been dragged around to watch Papyrus clean, but he hadn't realized that this was something Papyrus had to do on a constant basis.

Cleaning and fixing up weird devices seemed to be his main job. Papyrus seemed to be made of limitless enthusiasm, wiping down what was probably hundreds of tables and fiddling with all sorts of random junk. Sans personally wouldn't be able to do so much, he only had so much energy. 

He personally liked it way more when Papyrus had to fill out paperwork or typed out long documents on his laptop because that could be done anywhere. When it came to boring stuff like that, Papyrus would hole them up in his room and chill for a few hours. At first it was a bit disconcerting to be trapped in the same room as the other for hours on end, but Papyrus left him alone for the most part. 

As the days (weeks? Sans had been trying not to count the days) passed, Papyrus took Sans around his home more and more. He chattered at the lamia as he went through his daily routine, becoming apart of that daily routine made Sans feel uneasy but he ignored that. 

After the first couple of days curled up in the corner on the icy floor tiles, Papyrus even brought out a dog bed out of nowhere and dragged it with them so Sans could rest more comfortably. The dog bed was a little degrading, but the floors got too cold for Sans to muster up the resolve to complain. The hoodie was warm, but it only went so far. A soft blanket soon joined the fray, and more than once Sans had used it to shield himself from the bright lights and other aggravating sensations. He'd woken up multiple times in Papyrus's arms as they moved onto the next room, or to put Sans to bed. 

If Sans was being honest, following Papyrus around like a lost puppy was actually a bit entertaining. Papyrus never told him to stay in one place, and Sans was allowed to explore whatever room Papyrus happened to be in. Sans tended to stick to watching the other flutter around, exploring lightly so Papyrus wouldn't get suspicious in case Sans found something useful. 

Of course Papyrus didn't take him down every hallway, only allowing Sans to explore the same rooms he had checked out in his earlier escape attempt. Any other hallway Papyrus did alone, tucking Sans away in his room where he couldn't snoop. Sometimes Sans wanted to throttle Papyrus for being so crafty. The bastard was making every single tidbit that could help Sans escape ten times harder to pry out of this hellhole. 

Sans figured that that was pretty much the point though. He wasn't supposed to escape, he was supposed to get used to his new life and become the perfect companion. At least until Papyrus got bored and killed him, Sans still wasn't sure if this was all just some big game to cure the monster's boredom. 

Besides all that, the place was still giant maze. Escape seemed next to impossible, but Sans sure was going to try his damnedest. First, he needed to get on Papyrus's good side to get anywhere and that quickly tested Sans's patience and he was a pretty patient guy. Bitching the bastard out in his head helped him manage his frustration. 

With his new resolve to be as complacent as possible, Sans found himself stuck dealing with the touches and letting Papyrus do whatever he wanted without complaint. He was lucky that Papyrus wasn't being too pushy and hands-on, content to carry Sans around and coddle him. Papyrus also seemed to realize that Sans was going to be 'good' (for now), and took that as a chance to bond and blabber at the lamia. (Sans still wasn't quite sure what a centrifuge did, but he did know that it spun really, really fast.)

Papyrus was much gentler, making sure to meet his every need, want, and then some. It would be kinda sweet how attentive he was if it weren't for how much the whole thing made Sans's bones crawl.

"See this bit right here?" Papyrus poked the flat square he had helped Sans pry from an odd glass globe.

"Yeah." Sans forced himself to relax, leaning into the other to get a closer look. Oh look, there came that good ol' creepy crawly feeling again. He fought back a shudder when Papyrus rocked back, his presence solid against his side. Sans felt warm physically but his insides were ice cold. Shaking his head, Sans ignored the touching to stare down at the mess he had made under Papyrus's guidance.

After some time, Papyrus had started to throw Sans odd objects to 'play' with. Sans was allowed to do whatever with these toys, fix them, break them, even ignore them. Usually Sans did try to fix them, but he really wasn't the most knowledgeable at this sort of thing. Quickly noticing his oversight, Papyrus sat down to help Sans figure each toy out. Like a puzzle, only much more intricate and mechanical. 

Papyrus continued, "This mirror is made of something called a trichroic prism. When white light passes through the prism, the light splits into beams of differing wavelengths."

Much like any other toy Sans had dismantled, Papyrus carefully explained each and every piece. A lot of it was confusing, but Sans wasn't too keen on asking questions to try and clear up any confusion.

Noticing Sans's blank look, Papyrus simplified, "Basically it makes the light turn into different types of colors." To demonstrate, he held up a tiny flashlight to one side, colors bursting out the other.

Eye sockets going wide, Sans stared as Papyrus shifted the light and the colors changed, "Oh!"

"That's so cool!" Sans said, surprising himself. He wasn't kidding. Sans had always had a knack for science. If he had gone to school, he was sure that science would have been his favorite subject.

Papyrus giggled, looking just as enthralled with the tiny mirror, "Isn't it?" 

"Here, you try." Papyrus said, handing the flashlight over.

Snatching the light, Sans spent a while just watching the pretty colors change. Feeling eyes on him Sans glanced over to see Papyrus watching, eyes warm. Flushing, Sans looked back at the lights. 

"I think we fixed up the wiring enough to have a go at turning it on." Papyrus said at last.

"Yeah, sure." Sans took the parts Papyrus handed over, carefully reassembling the orb. 

The first couple times he tried to put something together had ended horribly, and Sans really wanted this one to work properly. Once Sans was sure that he had everything back in place, he plugged in the cord and went to push the tiny power button.

"Wait!" Papyrus yelled.

Sans froze.

"Sorry, real quick! One last thing before you turn it on!" Papyrus leapt up, sprinting across the room. 

A soft flick of a light switch and half the room's lights vanished, and the next click threw the world into darkness. The only light was the light shining in through the door's window, and Sans was situated in the far corner so that light didn't even change much. Sans jumped when Papyrus returned, skidding to his knees and falling onto his front with a soft, "Oomf!"

Sitting up, Papyrus said, "Okay! Now we're ready!"

Sans blinked, before doing as told. He immediately lost his words, staring around the room in awe.

The world was absolutely bathed in color, a collage of broken rainbows scattered across the ceilings, the walls, everything. Sans had seen a lot of interesting things but the air the light twinkled through the air was simply gorgeous. He was overwhelmed with the need to understand more, he wanted to know exactly why this globe was able to accomplish such an amazing sight.

Glancing over at Papyrus, Sans noticed that he was also covered with vibrant colors. Sans pointedly ignored the other's staring in favor of pretty lights. Realizing what that meant for Sans, he looked down at his own body, a tiny laugh escaping at the fact that he too was painted with rainbows. Waving his hands over the glass orb, Sans laughed as the shadows flickered and moved.

"What is this thing?" Sans breathed out at last, still making small hand motions in the air.

"A kaleidoscope light projector." Papyrus said, looking taken aback by Sans's joy but feeding off of it. His happiness sorta put a damper on the lamia's mood.

"Woah." Sans muttered, ignoring the slight pride in Papyrus's voice at being the one to give him the projector.

"Yep! Now watch this!" Papyrus pressed another button and with a small twitch the orb began to twist in circles. The rainbows shimmered and danced, the colorful show flowing around the room.

Sans was immediately entranced once again, subconsciously shuffling closer to enjoy the way the shadows danced with the wide array of colors. Finding out whatever the toys was supposed to do was always a tossup. Sometimes they were a simple flashlight that had a bent piece of metal, but sometimes they were really cool like this one. Sans was pretty sure this one was gearing up to be his favorite so far (Other than Newton's Cradle, he really liked to watch the balls clank together over and over again. It was simple yet effective.).

They sat there for who knew how long, both content not to talk. 

"I'll have to look into some books for you." Papyrus said at last, breaking the silence.

"Okay." Books did sound pretty good. Back at his den, Sans had a whole pile of stolen books that he loved to reread over and over. It'd be nice to get back into the swing of reading again. Putting his guard up constantly was exhausting and usually whatever they were doing was pretty boring overall. It'd be nice to have another option if he wasn't in the mood to mess with 'toys' or sleep.

As if on cue a little alarm dinged from Papyrus's brick of a phone. Sans had stolen it before while the other slept to see if he could try and call someone for help, as risky as that was for someone like him, but nothing had connected. The phone had gone off enough times that Sans no longer startled like a spooked cat at the abrupt noise. He was even starting to get used to the shrill beep. He also quickly understood that Papyrus lived his life on a tight schedule, the only exception being Sans. Papyrus never rushed him, no matter how long it took. Though he would pick Sans up and carry him most of the time anyway.

Papyrus cheered, turning off the alarm and hopping to his feet, "Lunch break!"

Sans wasn't in the mood to move from his spot on the tiny bed, cocooned within a warm blanket and perfectly comfortable. The light show made him even more reluctant, but not enough to pass up food. So with a sigh, Sans detangled himself and followed Papyrus to the door. He didn't struggle when Papyrus picked him up, but the urge to fight was strong. 

Despite how ginormous everything else was, the kitchen was rather lackluster. In comparison to the rest of the place, it was hilarious just how tiny the fridge was. Papyrus's height made the whole thing look even worse. He had to bend over to even peer inside the fridge, his spine seemingly about to snap at any moment. 

"I know monster food isn't the same as regular human fast food, and nowhere near as unhealthy, but I cannot let you eat so much grease! Besides, we still aren't quite sure of the long term effects of monster food or human food has on myths!" Papyrus babbled, reaching in to take stuff out almost at random. Occasionally Papyrus checked at the cookbook lying open on top of the fridge, which made him even slower.

"Booooo." Sans moaned. 

More and more Papyrus tried to mix up Sans's diet to see what fit him best. The downside was that he got Grillby's less often, which was a crying shame in Sans's opinion. Clearly, this was a new form of torture on Papyrus's part. Time to starve the lamia of his favorite food and make him try other things. It was the worst betrayal Papyrus had committed so far, and the heinous act would have been dealt a swift justice if Sans could escape the resulting punishment. 

Papyrus didn't even pause to face him, only laughed and said, "Hush you!"

"I'm hungry. The type of hunger that can only be fixed with grease." Sans complained, dramatically flopping over. He winced when his cuffs clicked loudly against the floor, hissing when the metal bits on his binds kept making noises whenever he adjusted.

Papyrus rolled his eye sockets, "Oh, how ever will you survive?" 

Grabbing a carton of eggs, Papyrus lightly kicked the fridge door closed and dropped his findings onto the counter. Sans eyed the spinach lying innocently on the pile with no small amount of distaste. 

"You need to keep a high protein diet!" Papyrus defended, obviously having seen Sans's disgusted expression.

"Torturer."

"This isn't torture! I'm trying to keep you healthy!"

"Torturer." Sans repeated firmly, only partially joking. Okay, maybe he wasn't joking.

"I'll have you know that spinach is-Ugh, you know what, forget it." Dropping the subject, Papyrus turned away. 

In Sans's book, he counted that as a win. Spinach was gross, and Papyrus was gross for making Sans be in the same room as the vegetable. Or any vegetable really.

Cracking almost half the carton of eggs on a bowl, he whisked eggs and added a couple spices and some bits of chicken. The movements were sure and steady, only slowed by the occasion mutter and squinting at the book. In no time at all he had a pan on the stove, some 'dairy-free' butter sizzling away before he poured in the eggs.

Sans watched, settling on his stomach with his chin resting on his palms. The whole thing was sickeningly domestic, but a necessary evil nonetheless. That knowledge did little to quell the rage burning deep within, forced down by a mixture of fear and will-power. The whole thing was emotionally exhausting. Papyrus shot him a smile, but Sans could only stare blankly before averting his eyelights to the stovetop. Suddenly Sans wasn't in the mood for niceties anymore. He still needed a moment to recollect himself after all the touching from earlier. His side still felt it was covered in maggots.

It didn't take Papyrus long to whip up some omelettes, sitting down right next to Sans after handing him a plate. As subtle as he could manage, Sans scooted away, setting his plate down on his tail to dig in. Sans wasn't given a utensil of any kind, but he suspected that Papyrus probably didn't want him getting any funny ideas. He had to admit that trying to stab Papyrus with a fork would be pretty tempting, so Sans had to give him points on that one.

Despite his earlier complaining and the fact that there was a little too much green in his meal, the food was good. Creamy yet savory eggs mixed with chicken and other spices, and underneath he could taste the magic pumped into the food. Overall, a very delicious meal that had him digging in. 

Sans wondered if that was because Papyrus had added his own monster magic to the mix or if he was genuinely a good cook. Maybe both? Along with that he could taste some of the intent Papyrus had infused within. Affection, caring, and love. Ugh, Sans was very glad that as a mythical he wasn't affected by intent.

If Sans wanted to, he could taste the magic the air to see what kind of emotions Papyrus was putting out, but he really didn't want to do that. He couldn't even begin to imagine how that would feel if he were a regular monster. Getting drunk off emotions did not sound like a good time, and it definitely wouldn't be the most helpful to his situation. Overall, having his own feelings drowned out was creepy to the max.

So distracted by the possibilities, Sans startled when Papyrus set his plate down with a small click. Not even looking at Sans, Papyrus pulled out some notes and and a hat. When Sans looked a little closer at the hat, it read, 'thinking cap'. Setting the cap on his skull, Papyrus started jotting down notes in an orange sparkle gel pen. The pen was covered in tiny oranges, and a big green puffball was stuck on the other end. 

Sometimes, Sans wondered how the hell someone could be so creepy yet act this weird without even thinking about it.

Apparently Papyrus felt eyes on him, because he glanced up and blinked at Sans's stare, "What?" 

"Nothing." Sans busied himself with his food, not in the mood to talk. Papyrus was crazy, why try and make sense of his actions.

All too soon he had finished off the plate, and Papyrus put his absurd hat and pen away only to get out the gag. Yay.

This time, Sans forced himself not to struggle. He even leaned into the adjustments. Almost like a reward for his good behavior, the gag was just tight enough that Sans couldn’t slip out of it. He hated that he was starting to get a handle on how to behave. How long had it been since he had gotten here? Weeks? And already Sans was being conditioned. The soft leather dragged against his skull, the cool metal feeling even colder than usual.

Springing to his feet, Papyrus speed washed the dishes and scooped Sans up into his arms. Sans's tail curled around the other to hold himself steady and to help stay warm from the chilly air nipping at his bones. He really was grateful for a hoodie, the fire magic fighting off the worst of the cold. He would never in a million years tell that to Papyrus though.

"Let's get back to cleaning!" Papyrus said with no small amount of pep in his voice as his long legs carried them through the halls.

All this cleaning was making Sans tired and he wasn't even doing anything, but Sans would rather this than sit in a room all day or go get a 'check up'. The stitches in his tail itched, but Sans wasn't ready to deal with Papyrus strapping him down again to take them out. While he was at it, Papyrus would probably squeeze in another milking session, and his sore fangs weren't in the mood for that particular task. 

Sans jolted when Papyrus came to a sudden stop, his eye sockets going wide,  "Wait! I almost forgot! First things first let's make a quick stop to check on your stitches! They're due to come out any day now!"

Fuck.

 

Chapter Text

Ten·ta·tive /ˈten(t)ədiv/ ~ adjective ~ done without confidence; hesitant.

 

"It's finally finished!" Papyrus said excitedly, standing back with his hands on his hips. He looked pretty proud of himself. After weeks(?) of Papyrus giving Sans small updates on the stupid cage, he had finally fixed all of the damages. Papyrus hadn't shown him the enclosure even once the whole time, wanting to keep it a 'surprise'.

Sans didn't bother moving from his spot on the floor, still wrapped up in the armful of blankets Papyrus had kidnapped along with Sans after whisking him out of bed at some ungodly time of the day. The only clocks he had ever seen around here was on Papyrus's computer and his phone, but he didn't need to see a clock to sense that it was ass o'clock in the morning.

Blearily staring at the enclosure, Sans grimaced. The glass looked brand new, like nothing had even happened. The fading cut marks on his tail begged to differ. 

"Great." Sans deadpanned, flopping onto the hard floor to go back to sleep. 

The tiles were freezing against his scales but he could easily ignore that what with how exhausted he felt. Sans closed his eye sockets, having deemed this part of the floor his new napping spot, only to get swept right up into warm arms. He flailed, but there was little he could do but hold on as Papyrus carried him through the open door. His traitor tail eagerly wrapped around the heat source.

"You can't just fall asleep in inconvenient places, Sans! What if I trip on you? Or worse, what if you get sick!?" Papyrus scolded lightly, still too focused on giving Sans the grand tour of his cage. As if Sans hadn't spent days in the damned thing before.

"I took some liberties and switched everything around! So now you have new nooks and crannies to explore!" Again, Papyrus was way too excited about this whole thing. It would be sweet if the context wasn't so unnerving. Sans found that when it came to Papyrus, everything he did was sweet out of context. Too bad Sans knew how much of a creep he was.

"Great." Sans repeated, still just as enthusiastic as before.

"I even added some blankets and pillows to the place. It was a bit silly to be so focused on making everything as realistic as possible. I still have to look into a better humidifier as well, its too difficult to make the humidity levels consistent." Papyrus rambled, poking at vents and pointing out little bits that he needed to 'fiddle with'.

The lamia just went along for the ride, almost falling asleep several times only to be woken up once again by Papyrus's energetic movements. 

"I even added some extra protective measures to keep you safe."

Sans was suddenly a lot more awake than before, eyeing the cage with new found hesitation. He didn't dare ask what kind of 'protection' Papyrus had added to his cage, for fear of Papyrus getting suspicious.

"Cool." Sans finally settled on saying, his one worded answers seeming to be more than enough for the monster.

"I'm glad you like everything! I'd stay longer but I really have to get started for the day. Would you like to stay here and check out your cool new setup, or would you like to come with me?" Papyrus asked, leaving the ball in Sans's court.

In all honesty, Sans would love to have a few hours alone. Sleep was calling his name and Sans was never one to ignore that glorious call. However, he knew he couldn't pass up any opportunity to get a better feel for this place. If he wanted to escape, he had to put in the effort (as awful as it was).

"Nah, I'll come with you."

Papyrus looked faintly surprised, and his face flickered for a split second before melting into excitement, "Okay! Let's go!"

If he hadn't been sensitive to the slightest change in the other, Sans wouldn't have noticed the strange expression. Already he was starting to rethink his decision, but it was too late. He was already up in Papyrus's arms and being carted off like a sack of potatoes.  

Sans could feel the warmth radiating from the other through the blanket and the hoodie. The sudden move had also pushed his blanket up so that it clung to his face and blocked his view. He would have fixed his position but the blanket had turned him into a snake burrito. He was nice and stuck for the whole journey.

After setting up a quiet area for Sans out of the way, Papyrus went to work, humming a cheery tune to entire time. Papyrus had only been cleaning for a few minutes when the lights flickered overhead. Sans froze in confusion, second guessing himself. Had the lights really flickered or had he just blinked and paranoia had gotten the best of him? As if answering him, Papyrus paused in the middle of wiping down a table to stare upwards. So Sans hadn't been imagining things.

The lights flickered again, and Papyrus sighed heavily. Throwing the rag into the dirty water bucket, the monster quickly tidied up his cleaning supplies and walked over to pick Sans up. Neither spoke, Papyrus looking resigned and Sans wondering what the fresh hell was happening now. The whiplash of this morning had Sans's head spinning like a top. Changing rooms again and again without his sayso was leaving him disoriented. 

Leaving the room, Papyrus was neat and orderly as he made his way through various hallways. He only stopped once to grab a big toolbox from what Sans could only assume was a supply closet, easily carrying the box in one hand and transferring Sans to the other. Sans was really starting to get sick of just how strong Papyrus was. He wasn't exactly heavy, but he wasn't as light as a feather. He knew his bones didn't weigh much but his tail at the very least had to count for something. Yet here Papyrus was, carrying him like Sans was nothing.

Besides all that, Sans just wanted to move on his own terms as shocking as it was. He wasn't a doll or a toy. Once again, he realized that he was getting lost in his own spite. So Sans swallowed back his frustration and went back to staring at Papyrus to try and get a feel on the other's behavior. 

He tried to keep track of where they were going, but making a mental map of the place was difficult when Papyrus never took him anywhere new. Today seemed to be a change in pace because Sans had already seen several new hallways and some pretty interesting stuff to check out the next time he made an escape attempt. Also, snake burrito had made a return, and Sans was having a hard time seeing much either way.

"Are we about to get blown up?" Sans asked, voice muffled by blanket.

Papyrus startled, before laughing, "No, I just have to go fix one of the generators. Getting blown up isn't on the to-do list for today!"

"Too bad."

Papyrus snickered.

At last they came to a part of the maze Sans had never been in before. Instead of the typical uniform line of doors going down each side, right smack-dab in the middle of the hallway there was a break. The doors looked heavy, but Papyrus shoved them open with no issues.

The doggie bed was dropped onto the floor, and Sans was gently placed on top. Wiggling free of the blanket trap, Sans rolled onto his back to stare up at the ceiling. Immediately, Sans was taken aback by the large pipes crisscrossing along the ceiling, some disappearing into the walls and others crawling down the entirety of the room to connect to odd machines. Craning his head, Sans tried to get a good look at the giant machines littering the room.

The air was full of humming and thrumming, loud enough that Sans could feel the sound vibrating in his skull. As loud as everything was, Sans wasn't feeling too overwhelmed so far. Honestly, the sounds were repetitive so after a minute he could block them out pretty well.

"I'll be over here if you need me!" Called Papyrus as he marched on over to one machine in particular. The generator that seemed to not be working right. The big hulking chunk of metal seemed to be puttering, randomly spasming as if trying to work but unable to muster the energy to do so. Papyrus seemed to be unsurprised that the machine was out of sorts.

"Darned machine loves giving me a hard time." Papyrus said sourly, looking like all he wanted to do was kick the machine but refrained.

Switching off the generator so he wouldn't get burnt or shocked, Papyrus dug around his toolbox for his tools. Prying off seemingly random metal plates and other odd bits and ends, the skeleton seemed to lose himself in his work. 

Which left Sans to his own thoughts. He wanted to ask what this room was, but Sans could pretty much guess by himself what all these big metal beasts did. He wasn't too interested in them. What really drew his attention was how hot the room was. 

The sheer intensity of the heat felt great to Sans. After lifeless rooms with tiles that could be mistaken for ice and air frigid enough that Sans swore he could see his own breath at times, this was a wonderful change of pace. For once, he didn't want to sleep, he wanted to explore. The floor was still cool, and just a bit damp, but he didn't mind. 

Slithering around the room, Sans looked around curiously. Very quickly he was distracted by a giant metal tube. This one hummed softly, and Sans nearly purred at the heat pouring off the machine in waves, sending a shiver shooting up his spine. Nothing came close to feeling like resting against basking rock on a burning hot day, but damn did this come close. 

He reached out with hesitant fingers.

"Sans?"

Sans nearly jumped a foot in the air, stopping just short of touching the big metal tube. At Papyrus's concerned look, he broke out into a cold sweat and backed up a little.

"...What are you doing?" Papyrus asked slowly. He looked silly with oil smeared onto his clothes and forehead yet Sans was still unnerved by the look in his sockets.

Great, Sans had made him suspicious and he hadn't even been doing anything.

"Nothing." Sans was quick to defend himself, but that seemed to be the wrong option because Papyrus only grew more wary. Dammit.

"Didn't look like nothing." Papyrus accused, sockets narrowing.

Sans flushed, looking at the floor as he mumbled, "It's warm..." 

He couldn't see it, but he could feel Papyrus looking at him and then the boiler before a surprised sound escaped the monster.

"Oh! My apologies, I thought you were-Nevermind that, I'm not sure you should be playing around with that boiler, you could hurt yourself."

"It's warm though. Please? I'll be careful, I swear." He hated the pleading hint to his voice, but else could he do? If he wasn't strong enough to force his way out, he had to be sneaky. Even if that meant acting meek as a mouse.

"Hmmm, okay but try not to get yourself burned. You just got your stitches out the other day, I'm sure that you don't want another trip to the vet's." Papyrus said, half teasing and half warning. 

Sans got the memo loud and clear, much more thoughtful with his movements. He didn't want to get chained to the bed or something weird, so he made sure not to do anything fishy under that watchful eye. Scurrying back to his bed, Sans dragged the whole thing over to the boiler and got comfortable. He threw a blanket over his head to shield himself from prying eyes, and hissed with pleasure at the heat radiating off the hot metal.

Peeking up at the boiler, Sans grew curious.

"What's a boiler? It's really nice." Sans asked a few moments later when the tense atmosphere let up.

Papyrus, who had returned to his work, answered the best he could with his arms buried in overheated metal bits, "Oh it's nothing too interesting. A boiler heats up water using gas or electricity so we have hot water. I'll repeat myself once more, please be careful around that thing. It's not a toy and can be very dangerous!"

"I'll be careful."

"Good!" With that done, Papyrus returned to tinkering with the generator and Sans was left to his own devices once more. 

Sans knew better than to think that he wasn't being watched. That Papyrus hadn't stopped paying close attention. No matter how distracted he was, Papyrus seemed to have an eye on the back of his skull when it came to Sans. It was incredibly frustrating, because even the rare times Papyrus left him alone felt suffocating. When Papyrus wasn't pulled away by some task or another, he was suction cupped to Sans's side. Papyrus clung too much to his side, cautious and meticulous with even the tiniest details. It was hard to breathe around the guy without calling attention to himself, much less snoop around or sneak away.

As time passed, Sans had slowly worked up the courage to try for another escape. He knew that he had to get Papyrus's guard down, but he couldn't be too meek and easy. He had to at least try and escape at least once or twice. The very thought of another punishment like the one before was nerve-wracking, and thinking too hard on it made his hands clammy and his whole body shaky. He had to though. If he really wanted to leave, he needed to know more. 

Just thinking about it made Sans start to low-key breathe a little faster, his soul thrumming. As if sensing something was up, Papyrus paused and glanced over. On that note, Sans forced himself to relax. He didn't want Papyrus to think anything was amiss, and he hadn't even tried to escape yet so why get so worked up about it?

The searing heat of the boiler was soothing. It wasn't burning to the touch, like just brushing against the metal would melt his scale off, but for a cold blooded creature like Sans the heat was wonderful. In fact, the combination of the boiler's warmth and the fact that Papyrus had dragged him out of bed for this adventure made him tired. Drowsily, Sans coiled properly around the base of the giant tube and curled up under the covers. The constant barrage of noise helped his mind go blank, like a lullaby made up of vibrating metal and humming sounds. 

Sans quickly found himself lulled to sleep.

Only to be woken up what felt like seconds later by a grinning face hovering inches from his own.

Screeching, Sans lurched upwards in his panic only to headbutt the terrifying features. He collapsed as stinging pain shot through his forehead, hissing in pain.

"Wowie! I wasn't expecting that reaction!" Papyrus said, but Sans could detect a faint hint of pain in his voice. Good. That's what he deserved for being a creepy asshole.

Choosing to ignore the creepy moment in favor of rubbing his forehead, Sans bit out, "Are you done with that generator thing?"

"Yep! I was going to wake you but you looked so cute!"

Sans shuddered, hiding his unease under the guise of poking at the mark he could feel blooming on his face. The metal of the gag was most likely imprinted on his poor skull.

"I think you gave me a bruise, jerk." Sans grumped.

He wasn't prepared for Papyrus to serious act on Sans's words. Grabby hands gripped Sans by the chin, fingers curling under the gag's strap for better leverage, forced him to face the other. Turning the lamia's face from side to side, Papyrus clicked his teeth thoughtfully as he examined his sore forehead. 

"I'm sorry. Next time I'll try not to startle you." Papyrus apologized, seeming genuinely remorseful that his actions had caused Sans discomfort.

Sans was very unsettled by the possibility of a 'next time'. That Papyrus watching him sleep could happen again. Was this the first time? Had it already happened before? Sans didn't know and that made him feel very uncomfortable. Too distracted by his own dismay, Sans didn't have time to prepare himself when Papyrus was suddenly up close and personal.

Moving the forehead strap to the side, Papyrus leaned forward and placed a quick kiss against the bruise with a gentle click of his teeth. The gesture, despite having happened many times before, felt oddly intimate this time. Stunned, Sans didn't move even as Papyrus pulled away to inspect the injury. As if a quick kiss was all that he needed to be healed of all and any pain.

Papyrus tilted his head, his smile full of soft fondness as he teased, "There, all better!"

Sans's insides quivered.

"Okay." Sans said. It was all he could say. He jerked his head away, taking satisfaction in the tiny frown that replaced that stupid smile.

"Just take me back to my cage already." Sans grit out, refusing to look at Papyrus as he regained his composure.

Papyrus lit up with a dazzling grin as he bowed and said, "Whatever you desire, my sweetheart!"

Urgh.

Slowly, Sans uncurled from around the boiler and got off the bed. He felt like he had just woken up from napping in the sun and that was great. What was not so great was the return of his scales sliding against the cool floor. He was sick of the cold.

Picking up his toolbox and the bed Papyrus stood in place for a few moments, looking at everything he was carrying and then at Sans. Who was sitting there, waiting to be picked up. Sans waited a little longer, wondering how Papyrus was going to go about this whole thing. Sans drew the line at getting carried around like a sack of potatoes though, Sans wasn't a bag of produce and he bruised much more easily. 

Was Papyrus going to drop the bed for later, or leave the tool box? The decision would be easier if Papyrus wasn't such a neat freak about certain things. Seemed like this was one of those times where his own diligence came to bite him in the ass.

"Hm. Maybe some exercise will be good?" Papyrus said slowly, seeming disappointed by the logic of his own words.

Shrugging, Sans took that as a go-ahead to start leaving. Eyeing the armful of stuff Papyrus was carrying, Sans weighed his odds of escape. He could probably manage to get a few corridors away. Maybe if his timing was right, he could even find a good hiding spot. (Doubtful) 

Maybe he could even find the exit? (Borderline impossible but hope was a fickle bastard and refused to let it go like a beast with a bone)

Sans warred against himself for several hallways, making sure to keep up with Papyrus and nod whenever he needed to in response to the other's pointless chatter. 

Fuck it.

Next door they went through he'd make his move. Even if Papyrus went back on his word and put Sans back in the box, then Sans would know. He could prepare himself for next time. He needed to know his boundaries and to do that he had to test them. Thinking too hard about the consequences made his soul curdle with dread, and Sans knew that if he let himself back out he'd never get out of this hellhole. With that in mind, he took a deep breath.

The next set of door swung open, and he made a break for it. 

Spinning around Sans didn't let himself think. Slamming the doors shut, he looked through the first door on the left to see if there was anything he could use to jam them. Nope, nothing. He knew he was wasting time, so Sans forgot about barricading the door and booked it down the hall. Of course in that time Papyrus had unlocked in time to see the next set of doors close.

"Sans? Sans!" Papyrus called faintly, but Sans ignored him the best he could.

He could hear his soul pounding in his skull, thrumming to the beat of a pair of imaginary bongos. He had to get away.  The intersection left only one option, especially since he didn't know the codes to the other doors. Backtracking was an awful plan, but it was all he had.

Slithering away as fast he could, Sans darted down the hallway. He ignored Papyrus's calls (oh stars they were getting louder weren't they), and he used the sound of pounding steps to push himself to go even faster.

The tip of his tail suddenly lit up with pain. 

A yelp slipped from his teeth as his whole body lurched backwards. Sans was so unprepared that he didn't have the time to throw his arms out to cushion his fall. He faceplanted hard, the slap vibrating through his whole body and sending shockwaves through his skull.

"No!" Sans cried out, struggling despite knowing damn well that the window for escaping was gone. He was caught like a fish in a net and there was no getting away now.

The hand on his tail pulled, nice and slow, and Sans found himself slipping backwards with several painful squeaks. Frantic claws scrambled for purchase on the hard floors, knowing that fighting the hold was pointless but unable to stop himself. He was desperate, and scared.

With one harsh yank backwards, firm hands grabbed Sans's waist and pinned him to the floor. Sans was slammed against the unforgiving floor, a pained hiss escaping him. He tried to twist away, but the grasp was way too tight. His hands were caught and wrenched behind his back, the metal bits clicking as Papyrus locked his wrists together. The more Sans found himself unable to free himself the quicker his soul began to beat. He began to shake, knowing that he was caught but still unable to process that just yet. 

He knew this would happen, but he wasn't prepared at all. He hadn't been ready at all for the pain and the fear rushing through his skull.

(He really couldn't handle another visit to the box. He would rather die.)

"Relax, I'm not going to hurt you." Papyrus tsked, uncaring of Sans's rattling bones as he hauled Sans up into his arms.

"M'sorry, m'sorry, please don't put me in the box!" 

Papyrus softened, shushing him as comfortingly as he could while taking out a long leather rope to connect Sans's wrists with the back of his collar. Running a soothing hand down Sans's spine, Papyrus said, "Shhh, I'm not putting you in the box. It's okay, I'm not gonna hurt you, Sans."

Regardless of the soft words, Sans couldn't believe him, "Please don't put me in the box, I'll be good. I won't struggle."

"I won't. It's okay. Even if you're bad and struggle, I won't put you in the box." Papyrus promised, picking the stiff lamia up into a bridal hold. 

Sans didn't believe him, but he forced his begging down behind clenched teeth. He was good and caught now, no amount of pleading would save him now. Knowing that didn't stop the panic from welling up and threatening to choke him. Swallowing hard, Sans let his tail curl around Papyrus and clung to the other. Like if he squeezed hard enough he could get rid of the anxiety wrapping a fist around his throat. Maybe if Sans acted pathetic enough, Papyrus wouldn't be as harsh with him.

Papyrus noticed the tight hold and Sans's quick breathing right away. Holding the lamia even closer, he nuzzled the top of his skull and soothed, "Shhh, it's okay."

It wasn't. 

It really, really wasn't.

Coming to a closed door, Papyrus kicked it with his foot to open it, but the metal door didn't nudge. Something was different with this one, and Sans pulled himself together the best he could so he could know what was happening.

Papyrus cursed.

"Silly thing always getting stuck." He muttered, digging through his pockets for something. A few seconds later he fished out something small and rectangular.

Subtly as he could with his frayed nerves, Sans eyed the flat rectangle in Papyrus's hand. It wasn't a key, but if Sans's movie logic was correct it possibly be a keycard. The card looked hilariously tiny in Papyrus's grasp, and Sans watched as he inserted the card into the top of the door's keypad and speedily punched in a couple numbers. He was careful to keep the pad out of sight as he inputted the code, but Sans still managed to get a glimpse of a few of the numbers.

Papyrus casually pocketed the card. Too casually. 

Sans filed that little tidbit away for future use, turning inwards to think. He tensed when they finally got to the enclosure, trying to be ready for whatever Papyrus had cooked up for him this time. He was relieved beyond belief when the monster only set him down. Taking off the gag, Papyrus gave him a quick pet even though he had to avoid snapping teeth. 

Hissing and snarling, Sans slinked into the nearest hidden-hole, his soul pounding the whole time. He felt on edge, like at any moment Papyrus would snap and change his mind. If he got out the box, Sans didn't even want to know what he would do. (probably cry)

Papyrus did nothing to stop him, only watching with a faint smile before turning to leave the lamia be.

Sans watched back, wary of any tricks up the bastard's sleeves. Nothing happened however, and nothing continued to happen long after the cage door was closed. He shrank back a little when Papyrus waved at him through the glass, but other than that, Sans was left alone to his own devices. It took a while for Sans to calm down a little, the cherry stem knot that was his spine loosening up. 

Uncoiling his tail, Sans grabbed a blanket to huddle under and set up the Newton's Cradle which had been knocked onto its side. Sans set up the cradle the best he could. It would have to do when there wasn't a single flat surface in the tiny den. Listening to the gentle clankclankclank of the metal balls was repetitive but soothing in a weird way. Sans had to keep redoing the cradle when it started to slow down, but even that was nice, giving him something to do with his hands.

He was stunned that he had gotten away with that little stunt. Only now did Sans wonder if the punishment wasn't immediate, only delayed. The thought of Papyrus skipping back to the enclosure later with the box in hand sent a chill up his spine. Shaking his head, Sans tried to brush off the horrible mental image. As crazy and unpredictable as Papyrus was, he tried to keep his word. Unsurprisingly, that knowledge did little to comfort Sans in the long run.

Besides, even if Papyrus wanted to hurt him, at this point what could Sans really do to stop him? So Sans waited with baited breath. The next couple of days Sans low-key expected Papyrus to suddenly spring some sort of trap on him, but none of his fears and worries came to fruition. Everything was business as usual. The incident hadn't even been brought up, or mentioned, and Sans finally let his guard drop.

Papyrus hadn’t punished him and things were normal as could be. 

Now that Sans knew that there would be next to no consequences, it was time to push his luck. No matter how much anxiety threatened to make his soul explode in his ribcage. Sans steeled his resolve. 

As soon as he had the opportunity, he would have to try again.

 

Chapter Text

Lose /lo͞oz/ ~ verb ~ be deprived of or cease to have or retain something.

 

Lying on his back, Sans stared up into the giant light blaring down on his bones. These lights seemed to be the main heating system for his enclosure. More and more often, Sans found himself chilling on the highest perch he could find to bask in the false rays. 

Currently his favorite spot was a tall boulder that could only be reached by using the log propped up on it. The log's angle was steep enough that Sans had to climb it to get to the top, which made the spot perfect for staying out of reach.

He even brought a few blankets and other trinkets up with him in a sort of makeshift bed. Sans was hesitant to call it a nest because that would imply that he was beginning to replace his den, and the thought made him feel uneasy. The uneasiness only got worse when Sans tried to remember what exactly was in his nest, only for the information to be fuzzy around the edges. Sure he didn't forget his home, but the fact that he was starting to was enough to send Sans into a fit.

So he didn't really think about his den, or call this pathetic excuse of a replacement a nest. Sans refused.

Sans blinked, noting that he had little spots of white in his vision. He dispelled his eyelights. He didn't wanna see much right now anyway.

Retreating into his own mind, Sans grew contemplative.

The first time for anything was always the hardest. He found that was true with most things in his life. Fighting off hunters, trying a new fruit he had found in the forest, or talking to someone other than himself. Escape attempts were no different. 

After that first time, Sans made it a point to try at least once every couple of days. He didn't want to try so much that Papyrus decided that he would be better off kept in his enclosure permanently, but he needed to push his limits. Getting thrown to the floor and practically drowning in leather straps wasn't his idea of a good time, but that was the price he had to pay. 

Occasionally, Papyrus would mention that he was thinking up a punishment that would be much less harsh on the lamia, but Sans didn't trust him for a second. While he could be scarily in tune with Sans's needs and wants, sometimes Papyrus was so off the mark of what the lamia needed that Sans had no idea where he'd get some of his ideas. Whatever punishment he was cooking up could be as simple as a slap on the wrist, or it could be even worse than the box. Sans didn't trust that his luck would grant him the easy punishment. 

Sans wasn't sure how much longer he could get away with his attempts scot-free. He had to keep going until he managed to get some progress. Or at least trip Papyrus up enough to escape for more than a few seconds. 

Despite what his attempts looked like, Sans did have a plan in the works. Before he could set it into motion he had to feel a couple details out first, and see if his theories proved correct. So far, Sans had gotten a pretty good response. He just had a couple more kinks to work out.

Now he just had to wait for his chance. Which was a lot harder than it seemed when Papyrus seemed to watch him like a predator. Watching Sans was pretty much the lamia version of watching paint dry, but Papyrus seemed to think he was the most interesting thing in the world. Weirdo.

The tip of his tail twitched when he heard the telltale sounds of the door opening.

"Sans? Could you please come down?" Came Papyrus's voice, sounding like he was at the base of the log. He always had a knack for heading straight to wherever Sans may be. 

"Nah." Sans drawled, rolling onto his stomach.

Another good thing about climbing the highest rock or log he could find was that Papyrus couldn't really force him down. Not unless he wanted to risk injuring Sans. Point for the lamia.

"Please?"

"No." Curling up in a ball, Sans proceeded to get even more cozy. Grabbing his discarded hoodie, Sans wrapped it up into a ball and used it as a makeshift pillow. Tucking his pillow in the crook of his arms, Sans buried his face in the pillow in an attempt to block out the world. He really wasn't in the mood to deal with Papyrus's shenanigans.

"I know what will get you down!" Oh really now?

He peeked one eye open and immediately regretted it when he was met with Papyrus's knowing expression. Sans shot him an unimpressed look as he said, "Nothing you can say or do will get me down. I refuse."

"So that's it? You're not coming down?" Papyrus asked, his hands on his hips.

"Nope!" Sans sang.

"Not even for ketchup?" 

Now that got a reaction out of the lamia, both eyes open now as he properly stared down at the other. Smugness radiating from Papyrus like a sun as he held up a bottle of ketchup. Papyrus even shook the bottle a little, as though it were a bag of cat treats trying to tempt said pet out from under the bed. He frowned at the mental image, but the prospect of his favorite drink was just too much to resist in the end. 

"...When you say it that way I'll be right down." Sans said slowly.

He was weak.

And ketchup was delicious.

"Nyeh heh heh!"

Stretching until his spine made a satisfying pop, he got up and slipped on his hoodie before he began to make his way down. Sans was wary of getting too close, but it couldn't be helped. The closer he slithered, the more uncomfortable he felt. Like he was forcing himself to stick his hand in fire even though he knew it would burn. The feeling was almost poetically ironic in a way, because the closer he got to the other, the more excited Papyrus seemed to get.

Sans ignored the hungry eyes watching his form like a hawk about to swoop in for the kill. Instead, Sans paid attention to better things like the feeling of tree bark against his scales, and not falling and cracking his skull open like an egg. Soon enough, he was on the ground.

"Ta-da." Sans said, doing halfhearted jazz hands. 

"You are an amazing climber! Absolutely amazing!" Papyrus exclaimed, leaning forward and staring at his tail like he hadn't seen it everyday for weeks now. (Or months? Sans didn't know.) Sans fought the urge to skitter away, practice helping him maintain his chill exterior. 

"Thanks, now hand over the goods and no one gets hurt." Sans said, completely monotone.

"Ah, yes! Here you are, my good sir!" Papyrus struck a pose, holding out the ketchup like it was a priceless heirloom. 

Sans snatched the ketchup out of his hands, twisting off the cap and tipping the bottle back. 

Only for nothing to come out. 

He shook it roughly, and was rewarded with some drips. That was good, but it just wasn't enough. Sans kept shaking, tapping, and even tipping the bottle at certain angles, but after the few initial drips nothing seemed to work. What rotten luck. 

"Having trouble? I can help if you need me to?" Papyrus asked, as Sans gave up on any resemblance of finesse and resorted to just sticking his forked tongue into the opening.

"Why did you buy the glass kind? I can't ever get the ketchup to come out." Sans complained ignoring the offer entirely. He pulled his tongue out and switched between glaring at the bottle and Papyrus's stupid face.

"I didn't realize that you had a preference! I'll get the other kind next time I go to the store." Papyrus said.

Sans ignored him, too busy trying to figure out how to get his precious ketchup. Eyes narrowed, Sans came to one conclusion and nodded to himself as he said, "That's it, I'm gonna smash it open." Clearly, smashing the damn thing was the only way. 

"What?!" Papyrus yelled, startling Sans but it wasn't enough to deter the lamia from his goal.

Turning, Sans began to search for something big enough to do said smashing.

"Ugh, no! It's glass, you can't just-that's-hand over the bottle!" He spluttered, trying to take the red condiment away, only to jerk away when Sans hissed and snapped his teeth at him.

"Nope! I'm getting a rock and breaking this shit open like a nut! I'm gonna lick it off the ground!" Sans scurried away, just barely keeping his precious ketchup from the other's grabby hands.

"That's extremely unsanitary! Besides that, you'll be eating glass!" Papyrus nearly shouted, sounding horrified by the very prospect.

"I don't care! Glass is nutritious and delicious! It'll be yummy in my tummy!"

"Oh my stars! Sans! No! Get back here, you ridiculous creature!" Papyrus said, chasing after him.

After a brief struggle, and despite his love for ketchup granting him strength, Sans was ultimately overpowered. Pinned to the ground by his tail, Sans thrashed, trying to still keep the bottle away.

"Caught you! Now hand it over!" Papyrus crowed, eye sockets lighting up.

"No!" Sans jerked his hands away, but Papyrus was tall and his reach was much further than Sans could ever hope to evade. 

All out of options, Sans tried to bite the bastard. 

He didn't expect to actually connect, so he was surprised when his fangs just barely missed the crook of Papyrus's uncovered elbow. Luckily for the monster, and unluckily for Sans, Papyrus managed to dodge away at the last second. Sockets wide, Sans locked eyes with Papyrus as darkness flickered over his features, sending a shudder down his spine. Whoops, maybe he shouldn't have done that.

Suddenly his eye socket was full of gloved fingers. His eyelight flickered as his neck was wrenched to the side. Screeching, Sans tried to jerk away, but Papyrus had him hooked like a fish. The angle was downright painful, but moving to get away from the pain only made it worse. So Sans settled, quietly accepting that this was happening now.

"Now, now, none of that." Papyrus murmured, bringing out the dreaded gag and slipping it over his skull.

Experience taught Sans that struggling would get him nowhere, but he couldn't help but twitch away slightly whenever the metal scrapped against bone. Overall he tried to stay still, not in the mood to deal with an achy jaw. Luckily, Papyrus didn't seem to mind the fidgeting, because the gag wasn't tight enough to hurt.

Pulling back, Papyrus eyed the straps critically before smiling fondly, "There we are! Now you can't eat anything, especially glass."

Sans was barely listening to him, rubbing his sore socket as his eyelight refocused. His socket still felt like fingers were still wedged inside. Blinking a couple times, Sans sighed when the phantom sensations started to fade enough for his eyelight to stop flickering. He hated it when Papyrus did that.

"Asshole." Sans grumbled, looking down at the bottle of ketchup now lying discarded on the soft ground.

"You tried to kill me again! For not letting you lick up glass of all things! I'd say that you got off lightly!" Papyrus scolded, shaking a finger at him. Sans wanted to bite it off.

He hissed at him, not wanting to argue. Arguing with Papyrus was like trying to talk to a brick wall. 

"Now, come here. I bribed you down from your perch for a reason after all!"

Images of his body being poked and prodded like a science experiment flashed through Sans like lightning. His fangs already ached at the mere thought of his venom being drained again. He should have never come down. 

"And that reason is?" Sans asked, cautious and weary.

"This!"

A yelp escaped him without his consent when Papyrus lunged forward, immediately popping Sans's personal space bubble. He tried to escape, but it was too late, firm hands were already sliding under his body. Practice made it easy for Papyrus to pick him up with barely any jostle. 

Sans didn't help the process, but he didn't fight it. He froze, going stiff as he was pressed against a warm body. The hoodie and the heating lights helped, but Papyrus gave off heat like a furnace. It was intoxicating, and Sans hated that.

Grabbing some blankets Sans hadn't noticed before, Papyrus threw one on the floor right up against the wall. Sitting down, careful not to crush Sans's tail, Papyrus folded his legs as he moved Sans like he was a doll. Like he was something fragile and small, unable to move of his own volition. (And what did it say about Sans that he let Papyrus do it?)

Sans frowned when the shifting started to make his hoodie ride up his stomach, but even after pulling it down it just travelled back up. Only when the dragging motion happen again did Sans catch on. Papyrus was purposely tugging at the hoodie, trying to take his clothing off.

He never understood the concept of clothes before, but now that he had his hoodie he totally got it. Sure, Sans was used to going around without clothes, but the hoodie was so warm and comfortable. A cozy security that helped Sans pretend that he had any sort of personal space. Another bonus was that it was an added layer between him and Papyrus, keeping his touchy hands just a little further away.

Now he began to struggle, not willing to part with one of his few possessions in this place. But, as usual, Sans's wishes weren't listened to. Papyrus was determined and soon enough, Sans was left barebones once more. He felt odd after wearing the hoodie so much, his bones feeling bare. Without any protection from fire magic, the cool air seeped into his bones. His enclosure wasn't chilly, far from it, but Sans still felt cold.

Whining, Sans flopped onto his side, which was inconveniently where Papyrus's lap was. 

"Gimme that back." Sans complained like a hatchling, making grabby hands at his beloved hoodie.

Papyrus only held said hoodie higher, "I'm glad you like my gift, but you can have it back under one condition!"

"And that is?" Sans asked, eyes narrowed.

Papyrus wilted a bit in the face of his distrust before finally saying, "You can't wear it for a little bit, okay? If you really need to, use it as a pillow like earlier."

Sans huffed, but begrudgingly said, "Fine." He practically ripped the hoodie away from the other, already feeling better with it back in his hands.

A small squeak slipped out of him when he was pulled into a tight hug. His arms were squished against his chest, fingers tightening on the hoodie as his eyes went wide. Sans didn't have to look to see the dumb grin on Papyrus's face.

Cuddling Sans close, Papyrus sighed blissfully.

"You're doing so good." He purred, teeth pressed against the side of Sans's skull. 

A shiver jolted up his spine, and Sans shut his eyes in a pitiful attempt to pretend that he was anywhere but here. His attempts were further made impossible when Papyrus began to hum, sending more shivers through Sans.

Breath hitching, Sans felt his eyes start to burn. Ugh. This shouldn't feel nice. This should feel awful. Yucky. Disgusting and repulsive and all the other adjectives that perfectly described the sensation of vomiting one's guts out. 

But it didn't.

It didn't and Sans hated that so much.

He felt warm, comfortable, and some part of him just wanted to curl up against Papyrus and soak up his heat. Forget about who they were and why they were here, and exist together in this space. 

Not wanting to see the other's face anymore, Sans rolled so that he was on his stomach. Coiling up tighter, Sans used his hoodie as a pillow as he got comfortable.

A hand landed on his head and Sans couldn't hide his flinch. There was a brief pause, before Papyrus began to move. Sans braced himself as the hand traveled downwards, before lifting and starting the process all over again. Papyrus was petting him. Like an animal. As demeaning as the act was, that didn't stop it from being so soothing.

He reluctantly began to relax, the repetitive strokes along his scales feeling too nice to ignore.

Some of that calm left when a jingling sound filled the air. 

Craning his head to the side, Sans watched as Papyrus pulled a jester hat out of thin air, the bells jingling as he placed it on his head. This time the pen had been replaced with another one, this one bright orange and really long. Sans assumed that it was just a regular pen until Papyrus started to bend it and tie it into a knot. He grabbed some papers and began to fill them out, petting Sans all the while. Sans stared for a moment, wondering where Papyrus was getting all of these goofy hats. Once again, he brushed it off and returned to relaxing.

Sans was about to give in to sleep's beckoning call, his eyes drooping. Only to blink when he saw something flat and rectangular poking out of Papyrus's pocket. He was suddenly wide awake, staring at the pocket in shock.

Poking out Papyrus's pocket, looking shiny and practically begging Sans to steal it, was none other than a keycard. And not just any keycard. It was thekeycard. The keycard that seemed to be the key to everything around here.

Glancing up at Papyrus as discreetly as he could manage, Sans made sure that the skeleton was engrossed in his paperwork. Carefully, Sans started to tug at the object, disguising his movements as shifting to get more comfortable. He pulled his hoodie over the spot, the card slipping free at that moment. Tucking the card in the hoodie pocket, Sans quickly folded his arms and buried his face in the crook of his elbow to feign sleep. 

His soul fluttered in his chest like a frantic bird, ready to escape out of his chest at any moment. Even as Sans braced himself for Papyrus to catch on and bust him, nothing happened. Sans began to calm down. 

Papyrus hadn't noticed a thing. He didn't know something was amiss. Sans had to keep it that way.

So Sans forced himself to relax, and pretend to fall asleep. Or at least look at he was resting his eyes. Despite everything inside him screaming to do something now. He knew he had to be patient.

At last, Papyrus set the papers aside as he said, "I have to go get some chores done. Would you like to come with?"

"No. Tired." Sans muttered grumpily, keeping his head buried in his hoodie like a cartoon ostrich. 

"Nyeh! Alright then, I'll leave you to be lazy!" Papyrus snickered, carefully moving Sans off his lap so he could get up. The stupid hat jingled the whole time.

Standing up, Papyrus stretched before pressing a kiss to the top of Sans's skull before taking off the gag. Sans let him, trying to look as sleepy as possible the whole time. Once he was free of the gag, Sans immediately reburied in the hoodie to the amusement of Papyrus.

"Alright, I'll leave you be!"

Laughing, Papyrus began gathering the scattered array of papers before making his way to the door.

"See you later!" Papyrus called, before the door slid shut.

Sans held his breath for several moments, waiting. Peeking up, Sans checked to make sure that Papyrus still wasn't in the other room, watching him through the glass. He had done that many times before, watching Sans like a creep. Luckily, it really seemed like Papyrus had chores to finish, so he was long gone.

Seeing no sign of the other, Sans immediately sat up. Digging around the hoodie pouch, he took out the card with trembling fingers.

"Holy shit." Sans whispered in awe, hands shaking from how tightly he was holding the keycard.

He couldn't believe that worked, he really couldn't. How in the hell had that worked?! 

Breathless laughter escaped Sans without his sayso. It was less of a laugh and more of a sharp bark of disbelief. Sans, king of bad luck, had been blessed on this day. Miracles did exist and this was proof.

The next few minutes were torture for Sans, but necessary. If Papyrus came back and noticed that Sans was gone, his chances of using the card for long would be dashed. 

Five minutes later, Sans deemed it long enough to begin his escape attempt. Some part of him hoped that he could somehow magically find the exit and he could just leave forever, but Sans didn't want to get his hopes up. 

He slid the card in the hole at the top of the keypad to his enclosure, fumbling a few times trying to insert the damn thing. Slowly, he pressed the numbers he could remember, sweating when it came time to put in the numbers he didn't know. Taking a wild guess, Sans pressed a couple numbers. Beeeep. Nope. Denied.

Sighing, Sans hit the clear button and started over. Hopefully mistakes didn't alert the systems or something. That would be awful. 

Thankfully, lady luck was still in his favor (for now) and the door slid open on the fourth try. 

"Fourth time's a charm." Sans said to himself, poking his head out the door like Papyrus had been lying in wait the whole time and was about to pounce.

He realized that he was being silly and, more importantly, was wasting time. So Sans took a steadying breath and left his enclosure. No going back now. He had to make this count. 

Sans breezed past a couple halls, having already seen them before. Also, it seemed like there was a possibility Papyrus might be cleaning in one of them since he had offered to let Sans tag along.

After spending so much time getting dragged around like a piece of luggage, Sans had a begun to get a grasp on the layout of the place. Or at least the few hallways Papyrus tended to take him through. He also had a pretty good idea of where Papyrus could be, though Sans wasn't too sure. Either way, heading anywhere near the monster's room would probably be suicide as well.

The first new hall he came to looked the exact same as the rest, but it felt satisfying to just go wherever without needing a million different codes jammed in his skull. He checked several rooms, being as thorough as possible without wasting his time. 

It was only a few hallways, dozens of rooms, and what had to be a couple hours later did Sans find anything of note. After digging through countless boxes and poking at machinery, Sans stumbled upon something very interesting

The cardboard box was innocent enough. Looking exactly like every other room except for one little object, left forgotten alongside screwdrivers and other bits of metal. Eyeing the object, he carefully tucked it away in his hoodie pockets. He wasn't sure how he could use it. He didn't even know if the thing even worked, but if it did...? 

This changed things.

Shaking his head, Sans carried on. Even if he could get it to work, today wasn't the day. He was running on borrowed time already, and Papyrus would surely notice the missing keycard soon enough. Hiding the keycard in his enclosure would just get his shiny new toy confiscated as well.

Slithering through the next intersection, Sans began to feel more wary. Surely by now Papyrus had noticed his disappearance? The thought was not a good one, making Sans go little faster then need be when he slid the card through the pad's slot and pushed the doors open.

Only to stop entirely when his senses sucker punched him in the face. 

For some reason, there was a heavy feeling in the hallway and it bogged down the air enough that Sans found it hard to breathe. To be honest, he wasn't sure what to make of it. The hallway didn't look out of place, in fact it looked exactly like every other hallway in this hellhole, but that heaviness... 

Tasting the air, Sans shuddered in disgust. Something smelled terrible, like a bad feeling in scent form unlined with the sharp smell of dangerous chemicals. Something was wrong here. He was clearly messing with something dangerous here.

Sans could taste all that, and he hadn't even stepped into the hallway that was the source of the horrible feelings. He was like ninety percent sure that the exit wasn't in here, and nothing he'd find in here would be helpful. And normally Sans wasn't the type to put effort in where it wasn't needed. Usually he would cut his losses and slam the doors shut before carrying on his merry way.

(But something.)

(Something deep inside him told him that he needed to see what was in these rooms.)

(He needed to know. He needed to-)

So before he could stop himself. Before he let the badbadbad feeling in his soul convince him that this wasn't worth it, Sans slithered through the doors. The gentle swish as they closed behind him felt like a tomb slamming shut. 

Creeping forwards, Sans tried to open the first door on the left. He held his breath as he turned the handle only to be stopped by a loud click.

Locked. 

Sans tried another door only to get the same results. 

It was only halfway down, did the handle actually turn. Sans braced himself, his soul pounding.

A loud slam and then, "Sans!"

His soul had already been racing fast enough to kill him, but the sharp shout was enough to give him a metaphorical heart attack. Sans almost jumped a foot in the air, letting go of the handle and twisting just in time to spot Papyrus standing in the doorway looking like a maniac. He looked frantic, eye sockets wild as he glanced around the hall before locking sights on the lamia. He took a step in the lamia's direction.

Instinctively, Sans scurried backwards, ready to make a mad dash. Only to pause when his sudden movements made Papyrus stop in his tracks.

"Sans." Papyrus said, seeming to make an effort to keep his voice level.

"Papyrus." Sans shot back.

"Step away from the door."

Sans glanced at said door, only a foot away. If he wanted, he could easily open it and dart through. He could see what had spooked Papyrus so badly.

"Why should I?" Sans pressed.

"Listen to me, none of the rooms in here lead to the outside. You don't want anything to do with this particular hallway, I assure you."

"How do you know what I want? What if I do?" Sans said, anger sparking inside him, smothering his unease.

"Sans."

The lamia's fingers twitched.

"Sans." Was that a crack in his voice? He wanted to push. Press harder as though he were digging his fingers in an open cut.

 Sans reached out, his hands wrapping around cold metal.

The very instant he laid a finger on the handle, Papyrus cracked, “I’ll let you have a headstart to try and escape again if you let me catch you!” 

The prospect was tempting, Sans wasn't sure if he'd ever get the chance to explore freely with the keycard again after this. However, how could he be sure that Papyrus wasn't lying? 

Slowly, Sans began to twist.

“Sans! Please! I'm begging you!” Papyrus cried sharply, and the pure terror in his voice was what finally made Sans come back to his senses.

Glancing back at the other, Sans felt his soul clench like someone had punched him in the chest.

Actual tears had welled up in Papyrus’s eye sockets, ready to spill over. Something about this room scared Papyrus. No, it terrified the monster. And suddenly, all the anger drained away as he was chilled down to his very marrow. Maybe he should listen. Sans stopped turning the handle, hovering on the fine line between trusting Papyrus or listening to his gut feeling

Noticing the crack in his defenses, Papyrus pleaded, "I promise I'm not lying! Please don't go in there."

Despite part of him desperately needing to know what was inside, the desperate way Papyrus begged for him to stop was heart wrenching. He would have continued on anyway, but a thought hit him. The reason was much more compelling than his stupid empathy, and that was consequences.

If he satisfied his curiosity now, would Papyrus punish him even worse later? Would whatever Papyrus came up with be even worse than being stuffed into a box? Was whatever was in this room worth getting into serious trouble over?

All of a sudden, he was very aware of the power Papyrus held over his head. He really didn't want to push him any further.

Heaving a sigh, Sans gave up and said, "Fine." His tingling fingers slipped from the handle, and Papyrus looked so relieved he was about to faint.

Hands in the air, he backed away from the door and crept to the middle of the hall. He didn’t get any closer to Papyrus, but he also didn’t run away either.

The relief was plausible in the air as Papyrus closed the distance in a couple giant strides. Grabbing him and cuddling the lamia close, Papyrus buried his face in his shoulder for a few long moments. Sans remained limp, thrown off balance at the way Papyrus shook quietly. 

The urge to comfort the other was viciously shoved down. Sans hadn't stooped that low yet. He couldn't quite manage to get himself to take advantage of the weakness and go for the kill either. He wasn't gagged, he had a clear shot at the monster's throat, but for some reason, Sans didn't strike.

Pulling away, Papyrus tried for a smile, but it was shaky at best.

“The exit isn’t that way. Please trust me on this when I say that you do not want to be in this hallway.” His hands shook, and his eyes darted around as if something was going to jump out and grab them. Pulling Sans even tighter against his chest, Papyrus scurried out of the hallway and into the intersection.

He set Sans down and quickly slammed the doors closed. The air immediately lightened, the heavy feeling from before dissipating. Sans watched, unable to will himself to move while Papyrus quietly stared at the metal doors.

“Please don’t go in there ever again. It’s a dead end, trust me. Please, please Sans.” Papyrus begged, still facing the door.

“What’s in there?”

Finally, Papyrus turned, his expression ghastly. Sans flinched away.

“My worst nightmares.” Papyrus said simply, his pained smile downright horrifying.

The whole world went silent for several long moments, both staring at the other dead in the eyes. Sans couldn't look away, frozen in place.

Then Papyrus closed his eyes and turned, “I’ll give you one minute to run. I’ll even give you a hint. The exit isn’t in this hallway or the hallway on your right.”

Sans had no idea how to react. He didn't even know what to think.

"Ten, eleven, twelve-" Papyrus began to chant loudly, pointedly. For a guy who looked like he was about to have a mental breakdown a few seconds ago, he sure seemed to recover fast.

Shit. 

He had no time to think, he ran.

Of course the inevitable happened, Papyrus caught him and the keycard was confiscated. This time was different. The air was tense, pulled taunt like a wire about to snap. Sans waited with bated breath, some part of his traitorous mind hoping that Papyrus would let this go. He had before, many times in fact, but this time felt different. 

Seemed like Sans had pushed too far once more.

"Sans, I think I've thought of a new punishment to try out!"

And just like that, his soul sank like a stone.

 

Chapter Text

Conditioning /kənˈdiSHəniNG/ ~ noun ~ The process of training or accustoming a person or animal to behave in a certain way or to accept certain circumstances.

 

Silence.

Sans had never been one to keep quiet. Sure, he wasn't the loudest guy around, but he still liked to talk even if only to himself. 

After everything that had happened in Papyrus's 'nightmare' hallway, the monster had been much more quiet than usual. Announcing that he had come up with a new punishment had left Sans on edge, but Papyrus never clarified what exactly the punishment was. He'd only said that he'd give the punishment a 'trial run' to make sure it wasn't too traumatizing. Which was enough to make Sans want to have panic attack from anxiety.

Though it soon became very obvious what angle Papyrus was playing at here. Especially when Sans had asked him a question only for Papyrus to pointedly ignore him. 

The Silent Treatment? Really? This was the newest brand of torture Papyrus had come up with? After all that build up?

The mere notion was so utterly ridiculous that Sans could laugh. It felt even more silly when they both knew that Sans had spent years on his own, sometimes going months without saying a single word. 

Sans scoffed just thinking about it. 

The new tactic Papyrus had come up with was more of a blessing than a punishment. At least he didn't have to worry about Papyrus shoving him in the box anymore. In comparison this was going to be a piece of cake. He didn't even have to talk to the monster anymore, which was a relief. Conversations with Papyrus were always awful and made him want to jam his head in a blender to escape.

Lying down on the little bed in the corner of the room, Sans watched impressed as Papyrus fluttered around. He still took Sans to his chores, but the lamia became less of a companion and more of an object to lug around. Like a misshapen lamp that only flickered like a strobe light when plugged in. A useless thing. Dead weight.

Sans chose to be grateful for the peace and quiet. Papyrus had been stuck to his side with sticky glue every single day. This new routine was a breath of fresh air. In fact he managed to get more naps than ever which was another big bonus.

The next day, it seemed like Papyrus had decided that the punishment was over and went back to talking. Sans was tempted to ignore him in return just to be petty, but that required effort and he wasn't about to waste his energy. 

The next time Sans bolted, Papyrus was completely silent for the rest of the day. He had to give him some credit where credit was due. Even though the punishment was ridiculous, Papyrus seemed to stick to it.

Silent treatment became Papyrus's new method of punishing Sans whenever he acted out. If Sans tried to run, his attempts were now met with frigid air, and cold eyes. If Sans tried to act out in any way, he was met with silence. Any sort of planning that seemed like Sans was plotting to escape was enough to make Papyrus shut down for a few minutes at the very least. 

Whatever.

That only meant Sans got a chance to be even lazier. He didn't have to play nice, or answer ridiculous questions. He could just wait for his next chance to try and escape. Papyrus was only making this harder on himself. So Sans settled down and waited out his punishments like a good little pet should.

Over time Sans grew bored. Bored enough to watch Papyrus as he did his chores. Peeking out from underneath his blanket, Sans checked to make sure that Papyrus was still ignoring him for trying to pickpocket his keycard earlier that day. Yep.

Popping out of his blanket, Sans settled on his stomach, resting his chin in his hands as he stared at the other. He didn't feel weird about it. There was nothing else to do and he was very, very bored. Besides, staring at Sans like he was a zoo exhibit was practically Papyrus's favorite pastime. A little payback never hurt.

For a while, all Papyrus did was the usual stuff. He wiped down all of the tables and any other surface he could get his hands on. Papyrus was always very meticulous when it came to things like this, even going so far as to scrub the walls on occasion if he deemed them 'dirty' enough.

When Papyrus began fiddling with one of the machines right next to the lamia, Sans perked up.

"What are you doing?" Sans asked curiously, remembering too late that Papyrus was still ignoring him. He was met with an icy silence.

This wasn't the first time Sans forgot that Papyrus was 'punishing' him and said something only to be ignored. But for whatever reason, a flash of hurt flared in his soul, wicked and sharp. His face burned like the sun, stunned by his own reaction.

Stars fucking dammit. Sans didn't care. He really didn't. (So why-?)

Honestly, he was starting to get angry now. He knew what Papyrus was doing. He knew that this was some sick mental game that he was playing. But Sans couldn't stop from reacting. 

"Heh, you do know you're just encouraging me to escape, right?" Sans asked with a grin, not expecting a response.

Knowing that Papyrus wouldn't say anything, Sans continued, "I mean, I don't really care if you talk to me. You're like a leech, or big thorn in my side. Not having to listen to your stupid voice is a miracle-" Sans cut himself off before he could finish, 'tibia honest' almost slipping out before he could stop himself. He had decided long ago that Papyrus didn't deserve to hear his puns anymore.

(Especially if he wasn't going to answer.) 

The silence after his near fumble was predictable, but Sans still felt oddly irritated.

Mood souring, Sans grumbled out some nonsense before curling back up to take another nap. He didn't have anything better to do with his time anyway. 

Staying quiet as Papyrus finished up his chores, Sans begrudgingly allowed himself to be carried back to his enclosure. Of course Papyrus didn't stay long, leaving Sans to stew in his own emotions until the next day. Sans waited patiently, feeling wound tighter and tighter to more he dwelled on his anger. He almost physically attacked the skeleton when he skipped into the room, whistling a cheery tune. The lamia only glared viciously as Papyrus waltzed right up to him as though nothing was amiss.

As soon as Papyrus starting saying some crap about getting breakfast, Sans snapped.

"You're such a child. You know who does this sorta shit? Children. Children do."

"Sans-"

"No! I take it back! You're probably even less mature than a kindergartener! You're like a toddler! A baby bones!" He spat, glaring daggers at the other as though daring him to try and say something. 

For a few moments all a silent except for the sound of his own angry panting.

Then at last Papyrus spoke. After two days of not listening to his voice, it was always strange to suddenly hear the other talk. Especially with his naturally loud voice. He never seemed affected by the silence either, his booming and clear like usual.

"Could a baby bones," Papyrus paused for dramatic effect, "Do this?!" The skeleton struck a dramatic pose, flexing his right arm and squatting at the knees as he pointed into the distance with his left hand.

Another long pause.

"That's it? Really? That's all you have to say?" Sans blurted at last, incredulous beyond belief that such a strange person could torment him so effectively.

"Nyeh heh heh! Nope!"

"Wha-" Sans yelped as gloved hands darted underneath his arms and lifted him up high in the air.

"Airplane time!" 

Papyrus raised the lamia above his head as he began racing around the room. He made silly engine noises, blowing raspberries in the air the best one could without lips. Growing increasingly dizzy, Sans could only go along for the ride. He clung desperately to the other, paranoid that Papyrus would decide to drop him at any moment.

"Put me down!" Sans begged.

"Nope!" Papyrus chirped, but a moment later he readjusted their positions so Sans was tucked against his chest. 

"It's clear to me that you are upset!"

"No shit!" Sans snarled, shoving against his chest as hard as he could to no avail.

"I think it's time for a mental check up!" Papyrus said, skipping over to the pile of blankets now permanently residing against the glass wall. 

"A mental what-now?" 

"I'm giving you a therapy session!"

Oh stars no, he didn't like the sound of that. Sans had had enough of this. He began to struggle even harder, not caring that getting his own way would only result with him cracking his head open on the ground. It was a small price to pay to avoid talking about his feelings with a sociopath. 

Too bad said sociopath was adamant that it was in his best interest to open up to the other. As though it wasn't the worst possible thing Sans could do. He knew how manipulative his captor was, yet trying to escape once one was already entangled in the spider's web was impossible. Sans soon found himself tucked into the monster's lap, gag preventing him from any murder attempts. 

One hand ran down his back in soothing motions while Sans wiggled stubbornly, the other hand keeping him locked firmly in place. His bones crawled with unease and Sans hissed wildly, baser instincts flaring up slightly. 

Papyrus completely ignored the lamia's animalistic hisses and growls, humming thoughtfully all the while.

"So the punishment is working, correct?" Papyrus began, smile gentle and his eyes dark pits.

Sans froze. As though he were an unfortunate deer that leapt out in front of a semi-truck barreling down the highway, not a hint of mercy in it's glaring headlights. 

Eyeing the lamia's tense form, Papyrus waved a hand before continuing, "No need to answer. I'm pretty sure that it is! I'm very great at everything, so why wouldn't my ideas work?" He finished, clearly patting himself on the back for a job well done. Sans wanted to bite him.

"Now what I really want to know is whether it's too much for you. This one isn't nearly as traumatizing as my previous attempt, but I must still ask! Are you feeling alright? Some negative emotions are alright, even encouraged, but I'd like to know if you feel any sort of impending meltdown."

Nope. Sans was done now. He wanted off this ride. He began struggling for all he was worth. Like a bird caught in a net, his thrashing only got himself even more ensnared.

"Get your dirty hands off of me." Sans hissed, his claws digging deep into the other's legs, too frazzled to even attempt to pretend that Papyrus's mere presence didn't make his bones crawl.

Papyrus only stared, clearly waiting for a proper answer.

Sans stayed silent, trying to keep a tight lid on his emotions. It was a difficult task when he was fit to burst at the seams, and he was ashamed to admit that he didn't last long. He only lasted a couple long tense minutes where he tried to avoid both Papyrus's stare and his own emotional meltdown.

The staring made Sans feel as though he were a science experiment, like one of those volcano experiments, and Papyrus had added a whole box of baking soda to the concoction that was Sans's mind. One that Papyrus was trying to figure out how to make work exactly the way he wanted it to. 

Finally, Sans had enough and he snarled, "Stop staring at me, I'm fine. Just dandy. No thanks to you, you prick." 

Now that he had started, he couldn't seem to stop, "You don't even care about that sorta thing, so quit trying to act like you do. I know you don't really care about anything other than making me suffer. Just let me go and leave me alone!" 

As soon as Sans finished, he regretted saying anything as all. His words felt predictable, and pointless. What were words going to do for him? Could words even come close to conveying how he felt?

Papyrus went silent for several moments, looking at Sans thoughtfully. Like there was just a rusty cog in the machine that made up his mind. One that needed to be removed so his brain could work how Papyrus wanted it to do. Papyrus truly thought he had enough power and influence over Sans that he could actually do such a thing. 

(Didn't he?)

A shiver ran up his spine, but he did his best not to show it. Instead he met the stare head on, glaring daggers at the other as though daring him to do something.

"It seems as though while the punishment is effective, I need to increase my affections to balance everything out better." Papyrus said, almost to himself as he idly tapped the top of Sans's skull. 

"I've been trying not to overwhelm you too much by giving you space, but it seems as though that might have been an error on my part. We both know you don't like to be alone, even if you won't admit it."

"I'm fine alone. I'd rather be alone then be with you." Sans snapped, hating that his face was beginning to burn. This was awful, he shouldn't have ever said anything. He should have ignored Papyrus right back. Then they'd really see who didn't want to be left alone, asshole.

"Shush, Sans, separation anxiety is nothing to be ashamed about. I'll make sure to let you know that you're not alone between punishments."

"What?!"

Sans was about to throttle him, consequences be damned.

"That being said, as much as you want to be left alone for a bit, let's just relax for a while! Have some nice quality bonding time after getting all of our pent up frustrations and anger out of our systems!" Papyrus said, as though he had done any resemblance of sharing his 'feelings' instead of psychoanalyzing the crap out of Sans and making a whole bunch of assumptions.

"I hate you so much."

"That's the spirit!"

Sans gritted his teeth and stayed quiet.

"Now then, let's change the subject. I also wanted to talk about-"

Papyrus could say whatever he wanted. Sans was done. Time to block out the world, and Papyrus, until the end of times. 

So that's what he did. 

For the rest of the day, Sans did his best to shut out the other's annoying babble. Any attempt at conversation was shut down with vicious silence. 

Spite powering him like a he had downed half a dozen energy drinks at once, Sans began trying to escape even harder than ever. He constantly hissed and struggled whenever Papyrus tried to take him anywhere. If Sans managed to slip free, he ran for it, uncaring if he managed to make it down the hall or only five feet. He never even had the keycard anyway, so unless he knew the passcode to a door Sans never got far. He didn't care.

Silence became the new norm because of his behavior. Papyrus became cold like ice, only thawing when absolutely necessary. Sans was next to apathetic to the change, doing nothing to fill the quiet void with his own pointless words. Anything he ever said only got ignored or twisted into daggers to be used against him. Why talk? Why try to be anything more than some fancy pet that Papyrus had stolen from the wild? Besides, Sans didn't need to talk. He had been alone almost all his life. He didn't need anyone.

Sans only lasted a week before he gave up on his hasty escape attempts, becoming too emotionally exhausted to even fight when Papyrus picked him up. Unfortunately, he was starting to see an inescapable pattern. He'd struggle like a worm on a hook, and Papyrus would take all of his anger with ease, waiting the lamia out until he finally tired himself out. 

He only lasted another before he cracked.

Sans wanted to say that he only started talking again because of something Papyrus had done, but that that would be a dirty lie. The truth was that he was weak. He was weak and the silence hurt in ways that made no sense. Sans hadn't ever felt this aching need to be seen. To be heard. To touch and to be touched. Why should the quiet hurt now, after years of being alone?

It was all Papyrus's fault. He had never felt this way before. He had never been this dependent on another person before meeting the other. And like a seed being planted, a toxic weed was growing in Sans. Roots reaching deep and entangling within him. The more he tried to rip the weed out, the deeper the roots ran. 

Him ignoring Papyrus only seemed to make everything worse. 

Finally, Sans decided to drop the treatment. Some part of him felt relieved, but he wouldn't ever admit that out loud in a million years. Besides that, the treatment just didn't have the same effect on Papyrus so there wasn't even any point to his silence. In fact, Papyrus seemed completely unfazed by the treatment. He acted as though he didn't notice the tense air, talking at the lamia like usual. Sans knew he was pretending, but it still made something ache in his chest. (So pathetic.)

Just like he promised, Papyrus began a new schedule. Coming in several times a day, he would gather up the lamia to cuddle him for a while. In the beginning, he had been completely silent during a few of the sessions, making the whole thing feel awkward and stilted. However that was mainly due to the fact that Papyrus had been in the middle of giving him the silent treatment. Whenever a punishment ended, Papyrus would return to being an overly affectionate mess. The emotional flip-flopping was exhausting to even witness, much less be forced to participate in.

So in the end, Papyrus readjusted the sessions. Punishments were not allowed while they were 'bonding'. Then if Sans messed up again and Papyrus was punishing him, the moment a session was over, it was right back to complete silence.  

After he stopped trying to escape as much Sans almost missed the silence, and he hated that he didn't miss it. Having someone coo at you and pet you should feel very unsettling on several levels. It had felt very uncomfortable, but like everything else in this place, his feelings on the matter grew muddled and jumbled. Sans found himself craving the other's touch. Wanting to hear his voice. Wanting wanting wanting.

Papyrus seemed to not notice, too busy showering Sans in attention. Even going so far as to bring new special treats for him. Today he had bought little hard candies. They had been deliciously sweet and practically melted in the lamia's mouth.

While Sans ate the candy, Papyrus whipped out a witch's hat, little orange stars adorning the black fabric, before placing it on his head. He also pulled out a bright orange plastic lizard. Sans was confused until Papyrus popped off the tail to reveal a pen tip to begin scribbling on papers. Oh.

Shaking his head, Sans finished off his treat before settling in for the long haul. He felt oddly comfortable, so much so that he quickly began to drift off into lala land.

A startled, "Mrp?" escaped Sans when the sound of Papyrus setting the papers aside woke him up.

Disgruntled at being disturbed, he whined pathetically before quickly forgetting about his displeasure in favor of pinpointing a certain scent in the air. The scent was wonderful, and Sans wanted more. Purring thickly, Sans sleepily nuzzled against the other's cheek, briefly sticking out his tongue to taste the other's magic. 

Then he stopped, forked tongue still poking out. He jolted backwards when he realized that he had been purring for the past half an hour. 

"Um." Sans said thickly, his face burning as he stared blankly at Papyrus's shoulder. Glued in place as what he just did properly registered.

His answer was a loud rumbly purr resonating from the chest right in front of him. Arms snaked around his waist and tightened, pulling Sans close once more. 

"You're so adorable." Papyrus cooed, nuzzling his cheek against the top of his skull.

Their chests were flush together, and Sans practically melted at the warmth radiating off the other. He shivered when their ribs rubbed against one another, only separated by a single layer of clothing. Something about this closeness, this warmth, felt like it should trigger some sort of alarm. It felt like it should be dangerous, as though he were playing with fire, but all Sans could feel was an addictive heat filling his insides.

Sans couldn't seem to make himself stop purring. Why couldn't he stop purring?

"Did you drug me?" Sans asked, his voice thick with soft rumbles. The concept should be scary, but it felt as though Sans was merely asking if Papyrus ate all of the ketchup instead of something as horrifying as drugging him without his knowledge. Seemed like a lot of things happened without his consent. Might as well become a lifeless object at this point.

"No? Why would you even think that?" Papyrus said, confused.

Papyrus seemed genuinely blindsided by the sudden suspicion. Seemed. Sans knew he was lying for sure now.

Squinting at Papyrus, Sans wanted to be angry and uncomfortable but all he felt was warm fuzziness. He tried to muster up any sort of emotion other than the bubbly feeling in his chest, but couldn't. That more than anything tipped Sans off that he was not mentally right in the head. In fact, his skull was getting blurrier by the second, rational thought leaving the building.

"Definitely drugged me." Sans confirmed casually, nodding to himself as he slumped forwards.

Tucking his face into the crook of Papyrus's throat, Sans purred and stuck out his tongue to lick at the magic holding his bones together. Papyrus spluttered, quickly pulling away just as Sans was about to drunkenly nip him. Sans didn't even know why he tried, he just wanted to and there hadn't been anything else to it. Neither paid any mind to the close-call, instead choosing to focus on more important matters.

"I did no such thing! It must be some sort of special reaction that lamias have to those types of candies. They are monster candies after all." Papyrus protested halfheartedly, holding Sans at arms length before deeming him mentally unfit to restrain himself. Taking out the gag, he put it on as loose as it could go. 

"Did too." Sans giggled, fingering the gag's straps before snuggling close for more cuddles.

"Did not!" Papyrus protested loudly, but he was smiling the whole time. 

The smile only grew when Sans wrapped his arms around his waist. Burying his face in a warm chest, Sans sighed blissfully as long arms coiled around him and pulled him even closer. Still didn't mean that he was done accusing Papyrus.

"Did too." Sans mumbled, snickering when Papyrus huffed in exasperation.

The conversation quickly dissolved into childish bickering, before Sans stopped talking altogether because he was purring too hard to speak properly. It was enough to make his chest vibrate. Instead of speaking, he let the warm magic resonate through him, laughing every couple of minutes at nothing. 

Another purr joined in, gentle skeleton kisses pressed against the lamia's skull.

This felt nice.

(The sudden urge to cry was easily engulfed by warm fussiness and soft kisses.)

 

Chapter Text

Fraught /frôt/ ~ adjective ~ (of a situation or course of action) filled with or likely to result in something undesirable.

 

"You know you'll have to stop pouting sometime." Papyrus said.

Sans wasn't pouting. He was legitimately upset, and with good reason too. 

"M'not pouting." Sans muttered grumpily from underneath the relative safety of his blanket. 

The feeling of security was false, he reminded himself. Papyrus could rip the layer away in a moment if he so wished, but Sans was pretty sure that he wouldn't. Papyrus went by a system of rules. If Sans wasn't trying to escape, he could get away with quite a lot.

Instead of saying anything else, Papyrus wisely chose to leave Sans be. Curling up tighter on the dog bed, Sans listened to the sound of Papyrus scrubbing at the floors on his hands and knees. If it were him who had to clean, Sans sure wouldn't have put so much effort into the task.

The medical room wasn't even that dirty. In fact, the place looked pristine if you asked him. However, Papyrus seemed to disagree if his little annoyed huff when they first walked into the room was any indication. 

Waking up the day after eating that candy hadn't been very fun. Not because there were any aftereffects (there weren't, if anything he had felt great), but because of how livid Sans had been. He only got angrier when he saw a stupid smile on his captor's face, as though Papyrus had done him a favor instead of drugging him without his consent. His urge to attack was just narrowly repressed, leaving him a fuming mess.

He didn't even bother asking why Papyrus would do such a thing. Sans knew that the reason would most likely be infuriating and he wasn't in the mood to test his self control. 

Sans was slowly learning to pick his battles. Getting pissed off was as threatening to Papyrus as a chihuahua barking at someone through a window. It was amusing to the window watcher and downright pointless for the chihuahua.

Besides, Sans had another underlying reason to play nice. Apparently he was due for another venom milking and Papyrus needed to clean the medical wing on top of that. So Sans gritted his teeth and allowed Papyrus to bring him to his next 'appointment' without any fuss. 

One moment Sans was relaxing, and the next the blanket was tugged away. Papyrus smiled down at him, cheerfully ignoring his hissing. Seemed like Papyrus had finished his chores while he had been lost in thought. Sans was plucked up from his bed like a misbehaving kitten. He squirmed, claws digging into thick leather as he was carried over to the examining table. The metal was still as smooth as ever, his scales sliding with ease as Sans coiled up, glaring at Papyrus the whole time.

"Now then, if I let you move freely, will you behave?" Papyrus asked, one bone ridge raised. 

Sans took it for the warning it was. Be good and he would be rewarded, or be bad and get tied up from the top of his head to the tip of his tail. Then get ignored. The fact that being ignored by Papyrus was beginning to become more awful than the whole unwilling bondage thing only made him hyperaware of himself. 

"Sans?"

Sans ignored his burning face and said, "I'll be good."

"As long as I can keep my hoodie on. It's cold in here." Sans tacked on after a moment, not wanting to give in that easily.

The answering grin was blinding, giving Sans even more of a reason not to look the other in the face. 

"Wonderful!" Papyrus praised, petting the top of his skull. 

Papyrus seemed to decide that wasn't enough affection, because he then leaned down to place a gentle kiss on his forehead. Sans could feel his face light on fire. One of these days he was going to die from sheer embarrassment alone. Averting his eyelights, Sans let Papyrus to do as he pleased, flushing even further when a spark of heat curled up his spine.

Sans managed to find his voice long after Papyrus pulled away.

"You're such a jerk." Sans said. The insult was weak, and he regretted even trying the moment he opened his stupid mouth.

"And you're my sweetie pie!" Papyrus said, bouncing away to get ready and gather the proper 'equipment'.

Ugh. 

Sans chose to ignore the sickeningly sweet endearment. Instead, he casually rolled over onto his stomach, tail twisting languidly as he got comfortable. 

Thankfully the table wasn't cold, despite being made out of metal, and Sans quickly grew comfortable. Well, as comfortable as one could get waiting for their 'examination'. Enough repeat sessions had drained most of the fear out of Sans. All that remained was a bad case of jitters. Nerves made it hard to concentrate on anything other than Papyrus. His instincts deemed him the most threatening thing in the room, unsurprisingly. Even when Papyrus wasn't trying to be scary, the guy moved way too quickly sometimes. Startling Sans without even meaning to. 

Besides, looking at Papyrus was much better than looking at the metal tray full of menacing tools just within arm's reach. Several of which, Sans couldn't even begin to guess their purpose. And several more he knew all too well. Sans stared at the scalpel closest to him, nerves threatening to choke all the air out of him.

Sans blinked back to attention when Papyrus returned, a familiar beaker in hand and flashlight in the other.

For a moment, Sans considered being stubborn and clamping his teeth shut. He knew that wasn't what Papyrus wanted though, and would only result with binds and iron hands prying his teeth apart like a demented jaws of life. His moment of hesitation was enough to make that dark glint appear in Papyrus's sockets. As though that were the code to unlock his frozen body, his teeth slowly parted.

Sans fought the urge to snap them back shut when a hand danced under his chin, using it to angle his face where Papyrus wanted it to be. The touch was like a fire, and he could feel himself burning up at that simple touch alone. 

Taking a tiny flashlight, Papyrus clicked the end to make it light up and peeked in his mouth. When the flashlight's metal accidentally scrapped against his teeth, Sans flinched. Papyrus immediately pulled back at the pained reaction, eyes softening as he clicked the flashlight off and set it aside.

Sans averted his eyelights, shoulders rising up as if to protect his throat from the killing blow. Realizing how he looked, Sans immediately forced himself to relax.

The hands returned, pulling his unresisting jaws apart to poke around inside. The touch was brief, and they pulled back to grab a familiar glass beaker and bring the rim so close that Sans almost went crosseyed. 

"Bite down." Came the soft command, familiar and predictable yet always shocking his systems like Papyrus was rebooting his nerves with his voice alone.

Fangs sliced through the saran wrap like butter, his venom immediately pouring into the container. Sans gnawed at the beaker like it would distract him, tongue summoning without his permission to lick at the cool glass.

Papyrus tended to call it, 'venom milking' which only made the lamia feel more like a cow than anything else. 

The sessions weren't painful, but that only made Sans hate them even more. He could handle pain. Pain was an old friend that Sans didn't necessarily like, but had learned to tolerate.

No. The issue was that Papyrus made him feel good. 

Case in point, the fingers pressing against his glands, gently but firmly forcing any leftover venom from his fangs. Sans ran out of venom to give much sooner than expected, surprised when his sore mouth was released and the cup was pulled away. Papyrus brought the beaker up to inspect, as though eyeing his venom would force it reveal any secrets it may have. Blue venom sloshed around briefly before finally settling, glowing faintly. 

Sometimes Sans couldn't believe that something like that came from him. That something so dangerous could be sorta pretty. His aching gums were proof that he had produced the poison, clearly pretty enough to mesmerize Papyrus. Or did the fascination stem from obsession? Sans looked away, glancing back at the tray of tools.

He ignored Papyrus, trying to brace himself for what came next. Like clockwork, Papyrus set aside his venom and stepped close once more. A helpless shiver raced up his spine, and Sans could already feel himself flushing.

Even though he had prepared himself, his attempt was futile the moment warm hands met his cheek. The urge to jerk away was strong, but Sans had promised to be good. He hated this, but he didn't want to be gagged or bound. He just wanted to be left alone, but that would be asking too much. 

Sans allowed Papyrus to grab his face and force the lamia to face him. He didn't exactly open his mouth, but he didn't stop Papyrus from prying his teeth apart. Only a short whine escaped, cut off before it could linger too long. Sans tried to stay quiet after that embarrassing noise, feeling stripped bare, but the task became ten times harder the moment Papyrus slipped his fingers inside his mouth. He could taste leather on his tongue. 

The fingers quickly found his glands, and the first brush was had Sans squirming, feeling warm sparks flicker deep in his core. His face burned.

More often than not, he came from a session with his gums aching yet tingling sweetly. Papyrus never forgot to massage his glands after milking them, leaving Sans fighting down all sorts of embarrassing noises. Those fingers were like heaven, experience practically giving Papyrus the cheat code to all of the best spots to go for and exactly how to touch them with the perfect amount of pressure.

He hated it so much.

Papyrus never failed to look smug, even if he tried to hide it under a false air of innocence. Sans wanted to wipe that look off his face. To make him look at Sans and really see him. 

A soft moan slipped out before Sans could temper the traitorous noise back. He drooled, saliva dripping down his chin and making it easier for the probing fingers. Soft leather glided across his tongue, skirting the edges of his teeth like a minefield. 

It felt like forever before Papyrus finally finished, and Sans could feel himself heating up just thinking about all the noises he made.

"There! All done." Papyrus cooed, hands pulling out of the depths of his mouth at last. Sans shivered, feeling oddly empty.

"You rest up while I go freeze this sample." Papyrus said nonchalantly, as though he hadn't spent the last ten minutes doing his best to make an absolute mess out of Sans. He turned his back to Sans and left him panting on the table. 

Sans watched Papyrus fiddle with his venom for several moments, breathing a little harder than he'd like. When his face finally cooled and his gums weren't tingling like the sweetest pins and needles, Sans quietly got down from the table and crept closer to see what Papyrus was doing. Papyrus was pouring the beaker into several small vials, each carefully capped and placed on a tray.

"What are you doing with my venom?" Sans asked, setting his chin on the edge of the counter, his tail snuck around a warm ankle to anchor himself. Some unused beakers rested right in front of him, and Sans didn't hesitate to poke at the glass with honest curiously.

Papyrus blinked, seemingly surprised by the quick recovery, "I'm splitting the sample up into a batch of vials. Makes it easier to store and test them with less risk if they managed to spill somehow."

"Oh, okay." Sans said, eyeing his captor up and down before returning to stare as Papyrus mixed and poured. He fiddled with the beakers the whole time, multitasking.

"What are you adding to it?" Sans asked, sliding in close to his side to better see.

Papyrus smiled faintly at the action, a bold move for Sans to make on his own, "I'm adding a special magical concoction to keep your venom from spoiling. Amongst other reasons."

"What do you need it for again? Oh wait, let me guess! Stuff and things?" Sans asked pointedly, shooting an annoyed look up at the other.

That smile evolved into a grin, "Yep, stuff and things! Very astute, Sans!"

Sans huffed, rolling his eyelights, but he kept watching. He was flush against Papyrus now, head rest against his hip. Papyrus paused, but not for long, instead he focused on finishing up. 

Sans didn't hesitate to take advantage of the opening.

Quick as a bullet, he snatched a certain card out of his pant pocket. He didn't give Papyrus time for the pickpocket to register, his tail tightening around his ankle like a snare. With a sharp yank, he swept Papyrus's feet out from under him.

"Sans!" Papyrus said, more shocked than anything as he tumbled. He hit the floor hard, unable to catch himself. 

Wasting little precious time, Sans grabbed a couple of empty glass beakers. He chucked several at that stupid head. He didn't stay to see whether Papyrus got hit, only counting on the shattered glass to slow him down even the slightest bit. (And if Papyrus did get cut up? Payback was a bitch.)

Sans darted through the door like a bat outta hell, one hand tight on the card and a spare beaker in the other. If Papyrus managed to catch up, Sans had another one to throw at him just in case.

Usually Sans would make a mad dash anywhere. It didn't matter as long as he headed somewhere new. Not this time. This time he had a destination in mind. The monotonous scenery blurred past him, labyrinth threatening to get him lost once again in its depths. Too bad for Papyrus that Sans memorized what routes to take. He refused to get mixed up.

After what felt like an eternity, Sans made it to his goal. The last hallway. This hallway had to be the way out. He knew it. Sans had seen practically every inch of this hellhole. Had explored so many rooms and spent hours theorizing where exactly the exit could be. This was the only place left unchecked. The only one he had yet to see.

Trying to slow his soul down, Sans opened the doors and almost stopped dead in his tracks. There was literally nothing out of the ordinary in this hall. Not a single difference between it and the dozens of other halls he had explored. Sans double checked that he had the right place, and his soul sank. Panic filled him to the brim, threatening to overflow and flood out any coherent thought. Dread itched at him, trying to claw his fragile hope into pieces before reality shattered it for him.

Despite his boiling emotions, Sans forced himself to carry on, slipping past the doorway and down the hall.  Maybe the exit was behind an inconspicuous door. Maybe he just had to give hope a chance. Maybe life would be kind to him for once. He slammed doors open without preamble, uncaring that he was making noise. 

He had to be quick. There was no time to waste. Sure, that was why. He totally wasn't growing more panicky with every door opened to reveal nothing but another room. 

All too quickly Sans ran out of doors to open, with only a single one left.

This door was his last chance. His last beacon of hope. For a moment he wanted to turn around. Forget about this hallway altogether. Funny how something that seemed so ordinary felt like it could rip out his insides. Taking a deep breath, he opened it. 

He was met with yet another ordinary storage room, filled with old junk and boxes. The exit wasn't here. Not in this room and definitely not in this hallway. 

Sans slammed the door closed as hard as he could, furiously blinking back tears. Resting his forehead against the wall, Sans let the chill seep into his skull and tried to think.

Could it be that Papyrus had lied about the nightmare hallway? No, Sans knew when Papyrus was lying. He had been telling the truth, but if he had told the truth then where was the exit? If it wasn't in here, then where in the world was it? Where could it even be? He had searched everywhere and came up empty-handed. 

Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

All he got was deadend after deadend. Heartbreak after heartbreak.

Sans stared at the wall in front of him, his soul beating like a hammer in his chest. The exit had to be hidden somewhere, but how was Sans going to find it if he never had the time to properly look? Papyrus was always hot on his tail, and Sans never had time to search properly. 

Sans stiffened when he heard the all too familiar sound of boots against the floor.

Gentle footsteps echoed through the hall, growing steadily closer without an ounce of hurry. Sans made no move to run. There wasn't a way out on this end anyway, so he couldn't escape even if he tried. The steps stopped, and Sans shivered, feeling eyes piercing his back like daggers. He could already imagine those eyes staring feverishly at his bones with thinly concealed darkness.

Shit.

"Sans."

Double shit.

Slowly, Sans turned to meet the eyes of the devil. His soul ached, lurching painfully under that stare. He felt pathetically tiny, curled up on the floor, huddling against the wall to try and make himself even smaller.

"There you are." Papyrus smiled, tilting his head to the side.

Triple shit.

(Ding ding ding! We have ourselves a winner! Give the most screwed sucker in the universe a prize!)

"Sans, Sans, Sans... You promised to be good. This wasn't very good behavior, now was it?" Papyrus cooed, eye sockets half lidded and gag hanging loosely from one hand. 

His insides felt like ice, and his vision blurred.

"Ready to give up?" Papyrus asked.

Sans nodded weakly. He dropped the beaker he had managed to carry along with him and flinched at the harsh noise the glass made when it hit the floor.

His flinch was the final catalyst. At last, hot tears spilled over. They poured down his cheeks in twin streaks, burning the whole way down. Sans didn't bother wiping them away. He only sat there, pitiful as could be, trembling under the demon's eyes.

"M'sorry." Sans sniffled.

That cold look began to melt away, softening into something more gentle the longer Papyrus watched him cry. At last, Papyrus sighed, "Sans, my darling, it hurts my soul to see you cry. You didn't get hurt anywhere, did you?"

"No, m'okay. I'm sorry." 

Any hint of worry dissipated at the lamia's soft words, yet he was still oddly gentle. "It's fine. Come here and let me take a look at you."

Now, the smartest thing Sans could do if he wanted to avoid further punishment was follow the simple orders, yet he still hesitated.

"Something is wrong, isn't it." Papyrus said, worry returning and sharp eyes narrowing the longer Sans fidgeted.

"Are you mad?" Sans asked.

Papyrus paused, clearly thrown off kilter by the lamia's nervous voice, "Wha-Sans, no, I'm not mad. Never at you. Worried maybe, but I've told you before that I wouldn't hurt you on purpose. I don't intend to start now. Please come here."

"Okay." Sans said, quiet.

He slithered forwards, meek as a mouse. Once he was close enough, Papyrus swept him up into a hug. Tentatively, Sans relaxed into his chest, shivering even harder when the arms tightened, holding him in place like a vice. He was as good as trapped, like a butterfly caught in a spider's silk. The more he fought, the more the web tore at his delicate wings.

"Good job." Papyrus cooed, nuzzling the side of his skull, before saying, "You had me worried for a second there."

Sans curled up even tighter, before finally whispering out another soft, "I'm sorry." He felt like a track record set on loop.

"It's fine, Sans. Everything is okay. Nothing's gonna hurt you." Papyrus cooed, easily drifting from creepy to sickeningly sweet. The rapid switch was always so disorienting to witness. 

 "You know what? Let's forget about today. We can go relax for a while. I'll even grab Grillby's if you're hungry." The sudden change of pace was even more startling. After introducing the new punishment, Papyrus never hesitated to use silence as a tactic to punish Sans for trying to escape. Were a few tears really all it took to sway him?

Sans hid his face in that broad chest, not wanting to let Papyrus to see his expression. The sweater soaked up his tears, leaving behind dry bone.

"P-Paps?" Sans ventured, hesitant.

"Yes, Sans?"

"I'm sorry."

"I already said that it's fine, Sans. You don't have to be sorry for anything."

"No, I do." Sans insisted.

"What do you have to be sorry about?"

"For this."

"Wha-"

Sans didn't give himself time to think. He just acted. Fingers tight around his weapon, he thrust his fist upwards as fast as he could. He slashed the air. His blind jab rang true, a sickening crunch ringing in his skull.

A strangled gasp was ripped from Papyrus's throat, and Sans was shoved away like he burned. He hit the floor with a painful slap, but the adrenaline pumping through him didn't let him feel a single thing. Briefly stunned, Sans watched as Papyrus crumpled to the floor, clutching at his throat. Sans wasn't naive enough to believe that the injury would keep Papyrus down for long.

Darting forwards, he shoved Papyrus down uncaring of the way the other's skull slammed against the tile. The more disoriented Papyrus was, the better. His tail made easy work of coiling around his prone form, keeping Papyrus nice and pinned. Sans relished the pained hiss that escaped Papyrus at the tight hold, squeezing even tighter to knock all the air out of the his body. 

Adjusting so that he hovered ominously over his captor, Sans met his shocked face with a grin. 

It wasn't a nice grin. 

"Be careful where you put your tools. You wouldn't want to misplace something, would you?" Sans teased, his hands aching from just how hard he was gripping his stolen scalpel.

"Sans-" Papyrus began roughly, only to choke on his words when Sans wrapped his free hand around his throat. His throat was stained with crimson marrow, the scalpel's magical properties mixing with his rage. The combination proved deadly, making the wound beautifully deep. If only the desperate act had decapitated Papyrus so Sans didn't have to finish the job.

The moment Sans had heard his name uttered by this creep, his insides had rippled with unease and terror.

"Shut. Up." Sans growled, digging his fingertips into the open wound. He didn't want to hear Papyrus speak. He didn't want to hear that wonderfully sweet voice coming out of this monster. To fall for the silky sweet web of lies Papyrus would spin to throw Sans off, to leave him vulnerable and weak and ripe for the hurting.

He was so sick and tired of being hurt. Of being scared.

"How do you get out of here?" Sans pressed, squeezing hard enough to force a pained noise out of Papyrus.

"Nyeh heh, not telling." Papyrus giggled, voice hitching at the end from how hard Sans was digging his claws into his throat.

Eyes narrowing, Sans said, "You'll tell me right now, or I'll slit what's left of your throat. So I'll repeat myself one more time for your sake. Where. Is. The exit. If you tell me I'll spare you." 

Papyrus seemed completely unmoved by the threat, and he said, "Losing you would be a fate worse than death, so go ahead. Kill me. Getting killed by you would be much better."

Sans growled, "Fine then, I'll kill you and go find a way out by myself."

"You can, but you'll never be able to forget me. I'll always be a part of your heart." Papyrus said.

Papyrus always seemed to be unaffected by anything Sans had to say. Nothing Sans did or said reached him. Even when Sans had a knife to his throat, Papyrus was completely unruffled. It was beyond infuriating. 

"You were never a part of my heart and you never will be. You're the worst thing that ever happened to me." Sans snarled, reaching for anything to make Papyrus hurt. To finally shut him up once and for all. 

Papyrus laughed, "Funny, you're the best thing that ever happened to me."

Of course, Papyus refused to do as Sans wanted. Or even look like anything Sans had to say had any affect on him. He only smiled, quietly bleeding out underneath Sans.

"I hate you!" Sans shouted, trying to drown out that look on Papyrus's face. Trying to block out his awful smile. 

He couldn't take it anymore.

"I hate you so much! I hate you! I hate you! I hate everything about you!" Sans spat, his eyes burning. His tears like they were boiling in his sockets, physical proof of his own inadequacy.

"I love you." Papyrus smiled sweetly, marrow oozing from the gash on his throat, dark red staining white bone like wine. A small puddle was already forming behind his head, ironically in the shape of a heart.

"You sick bastard." Sans hissed.

"But I'm your sick bastard." Papyrus teased lightly, as though they were sitting down for afternoon tea. As if Sans wasn't poised above his body ready to pierce his soul at any second.

Sans steeled his resolve, reminding himself that everything would be over in a second, and he could go home. He just had to pretend that he wasn't murdering the one person he had ever cared for. He took a deep breath, and exhaled shakily. Big fat tears rolled down his face without his permission, and Sans absolutely hated everything. Shaking his head furiously, Sans squeezed his eyes shut and raised his arms high in the air.

(Loved. Loved. He loved him so much, why despite everything, did he still-)

He paused for a split second, his stupid emotions making him weak, but didn't let his own doubts stop him. Fingers tight around the handle, Sans swung his arms down as hard as he could.

That was more than enough for Papyrus.

Sans yelped when the body beneath him surged upwards mid swing, tackling him hard enough that his tail loosened its hold. Rolling, Sans tumbled to the floor as strong legs straddled his waist, hands reaching for his wrists. He tried to stab him in the face, but Papyrus was too quick. Sans was forced to drop the knife when his wrist was grabbed and practically crushed in a brutal grip. 

The brief moment of hesitation had cost him everything. 

Reaching out helplessly for some way to escape, Sans clawed for the dropped scalpel with his free hand, whimpering when that hand was snatched up as well. Lying there, his tiny form trapped under his captor once more it hit Sans like a hammer to the skull that he had failed once again to escape. Terror choking him, his tears renewed, this time very real, as Sans dissolved into loud shuddery sobs. 

The scalpel was carefully picked up and thrown across the room. With the threat of being stabbed gone, Papyrus let go of Sans's wrists after massaging them for a few moments. Instead of attacking Papyrus or clawing at his stupid eyes like he should, Sans buried his face in his hands and sobbed. He tried to stop crying, but it was no use.

"Hush. Everything will be okay now. Don't move, alright?" Papyrus said, shuffling around. 

Even with the air filled with his quiet crying, Sans still heard something off in the other's voice and pried his eye sockets open. Wet sockets widened in horror at the sight of a syringe with a giant needle now held in his captor's hand.

Papyrus tsked when Sans saw the needle and began struggling again. "Be good and stay still. This will only sting a little."  He ordered, ignoring the growing scratches on his body. Papyrus leaned in close to get a better look at where he needed to inject Sans with whatever was in the shot.

"No!" Sans protested, thrashing his head around as if that would help keep him away from the syringe gleaming ominously above him. The needle was jabbed into his throat, biting into the magic holding his bones together. A pained cry escaped the lamia as he clawed at Papyrus’s arms, but he was soon forced to give up when liquid ice began to weigh his body down like lead weights.

Papyrus sat back, flicking the needle thoughtfully as he said,“You know, besides the inconvenient murder attempt, your timing was perfect. I was going to bring you to the prep room conscious, but this works too!”

“Just let me go.” Sans begged, crying quietly.

“Oh, Sans.” Papyrus sighed, gathering the trembling lamia and nuzzling his skull. He completely ignored Sans when he tried to weakly push him away. He only got closer, suffocating Sans with his cloying sweetness.

“You know that I'll never let you go. No matter how hard you fight, or how far you run.” Papyrus cooed, all gentle and comforting in ways that a monster like him should never be.

Sans was quickly beginning to grow woozy, the blurry world spinning like a top. Tears leaked out of his sockets, and he could do nothing to stop them.

“Thaaat’s it. You're doing so well.” Papyrus praised, satisfaction thick in his voice when what little strength Sans had vanished and he slumped against Papyrus like a lifeless doll.

“Just relax. Everything will be fine.”

Sans hissed like a balloon losing air, breathy and soft.

"I love you so much, Sans."

Liar.

 

Chapter Text

Veno·moid // ~ Noun ~ A venomous snake that has undergone a surgical procedure to remove or inhibit the production of snake venom.

 

Stretching his arms out and arching his back, Sans sighed blissfully as he sank back down onto his back. He lazily soaked in the sun's rays, nearly purring in satisfaction. The heat made him feel nice and fuzzy in the best of ways.

He was on his favorite rock, and the weather was perfect. This rock was different from others. It was tall for one, jutting out of the ground much further than the other inferior rocks scattered around its base. It also rested on the edge of a creek, making for a perfect mix between land and  water. The sound of water gently flowing downstream was the cherry on top, a gentle white noise that wasn't too soft yet wasn't loud enough that it completely blocked out all other sounds. 

That made it easier to sense when something, or someone, was coming his way. 

Like right now for instance.

Typically that would be his cue to pull a sneak attack and go for the kill, but Sans only waited. He flicked his tongue out and a very familiar scent hit him and he smiled.

Turning towards the woods, Sans twisted to lie on his stomach and watched the bushes rustle almost ominously. 

Papyrus popped out of the bushes, pausing when a random branch got tangled in his shirt. "Good afternoon, Sans!" He called, freeing himself and brushing off his clothes. He always seemed to come to Sans covered in leaves and sticks, and Sans never failed to get a kick out of the clean freak fixing himself up as if it were the end of the world if he didn't get every last speck of dirt.

"Heya, Paps." Sans greeted.

Noticing something familiar in his friend's hand, Sans grinned.

"Gimme the goods and no one gets hurt." He hissed playfully, flicking his forked tongue out.

Rolling his eyes, Papyrus held up the bag of Grillby's high enough for Sans to snatch it away. After securing his food, Sans reached out his hand, soul lurching when Papyrus accepted his offer. Helping Papyrus up onto the giant stone, Sans didn't give him a chance to recover before throwing himself at the other. Warm arms squeezed tight around Sans, and he purred. Hugs were amazing.

"As much as I adore you, your food's getting cold." Papyrus said, sounding honestly regretful that he had to cut their hug short. 

Leaning back, Sans pulled a face and blew a raspberry. 

"Booooo."

"Fine then, I'll take back the food." Papyrus said, completely deadpan, before a small snicker escaped him and shattered the facade.

"Not my fault that you give such amazing hugs." Sans said.

"Excuse you, you are the one who is the best at hugs, not-" Papyrus cut himself off with a gasp, eyes wide.

He was close enough to see all the bright blue marks littering his body. Whoops.

Sans winced. 

He should've warned Papyrus, but it had slipped his mind. He had completely forgotten about his scratches, and he wouldn't even be thinking about them at all if it weren't for his friend. Papyrus was always a mother hen, no matter how small the injury was. Sans could get a paper cut and trigger his worrywart mode. 

Knowing that, Sans quickly began to dig around the bag of food. If he was going to get wrapped in bubblewrap, he at least wanted to have a full stomach. 

"You're covered in cuts!" Papyrus cried, frantically looking him over like one would a hatchling.

Sans let him fret, munching at his food as Papyrus inspected his wounds. 

"It was those hunters again, wasn't it?" Papyrus said, looking like he was about to make someone pay. It was clear that he wasn't angry at him, but for him. That was a new experience for Sans, only ever on the receiving end of someone's wraith. 

Everyone was always so angry at him for just existing. They acted like starved beasts, all clamoring for his blue scales as though they were made out of diamond or something. When Sans got away or killed one, there was always rage and fear, never anything else. 

Sans waved off his concerns, but Papyrus still looked worried.

Sans swallowed the food in his mouth, he knew Papyrus got grossed out when he spoke with his mouth full, and said, "I'm fine. They didn't even get the chance to touch me." 

"If they didn't get close then how did this happen?" Papyrus asked.

Sans paused for a moment, remembering the embarrassing moment.

"Sans?"

"I fell in a bush." Sans admitted.

"What?" Papyrus said.

"I fell in a pricker bush after a couple of humans surprised me." Sans repeated, before he remembered the important part, "That reminds me. I got something for you."

Turning, Sans grabbed a sack that he had left hanging of his rock by a thread. He had tossed the bag into the river, tied tight so the fish wouldn't get any funny ideas. Leaving them out would have been easier, but he hadn't wanted them to get baked under the hot sun. Dragging the soaked bag up onto his rock, Sans promptly dropped it into his friend's hands. 

The sack made a 'squelch' sound, water immediately racing down his hands and arms, dripping onto his lap. A few bits of algae hung from the sack, hanging between the gaps of his fingers. 

Papyrus blinked owlishly, stunned.

Sans grinned, wiggling in place as he waited for Papyrus to open the bag. When a few seconds passed and Papyrus still hadn't moved, Sans wilted a bit. Maybe this was one of those culture clash things? Did he just offend Papyrus somehow? 

"Aren't you gonna open it?" Sans asked, wincing when anxiety bled into his tone.

"Huh? Oh! Yes of course!" Papyrus said, and Sans relaxed under his warm smile. Phew, Sans hadn't messed up and broken some sort of forbidden monster rule.

Sans watched, eager, as his friend opened his gift. Papyrus paused, but it wasn't a bad pause. Sans could tell.

"Weeell, what do you think?" Sans asked with a small smile, leaning into his side.

Papyrus met his grin with wide eyes, "Did you get cut up picking blackberries just for me?"

"Yep. I know you don't like grease or raw meat so I got some for you." Sans said, taking a bite out of a fry.

"Thank you, Sans, that is so sweet. You really didn't have to do this."

"It's fine, I wanted to give you something for once. You're always spoiling me. You deserve something nice too." 

"You've given me plenty of gifts." Papyrus said fondly.

Sans huffed, "Yeah but you can't eat an action figure and I got them out of the trash. Not the greatest gift if you ask me."

Papyrus looked offended, "Excuse me, but I happen to adore your gifts! They're amazing and sweet and extremely thoughtful! And these blackberries are just as amazing!"

Sans could feel his face begin to heat up, "It was nothing, really. By the way, you can't say the blackberries are amazing if you haven't even tried them yet." He teased.

Nodding, Papyrus grabbed a berry and popped it into his mouth. His sockets immediately lit up, "Mmm, delicious! Sans you have to try some!" 

Despite his protests that this was a gift for Papyrus and that Sans had plenty of food already, Papyrus forced him to try a few. He was right, the berries were good, but what made them even better was his friend's happy smile.

Sans blinked and the world shifted. He didn't know how he knew, but he knew that it was the next day. Sans was still on his rock, sunbathing as he waited for his friend to arrive. He didn't have to wait long.

Papyrus came back a bit earlier than usual. This time he brought a case full of bandages and weird smelling paste. When he told Sans that he was going to put the paste on him, Sans ran for the hills. Which then started a game of chase.  

Sans loved and hated chase. He loved it because Papyrus was fun to play with and there wasn't any danger in the game. He hated it because no matter what he did Papyrus always won when it came to running. Sans was made for speed, not endurance, so of course he ended up being forced to sit still as Papyrus rubbed gooey paste all over his cuts.

Afterwards, they ended up resting together on his rock, watching the clouds pass by. Cicadas buzzed, and trees rustled softly in the wind.

Nestled in the crook of Papyrus's arm, Sans purred. The sun was bright, his stomach was full, and best of all he wasn't alone. Papyrus made everything better. Sans wondered how he ever thought that life was fine before Papyrus waltzed into it. Being alone was painful. Sans hadn't realized how much agony he had been in until he had someone by his side to fight off the loneliness. 

"Sans?"

Sans nuzzled into his side, inhaling his scent, "Yeah, Paps?"

"I love you."

The words sent fuzzy warmth down his core, melting his insides and leaving him a gooey mess.

A helpless smile on his face, Sans said, "I-"

He turned, startled to find Papyrus staring, expression blank. There was an unnerving smile fixed on his face, like a porcelain doll. His sockets were just as lifeless. Sans trailed off, confused.

"Paps? You okay?" 

One moment they were cuddling under the blue sky, and the next Sans found himself pinned beneath Papyrus. A storm was brewing above them, dark cloud swirling above them as the world threatened to rip apart at the seams. The taste of lightning tingling his senses, Sans felt as though he was about to get struck any second. 

"What are you doing?" Sans asked, his words feeling loud. The wind had vanished, everything going silent. As though the world had taken a breath and held it, seconds ticking by.

"What's going on? What's wrong?" Sans asked, concerned.

Papyrus stayed silent, smile growing wider and wider.

"Why aren't you saying anything?!" Sans winced when the hands tightened, "That hurts! Let go!" 

Then he blinked, and felt something hit his hand. Looking to the side, his soul dropped like lead when he saw that a long metal nail had been driven through his carpus bones and into the rock below. 

Sans stared for several moments in disbelief, before the pain hit. 

He screamed. 

Frantically tugging at his hand, Sans tried to free himself but there was no getting free. He was pinned like a bug and moving only made the pain worse. 

The whole time Sans struggled, Papyrus did nothing to stop him, staring with a blank expression. He held onto Sans's other hand like a robot, grip painful. At last, Sans gave up and went limp, whimpering wetly. 

Tears spilled over, and he couldn't even use a hand to hide his face. He buried his face in the side of his arms, unable to take anymore.

"I thought you loved me." Sans sobbed.

Finally Papyrus unfroze, expression melting into something soft, "Oh, Sans... I do love you." He said, then smiled.

Sans stiffened underneath him, trembling as he looked up into the eyes of a monster.

"That's why I have to do this." Papyrus continued, voice cracking through the air like thunder.

Pressing his wrist flush against stone, he grinned. Another flash, and another nail pierced through his hand.

"Papyrus please! Stop!" Sans begged. 

A nail was placed over his socket, before Papyrus slammed the hammer down as hard as he could. A sickening crunch echoed through the air. The whole world lit on fire, white hot agony filling his head like white noise. The nail had gone right through the bone, driving through the back of his skull with unnatural ease.

His scream was silent, and by the time Sans recovered enough for what happened to register, he dissolved into a blubbering mess.

Everything was completely black in one eye, a shrill ringing echoing through his skull. He couldn't see out of his socket, oh stars oh stars. He couldn't move his head, he was stuck staring up into the merciless face of his captor. Unable to look away, Sans could only meet his smile with terror.

Gentle fingers stroked his cheek, and Papyrus giggled when Sans flinched.

"I love you." Papyrus said sweetly, grabbing the metal nail in his eye and twisting ruthlessly. The nail ground against bone like a metal file. Like fingernails on a chalkboard, but instead the nails were scrapping against the inside of his skull, a shrill screeching noise leaving Sans dizzy.

"Papyrus!" Sans wailed, gasping when fingers wrapped around his throat and squeezed hard enough to cut off his air. He gagged, choking on his screams.

All the while, Papyrus smiled, sockets half lidded as he cooed, "I love you so much."

Sans sobbed.

Make it stop. Please stop. He couldn't take anymore. He was going to break. He was breaking.

Suddenly the face above him began to blur, melting into something unrecognizable. Someone unrecognizable.

"Stay still. The angle has to be precise." The stranger said, their expression callous and sockets dead as they got another nail ready. This time the nail hovered above his sternum, sharp point aimed at his soul.

Sans barely noticed, pain clouding his mind. He was dying. Was this what death felt like? Why did it still hurt so much? He couldn't breathe. He needed air. Everything hurt. Please stop. It hurt. It hurt so bad. 

'IthurtsIthurtsIthurtsIthurts.'

Something sharp pierced his soul. 

'It hurts.'

His whole being shattered, crumpling into a million bitty pieces.

Then...

 

 

 

Sans woke up.

His horrible nightmare quickly faded from his mind like cotton candy in water, vanishing the more awake he became. The few wisps left of his dream were quickly overshadowed a moment later when pain hit him like a truck.

Pure screaming agony assaulted his senses, making it nearly impossible to think through the haze that had settled over his mind. His fangs felt like they were on fire, not to mention the fact that if his glands had been replaced with molten lava Sans wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. He felt like he had swallowed acid, his whole throat burning.

Moving had fatal consequences, the throbbing pain sharp enough to make him cry out and struggle, trying to get away but failing miserably. Strong hands were quick to press him back down, only adding more overwhelming stimuli to his world. Despite his struggles, the two points of contact became something to pinpoint on. 

Sans finally mustered the strength to open his eyes, before immediately squeezing them shut. Light was practically seared into the back of his skull like he had stared into the very sun itself and tears welled up in his sockets and spilled over. He also got a blurry look at the person holding him down, which was unsurprisingly Papyrus.

Instead of seeming pleased at the lamia’s pain like Sans would have expected, Papyrus only looked concerned. Then downright upset when Sans began to tear up. It was stupid how kind he acted. It was even stupider that even now Sans still felt some part of himself soften when the kindness was used on him.

He was a fool.

“Oh! Oh no!” Papyrus said, eye sockets widening before he quickly let up on the pressure. 

Sans was too relieved and drained to continue to struggle. Papyrus turned to rummage in the various drawers, quickly making a mess in his search for something. He seemed to find it at last because in a flash he was back, something glinting in his hand. Sans winced as something sharp pierced his inner elbow, and sharp cold quickly took over his senses. 

Thankfully the feeling quickly shifted from a freezing tingly sensation to fuzzy warmth. It spread, much like Sans’s own venom, and before long the pain practically vanished under a thick blanket of warmth.

Relieved that the pain was finally gone, Sans slumped in his binds.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to overdose you but I didn’t realize your metabolism was so fast! Next time you need some I’ll administer a higher dosage.” Papyrus said.

“Ng-” Was all Sans managed to choke out, before Papyrus shushed him.

“Shush, don’t try and speak. You’ll only irritate your gums.”

His... gums?

What was wrong with his mouth? What had Papyrus done to him?

Realization struck Sans. 

What was the one thing that made Sans dangerous? His only weapon that Papyrus couldn't take away from him. Couldn't control, only leash. The thing that forced Papyrus to be cautious unless he wanted to die, because if Sans managed to bite him, it'd be game over. Suddenly, it was obvious what Papyrus had done. What he had stolen

His glands. Papyrus had removed his venom glands. 

Despair nearly choked Sans, bringing along the terror one could only feel when trapped with no way of escaping. Like a snare springing around an animal, wrenching them into the air where they could do nothing but flail and wait in terror for the hunter to come and put them out of their misery.

He couldn't breathe.

Papyrus seemed to notice his distress, because he began petting Sans as he said, “Shhhhh everything will be okay. They’ll grow back with time.”

Sans didn't flinch away from the petting, only staring up at his captor with wide, horrified eyes.

What the fuck. What the actual fuck?!

Why? Why had he done this? Sans had been good whenever Papyrus wanted him to bite the container. He’d stopped struggling as much, even allowing the other to get away with whatever touching he wanted. Sans tried to roll over and let Papyrus gag him, but it seemed like that wasn’t enough. Papyrus had decided to remove the threat entirely. 

Like Sans was a cat that scratched up the curtains one too many times, and Papyrus decided it would be easier to just declaw him. As though that wasn't needlessly cruel. As though he had any right to chop another living being up for his own convenience.

Another thought hit his drugged out mind like a sledgehammer. Was this punishment for trying to kill Papyrus?

Papyrus seemed to sense his horrified confusion, because he purred darkly, “A lamia’s glands are imperative to their ability to survive in the wild. Especially since most of their magic is stored within their glands.”

The implications weren’t lost on Sans, despite the shrieking agony that was his mouth. Sans had lost the very thing that had been his main means of defense. He had no way to protect himself anymore. He was completely harmless. He was pretty much a common garden snake.

“If you don’t have your glands, it’d be very difficult for you to survive even if you did manage to somehow escape. It’s safer for you here. You’re better off staying at my side.” The dark possessive undertone was sharp as a knife, cutting straight into Sans’s soul. 

He felt as if someone had taken an icicle and pierced him right through.

“Want me to hiss the pain away?" Papyrus teased, trying to lighten the mood. 

It took several seconds for Sans's hazy mind to get the pun.

Sans snapped. Despite fear of punishment looming over his head like a noose, he lashed out. Shoving a surprised Papyrus away, he glared daggers at the monster, his eyes burning.

“You did this! You did this to me! Why would I want you to kiss it better, you psycho!” Sans practically screeched, voice sounding like a stranger’s. His voice was scratchy, rough like he had swallowed sandpaper and rubbed the inside of his throat raw.

The act pushed his throat too far. A violent cough exploded from his mouth, and Sans hacked into his hands. Thick drool ran down his chin. Sans could taste blood. When Papyrus reached towards him to help, Sans snapped at his fingers like he was feral. He probably looked like a rabid animal, all but foaming at the mouth.

As quickly as his anger came, it left him. Despite the fiery pain, he felt cold. Sans crumpled inwards, clutching himself in a pathetic attempt to keep it together. He gasped for air, eyes burning and his throat on fire. Everything hurt. Why did everything always have to hurt?

Sensing movement in the corner of his eye, Sans flinched. Whipping towards Papyrus with wide eyes, his soul racing.

"Don't." Sans rasped, shrinking away.

Papyrus didn’t look angry, like he was about to hurt Sans. He didn't have that stupid smile glued onto his face either. If he had been smiling, Sans would have started screaming and he wasn't sure if he’d ever stop.

Instead of anything that would have made sense, Papyrus only looked sad, and Sans hated it. He hated it with a burning passion. How dare this monster think he had any right to feel bad in the face of Sans’s pain. How dare he feel sorry for himself? It made Sans livid. Wheezing for air, he glared furiously at Papyrus, daring him to try and help. Sans didn’t need any of his so called ‘help’.

Of course Papyrus would do just that. He reached in again, just as confident as always. This time Papyrus dodged the snapping teeth, wrapping his warm arms around Sans, pinning his arms to his chest in the process. 

Sans couldn’t stop him, unable to catch his breath and crippled from pain. He struggled to get free, but no matter what he tried, it did nothing to free him from the embrace. He was too weak (Always so weak).

Breathless sobs threatened to escape, and he desperately reached for his rage. For his hatred for this disgusting monster. Anything to keep hold the tears at bay.

“Fuck off fuck off fuck off! Just go away! I-” Sans couldn’t finish, sobs suddenly ripping through his burning throat. His anger crumbled away, leaving him a hollow husk of sadness and pain.

Papyrus continued holding him, running one hand down his spine. He forced Sans to tuck his head under his chin. Sans couldn’t even muster the strength to try and bite him, too exhausted. Despite that, he kept struggling weakly until he wore himself out.

They stayed like that, Sans sobbing in his arms as Papyrus shushed him with a gentleness that cut into his soul like a razor. He ended up sitting still as ice in the hug, stiff as a board and breathing hard. 

Sans finally gulped down enough air to say, “I hate you with every fiber of my being.” He spat the words roughly, voice hoarse.

Papyrus only softened further, quiet when he said, “I know.”

He squeezed Sans comfortingly, petting him all the while. 

Sans wanted to despise every single second he was forced to hug this monster, but he was too worn out to force himself to hate the gentle touch. Much less actually do anything to get away. He was so tired.

“Just let me go. Please let me go.” 

Sans didn't care that his voice was the utter definition of broken, and he especially didn't care that his vision was blurry with tears. He didn't care anymore. He was so tired of this. He had only ever wanted a friend, why did everything have to turn out this way? What did he do to deserve this treatment? He must have done something to cause this to happen.

“Never.” Papyrus murmured against his skull.

Sans only sobbed harder, burying his face in Papyrus’s chest to hide his bitter tears.

They stayed like that, only adjusting so Papyrus had his back to the wall with a tired Sans in his lap. They didn’t talk. Papyrus not feeling the need to and Sans too wiped out to do much other than grumble whenever the other did something weird. Of course Papyrus never listened, and Sans’s protests slowly puttered out until at last he leaned in to accept the comfort. Soaking up the affection despite himself. 

Soft touches were all he had to cling to anymore. Papyrus's sturdy body his own personal anchor in the rolling sea of emotions threatening to drag him under. Tears leaked out slowly, and he sniffled even as he gently head butted Papyrus's cheek in a silent plea for mercy.

No more pain. Please no more. He couldn't take it.

Sans didn't want to hurt anymore.

Papyrus seemed to understand his silent plea. 

“Oh, Sans.” Papyrus sighed at last, nuzzling his tired pet. Because that was all Sans was to him at the end of the day. An unruly animal that he was training to sit, speak, and fetch. 

Glazed eyelights stared up at his captor. Sans wanted to struggle, to be angry, but he was just so tired. So tired of it all. 

As much as he hated Papyrus, he also craved his affection like a drug addict. He needed Papyrus to stabilize him as much as the vile monster simultaneously tore his mind to shreds. Sans needed to stop the useless fear that never did anything but remind him again and again who they were and why they were here. He just wanted to feel something that wasn't pain. That wasn't terror.

Sometimes giving in was better than fighting a pointless battle.  

So he allowed the nuzzling, soaking up the comfort despite himself. 

(Did he have any other choice in the matter?)

 

Chapter Text

Pos·ses·sive /pəˈzesiv/ ~ Adjective ~ demanding someone's total attention and love.

 

After waking up from his 'surgery' Sans went mute. Partially out of spite and partially because his throat hurt like hell. Talking hurt, swallowing hurt, hell even breathing hurt. He felt like he had tried to swallow a bunch of cotton balls mixed with glass shards. That ketchup bottle from before was full of dirty lies, glass was not yummy in his tummy. (Still though, if he had the chance he still would have eaten it out of pure spite.)

Looking at Papyrus hurt more than anything. He went on with his day as though he hadn't taken a knife to Sans's insides and chopped him up just because he wanted to. What was next? Was he going to chop his tail off next? The awful thing was that if Papyrus wanted to, he could. Papyrus could do whatever he wanted to Sans and there was little he could do to stop him. 

That looming fact wasn't terrifying in the slightest. Nope. Nosiree.

The only upside was that Papyrus hadn't come out of this whole mess unscathed. A giant bandage was wrapped around his throat, hiding the gapping wound hidden beneath. Papyrus didn't seem bothered by the injury, or upset, but Sans knew that it had to have hurt pretty badly. Sans had practically sliced almost all the way through, carving his own scar in amongst the many Papyrus already had. 

Sans hadn't seen said damage yet, but he remembered how bad the gapping wound had been. He wondered how it would look after it healed. He hoped that it scarred. This one would probably be much more noticeable, since Papyrus's other scars were all neat and tidy. His mark would be jagged and rough from claws digging in and further damaging the bone. Sans hoped that it didn't heal well.

Even if it did heal well, managing to injure Papyrus still made Sans feel a bit better about his current predicament. At least he wasn't the only one suffering. His own throat throbbed as though reminding him of its existence, as though Sans could ever forget. Painkillers only did so much. Not that Sans took them anymore. After the first couple of days, Sans was set loose in his enclosure to recover.

The first thing he did was hide. He didn't let Papyrus anywhere near him, not even to accepting medicine to help with the pain.

He knew that was his stubbornness talking, but Sans didn't want to be around Papyrus if he could help it. He didn't want to give the other a chance to do anything else. So he hid on the tallest boulder, huddled up in his makeshift bed as he grit his teeth through the pain. After a few elaborate attempts to get him to come down, Papyrus seemed to accept the fact that Sans didn't want to be anywhere near him. Smart of him, because Sans would had bitten the crap out of him, lack of venom be damned. Getting bit would still hurt, and Sans could bite pretty hard.

After a few days for hiding, one thing was certain: He was hungry.

His non-existent stomach was about to try and eat itself out of desperation. Honestly Sans would try to push himself a long as possible, but he was pretty sure that if he passed out from hunger then he'd wake up in the examination room, needles jabbed into his joints and a tube shoved down his throat. He wouldn't put it past Papyrus to follow through with that kind of threat. Papyrus didn't kid around when it came to the lamia's health.

Resigning himself to the fact that he'd probably have to interact with the other, Sans threw off his blanket. Hesitantly he crept out of from under his blankets, scales immediately warming from the fake sunlight. 

Creeping down from his hideout, he made his way toward the door. He was pleasantly surprised to find that Papyrus had left a bag of Grillby's before he got too far. Too bad he could see Papyrus relaxed by the glass, scribbling something down on his papers. 

Sans didn't let himself overthink, instead grabbing the bag and shoving his hand in to grab a burger. The smell of greasy food made his mouth water, and he was too hungry to wait another second. His teeth sank into the soft bread with ease, and he nearly moaned when the taste of meat hit his tongue. Thankfully his mouth had healed enough that he could swallow. It still hurt like a bitch going down, but he was too hungry to care.

Finally eating something was almost worth the way Papyrus glanced up at the movement, his eyes piercing Sans. His bones prickled unpleasantly under the inspection, and Sans almost dropped the burger and ran for it right there and then. 

Sans forced himself in place, unable to meet the monster's eye as he chewed. Papyrus didn’t do anything, breaking eye contact to go back to writing. He didn't try to get up and catch him. To try and force Sans to be near him. He just sat there, relaxing as he did paperwork. It felt like a slap to the face.

It made him so angry. Angry enough to forget his fear in favor of asking the single burning question that had been on his mind this whole time.

For several long moments Sans considered turning around and scurrying back into hiding. He wasn't ready to face reality again. Then he crept forward, bringing the bag with him as he took cover behind a tipped over log. He knew it was hallow, and did little to protect him from the other, but having some sort of barrier made him feel the slightest bit better.

At last Sans mustered up the courage to break his silent treatment towards the other.

“Why me?” He asked. It was all he could manage. His jaw ached, making talking even more of a task than usual.

Papyrus perked up, his expression lighter now that Sans had spoken up. Then he frowned, bemused.

“Why did I take you?” Papyrus asked right back.

This time, speech came much easier in light of actually getting some answers.

“Yes.” Sans said with sharp nod.

Papyrus hummed, “Why do you think I took you?”

“Dunno. To torture me and then skin me when you get bored?” Sans said, almost too afraid to ask.

The simple sentence took most of Sans’s energy for talking, his mouth downright throbbing at the end. But he had to get it out while he had the courage. He was sick of the speculation, of wondering when Papyrus would get bored of this cruel game. He was nothing but an animal to Papyrus. 

Sure, right now Papyrus treated him like an unruly pet, but Sans knew that could change in a heartbeat if Papyrus grew tired of him. He was just as bad, if not worse, than the hunters who kept trying to kill him over and over again. At least they had the guts to be upfront about their intentions.

Sans wondered if questioning Papyrus would be enough to earn himself a punishment of some sort and shivered. Maybe he'd get away with something simple like silent treatment. Even if the thought of punishment of any sort, no matter how tiny, was enough to leave him a shaky mess. Sans clenched his fists to keep his hands from trembling. He had to be strong, even if in the end Papyrus didn't take him seriously and laughed the question off

Instead of however Sans expected him to respond, Papyrus only froze. He looked straight up appalled at the mere notion.

“What!? Sans, no never!” Papyrus protested, looking faintly nauseated.

“Scales pretty...” Sans said hesitantly, hands still shaking slightly. He was referring to all the times he had complimented him on his scales. Papyrus seemed to get the reference, because he frowned. The frown was enough to make his soul sink, bones crawling with nervous energy.

Firm, Papyrus said, “I’d never skin you, Sans. I don’t even think that’s possible. ”

Sans narrowed his eyes in distrust.

Since Sans wasn't about to believe him, Papyrus sighed, “Sans, unlike other lamias, your tail is primarily made up of magic. How on earth could anyone skin you without it all turning into dust? Unless they took your shed, which requires no skinning whatsoever.”

Oh. That actually made a lot of sense. Sans felt dumb.

“Where did you even hear such a thing?” Papyrus asked.

“Humans.” He hissed hesitantly, ducking further into his enclosure and feeling a little foolish.

“Well that explains that.” Papyrus snickered.

If Papyrus wasn’t saving skinning him for later, or wasn’t planning skinning him at all, when what did he want Sans for? The possibilities were endless, every one Sans thought up darker than the last.

“Then why? Why are you doing this? When is this going to end?” Sans asked at last. 

Silence.

“Papyrus.” 

At last, Papyrus looked up. Sans immediately wished he hadn’t. Papyrus’s grin was dark and full of hunger. Subconsciously, Sans ducked down, barely peeking up over the log he had taken refuge behind.

“Oh, Sans, my lovely Sans. So precious and beautiful.” Papyrus cooed, setting his paperwork to the side to get to his feet and walk towards Sans.

Sans froze in place at the movement, eyes wide. He didn't know what to do. Desperately wanting to run, but needing to know the answer to his question. He slowed to a stop several feet away, so close, too close. If he wanted to he could catch Sans this far away.

"I’ll tell you why." Papyrus continued, taking another step closer. 

Sans flinched, burger slipping from his numb fingers. He didn't dare look away from Papyrus's form for even a second.

“Everything I do, I do it for you. You staying safe, healthy, and by my side is the only thing I want. I don’t care what I have to do to keep it that way. I don’t care who I have to hurt to keep you here.” Papyrus said. 

Another step.

His whole life Sans had always been the predator, hunting and catching food with ease. Sure, there had been hunters who tried to catch him, but they were always child’s play to deal with and Sans was never truly defenseless. Then Papyrus had waltzed into his world, pretending to be harmless until it was too late. Sans had stumbled into his trap and steel jaws snapped shut around his throat.

Another step.

Everything changed when Papyrus decided to reveal his true colors. For the first time in his whole life, Sans truly knew what it felt like to be helpless prey at the mercy of a merciless predator. Just counting his last seconds. Waiting with bated breath to be devoured whole.

Another step and suddenly Papyrus was there, looking down at Sans with dark, dark sockets. Once again Sans was pinned under those hungry eyes. It was terrifying beyond words, but Sans couldn't will himself to move no matter how much every alarm in his body was screaming at him to do so. 

Papyrus reached out a hand, fingers dancing beneath his chin, brushing against his throat. Sans swallowed. 

Slowly, oh so slowly he dug his thumb into the bottom of his chin, pressing upwards. Sans found himself tipping his head back, exposing his throat like prey waiting for the killing bite. Those long fingers lingered for several uncomfortable seconds, his soul lurching with blind panic when Papyrus squeezed just the slightest bit.

Then he let go, hand sliding up to cup his cheek. Despite how scared out of his mind he was, despite how stupid it seemed, Sans leaned into the touch. He was so scared, and the hand was so warm. Something solid for his tattered mind to cling to.

Papyrus didn't pay any mind to the lamia's terror, continuing on mercilessly, “I’d rather die before ever letting you leave me. And do you want to know why? It’s because I love you. I love you so much that it hurts, Sans. And I cherish the things I love.” Somehow he managed to look even more unhinged, his grin wild and crazed. He seemed ready to start foaming at the mouth.

All at once the darkness vanished under a sweet smile. His smile was somehow even more menacing. A small whimper slipped free before Sans could stop it, soul racing like a tiny mouse's heartbeat. Still he made no move to get away from the touch. Instead he nuzzled into the hand. 

As though he was begging for safety from the fear. Asking for forgiveness for whatever wrong he did. For what, he had no idea anymore. He just needed this to stop, stop, stop. He wanted the gentle touches, the soft kisses.

Sans had almost completely forgotten that Papyrus had still been in the middle of talking when he opened his mouth. “You mean everything to me. I know right now that’s scary, but with time you’ll see things my way. You'll accept my love.” Papyrus finished, darkness now completely hidden underneath a gentle facade.

It took several seconds for Sans to remember that he needed to breathe. And another handful for him to finally gather the courage to respond.

"I'll never accept anything from a monster like you." Sans whispered shakily.

Instead of getting angry or sad, Papyrus only shrugged. A small smile grew on his face, thoughtful as he glanced towards where they were connected.

"You've already started to." He said, thumb tracing slow, hot circles into bone.

That snapped Sans out of whatever strange trance he had found himself in. Slapping the hand away, he scrambled backwards, trying to regain distance. To regain some semblance of control over the situation.

"Fuck you." Sans muttered hoarsely, his throat stinging in protest.

Papyrus blatantly ignored him, turning to pick up the abandoned food.

Sensing an opening, Sans took advantage and lunged forward, chomping down as hard as he could when his teeth met something solid. He didn’t care if he wasn’t venomous anymore, he just wanted to make him hurt

Of course life wouldn't let him have just this one thing. Once again, he only managed to get a mouthful of leather. The guy proved once again that he was too quick for Sans. He glared up at Papyrus, teeth digging in deep enough that his teeth got caught, daring him to say anything. 

Papyrus only laughed, lifting a hand to pet Sans’s skull when the lamia refused to let go. He kept trying to dig his teeth in deeper, trying his damnedest to pierce the leather once and for all. Even though his gums were screaming in protest.

“Feel any better?” Papyrus asked, voice fond.

A little, but Sans wasn’t about to tell him that. He let go with a hiss and slithered away. He was relieved when Papyrus laughed again in response, letting him make his getaway. He had achieved nothing in the end, the only thing that hurt was his pride. His aching throat didn't much appreciate the sudden abuse either.

Soul racing, and his throat burning Sans snatched up the bag of food, abandoning his burger on the ground, and scurried away. Papyrus let him run and hide, not making a single move to stop him, that creepy smile on his face the whole time. Sans didn't hesitate to take the chance, even if they both knew that he could only hide because Papyrus allowed him to. 

Wedging himself deep under one of fake boulders, Sans tried to make the words stop ringing in his skull. He didn't move from his spot for the rest of the day, only venturing out when the lights dimmed and scurrying back up onto his perch.

He spent the night sulking under his blanket, running the conversation on loop in his head. At first he was angry, bones nearly vibrating with the urge to get up and do something. To try and attack again. Anything to get rid of the nervous energy welling up inside him with no way to escape.

As much as Sans tried to hold onto that anger, the more he dwelled, the more sadness dripped in. Extinguishing the fiery rage and dousing him with sick dread and crippling sadness. After Sans ran out of anger, all he had left was crushing misery. 

All too soon the lights were lit back up, and Sans hadn't gotten an ounce of shut-eye. Sleep was beyond his grasp, and even if he could he was sure that he would have nightmares. Though any kind of dream that his mind could cook up was nothing compared to the nightmare that he was already living.

He peeked through a hole in the blanket, spotting something red down in the leaves. Poking his head out from the blanket, Sans eyed the red thing. His eyes took a moment to adjust, but Sans quickly realized what he was looking at.

It was a (plastic) bottle of ketchup. Of course. What else would it be?

Sans knew Papyrus wasn't above bribery or tricks to get his way. This was clearly a trap, one that Papyrus had done before, but he was too tired to care.

With a sigh, Sans shoved off his fabric shield and began to make his way down. Might as well get it over with. Papyrus wouldn't wait forever. All too soon he was in front of the ketchup, and Sans sighed again before picking it up.

He wasn't shocked when Papyrus popped up out of nowhere, scooping him up into sturdy arms. Sans yelped, but didn't fight to get away, only tightened his fingers around his favorite condiment. Why bother? There was no point in trying to get away if there was nowhere to run to. He was trapped, at the mercy of a sociopath. (Besides, Papyrus always held Sans like he was something precious, priceless beyond measure.)

"Caught you!" Papyrus teased, nuzzling the top of his skull with his cheek. The touch felt unfairly nice.

“Don’t touch me.” Sans said grumpily, hating the way his body wanted to sag against Papyrus. To soak up more of that wonderful warmth. His tail betrayed him by immediately coiling around the monster's waist.

Papyrus carried him over to the blanket nest at the wall, sitting down with far more grace than he should while a thick tail was coiling around his legs. It never failed to surprise Sans that he both managed not to trip and didn't sit on any part of his tail either. 

As soon as they were seated, Papyrus wasted no time grabbing him by the skull and prying his teeth apart. Sans flailed aimlessly, a pained hiss slipping free. He dropped the ketchup in the fuss, the plastic bottle falling to the ground with a low thud.

"Aw, come on. I wouldn't do this if I didn't need to check on the stitches. You always seem to get banged up somehow!" Papyrus complained, clearly not actually minding the lamia's struggles as much as he seemed to act.

Sans on the other hand wanted to stab him. Maybe this time he would go for his face or something. He managed to yank his head free, pinning Papyrus with a dark glare as he leaned away as far as possible.

"Oh? Little ol' me? Getting injured constantly? I wonder how that happens." Sans deadpanned, shaking his head to try and discourage any sudden grabbing.

Papyrus chose to ignore the squirming lamia with a pleased hum, clearly carrying on with his examination by poking his cheek. Not that Sans made holding him in place hard for him, other than snapping his teeth at the other's fingers. No. No matter how much he hated it, he was the perfect patient. Compared to when he first got here, he wasn't putting any kind of effort into getting away. He was just squirming, wiggling in place. 

He wasn't even trying anymore, and that realization made something ache deep inside. The pause was enough for Papyrus to recapture his skull, and this time Sans did nothing to stop him. He only went limp, lax as a lifeless doll. Papyrus hummed appreciatively, and Sans hated the pleased feeling that rose up inside at the praise.

Gently prying his jaws apart, Papyrus examined the back of his mouth with a tiny flashlight. When he was satisfied, Papyrus pulled back. Not before placing a quick kiss to the top of his skull, of course.

"You're healing up rather nicely." Papyrus said happily.

He pulled his hands free, and it took Sans a second to realize that he could close his mouth now. He snapped his jaws together with a firm click.

"Now that that's out of the way... Good morning, Sans! How did you sleep last night?" Papyrus asked, tucking his flashlight back into a pocket.

Sans only grimaced.

"That bad, huh." Papyrus said.

Face burning, Sans leaned away only to yelp when Papyrus wrapped an arm around his waist to pull him close again. His mind went blank, the way their sides fit together so perfectly screaming at him. 

"Don't worry! You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. However I do insist that you try and take a nap. I'll be right here!" Papyrus said, pulling Sans even closer. Ugh.

Heaving a big sigh, Sans gave in like always and cuddled into the warmth that Papyrus was all too willing to provide. They melded so nicely that it was hard to tell where Papyrus ended and Sans began. He relaxed far too quickly into the other, caring less than he should that their sides were flushed together.

It was hard not to sink into Papyrus. He was always so warm, like a struck match. One wouldn't realize that they were burnt until it was too late Sans felt like he was getting engulfed in heat, caught up in the paralazing touch. He was like a moth to a flame, yearning for the slightest hint of light in the dark.

The urge to bite him was a distant thought, one that melted into nothingness when Papyrus ran a hand down his spine, his fingertips dragging just right.

Biting back the no doubt embarrassing noise that wanted to escape, he craned his neck to nuzzle his cheek against the other's throat. Papyrus made a surprised noise, hand pausing in his motions.

Not appreciating the lack of touching, Sans growled lowly, teeth no doubt prickling bone, until the petting resumed. Satisfaction welled up despite how demeaning the action was. Whatever. If he was going to act like a stupid pet, he might as well get all the perks of being one.

He was far past the point of denying that Papyrus's touches were nice. Pride was a distant thing of the past, back when he could defend himself and hunt for his own food. He might as well be an animal in a circus act. Do a flip and get a treat. Despite knowing this Sans found himself practically doing backflips to please Papyrus. Even when he didn't want to.

(He was so weak.)

Too tired to think any longer, Sans curled up in his lap, soaking up all the heat he could. He closed his eyes, sighing when Papyrus continued petting him.

Sans was out like a light before he knew it.

 

Chapter Text

Ma·nip·u·late - /məˈnipyəˌlāt/ ~ Verb ~ handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner.

 

Processing trauma was different for everybody. For some the emotional backlash was instantaneous, but usually a traumatic event took some time to properly register, be it days or even years. Sometimes, trauma just didn't compute properly or settle in fully.

One day, it hit Sans. There was no build up. No warning of his impending break down. Just everything crashing down at once, like a stack of bricks falling and crushing his soul.

“I’m never getting out of here, am I?” He said to himself. The words were thoughtless, slipping through his teeth without his consent. 

Of course he had known that there was no way out for weeks now. He hadn't tried to escape, to fight, anything. But only now did the implications hit him like a bolt of lightning. This place was going to be the only thing he saw for the rest of his life. Never again would he see the real sun with his own two eyes, to bathe in its rays. Never again would he breathe fresh air, smell the comforting scent of morning dew. 

He was trapped, trapped, trapped. Reduced to a mere play thing used only for his captor's amusement. A toy to be moved and posed and put on display. He was nothing. 

For a few moments, everything was quiet. Then the tears came.

It was so sudden that Sans was confused for a few seconds. He lifted a hand to touch his face, thrown off by the wetness he felt. He was even more at a loss when he realized what was going on.

He was crying.

And once he started, he couldn’t seem to stop.

Sans hated every sob, every whine of pain that escaped like his soul was getting ripped out of his chest. He sucked in great big gulping breaths, only for them to shudder out of him in hiccuping wheezes. They ripped through him so hard his ribs began rattling from the stress and fear. When Sans realized that he was doing, the rattling intensified.

Pitiful.

Unable to do anything but cry, Sans finally gave up trying to bottle up his negative emotions in favor was curling up in a ball. He buried his face in his tail, hiding away from the world. Sans clutched at his chest, not to scratch or claw but to press against it like he was trying to squeeze his very soul. Maybe if he squeezed hard enough, he'd feel nothing at all anymore. His other arm wrapped around his waist in a mock hug, but his ribs still shook so matter so tightly he held on.

Sans finally gave in to the waves of sadness, pulled under the current and sinking down into the depths of despair. He cried, tears salty and bitter.

Throwing back his head, he wailed all of his pain and misery at the ceiling.

He cried and cried and cried. 

For what, he wasn’t even sure anymore.

Time passed like that. Could have been seconds, or even minutes. Might have even been hours for all Sans knew. All he could feel was deep aching sadness filling him up to the brim and spilling over.

He was a mess. Something was breaking and he wasn't sure how to fix it. How does someone patch up a ship if they didn't know where the hole was? He was taking on water, sinking into dark depths. Soon he would be swallowed whole without a trace of ever being there in the first place. 

Sans stiffened when arms wrapped around him. He hadn't heard Papyrus come in. (Papyrus was the siren, ready to drag him deeper and deeper. Wanting nothing more than to devour him whole. At this point, did Sans really care?) 

Even so he folded like a house of cards, burying himself in the other as though he could get away from his own sickening emotions. Burying his face in that warm red sweater, Sans sobbed. Papyrus was warm as always and that only set him off further, shaking apart in the faux loving embrace. 

Sans didn't fight it. Even when Papyrus readjusted their positions a bit, tucking the lamia into one arm and pulling him into the crook of his throat to help him properly hide. A hand ran up and down his back, slow and steady. 

Sans didn't know how long they stayed like that, curled up in each other as the lamia sobbed his heart out, but eventually the tears slowed. His face burned in embarrassment. 

When Sans tried to regain some space, those strong arms tightened for a single frightening (comforting) second, before going lax. Sans pulled away, shaky and unsteady. Immediately he had to fight back the urge to rebury himself back in that heat. To hide away from everything. Instead he bit back his tears and met Papyrus's worried look as best he could.

“Why can’t we go back to how things used to be?” Sans asked, voice soft and hoarse. His sockets watered as he spoke, and he sniffled when a tear slipped free without his permission. 

Papyrus frowned, bringing up a hand to brush away the tear with his thumb before cupping his cheek. Sans whined pitifully, rubbing his cheek against his hand and trying to cling to the last threads of his self-restraint. 

At last Papyrus said, "You know that we can't go back now. Everything's changed too much. We've both seen too much, done too much." His tone was gentle, but his words pierced through Sans's soul like daggers. 

Shaking his head in denial, Sans squeezed his eyes closed so hard that he saw stars. The tears slipped free anyway, running burning trails down bone. He blindly grabbed at the soft sweater, fingers curling in the fabric so tightly he feared that he might be ripping it. Still his hands trembled. 

“I just wanna go back. I wanna go. Please.” Sans sobbed out at last, clutching at Papyrus like he was his last hope. As though Papyrus wasn't the one who crushed all his hopes and dreams in the first place. As though he wasn't the one who dragged him into this sick, twisted dance of theirs.

Gentling further, Papyrus wrapped his arm around his spine once again before he pulled him into another hug. Sans melted into the embrace, arms trapped against his chest because he refused to let go of Papyrus's sweater. He clung even tighter, like his touch was the only thing keeping Sans from falling apart and shattering into a million pieces. It certainly felt like he would if Papyrus let go. (Not that Papyrus ever would.)

“Please, Papy. Please please please.” Sans begged, already knowing the answer deep down but dreading it. Like waiting for the guillotine to come down.

Papyrus sighed.

“No.”

The single word lit his grief up like dry tinder in a forest fire. Burying his face in Papyrus’s chest, Sans screamed. He started clawing at Papyrus’s chest, and when that did nothing, he shoved himself away and tried to claw at his face.

He actually managed to take Papyrus by surprise, getting lucky and landing a few scratches on his skull before Papyrus recovered and snatched up his hands. Of fucking course. Sans couldn’t do anything right.

“I hate you! I hate you! I wish you'd just disappear!” Sans snarled, fueled by rage and grief.

He dissolved into a harsh screech, bowing his head as he practically ripped his own throat to shreds. The desperate scream slowly tapered off into heaving sobs. Sans cried, head still bowed and not even bothering to get free.

Papyrus sighed again, bringing a hand up to lightly touch the scratches and pulling away to examine the marrow on his fingers.

“Oh Sans… I wish you hadn’t done that.” Papyrus said.

Sans stiffened at the tone in his voice. The tone knocked him out of his fury, dumping an ice cold bucket of water on it. He’d messed up again. Whipping his head up, he felt his soul sink like a stone when he really saw how much damage he had managed to inflict. Some of those scratches looked pretty deep.

Shit.

Sans wasn’t ready for another punishment. (Who was he kidding, he was never ready-) What would Papyrus take this time? His fangs? His fingers? Maybe even his eyes? Or would he just lock Sans away in that box again, trapped in stifling darkness until he learned his ‘lesson’.

Shrinking into himself, Sans stared at Papyrus with wide eyes. He tried to tug his hands free so he could flee, but Papyrus had a firm grip on his wrists.

“I didn’t mean to! I’m sorry I won’t do it again! Sorry sorry sorry! Please I’m sorry.” Sans blurted, tears returning with a vengeance.

He didn’t hear Papyrus say, “Sans?” Too distracted by the fear choking all the air out of him.

All Sans could see was red. Deep blood red marrow dripping steadily from his skull. From the injury that Sans had inflicted onto the other. Oh no. Oh no no no. Sans started to delve into a full blown panic attack, breathing going funny.

“M’sorry! I’m sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I’m so sorry please let go.” Sans pleaded, not even hearing himself say the words over the blind panic ringing like bells in his skull.

“Sans? Oh, starsdamnit I messed up. I scared you. I’m the one who should be sorry, come here.” Papyrus said.

Papyrus adjusted so he was holding both hands captive with one of his own. He began to reach a hand towards Sans. Frantic eyes darted from the scratches, only to lock onto the approaching hand, gloves still stained with marrow. His eyelights shrank to pinpricks of light, and Sans numbly shook his head, eyes still blown wide and empty.

Sans squirmed futilely, and managed to gain a few inches of breathing space, but that only delayed the inevitable. He sobbed wetly, trembling like a leaf in the wind as he was forced back into place. He squeezed his eyes shut, unable to take anymore.

He flinched when something warm brushed against his face, cupping his cheek. It would actually be comforting if not for the fact that the hand was damp. Something hot and wet was dripping down his chin, and it definitely wasn’t his tears.

“No, no no no please no. Stop. Stop it. Stop touching me.” Sans begged.

Papyrus finally seemed to notice that something was amiss.

“Shhh, it’s okay, everything’s okay. What’s wrong? What am I doing wrong?”

“Paps, please, your hand.” Sans managed to whisper, more tears slipping free.

“Huh? Oh! Oh, gosh I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking.” Immediately the hand retreated, and Sans shuddered at the damp wetness left behind, sticky and wet and cooling rapidly. Sans immediately wanted to to scrub his face off with steel wool.

Sans sniffled, squinting his eyes open to gaze up at the other though blurry tears. He must have made quite the pathetic sight, because Papyrus practically melted, a gooey smile tugging at his teeth.

Papyrus cooed comfortingly, marrow flowing from the scratches all the while. Finally letting go of his wrists, he wrapped his arms around him and pulled the lamia close, nuzzling him gently.

Sans didn’t protest, cuddling into the monster like if he didn’t he would be struck dead instantly. He shuddered when something wet dripped onto his skull. It was warm.

“Don’t hurt me. Please don’t hurt me. I’ll do anything. I'll be good.” Sans begged.

“I'm not going to punish you, I promise I won't. It’s okay Sans, everything’s okay.” Papyrus soothed, rocking them back and forth.

It wasn't. 

Nothing would ever be okay again and Sans knew it. Still though. The lies tasted so sweet, rolling off Papyrus's tongue like sugar. He always knew just what to say. Knew exactly which buttons to press. Slowly, after several minutes of constant reassurances that Papyrus wouldn't do anything, no really, Sans began to calm down.

"You're bleeding." Sans said hesitantly, scared to even mention the damage he caused.

Papyrus reluctantly pulled away, wincing at the sight of marrow now covering them both. Sans flinched when something suddenly appeared out of thin are, and stared wide eyed at first aid kit in Papyrus's free hand. Papyrus paid him no mind, carefully pressing a cloth to his skull to stop the bleeding, 

Sans stayed quiet, nerves leaving him queasy. 

When at last Papyrus got the bleeding to slow to something more manageable, he slapped a couple bandages on and then turned to Sans. Sans froze, sockets guttering out and breathing going shallow under the sudden attention. Papyrus gave him a small smile that was probably supposed to be comforting, but Sans only shrank backwards slightly. Still he made no move to escape, whimpering when something cold and wet touched his skull. 

Oh, alcohol wipes.

His face burned, the sharp scent stinging his senses as Papyrus rubbed away dried marrow. 

“I was only going to suggest getting some nail caps for you. Or maybe a pair of cute mittens.” Papyrus joked awkwardly, but he had a tiny frown the entire time.

Sans swallowed his embarrassment, ashamed by the way he had reacted. Where had the chill lamia in him gone? He was such a mess. If this kept up, Papyrus was going to break him. 

(Wasn't he already broken?)

Sighing, Papyrus gently ran a hand down his cheek, smiling when Sans couldn't stop his eyes from fluttering. The smile faded when he noticed how tense the lamia still was, a the tiniest tremble running through his form.

“You can get angry, you know? I’m not going to punish you for feeling things. Or trying to hurt me.” Papyrus said, voice deceivingly soft. 

It was all a trap, Sans knew. A sweet honey trap that he couldn't help but fall for again and again. He was a fool.

“You took away my glands.” Sans whispered, as if saying the words any louder would unlock Papyrus’s wraith.

“If that's the problem, don’t worry. It’s not permanent. I’m not so cruel as to permanently cut you off from your venom. Besides, that wasn’t a punishment. If I’d known how upset it’d make you, I would have never done it, even if it’s only temporary. It wasn’t worth the pain it caused you, no matter how much easier it made things for me.” Papyrus said, looking guilty.

Regaining a little of his spite, Sans muttered, “Liar.”

Papyrus only shrugged.

“I would never hurt you on purpose, Sans. I love you. I’d rather die than raise a hand against you. So get as angry as you want, I can take anything you throw at me.”

So he’d never hurt Sans, but he’d put him through painful surgery instead?! Kidnapping Sans from his home didn’t count as hurting him either? He’d tie Sans down and touch him, drug him anytime he wanted, and that just didn’t count? None of that counted? (Then what did? What did count into this psycho's eyes? Oh stars-)

His soul throbbed, painful and sudden.

What Sans hated most of all was that Papyrus’s words made some distant part in his soul, the part that had trusted Papyrus (that still trusted him), feel lighter. He also hated the part of him that was still scared Papyrus would snap even more. How could someone be so terrifying yet comforting at the same time? It wasn't fair.

Choosing not to dignify Papyrus with a response, Sans buried his face in the other's warmth and wept.

They spent the rest of the day like that, random crying fits hitting Sans hard and fast. Just when he was sure that he’d run all out of tears to cry, more would spring to his sockets, racing down his face faster than he could wipe them away. 

Finally, hours later Sans managed to cry himself out at last. He fell into a fitful sleep, curled up in Papyrus’s arms, clinging to the only comfort he could find in this lifeless prison.

He hoped that the next day they could forget that this ever happened.

(If only Sans could be so lucky.)

The thing was, once the faucets had been switched on, Sans wasn't sure how to turn them off. He managed to get through the night without having a complete meltdown, but once the next day came he found himself sobbing into Papyrus's sweater once again.

Sans knew that he was becoming emotionally unstable. Everything was catching up to him, and he was way passed the thought that maybe he'd never be free again. He was pretty sure that he couldn't escape, no matter what he did. Sans felt worn out and exhausted. All he could do was cry and dwell in his misery. 

He felt pathetic, even more so when Papyrus would scoop him up mid sob and rock him back and forth. Papyrus was soft as ever, smile understanding and tissues at the ready. 

Sans shoved the dark thoughts away, throwing himself into less depressing things. Like hugs and kisses. He kept on rubbing his nose against that warm throat, looping his arms around Papyrus's waist to press himself even closer. Papyrus rewarded him with a surprised laugh and a kiss on the cheek.

"Could you help me with something?" Sans spoke up suddenly.

"Gladly!" Papyrus chirped.

Perking up himself, Sans tugged the arms chaining him close and scrambled off his lap. Some of the cheer faded from Papyrus, but he still got up and began to follow Sans as he slithered deeper into the enclosure. 

Only to stop abruptly. When the sound steady footsteps faded away, Sans slowed, turned to in confusion only to meet Papyrus's calculating look head-on. As always Sans felt microscopic under his intense stare, but confusion outweighed the urge to shrink back or curl up into a little ball to make himself a smaller target. 

"Why did you stop?" Sans asked.

"Exactly what was it that you need help with, Sans?" Papyrus asked right back, head tilting slightly. 

Sans paused, genuinely thrown for a loop by the sudden whiplash in mood, before realization hit him like a hammer. 

Oh. Maybe he should have worded his request a little bit better. Sans could practically feel the suspicion mounting, filling the air with thick tension, Sans winced at his poor choice in words and quickly said, "I'm not gonna attack you or anything."

The reassurance was weak, but Sans met Papyrus's eyes head on, trying to convey his innocence. Thankfully, Papyrus relaxed and Sans relaxed as well when the darkness faded away. This time, Papyrus was all too ready to cheerfully follow Sans through the enclosure, Sans was much less enthusiastic. His back crawled when he turned away to take the lead, but this was too important to stop now.

When they came to a stop at their destination, one of the large fake boulders, Sans squeezed between a crack at the base. Luckily Papyrus couldn't follow before it was just wide enough to fit the lamia's smaller frame. The crack quickly widened, dipping downwards before abruptly widening, revealing a burrow. As much as Sans hated this cage, he could appreciate the fact that Papyrus actually put effort into the display. He could have shoved Sans into a tiny white room, sterile and lifeless as the rest of his home, but he hadn't. 

Papyrus could have also put him in the box- Sans shook his head sharply. (Don't think about the box.)

There, sitting on the ground as the centerpiece of yet another of Sans's makeshift nests, was the light projector. Carefully picking it up, Sans carried the tiny box out of the burrow and into the light where Papyrus had been patiently waiting.

"The glass has a crack in it and a couple of the screws went missing." Sans said, holding up his prized possession so Papyrus could get a good look. 

Papyrus perked up at his words, gently tugging the projector away. Sans almost didn't let go, fingers tightening harshly before loosening. 

Handing over the projector just like that made him feel uneasy, insides curdling with nerves as he watched Papyrus fiddle with the switch. He fought back the urge to snatch it away and take everything he said back. Getting the projector fixed wasn't worth the chance that he might not get it back. Sans threw that thought away like it burned. No, no Papyrus would give it back. Sans was just being paranoid.

So he watched, trying not to fidget and give away how uneasy he felt.

Papyrus hummed thoughtfully.

"I might have the proper replacements in my toolbox, Come on, I left it in my room." Papyrus said, walking towards the door.

Sans nearly tripped over himself in his hurry to follow. 

If Papyrus was happy with his hasty compliance, he didn't show it. Instead he politely kept the door open long enough for Sans to slither out and trusted the lamia to follow along. Sans was right on his heels, eyes locked onto the projector and not even thinking about trying to escape. (Where would he even go?)

They came to a stop by a supply room. The door, though a little more worn than most other doors in the place, opened soundlessly. Papyrus went straight to the back, dragging out several metal boxes and going through them. Sans crept closer, quiet and eyes locked on the projector resting on the desk.

He didn't fight it when his tail coiled around a warm leg, but he did see Papyrus tense slightly, before relaxing and getting back to business. He did have the tiniest smile on his face, and Sans averted his eyes. He felt devja vu flare up at situation, and couldn't help but feel odd about the fact that he wasn't planning to stab Papyrus in the back. He glanced up again, spotting that smile growing wider, before looking away quickly. Clearly, Papyrus didn't mind the change. 

"I wanna fix it by myself next time. Do you have anything I could borrow?" Sans asked, hesitant.

Papyrus glanced from Sans to the projector and back again, considering. Then he sighed, and that small smile on his face brightened.

"I'll let you keep one of my old tool boxes. I've been meaning to get rid of some anyway. I'll go grab them now, there's no time like the present!" Papyrus chirped.

He turned suddenly. Sans flinched at the sudden movement, his tail tightening its hold in his surprise. His tail tripped Papyrus up, knocking him over. He fell, arms pinwheeling as he tried to catch himself and failed. His arm bashed into the counter on the way down, also hitting the projector sitting there innocently.

The force of his arm smacked the poor thing too the edge, tilting ominously over the edge.

Everything slowed to a crawl, as things tended to get when adrenaline was pumping through him. Sans was frozen in time, eyes widening in shock. He could only watch in slow motion as his prized possession tipped dangerously, nothing to stop what was already in motion. His soul twisted sharply, insides lurching when it toppled over into the abyss. All Sans could do was witness it happen.

The projector suddenly froze in midair, glowing blue around the edges. 

"Whew! That was close!" Papyrus said, lying on the ground with his hand outstretched.

A tingling sensation ran up his spine, and the taste of magic danced on his tongue. His magic was heavy in the air, a thick electric current buzzing that lit up his senses like a live wire. Never had Sans been so grateful that Papyrus was strong.

Sitting up, Papyrus crossed his legs as he flicked a finger. The protector gracefully floated into his hands, and when the blue faded away, they could both see that the projector was safe and sound. Papyrus examined the machine for a moment, twisting and turning it to make sure nothing was broken, before holding it out for Sans to take.

Sans didn't hesitate to grab his projector, the weight solid and real in his hands. Wrapping his arms around it, Sans practically hugged it like one would a long lost stuffed animal, soul pounding in his chest. He didn't care that Papyrus could see just how attached he was to the gift, he cuddled the projector close to his chest. He could barely believe that it hadn't smashed into the ground, shattering into a million pieces.

"Thank you." Sans said, voice soft and earnest. He was surprised to realize that he meant the words wholeheartedly. 

Those dark sockets went wide, before a brilliant orange flush stained his cheeks. Papyrus looked away, a silly yet shy grin on his face. Sans couldn't deny the way his insides warmed when he spotted that smile. Ugh.

"It really was no problem, Sans. I know how much you care about your projector." Papyrus said, waving off his gratitude as if Sans couldn't see his bashful smile on full display.

Sans glanced down at the projector in his arms. His projector. Something that belonged to Sans and Sans alone. Sure Papyrus could choose to take it if he wished, but at least Sans had something other than his hoodie to his name. His arms tightened in response around said projector, as though Papyrus knowing that he cared about something would prompt him to take it away. Sans swallowed and nodded, eyes glued to the floor.

Only when his soul had slowed did Sans realize something. He glanced up at Papyrus with new eyes.

"Why haven't you used your magic on me if you can move things with it?" Sans asked. 

Had Papyrus really only been playing around with him this whole time? Sure he always made it out to be a game, but how come he didn't use his magic even when his life was in danger? Had Sans ever actually threatened his life or had Papyrus been acting? 

"Oh, that's very simple! Your magic cancels mine out." Papyrus said, as if it were that simple.

Sans blinked, thrown off that such a world shattering comment was said so casually. He had known that monsters couldn't use their intent on him, but he had never even dreamed that his immunity could also be strong enough to keep them from using their magic on him as well. That wasn't the most ground shattering information either. What was even more shocking was that apparently he couldn't be touched because of his own magic? 

"I have magic?" Sans said to himself, voice going soft and quiet without his permission. 

He winced at the hopeful wonder in his tone, and prayed that he had spoken too softly for Papyrus to properly hear him.

No dice.

Papyrus paused, going still. For a moment Sans wondered if he had asked something his captor didn't want him to know about, only to jump when Papyrus spun on him, eyes lit up with unconcealed excitement.

"Yes! You do!" Papyrus burst, hands clapping down on his shoulders to hold Sans as he leaned in close.

His sockets practically sparkled as he vibrated in place.

"I... do?" Sans began only to trail off, stunned by the emotional whiplash.

Papyrus nodded jerkily, so fast that his features blurred slightly. It made Sans dizzy just to watch. 

"You do! Mythical creatures were originally monsters. Even if their magic has taken on completely different properties, they're still monsters in a sense, if only more concentrated. Magic manifests differently for every creature, thus why they're so rare and difficult to study. Especially since the magic a siren produces is wildly different from a dragon's. So, its next to impossible to get a handle on what connects these creatures other than the fact that they stemmed from monster kind." Papyrus said. 

Well then, that was a lot of information thrown his way. Sans really didn't care about the stuff with sirens and dragons, even if learning that mythical creatures came from monsters once upon a time was pretty interesting. 

It was clear that Sans had stumbled onto one of his conversational landmines. Of course Papyrus would love to talk about mythical creatures. Why was Sans even surprised? Whenever he even mentioned something that Papyrus was interested in, the skeleton never failed to blabber on and on. Sans didn't like to admit that watching him get all worked up, happy and relaxed and not creepy for once, made him feel warm inside. (It was nice.)

Still, Sans had one pressing question on his mind. "But how am I magic?"

Papyrus's eyes, if possible, got even brighter, "That's an excellent question! With a not so clear cut answer! The interesting thing about mythical creatures is that we don’t really understand how your magic works. It’s very different from typical monster magic, almost evolved in a sense." 

"Different how?"

"Well, you see, magic is flexible, and can bend in ways that we really can’t explain even today. Magic makes up all the traits that make you a lamia, Sans. How else would you maintain your tail? Or produce such a potent venom? Lamias are perhaps the most fascinating species in my opinion!" Papyrus said, the tiniest orange blush rising to his cheeks.

"Not that you're biased or anything." Sans muttered under his breath, jumping when Papyrus laughed.

"So my venom's magic?" Sans asked, louder this time, his face burning.

"Yep! Your venom is strong even amongst other lamias. It'd be pretty interesting to see what other kind of uses that it could be applied to."

Sans frowned, "Uses? How useful could my venom be other than to kill things? There's not much else you could do."

Papyrus laughed, "Typically, yes, your venom is used to harm others and even if your venom only had toxic properties, there are still many uses for it. Some cultures use snake venom to cultivate medicine for things like blood disorders or to help with heart attacks. Humans and fleshy monsters are very creative! Snake venom is such a fascinating subject, I'd be disappointed if they didn't pay attention to just how amazing snakes are!" 

Seeing that Sans still didn't quite get what he was saying and that he was getting off-topic, Papyrus smiled sheepishly.

Clearing his throat of nothing, Papyrus began again, "I am losing focus, my apologies! Let's rephrase things in a way for you to better understand. Ummm, let me think," Papyrus paused, thinking for a few moments before his eyes landed on the projector still held protectively in the lamia's hands.

"Oh!" Papyrus said.

"Oh?" Sans repeated before grimacing at himself, feeling like a parrot at this point.

"Take your projector for example. You remember what I said about the mirror inside? How the trichroic prism splits regular plain white light into different colors? Magic is like that! It's basically Hope, the compound that makes up all monsters, shifted into varying rays of light depending on a monster's intent and personality which acts as the filter and amplifier. So theoretically, since you are also magic, you should be able to shift your magic to suit your needs!"

This was a lot to take in all at once. Sans was still reeling from the near disaster with his projector and now he had to come to terms with the fact that he might not really know his own body? Ugh. This was why he shouldn't talk to Papyrus.

Despite himself, Sans said, "That's really cool." The words slipped free before he could stop them.

Papyrus beamed, and Sans could feel his face begin to burn blue.

It was Sans's turn to clear his throat of nothing, before he said, "So I'm like a prism, but I don't seem to reflect light like a regular monster does? And no one really knows how I work but theoretically I do reflect light just like a regular prism, only differently? Like instead of making things float, I make my venom deadly?"

“Exactly! Your venom is toxic because you will it to be! That means theoretically, you might be able to will it to do other things. Such as healing, simple paralysis, or some other sort of effect. Somewhat like normal monster magic but twisted to fit your body's needs.” Papyrus said.

“That's really amazing. For such a crazy guy, you're pretty smart..." Sans trailed off slightly, face growing even more blue. Oh stars, why did he keep messing up and saying such stupid things.

His embarrassment was quickly forgotten when another thought occurred to Sans.

"Wait! So since my venom’s concentrated magic, could I do also actual magic if I wanted?” Sans hadn’t been expecting that. Could he learn to do what Papyrus had done earlier?

Papyrus was still flushed from all the accidentally compliments, only to blink and come back a little at his question. He looked off to the side for a moment, before shrugging and saying hesitantly, “Well, possibly? Myth magic is much denser than a monster's magic. You might be able to, but only in a different way than we can. Keep in mind that these are just personal theories of mine that I’ve collected from reading text books and gathering information from afar. I’ve never been able to prove my theories, since mythical creatures are so rare and usually people don’t have sciencey thoughts in mind when catching them.”

'You certainly didn't.' Sans barely bit back the words.

Instead Sans said, "So that's why you took my glands... You took my magic away." He almost sounded thoughtful if not for the bitter edge to his tone.

"Temporarily!" Papyrus protested, before frowning, "I didn't remove your glands just to weaken you, Sans. You are a very dangerous individual, and even one as great as I wouldn't survive one of your bites. I needed time, and we both know that you are rather quick when you want to be. I can't always get lucky."

Oh. Somehow the fact that he actually poised a threat to Papyrus, someone who seemed to be able to shake anything off, was a little reassuring. (And terrifying.)

He knew that he shouldn't tempt fate, but Sans had always been one to rock the boat.

"What's stopping me from biting you when I get them back then?" Sans said slowly, little sparks of heat flaring in his soul for the first time in weeks.

He immediately wanted to take back his words. Just pluck them right out of the air where they hovered ominously between them and hoard the precious flame of rebellion somewhere secret. Hidden and safe where Sans could let it warm him up. Set him ablaze, and fill him with white-hot fury. Maybe he'd become something else, something more, Instead of the pitiful submissive thing that he was becoming. 

It was too late though. Sans had already spat them out, throwing his cards on the table before the round had even started.

Instead of looking like he was about to grab his scalpel and get rid of the lamia's fire for good, Papyrus only grinned. It was clear that he wasn't threatened in the slightest. That confidence was terrifying more than anything else, and Sans shied away.

"I think we both know that by the time you get your venom back, you won't be able to bite me. Even if you wanted to." Papyrus said, smiling playfully all the while.

The sparks were stomped out, just like that.