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Out Of Here (SansxReader)

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You hear the men talking in the next room, probably about business. It doesn’t interest you much at all… mostly you’re just angry. Your dad took your phone recently, after you got a call from- well, from Sans. It’s been years! You weren’t not even sure they remembered you. But when that call came in; you got hope. When your father took the call... you gingerly rub your black eye. He was definitely a ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ kinda guy.

Or maybe he’s just an asshole who hits you a lot.

Even if it’s right, that’s a mindset you can’t accept.

However, when you start hearing mentions of Mount Ebott coming from the conference room, you climb off of your bed to eavesdrop. Pressing your ear against the door, trying to calm your racing heart, you listen. What do up-tight jerk politicians want with Mt. Ebott?

“-they’re saying they’ve caught cellphone signals trying to reach your daughter’s number, Boran,” one says, “We can’t deny the life down there is sentient. Her stories aren’t crazy, they’re true.”

“The calls were an unknown number!” your father laughs nervously. “The kid’s crazy, I swear! If you found aliens, bomb ‘em- but that bullshit she said when she was a little kid about monsters is just nuts!” your father shouts.

You remember back when you were nine, the memories of the monsters, your only friends… you’d gone missing for days… but you came back happier than when you left.

NO-ONE is bombing your friends.
And you never want anyone to call you ‘kid’ again.
~~~~~~
Your heart is pumping, breath coming in little gasps and blood throbbing in your ears. The bike can’t go any faster than this. The night air, though freezing, doesn’t do much to cool the sweat slipping down your neck and starting to soak your shirt. In the distance, you can see Mt. Ebott’s peak start to shine with the first rays of dawn. Seeing it fills your soul with determination, and you fight through the burn in your legs.

You put one mile between you and your house.
Two miles between you and your father.
Three miles away from pain.
Every mile closer to the mountain where your friends are. (At least, you hope so.)

The weeds and grass grow thicker around the roads, which are becoming less and less paved. The first real lights of the morning start to shine in the sky, but you stubbornly choose to ignore them. There’s still time, there HAS to be time. If they’re going to bomb the mountain, you can’t wait on it to just, happen. The road pitches with bumps and ridges and sharp rocks, and you swerve to avoid them.

‘Just make it before they start looking for you. Make it, make it, you HAVE TO make it, you can’t leave them…’ you think. You’d say it out loud, ‘make it, make it’, but you don’t have the breath.

Just as white stars of fatigue start swimming in front of your eyes, you hit the fence. And I mean, LITERALLY hit an actual fence, the one round the base of the mountain- you didn’t stop in time. You get up and swipe the dirt out of your bleeding knees and scratch it out of your hands, eyes watering and stinging.

Yeah, bike’s busted. You give yourself a once-over, trying to make sure nothing’s broken. You SEEM fine, at least- but the blisters on your hands (from the bike pushing at your palms) exploded on contact with the ground, and you don’t know if you can handle touching much else. Luckily, the sun shining in your eyes reminds you of the little time remaining for you to climb the mountain, and you shake it off.

“Tori’s gonna kill me if I survive this,” you mutter, climbing the fence and dropping over on the other side.

Mount Ebott wasn’t known for its height, but for the incredibly wide base, the possibility of a dormant volcano inside, the lore around it. The government has been running tests here, you know, because if this were really a nature reserve like they say it is, they wouldn’t have put the chain-link fence up all the way around the bottom. So you feel safe ignoring the various signs warning you about the mountain, becoming more dilapidated the higher up they go-

WARNING: NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE, DO NOT ENTER

‘’S not gonna be that way much longer, if my dad’s gonna bomb it,’ you think, running and holding your palms out flat so the blisters don’t annoy one another.

DO NOT ADVANCE FARTHER

‘Aw, man, you gonna stop me?’ if your hand wasn’t bleeding, you probably would have smacked the sign on your way by.

STOP!

“Creative,” you deadpan, panting.

The farther up you go, the scarcer the signs become, when you turn around stock-still, recognizing your mistake. You left your bike outside the fence, you didn’t even bother moving it, the police will see it immediately, they’ll be up the mountain soon. You enlist some of your father’s choicest swear words, then keep on tramping up the mountain.

When, and only when, you hit the huge, gaping sinkhole do you collapse. Worried you’ll pass out, you crawl to the edge. Luckily, you don’t, but you do throw up- not into the Underground, thank the stars, but on the ground next to you. You’d always especially hated throwing up. It racks your body with weakness and nausea, and leaves you empty. When you finally finish, you feel like you’ve been beat up by the universe. Stomach swooping with nausea and fear, unable to catch your breath, torn and bleeding, and your head pounding to the beat of your racing heart.

And to be perfectly honest, you don’t know how you’re going to get into the Underground. You fell last time, and those buttercups caught you, right? But that was a mistake! You can’t just throw yourself down here and hope for that kind of luck two times. Desperately, you pull your phone out of your backpack. You smile inwardly at Alphys’ ‘upgrades’, and at the sight of her number…but who to call right now? Toriel…Papyrus? It might not be a bad idea, you know for a fact he has healing magic, and you might be dead by the time you hit the bottom of the hole.

With a shaky hand, you punch in his number and wait. There’s a crackling noise on the other end, one that goes on for a minute. You can’t decipher what it’s saying, but before you get a chance to speak, a little automated voice plays through the reciever.

“Hello! The number you have called is unavailable- please leave a message, and try again another time. *beep*.”
“Hey, Paps…it’s me? Um, Kate. I dunno if you, um, if you’re getting this. If you are, well, great. I know it’s been a long time, (‘years’, you think) and I’m really sorry I haven’t called back sooner. I’m about to come back into the Underground, or, um, fall? If you don’t remember me…I don’t know, okay? Please…please, please call me back, I don’t have very long. I’m going to be waiting in… the entry to the Ruins, I think? I’m gonna be pretty beat up. If, um,” you pause, trying to pull together a straight sentence. “If I die during this, I’m sorry. To all of you. I’m sorry about Asgore, I’m sorry about setting back your progress with the souls, I’m sorry I couldn’t get you all free…it’s my fault. I know it is. But maybe, I can make up for it. I…I love you guys- oh.” your phone died midsentence. Looking at it, at your hopeless self, at the endless stretch of darkness in the hole in front of you… your determination flickers.

Is this worth it? Should you go home? At least at home there was safety, security. But at home was your father, ready to hit you. And the men trying to kill your friends.

What if they’ve changed- the monsters- since they called, what, years ago? You remember when you got the phone call, it was all you could think about for weeks, months, even. It gave you hope. Then, they’d set up the fences and signs and wire around Mount Ebott and the signals were too faint to make it to your ancient flip-phone.

By now, they might be different. They might have forgotten you. They might not know who you are…

“Well, that’s a risk I’ll have to take,” you say, giving yourself a firm mental slap- you can’t keep thinking about this when you’re so close to seeing them all again.

First, as if you plan on hopping down right after it, you toss your backpack down the hole, counting the seconds until it hits the bottom. Ten. Ten seconds. That’s a LONG fall.

Bracing yourself, shaking out your nerves, you sit right on the edge, feet perched under you, praying you’ll fall and gravity will make this decision for you. Suddenly, you hear men shouting behind you, and the pounding of footsteps.

The rest happens in a fraction of a second- your foot catches on a root as you try to stand to see them, and twists your leg at a painful angle. The last thing you remember before the dirt crumbles and drops you is the sharp *snap* of bone.
~~~~~
“hey, bro, your phone’s ringin’,” Sans says, glancing down as it vibrates on the table.

He’s casually making a sandwich, being lazy and blissfully enjoying it. For once, Grillby’s is closed on holiday, because he’s on vacation or something. So now, Sans has nothing better to do than eat a sandwich and be happily bored. No responsibilities, Papyrus is safe. Everything’s fine.

He hadn’t forgotten about YOU. But he’d tried to.

He’d tried not to resent you for leaving the Underground leaderless, soul-less, and hopeless. He’d tried not to. You hadn’t killed anyone, you’d befriended his brother, befriended Undyne, even befriended HIM a little. It was quiet and peaceful and safe, and he liked it that way.

But what he didn’t like is the empty, hollow feeling you’d left behind when you left. Like you’d taken the last, burning hope, and snuffed it. It wasn’t your fault, it was that scrubby weed’s fault…but you never came back and tried to fix it, never called back.

Everyone talked about you a lot, especially Toriel. Now that Sans has been hanging out with the queen lately, he’s gotten to learn essentially everything about you. Your favorite books, your pie preferences, your favorite jokes. She misses you. Everyone does. But, honestly, not Sans.

So, it’s lucky he cares enough to pick up the phone when Papyrus doesn’t respond from upstairs, too busy or distracted to listen. It’s lucky he reaches out and grabs it to see who it is.

And when your contact, ‘Human- Kate!!!’ flashes on the screen, you’re lucky he doesn’t ignore it and delete the missed call. No, instead, he nearly drops the phone in bewilderment. How can this be happening? He was sure you’d have forgotten them by now, sure you’d moved away and pretended they hadn’t existed.

“…SHIT,” he half-laughs, staring at the screen with a shocked grin on his face.

“Language, brother!” Papyrus calls from the top of the stairs. Sans looks up at him, stuttering.

“it’s the kid- uh, it’s their number, quick, answer it!”

The taller brother stumbles down the stairs and presses ‘answer’, being courteous enough to put it on speaker for Sans. Your voice comes through a little, but theirs can’t even seem to make it through to your end. The call ends abruptly.

“Did they hang up on us?” Papyrus asks, sounding disappointed.

“i…i dunno. maybe. did they leave a message?” Sans asks, already suspecting this was a butt-dial or a mistake you’d hurried to fix.

Maybe you even deleted the contact so this wouldn’t happen again. Papyrus quickly flicks to his inbox and checks- sure enough, though, you HAD left a message. It’s choppy and hard to understand, but by the third play-through, a few sentences stand out in particular.

“…the entry to the Ruins…I’m…pretty beat up…if I die during this, I’m sorry. I’m sorry about Asgore, I’m sorry about setting back your progress with the souls, I’m sorry I couldn’t get you all free…it’s my fault. I know it is. But maybe, I can make up for it. I…I love you guys-” it ends there, and the call cuts out suddenly.

Papyrus stares down at the phone a moment and stands.

“Well, we need to go see Lady Toriel, then, at her home. As the last member of the Royal Guard, I have to see to it that the human is safe. Come on brother, you come, too.”

He sounds so serious, so ready, that Sans doesn’t even poke fun at him.

“ok. ok, i’m comin’.”

~~~~~

They start out the door and through the woods. Sans plays your message again, holding it up to his skull so he can hear it better. The snow and the cold swirl in flurries through the trees, and it catches the light on Papyrus’ new guard’s-armor and on Sans’ hoodie.

“bro, if the kid is, um, dead-” Sans starts, warningly, but his brother interrupts.

“Then- then we take their soul and get out of here if we can. If they die during this, then we take what is given to us. At least… that’s what Undyne would say. But, um. Would it be considered too un-royal-guardly if the captain were to cry a little?”

“uh…nah, i don’t think so,” Sans says, impressed by his younger bro’s mature attitude.

“Good.”

Speeding up a little, Papyrus scoops his brother up under an arm and breaks into a sprint. He says, faux-confidently, in his naturally loud voice-

“THE HUMAN WILL BE FINE. WE WILL MAKE SURE OF IT, YES, BROTHER?”

“yeah, bro,” Sans says. “i hope so.”
~~~~~
It’s a pathetic sight- the human, maybe a little taller than everyone remembers, laying in the buttercups. Not peacefully, either. Spread-eagled, one leg twisted in a way it shouldn’t be able to twist, head bleeding, hands bleeding, knees bleeding, covered in dirt and scuff marks. If she wasn’t laying on her face, her black eye would be clearly visible.

Their backpack lays to the left of them, nestled in the crater it made. It’s open a little, granola bars and apples and other surface food spilling out of it. Their phone is clutched in one hand like a lifeline, but it’s broken beyond repair.

They keep whispering, even in this half-dead coma, they’re whispering-

“Please…please…please…please…”

Your eyes open and you moan, in an incredible amount of pain. Your head, your leg, your arms and hands and knees and back- god, your leg. When you move it, you actually scream, it’s like fire is crawling up your body and trying to take you.

Tears are spilling down your face. The first call was a failure, and your phone is just as broken and dead as you’re about to be. You’re going to die down here, and there’s nothing anyone can do. You just hope that creepy flower from last time doesn’t find you like this. But, maybe it would be a mercy killing- you honestly wouldn’t mind, anyway. You start to find yourself HOPING he finds you; it would be the easiest way out of this, after all.

When you check your HP, you actually wince- 1/20. That’s REALLY not good. You crawl a little, muffle a shout in your hand, and little by little, you crawl into the dark tunnel you remember to be the entrance to the Ruins. There, you black out again.
~~~~~
Toriel leads Papyrus and Sans through the winding halls of the Ruins, through puzzles and around pillars and making haste to avoid detours. A child has fallen into the Underground once more, and they’re injured. There’s no time for silly games. The brothers exchange glances behind her back, worried. If you’re dead… it would crush her.

Finally, she pulls on two large purple doors. They swing inward, scraping over stone and dust.

All three monsters stop cold at what they see- it’s you- but, is it?

You’ve got blood on your hands, on the back of your head. Dried dirt and scuff marks cover the entire length of your body, and your left leg is swollen and twisted and an angry shade of purple. Even more prevalent, though, is how much you’ve grown. You’re taller, your hair is longer, your skin is a shade or two darker than anyone remembered. You’re…you’re thin as a twig.

All at once, after a moment’s hesitation, the three monsters call over each other-

“kid?”

“Human?!”

“My child-!”

You don’t move or even glance up at the sound of their voices. In fact, you’re completely still, not even the rise and fall of your chest to prove you’re breathing. Toriel almost seems to freeze in place, paws lifted over her mouth and tears beading in the corners of her eyes. Sans looks to his brother first- but Papyrus simply walks over and kneels down beside you, then shakes your shoulder gently.

“H-human? Kate? It’s time to get up now, we have to get you home so we can heal you,” when you don’t respond, he slowly, ever so slowly, pulls off one glove, then presses his fingers to your wrist, checking for a pulse.

Nothing.

“Kate, you have to wake up…” he whispers, using the same coaxing voice he uses to get Sans out of bed in the morning.

He checks your neck. Nothing.

“We missed you, human…we’re so happy you’re back…” his voice breaks.

He ever so carefully lifts you and presses the side of his skull against your chest, praying to hear a heartbeat.

Nothing.

Only now does he start to cry, wincing and holding your silent body against his chest, asking, begging you to wake up. Sans walks over to his brother and puts a hand on his shoulder, refusing to cry. Refusing to let him or anyone see that he cares. Papyrus says, quietly,

“N-nothing.”

“yeah, i figured…sorry, bro.”

“They just wanted to see us again,” he says, quietly.

Sans reaches out and feels for himself. Instead of feeling for a pulse, his fingers brush carefully over your lips, hoping to feel any breath pass them. He could’ve sworn he felt the tiniest press of air…almost immediately his own breath catches. His soul glows a radiant white, yours glows the bright red of Determination, and then part of your soul zips into his chest, knocking him backwards. He lands on his butt and your eyes shoot open, gasping.

Chapter Text

“Kate! Sans- what did you do?” Papyrus cries, looking from your suddenly conscious body to Sans. He waves a hand when you start to tremble with pain. “Never-mind, here, help me heal them-”

He sets you on the ground so he doesn’t jostle your leg too much, and starts to raise the gently swirling magic to heal you. An actual MOAN of relief escapes your lips, and you lean into the warmth- it feels so nice, in comparison to all of the pain. It’s like it’s all being leeched out and burned. You’re silent, but you look from Toriel to Sans to Papyrus. They’re smiling at you like Christmas came early, but with wide eyes.

‘Heh- like there’s some miracle going on or something,’ you think.

Paps is so happy- he’s grinning, trying to focus on the magic so you’ll heal faster. You don’t have too much spare energy to speak, not right now, but they’re here, and they found you! They don’t look much different, even though it’s been years. Toriel has a crown now, though, which is new. Papyrus has Royal-Guard-ish armor… right, he’s in the Guard now, isn’t he? Sans hasn’t changed a bit, you can already tell. Maybe a few new ketchup stains on his hoodie.

He’s a little shocked, though, rubbing his sternum where a little bit of your soul went into him. You feel warm, not from the healing magic, but, a distant warmth. Like- almost like it’s coming from Sans. But can it be? How would that work? Nah, no energy to think about it. Pulling together the last bit of strength you have left, you rasp-

“Sorry it look me so long.”

Sans grins at that- you grin back, then suddenly spit out a tooth. Well, shit. You turn your face to Papyrus, who now looks slightly concerned.

 

“Can I sleep now?”

“Yes- thank you for hanging in there.”

“‘Kay…see you guys in a bit.”

And with that, your eyelids flicker shut. Toriel breathes a sigh of relief and comes forward.

“Lady Toriel, what are your orders?” Paps asks, finishing up his healing and turning to her. Your HP is still dangerously low, but not so low he can’t get you somewhere safer.

“Please carry her, carefully, and follow me. I have a spare room she can stay in until she is healthy enough to tell us why she came. With the state she is in, the poor child…” she looks down at your deeply sleeping body, “It may take a long time. But I am prepared to wait. You two may visit her whenever you like- you were very wise to come as quickly as you did. And Sans- I do believe she’s established a soul link with you. Do you know what this is, or do we need to speak?”

“i…i dunno what happened, it just feels weird,” he admits, feeling kind of awkward in the new formal tone of voice. He was used to immature pranks and skeleton puns, not magic and death and…well, it just doesn’t feel natural to him.

“Alright then, come with me. Papyrus, please bring Kate.”

She turns and extends a hand to Sans, out of instinct, ready to guide a child through the Catacombs. He doesn’t know whether or not to take it, so she drops the offer. Papyrus lifts you as gently as he can, trying not to poke your sensitive human skin with his bones. He isn’t doing a great job, but luckily, you’re unconscious.
~~~~~
The next thing you remember after you woke up and they found you is the gentle feeling of sheets on your skin, and a heavy weight on your leg. It doesn’t hurt, per se, it just feels tight.

You double-check the rest of your body. Your black eye still stings, but it’s more of a dull ache now, thanks to Papyrus. The empty spot in your mouth where your tooth used to be is starting to bother you. Other than that, most of your little scratches and things are either healed or wrapped up in bandages.

Your eyes blink open- you’re tired, oh so tired, but at least now you’re alive and safe. You glance around, trying to find out where you are. Birch walls, yellow flowers, picture frames, this has to be Tori’s place. In fact, with a little double-take, you see Toriel herself, asleep in a chair to your left with a book on her lap.

Hesitantly, you whisper-

“Tori?”

“Mmm?” She says, drowsily, tilting her head up a little. She sees your wide brown eyes reflecting the light out in the hallway and jumps- “Oh! My child, you’re awake- oh, dear-”

She hurries over to your side and hugs you as best she can, then smiles. A real one, too. You smile back-

“Sorry, it took me so long…how long has it been? And what’s with my leg?”

“I would not move it. It is being held together with…I do not know, Miss, er, Doctor, um…Alphys came up with it. You’ve not been out too long, just a day or two. I tried to stay up so I could be awake when you woke up, but I believe I fell asleep.”

“Yeah, it’s okay…” you drift off…why are you here? You must have hit your head pretty hard. But how did you fall, again?

You squint at the sheets, but it takes a few deep breaths before the memories start flooding back. The call, the men, the bomb, the fall! Of course-

“Oh, no- I have to see Sans, where is he?”

“He is alright, you two only had a soul link, he is fine.”

You’re too distracted to ask what that is, instead you press on.

“I have to see him, really, please, we don’t have time-” you turn to get up from the bed, but she puts her paws on your shoulders and eases you back.

“Do not get up on your leg. I will call him.”

“We don’t have TIME,” you repeat. “Please, block off the entrance to the Ruins with everything we’ve got, please, we don’t have time!”

“Why, my child?”

“I- it’s important, they’re trying to bomb Mount Ebott, all of you! They’ll drop it down the hole, that’s why I came down here, to warn you!”

“You risked your life for us…” her eyes widen- “That was a very reckless thing to do. You might have gotten worse injuries than you do already. But, even I cannot deny that it was kind of you. I will get orders for Undyne and a few of the old Royal Guard members to make a blockade. Stay here,” she turns toward the door, but you catch ahold of some of her dress.

“Please, I need to see Sans- please.”

“What for- how would he help against a human bomb?” she asks, not unkindly.

“He wouldn’t… I just need to talk to him.”

“…alright. I’ll go get him. All he does is wait outside the doors, anyhow.”

You imagine Sans, waiting outside in the snow for news; and you sigh. That’s not the Sans you remember. Your Sans would’ve been too lazy. He would’ve made a million broken bones jokes at your expense. Whatever- you probably just scared everyone and they’ll go back to normal when you’re better. Right.

And then you have to find out how to get out of the Underground before the humans…heh- you think of them as ‘the humans’ now. Like you’re NOT one- before your father and his corporate cronies bomb the place.

The question is, how? If Alphys hasn’t gotten them out of here already, what can you do?

‘Die,’ a little voice in your head whispers. ‘Let them have your soul, they can get to the surface and take six more. They can be free, YOU just won’t be there.’

Well, the thought sends chills down your spine, but you do end up turning it over in your head. You cared enough about them to nearly die on the way down here, and dying would be a lot quicker than that excruciating pain. It wouldn’t even be that bad… and it would free your friends. They wouldn’t even need to remember you. But who would do it? Who would take your soul?
~~~~~
Sans walks down the hallways of the Ruins until he hits Tori’s house. She’s out doing something, but he’s supposed to go and see what you need. You’re finally awake- and whatever he was walking into might be kinda unpleasant.

Once he sees her house, he shortcuts straight to your bedroom. He’s visited enough times to know exactly where it is. He casually leans against the doorframe and slaps on one of his signature grins.

“heya, kiddo. finally awake, huh? you wanted to talk to me?”

You wince inwardly when he calls you kiddo. It’s a painful reminder of your father. You don’t say anything, don’t let that pain pass your face.

“Hi….yeah. Um- just, I’m sorry.”

Well, this is not how he was imagining this conversation would start. He crashes in the chair Toriel had vacated a few minutes ago and chuckles.

“what a way to start a chat, huh?”

“No, I’m serious-”

“hi serious, the name’s Sans.”

“I’d nearly forgotten about this,” you say, laughing and shaking your head.

“well, ’s just the way i do things. can you expect me not to make a few jokes? i mean, someone told ya to ‘break a leg’ and you went and did it,” that earns another laugh from you. “ok, ok, what’re you sorry for?”

You sigh and say,

“I’m sorry about the past, what’s it been…three, four…seven years? Of leaving you guys down here?”

Sans’ face darkens considerably, but he tries to stay chill.

“you couldn’t do anythin’ for us. what’re you really sorry for?”

“I could have called, I could have tried to…um…I don’t know- but seven years is kind of a while between visits, wouldn’t you say?”

“yup,” he says, eyelights dimming to darkness. You sigh.

“I’m sorry. Everyone else forgives me, and I just want you to know that I’m fine with you, well, not doing that. You’re the only one being fair.”

Sans thinks over that for a minute, then gets up and musses your hair to lighten the mood. A pang of nostalgia hits you when he does that, but you don’t mention it.

He’s starting to realize that you’re just as sorry for what you did as he was resentful of you, and it wasn’t fair to you.

“’s ok, kiddo,” he says, returning his eyelights to his sockets. “we’re skele-cool, huh?”

“You sure?” you ask, staring at the sheets. You wish he’d just STOP calling you a kid. Hell, you’re seventeen. It’s not even accurate, anyway.

“yeah. we’re all good,” he kind of feels BAD for you now, after you’ve been living with all this guilt. “what i’m gonna ask is, are YOU good? that was a pretty big fall you took the other day.”

“Oh, that- I don’t understand what’s happening to my leg, but somehow everything else feels better.”

 

“Alphys calls it ‘artificial blue magic’. it’s basically supposed to set the bone in your leg or somethin’, ‘cause you broke it pretty bad. ‘m just glad it doesn’t hurtcha.”

And he really is glad. Yeah, he doesn’t like humans much- but you’re an honest friend. Thinking about seeing you in pain again worries him almost as much as it worries him to think about Papyrus in pain. Thinking about Papyrus in pain just translates to ‘nightmares’ in Sans’ head, really. So it’s saying something when he thinks that seeing you hurt would *almost* hurt as much as seeing his brother hurt.

“Oh. Well, yeah, it doesn’t hurt or anything. Oh, hey, did you guys find my backpack? It was um, in the flowers, I couldn’t drag it all the way to the entrance of the Ruins.”

“no, we didn’t. what was in it?”

“Just food, I wanted you guys to try some new stuff- shit, it’ll be blown to smithereens. And I liked that backpack, too…”

“why can’t we go get it?” he asks, confused.

“Oh, my dad and his asshole corporate friends are about to try to bomb the Underground because they know monsters are in Ebott. That’s why I came down in the first place, to warn you guys. I was hoping just a phone call would work, but I couldn’t be sure.”

Sans’ bone-brows go up, and he blows out a long breath from between his teeth.

“well, shit.”

“Yeah. We have to get everyone out of here before-”

“you came down here knowing it’s about to be bombed?” he interrupts, incredulous. And maybe just a tad bit impressed.

“Well, yeah,” you shrug. “I care about you guys.”

“and you plan to get all of us outta the Underground before that happens, or else you’re gonna die with us?”

“Um- yes. But dying is worst case scenario.” That’s a lie, but you tell it anyway.

“ok. what’s your plan, buddo?”

Why is he being so nice to you? You don’t deserve it, you don’t deserve any of this… he gives you a one-armed hug, able to read your face immediately.

“’s ok if you don’t have one yet. who said dying was that bad an option?”

“You’re not going to die. I’m making sure of that much. Not you, not Papyrus, not Undyne, not Tori, nobody. I promise.”

“kinda a big promise to make, kiddo.”

“I know.” your fists ball up the sheets a little. If he calls you kid ONE more time… no. He doesn’t know- YOU need to let this go. “I know. But I’m going to stick to it. I don’t break promises.”

He looks at you, remembering the promise he made years ago, the one to Tori, before he knew who she was. Keep the human safe. That’s it. That’s his one responsibility, nothing else. It’d proved to be harder than it should’ve been, but hey, kid’s fine now, huh?

“alright. you say so. heh- somethin’ wrong? you look tense as hell.”

“Y- well- um, no.”

“love the confident response.”

“I just have a bunch of questions.” That’s true- though it’s not why you’re tense.

“ask whatever you want, and then i ask my questions.”

“Deal- first, has Flowey bothered you since I left?”

“nope. heard he hides in King Fluffybuns’ flower garden and talks to himself now. i tried to kill him, but, he has a way of slipping away…”

“Well, don’t kill him. Violence never got anyone anywhere- even if it kind of sounds like fun. Second, how the hell did you guys manage to call me? The first time?”

“Alphys put a whole system together, but when this big angry-sounding guy came on the phone, we hung up. once we’d signed off, we couldn’t try anymore. not like we wanted to, either.”

“Okay. Sorry about that, that was my dad. Speaking of Alphys, does she have ANY idea how to get us out of here?”

“nope.”

“Well, she has to have tried something.”

“oh, she has. dynamite,” at your confused look, he elaborates. “blowing up a new exit. tried jet-packing everyone out of the hole you fell through, more tampering with artificial human souls. she’s been busy, but, no luck.”

“And I’m guessing no new humans have fallen down?”

“well, even if they did, it’s illegal to kill ‘em, now.”

“Oh…”

If killing humans is illegal, how will any of them take your soul and get the hell out of here?! Papyrus and Tori WOULDN’T, Undyne would probably just capture you and turn you in, Alphys… can Alphys even fight? Muffet- no, you probably shouldn’t bet on Muffet. Mettaton, if he’s even still up and running, would probably just tease you about it. All that’s left is… you or Sans. SHIT.

Suddenly, the atmosphere in the room changes. You look so desolate- Sans gets worried.

“you ok, kid?”

“Don’t.”

“geez, someone isn’t being friendly.”

“I have a problem, and your unpredictable personality is standing between me and getting you guys out of here.”

“huh. so you DO have a plan, you just don’t like it.”

“You could say that.”

“you gonna tell me what this undesirable plan is?”

“Give me a few days. Maybe, three. I kinda wanna see everyone again before I try it.”

“you say so,” he shrugs. Though deep down, he’s curious. Curious, and maybe just a little wary.

“Okay, last question… how’s Papyrus?”

Sans’ face softens at that-

“great. after he became Captain of the Royal Guard, he’s been the happiest guy down here. even though the Royal Guard kinda disbanded. he’s gotten really good at watering flowers, though. and his spaghetti has gotten better. he’s… happy. really happy. and that’s enough for me.”

“Good. Alright, your questions.”

He tenses up again. His questions aren’t nearly as, er, pleasant to think about as yours. Whelp, no point in putting it off.

“what the hell happened to you?”

“What? What do you mean?” you ask, immediately going on the defensive.

“you’ve got a black eye that i KNOW wasn’t from the fall, huge hand-shaped bruises on you, and you’re skinnier than, well, Papyrus is. who did that to you?”

You feel yourself closing off, little by little. It happened sometimes on the surface when you got scared. You can’t move your body, you can barely speak-

“I… I just… um…”

“are you fighting someone?” he presses, this time gentler. He puts a hand on your arm, wishing you’d look at him. It’s harder to read someone when they’re staring at the floor.

“I. . .” you lock up entirely, and you have to shut your eyes to keep from tears spilling out of them.

You don’t want to talk about home. You don’t want to talk about your parents. You don’t want to talk about your bruises.

It’s not like Sans can’t tell you feel this way- but he wants to know who hurt you. It might take years to help you enough to get you back to a healthy state, and whoever was on the surface RUINED you.

“Why are you asking?” you say, finally able to combat his question with your own.

“because when we get to the surface, i wanna know who to dunk.”

“No-! I- I mean- no. There isn’t anyone. I just got in a fight with some kid. That’s all. Just some annoying kid.”

Sans looks you up and down, shakes his head in a “you’re serious?” manner, and steps backwards.

“. . .heh. you’re an awful liar. i’m gonna go now, ‘k? Paps is gonna wanna see you now that you’re up. be back in a couple hours.”

“Sans, wait.”

He turns around, hands in pockets, at the door. He’s half-hoping you’ll tell him what’s wrong. You don’t.

“Can you do me a favor?”

“sure, kid. what?”

You tense again at his calling you kid, visibly wincing. You press forward.

“Don’t care about me. It’s too late for everyone else, but, it’ll be easier on you if you don’t.”

He looks at your soul, carefully. What’s wrong to have you talking like this?

Kate Armani

HP: 13/15 S.L.HP: 5/5
AT: 10
DF: 10
Soul Color: Red (Determination)
Wishes:
*She wants to get everyone out of the Underground, safely.
*She wants people to stop calling her ‘kid’.
*She wants to die. She just wants everything to end.

He looks at YOU again, not at your soul. He looks carefully- you don’t break his gaze, either. He can see sadness. You’re hurt, on the inside as well as the outside.

And that hurts him more than he thought it could, wrenching his soul with emotions he’s never felt with his eyesockets open. Emotions he’s never felt outside of nightmares.

“hey, Kate-” you’re confused by the sudden nickname change, but you aren’t complaining. “i can’t afford not to care anymore.”

And then he’s gone.

Chapter Text

Everyone comes to visit you, at some point or another.

Undyne and Alphys come together- Alphys runs a few tests and things, then says you’re probably safe to be on your feet again, if you don’t exert yourself too much. Undyne groans at that news-

“I WANTED TO SPAAAAAR!” she shouts, pouting. Alphys laughs a little-
“You w-will be able to, eventually. Give it three d-days.”

‘If I have it my way, I’ll be dead in three days,’ you think. But you smile and laugh, promising her a fight at “some point.”

Sans, as promised, came back with Papyrus a few hours after he first saw you. Paps really is happy you’re okay- and he makes sure to fill you in on EVERY new thing that could have possibly happened in the Underground, as well as the heroic story of how he saved you from your perilous death. You made sure to give a VERY grateful thank you. It almost made you feel bad you’re about to toss it all away again.

You make sure you’re never completely alone with Sans. You don’t want to be drilled about the surface anymore, and you dread getting close to him, with what you’re about to do. Every time he tries to get you alone, you find some excuse to slip away. It makes him frustrated- you worry one of these days he’s going to snap.

Mettaton and Napstablook, Muffet and Monster Kid, Dogaressa and Dogamy, Grillby and the doggos, Bratty and Catty, Gerson, Temmie and, um, various other Temmies. Onion-San even wrote you a card. It’s like everyone wants to see you!

They mention things about a ‘soul link’, and ask what it feels like, but you don’t understand. You don’t care much, either. So you don’t ask.

One day flicks by.

The second is a blur.

On the third, you write an apology letter to Tori and Papyrus, stuffing it under your pillow.

And then you stay up very, very late, long after Toriel goes to sleep. Because you promised Sans if you couldn’t come up with any other plan by the third day, you would go with the ‘undesirable one’.

You put the knife in your pocket and sneak down to the basement.
~~~~~
Sans is asleep. Very asleep. In fact, a lot of monsters are very asleep, seeing as it’s roughly eleven o’clock at night. So when Papyrus wakes him up, saying that you’ve come for a visit, he’s tired as hell.

“mmh- bro, what do you mean the kid is here?”

“She’s waiting outside, Sans, she says she needs to see you,” he whispers.

“tell her to come back tomorrow!”

“YOU tell her, she’s here to see YOU. And she walked all this way, you can’t just send her home! Come on, lazybones, go see what she wants.”

“but-”

“No ‘but’s, brother!”

He lifts Sans out of bed, pulls him under one arm, and carries him down the stairs, before dropping him at the door. Grumbling, he opens it. Paps beams down at you-

“Hello again! He’s right here.”

“Thanks, Papyrus. Um- could I walk with him for a minute?”

“Of course- be back soon!”

“Sure!” you smile- Sans can immediately tell that it’s fake. Unfortunately, Papyrus can’t, and he nudges his brother out the door and shuts it behind him, leaving the shorter skeleton outside with you. Alone.

You turn, making sure Sans is following you, then walk down the front steps and into the snow. He follows, still indignant at being woken up so late. But when he sees the way you’re shaking, even though you have a coat- he gets the feeling this is a little more serious than he thought it was going to be.

“You coming?” you call, quietly.

“yeah, yeah… you gonna explain why i’m up at eleven?”

“When we get there.”

“where’s ‘there’?”

“Hotland.”

‘Hotland?!’ Sans thinks, inwardly groaning. ‘this kid’s makin’ me walk to HOTLAND with ‘em?’

“you have a plan?” he asks.

“Yes. It’s very easy, and everyone wins. Everyone’ll be out of the Underground in two days if you don’t mess up.”

“uh… ok? c’mon, can i just shortcut us there?”

You pause, turning around. Maybe he’d be less tired, you DO need him to do a lot. At least give him one favor. Yeah.

“Yeah, okay.”

A few directions and one shortcut later, you’re standing in the blistering heat of Hotland, sweating. He asks, not dropping your hand JUST yet-

“one minute you won’t be alone with me and the next you’re yanking me out of bed in the middle of the night. what’s the big idea?”

You pretend not to have heard him, and pull your hand out of his.

“Here’s the plan. I’m going to go stand over there. Then, you’re going to kill me. As fast as possible, preferably.”

Sans’ soul drops into his proverbial stomach, and he turns to you suddenly-

“wha-” he starts, but you cut him off.

“Don’t interrupt. You’re going to kill me, take my soul, and go home. Tomorrow, you’re going to go through the barrier, go to the surface, find six humans and take their souls, then break the barrier. Free everyone. Once it’s over, go to Alphys and have her extract the souls. I’ve seen her lab, she can do it. You’re going to go home, get life back to normal, and make sure Tori can lead the monsters. If she can’t, Papyrus will. He’s the best one for the job. Do you understand?”

“no wonder you’re so scared, kid-”

“DON’T CALL ME KID,” you spit the words out, not meeting his ‘eyes’.

Right. That was one of the things that bothered you, wasn’t it? It still shocks him that you’re talking to him with such contempt when you’re currently asking him to do the last thing he wants to do.

“why?” he asks, carefully.

“They call me ‘kid’ up THERE. And THEY don’t give a shit about me. Unfortunately, I think you DO give a shit about me, which I told you was a bad idea, because if you really care about getting everyone out of here, you need to kill me. So- don’t call me kid. I’m not a kid anymore, anyway.”

“Kate, then. you DO realize i won’t kill you, right?”

Part of you knew this would happen. That’s why you have the knife. If you kill yourself, he has no choice but to take your soul, he wouldn’t let it go to waste. Especially if you wreck yourself so hard he can’t save you. You’re scared, though, so you wait. Maybe there’s still hope of him changing his mind.

You sit down on the hot ground and dangle your legs off the edge of the cliffside, staring down into the lava. If you didn’t know burning to death was a slow and painful way to die, and Sans would never be able to get your soul anyway, you might just hop in.

Speak of the devil, Sans drops down next to you. He leans forward silently, searching your eyes for regret or tears. You don’t have either.

“Kill me,” you demand.

“nope.”

“Just do it.”

“not gonna happen.”

“Why not?”

“because i don’t want you dead.”

“What do you MEAN you don’t want me dead? Last time I was here, you said if you hadn’t made that promise to Tori, you’d have killed me without hesitation. Tori isn’t here. You can tell her I did it or something, and you just wanted to help, so you took my soul-”

“but i don’t want you dead, either. not just because Tori doesn’t, but because I don’t. we’ll find some other way out of here, but… seeing you like you were when you fell… i don’t want you to get hurt.”

“Humans are about to BOMB everyone you care about! Why do I matter at ALL, Sans?!” you argue, almost angry he’s doing this to you. Or rather, refusing to do this to you.

“because i care about you, too. and i want you out of here just as much as i want everyone else out of here.”

That stings. Well, it feels bittersweet, but you were banking on the fact that he didn’t care about you. No point in putting it off, now. You stand and walk a few yards back.

“what’re you doing?” he asks, looking back at you. He’s nervous. Maybe it’s the horrible way your shoulders are shaking, or the nervous shuffling in your pockets, but he seems to get an idea that you aren’t doing anything good.

“I- I have to do this, even if you won’t. I promised you a plan, and I still have it. Sorry.”

You pull out the knife from your pocket- his eyesockets widen. You slash it across your left wrist, and blood splatters the ground. Almost immediately, fat tears start to fall at the pain. It’s like someone is tearing your arm from the inside out. Someone screams, but you don’t know whether it’s you or Sans. It’s long and drawn out, and it won’t stop. You collapse to your knees with your knife raised to slash the other arm.

Sans yanks out a hand from his pocket and pulls you over to him with blue magic, terrified.

“KATE- no, no, no, NO-” he shouts, snatching the knife from your shaking hand and tossing it aside.

You watch it teeter on the edge of the lava and fall in with a hiss. Damnit. Your brain is already fogging up from the blood loss and pain- why did you do this to yourself, again?

Sans drops to your side, grabs your arm, and starts to heal you. Your weak attempts to resist are immediately stilled by the pain that shoots through your limbs if you try to move them. Your head is throbbing. Sans slides one hand carefully around the back of your neck to support your head, keeping the other focused on trying to heal you.

He can’t heal very well through the shock of the thing. It even surprises HIM that he’s so surprised. You kinda warned him and everything. But still, his healing is shaky and weak. It’s ten agonizing minutes before the flow of blood from your arm starts to thin out.

He quickly shrugs his sweatshirt off and wraps the wound in it to try to block the remaining blood flow. Once it’s semi-stable, you realize you’re starting to black out a little. You didn’t even slit both wrists and you’re already a total wreck. You did a good job, at least. If it’s any consolation.

“kid- Kate-” he corrects himself, shaking your shoulder. “c’mon, you gotta say something, stay with me.”

“I told you I wanted YOU to do it…” you pant- there’s a malice in your voice that puts him on the defensive.

“yeah, but that doesn’t mean you go and do this to yourself- hey…” he hesitates as your tears run faster.

“I’m s-sorry,” you whisper, tears catching in your throat and making you stutter.

He can’t help but soften a little- seeing you in pain shatters him. He gently uses a clean corner of his hoodie and lifts it up to dry your tears, then lets you lie down next to him, sobbing. Partly in pain, but mostly because you FAILED.

“hey…i gotcha, ok?” he says, rubbing your arm. You try to ignore how comforting it feels and stay on track of being angry with him. “we’re gonna bring you back to Tori. you’re gonna be ok. you don’t have to die for any of us.”

“I don’t want to go back to Tori… she’ll be mad…she’s gonna ask things…”

Sans sighs, knowing what he’s going to have to do even before letting himself agree to it. He can’t drag you back to Toriel against your will and risk more of your tears- you’re right. She’ll subject you to hours of motherly lecturing and questions, and he gets the idea that it won’t help your mental state at all.

“fine,” he sighs, “we’ll drop by ‘Dyne’s, she has bandages, and then you can crash at me and Paps’ place. but just for the night, ok, Tori’ll kill me- *oof*”

The breath is knocked out of him by the sudden tightness of your hug around his ribcage. He blushes a little, light blue dusting his cheekbones, then pats you on the back awkwardly. You’re still crying, but not as much.

He really wants you to be safe. And if that means hanging out with you for a night, well, if that’s what it takes. He just hopes you aren’t an early riser.

“lighten up, bud, this hug is BONE-crushing…heh…” he drifts off when you don’t laugh. On the bright side, though, you do stop crying. “c’mon, let’s go, huh? or do ya need a minute?”

You shake your head ‘no’, trying to ignore your light-headedness and the pounding pain in your whole body.

“We can go… where are we going?”

The blood loss is starting to wring out your brain… the edge of your vision is dark and fuzzy.

“uh, Undyne’s? like i said?”

He wraps his arms around you more securely, but your face goes white at the slightest movement. You really can’t move, can you?

“hey, ki- uh, Kate? you don’t look too hot… i’m gonna shortcut, ok? so you don’t hafta move too much.”

“I’m f-fine…”

“you’re gonna black out.”

“No…”

But you do, slumping limp in his arms. Sans makes sure you’re still breathing before anything else. The sight of you in this restless sleep, covered in bandages, the slit in your wrist bleeding you dry… he looks away. He shuffles and shifts until he can pick you up, then with a quiet *pop*, you’re out of Hotland.

Chapter Text

“SANS, WHAT DID YOU DO?!” Undyne shouts, when she sees the state you’re in.

Sans grins (though it’s more of a grimace) and shrugs.

“nothin’. as usual.”

“Then how did she- woah, what happened to her arm?!”

“long story, ‘Dyne. you have bandages, right?”

“Uh- yeah. Come in, but you have to tell me!”

“i will, just gimme a minute to make some calls.”

“Ngh- fine.”

He calls Papyrus first to make sure he’s alright, and lets him have a vague idea of what happened to you. Once that’s settled, he leaves Tori a voicemail letting her know what happened (she doesn’t answer because she’s asleep), and that you’re going to stay at his place for a few days until you’re fine with going back to her.

Undyne is making tea aggressively behind him, but Sans can feel her eyes on his back, waiting impatiently for the story of how you got like this. Finally, he finishes his calls and drops down by you on the shag carpet, sighing.

“i didn’t give either of them the full story, but i kinda get the feeling you won’t help me if i don’t tell you everythin’, so. you start patching her up, and i’ll talk.”

“Okay- you better tell me everything, punk,” she threatens, grabbing the first aid kit out of her room.

As she starts to bandage you up, he tries to gloss over the sticky details of the story.

“she came over to our place really late, and then she said she needed to walk with me all the way to Hotland- we took a shortcut. when we got there she said that i needed to KILL her. you know, take her soul and go out, break the barrier. but i told her i wouldn’t do it, and she got really shaky and pulled out the knife, and started trying to kill herself.”

“Oh, geez.”

“yeah.”

“Well, what are you gonna do? If you don’t bring her back to Tori, she’s going to come to your house, kick the door down, and murder you! Like, if you think you’ve seen ME mad, it’s nothing to when SHE’S mad.”

Well, that makes Sans a little nervous. He’d said you could come stay with him, but would he be able to survive that? No, he can’t go back on this. It was kind of an unofficial promise.

Though, he is tired. It’s one in the morning, and you’re kind of draining his energy. It’s not your fault- well, it kind of is, but you were just trying to help…

“i’m gonna do exactly what i told her i was gonna do. you’re gonna patch her up, and then we’re going to crash at my place, and if Tori’s mad at me, she can be mad at me tomorrow.”

“Good luck,” Undyne scoffs, expertly tightening your bandages. “If you die, I’ll handle Paps, remember?”

“pfft- i know.”

Part of it is a joke, but they’d also made a pact a while ago that if anything ever really DID happen to Sans, Undyne would watch Papyrus. He doesn’t do well without someone to talk to, even if he can handle himself. And besides, how could he go to bed without a bedtime story?

Sans doesn’t like thinking about what would happen if he left his brother alone, though, so instead he turns his attention to you. You’re going to need your bandages changed soon, but for now you seem- almost- peaceful.

“lucky her soul linked, huh…” he says, absently.

Undyne wolf-whistles and slugs him in the arm. He winces, but his HP doesn’t drop.

“Oh, sorry- it’s just like, she linked! Just like that! You KNOW that’s rare- c’moooon, you gotta like her a little.”

Sans thinks back to what Toriel told him about your soul linking with his. Your HP relies on his. Five of your points went into his body to keep them safe and alive. The rest of your soul could have hell happen to it, but as long as Sans didn’t go murdering himself, you couldn’t die. Because a little part of you was in him, and it’s keeping you alive now.

Funny thing is, though, links only typically occur between monsters that care about each other deeply, and trust one another. Most of the time they only happen between couples, or parents and their children, and even then they aren’t very common.

It takes an unimaginable amount of love and trust to just, *blip*, especially after seven years of not talking to one another at all. Sans had actually been getting a lot of questions about his relationship with you lately- but he was just as confused as they were.

“look, just because she was dying and i was there doesn’t mean-”

“What’s it feel like?!”

“uh. warm? i’m always warm now, but not like, Hotland warm- more like doggo warm, y’know? and it feels really protective, too. like i’m a shield or something.”

“Cool! But like, you like her, right? You HAVE to!”

“i dunno. kinda, but not romantically. kinda like when i hang out with Tori- like she’s a friend i’ve had for a really long time.”

“Aw, man, friend-zone!”

“look, can we stop talkin’ about this? it’s makin’ me pun-comfortable.”

“Don’t.”

“aw, you don’t like my skele-ton of skele-puns?” Sans inwardly sighs in relief. Finally, back in his element.

“AUGH, SANS!”

“don’t skull-k, ‘Dyne, it makes you look fishy.”

“I will literally stab you.”

“man-”

“Don’t you dare, punk. Take the kid and go home, god!”

“she doesn’t like it when we call her ‘kid’ anymore.”

“Well, why not?!”

“says there were some jerks on the surface who called her that and she doesn’t like thinkin’ about it or somethin’.”

“Oh. Okay. Now get out of my house, pun-master. Here, take some of this stuff, too, if you need it.”

She dumps the first aid kit in Sans’ arms, musses your hair a little, and says goodbye. He picks you up carefully, then shortcuts back into the living room of his house.

If you were awake, you’d probably find it funny that basically nothing has changed in the little cabin. Same patterned carpet, same sock with same sticky notes, same picture of a bone, same fridge with same spaghetti containers. What’s new is you.

Praying his brother is asleep, he starts to carry you up the stairs. Unfortunately, the top stair creaks, and Papyrus comes out of his room, wide-awake.

“Brother! You’re home! Oh- the human… oh dear. We need to get them somewhere comfortable immediately! They can have my room,” he opens the door invitingly, but Sans shakes his head.

“Paps, really, they can crash with me.”

“But your room is so dirty, they won’t like it… nyaww…”

He drifts off when you shift in Sans arms- you moved closer to his reassuring warmth. Sans looks down at you and feels comfort crash over him. Just looking at your face… it feels larger than life. Papyrus crosses his arms and huffs a little.

“Well, if the human wants to stay with you, they can. But if they start complaining about all of your dirty socks, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Does she need any food? Do you? We have leftover spaghetti in the fridge.”

“nah, i think they’re good, bro. i think we just need some sleep. i’m BONE-tired.”

“Sans, you plague my life with your jokes.”

“well, i find ‘em humerus, but i’m sorry they don’t tickle your funny bone.”

“Sans!! Oh- sorry, human, I shouldn’t shout while you’re asleep. Go to sleep, both of you, and we can talk more tomorrow. Won’t Queen Toriel be mad about this?”

“well, yeah…”

“You’re risking having our house burned down, Sans.”

“yeah, i know. i won’t let her do anythin’ too bad.”

“If you insist, brother. Goodnight, Sans. Goodnight, human- oh, her arm…”

He looks at it carefully, lifting it just gently enough to get a good idea of how bad the damage is.

“You said she did that to herself?” he asks, incredulous.

“uh…yeah,” Sans says reluctantly.
“Why?”

“she- i- well- can i explain tomorrow? i’m tired, bro.”

“Oh. Well, if you insist, lazybones. Go on, then. Goodnight.”

He shuts the door in just the right way so it doesn’t squeak, and goes to bed.

Sans lets out a sigh. His brother isn’t TOO worried, you’re safe, and he can finally go to bed.

When he walks into his room, though, he doesn’t know where you would want to go. The mattress, probably, but he wants to fall asleep somewhere comfortable, too. No way he’s sleeping WITH you, that would only make the rumors worse. And the fire isn’t going, so he can’t sleep in there…

It’d probably scare you half out of your wits to see him sleeping in a fire, anyway. But it’s warm, and with no skin to burn or hair to singe, it’s just a thing he does every now and then. Only downside is it takes ages to scrub all the soot off of his bones- especially the joints.

He eases you onto his mattress carefully and untangles enough of his ball of sheets throw a few over you. They’re kind of gross, to be honest, but it’s all he’s got. And you seem to like them fine.

Even unconscious, you like the way they smell. Just like him- a mix of Grillby’s and ketchup and the slightest hint of fabric softener. The tiniest wisp of a smile graces your face as you curl into them… and it triggers one on his, too.

“heh,” he chuckles quietly. “tired, huh, Kate?”

You don’t respond, of course. He looks around his room, eyelights eventually landing on the old exercise machine up against the wall. Tossing a few blankets over it, he lays down.

He’ll be sore in the morning, sure, but that’s tomorrow’s problem. For now it’s somewhere to sleep other than the floor, and that’s enough.

Just before he drifts off, though, he starts talking. Quietly, certainly not enough to wake you, but the words kind of come out before he has time to think about them.

“Kate…i know you’re not awake or anythin’, but…don’t get hurt again, ok? we can work out the rest in the morning…just- please be ok. don’t die or anythin’, please don’t.”

He blushes slightly in the darkness, a blue glow coming up into his face, and then pulls a blanket over his head before crashing.
~~~~~
By no means is the night a peaceful one. Around four in the morning, Sans’ nightmares start. And then they last hours.

Slowly, at first. Glimpses of images from the other fallen children’s timelines, good and bad. Gaster’s face as he locked Sans to that table, preparing for his experiments. Wisps of the past few days, too- your broken body on the ground, the pallor on your face as you were dying. His own hand stretched out to run his fingers over your lips, praying for something, anything to happen. Your knife raised high as you cut yourself, tears spilling down your cheeks and catching in your hair.

Something ugly, something cast a shadow over you while you collapsed. But when you were recovering, shaking in his arms… that was you. Your tears, your love, your pain.

Your pain… your pain… he can hardly imagine the amount of times you must have reset when going through the Underground that first time. The amount of times you died. At the hands of common monsters, yes, but also at the hands of his closest friends. Toriel, who he can hardly imagine hurting a child, sometimes ended up with blood on her paws. Papyrus.

He’s seen his brother kill you, even without meaning to, a million times. Meaning to capture you and accidentally murdering his newest friend. And still, you never fought back. Not once. You kept holding your arms out for mercy, while attacks flew from every side.

The same way Papyrus always asked mercy of the children from the genocide routes… the ones that cut into his neck with knives or hit him with sticks… the ones that left him dead or turning to dust, while Sans watched from the woods. The ones that did it over and over, coming back just to watch his dust spread across the snow-

“Papyrus-!” Sans shouts, sitting up with his soul pounding against his ribcage. Oh… Just another nightmare.

Sunlight is filtering in through the old window, lighting up dust motes on the air. For a minute, he looks around the room, wondering why his perspective is so different. He sees you and jumps, before remembering why you’re in his bed and calming down. When he sees the bandage on your arm, starting to crust with blood, he winces a little… and THAT was why he had the nightmares in the first place.

‘welp, better wake her up to change it out before it gets infected or somethin’. man, fleshy types are high-maintenance,’ he thinks, rubbing the sleep out of his eyesockets. ‘wonder what time it is…’

He stands up, popping his back and crouching near the first aid kit he’d dumped unceremoniously on the floor the previous night.

“bandages, bandages…aha. there we go,” he grabs the things he needs and turns to you… right. Waking you up.
~~~~~
You wake up to Sans hand gently shaking your shoulder. Where ARE you? Why are you on the floor… why is he here?

You squint up at him in confusion…suddenly, last night’s memories start flooding back. Your plan to kill yourself gone horribly wrong. You’d slashed one of your wrists clean open and nearly died; you probably would have if Sans hadn’t been there. Regret and frustration wash over you simultaneously.

“Sans…where am I?” you ask, sitting up slightly and looking around. The tiny movement, however, sends the room spinning a million miles an hour. You groan and sink back into the blankets.

“take it easy, you’ve had a rough night.”

“Heh… you think? My arm hurts…”

“yeah, i’m gonna change out your bandages, ok? this might sting a little. tell me if it gets too bad.”

“Uh- could we wait until everything stops… you know, spinning?”

“oh. geez- you prob’ly need water or something. and we’ll have to change your clothes out, too, they’re wrecked.”

“Mmm…okay…you can fix my arm now.”

He gently peels them off, layer by layer. The closer he gets to your mutilated skin, the more nervous he gets. This is not a field he’s at all professional in, not to mention blood never brought up great memories with him. When the last of the bandage comes off, he can barely stand to look at your wrist.

The clean edge of the knife went a lot deeper than he expected you were capable of. Gently supporting your hand in one of his, he gets one of the cleaning pads from the first aid kit and mops up most of the blood.

Luckily- most of it is dry, so it comes off pretty cleanly, and the bleeding has stopped. Unluckily- the stinging feeling of the rag so close to the cut makes your eyes fill up with tears. Dang, whatever is in this thing is strong.

Gritting your teeth and grabbing the sheets, you let him finish up as best he can with a new cloth wrapped around your arm.

“you ok?” he asks, relaxing a little once it’s all wrapped up in the clean cotton. It looks a lot more manageable now.

You blink back the tears and try to swipe at one with your shoulder. It certainly doesn’t feel much better.

“Yeah. Stings a lot. Geez, haven’t felt this bad since…” no, you aren’t going to think about the surface.

Sans cocks his head slightly, curious.

“since when?”

“A while back.”

“what happened?”

“Just, you know. My eye,” you offer, hoping he’ll take it at that and move on. He doesn’t.

“speaking of, how’d you get it?”

“I- well.” He DID just save you from dying. He probably deserves at least a little of the truth, even if you don’t give him all of the details. “Just. You know. When my dad got the phone call from you guys, he got mad. Said I was a ‘traitor to humanity’ or whatever…”

After that, you don’t feel like elaborating. You stare at the sheets and only look up when you feel his hand tracing the outline of the black mark on your face. It hurts when he gets too close, but otherwise it feels so comforting…

“your dad did that to you…?” he breathes, barely loud enough to hear, snapping you out of it. You tilt your head a fraction of an inch so his hand doesn’t touch your face anymore. He takes the hint and draws back.

“Heh. He isn’t exactly the type to solve problems with civil conversation. It’s fine, it doesn’t happen that often, anyway.”

“wait, he’s done this to you more than once?”

“I- heh. Can we not talk about this?”

“were all those scratches on your back him, too?”

“H-how do you know about those?” you ask, trying not to go full shut-down mode.

“well, when you fell down, we had to bandage you up somehow… Tori did it, she just told me.”

“Oh. Well. Yeah, that was him.”

‘No wonder she wanted to die so bad,’ Sans thinks. ‘Her dad’s insane.’

“are… are you ok?” he asks, not even bothering to hide the concern in his voice anymore.

“I’m fine. It’s fine, really. Just. I don’t know what’ll happen when I go back.”

“you’re going back?”

“Well, eventually I’ll have to, right? Once we get everyone out of here, it’s not like I can stay with you, right?”

“why not?”

Now THAT is a good question. Why not?

“Who would I even stay with?” you ask. You find yourself half-hoping he’ll say ‘me’, but, he doesn’t.

“us. Tori, probably…”
‘ME,’ he thinks, but he wouldn’t dare say it out loud.

“I guess… but my dad would literally murder me.”

From what he’s seen, Sans doesn’t doubt that for a second.

“i’d kill him first. he’s not gonna hurt you anymore. that’s a promise.”

You nod slowly, and very carefully attempt to sit up. The world spins like a top, so you lean forward into him for something to hold onto. He supports you in a hug until you can speak.

“Th-thank you…I’m sorry I tried to do- uh- what I did.”

“me, too. and don’t try anything like that again, ok? i can respect you’re trying to play hero and get all of our asses out of here, but we don’t wanna leave withoutcha.”

“You really mean that, huh?”

“after all that, i’d hope you aren’t questioning it.”

“Fair enough… thank you again.”

“thank me after we find you a change of clothes, Kay-Kay- i wonder if i have anything…”

He drifts off, face turned curiously towards his closet, but you seem to be the only one who caught the peculiar nickname.

“Kay-Kay?”

“oh- it’s more fun to say than Kate, and you don’t want me to call ya ‘kid’, so i came up with that. you like it?”

You feel your face heat up a little, but you’re smiling. Wide. It makes him turn to look at you all the way- he didn’t really recognize it before, but your smile makes him smile. It makes him feel like he’s worth something.

And when you see his, you feel like yours was worth it.

“I love it. It’s perfect. Thanks.”

“perfect- little bit of an exaggeration, there.”

“Nope. It’s perfect. Now what were you saying about not-ruined clothes?”

Chapter Text

A few hours later, you’re sitting at their kitchen table in basketball shorts, a hoodie, and a t-shirt, enjoying some oatmeal. The fun kind with the dinosaur eggs that turn into little dinosaurs- Papyrus loves the stuff, himself.

And yeah, maybe you feel just a little awkward at being in Sans’ clothes, and maybe he feels that awkwardness a lot more acutely than you do, but nobody mentions it.

“so, Kay-Kay, I wasAUGH-” he falls backwards out of his chair in surprise as someone in a purple dress kicks the door down.

 

Ah, Toriel has finally come to pick you up.

 

You pull your hoodie sleeve over the cut on your arm.

“SANS! KATE!” she shouts, a lot more angry than you pictured she could be.

You’re torn between helping Sans up off the floor and reasoning with her- finally, when you realize his foot is stuck in-between two of the chair legs, you sigh and stand up to help him.

“heh, thanks, K. Tori-”

“DO NOT TORI ME!” she snaps.

“Toriel, then. you don’t really get what happened-”

“I know very well what happened! Kate snuck off in the middle of the night, and when I woke up, she was gone. You did not even leave a note,” she says, turning to you. “And now I go searching through the Ruins, hoping nothing bad happened to you, and I find you here of all places! What happened?!”

You feel yourself closing off again. You can’t move, can’t speak, can barely blink. And that expectant expression on her face isn’t helping much, either.

“I- uh… I-I mean…” you stutter, trying not to panic.

“Yes.” she says, sternly, crossing her arms.

“I…”

“Tor, calm down, can’t you see she’s freakin’ out?” Sans says. You’re grateful for the defense, though you can’t thank him. “look, i’ll talk this out with you if you want, ok? ’s my fault, anyway, i shoulda taken her back to ya, so don’t chew her out. she’s had a rough night.”

“I’m sure she has. But I’m going to need an explanation right now.”

Papyrus walks in the front door cheerily, just back from his morning walk. Bad timing.

“BROTHER, I AM HOM- oh,” he stops, surveying the scene. “Well, Sans, you got yourself into this, you can get out of it. May I take Kate on a walk?”

Sans says ‘yes’ and Toriel says ‘no’ simultaneously. You still can’t speak.

“Ah. Um. I’m going to take that as a no. Have a fun talking-to, Sans! Kate, I’ll make spaghetti for lunch. Goodbye!”

He hurries out. If you weren’t stuck at the moment, you might find the awkwardness hilarious. Unfortunately, you are.

Sans starts.

“Kate came in the middle of the night because she wanted to test a theory about how to get us out of the Underground- and she needed my help. she didn’t think you’d let her out of the house on her leg, so she snuck out. by the time she got here, she was frozen, and she fell and cut her arm. no offense, Kay, but you were a wreck,” he adds, shooting a glance at you. You would laugh if you didn’t know it would give his lie away. “we were just talking out her plan when you walked in.”

“I see. My child, I would have brought you over here myself if you had just asked. It is very lucky Sans is so kind to you- what if you had gotten sick? And Sans, you should have called me.”

“tried to, you’ll have the missed call on your phone.”

She huffs, then sighs. It’s like all of the anger is swept out of her body and left room for nothing but that motherly mix of worry and relief.

“I am sorry for shouting. It was rash of me. Please let me see the wound on your arm, Kate.”

Nervous, you obediently stretch out your arm (palm down) so she can see the cotton bandage. She nods appreciatively.

“Does it hurt?”

“N-not… not as much,” you force out. Once you start talking, words pass more easily. “Sans healed most of it for me, and fixed up the rest… I think? Um, I don’t remember a lot…” you drift off, realizing at least THAT is true.

You don’t remember anything after you passed out, which makes sense, but it still feels a little alarming. More than a little alarming, actually. You close off again, staring at the dinosaurs left in your oatmeal dregs.

“I see. Well, let’s get you home-”

Sans doesn’t say anything, but he feels disappointed that you have to go so fast.
You feel the same way, but… it’s not like you should intrude. You keep quiet.

“ok…you good with that, Kay-Kay?”

“Kay-Kay?” Toriel asks.

“nickname.” Sans explains, turning back to you. “Kate? that cool with you?”

“Um… uh, sure, sure, that’s fine,” you stutter.

“ok. don’t, you know, FALL again,” he warns. You get the idea. “do you want your stuff from upstairs, or do you want me to trash it? it’s ripped up pretty bad.”

“You can have it,” you mumble, voice barely above a whisper.

“um, ok. call Paps or me if you need anything, i guess.” He scratches the back of his neck-bones, unsure.

Didn’t you want to stay just last night? Maybe you were a bit out of your senses, you did lose an awful lot of blood…why does he care, anyway? You were just the kid, he shouldn’t get so clingy.

With the new mindset, Sans slackens his weak mental grip on you.

“imma go do a lot of nothin’, then. see ya.”

With a snap of his fingers, he shortcuts into his room and vanishes from view. You reluctantly give Tori your hand…what was that?
~~~~~
You sit on your bed at Tori’s house, relishing the smell of Sans’ clothes hanging on your skinny frame. ’S not like you like him or anything, but you can’t deny you love the smell. You fall back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. Annoyed.

You can’t stop thinking about him! It's annoying as hell. The way he talks, the way he traced your black eye with his hand, the way he knows just what to do in every situation, no matter what. He cares. And he listens. Which is more than you’ve ever had.

‘It’s not like Toriel doesn’t listen,’ you argue in your head. ‘She listens. And she asks questions. She can tell puns, too… she cares.’

‘But it isn’t the same,’ you fire back- er- at yourself. ‘You know it isn’t. She’s like a mom, having a friend isn’t the same as having a mom.’

You’re talking to yourself now, you realize. You let out a long whine of frustration, slipping over on the bed until your face is stuffed in a pillow.

Sans has no right to make you feel this way. It isn’t fair. But what is this, anyway…

And finally, FINALLY, the realization dawns on you.

‘You have a cruuuuush~’ you can hear the voice in your head saying, sing-song, ‘You have a crush on a monster~!’

“Noooooo…” you growl. That cannot be right. You wanted him to murder you last night, you can’t possibly. No. Crush is an exaggeration, surely. More like peaked interest or something. No way.

“Just focus- on getting everyone out of the Underground… or go to Waterfall… Waterfall has flowers…” you drift off, and you find your feet carrying you to the basement.
~~~~~
Sans is lying on his mattress, staring at your bloodied clothes across the room. He doesn’t want to touch them, because of the blood, but he doesn’t want to move them because they’re YOURS. And having something of yours in his room feels… nice.

Which is probably creepy.

Definitely creepy.

But, still, he feels it. Like you’re here, but, not. Thing is, the longer they sit there the more he can smell the mix of blood and, well, you. You smell like salty things and buttercups and lavender moisturizer.

He shuffles over and plops down next to the clothes, trying to find the least bloody part, and breathes in. It’s so much stronger this close. Like you’re really here. He softens at it, half-expecting you to make an appearance any second.

‘creep, what the heck are you doing,’ his brain screams, ‘it’s not like she’s dead, you could just go see her, you don’t have to stalk her stuff.’

Just the thought, though, makes his whole mood darken. You. Dead. You came so close to it last night, so, so close. If he hadn’t been there, if you’d just bled out in Hotland… he can barely think about it. The way you screamed, your tears. It’s going to be engraved into him for as long as he lives.

He doesn’t want that for you. He just wants you to be safe. It’s not much, no, but it has to count for something. You matter to him, but he only realized just how much you matter last night. When you were almost ripped from his life.

He leans against the wall, lets his mind fall silent so he can listen to the thrum of his magic and the little hiccup of yours. The tiny sliver of your soul hiding in his ribcage, linked with him. It always runs one beat faster than his, like you always run one step ahead of him. He shouldn’t know this. He shouldn’t have a part of your soul concealed behind his own… but he does. He has a soul link with you, and, if he’s being honest with himself, he kind of likes it.

The feeling that you need him. That you’d be dead without him. It makes him feel like he’s worth something.

He wishes you’d stayed.

Chapter Text

You met Toriel on the way out and told her you were heading to Waterfall. Which was definitely what you were planning to do- at least now she won’t flip out.

You walk through Snowdin, shuffling through the snow and trees. You half-hope Sans will be at one of his sentry stations, but he’s not.

‘Stop WANTING to see him, it’ll only make this worse,’ you think.

Still, maybe you walk by his house a little slower than usual. (Nothing happens.)

Finally, you get to the huge stone marking the transition from Snowdin to Waterfall, and you let out a little sigh. Relief and disappointment at not seeing Sans, all balled up into one. On through the blue water, past the garbage dump… when you finally get to Undyne’s house, you pause and grin.

Out front, Papyrus has Undyne’s soul turned blue, Undyne has Papyrus’ turned green, and they’re sparring.

Undyne is having trouble jumping and ducking over and under bones with the gravity feeling 1000x stronger, which she isn’t used to, but she’s still chucking spears. Papyrus isn’t used to having to stand still and block attacks, rather than dodging them, but he’s doing a great job so far.

They’re so focused, they don’t even notice you stop to stare- not that you’d interrupt, for fear you mess up one of their attacks and get someone hurt. Maybe there’s a protocol for this you don’t know?

You continue walking- that is, until Papyrus leans around Undyne and notices you.

“HUMAN! Wait up- Undyne, hold on- come back!”

You backtrack, and Undyne gives you that huge smile with the- what- HUNDRED sharp teeth? You smile back, though more timidly. Papyrus smiles, too.

“Hello, Kate! So, I left before I could hear, but have you decided to stay with us for a few more days?”

“Well-” you start, but Undyne cuts in.

“Of course she has, Sans promised he’d keep her around until she felt better!” she shouts confidently. “I mean, look at her, she’s wearing his freakin’ clothes! Fu hu hu hu!”

“What?” you say, surprised.

It’s probably just your spotty memory, but you don’t remember Sans ever making YOU a promise… you squint at the ground, trying desperately to remember.

“Yeah! He told me when you came over. Oh, right, you were knocked out…”

“Um, yeah… I came over to your house?”

“YUP! And I got to use my first aid kit! Normally I just shake stuff off, but you really messed yourself up, punk!”

“Oh. Um. Yeah. Do you remember anything, Papyrus?”

He nods.

“You were very hurt. If it wasn’t for Sans’ healing skills, you would probably still be knocked out right now. It is one of the few things I've seen him put effort into, actually.”

“Okay…I…I’m gonna keep going now, I need to think about a few things…” you drift off, but Papyrus looks concerned.

“I want you to be honest with me, please?”

“Yes?”

He kneels down next to you and talks in a low voice,

“Are you going to try to hurt yourself again?”

“No,” you say, truthfully. “I made a promise that I wouldn’t. I mean, if it wasn’t for that, I don’t know, but I don’t go back on promises.”

“Alright,” he says, standing. “Never forget! You matter- and if you ever think otherwise, do what I would do! Believe in you!”

“Heh-heh; thanks, Paps. You know, this is why you’re the greatest.”

“I know! Now go on your walk- Undyne, twice the spears, please!”

As you walk away, they continue sparring. Your smile fades with every step you take away from them.

You know you should be thinking about the bomb. About planning something to try to get everyone out of here. But instead you wind up sitting in front of an echo flower, whispering.

“What do I do…” you whisper, digging the heels of your hands into your eyes.

“What do I do…” it echoes.

“I wish he would have just let me die… they would’ve gotten out of the Underground, I wouldn’t have to worry about feelings, I wouldn’t be…god, I wouldn’t be wearing his CLOTHES…”

It echoes it back, over and over, and the longer you listen to it, the more you try to hear it like he would hear it.

“I wish he would have just let me die…” he’d be broken…
“I wish he would have just let me die…” he’d never let that happen to you!
“I wish he would have just let me die…” he needs you just as much as you need him-

‘You wish,’ your brain scoffs. ‘You wish he cared about anything, much less you.’

With an angry sigh, (copied by the flower) you mutter,

“I can’t have a crush on a monster that I wanted to kill me,” you say, trying to keep your voice from breaking. “It’s stupid, and I’m stupid, and when I get back to the surface my dad is going to kill me.”

The flower picks it up, but the quiet muttering behind you is covered up by your own.

“And he’s going to hit me until I black out… and monsters won’t know. And they won’t…care…or be able t-to do anything about it…”

You pull your knees in towards your chest and put your chin on them, holding back tears.

“And I’ll go back to being the retarded one who fell down a mountain twice.”

With that, you stand and head home, angry thoughts swirling around in your head. You’re hopeless. Everything is hopeless. Might as well face it, right?
~~~~~
Sans wonders where Papyrus is. Probably either on rounds or sparring with Undyne. And what are you doing right now?

‘Probably at home, working on how to get us outta here,’ he thinks. ‘Wonder if Tori’d let me go see her, even though it’s probably time for dinner, anyway.”

Speak of the devil, Toriel’s number flashes on his phone screen as it rings.

“‘sup, Tor?”

“Hello Sans! Is Kate with you?”

“um. no? should she be?”

“Hmm. Well, I suspected she might be, but apparently I am wrong.”

“where did she say she was goin’?” he asks, already nervous.

“Waterfall. Oh, would you go check on her for me? I would not like a repeat of last night.”

‘Me neither,’ he thinks, kicking his slippers on over his socks, soul pounding a million miles an hour.

“she won’t pick up her phone?”

“She left it here.”

“great. i’ll call ya back when i find her, ‘k?”

“Okay. Goodbye!”

“bye.”

He walks out the front door, and-

Straight into you.
~~~~~
“Sans!” you shout, stumbling backwards.

“heh, sorry. uh- didn’t see ya.”

“Yeah, got that,” you laugh dryly, “What has you WALKING? I thought you had a whole lot of nothing to do.”

“right. that. well, there was some time in my schedule, and thought i’d go see you. funny thing is, you made it easier than i thought it’d be.”

“You were going to see ME?” you ask, surprised.

“yup,” he says, internal screaming going up a few notches. “i know Paps didn’t end up getting you that spaghetti, but I was wondering if you wanted to head to Grillby’s with me.”

“Sure!” you smile, though inside you’re panicking.

“cool. shortcut?” Sans asks.

“Cool.”

You hold out your hand, which he takes in his, and one shortcut later, you’re standing outside Grillby’s. He drops your hand and heads in, holding the door open for you. You laugh- the tension eases.

“so, whaddya want?” he asks, as he drops into a bar stool.

You hesitate before sitting at yours- checking it for whoopee cushions.

“what? you think some weirdo is gonna put somethin’ on your seat? c’mon, we’re more mature than that,” he snickers.

“Pfft, I’M not,” you laugh. “Not down here, anyway. On the surface, maybe, but never down here.”

“why’s that?”

“Everyone down here…they just make me feel like a kid again. No problems, y’know?”

“yeah. oh, and sorry about gettin’ Tori mad at you earlier.”

“It’s okay. She’s all good now, I think. You know, weird thing, I don’t remember squat from last night? Probably because I was unconscious. But Papyrus and Undyne told me that you’d promised I could stay with you guys for a while…why didn’t you say anything?”

“oh. heh. well, you said you were fine with goin’, and i didn’t wanna cling.”

“Oh. I mean, I would’ve- I mean- never mind, it’s okay. I was just wondering.”

‘did she…want to stay with me?’ he wonders, watching you smile that little smile you use when you don’t know what to say.

“ok. you say so. ooh, ketchup-” he picks up a bottle and chugs some of it, making you laugh.

“You still do that?”

“yeah. good stuff, you know.”

“It’s- funny? Weird? Gross? Awesome? I don’t know!” you crack up, your laugh ringing through the little bar.

Sans has to look away to keep his soul from melting when he hears it- he takes another swig from the little bottle and grins.

“what? you humans like to eat birds, i can’t be that weird.”

“I guess- but have you TRIED chicken? Best stuff ever. Or granola bars… or Snickers…”

The thought of surface food makes your mouth water. There’s plenty of food down here, but unless you figure something out really fast, monsters won’t get a chance to try Snickers. In fact-

“what’s ‘snickers’?”

“Only the best candy bar ever. When I get everyone to the surface, you have to try it.”

“cool. speaking of… you got a plan?”

“Um- no,” you admit, sighing. “I don’t know what I’m going to do, to be honest. If I don’t…well, die… then I don’t have a plan. All I can think of are things that would never work.”

“like?”

“A huge spiral staircase up the hole I fell down, for one. Shooting some message up to the surface to ask that a bunch of humans pass the barrier so we can get their souls…hopefully my dad comes… stuff like that.”

“Alph would prob’ly wanna try the staircase, but i’d say we should probably take some STEPS to make sure it’s safe.”

“Sans!” you exclaim, laughing.

“what? safety first, right? or else it’ll only be good for STAIRing at.”

“That was a stretch, and you know it.”

“maybe, but i thought it was still pretty punny.”

You dramatically shake your head, but you can’t help but laugh. Suddenly, his phone lights up.

“oh, i gotta take this, hold on.”

Sans turns away, and you listen carefully to try to pick up his half of the conversation-

“yeah, i found her… she’s fine, Tor, calm down, we’re just at Grillby’s. she’s FINE. ok. bye.”

He turns back to you, letting a long breath out from between his teeth.

“sorry. she was looking for you earlier.”

“Oh- oops. I said I’d be home an hour ago. I should go…”

“oh, um, ok,” he says, for lack of anything better to say.

“Do you want me to stay?”

And maybe a tiny sliver wants him to say yes, wants him to beg you to stay, but he doesn’t.

“nah, if you’re late for somethin’, i’m not gonna hold you up. i’m already in hot water with Tori, i don’t need something else.”

“If you say so- uh- bye,” you half-hug him, a little awkwardly.

He feels awkward, too, but he lingers slightly over your hair- it’s so soft, and it smells like buttercups- before releasing.
“bye.”
~~~~~
The little bell chimes as you leave, and Sans lets out a long breath.

“that went well…”

Grillby comes by-

“What did you do?”

“nothin’, i think. i don’t know what i was doin’! tried to keep track of things and i… i dunno…”

“Alright, let me help. So, you like her?”

“i dunno, you know? i have no idea what i feel anymore.”

“Thought so… alright. You can’t keep track of anything around her?”

“nope.”

“When she laughs it kinda feels like you’re melting, right?”

“a little.”

“You can’t stop thinking about her, and it’s annoying the hell out of you.”

“yup.”

“Nothing you say to her sounds right?”

“nope.”

“Well, hate to break it to you, but I really think you have a thing for her.”

“i’ve only seen her for a week! y’know, before that she wasn’t here for seven years?”

“Just tellin’ you what I think. You don’t have to say anything about it. Maybe it’ll pass,” he shrugs, wiping the counter with a rag.

“ugh…everything was so much easier last week.”

“But you’d rather die than go back.”

“yes! and i hate it!”

“Have you considered…”

“what?”

“That she feels the same way?”

“no. no way. she doesn’t. my bro is the one who wins over humans, not me.”

“Whatever, Sans. I have a bar to run- I’m gonna let you figure this out.”

Sans grunts, annoyed, and drums his fingers on the bar counter. This is way too much to figure out in one sitting. He snags a bottle of ketchup and shortcuts home.

In the living room, his feet automatically carry him to lay face-down on the couch. As he stares into the cushions, he thinks back to the other resets. The ones with the kids who gave him nightmares, the ones who killed Papyrus- who killed HIM- before finally being killed for good themselves.

Do you still have the power to reset? And if you do, how will you use it? He winces at the thought. If you use it to hurt anyone, he doesn’t know what he’d do. He’d kill you, obviously, but not without some regret. Regret is not something he enjoys living with- even over small things.

The idea of killing you hurts him- especially since he can imagine it so vividly, with the amount of times you died when you were younger. He’s seen it, as he followed you around the Underground, he saw it. Undyne’s spears shooting through your heart, Papyrus’ bones breaking your own, Muffet’s webs pinning you in place, Mettaton’s bombs reducing you to splinters. And still you got back up and held your arms out for mercy…still, you cared about everyone. It’s not like you don’t have good memories with everyone, too. Cooking and dancing and- well- dating. Though none of it was really serious.

But… what could this even turn into? If he really does have feelings for you, if you have feelings for him, if the mountain isn’t bombed too soon, if he finally plucks up enough courage to tell you (and it’s a lot of ‘if’s), then what could you even be? It’s hard to imagine. It’s hard to imagine anything beyond a crush right now… but he does know every second he’s spent with you, whether hanging out, joking, or even taking care of you- they aren’t seconds he considers wasted.

When you laugh- he smiles at just the thought- it’s like a million good memories go off in his soul. It’s like it glows a little brighter around you. His soul…you…wait.

His proverbial stomach drops into his shoes. He has a soul link with you, doesn’t he? Does that affect the way he feels about you? If and when it breaks, will this all go away? Are these even his feelings, or does he just like you because your little sliver of soul wants to be back with something familiar?

‘that can’t be right… right?’ he thinks, unsure.

He doesn’t think he’ll ever be as scared as he does right now.
He’s wrong, of course. The worst is yet to come in our story.
But for the moment, he’s so scared he’ll lose these few feelings- the ones not lost to his apathy towards everything. He doesn’t want to lose this.

‘stop thinking about this. do somethin’, don’t think like this.’ he thinks, pulling himself off of the couch and onto his feet. ‘Waterfall’s got stuff. ’s quiet. go there.’

And he does.

Chapter Text

Walking through the echo flowers, over docks, Sans tries to distract himself somehow, trying to avoid his problems.

Lucky him, he runs into Paps on the way home from training.

“Hello, brother! You’re finally following my advice and going on a walk, I see! Well, good for you! Would you like me to walk with you?”

“you sure? you look like a bike.”

“A bike?” Papyrus asks, confused.

“you know,” Sans says, rolling his eyelights good-naturedly and grinning. “two-tired.”

“SANS- I SHOULD NOT HAVE OFFERED!”

“aw, c’mon, you’re smilin’.”

“I KNOW! AND I HATE IT!”

They laugh and start walking- even though Sans is kind of leading them towards the echo flower room, Paps is oblivious.

“that was a good one, though, you gotta admit it,” Sans says, elbowing him.

“I do not,” he responds, batting it away.

“c’mooooon.”

There's a minute of hopeful silence, and then Papyrus speaks.

“Well. I suppose it was not entirely horrible,” he grumbles, crossing his arms and looking away. Sans grins wide-

“there you go. hey, while we're out here, can we check on my telescope? i haven’t cleaned it in a while.”

“You’re cleaning things, too?! Who are you and what have you done with Sans?” Papyrus demands, grinning.

He pauses, realizing what he just did-

“did- did you just make a joke?” Sans asks, eyelights glittering.

“I- Well- mine was good, yours was terrible!” he retorts angrily.

“yeah, i got that bit, but. woah. who are YOU and what have YOU done with my bro?”

“I can participate in some humor every now and then! I’m allowed to, aren’t I?”

“nonono, ‘course you are! it rules! feels good, right?”

“I suppose… but I will only do it occasionally, I have a reputation, you know,” he huffs, still embarrassed. Sans just chuckles.

“ok, bro. oh, hey, we’re here. remember- quiet, or they’ll repeat what you say and you can’t hear the last person’s stuff.”

“I know how echo flowers work, brother.”

“you say so- c’mon.”

Not too many interesting conversations- apparently a Vulkin met up with a Shyren and tried to sing a little down here, which sounds good. Napstablook was recording some waterfall noises and ran into a Washua, which was humorously awkward.

Papyrus’ head turns when he hears sniffling- like it’s coming from off the path. He beckons towards it- your voice comes out, ragged and quiet, difficult to understand.

“…hit me until I black out… and monsters won’t know…they won’t…care…or be able t-to do anything about it… I’ll go back…” the little spaces they can’t hear are already fading into white noise, meaning the flower must be reasonably old. It isn’t the whole message. But it’s definitely you.

Papyrus is looking at it, confused- well, it HAS to be you, that’s your voice… but who’s hurting you? Where are you going?

Sans’ eyelights blow out like candles as he listens. You think when you go back, your father is just going to do whatever he wants. And nobody will give a shit. Well, that isn’t true, you must know that by now, right?

Paps snags him under one arm and runs back to the entrance of the room so he can speak without the flowers repeating his words.

“Do you know what she’s talking about? Is she leaving? Who’s hitting her?” he asks, bewildered as ever.

“uh…i don’t know… i mean, i don’t know if she’s leaving, i don’t know how she would… i don’t know WHY she would. but, uh. here, sit down, i gotta explain this.”

Papyrus obliges, and Sans plops down next to him, knees to his chest, trying to find a way to phrase this that wouldn’t spook his bro too much. I mean, obviously he knows about death and harming someone, he’s been in his fair share of fights.

But family hurting family? That should be new.

“Paps, i… i mean… her dad used to hit her,” he says, grinning emptily at the floor, eyelights nothing but darkness. “and if she goes back? he’s gonna do it again. that’s why we can’t let her go back alone.”

Papyrus looks at him, waiting for him to explain. Or tell him it’s some un-funny prank. He can’t quite process it.

“What do you mean, her DAD hit her? That’s ridiculous, I’m sure a human would never do that! That would be horrible! Especially her father,” he says, firmly.

“bro,” Sans says, slumping down a little further over his knees, “i know you see all the good in people, and i love that about you, but… he’s just not nice. not to her. not to us. i mean, he’s currently trying to bomb us, for cryin’ out loud. some humans just don’t care about anyone. he,” his fists tighten, and he can feel something inside of him ball up with anger, “he was starving her, he gave her that black eye, he’s insane.”

“I… why? Did she do something wrong?” he asks.

“no. at least, not that i know of…” it’s a new thought, but it’s not really the time.

“you can’t tell her i toldya, ok? she doesn’t want everybody to know.”

“Oh… but what if she’s hurting? On the inside? What if she wants somebody to talk about it to? What do we do? I mean, if that were to happen to one of us… not that it ever would… I would want someone to talk to. And I would hope you would talk to me.”

‘well, great, more nightmare fuel,’ Sans thinks.

“it definitely won’t happen to either of us, ‘specially not you. i won’t let anyone, ‘k? but she’s different than us. we just gotta try to make her feel better without bringing it up.”

“I suppose… if you’re sure. Okay! Then we will be the best friends ever, and if she wants to say anything, she can, and we will be very nice and supportive.”

“good plan, bro.”

“Of course it is, I came up with it!” he grins proudly. “Well, we don’t know when she will be coming over next, so how about we go home? We wouldn’t want to miss it if she came!”

“yeah, ok… man, i’m tired.”

“Remember, the soul link will do that, even more for a lazybones like you. You can’t strand yourself out here next time, or you might be too sleepy to come home! You are very lucky you ran into me on the way here- come on, I will carry you.”

“thanks, bro,” he sighs- he really is drained. Maintaining your soul is really starting to catch up to him. But it’s worth it if you’re okay.

Papyrus picks him up (making sure to be more careful than normal, so he can sleep some) and takes off running. By the time they arrive at home, it’s nearly nightfall, and Sans is passed out, snoring softly.

“Lazybones,” Papyrus huffs- though he does think it’s good his brother is getting some rest for once. Often he can’t sleep for five minutes without some nightmare getting in the way.

Like clockwork, Sans wakes up right when Papyrus is ready for bed. Either it’s always at the same time, or maybe he just feels some instinct. It doesn’t really matter how it happens, as long as his bro gets a bedtime story.

“Thank you- but you really should get some sleep, okay? No nightmares, I forbid it,” Papyrus says, as Fluffy Bunny slides back onto the shelf.

“‘f you say so. i don’t really control it, though, y’know,” Sans shrugs.

“I know… but still. You’re always very scared afterwards, I don’t like it.”

“heh. me neither, bro.”

“Are you going to tell me what they’re about yet?”

“i don’t remember. ‘m prob’ly just too lazy to remember,” he lies.

“If you say so! Goodnight, brother!”

“night, bro.”

Sans lets out a long breath as he shuts the door behind him. That was yet another close escape. And he’s probably heading to another night of nightmares, anyway. Not exactly his favorite thing, but that’s the way it is.

Funny thing is, he’s wrong.

Tonight is an anomaly night.
~~~~~
A few peaceful hours go by, and the house is silent. Normally nobody can make it to two in the morning without waking up, so it’s kind of nice. Soon, though, the normal scared noises come, the normal thud of someone falling out of a bed. Except. It’s not from Sans’ room- it’s from Papyrus’s.

Sans can be a light sleeper or a deep sleeper, depending on the day. It’s lucky tonight is a light night, or he might never have woken up.

“mmhh… hmm? wh…” he sits up and looks around, not quite sure what the noise is at first. When it hits him, his soul skips a beat. “Paps-”

He quickly shortcuts into his brother’s room, where Papyrus is on the floor, trapped in sheets and struggling hard.

“hey, hey-hey-hey, wake up,” he says, shaking his brother’s shoulder. From the way he’s shaking, this nightmare can’t be something tame. “c’mon, it’s just a nightmare, wake up… ’s just a dream… hey… there you go…”

Papyrus’ eye sockets flick open, smoldering orange with fear. He’s breathing heavily, shaking; but when he sees Sans he calms down a little. When he finally realizes where he is, the tension ebbs out of him until he can lay down normally again. His arms are pinned to his sides by the blanket, though.

“Nnn… sorry… didn’t mean to…” he mumbles, embarrassed.

“nah, don’t worry about it. just glad you’re awake. you ok? it sounded pretty bad.”

“I’m alright. You know, just one of those nights…”

“you wanna talk about it?”

“Um… yes… but could I have a little help first?” he gestures with his skull at the web of blankets.

“yeah, sure.”

They spend a minute untangling the sheets until Papyrus can wiggle out. After a minute of re-making the racecar bed (he won’t sleep in it unless it’s made), he seems to calm down. His eyelights dim back to their comfortable darkness- the opposite of how his brother's work- and sits on the edge of the bed, staring at the floor.

“Sorry again. I didn’t mean to.”

“’s ok,” Sans says, hopping up next to him. “you didn’t do anythin’ wrong. nightmares are nightmares.”

“. . . yes. Nothing to worry about. You’re right, it’s okay… but why doesn’t it feel okay?”

“you’re probably still a little shaken up. ’s ok, i’m right here. you wanna talk about it, or no?”

“Just, you know. Normal bad things. Like being alone. Or falling. There was a lot of falling.”

“well, you aren’t falling anywhere any time soon, eh? and- hey-” Sans pauses until he looks at him, and then says, “if anyone’s gonna make sure you aren’t alone, ’s me. no matter what, i’m here, ‘k?”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“no problem.”

A few seconds of quiet- Sans almost feeling guilty, Papyrus still trying to escape the foggy memories of his dream.

“Um. To make sure YOU don’t have any bad dreams, can I sleep with you? Just until this blows over. Wouldn’t want you, um. Freaking out or anything.”

Sans grins, sincerely this time, and falls backwards to bounce on the mattress of the bed-

“man, what would i do withoutcha, bro?”

“You would be a million times as lazy as usual, I think,” he sighs.

“yeah, sounds about right.”

They both get comfy, and quickly start falling asleep again.

“thanks, bro. night.”

“Goodnight, brother.”

Chapter Text

You think your brain is going to explode.

You’ve been sitting at this desk in your pajamas for an absurdly long amount of time, pen in one hand (your left, odd as most people find it) and paper under your right.

‘ONE plan, c’mon, make ONE plan, that’s it, and you can go to bed,’ you think, glaring at the painfully empty paper.

You’ve been in the Underground for nearly a week now- you’re lucky the bomb hasn’t hit yet- and you have zero plan to help anyone. You’re essentially useless at the moment.

The hours tick by as you stare at it. Slowly, painfully, doodles start falling out of your head and onto the page instead of notes. Spiral staircases, jetpacks, forcefields, packages with conveniently wrapped souls inside, ready to be absorbed. Stupid plans, certainly, ones that have a higher risk level than Greater Dog’s head can go. Oh, that’s a good one. Climb on his head and pet him until you’re at the surface. Great.

You can feel sleep start pulling at your eyelids. It would be honestly easier to lift a piano with your pinkie than to open them, but you’re managing.

That is, until Toriel comes to check on you.

“My child! What are you doing up, it’s very late!”

“Workin’ on…” you pause your sentence to yawn. “plan.”

“Oh… I see. It is quite the, ah,” she glances at your page of terrible scribbles. “interesting plan. But we all have our starts, yes? Is that, um, a human dying?”

“Oh- yeah, sorry, ’s my dad,” you feel your ears heat up a little, and put your elbow over the sketch.

She hesitates, then asks softly,

“Was he very mean to you? You never talk about him much, and when you do, it’s never very nice things.”

“Uh. Well, he, um, yelled a lot,” you stutter, trying to sound nonchalant. It’s getting easier to lie about this, even if the particular words are true. “Lie of omission,” you think it’s called.

“I see… and your mother?”

“Never knew her. ‘Sides,” you smile sleepily- “you’re my mom now, huh?”

Her eyes start shimmering, and you look away tactfully so she can swipe at them with a paw. Her smile is a million miles wide… aww.

“I- thank you… I had wondered if you had changed your mind after so long on the surface. It means a lot to me. Now, then. As your mother, I ask that you please go to bed. You look exhausted.”

“Heh, I feel exhausted, too,” you admit guiltily. “I mean… yeah, okay…”

“Is something wrong?”

“It’s nothing, just. I don’t have much of a plan at all and- and, if I can’t figure out a way to get us all out of here, I don’t know what I’ll do, and,” you stop to take a breath. “I’m really sorry.”

“It isn’t your responsibility, my child. You do not need to worry about such things.”

“But I do- it’s my fault you’re all at risk in the first place. I have to do SOMETHING.”

“Maybe it is, but you helped us dearly in your own way by warning us in the first place. I happen to know Alphys has been working awfully hard on a plan in her lab since you woke up and told us. So do not think that we have no plan. And if you still wish to help, near midnight is not the time to do it.”

You flinch at the truth in her words, and slowly stand up from the desk.

“Yeah, okay… thank you. I’ll go to bed.”

“Thank you, my child. I’ll make pie tomorrow, yes? Extra butterscotch, just how you like it.”

“Thanks mom- I mean- is that oka-” you hesitate, embarrassed.

“It’s wonderful,” she answers, quickly. “Or might I say, PUN-derful?”

You snicker and she giggles a little. Yeah, she’s awesome.

“Good one- g’night,” you say, crossing over to your bed and flopping face-first onto it.

“Good night, my child!”

And with that, you fall asleep in seconds. You think maybe tomorrow a visit to Alphys is in order.
~~~~~
“You snore,” Papyrus comments over breakfast.

“no, that was totally you.”

“What?! The Great Papyrus would never do such a thing!”

“you can’t control it,” Sans shrugs. “you just do.”

A few more minutes of arguing go by, Sans good-natured as ever, and Papyrus entirely exasperated. As usual.

“ok, ok- what’re you doin’ today?” he asks, shutting it down.

“I am going on rounds to my stations, of course. You should come! Instead of hanging out at Grillby’s all day.”

“i’m good, bro. go ahead, i’ll CHILL here.”

“You know what? You and your bad puns can stay here.”

“good idea.”

“Do you think I should go over to ‘hang’ with Undyne again? Alphys is busy with that plan thingy, and, you know, her space-thing can get bad in the mornings.”

“yeah. i’ll hold down the fort, you might wanna head out.”

“Okay- I have everything… do you mind doing the dishes? Please?”

“sure- DISHES easy.”

“Goodbye, brother,” he huffs exaggeratedly.

“bye, bro!” Sans laughs, saluting.

Papyrus runs off into the snow, bright armor reflecting the light off of it. It’s probably good he’s getting an early start… it’s been a whole seven years since Asgore died, and Undyne still wakes up kinda spaced-out because she misses him. The skelebros call it her space-thing, but it probably has a better name.

Even for a monster as tough and passionate as she is, Asgore’s death took a little out of her. She just needs a quick distraction to pull her through it, and then she’s okay.

Sans feels a little pride at the fact that his brother can help her. Has been helping so many monsters lately- well, monsters, and you.

‘what’re you gonna do now?’ his brain asks. ‘Grillby’s’d be good.’

So, with a quick snap, he *pops* into existence outside of the little bar and waltzes in. The dogs all bark happily when they see him, and he waves with a chuckle. Then drops into a barstool and greets Grillby- at this point, the seat should have been taken, but everyone knows it’s ‘his’. You don’t wanna mess up the vibe in here, even for a second. It doesn’t go over well.

“‘sup, Grillbz? y’know, ‘sides the ceiling.” Sans adds, smug grin spreading on his face.

“Here to pay your tab, Sans?”

“eh, not likely,” he says- that makes everyone laugh. “ketchup?”

“If I hadn’t started doubling my orders for it, there wouldn’t be any left in Snowdin- here you go-” he slides one over. “So, where is she?” he asks.

“who? Tori?” he asks, genuinely confused. Dogaressa shouts from behind him,

“No, bone-brain, the human! Where’s she?!”

Everyone laughs except Sans, who just grins, bewildered (and maybe slightly embarrassed).

“why’d she be here?” he asks, holding his hands up for calm.

“You two are totally an item now,” Dogamy woofs, “Why ISN’T she here?”

“oh, geez,” Sans groans, turning back to Grillby. “does EVERYONE think this?”

“Eh, most of ‘em.”

“did you tell ‘em, you know,” he nods his head, “what we talked about yesterday?”

“Nope. They just happen to be especially good listeners.”

“oh, geez. alright, all of you, calm down-” he waves his hands, “i’m not dating anyone!”

A chorus of either ‘boo’s or disappointed groans run through the little tavern- until Doggo pipes up-

“We all heard you… I mean, I can’t see you, but I heard you!” He falters for a minute when he can’t find out where Sans is, and commands, “Here, move some, will you?”

Sans waves his arms a little until Doggo’s eyes focus in, and he continues.

“Yeah, there you are! We heard you! You totally like her, don’tcha?!”

“i dunno, tibia honest,” everyone groans and laughs, “but i do know that we aren’t dating, so don’t spread that all over the Underground.”

“Hehe,” Dogaressa giggles, “but you soul-linked with her, didn’t you? You have to feel something, come on!”

Sans just shrugs, taking a swig of ketchup. Everyone collectively laughs like they know everything about this, and HE’S the clueless one.

“At least tell us about what happened to her arm,” Grillby prompts, leaning on the bar counter. The dogs holler in agreement.

“she fell and cut it, guys, c’mon. i wasn’t THERE,” damn, these lies are really picking up. Well, he should keep consistency, at least- “she came over really late to ask me about somethin’ that was bothering her, and she cut it on the way. that’s it.”

“Ooh, what’d she ask?” the question comes from someone, but he’s given up on trying to keep everyone’s voices straight.

“plan on how to get us outta here.”

“Woah, really?” Dogamy asks, excited. “She can do that? That’s so cool!”

“yup.”

“Are you gonna help?” Doggo asks.

“eh, if she asks, i might. depends, though.”

“Sans the scientist,” Grillby chuckles, “Just like way back when, eh?”

“shut up,” Sans scoffs, taking another chug.

A few more minutes of playful banter go by, for most of which Sans gets interrogated. Finally, he says he needs to head home, as he’s starting to feel really tired.

‘c’mon, hold it together,’ he thinks, shuffling out and waving goodbye. ‘you can make it home… god, no energy to shortcut, either…’

“You need help getting home, Sans? We were on our way out anyway, if you want,”
Dogaressa offers, coming up behind him.

Dogamy has one hand in hers, and he echoes her-

“Yeah, we can walk you there easy. You look tired, even for you!”

Most of the time he’d never take up on it, but right now is a bit of an exception.

“yeah, that’d be great… sorry, dunno what happened…”

“Is it the link? I heard those can be pretty hard on the person helping them,” Dogaressa nods.

“i think so. maybe ’s just a bad excuse for bein’ lazy, though,” he shrugs, leaning on their arms. Legs? Paws?

“I don’t think so, Sans. This really is tired, even for you,” she says.

‘i know, right?’ he thinks, shuffling through the snow.

“So what’re you-” Dogamy starts, but Sans doesn’t have a chance to respond- he falls through a little pocket of light snow straight into a snowbank.

He gives a surprised shout as he falls- this wasn’t his idea of a walk home. There’s a clear path where he fell, but it’s really deep. Too deep to risk sending anyone down to get him, certainly.

For those who aren’t familiar with snow, it’s only safe to walk on the hard-packed paths, or you risk sinking in. Especially if the layers and layers of snow pile up and make it as deep as it is here. It’s rare to find a spot like this on a path normally taken, but it can happen.

“Sans?!” Dogamy and Dogaressa bark in perfect unison. “Are you okay?!”

A muffled reply comes from under the snow-

“yeah,” he says, though it sounds more like “yaf” from up top.

“Is it too cold, or should we run and get someone to come help?” Dogamy asks.

“it’s not comfy, but i’ll be fine, hold on-” he says, again muffled.

Carefully wrapping his soul in blue magic, he pulls himself upwards until he’s free. Snow is piled up in his eyesockets, and he can’t see. The stuff is crammed into his pockets and joints and the inside of his shirt. Not unsafe, exactly- more annoying, for a skeleton. And yeah, pretty cold.

He sets himself on the road, a harder part so he doesn’t risk making the same mistake twice. Mostly he has two prevalent problems- he can’t see, and that tiny bit of magic wrenched whatever energy he had left out of him. Dogaressa helps with the first problem, gently tapping at the back of his skull until most of the snow falls out of his eyesockets. Blinking the rest away, he reignites his eyelights and tries to sit up.

The simplest motions feel so difficult… he doesn’t have the energy to stay awake. He falls asleep fight on the ice. It’s a really deep sleep, luckily, but if he were awake he’d be more aware of someone picking him up (stumbling a little) and carrying him the rest of the way home.

Chapter Text

You were just on your way to Hotland to see Alphys when you saw it- Sans was laying on the ground shivering, fast asleep, and Dogaressa and Dogamy panicking around him.

“What happened? Is he okay?” you ask quickly, coming over.

“He fell into a snowbank, and then he pulled himself out with blue magic, and then he fell asleep!” Dogaressa exclaims, rubbing her paws together nervously.

“Oh! Oh, I was worried he’d- uh- it’s okay. Do you need me to take him home? It’s on my way.”

You think Dogaressa starts to say no, but then Dogamy cuts over her.

“That would be great! I bet if you knock, you could see if Papyrus is home.”

You’re oblivious to the set-up, to their delight. (The guys at Grillby’s will LOVE this story.)

“Yeah, good idea,” you nod. “I’d better hurry- alright, let’s try this-” kneeling down carefully, you pick him up. He’s a good deal lighter than you thought he’d be, for just being bones, but his dead weight is a little difficult to control. Stumbling slightly, you put one arm behind his knees, and one around his back. It’s not the greatest position, but it’s working so far.

“Thank you, Kate, it’s very nice of you!” Dogaressa chirps, happy to see the two of you so close.

“It’s no problem, we don’t need this bonehead freezing to death, huh?” you smile, adjusting your hold on him so you can transfer some of his weight to lean against you.

“No, we wouldn’t. Snowdin wouldn’t be the same without him,” Dogamy agrees.

After a quick goodbye, you turn and carry him home, mumbling all the way.

“What’re you doing falling into snowbanks, hmm?” you ask under your breath. “Nobody ‘round here wants anything bad to happen to you, you know that? I sure don’t, you nearly gave me a heart attack…”

Soon you’re at their front door, and you don’t have any free hands to knock- luckily it swings open almost automatically when you walk up, and Papyrus rushes out.

“SANS, WHAT DID YOU DO?! Oh- oh. He’s asleep, isn’t he? That lazybones… hello, Kate,” he adds, looking at his brother with one hand on his face. “I’d invite you in, but our house is a mess at the moment, I turned it upside-down looking for him. He said he wouldn’t go to Grillby’s, but it looks like he forgot. Why is he covered in snow?”

“He fell into a snowbank on his way back from Grillby’s, I just happened to be walking by and I thought I’d help him home,” you explain.

“Well, thank you very, very much- I wouldn’t want him stranded out there… oh dear, he’s shivering, I need to get him inside.”

“Yeah, good idea. It isn’t nearly as bad as earlier though, he seems a lot less drained now.”

“How do you know?” Papyrus asks, taking him gently out of your arms and giving you an inquisitive look.

“I… I don’t know, now that I think about it. I just know.”

“Hmm. I see! It must be a friendly instinct then, I suppose! Well, if you have an errand, I won’t keep you!”

“Call me later and let me know how he is, okay?”

“Will do! Goodbye, then!”

“See you later!”

The next few hours are informative, but uneventful. Alphys is, in fact, working on a plan, and reaffirms your worry that none of your ideas will work. Her current plan is not to go up, but to dig deeper underground- if everyone can escape the blast and tunnel back upwards when it’s over, nobody dies, and everyone is free because the mountain is destroyed.

You have to admit- it’s a solid plan, and from what she’s saying, the plans for the drill are coming along smoothly. It should be in working order in a day or two, if it isn’t too late.

But one thing she asks you in particular leads to some long-overdue answers.

“S-so, uh, I k-k-keep meaning to ask… is anything happening t-to Sans so f-far? Um, anything w-weird?”

“Funny you ask,” you reply thoughtfully, “On my way here, I had to carry him home. Apparently he got so tired he fell into a snowbank, and then once he got himself out, he passed out again. Is something wrong?”

“I kind of k-knew he’d b-b-be tired- the soul-link, you know,” she nods, waving a claw and smiling nervously.

“Um. Actually, I don’t?” you admit, scratching the back of your neck, “People keep bringing it up, but I have no clue what it means.”

“Oh, really? I’m surp-p-prised no-one has explained it t-to you yet! U-um, basically it means part of your soul went into his b-body.”

“What?!” you ask, surprised.

“S-sorry. It happens when monsters are dying- there’s no documented accounts of humans doing it, but, we all know you’re a tad bit of an anomaly- their souls sometimes reach out to their loved ones as a last hope. If there is enough love and trust between two individuals, 25% of the dying soul goes into the healthy one. At the moment, you can’t die because he’s keeping that bit of your HP safe. I asked because it’s probably going to start to take a toll on his body trying to maintain that much more. He was just barely comfortable with one HP, however many you gave him can’t be go… are y-y-you okay?”

Your mouth is slightly open with shock, and your heart is going at a million miles an hour… you can’t really process it all at once. Sans trusts you that much? And you trust him? And you can’t die? But- it’s hurting you. No, it’s hurting him?

“Um,” you let out a little nervous laugh. “That can’t be right, me and Sans aren’t. Uh. Like that, you know? I haven’t seen him for seven years and everything? I- I mean, I don’t know how HE feels, but, I didn’t think… I mean…”

“Do you need t-to sit down or something? I d-d-didn’t expect you to take i-it this hard…”

“N-no, it’s okay…okay… um, will this kill him, or make him sick or something- or will he just be really tired?”

“I- I don’t know… I think it’s unlikely he’ll die from this, he’s a resilient guy, but I can’t tell so early on.”

“I don’t want to risk that! Can I get rid of it somehow?!” you ask, teetering on the edge of panic- how has he not told you this yet?

“I hate to tell y-you this… but you can’t break a soul link that easily. I mean, unless he breaks off ties with you. Completely. Like, he-hates-you-and-never-wants-to-see-you-again break. Souls reflect us- and they know that if the relationship was strong enough to create the bond in the first place, it isn’t strong enough to break it unless the relationship is really completely over.”

“But… he can’t get hurt on account of me, that wouldn’t be fair. He didn’t even get to choose, did he?”

“No, I doubt it.”

“And- there’s nothing I can do?” you ask, stomach turning. You feel so guilty for doing this to him.

“Well,” she starts, reluctantly, “the closer you are to him, the easier it is for him to manage- I don’t mean relationship-wise, I mean- if you’re in closer p-p-proximity to him, it’s less of a burden.”

“Oh- okay, um, I’ll try that- then I should go, thank you so much, Alphys! Oh, and thanks for the new phone, sorry about the other one-”

“It’s just a p-phone, i-i-it’s fine,” she promises with a wave. After a quick hug, you speedwalk back towards Snowdin.

If Sans is in trouble on your account, you’re going to do whatever you can to help.
~~~~~
Papyrus sighs as the door shuts behind you, and he starts muttering.

“Brother, what did you do…”

He dumps Sans unceremoniously on the couch and puts some blankets on top of him- that should keep him warm for the most part, the lazybones.

“Falling into a snowbank, you should know better,” he says, trying to busy himself with something other than worrying.

Sans hates it when Papyrus fusses over him too much. But he’s also asleep, soaked with melted snow, and freezing, so maybe today is an exception.

“Fine, no lectures this time. We need to get you warm. Can you wake up?” he asks, carefully shaking his brother’s shoulder.

He blinks awake, wondering for a moment where he is. He’s so, so tired, but he’s awake.

“mmm- whassup, bro…?”

“You’re freezing, Sans, you fell in the snow and fell asleep, we have to get all this snow off of you.”

“later, m’tired…”

“I know, and I promise I’ll let you sleep after, but we must hurry or you’re going to turn into an Ice Cap.”

“eh, whasso bad ‘bout that?”

“Brother, please, you’re shivering.”

“’s not too bad,” he argues stubbornly, rolling over.

“At least change, you’re soaking the couch,” Papyrus insists.

Even though he doesn’t really care about the couch, he knows his brother is worried, so Sans gets up. His eyelights are fuzzy, he has dark circles under his sockets, and he pulls all the blankets up around him protectively.

“fine.”

After a quick change and getting some less-wet blankets, he crashes right back onto the couch and falls asleep.

An hour or so goes by. Not much activity, aside from Sans’ quiet snores and Papyrus scribbling as he designs a new puzzle. There’s a knock on the door- it’s you again.

“Oh! Hello again, human- I said I would call you later with updates, but not much has changed. He’s still lying on the couch sleeping.”

You nod, hesitating at the door-

“Okay, good… um… I know about the soul link now. Alphys told me.”

“Oh! I assumed Toriel had already filled you in. Isn’t it wonderful that it worked? I never knew my bother was capable of such feats, but you learn more every day!”

He looks back at the snoozing pile of blankets that is his sibling and sighs slightly, but he really is proud. You nod again, a little bit of guilt pulling on you.

“Yeah… but now he’s tired because of it, and it’s my fault.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, if he gets hurt because of this, I dunno. It’s my fault.”

“Ah- that isn’t true at all! You didn’t choose for this to happen, did you? He didn’t know the consequences at the time, but he just wanted you to be okay. We all did, but apparently he wanted it so much he bent soul magic itself!”

“Oh… um… I guess,” you say reluctantly. The guilt is piling on now. “I just wanted to ask if there’s anything I can do. Alphys told me that if I stayed near him it would be easier for him to handle, but… I mean… I don’t want to intrude or…” you drift off awkwardly.

“Oh, I see,” Papyrus nods. “I understand- you want to stay with us to make sure Sans is okay!”

“Uh-” you start, but he talks over you, beaming.

“Of course you do! Even if he is a lazybones, he is very lovable.”

Your face heats up significantly-

“That’s not what I-”

“Well, come in, we can pick up your things from Queen Toriel later! It’s quite alright, there’s no need to be embarrassed-”

“Papyrus, I can’t stay with you guys,” you finally say. “Not that I don’t want to, but I can’t. I’ll come visit to make this easier on him, I promise. But if I don’t- you know- help get everyone out of here… it’s already my fault, I have to work if I want to get everyone out before my dad bombs us.”

Your voice gets quieter and quieter as you go through. More and more hopeless. It takes a lot out of you, just saying it out loud. It’s not as big a deal saying it to everyone else, but when all the enthusiasm deflates from his body, you feel like you’ve only made everything infinitely worse.

“I- I’m sorry, I shouldn’t’ve- I’m sorry,” you sigh, digging the heel of your hand into your temple. “I’m just making a mess.”

“Y-you’re not! You’re trying to help everyone, like a good friend,” he says, though not nearly as confidently as usual.

He can’t help but remember the things he heard you saying through those echo flowers the other day. It’s hard to forget, now that he knows.

“You aren’t making a mess of anything. And even if you did, no-one makes bigger messes than my brother, and I could help fix it. Would you like a hug?”

You nod quietly and let him. He’s surprisingly gentle, which you didn’t expect.

“I’m sorry if I messed everything up,” you whisper.

“Well, then, you just have to stop being sorry!” he declares, puffing back up with confidence and pulling out of the hug.

You hesitate, then raise your eyebrows, impressed.

“I- heh. That’s not bad advice, actually.”

“Of course it isn’t, it’s MY advice!”

“Heheh- thanks.”

“No problem! I have to go take care of that lump back there now, if you don’t mind. Come back tomorrow? I can make lunch!”

“Sure, I’m sure Toriel won’t mind.”

“Perfect! Call me if you want any more fantastic advice!”

“I might just take you up on that offer, Paps. Bye!”

“Goodbye!”
~~~~~
“I’m home!” you call out as you walk back in the house. Toriel is sitting in Chairiel, reading a book.

“Hello, my child! How was your visit with Alphys?”

“Good. She has a way better plan than any of mine,” you admit.

“I thought so- no offense to you, of course. She is just very practiced in this. There is a pie cooling in the kitchen if you would like a slice!”

“Oh, sweet- thanks, Tori!” you grin, heading towards the kitchen.

“You can call me ‘mom’ still, you know,” she reminds you.

“Right- thanks, mom! Oh,” you stick your head around the corner to add, “Papyrus invited me over for lunch tomorrow, is that okay?”

“Of course! When did you see him?”

In a quick mental debate, you decide it would probably be best not to give the full details of the meeting.

“Just in passing. I’m gonna go get some of that pie now, okay?”

“Alright.”

You get a slice of pie and think. If you aren’t going to be hanging out with them until afternoon tomorrow, you probably need something else to do tomorrow. Maybe you could go play that old piano in Waterfall? You haven’t played in years, but you might be able to pull up some sheet music and try to learn one.

The Undernet might be a little outdated, but you’re sure it has printing abilities. Tomorrow ought to be fun… it can’t be much weirder than today, right?
~~~~~
Sans wakes up a few (a lot) of hours after you left the second time, right as the whole of the underground is starting to go to bed. Even his subconscious hadn’t put in enough effort for nightmares, which was nice for sleeping.

He sits up groggily and looks around.

“Paps?” he asks, a little confused.

“Oh, you’re awake! I thought you’d sleep all night,” Papyrus says from the table, humming happily as he finishes up his puzzle.

“i plan on it, bro… ngh, how’d i get home?”

“Kate brought you.”

“whaddya mean?” he asks, swinging his legs to the floor and sinking into the couch cushions.

“She saw you passed out on the street with the dogs and carried you home! You SAID you weren’t going to Grillby’s, by the way-”

“wait-wait-wait, she CARRIED me home?” he asks, face flushing blue.

“Yes, you were quite a mess. Sleepy and shivering and all wet.”

“geez, musta scared her out of her skin. sorry about that.”

“It’s alright, brother! I forgive you! Anyway, it’s not your fault. She said the link is making you tired. She said something about if she’s closer to you it would help it not be so hard, and I invited her to stay with us, but she said she couldn’t- it was a very confusing conversation. She got rather sad at one point.”

“geez…” he mumbles, putting a hand on his forehead.

“It’s okay, brother, you had no means of knowing, it is not your fault! But maybe a plate of my famous spaghetti would help cheer you up! I’ll go heat some up!”

With that, he leaps to his feet and goes off to do just that. Sans slumps into the couch and tries to picture you carrying him. Would it be under an arm like Papyrus always does it? No, you’re way too short… over your shoulder? The idea makes him laugh out loud. Maybe bridal style? That would make sense, but he blushes furiously imagining himself being such a mess in that situation.

A little part of him wants to call you and find out, but he knows that that’s just stupid. Besides, it’s so late, you’re probably asleep. Which is where he wants to be.

He lays back down in the blankets and slips back into sleep again, deep and dreamless.

Chapter Text

You wake up a lot earlier than you normally do. In fact, you wake up at the same time as Toriel- and when you hear her start waffles in the other room, you decide to get up.

“Morning, Tor- um, mom,” you yawn.

“Good morning, Kate! What has you up so early?” she asks, looking over her shoulder and smiling.

“Dunno. Guess I just woke up early. Can I help?”

“Of course! Have you seen the cinnamon, I can’t find it anywhere?”

A little bit of baking and mixing, a few spoonfuls of batter, and you’re sitting down eating some of the best waffles you’ve ever had. She even let you add chocolate chips to some of them!

“These. Are. The. Best.”

“They are, are they not? Probably because you helped!”

“Psht, no. Your recipes are the only thing that could ever make waffles this good. Anyway, what are you up to today?”

She sighs softly-

“I have to go to New Home for some legal work. Being a queen is rather difficult, even with years of experience. I don’t know how Asgore pulled it off so easily all on his own.”

“Oh- sorry. Can I help? I mean, I don’t know much about politics, especially monster politics, but I could try.”

“I’m afraid not. Having you here is help enough- I did hate being lonely, even if I did have Sans.”

“Glad I can do SOMETHING,” you sigh, taking another bite of waffle.

“Well, you’re doing a wonderful job at being here. Keep up the good work,” she giggles.

“’S hard work, existing,” you say, playing along, “I don’t know how I do it.”

You both snort and start laughing- it really isn’t even that funny, but laughter has been so scarce lately.

“Okay, okay-” you gasp, trying to get a grip on yourself, “I need to go, I’m gonna be late!”

You try to say it with conviction, but you’re still wearing a bright smile. She waves as you grab the sheet music on the end of the table.

“Go on, don’t let me stop you! Have a day!”

“Don’t you mean have a good day?” you snort, turning around halfway.

“As long as you exist, the day is good, is it not?” she says, picking up the plates and trying to keep a straight face.

“I guess!” You laugh, then say your goodbyes and head down to the basement.
~~~~~
After the usual winding purple hallways, a chilly walk through Snowdin, and a quick jog through part of waterfall, you find the piano.

It’s an old brown one with yellowing sheet music on the stand. The old door you found that strange artifact in is still there, but you know nothing in there is worth looking at for the moment.

You put your new sheet music on the piano and stare at it for a minute. It’s a lot more complicated than you remember when you printed it. Note by note, slowly, you play the whole song. Not fast, not without a good deal of mistakes, but you play it. As you go through over and over again, you slowly allow yourself to pay attention to the other markings on the song.

Beats and timing and volume, faster, faster… time slips into meaninglessness except for the time signatures on the music. It’s a surface song, a reasonably old one. You know it was written in the old 2000s, but even still you can’t help but love it. Old music is the best.

Only when you can play the chorus through with minimal mistakes do you start to add words. Quiet ones.

“I know I took the path that you would never want for me… I know I let you down, didn’t I?” you sing, carefully focusing more on the notes than the words. “So many sleepless nights where you were waiting up on me… but I’m just a slave unto the night…”

All the way through, pausing at the chorus to pound out the notes on the keys. Loud playing, loud singing, letting your errors sink into you and embracing them.

“And I, I bet my life! I bet my life! I bet my life on you~!”

After the second or third go-round of the chorus comes the sad part. Your favorite part. You pray you aren’t playing it wrong.
~~~~~
Sans and Papyrus call you when they notice you don’t show up for lunch (your phone is on silent, and you don’t notice it).

“She won’t pick up,” Papyrus frets. “Did she leave her phone somewhere?”

“i dunno. probably. try callin’ Tori, maybe she just forgot.”

“How could she forget a lunch as great as this one?” he says exasperatedly, dialing her number. She picks up around the third ring-

“Hello?”

“Hello Lady Toriel!”

“Hello, Papyrus! Did Kate make it safely to your house?”

“That is why we called- no. She has not arrived yet, and she will not pick up her phone. Is it over there with you?”

“No, it is not. I am sure she took it, I saw. Oh, dear- oh, wait. She said she was going to Waterfall to practice a song on the piano. I did not know there was a piano over there, but she said there was… anyway, she took some music and left early so she could get some practice in. Maybe she lost track of time or left her phone somewhere. Let me know if you cannot find her by dinnertime, yes?”

“Yes, Lady Toriel! We will go check the piano room! As the head of the Royal Guard, it is my responsibility to make sure the human is safe!”

“Hehe- yes, of course. Have fun!”

“We will!”

Sans is skeptical- he’s never seen you as much of a musical person, and he starts to worry that this is a cover. Papyrus, on the other hand, wants to hear your playing, and insists that Sans should shortcut the both of them to Waterfall.

He obliges quickly, agreeing it would be best to find out if this is really what you’re doing.

Boy, is he in for a surprise.

When they arrive, they are completely lost- the other biomes of the underground aren’t nearly as familiar to them as Snowdin is. Papyrus has visited a few times to see Undyne or to visit Blook Acres, but other than that he hasn’t had much experience with the place. Sans is just plain clueless.

“Brother, which way is the piano?” Papyrus asks, looking around, fairly confused.

“uh…” Sans responds, just as muddled. “maybe…”

However, he doesn’t need to guess- the loud echo of a voice bounces down the hallway suddenly, accompanied by the antique ring of the piano.

“there. i’d guess it’s somewhere over there,” he says, nodding down the hall.

Relief floods his body knowing you really are just playing the piano- he was starting to freak out a little bit.

“hey, Paps, we gotta be quiet so she doesn’t stop when we come up, huh?”

“Like spies!” he nods confidently. Sans blushes blue and shakes his head a little.

“um- no, we aren’t spying. but i guess if that helps ya be quiet, sure.”

“Nyeh heh heh!”

“heh- that’s the spirit. c’mon-”

They walk down the winding hallways and reach the piano room just as you finish the song. As they stand in the doorway behind you, you start the song over again (to Papyrus’ delight).
~~~~~
It’s a beautiful song, even if you can’t do it justice on a piano. It’s more of a guitar-and-drums kinda song, but the slower parts sound beautiful from the keys.

Your favorite part is the apology part.

“Don’t tell me that I’m wrong, I’ve walked that road before, and left you on your own… and please, believe them when they say, that it’s left for yesterday… and the records that I play…

Please forgive me… for all~ I’ve done.”

Instead of continuing, you play a few good ending chords and stop. It isn’t the full thing, but as the words hit you like tidal waves, you feel a sadder ending is fitting.

You breathe in the last echoes of the song just as you hear a little gasp behind you.

You jump and whip around to see Papyrus and Sans standing behind in the door way to the room, eyesockets wide.

“Wowie…” Paps says, surprised. “That was… that was…”

“Okay?” you suggest, embarrassed.

“Okay? OKAY?! That was FANTASTIC!” he runs over, jumping up and down- “How’d you do it?! Is it easy? Did you write it? Is it a human song or a monster one that I’ve never heard because I don’t listen to much music and-”

“Papyrus, calm down, it’s just a song- I didn’t even do it justice with just a piano. Thank you though, I appreciate it. Oh- wait, was I late?”

“eh, only by a few hours,” Sans says, making your ears burn, “but i’d say this was def-in-ite-ly worth it.”

“Eheheh… thank you, I’ve been working on it all morning, I didn’t mean to be late.”

“maybe next time you should write yourself a NOTE in KEYS you forget.”

“SANS DO NOT RUIN THIS!!” Papyrus shouts, while you snort.

“what, it’s not punny enough for ya?”

“YOU USED THAT ONE YESTERDAY LIKE THIRTY TIMES.”

“i guess you could say-”

“DON’T.”

“-that-”

“DON’T YOU DARE.”

“i’m in TREBLE?”

“OH MY GOD! I’M LEAVING!”

He storms out and leaves you laughing with Sans in the little room. You wipe laughter tears out of your eyes and shake your head-

“I forgot you were this good!”

“eh, i’m ‘okay’.” he chuckles, dropping next to you on the piano bench.

“Don’t compare your punnery to my piano playing, you know you’re better,” you say, lightly slugging his arm.

“yeah,” he shrugs, grinning smugly.

“Sans!”

“pfft, kidding. it’s a really good song.”

“It really is,” you sigh happily and look at the sheet music again, lightly plinking out some of the notes to the chorus.

“do the last line again?” he asks- your face burns a little, and you play it. You don’t sing, though.

“c’mon, sing. ’s ok, i don’t bite.”

“I mean, I’ve never sung in front of someone before,” you mumble, pulling your hands off the keys.

His face softens a little-

“you just sang for me and Paps a minute ago, i mean, even if you didn’t know we were there. doesn’t that count?”

“I just- I didn’t know you were there, that’s the thing.”

“please?”

You glance over at him, blowing your hair out of your eyes unsuccessfully.

“Only ‘cause you said please.”

He grins and scoots over so you have more room- poising your fingers, you play the last few bars of the song.

“Don’t tell me that I’m wrong, I’ve walked that road before, and left you on your own… and please, believe them when they say, that it’s left for yesterday… and the records that I play… please forgive me… for all I’ve done.”

The words hit again with the impact of a fright train on your soul. Especially since you’re the one saying them now. A shaky sigh comes out of your mouth and you drop your hands, staring at the keys and forgetting Sans is still watching you.

“uh… you ok?” he asks, watching you watching your feet.

You turn, half-surprised to see him, and try to brighten a little bit. Sitting up, you respond a little too fast.

“Yeah! Fine.”

“you know you can tell me if something’s botherin’ you, right?”

“Yup, totally.”

“and if i knew something was bothering you, and i knew you weren’t telling me, you know i gotcha, right?”

“…yeah. Yeah, I know.”

“good.”

“Right,” you respond awkwardly, going back to staring at your sneakers.

There’s a minute of silence, mostly filled with a mix of awkwardness and comfort.

“I can’t wait until I get you guys out of here,” you say, trying to lighten the mood. “I wanna see what everyone says when they see the sky… I hope it isn’t raining when we make it.”

“tibia honest, i won’t care what the weather’s like if we make it out."

“Yeah… I hope I get to stay with you guys. I haven’t asked Tori yet, I don’t know how to bring up that I don’t want to go back to my dad.”

“trust me, you’re staying with us.”

“How do you know?”

“‘cause i’ll fight for it.”

“What do you mean ‘fight for it’?” you ask, looking at him inquisitively.

“for you. if i have to fight him, i’ll do it. i’m not letting you go back somewhere where you’ll get hurt again.”

Your stomach drops uncomfortably- because you know it’s true.

“Thanks.”

“no problem. c’mon, Paps is prob’ly wondering why we aren’t home yet.”

“You really think he’s already there?” you ask, skeptically.

“he’s a fast runner,” Sans chuckles. “you’d be surprised.”

“I think it’s hard to be surprised by anything down here anymore.”

“yeah, true. c’mon, i’ll shortcut us, maybe we can beat him home if we hurry.”

“Okay.”
~~~~~
Back at home, nightfall has started- you realize you were so late lunch was skipped altogether.

“MOVIE NIGHT!” Papyrus calls excitedly, pumping his fists in the air. “AND SANS ISN’T TIRED YET, EITHER!”

It’s true- ever since he shortcutted back with you on his arm, he’s seemed a lot more energized (for Sans, at least- meaning he hasn’t fallen asleep yet).

Papyrus pops in an anime- courtesy of Alphys- and sits crosslegged on the floor. You sit with your legs tucked under you on one end of the couch, Sans sprawled out lazily on the other. Sans got a call from Toriel wondering where in the world you were, but after a quick explanation she calmed down.

The movie isn’t half bad, actually, especially coupled with a plate of not-half-bad spaghetti from Papyrus. The longer you sit, the more relaxed you get, until you realize you’re falling asleep.

You shake yourself mentally and sit up a little. No falling asleep over here. Nope. Tori might freak again.

But this couch is so comfy… and warm… and you feel pretty content right where you are. Something heavy and warm leans against your shoulder, and you don’t even need to look to know it’s Sans. He must have fallen asleep already. You reciprocate, leaning on him slightly. You aren’t quite sure why you don’t elbow him awake and make a joke out of it or something. It just feels nice.

His hands are folded over his stomach- or- er- where his stomach WOULD be. His skull is leaning up against your shoulder, though not quite on it. He’s just an inch or two too short for that. He’s actually pretty cute this relaxed.

‘Don’t think like that,’ you scold yourself. ‘…even if it’s true.’

His steady breathing and the little cocoon of warmth coming out from him are starting to lull you to sleep. Slowly, your eyes shut, too, and you aren’t watching the movie anymore.

Papyrus is the only one who stays awake long enough to find out how it ends- and when he sees his brother asleep on your shoulder, you snoozing next to him, he fights the urge to scold the both of you for falling asleep. Instead, he snaps a picture with his phone and grins. Adorable.
~~~~~
Your dreams are usually scattered and hard to understand. By the time you wake up, you typically don’t even remember them. Tonight’s is just as confusing, but you can feel it. It’s clear, even if the events happen in a scattered manner.

It starts how most of your less-pleasant dreams start- the first time your dad came home drunk. It’s a vivid blur of memories- the way you’d backed up against the wall and he’d stumbled over, yelling. Slurred profanities, loud nonsense… you’d thought it was some sort of scary game. Until he hit you, that is. You learned how to lock yourself in the bathroom VERY fast. You were crammed in the corner, tiny hands pressed over your ears until he stopped banging on the door.

The scene changes into something different when you can’t remember any more. You’re standing in the woods. Snowdin woods, to be exact. There’s a sense of urgency that you can’t explain. You’re running through the woods, looking for something that can help you, but they’re just as empty as usual.

There’s a flash of blue, and you run after it desperately…
it disappears into the white swirls of snow.

The dream shatters like broken glass, and you’re left sitting in a quiet, empty place. Sans is sitting there, seemingly waiting on you.

He pats the spot next to him, which you take, shaking slightly. He murmurs,

“stop freakin’ out, ’k? none of it’s real… i gotcha, remember?”

You nod quietly, pull your knees to your chest, and close your eyes.

"Is this really you?"

"yeah," he admits, softly.

"'M sorry... 'm sorry if I can't do it."

"if you can't do it, then we'll all be with you anyway. it's ok."

"Okay."

And that's all that needs to be said.

Chapter Text

The next day you wake up on the couch- Sans and Papyrus’ couch.

‘shit- isn’t this how bad rom-coms start?’ you think, groaning inwardly. Last night’s dream fades into oblivion. You know you were dreaming, you can tell… but about what?

You don’t really know right away why you can’t move until you get a little more aware of your surroundings.

Sans is still leaning against your shoulder, which you remember from last night- that isn’t TOO embarrassing. What really gets you is that under the blanket (where did that come from?) you feel one of your hands holding Sans’.

You don’t want to move for fear of waking him up. Half because you don’t want him to realize the situation, and half because you’re pretty content sitting like this.

Carefully, just barely, you squeeze his hand to make sure it isn’t something else. It isn’t. He doesn’t stir, either, which is a relief.

Papyrus isn’t where he was sitting last night, you’re sure of that much- and honestly, where did this blanket come from? It clicks in your head; he must have tossed it over you at some point, right? It only makes sense, it sounds like something he’d do. But that means he saw you- snuggling- with his BROTHER.

You can’t imagine how much trust that must take. If you had any siblings, frankly, you think you’d be pissed.

Papyrus wouldn’t mind, right? He’s Papyrus, after all… you let your face fall gently onto the top of Sans’ skull and try to fall back asleep.
~~~~~ Sans wakes up fairly earlier than usual. At least he thinks so- there’s not really a very reliable way to tell time down here, but Papyrus hasn’t started breakfast yet, by the sound of it.

He feels weird, in a good way… safe. And nervous. It’s actually pretty strange.

Then he realizes he’s leaning on you. And you’re asleep. And he’s holding your hand.

‘geez,’ he cringes inwardly.
Part of him wants to make sure you’re okay- you had some nightmares last night, he could tell- he’d gone into your dreams to calm you down. You were so shaken up… he can’t help but wonder if that’s how you feel all the time. But you’ll probably just chalk the whole thing up to imagination or weird dreams.

He doesn’t move, though- he’s afraid he might wake you, and you’re sleeping so peacefully now. He doesn’t even open his eyesockets.

He tries not to jump when he feels a slight squeeze come from your hand- it’s just barely there, if he wasn’t so hyper-aware right now he probably wouldn’t even have noticed.

‘is- is she awake? she better not be awake,” he thinks- “if she’s awake, i’m so-”

He doesn’t even finish the thought… you’d put your head on the top of his skull. The side of your face.

Yeah, his natural instinct is to pull away. Especially with something this affectionate. ESPECIALLY from a human. But… when he feels your cheek and the side of your lips, gentle, even breaths passing them… maybe he can wait a minute.

One minute.
~~~~~
You decide to take initiative- you pull your hand away lightly (it’s a lot easier than you thought) and stretch, yawning as if you’d only just woken up. Just another lie to add to the list. Once you’re on your feet, you fix the blanket and make sure he’s still asleep. Looks like it- good…

You wish there was some sort of gesture you could do, something that would make this moment last. Something.

With a quiet sigh, you settle for adjusting the blankets and leaving.

Papyrus comes downstairs in his usual bright armor and a smile on his face, ready to start the day. Loudly. I meant ready to start the day LOUDLY.

“Good morning, Kate!” he beams, hopping down the last few stairs- you smile.

“Morning, Papyrus!”

“Is that lazybones still asleep?” he asks, looking towards the couch. You nod, trying to reassure your own hope.

“I think so, yeah.”

“Would you wake him up? I have to make breakfast fast this morning, the Royal Guard is banding back together today to help with a drill-thingy Alphys is working on.”

“Oh, cool, she told me about tha- wait… SHIT-” you say that surprisingly loudly and rush for your phone, tripping over your feet and pulling your shoes on- “No, no, NO, I forgot to tell Toriel I was staying the night-”

You dial her number and run for the door-

“I have to go, she’s going to kill me, I’ll never be allowed to stay the night again, I completely forgot, I’m so so sorry- god, I’m such an idiot-”

Papyrus is staring at you, a little bewildered, but visibly realizing the mistake himself.

“Oh! That was my bad, I was going to make the call… it seems I forgot. It is not your fault, I will back you up. Do not worry!”

Sans woke up when you shouted the first time, a little concerned, but relaxes when he sees the terms of the situation.

“calm down, i texted her,” he assures you- “i knew she’d freak if i didn’t say somethin’. ’s fine, calm down.”

When you meet his eyesockets, you feel like you’re going to melt with relief. If he hadn’t said anything, you think you might have exploded with the stress of the thing.

“O-oh… phew, I think I was about to have a heart attack… or at least a panic attack…”

“well, don’t,” he jokes, standing up and stretching. That couch never failed to make his bones all sore. “you’d probably make Papyrus cry.”

“I would not!” Paps insists from across the room. “I would just freak out a lot!”

You set your phone back on the table, take a deep breath, and kick your shoes off.

“Fellas, fellas, no heart attacks today-” in a little burst of genius, you wink- “unless you want me to start some.”
~~~~~ Sans is fairly sure his soul skipped like a broken record when you said that, his cheekbones glowing electric blue. He has a sneaking suspicion that was aimed at him rather than his brother. Hopefully. Maybe. He never took you for the flirty type, but…

“don’t need any heart attacks ‘round here, sweetheart- what were you saying about breakfast, Paps?”
~~~~~ Oh, he’s good. Subtle nickname, quick subject change, no chance for you to fire back. How he’s experienced in this, you have no clue, but you find yourself really enjoying the banter.

Not flirting, exactly, but close.

Very close.
~~~~~
After Papyrus leaves for the drill set-up (the literal drill for the ground, not a practice) you decide it might be a good time to let yourself out. After everything that’s happened this morning, you think that it might be best there’s a day or so of time between the next time you see the skelebros.

“Hey, Sans, I’m gonna go, okay? I wanna make sure you actually texted Toriel and didn’t just fake it so I’d stay.”

“sounds like something i’d do,” he admits, cracking an eyesocket open from his nap and grinning.

You feel just a little color drain from your face… holy shit, if he did that…

“kidding, calm down. you look like you’ve seen a human- i mean- uh. that expression doesn’t really work here, does it?”

“Pfft, this is why it’s so fun to be a human down here,” you snicker, pausing near the doorway. “Are there more expressions like that?”

“only a million. i’ll tell you sometime.”

You grin and nod.

“Good- d’love to hear it, sounds fun. Maybe some other movie night or something, huh?”

“yeah, sounds fun. i slept through the last half of the movie, anyway.”

“Same.”

An awkward pause- Sans takes the initiative to break it.

“what’re your dreams about?”

Your mouth shuts off, and you stutter uncomfortably.

“I- well, see- um… mostly…”

“you have nightmares, don’cha?” he offers, letting both eyesockets open.

“I- how’d you know?” you ask, surprised.

“i have ‘em, too. you start to be able to tell,” he shrugs.

“Maybe… maybe I’ll tell you sometime,” you try to joke, scratching the back of your neck. He doesn’t laugh.

“i’m just sayin’, i know what it’s like to go through that alone- no fun. ‘f you wanna talk, i’m here.”

You stare at your shoes again, opening and closing your mouth. You can’t think of anything to say. There’s nothing you CAN say that does justice to the gratitude you feel towards the offer.

You settle for a ‘thanks’ before speeding out the door.
~~~~~
It becomes a sort of unofficial routine in your life- waking up early, printing out sheet music, heading down to Waterfall, and learning a song. Often a few monsters come to hear you sing, sometimes requesting simple melodies they could sing along to. You wish you had some other instrument than a piano- a uke or something- but no dice.

You start to notice a pattern in the songs you pick- whether happy or sad, fast, slow, by any artist- they’re all love songs. You get more confident with every song you learn, every note you play, every mistake you make.

The crowds of monsters get a little bigger every day- you start to learn what the regulars like, and pick songs specifically for them, depending on the day- Shyren likes opera, even if you can’t sing the high notes for dirt. Undyne likes rock, and she doesn’t mind that you can’t get the full effect from a piano. Papyrus likes Latin songs, especially fast ones. Sans is, well, unpredictable as always. He likes the old pop songs, especially the love songs (to your surprise). Of course, he has a soft spot for comedy songs.

Today, though, you bring in a sad song- your personal favorites are the ones that make you cry- and learn it. The crowd is thinner than usual, and it gets even scarcer the longer you take to learn the song. Papyrus and Sans stay though, for lack of much better to do. By the time you’ve learned it enough to run it one time through, you’re sniffing so hard you can barely sing. They aren’t sad tears, exactly- but they aren’t happy tears. They’re just, good tears. Ones that you don’t mind crying.

“HUMAN, ARE YOU OKAY?!” Papyrus asks from behind you, running over. “DID YOU HURT YOURSELF? WAS THE PIANO MEAN TO YOU? WHAT HAPPENED?!”

You give a wobbly smile and shrug.

“Sad songs help me feel better? I- I’m okay.”

“Uh. What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure I can explain it- it barely makes sense to me, honestly. I just really love this song, I guess. I’m good, really,” you sniff.

“Er- alright, if you say so! Do you think you could play it again?” he asks, enthusiastically.

“I’m not sure I’ll make it past the chorus this time,” you admit.

“That’s okay!” he says, beaming.

“Uh, okay…”

You start playing, again wishing you had a guitar. Papyrus and Sans (the latter of whom has been silent this entire time) listen carefully from behind you.

As usual, the chorus tears you apart at the seams- though you’ve never been happier to be sad in your life-

“What am I supposed to do, when the best part of me was always you, and, what am I supposed to say, when I’m all choked up, and you’re okay? I’m fallin’ to pieces… yeah, I’m fallin’ to p-pieces…” you can’t keep it up anymore, and you have to stop for a minute so you can wipe your eyes.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Papyrus asks.

“I-I’m fine! J-just my c-c-crazy human emotions, right?” you turn around on the piano bench so you can look at them- “I’m f-fine, really. It’s just a good s-song.”
~~~~~ Your voice undoes Sans in a way nothing has up to this point in his life. Yeah, you’re human, but who cares at this point? You act and talk and speak like any other monster down here. You care about everyone just like a monster would.

But this? He doesn’t need to Judge you to know you’re happy when you sing. It comes off of you in waves, whether you’re laughing or crying.

So when Papyrus runs to go get something, leaving you and Sans alone yet again… he comes and sits by you.

“that was awesome,” he says, grinning.

Your face heats up, and you thank him, still wiping your eyes a little- you’ve learned to take his compliments now, even if you get a little red when you do.

He pulls his hoodie sleeve over his hand and wipes your eyes with it, gently so as not to bother what’s left of your black eye.

“i know you don’t mind the cryin’ too much, but i do,” he says quietly, putting his hand back in his lap.

You smile a little, and nod.

“Sorry.”

“’s ok, i mean, you can cry all you want- just makes me nervous.”

“I- sorry,” you say again, flushing even more.

“so, d’you ever do this on the surface?” he asks, expertly changing the subject.

“I-I mean, you can safely bet that anything I do down here that makes me look happy is not something I did on the surface,” you sigh- “But I have played the piano before- I took lessons at school before my dad pulled me out.”

“why’d he pull you out?”

“He SAID school was full of bad influences, but what he MEANT was he was worried I’d tell someone he… did what he did to me… if I was surrounded by people all the time.”

“oh.”

“Yeah.”

There’s a quiet pause-

“But…” you start, “that doesn’t matter now that I’m here, right? I won’t have to go back to him again…”

“yeah,” Sans nods, staring at the piano keys. You stare at them, too. “y’know, me and Paps have been seeing more and more of you lately…”

“Mmm-hmm?”

“and i was wondering if you’d wanna stay over again sometime. overnight. on purpose, this time.”

“I’d love to, but you’re convincing Toriel, not me.”

“already did it. just thought i’d ask you first. tonight sound good?”

You bump his shoulder, snickering, and he laughs.

“well, i knew you’d say yes.”

“How?” you ask, giggling.

“if i had guts, i’d say it was a gut instinct, but, eh. dunno.”

“Cool. Shall we, then?”

“ok-” he holds out an arm, which you take, and then you’re gone.

Chapter Text

Once you’ve arrived at their house, you’re surprised (well, maybe not ENTIRELY surprised) to find all of your overnight stuff is already there- courtesy of Sans and Toriel. It isn’t much- a spare blanket, your pajamas, a comb, and your toothbrush, all packed in a neat little bag with a note on the top. (“Have a fun night, and don’t stay up too late! Love, Mom”)

“you call her mom now?” Sans asks, reading over your shoulder. You bump him with your elbow-

“You gonna stop being nosy?”

“i don’t have a nose,” he points out.

“It’s an expression, bonehead,” you say, rolling your eyes and laughing.

“i’m aware,” he chuckles. “alright, what’re we supposed to do at these things?”

“COMMEMORATE THE OCCASION WITH A SELFIE, OF COURSE!” Papyrus shouts as he comes down the stairs two at a time, holding out his phone.

The picture is a little rushed, and Papyrus blinked, but you look at it and laugh-

“That’s a good first selfie for me!” (It’s horrible, but you’re happy)

“yup, ’s picterrific.” Sans says- maybe not his best, but you laugh all the same.

“Yes, I- wait. BROTHER, THAT BETTER NOT HAVE BEEN A PUN.”

“maybe a little,” he snickers- just his little “guilty” face makes you smile.

While Papyrus shouts, you pick up his phone and look at the picture again. You know what? Not bad. Not bad at all.

Well- then you notice the date in the corner, up near the time. ‘December 7, Monday’… now, that can’t be right… you must have fallen down three weeks ago, then, right? You fell down in November. Yes, that’s right, it was cold outside. You smile to yourself as the realization hits-

“Hey, it’s my birthday,” you say, laughing quietly.

Sans and Papyrus pause, looking over at you.

“It is?” Papyrus asks. You nod, suddenly worried you said something wrong.

“Why didn’t you say something sooner?!” he cries, dashing to the kitchen. “I have to get birthday spaghetti ready!”

“It’s not a big deal,” you say timidly, “I guess I just think it’s funny. Birthdays were never really a big deal where I come from, so-”

“Nonsense! We are going to throw a big party and watch anime and then stay up very late, like people do at sleepovers! Especially sleepover birthday parties!” Papyrus insists from the kitchen.

“c’mon, let him do his thing,” Sans advises quietly. “and besides, we wanna do SOMETHIN’ for ya.”

“I mean- if you guys want to, I’m all for it,” you smile- “But maybe we could keep this between the three of us? I don’t want it to turn into a big thi-”

All of a sudden, from behind you, you hear a loud crash- Undyne is standing there with Alphys on her back, Mettaton retracting his leg from kicking down the door. You nearly jump straight into Sans’ arms- luckily, though, you just bump into him.

“WE SAW PAPS’ POST ABOUT THE PUNK’S BIRTHDAY PARTY! WHERE IS IT?!” Undyne shouts, walking in confidently and letting Alphys swing down from her back.

“So much for that plan,” you mutter, trying to catch your breath. “How the hell did they even get here this fast…” Sans gives you a pat on the back.

“sorry ‘bout that. guess you’re stuck with an awesome party now.”

“Guess I am,” you agree. Even though you weren’t really expecting a party… it’s nice to have someone care about your birthday for once. Really though, how did they get here so fast??

“Darling, it was on such short notice (‘I bet,’ you think) we couldn’t bring gifts, but I am happy to give you a makeover!” says Mettaton, walking around you full circle. “You’re a perfectly blank canvas!”

“Maybe later,” you say, unsure if what he said was a compliment or an insult- “I’m not much of the make-up type.”

“Everyone is the makeup “type”, darling. And everyone looks good in glitter. Two fundamental rules in life. Oh, that, and always carry a spare chainsaw, you never know when you might need it.”

“Well, where’s yours?” you joke. However, he promptly whips one off of his back-

“Right here- not the BEST model, the newest is at home- but it’s always good to have.”

“Uh- s-s-should you have that in t-the house, M-metta?” Alphys asks, tugging on his arm.

“Hm. well, I suppose not,” he pouts. You have to smile a little.

“Hand it over, we can’t c-c-come over to friend’s houses with weapons of mass destruction, we’ve t-talked about t-this.”

You have to faux-cough to hide your laughing. This has happened before??

“Fiiiiine,” he mumbles, handing it to her.

“A-anything ELSE?”

“I may have a few backup bombs. But those are purely for emergencies, darling!”

While they argue, you slip away, giggling. Sans follows, hands in pockets.

“those two are a riot, eh?”

“Totally- ‘we can’t come over to friend’s houses with weapons’- I nearly lost it.”

“heheh, that was good. wonder what the other rioters are gettin’ up to?”

Undyne and Papyrus, evidently, are making spaghetti, punching out the tomatoes and roasting the noodles. You laugh again- it’s only been five minutes and the kitchen is already a mess.

“Sup, punk?!” Undyne shouts. You grin-

“I’m good!”

“You’d better be!!”

You aren’t quite sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it sounds vaguely like a threat, so you drop it.

“Can I head upstairs and change? Or is there somewhere else…” you feel your cheeks turn red- you’re still not used to changing at other people’s houses. And they don’t have a bathroom.

“uh… i dunno,” he asks, just as awkward. “maybe, uh, my room or somethin’? just don’t go pokin’ around, ok?”

“Yeah, of course,” you agree, grabbing your overnight bag and heading up. “Thanks.”

“no problem,” he mutters, staring at the floor, maybe slightly embarrassed. You don’t hear it.

The room is oddly familiar- this is where you woke up after you passed out a few days ago… god, what if that plan had worked out? What if you weren’t celebrating this? But… everyone would be on the surface.

A pang of regret shoots through your soul, making you cringe. Why does this have to be so HARD sometimes? You just want to do what’s best for everyone, but, if they won’t let you make sacrifices, it’s difficult. Even if you aren’t there, you half-wish they were seeing the stars right now.

You realize you’ve just been standing in the doorway of the room, and you walk in. After quickly changing into your softest pajamas and stuffing your change of clothes back in your bag, you notice something on the floor.

Your clothes- from after the ‘incident’. Bloody and torn and stained. Just sitting in a pile, just like you left them.

You freeze. Your… blood… you aren’t used to seeing it. The last time you did, you were dying. The time before that, you were dying. And essentially every time before THAT, you were probably being beat up. You feel your knees start to give way… but you can’t pull your eyes away from the little crimson bundle.

“Kate! Spaghetti’s ready!” Papyrus calls from the stairs.

Nothing comes out of your mouth. You can’t speak, you can’t stand, you can’t blink or breathe. Finally, you hear someone coming up the stairs-

“Kate? Come downstairs, everyone is waiting on you… why are you on the floor?”

No. Maybe someone else, but you aren’t going to have a breakdown in front of Papyrus. You snap yourself out of it and stumble to your feet, eyes still locked on the clothes like they’re going to attack you.

“Coming…” you murmur, coming out of the bedroom. The smell of old blood is still in your nose. Why does he even still have those?!

‘Probably too lazy to clean it up. Maybe he can’t even smell it…’ you think.

Trying to turn your mind to other things, you look downstairs. Everybody is settling down at the table, and a box of spider donuts is sitting in the middle.

Just seeing your friends all together for this- heck, they even got you an impromptu treat- makes you feel a million times better. Better, in fact, than you’ve felt in days. You have to pause and take it in before you can keep walking downstairs.

Sans leans over (he’s sitting right beside you) and whispers-

“you ok?”

“I… yeah. Yeah, I’m pretty good,” you answer, quietly, smiling. He nods and turns back to everyone else.

“Thank you guys,” you say as you look around- “This is definitely the best birthday party I’ve ever had.”

“it’s also the ONLY birthday party you’ve ever had,” Sans points out. You roll your eyes, laughing.

“True, but it’s still the best.”

Dinner is scarfed down so the party can continue- before anything, Mettaton corners you for that makeover. He plops you on the couch and stares at you, tapping a makeup brush on his shoulder with a little metallic *ping* sound.

While he appraises you, you cut in-

“Nothing too heavy, okay? I’m not really used to makeup.”

“Trust me, darling, I know what I’m doing. Hmm… what was the name of your first pet?”

“What?” you ask, completely caught off-guard.

“Your first pet,” he repeats, seemingly considering something. Everyone starts to gather around, curious to what Mettaton is doing with you.

“Uh- it was a rock I named Zeebop, what does that have to do with-”

“Perfect- let me work my magic, stay still!”

In a matter of minutes, powders and lipsticks and mascara and eyeshadow pile on your face. It goes so fast you barely have time to feel uncomfortable. Frankly, you’re more worried about where all this makeup is coming from.

You’re told to keep your eyes shut while he works, but you can distinctly hear Papyrus and Alphys squealing. So this must be pretty good.

“Done!” he says- “You can open your eyes.”

You do, and everybody lets out a little “ooh”- except Sans. (Sans just wolf-whistles and gets elbowed by Papyrus.) You squint at them, confused- this can’t be that big a deal, right? Your face heats up fast.

“Come to my room, I have a mirror in there!” Papyrus says, standing- “Wowie, you have to see this!”

Everyone follows while he leads you upstairs- and WOW. You really do look good, even if you personally think you look nothing like you. You can’t help but smile when you see it, and the effect is immediate- whoops and hollers of “me next” from Undyne and Alphys, Papyrus jumping up and down, Mettaton looking smug with the product of his work, and Sans looking pret-ty impressed.

On the way down the stairs, Mettaton puts an arm over your shoulder and whispers in your ear-

“You look fantastic, darling.”
~~~~~ It’s damn lucky Sans has a good poker face- he’s not just impressed by this- he’s downright enamored. The only thing keeping him from just taking you somewhere else so he can have you all to himself is the worry that he’d get too carried away.

Silently cursing his thoughts, he grins easily and shoots a few compliments your way, then turns and heads downstairs with the others. Hopefully this feeling will just go away, like Grillby said it might.

But maybe he gets a little pissed when Mettaton pulls you up to him and whispers at you on the way downstairs. Your face heats up afterwards- and now he’s dying to know what that bolt-box said. Was he hitting on you? Just the thought makes his eyelights go out- he hurries to re-ignite them when you look back at him, smiling.

“You okay?”

“fine,” he assures you. You grab his hand and lead him down the last couple stairs, then over to where the others are standing.

“If you’re okay, then maybe you should come down the rest of the stairs,” you advise, smirking.

He relaxes when you look at him- not like he’s a joke or a nuisance or something, but like he matters- and smiles back.

“i might need you to walk me through the last four steps,” he chuckles.

You laugh- everyone else groans.

“Don’t worry, bonehead, I will.”

Yeah, maybe nobody else notices… but you don’t drop his hand after the shenanigans are over. And he doesn’t pull away.
~~~~~
After all the girls have had a makeover and the guys… all get fake eyelashes (Yes, that means Papyrus and Sans. They look ridiculous, and they’re thoroughly enjoying it), there isn’t really a general consensus about what to do next.

“W-what about the anime I brought?” Alphys suggests. Finally, something everyone can agree on.

You get first pick on where you get to sit on the couch because you’re “the birthday girl” (which is a title you’ve never heard before), so you plop down on the far end. Papyrus, Undyne, and Mettaton sit on the floor because they’re so tall, and Alphys takes the other end of the couch, leaving Sans right next to you.

Alphys brought a funny one- you can stay awake for most of it… but you find yourself drifting off towards the end. It’s getting late. You settle back- this isn’t a bad place to fall asleep, surrounded by your friends.

However, you forgot to take nightmares into account.
~~~~~ Sans watches from your side as you drift off to sleep right before the big mech-battle starts. Your hands are tucked up contentedly over your ribcage, your feet are under you, and you’ve even shifted a little so you can lay down somewhat. Like a sleeping cat, maybe.

He gently pushes some of your hair out of your face so he can see you better- it’s lucky you’re asleep.

‘sorry ‘bout all these guys,’ he thinks at you. ‘i know you didn’t want somethin’ big, but we care about you. dunno what i mighta done if there weren’t so many people watching… maybe i woulda toldya i… y’know…’ he can’t even complete the thought while looking at you. So he looks back at the movie and thinks- ‘i really, really like you.’

However, the moment he looks back at your face, he doesn’t think he can do it. Even in his head. So he settles for the next best thing.

‘sweet dreams… n’, uh, all that jazz, sweetheart.’

Almost as if he’d jinxed you, however, you start mumbling in your sleep… he leans over to hear better.

“Stopit… n… nno, stop it…”

“Is s-s-something going on?” Alphys asks in a low voice, so no-one else is distracted.

“i think she’s havin’ a mightmare, she fell asleep,” Sans responds.

“D-do you think you c-c-could wake her up?”

“i can try.”

He turns to you- the mumbling is getting louder-

“Stopit…I didn’t do anything…”

“hey, Kay-Kay, wake up,” he says, quietly, shaking your shoulder.

“Come… come back…” you whisper, tensing up.

“Kate, wake up.”

“…m’sorry…”

“you’re ok, ’s just a dream, wake up.”

“ow… stop, that hurts…”

And then his self control snaps- if this is a nightmare about your dad, he needs to wake you up as soon as he can.

Louder, he says,

“wake up.”

“What’s going on?” Papyrus asks, turning around halfway.

“think she’s havin’ a nightmare- Kate, wake up.” he adds, shaking your shoulder a little harder. When that doesn’t work, he finally speaks up- Undyne and Mettaton turn around, too.

“Kay-Kay, wake. up.”

And with that, you finally do, gasping and panting like a fish out of water.

“hey, ’s ok. ’s ok, it was just a dream,” he says, but the way your eyes dart around like a caged animal scares him. “it was just a dream.”
~~~~~
You shakily sit up a little and look around, confirming your surroundings are real and not just another illusion. If you didn’t remember you have mascara and everything on, you think you might cry. You aren’t THERE, you’re here. You aren’t at THAT place, you’re… home.

“Human- uh- Kate, are you okay?” Papyrus asks.

“Yeah, punk, you good??” Undyne agrees.

“I…” you say softly, looking around at all your friends… “I love you guys…”

“well, you didn’t have to be corny about it,” Sans says, elbowing you. You laugh, still a little shaken up-

“You too, bonehead.”

Everyone laughs a little and gives you some form of hug, just as the movie is ending- you definitely feel better now.

 

~~~~~
Undyne, Alphys, and Mettaton head home soon afterwards to get some sleep- and Papyrus goes up to his room to grab blankets for the three of you to get some rest down here.

“you gonna tell me what they’re about yet?” Sans asks, not moving from his spot even though the rest of the couch is empty now.

“Well. You know, my dad and everything,” you murmur. “And this weird one about trying to find something in the woods… but then when I see it, it disappears.”

“you can never get what you’re lookin’ for, right? those suck.”

“I know, but still… I was so CLOSE that time, and then I couldn’t go anymore… everything went red. Red and white…”

Your eyes glaze over a little, reliving the details of your dream.

“hey, ’s all ok. we gotcha, it’s alright,” he says, trying to pull your mind back here.

“And then there was one where everyone was gone…” you whisper, staring at the floor. “And… I was down here… alone..”

“Kate,” Sans interrupts, pulling you into a hug. “that’s never gonna happen. we’re all here.”

“But… but then…”

“’s ok,” he says, stubborn. “it’s gonna be ok. just a dream. we’re all here… i’m here.”

You nod and let out a shaky sigh, your doubt dissipating with every second you’re in his arms.

“see, there you go. we gotta bunch of blankets- you wanna go to sleep? we’ll be right here if you need us.”

It sounds so tantalizingly simple… you nod again, not moving a muscle out of the hug.

“there you go. c’mon,” and with that, Papyrus comes downstairs with the blankets and everyone takes a few- then, you fall back asleep.

You leave your hand open in case *someone* feels like taking it during the night.

Chapter Text

Right from the moment your eyes open the next morning, you get a bad feeling. It looms like a dark cloud in your peripheral vision, cold and wet.

Matching your thoughts, a blizzard rages outside, winds howling. Of course, for a constantly snowy biome, this is normal. Expected, even, every couple months. It just happens to be particularly bad this time. It’s that type of storm that’s only dangerous if you’re out in it- no one is frozen inside, and the shops always have bright lights so you can make it somewhere safe if you’re lost.

“It’s a very well-prepared system,” Papyrus assures you over breakfast, “So we should be fine. Sans can shortcut you home if you need to go.”

“I mean, I’ll head back sometime around lunch, but I was wondering if I could still get to the piano? I can’t print any new songs from here, I don’t think, but I could replay some of the other songs. I don’t really have anything better to do.”

“i’ll take ya,” Sans nods, then turns to Papyrus. “but you’ve got sentry duty today, right?”

“Yes… though I would much prefer to hear you sing, in THIS weather,” he admits.

“welp, we oughta go, then. you ready, Kay-Kay?”

You stand up, grateful for a chance to escape yet another meal of spaghetti.

“Yep.”

“you got all your stuff?”

“Mmm-hmm!”

“ok then. you set, Paps?”

Papurus looks out the window, jaw set.

“It doesn’t seem there’s any point in putting it off. These are the duties of a Royal Guard, after all! Have fun, you two.”

“Stay warm,” you joke.

If he had eyes, he’d probably roll them, but instead he says,

“I will try my best, though I don’t think there’s much chance.”

“‘member, if you get lost, yell. someone’ll find you,” Sans reminds him.

“I know, I know. Goodbye!”

“Bye! And thank you for letting me stay over,” you add.

“bye, bro.”

Those words mark the start of a very painful few days- for you, for all of the monsters. Looking back, you wish you could have just encouraged everyone to stay home. It would have solved a lot of problems.

Oblivious to this fact, however, you take Sans’ hand and vanish- shortcuts feel like traveling a thousand miles in one moment. Like you’re the fastest runner in the world, leaping through the air from one place to the next. It always makes your stomach turn a little, but the more you do it, the easier it is to shake off. So, once you’re outside the piano room, you have to pause and take a breath.

“you good?”

“I’m okay, just need to catch my breath. I don’t know how you do that, wouldn’t it take an insane amount of energy?”

“eh, sorta. i’m used to it, so it isn’t as difficult anymore. used to be ridiculous though, you have no idea how many power naps i needed."

“You say that like you don’t still take a ridiculous amount of power naps.”

‘well, your soul isn’t helping much,’ he thinks. Not that he would ever say that to you though, for fear of making you feel guilty about something you had no say in whatsoever.

“So, what song should we start with…” you squint at the short, messy stack of sheet music.

“random pick?”

“I like that plan. You pick,” you say, sweeping out your arm dramatically so he can pass by.

“mm, ok. uh…” he crouches, pages through the stack slowly, and pulls out a stapled three-page song. “this one.”

“What is it?”

“uh- it doesn’t have a title.”

“Oh- oh, that’s the one I tried to write,” you laugh. “It’s terrible, I stayed up way too late trying to make it work.”

“can you play it?”

“Can you read my handwriting?”

“kinda.”

“Then you’re singing it, because I can’t read anything I write.”

Sans’ cheekbones go slightly blue-

“look kid- um- i mean- Kate,” he corrects himself, “i don’t sing.”

“Sure you do, everyone does.”

“nope.”

“C’mon, at least try.”

“we both know trying isn’t my thing,” he says, emphasizing his point by taking a seat on the floor. “’n besides, i like listening to you sing.”

Slightly flustered by the compliment, you shoot back,

“Well, I’m a lot better at singing songs written by professionals- I mean, I can sing, but I never said I could write.”

“ok, ok, fine. but can i keep it? just to look at, a little? i’ll give it back."

Your eyes narrow-

“It’s terrible,” you warn.

“all paper is tear-able, i’ll be careful,” he jokes, winking.

“Oh my god,” you laugh, shaking your head. “You know what, keep it!”

Over the next hour or so, you sing a few of the songs in the pile- always getting an encore from your one-skeleton audience. The banter between songs is probably the most enjoyable part.

Sad songs, comedy songs, alternating between the ones you like and the ones he likes, occasionally trying to rope him into a duet (he won’t).

And then, it’s finally time to leave. You stack up all of the songs, this time with a bit more method to it, and put them in a pile under the piano.

“aww, c’mon, one more,” he says, eye sockets half-open and relaxed. You roll your eyes.

“We said that three songs ago, bonehead, I have to get back to Tori’s.”

“yeah, yeah, ok,” he sighs, standing up and stretching. “wanna take the scenic route back to Snowdin? ‘m kinda tired for a long shortcut, but i can do it from there.”

“Sure, as long as you don’t wear yourself out. Hey, what was-” you turn around, looking into the dank caves outside the room. You could have sworn you heard someone…

“what?” Sans asks.

“Nothing, just thought I heard something… anyway… thanks for letting me hang out with you guys. The birthday party was awesome.”

The idle chit-chat helps you feel less on edge- you start walking through Waterfall.

“no problem. it was fun to do somethin’ big like that, nobody throws parties down here anymore.”

“Well, it really was fun. And Mettaton even let me keep some of the lipstick, he said it was,” you flip your hair and put on a purposefully dramatic voice- “MY COLOR.”

“heheh- yeah, he’s a good guy after he gets past his ego. i keep meaning to tell you, but i gotcha somethin’, too.”

He digs around in his pocket and hands you an old shoelace, tangled in knots and coming apart at the ends.

“Uh- what is it?” you ask, confused.

“well, what do you think it is?”

“A tied-up shoelace?”

“i’m a frayed knot.” (If you don’t get it, say it out loud)

It takes you a second, but when you get the joke you bust out laughing-

“OH MY GOD THAT’S HORRIBLE-”

“heheh- ’s a good one,” he chuckles, grinning as you double over.

“And it took me a sec, too, I was all like ‘what?’” you do a little impression of yourself before breaking down again.

“heh, happy birthday!”

That doesn’t help your laughing situation. Finally, when you catch your breath (and the relapses of giggles have stopped) you stuff the knot in your pocket and thank him.

“It was a top knot-ch joke,” you offer- he laughs.

“good one.”

Again, though, you could have sworn you heard something odd- shuffling rocks or metallic clicks or… something.

“Don’t you hear that?” you ask- but when he stops walking to listen, it goes away.

“you sure it isn’t just a Woshua or somethin’? they come ‘round this area pretty often.”

“Oh… oh, okay, that must be it,” you nod uncertainly, continuing to walk.

The rest of the walk is just quiet talking- about the surface, a little bit, about old stories and favorite things. The topic jumps from one thing to the next, engaging and somewhat calming. It’s almost like that bad-feeling cloud is going away a little.

However, when you reach the huge rock formation marking the entrance back to Snowdin, your looming feeling of unease comes back full swing. You’re doing the whole thing- glancing over your shoulder, eyes darting around, taking hurried, panicky steps.

“hey, you ok? you’re all tense.”

“Just… feels like something’s wrong… don’t you feel it?”

The big, spiky rocks feel more sinister than before… why?

“calm down, it’s ok,” Sans says, but you shake your head a fraction of an inch.

“It’s not.”

A voice comes from in the stone, cold, deep, and hauntingly familiar.

“Damn right, it’s not.”

Chapter Text

Your heart skips- you stumble backwards, away from the rock. All you can say is ‘no’.

“Nonononono,” you say, staring up at the looming figure.

Your father. In full military uniform, gun in hand.

You grab Sans’ hand out of pure instinct. He looks from you to this other strange human, who you seem to be terrified of.

“Move outta the way. I’m getting rid of THAT,” he says, hurling the words at you. He’s just as condescending as always- literally this time, since he must be at least ten feet up. It takes you a second to realize “that” is Sans.

The horrible words alone give you a feeling of rebellion, and you move to stand firmly in front of Sans.

“If you’re going to shoot him, you’re going to have to shoot your own daughter,” you snarl angrily.

And when the relationship between you and this human clicks in his head, Sans lets go of your hand. He promised you. He PROMISED that he wouldn’t let this guy hurt you anymore, and he isn’t breaking that promise yet.

“hey, buddo?” Sans calls at him, walking around your pathetic self-barricade. “would’ja put that thing down?”

You tense as he moves to stand in front of you. But no matter how much you tell him to get back, he doesn’t listen. His left eyelight is glowing blue, flickering angrily in its socket.

“It can talk, too…” your father mutters, audibly enough for both you and Sans to hear- and you both realize the same thing. “too”… he had to have met other monsters- oh, no-

“who else’ve you met down here?” Sans asks.

“Enough of you freaks to know this place needs to be incinerated. I’d like you to hand over my daughter right now, or this will get very ugly, very fast.”

“You aren’t going to hurt him,” you yell, stepping forward. “He never did anything wrong, he never did anything to you, just leave. I’m not going with you.”

“If you insist,” he says, aiming- you jump in the way, cringing in preparation for the bullets… but nothing happens. “Get out of the way, kid, I’m not allowed to shoot YOU.”

He says the words like if he WAS allowed, you’d be scum on his boots in seconds. I mean, he already treats you like it, so you don’t see the appeal. You turn around in your block to look at Sans- his eyesockets are wide with shock. When they meet your eyes, though, they carry a lot of pain.

“you just…”

“I know,” you wince. ‘Almost died for him.’

“Kate-”

Before he can say another word, you take a half-step forward and pull him into a tight hug- he hugs you back, just as hard, putting a hand on the back of your head to press it closer to his own.

“You aren’t dying. Period,” you whisper, making his soul skip fearfully.

And with that message, you turn back to your father, planting your feet and holding your arms out wide.

“I’m not moving. Get out of here.”

“We aren’t due back to the surface for two days.”

“Wh- what do you mean, ‘we’?”

“Boys?” he calls, smug. Out from the rocks and cliffs and cracks in the stone come what must be at least thirty soldiers… you can fend off your dad, maybe, but not a crowd like this. Especially when they all have guns. Aimed at Sans- and, that also means at you.

“We had to fight quite a few of you on the way through,” he admits, not lowering his weapon for a second. “Some of them just wouldn’t fight us… others, not so much… but they all got out of our way, whether or not by force.”

Only then do you break eye contact with your father, looking at the men. One or two have monster dust on their boots or shirts.

“Papyrus…” you murmur, stomach twisting. You can practically feel Sans’ soul threaten to shatter.

“Who did you kill?” you ask, eyes already starting to fill up with tears. “WHO DID YOU KILL?”

“Tall, kinda buff one with some armor on- he kinda looked like a dog. Purple bunny with an apron. A talking carrot. And, heh, THIS one wouldn’t get out of our way- wouldn’t even fight. Callahan, bring ‘im out.”

And your heart finally breaks- because, there, NOT struggling, NOT fighting, just trying to talk his way out of the bonds, is Papyrus.

Your father waltzes over and walks a full circle around him.

“Yes, this one was out in the middle of nowhere freezing to death- he started yelling- and then we found him, and, well. I’m personally thinking he’ll be quite the specimen for the science department to take a look at.”

From behind you, Sans comes out again, voice scarier than you’ve ever heard-

“let. him. GO.”

“Oh…” Your dad says, looking from one to the other. “I can see the family resemblance. You must care quite a lot about him… well, I’ll offer you a trade.”

And suddenly, his gun is aimed at Papyrus- all the soldiers follow suit.

“Um! I would rather you not point those at me, thank you!” Papyrus says, trying to keep his voice from wavering. “Maybe we could all talk this out?”

“Pfft- he’s an idiot, though,” your father admits. You hear a growl come from Sans, low and angry, preparing for something. “Anyway, you down there. You can either hand her over right now, or I’ll blow his skull wide open. Fair?”

Sans only hesitates for a fraction of a second, but you make the decision for him. Just as the starts of attacks form behind you, you step forward, waving your hands in surrender.

“Stop it, stop it, right now! All of you put the guns down, and I’ll come over- do whatever you want with me, just don’t hurt him,” you say, loud and very audibly scared.

“There’s a good girl,” he says, eyes like ice chips, cold and uncaring. “Alright, guns down, everyone. Let the big one go.”

Someone goes and unties Papyrus, but when he goes to protect you, you shake your head “no” frantically.

“Can I at least hug him before I go?” you ask, feeling angry you have to ask for a favor like this.

“Why not?” your father responds, grinning sadistically. You turn away from him, shaking slightly, and let Papyrus pull you into a hug.

“You have to make sure Sans is safe, no matter what, okay?” you ask. “Promise me you’ll make sure he’s okay.”

There’s a pause-

“But what about YOU?” he asks.

“Who cares? Just don’t let him get hurt. You stay safe, too- and make sure Tori is okay-” your father pulls you backwards roughly by the neck of your shirt- you shout, tears already falling- “Promise me!”

“I- I promise!” he shouts, as he’s forced back by a wall of men. Once you hear it, some *very* small part of you relaxes. Your real family is safe, even if you’re not.

And of course, as a cheerful hello to your last remaining blood relative, you get a hard punch in the chest. It wasn’t meant to spare you any pain- in fact, judging by the snap and the fiery pain, he might have broken a rib.

You sink to your knees, but he catches ahold of your wrist and yanks you up again, to your tip-toes. It causes the recent damage in your chest to spike angrily, but he doesn’t let go.

“Kid, we got quite the amount of catching up to do,” he says. “But let’s get ourselves a place to chat first.”

He pulls a cloth out of his pocket and stuffs it in your mouth as a makeshift gag, then tosses you over his shoulder. Your muffled cries of pain are ignored, but you can hear your father’s orders, cold and direct.

“We’ll commandeer a house to get some things done. The things down here have driven her insane. It isn’t safe for anyone to handle her anymore, so I’ll do it myself. Get rid of anything that tries to harm us from now on- and I mean fire to kill.”

“Boran,” one says- the one who untied Papyrus, ‘Callahan’, right?- “I understand she’s insane, but physical abuse of a child is not permitted in any circumstances.”

“Even,” he holds out an arm- “THESE? This is off the charts of anything we’ve faced before, and I’m leading this mission. So I’ll do what I want. She’s a traitor, a runaway, and a freak just like the rest of them, and she’ll be taken care of like a prisoner.”

Doubt rings clear in Callahan’s voice, even as he agrees-

“Yes, sir.”

A soldier shouts a report-

“The two skeleton-things are gone, sir! Vanished, didn’t even run away!”

‘Oh, so they shortcut,’ you think, trying to breathe through the gag and the painful pressure on your lungs, the fire ripping through your ribcage- ‘good…’
~~~~~
“Where did you take us?” Papyrus asks, bewildered, when they arrive on the other end of the shortcut.

Sans doesn’t respond for the moment- he’s too tired. With your soul already so frantic, and suddenly being so far away from you- it’s wearing on him. Not to mention he’s scared out of his wits.

If they kill you, can you reset? If not… he doesn’t know what he’d do. Kill all those soldier guys, certainly. But still, he had no idea humans could get that BIG. You were the biggest human he’d ever seen when you FIRST fell down, being ten or eleven. And then you came back seven years older (eight, now), and you were even bigger. But humans on a scale like this… he’d had no idea. No wonder you were so scared, wouldn’t everyone be intimidated of a human that size?

And those things they held in their hands… ‘guns’, your dad had called them- he hadn’t seen them in action, but they terrified you. They seemed cold and sinister… maybe when they did their thing they had magic? Humans used to have magic, according to the legends.

“-Sans, are you listening to me?!” Papyrus asks, exasperated. Normally, Sans would ask him to be quieter, but they’re out of hearing range of the pack of humans and he honestly doesn’t care about much else.

“Please, brother, we can’t leave her with them! They’re…” his eye sockets glow orange with sudden fear and anxiety- “They aren’t nice. They’ll hurt her, badly, we have to go and get her!”

Sans turns his thoughts to his brother, checking over him for cracks or bruised bones. Only a few- bruises his wrists where his hands were tied, and a hairline crack on his pelvis.

“what’d they do to you?” he asks, motioning for his brother to hold out his arms so he can assess the damage.

“They tied me up with some plastic stuff. Oh, and the big one hit me,” he points, cringing, at the crack on his pelvis. “But it kind of backfired, he hurt his hand.”

If not for the circumstances, Sans might have laughed at that. Big bad guy trying to show off and messing up his wittle bitty hand.

“can… can you heal it? i’m too tired…” with this, he drops Papyrus’ hands and sinks down, trying to catch his breath. It’s like someone knocked the air out of his soul, even though he wasn’t doing anything too difficult.

“Sans… you didn’t even use that awful bike pun that time! Normally I would consider that a success, but, it just means you’re as worried as I am about Kate. We have to go get her!”

Sans deflects it yet again.

“we gotta go see if Tori’s ok, they musta gone through the Ruins first… if they hurt her…”

“They would have told us if they had, Sans, but what about Kate?! We left her back there-”

“stop,” the older brother spits, pressing his skull between two shaking hands. “stop it. i know what i did, and i did it to make sure they don’t hurt YOU.”

Papyrus hesitates, letting that sink in.

“B-But-”

“PLEASE. we aren’t gonna talk about it. you’ve died way too many times, i’m not letting it happen again. god, not again…”

“Brother,” Papyrus says, dumbfounded, for lack of anything better to say. “I- I thought you said you didn’t want to talk about that.”

“i don’t.”

“Then… we won’t. But you know what it feels like to lose me. If they kill her- and she CAN’T reset-”

“stop it, i-i know, god…” he’s curled up in the fetal position now, shaking violently, arms over his head. Maybe twenty seconds away from a panic attack.

Papyrus has seen this too many times, and quickly stops talking. Instead, he drops down by his brother and pulls him into a hug, trying to calm him down.

“Forget I said that. She’s going to be alright.”

“b-but…”

“It’s alright.”

“god, what if they…”

He shakes harder, pulling his eyesockets shut tightly and remembering the promise he made you weeks ago. He wouldn’t ever let your father hurt you anymore. He’d PROMISED… ugh, this is why he hates the things, they’re so easy to break.

No, they can’t kill you, the soul bond is still in place… but they could do worse. Much, much worse. And just imagining the things they might do to you pushes him over the edge.

Papyrus watches Sans fall into full panic mode. It’s only ever this bad after his worst nightmares- though it is a living nightmare right now, admittedly. All Paps can do, even though it hurts him to not be able to help more, is be there.

He rests his forehead on the back of his brother’s skull, which is crammed in between his knees.

“hhh… nononono…”

“Sans, it’s going to be alright. I’m here, right? And they didn’t hurt me, because of you. She’s strong, I’m sure she’ll be alright.”

“but… i LEFT her…”

Well, Papyrus can’t argue with that. He kind of did.

“even you know it… now they’re gonna… hhhhh…” he can’t breathe- there’s only the pressing cloud of panic. Wherever they take you, whatever they do with you, it won’t be in your favor. They could knock you out…. use those “guns” on you… god, what if they have KNIVES…

“Sans… try looking at her soul. Will that help?”

It takes him a minute or two longer to pull himself free of the crushing panic, but when he does… he presses his hand to his sternum and coaxes out your little sliver of soul. It’s taken the form of a tiny, tiny red heart- Sans can hold it in one hand.

Once it’s out of his ribcage, he notices how much it’s shaking. Whether from cold or terror or something else…

‘what’f she’s crying…’ he thinks. It would be a solid assumption. But imagining tears on your face again makes his own soul twist with pain.

Treating it like a small animal of some kind, Papyrus gently strokes it with one thumb, trying to make you feel better…. somehow. Your soul leans into the warmth and comfort of his glove, shaking becoming less. Sans looks at it, chin on his knees, and shakily copies the motion. Gently stroking it… it quickly pulls out of Papyrus’ glove for his hand. Once it’s nestled there, he brings it to his forehead, pressing against it.

Your soul seems to like this- it nuzzles him a little before settling back into his palm. Then it allows him to push it back into his chest, where it settles behind his own soul.

Papyrus tries speaking again-

“See? The human loves you, brother.”

Before Sans can protest, his phone rings. Alphys. He answers- Alphys has so much social anxiety she only ever makes calls if its an emergency.

“S-S-Sans, I n-need y-y-you at the l-lab r-r-r-right n-now,” she says, voice small and scared.

Her stutter is only this bad when she’s terrified, Sans notes.

“what’s happening?”

“S-s-so, r-remember h-h-how I had the h-human t-t-tracker c-cam?”

“. . .you can see Kate?”

“Y-y-y-yes.”

“what’re they doing to her?” he says, staggering to his feet, shaking so hard his bones make a rattling noise.

“Y-y-you know?!”

“yes, what’re they doing to her?”

“T-t-there’s s-some human in P-p-p-papyrus’ b-bedroom… he’s t-t-tying her up. S-sans, it d-d-doesn’t look g-good-”

“they’re in OUR HOUSE?” he asks, eyelights dying. Oh, boy, now he’s mad on top of everything else.

“Y-yes.”

There’s audible shouting on the other end of the phone-

“is that him?”

“o-o-oh g-god…”

“what? what is it? what’s he doing?”

“i…”

“ALPHYS.”

“i c-c-c-can’t… c-c-come h-here.”

And with that, she hangs up.

Sans can’t see, move, breathe. What is he doing to you? How did he get into their house? This is happening in PAPYRUS’ room, for god’s sake…

“B-brother, are you okay?”

“c’mon, we gotta go to Alphys place,” he gets out, choking on the words.

“What’s happening?”

He takes his brother’s hand, scrapes together his remaining energy, and shortcuts.

Chapter Text

You’re so angry. They broke into Papyrus’ and Sans’ house. They’re setting up camp in the living room, raiding the kitchen, checking over the whole place like it’s contaminated, not someone’s HOME. And this is more of an affront to you than anything your father and his men have done so far.

And it only gets worse when he climbs the stairs, you still slung over his shoulder like a duffel bag, and makes an announcement.

“Men, unpack light, we’re only staying the night here. Set up guard shifts at all the entrances. Keep a weapon on hand at all times. If anything comes in, kill it. I’ll be doing some interrogations. No one is to come into this room under any circumstances.”

The men exchange nervous glances, particularly Callahan, but agree. Then, your father takes you into Papyrus’ room, locking the door behind him.

“You,” he begins, “are a traitor.”

He slams you onto the bed, binds your wrists and ankles, and then tears the gag out of your mouth. Sharp, fire-like pain stabs through your ribs- he certainly must have broken a second or third on the way here. He hasn’t even started yet, and you already feel nauseating pain.

“Just because you treated me like trash, and I had enough brain cells to run away, does not mean I’m crazy,” you argue, tears gathering rapidly at the corners of your eyes.

“Shut up. I never said you were crazy for running away. But you FEEL something for these THINGS-”

“They’re monsters, they’re people, they aren’t THINGS!” you wish you could sit up, but your torso hurts too much.

“You feel something for these THINGS. However, you still treat ME with the utmost disrespect.”

“AND I HAVE DAMN GOOD REASON!” you shout, furious.

“Shut UP. This means, you’re a traitor. Not only to me, but to all of humanity as well. As the New Ebott Law states-” a sadistic grin crosses his face- “This is a war crime. And, as we all know, war crimes are punishable in any way the commander chooses.”

You could speak, but you don’t. Where is he going with this?

“I could put you in a prison. Or say the monsters hypnotized you and have you chucked in some madhouse for the rest of your days.”

You pull on your bonds, not liking the direction his spiel is taking.

“But that would require a lot of paperwork. And I’m really not in the mood. And, if we’re being honest, I don’t really WANT you back on the surface. You were nothing but a nuisance there- and, I don’t see that much has changed.”

“You can’t leave me here. They won’t let you, if you still want to bomb this place.” you growl, trying to hide the tremor in your voice.

“So I say you died. You’d be surprised how gullible those men are- “it’s not like a commander would lie to them”… anyway. I keep trying to think of what a suitable punishment would be for you- any suggestions?”

“Put me outside.”

“Not a chance,” he scoffs.

“You could hand me over to the “things”,” you growl, sarcasm dripping from your voice.

“Nope. Not after the BOND you’ve made with them, that’s exactly what I’m punishing you for.”

“What’s even the point? What do you WANT?”

“I want you to learn that I’m always right. And whatever idiotic idea you have otherwise is going to get you in trouble.”

“You-”

“Save it. I know what we’re going to do now.” He looks down at the army-green tool belt around his waist and digs around in one of the pockets.

“What?”

Your question, though, is quickly answered for you as he pulls a Swiss army knife out of the belt and moves towards you, placid expression on his face.

You struggle, to no avail-

“This should hurt~” he hums, turning your arm over.
~~~~~
Sans is the only one who can still stand to watch the screen anymore. Alphys left the room after your father scrawled “TRAITOR” on your arm with a knife. Undyne arrived just in time for that part to be over, but at the sight of you she had to go, too- she found Alphys. The two huddled together, trying to block out your screams. Toriel hasn’t arrived yet, and she won’t answer any calls. Papyrus has stayed in the room to make sure his brother is alright… but he couldn’t watch since the beginning.

Nobody is brave enough to turn it off.
Because nobody is brave enough to leave you.

It doesn’t get better, either. You’d said something- something Papyrus was proud of you for, something he believed as well, but something that got you in trouble.

“I… I know you’re n-n-not okay,” you panted, grimacing, when the knife finally left your skin. “Just… stop, please, stop, I can help…”

“What do you mean?” your father snarled, real anger starting to enter his voice.

“E-ever since m-mom left you… you weren’t okay… please, just stop-”

He didn’t respond- instead he just hit you in the face. Over, and over, and over again.

That’s when Papyrus couldn’t take it anymore- he stopped hugging Sans to press his hands over his skull and try to block out the noises.

But nothing can stop the splitting cry when he broke your skull.

“no,” Sans whispers, standing- your eye, your skull, your FACE… no, no, no, no, no…

Luckily, you pass out after that. The camera zooms in on your father’s face- he looks horrified at himself- there’s a line even HE recognizes, and he just crossed it. Your shattered skull is evidence enough of THAT.

“P-paps, don’t look, ok…” Sans chokes, ignoring your dad for the moment and trying to see your face.

You can’t die, no, but you can still feel. You can still feel this agony. Why are you bleeding so much? Why, why, why are you bleeding so much…

There’s a sudden hammering on Papyrus’ door, onscreen- your dad tells them not to open it, but they do, breaking it down and coming in.

Callahan is leading the charge- upon seeing the situation, your father covered in your blood, wide eyes. One taser later he’s unconscious on the floor. Soldiers are hurrying to help you free of your bonds.

‘what the hell are they thinkin’, they can’t save her,’ Sans thinks, desperately- ‘they don’t have healing magic… but… they’re tryna help…’

Just seeing these strange humans, who hadn’t cared about you minutes ago, propping you up in the pillows and trying to stop the flow of blood makes him kind of… angry. They don’t deserve to be helping you. They don’t deserve to be so close to you. But they’re really just trying to help… it gives him hope.

A tiny, burning hope.

“Paps. bro, listen to me,” he says, firmly, still shaking at the sight of your face and arm. “i’m gonna go get her.”

“WHAT?!” Papyrus shouts, looking up at his brother. “You- you can’t, what if you get hurt? I need to go, I have more HP than you!”

“you can’t shortcut. and if somethin’ happens, it’s not gonna happen to you, bro.”

“Brother, this is ridiculous, you… you can’t… oh, my god…” he turns his head from Sans to you. Your face, ruined on one side, blood all over his bed. He can’t speak for a moment after that.

“i gotta make sure she’s ok,” he says, putting his hand on his sternum where he can feel your frantic soul trembling and lurching with pain.

“I… please don’t die, alright? No matter what,” Papyrus says, quietly, real fear in his voice.

Sans hugs him as best he can, tightly. It almost breaks their self control- they NEED each other, they can’t live without each other, this is ridiculous- but the sight of you in so much pain is more than enough to make the choice.

“I’ll go have Alphys set up a place for her for when you get back,” Papyrus says, standing. “Be safe.”

“yup. love you, bro.”

“I love you, too, brother.”

There’s a small, still pause where they both expect never to see the other again. Papyrus turns away to hide the tears, while Sans turns to stop the flow of memories. He can’t get distracted, not now.

And then he shortcuts away.
~~~~~
Callahan’s first name was Charlie. Everyone called him Lucky, though, for the almost comical amount of accidents he’s survived.

When he was three, his mother’s car caught fire at a gas station. Story goes he just sat in the flames eating animal crackers until his mom realized he needed rescuing.

When he first got his driver’s license, the city froze overnight. He was out driving in the storm when his car hydroplaned- three bushes and a fence didn’t make it, but he didn’t even get a scratch.

A few years ago- “The crazy year,” he called it- three different accidents happened over the space of two months- first, a hurricane came through his old neighborhood and caused countless casualties, leaving him one of the only survivors. He was held at gunpoint in the next neighborhood when he walked into a bank just in time for it to be robbed. He simply grabbed the gun, turned it on the man, and became town hero. Thirdly, and most recent, he was hit by a bus as he was crossing the street.

He only had to be in the hospital for two days. A record, according to the doctors, for the few people who had been hit by buses.

So, naturally, he joined the army. If he could live through anything- and it truly seemed he could live through ANYTHING- then he might as well be putting the talent to good use.

But, if he was being honest with himself, he’d never met someone as crazy as Boran. Jack Boran, your father, had a questionable past- all anyone knew for sure is that his wife left him within the first two months of marriage, and that his daughter, Kate, was never his. Kate was an Armani- but her real father was dead of mysterious causes. Her mother, also a Kate, had tried to remarry and then, when all went wrong, dumped her child with Boran.

She hadn’t known it, but this was a terrible, terrible mistake.

Callahan had only seen snippets of you, whether you were slipping silently around the house or walking to school (before Boran pulled you out). He’d had a vague idea that you got in fights. Your black eyes and bruises and occasional cuts. He was wrong, of course. But no one ever assumes a child is being abused.

Now, he knows. Because, after a long string of questionable events, he’s knocked Boran out cold on the floor, and you’re bleeding profusely with your wrists and ankles tied. Your skull is very obviously broken. “TRAITOR” is written on your arm with a knife. This is worse than he’s ever seen in his life.

“Does anybody have painkillers?” he shouts at the three men around him, as he cuts your bonds and lays you in the pillows of the racecar bed. They go and get the others- nobody has painkillers of any kind; not even pills.

“Sir, there’s nothing we can do-” says someone behind him, as Callahan tries to mop up some of the blood over your eye.

‘It looks worse than it is because of the blood,’ he tries to remind himself. ‘Head wounds always bleed hard.’

You’re still breathing, even if it’s shallow and slow. You’re still alive, right? That’s a hope. There’s still hope.

“Sir,” the man repeats, again. (‘It’s probably Quincy,’ Callahan thinks) “we should end it for her, she’s not going to make it without some certified skull surgeon.”

“Skull… skull surgeon…” Callahan mutters, wondering why the words ring a bell in his head.

Almost like a creepy angel of some kind, a skeleton with a blue hoodie appears by the door of the room.
~~~~~
Sans scans his brother’s bedroom- the men all freeze when they notice him there. The soldier closest to you on the bed, however, is the first to speak.

“Nobody shoot! Nobody shoot him.”

A quick flash of relief comes over Sans at the thought that he’s not going to have to avoid weapons, but it doesn’t last long.

“What do you want?” asks the same man.

“that’s my friend-” he motions at you. “i know what happened to her, her dad’s insane, she’s been warning us for weeks. i need to heal her.” A few soldiers give him scared or untrusting expressions, so he adds, “please.”

“Why should we trust you?” Callahan asks.

“do you have much other option? it’s a broken skull, d’you think i haven’t had to deal with that shit before?”

There’s a pause- Sans breaks it.

“please, she’s in a lot of pain, i hate to- I CAN’T see her like this.”

“Fine. And-”

“we’ll work out the details later, buddo. back up,” he adds, coming forward quickly to see you. The soldiers comply warily.

At the sight of your face, ruined, collapsed and covered with tears and smeared blood…

“Kate…” it takes him a few seconds to recover from the shock of it- gently cradling your broken head in his hands, he starts to heal. Most of the soldiers stumble backwards and draw out guns when the fire-like magic swirls up, but he doesn’t pay them any mind.

He instantly knows he won’t be able to save all of your face. This is more healing than anyone could handle, and eyes are always difficult to fix. Murmuring gently as he brings some of your HP back, he says,

“Kate… i’m here… i’m here, i’m sorry… m’sorry i couldn’t getcha outta there in time… Paps needed me… it’ll be all good when you wake up, Kay-Kay, i promise…” his soul cracks slightly with the crushing emotions he feels. “…i promise…”

The soldiers watch from behind him as your face starts taking back its shape. Thick white scars cover it, but that’s more than alright. Your left eye is what everyone’s most worried about- it’s still bloody, and even Sans isn’t sure he’ll be able to save it.

Once he’s done all he can for your face, he turns to your arm. He’s so tired, but being here with you is doing wonders for his energy. The word- ‘TRAITOR’- on your arm- it makes him actually wince. You aren’t the traitor, you never were. You were doggedly loyal and kind to everyone… unless they were your dad- and even you tried to give him a chance.

Your arm doesn’t take nearly as long as your face, but you’ll definitely still have scars. Which, he realizes, was probably the idea. You’ll never be able to escape this reminder of him. It makes him angry. So, so angry. But he pushes that down enough to stay focused.

Your ribs are next, when he feels the way they bend- they take a fourth of the time the rest took. But broken ribs hurt awfully, so they’re important to try to fix. He’d know.

Finally, after close to half an hour, he’s done the best he can. He grabs one of the cloths they were using on your face and runs it gently over your eye, which is shut, eyelid torn in a gruesome way. He doesn’t want to know what it might look like open.

Silently, he leans over and pulls your body into his arms, hugging you and burying his face in your hair. You’re probably going to be out cold for a long while, but he needs this. He needs to know you’re alive. He doesn’t say it out loud, but he thinks it at you as if you’d be able to hear.

‘. . .i love you, ok? i do. don’t hurt too much, i tried… i’m sorry. please don’t leave us.’

Chapter Text

A short pause, filled with expectant silence. He leans back up and speaks, voice hoarse with relief and suppressed tears.

“d-done,” he murmurs, unable to tear his gaze away from you. “she’ll be ok… but i don’t know about her eye. i have a friend with an eyepatch, she should know what to do… same eye, too.”

“What’s your name?” Callahan asks, ignoring most of his mumbled words.

“Sans. Sans the skeleton,” he responds, out of instinct.

“Sans, you know Kate?”

“yeah.”

“She told you about what Bor- I mean, what her father was doing to her?”

“y-yeah.”

“What did she say?” he asks, coaxingly.

Sans finally turns his head, another wave of anger rushing up in him. But, no, these humans have good intentions… but, they KILLED his friends, even if they weren’t his close friends.

“i’m not tellin’ you that. you deserve somethin’, i’ll give you that, but you did kinda kill my friends. so let me ask YOU some questions.”

Callahan nods, slightly surprised, dismissing the other soldiers from the room. They take Boran with them, dragging him by wrists and ankles, not bothering to hoist his face off the carpet.

“Go ahead.”

“there’s a goat lady in a purple dress. you see her on your way down here?”

“I think so, yes. Boran- Kate’s father- tried to shoot it- um, her, but missed. She ran off, I don’t know where she went.”

“good. what’s your name?”

There’s a short pause, then he responds-

“Charlie Callahan. People call me Lucky.”

“are you still gonna bomb us?”

“I- I don’t know. It’s not my decision, I’m not on the board that does that sort of thing… but I will do everything in my power to convince them not to.”

“are you gonna take Kate?”

“Well, I was thinking we would, yes. She’s safer on the surface.”

“she was doing fine until you came down here, y’know.”

“I know. I’m sorry I didn’t take action sooner, but-”

“i promised her i wouldn’t let you take her back without us.”

“How do you know her so well?” Lucky asks, exasperated.

“you learn that if she has something to say, you’d better listen. no one ever listened to her on the surface, so i thought i would.”

Sans shifts in the puddle of your blood to slide under you, resting your head on his lap. Your face is still a spiderweb of scars on the right side, but he doesn’t think it makes you any less beautiful. If anything, he decides, it makes you more so.

“point is, you aren’t takin’ her away from us again.”

“I see. Then we’ve arrived at a stalemate. I won’t fight you over this- you seem like a good guy- er- monster? I don’t know, but you sure as hell’re better to her than her father was.”

“i got that.”

Now both pairs of eyes (one being eyesockets, in this case) land on your face. They take their fill of looking, then look back at each other.

“gotta fix her eye,” Sans murmurs.

“I know. We’ll do the best we can, thank you for the help-”

“what? no. god, no. i’m not leaving her with you,” he almost laughs. Does he really think that after all of this, he’s leaving you here?

“I completely understand your hesitation, but-”

“no. we work out details later, and now i get her to someone i trust to fix her.”

The tension mounts suddenly, both hyperaware of what the other might do-

“please. i promise you we ain’t gonna do nothin’ to her, we just need to fix this.”

“Could you do it here so we can supervise?” Callahan asks, trying to compromise. However, Sans stays stubborn.

“kid, i’m not gonna be supervised in my own house.”

“You live here?”

“yes, i live here, this is my brother’s room.”

“Oh.”

Another awkward pause.

“I suppose we’ll have to find somewhere else to stay, then.”

“you can stay in the inn a couple nights until you guys head back to the surface.”

“That will work. We will come over here to check in on her every few days.”

“you’re due back on the surface in two, i thought.”

“We are; but that can be changed.”

“it doesn’t need to be. ‘m happy to see you outta here as fast as possible.”

“…we’ll go find the inn. Where would you like us to put Boran?”

“shed.”

“The shed?”

“our house, our rules. lock it from the outside. he’s staying in the shed.”

“Sounds fair to me.”

You make a sudden whimpering noise, and your hand jumps to cover your eye.

“oh- hey, hey, ’s ok,” Sans says, softening his tone for you. “we’re just about to fix it, Kay, just hold on.”

You don’t respond but for another mewl of pain.

“shhh… it’s ok… ‘m right here, yeah? ’s gonna be ok. i gotcha… shh…”

You press your hand tighter over your eye- he strokes your hair, willing you to fall back to unconsciousness again.

“‘m sorry, sweetheart… you’re gonna be ok… just hang in there.”

Just like he wished, you fall back into your coma. He turns back to Callahan, pain evident in his eyelights.

“please. please, go, let us help her. we know what we’re doin’.”

Finally, he relents.

“We’ll be in the inn. Once she’s back in good shape, I need to talk to her about a few things. I will make no decisions about her coming back to the surface with us until she’s had a say.”

“thanks.”

“Of course. We’ll go put Boran in the shed.”

“good plan.”
~~~~~
Sans nods his goodbye to Callahan, pulls you into his arms, and shortcuts back into the lab.

Papyrus is pacing the middle of the floor, wringing his hands and glancing up at a blank monitor every few seconds. When Sans appears in the middle of the floor, your body in his arms, he runs over immediately.

“BROTHER, YOU’RE ALRIGHT!” he exclaims, pulling Sans (and you) into a hug. “The cameras cut out somehow and nobody knew what happened and we were all so worried and I thought something had happened to you and-”

“hey, calm down, bro, i’m ok,” he reassures him, pulling out of the hug. “i gotta see Undyne and Alphys, Kate’s… well…”

“It- OH,” he says, looking at your face. The crimson in your eye is starting to drip down your face again, and, if I’m being honest, looks fairly upsetting. Like you’re crying blood or something, on top of your torn-up eyelid and scars. “I- oh dear- okay, I’ll go get them-”

Papyrus dashes out of the room, and is back in only a minute with Alphys and Undyne. They see you and run over, surprised-

“Her face-” Undyne says- “Did- did YOU do that, Sans?!”

“what? no! no, her dad did, I had to heal it!” he says, indignant. “her eye is all messed up, and,” he gestures to her eyepatch- “i thought you’d know what to do.”

She doesn’t even have to look to give a response-

“They had to take mine all the way out it was so bad, but it wasn’t half as bad as- well- THAT. I dunno, I was all passed out and shit! Look, Alphys, what do we do?”

Everyone turns to her- her soul is pounding a million miles an hour at the sudden expectations. Pushing down “herself”, she brings out what she knows. Science. Science, and medicine.

“Painkillers. I have p-painkillers in the back, hold on- somebody get her somewhere she can lay down!”

As Alphys dashes off, Sans lays you on the ground- but she doesn’t get back in time before you start waking up again. The pain in your eye is much, much more acute now- your hand hurries to cover it, trying to put out the fire that MUST be there… god, there must be fire there, it burns-

“oh, god- Kate, it’s ok, we’re gettin’ help, you’re doin’ so good, you just gotta hang in there-” your whimpers of pain get louder the further you get from your comatose state.

You don’t know where you are, and you don’t care. You don’t know who’s talking, and you don’t care. You reach out for something, anything to hold onto- one hand clutched over your eye, the other scraping the ground for purchase. Finally, there’s a hand holding yours, tightly, trying to give you some relief.

Sans watches your panic escalate-

“Alph, i’m gonna need you to hurry up!” he shouts, starting to panic some himself.

Your hands are shaking, hell, your entire body is shaking… he can clearly remember the time Gaster blew his skull open. He can remember the smoking pain in his right eyesocket- he hasn’t been able to ignite it since. He can see out of it, sure, but he can’t glow with it or use it for magic release like his brother can.

God, it hurt. He remembers how much it hurt. You have to feel similar- your skull, your eye. With that knowledge, he doesn’t touch anywhere near your face, but he does try to soothe you in any other way he can. Shaky healing magic, for starters- it dies far too fast to help you, though.

No, he seldom cries… rarely ever, actually. But as your terror and blind cries of pain fill his skull, he feels tears gathering in the corners of his eyesockets. It all boils down to one thing.

You’re hurt.

His soul twists and lurches. He couldn’t save you in time. This is HIS fault.

Alphys arrives with a rickety bed on wheels, a syringe filled with something, and latex gloves on.

“W-who here isn’t squeamish?” she asks, as Sans puts you on the bed, murmuring desperate reassurances to you. Undyne nods silently and comes forward.

“Me. Let’s get this over with.”

“thanks, Undyne- you two try to get ahold of Toriel, and wait here. we’ll be down in the,” she winces, “OTHER lab.”

With that, she wheels the gurney-like thing away, Undyne following behind, as she injects your arm with the stuff. Your noises subside into silence, and Sans sinks to his knees.

“B-brother… she’s going to be okay! They know what they’re doing… come here,” Papyrus says, pulling him into a hug.

Sans lets his brother hug him as he stares at the lab door, behind which you vanished. His eyelights are gone, and the tears spill over, racking his body with sobs.

“why can’t i do anything right?” he says, sounding both angry and helpless at once. “can’t keep you safe, can’t keep h-her safe, c-can’t hold myself t-t-together-”

“Sans, that’s ridiculous,” Papyrus says, all the gentleness from earlier gone from his voice. He just sounds stern now. “You saved my life- you risked her life for mine, which means more to me than you know. I know you care about her, brother, and I hardly could have blamed you if you’d chosen to take her and run, but you didn’t! And then, you risked getting yourself hurt- or worse,” he winces, “when you went to save her. I wouldn’t ever have thought that of you. I thought we were just going to have to go on hope, and… you went. And you healed her arm, and her face! Everyone knows eyes are tricky, I hardly blame you for it being difficult- I doubt even someone as great as myself could have managed it. Saying that you can’t do anything right- I could go on and on about the things you’ve done right, brother.”

Over the course of his brother’s speech, Sans feels more and more frustrated. Not because he doesn’t believe him, he does. And that’s just it. All he has left is the excuse that he’s not good at anything, that he’s too lazy for everything, and it’s getting ripped away. All he knows anymore, solidly and honestly, is that you have to be okay. You HAVE to be.
~~~~~
You wake up somewhere drafty and cold, laying on your back. A distant, persistent beeping can be heard in the background, accompanied only by your shallow breaths. The world seems surreal- like half has gone dark.

Oh, and your left eye hurts.

Wait- you reach up, and your hand meets a wrap of bandages. You’re suddenly aware, though- you’re not sure you HAVE a left eye.

‘Okay, okay, stay calm,’ you think, trying to calm your racing heart- ‘What else?’

There’re some thick bandages over your ribcage, something warm on your lap, and the back of your arm feels itchy.

You look at it with your uncovered eye- in jagged white scars, like someone took a white pencil to your skin, is the word ‘traitor’ in bold letters. The flow of memories from your father and the soldiers comes back like a wave.

Fear starts pressing in on all sides- wherever you are isn’t safe, especially with you this vulnerable. But you can barely move, and you don’t trust your dark eye. The beeping in the background gets faster.

Every decision is foggy, and you aren’t sure about anything in particular… quietly, you say,

“Hello?” Damn, your voice is scratchy. Like you haven’t used it in days and days- “’S anybody here?”

You jump, then wince, consequently, as the warm thing on your lap shifts and makes a low noise.

Not wanting to sit up, but unable to see from your current angle, you reach out a tentative hand and touch it. It’s round and hard- kind of smooth, like porcelain. Warm porcelain. It moves again, tilting over. Curious, you stretch your fingers as far as they’ll go and try to feel the back of it- with a little yelp, Sans sits up off of your lap, rubbing the sensitive spot on the back of his neck that you’d probed.

“hey, what the- Kate?” he says, inquisitively.

‘Oh- that was his skull, wasn’t it?’ you think, feeling stupid. But why was his head on your lap?

“Kate, are you awake?” You can tell it’s him because of his voice, but you can’t see him. You nod, but the motion makes your ribs ache.

“Yeah, I think… where are we? Where are you?”

“we’re down in Alphys’ lab. whaddya mean, ‘where am i’?”

“I can’t see you… what’s with my eye?”

“oh,” he says, some of the happiness gone from his voice. “yeah. here, i’ll come around.”

You hear a chair scraping tile as it scoots back, then the shuffle of footsteps. Slowly, Sans comes into view. His eyesockets are scrunched up in a smile- relief and concern etched in it- you smile back, feeling just the same.

He’s changed his normal outfit out for black sweatpants and a thicker, zipper-less blue hoodie. You can’t blame him, it’s cold in here. And not the fun kind of cold, either, not Snowdin-cold. More doctor’s-office cold.

You aren’t quite sure if he’s real- everything feels so foggy right now. You hold out a hand, cupping his skull in it, murmuring.

“Are you okay?” you ask, softly.

He leans into your palm, putting his own hand on top of yours and laughing-

“why’re you askin’ ME if I’m ok?” he chuckles.

“I don’t know…” you pull your hand back slightly, squinting- “Did I say that?”

His smile fades slightly-

“oh, yeah… Alph said you’d be a little confused after ya woke up. ’s ok, you’re good. anyway,” he snaps his fingers and suddenly a chair (which you assume was on the other side of the bed at first) appears just in time for him to sit down. “how d’ya feel?”

“Um… cold. I can’t see on this side,” you point, “Something’s wrong with my ribs- and. You know, my arm.”

“you remember what happened?” he asks, sighing. You nod, again feeling the ache in your torso. Tears gather in one eye, and somehow, not the other. Everything hurts, inside and out.

“hey, ’s ok,” he says, putting a gentle hand on the inside of your arm. “you’re ok. he’s gone.”

“T-they left?” you ask, swiping at your eye and trying to pull yourself together. “S-sorry, this is p-pathetic…”

“no, it’s not. you took the worst of it for all of us, Kay. that isn’t pathetic. and… um, they’re not gone. they didn’t leave.”

Not quite understanding, you wipe your eye with your sleeve-

“Are they d-dead?”

“unfortunately, no,” he sighs, running a hand over the side of his skull, looking annoyed. “they’re still alive and kickin’.”

He must see the look of terror on your face, because he quickly adds,

“but your dad’s locked in the shed. nobody’s gone to see him, he doesn’t have any weapons. you’re safe, everybody’s safe- he can rot away in there eating dog food for all i care. the rest of ‘em aren’t half bad, even if they’re annoying as hell. they’re stayin’ in the inn, Paps has made friends with at least a third of ‘em. but i chucked all their guns in the Core when i saw what they did… i mean, damn, no wonder they freaked you out so much…”

You don’t respond- your dad is still down here? Alive? The beeping in the background gets faster and louder-

“you’re gonna pass out at this rate, calm down,” Sans says, glancing at your heart monitor. Bless Alphys, that thing is helpful. “really, we’re ok. in fact, everyone’s more worried about YOU than anything else.”

You take a deep breath, willing the beeping to slow. It’s driving you insane.

“O-okay. Promise you aren’t lying?”

“Kay, why would i lie to you?”

“I dunno,” you say to yourself, quiet and exasperated with your foggy brain. “Why would you?”

“look, i know you aren’t in your head right now, and that’s ok, but i’m not lying.”

“I- yeah. Yeah, you’re right… I’m sorry, just kinda scared right now. What’s up with my eye?” you ask, trying to change the subject.

He pauses-

“you don’t remember?”

“No, I think I passed out.”

His eyelights go out, and he stares at the floor. The hand on your arm drops back into his lap.

“Sans, what happened?”

“he- your dad- he broke your skull.”

“He WHAT?”

“and… it messed up your eye really bad… so…”

“S-so?” you prompt, already not liking where this is going.

“so Alph and Undyne took it out,” he says, quietly.

You stare at him, waiting for him to explain. When he doesn’t, you realize that’s all there is to it. You’re down an eye now. End of story.

“O-oh,” you say, lamely.

“i’m sorry, Kay, this is all my fault… i shouldn’t’a let Paps do sentry duty in that weather, it was stupid, i just wanted some time with you, y’know, and then he got c-captured and you got hit and- and then we watched…”

He crams his hands against his face, waves of shame crashing over him-

“and we watched him hurtcha, we couldn’t even move…”

“What?” you ask, surprised- is he crying?

“A-alph had the tracker c-cam,” he gives a wobbly laugh. “we w-were such idiots, we just w-watched…”

“Watched WHAT?” you press, willing him to just LOOK at you.

“we watched your dad do all that stuff to ya on the monitor,” he says, laughing harder, though it sounds more like sobs. “i didn’t even… i’m sorry…”

“You saw what he did?” you ask, in a small voice. He nods, and you hold your arms out- “I’m so sorry- if I’d known-”

His arms are around you in milliseconds, his face pressed against the side of your head-

“why the hell are YOU apologizing to ME?”

If not for the circumstances, you might have laughed. Instead, you ignore the screams of protest from your ribs and hug him back. When he pulls out just enough to look at your face, you wipe his tears with your hand, giving him little caresses along with it.

“I know you don’t mind the whole crying thing,” you say, giving him a shaky smile, “but I do.”

You wince and let out a little noise when your ribs give another painful twinge.

“y-you oughta lay down, your ribs aren’t all the way healed yet,” he warns, starting to let go, but you ignore him and continue to hold on tightly. Stupid ribs aren’t gonna stop you from holding onto him for all he’s worth.

He sighs, feeling marginally better. He hugs you back- trying to lean over more so you can strain yourself less.

“You know,” you start, not really thinking too much about the words until they’re out of your mouth, “when you think you’re about to die, you realize a lot of things… everything feels so stupid…”

“like what?” he says, trying to make his voice a little more light.

If not for the fuzziness of the painkillers and then tiredness already settling again on your soul, you might not have said it.

But you did.

“Like I really, really like you,” you smile, eyelids drooping somewhat with fatigue.

Sans feels his face flush blue, his eyelights go small with surprise, and he looks at you, stuttering.

“i- uh- Kay, i-i-”

“’S okay if you don’t,” you reassure him, slipping out of his arms and laying back down. “I won’t mind.”

“no- ’s not that, i- i like y-you too. i mean, y-y’know…”

“I know-” you say quietly, something in the medicine dragging you down to sleep rapidly. “Don’t forget, okay? I think I might forget…”

“don’t… just, remember, ok?” he asks, worried.

“Remind me,” you murmur, finally falling asleep.

Chapter Text

Sans puts his hands in his pockets, sitting back in the chair. Hoo, boy. What just happened? Do you really feel somethin’ for him, or is this just your painkillers talking? He finds himself hoping it’s the first one. You turn over, facing him as you fall asleep. Your spiderweb of scars, the bandages over your eye- you know, he’d seen it before they wrapped it up.

It was like seeing a kitten get hit by a truck.

It FELT like he was getting hit by a truck.

The defined black stitches sewn over… seemingly nothingness. There wasn’t the normal bump of an eye, just an empty hole. And they’d had to try to fix your eyelid, too, it had been starting to actually TEAR.

His hand closes on a piece of paper in one of his pockets when he tightens his fists- he pulls it out to look. It’s the song you wrote, the one you’d asked him to sing with you. Was it really only three days ago you were just humming happily to some song, fully intact and… and happy? It feels like lifetimes ago.

The thought makes his soul ache to go back- he just wants to see you happy again, it doesn’t matter where or why. Fumbling with the stapled pages, he tries to read your messy handwriting-

‘There’s been so much time
I’ve forgotten what’s real,
But in this illusion
I’ve found that I feel,

So happy to be here,
More than you know
I’ve found my new-”

A small smile crosses his face at the last two lines you wrote.

“I’ve found my new family,
And I won’t let go.”

There are so many scratch-outs and edits in black pen that his head aches trying to read it, but when he finally knows what it says, he feels a little closer to you. Like you’d given him a tiny part of you to keep, and he used it to put himself back together.

“i’ll remind you, Kay,” he says, staring from the paper to your sleeping form under the thin sheets. “i’m not gonna forget.”
~~~~~ After word gets out that you’ve woken up, more people start taking shifts to visit you. Sans is the only constant, not leaving you alone for a second. And when Callahan or some other soldier drops by, he always has to be there to “greet them” in person.

It’s not too much different from the resets the other kids put him through, really. Slow, repetitive, borderline depressing, and he isn’t taking great care of himself. Though, by now it’s nothing new. When you’re cleared to go home, he’ll take a shower and eat something besides hot dogs and ‘popato chisps’, but for now he’ll take whatever he can get.

He doesn’t even dare sleep away from you- his head typically falls onto your lap, his lower body still in the chair, like the first time you woke up. Most of the time you only wake up at the obscure hours of the night Sans is there, or in the early morning. He doesn’t mention your little delirious confession, since he wants to talk to you about it later when you aren’t high on painkillers. He doesn’t mind as long as he gets to talk to you at all.

Supposedly, from what little you’re told, you’re “recovering well”, and “it shouldn’t last much longer,” but you don’t really have a scope for what a bad recovery would look like. Honestly, the fact that you’re alive is enough to surprise you. You really thought after you passed out in Papyrus’ room that that would be it… even though if you’d been thinking straight you would’ve remembered you kind of, well, CAN’T die with the soul link.

(‘Though it IS kind of hard to think straight when someone is bashing your skull in,” you think.)

This morning, when you wake up, you feel a lot more refreshed. Not as tired or beat up as normal. You notice the little heart monitor clip isn’t on your finger anymore, and the bandages around your torso are gone, though the bruises there are still light purple. Your head is still wrapped up.

You sit up (it aches, but a lot less than the past few days) on an elbow, curious. What happened? To your surprise, it isn’t just Sans today- Toriel, Papyrus, Undyne, Alphys, even Mettaton are all sitting in chairs around you, smiling broadly.

“Good morning, my child!” Toriel says, with a small smile. “How do you feel?”

“Mmn- cold,” you answer, as usual, “but better. Am I going home now?”

Before Toriel has a chance to respond, a deep, gruff voice comes from the doorway to your room.

“That depends on some things.”

You whip your head around, instantly recognizing the human tone of it. It’s probably just PTSD, but you find yourself shaking hard.

There’s a human here? Your immediate thought is an ambush of some kind- ugh, he’s on your bad side, you can’t even see him all that well- Toriel puts a gentle hand on your arm.

“This human will not harm you, my child. They are trustworthy, it is alright.”

“W-what do you w-want?” you ask in their general direction, still pretty scared.

“this’s the guy i was tellin’ you about, Kay,” Sans says from his chair, somehow sounding comforting and menacing all at once. “Callahan.”

“Oh,” you sigh, some of the tension leaving your body, though you’re still quivering- “Oh, right. Um, s-sorry.”

“It’s alright,” he sighs, walking in- you wish you could see him properly. “I wouldn’t trust me either, if I were you. You’ve been through a lot, I can hardly blame you.”

“Come around this side-” you nod over to your right. “I can’t see you.”

He obliges, walking around and dropping into a vacant chair. He seems so casual, and yet so professional at the same time.

“A-alright, what do you mean, ‘that depends’?” you ask.

“Well, we would’ve taken you back to the surface days ago if your friends here hadn’t protested- hey, calm down, I’m not finished. They really are good- uh- people, I’m not being sarcastic,” he adds, at your look of mistrust.

“I’m not going back to the surface without them,” you say, stubbornly.

“Would you at least hear me out?”

“Sure, but it won’t change my mind.”

“Could we talk about this in private, please?”

“No. Anything you can say to me, you can say to all of us. And, as you’ve pointed out, I have no reason to trust you.”

He sighs, chuckling under his breath. If Sans hadn’t known it would be a lot more trouble than it’s worth, he might have just killed him then and there.

“You- and don’t misinterpret this- remind me of your dad sometimes. Very good arguments, not enough common sense.”

“hey-” Sans growls on your other side. Even without looking, you know his eyelights are out. “insult her again and you’re goin’ in the shed, too.”

Callahan gives a “that’s fair” shrug and leans back in his chair. You smile slightly- he’s so chill. He’s not afraid of the threats at all. You aren’t sure whether you think this is funny or if it makes him a prick. Either way, you have to smirk.

“Anyway,” he goes on, wiping the look from your face, “I’m trying to say that if we leave you down here, I’m going to be in a lot more trouble than you’d think. I won’t lie to my commanders about any of this, I have a duty and I plan to serve it. There are essentially three scenarios I can see happening;” he ticks them off on his fingers, “One, they send a speed team down here to take you by force, then bomb the place. Two, they send the speed team and then don’t bomb anything. Three, they leave you down here and bomb it with you inside.”

You can hear the horrified silence of the monsters around you. Callahan sighs, a sad look crossing his face, and he speaks in a softer voice.

“I’m not in a position to be able to change their minds. I can’t make the choices. I can try, but I can’t guarantee anything. Boran convinced a lot of higher-ups it would be a good plan when we first left- and it’s really hard to change their minds when they’re set on something.”

Behind you, you hear Papyrus squeak, voice volume dropped with fear.

“Can’t you just leave her here with us and NOT bomb anything?” he asks.

Callahan nods.

“I understand that that’s supposedly the ‘Perfect Fourth Option’, but it’s so unlikely. The people on the surface are so afraid of what they don’t understand. I was, too, when we first came down here, and that was my mistake… but Kate, this is what I mean. I can’t guarantee your friends’ safety- and, god, after what I’ve seen, I really wish I could- but I can guarantee yours. Nobody can make the decision for you. What do you want to do?”

You feel everyone turn to you, terrified- either answer you give won’t be in your favor. Either you risk dying down here with your friends, or living on the surface with people who will probably call you insane. You mutter-

“I have two questions.”

“Shoot.”

“Do any of your guys have a goddamn Snickers bar?”

“Language!” Toriel and Papyrus say in unison.

Callahan grins.

“This is why I love that you’re a little badass teenager- yeah, kid, Quincy brought a whole family-size bag, I’ll bring you a few. What else?”

“I’ll tell you “what else” when I’m outta here with a Snickers bar in my hand.”

“Fair enough!” he stands, mock-defeated, and sticks out a hand. You shake it, giving him a small smile, and watch him go. You feel prickly, but in a good way- proud of being able to hold your own.

Though, the thought of the choice you’ll have to make makes your gut twist- what WILL you do?

‘Go to Sans,’ your brain automatically suggests. ‘He’ll know what to do.’

With this plan in mind, you turn a weak smile back towards your friends.

“S-sorry about that… I just really miss candy bars.”

“Well, what’re you gonna do?!” asks Undyne, speaking what everyone’s thinking.

“Think on it, I think. I think I need some food and real sleep before I come up with a plan, but… just in case… Alphys, how’s the drill comin’ along?”

“Right on s-schedule!” She says. “If a-all g-g-goes well, it should b-be done by tomorrow and a b-bunker c-can be built in the next t-two days!”

“Then I’ll buy you some time. Until then, can I go home?”

Toriel looks at the others, a little mischief in her eyes-

“Well, I think some of us had some things for you first, but then, yes, of course.”

Mettaton and Undyne jump to their feet, exchanging a look-

“We have to go get you something darling, we’ll be right back!”

“Yeah, punk, you’re gonna love it!”

They dash out, and Toriel stands to follow-

“I brought you a change of clothes, I think it’s upstairs. Excuse me,” and she slips out the door, too. Now it’s just Papyrus, Sans, and Alphys-

“you need help gettin’ up?” Sans asks, standing from his chair.

“A-actually, she s-shouldn’t get up j-just yet- Papyrus, c-can you get the m-mirror f-from the other room?” she goes behind you and adjusts the bed so you’re in a sitting position- Papyrus nods and races off.

“Of course!”

You look around, a little confused-

“Why can’t I get up? What’s with the mirror?”

She smiles apologetically, then sits on the end of your bed, curling her tail around her-

“I-I hate t-t-to t-tell you this now, b-but your left eye is g-gone.”

“Wh- oh. Oh, yeah, I know.”

“Oh! Good, o-okay. Anyway, I t-thought you’d want to s-see.”

“Really? Cool! I mean, not cool,” you shake your head- “You know what I mean.”

“Eheh- y-yeah.”

She stands up, crosses around behind you again, and unties the bandages around your head. Your left side is still dark- not even light comes through. It’s really strange.

You look over at Sans and grin- for whatever reason, you’re in a fairly good mood right now. However, when he sees your eye, he looks a little less jovial.

“Hey, you okay?” you ask, reaching up to feel it-

“Don’t touch it!!” both Sans and Alphys say, loudly- you hurriedly pull your hand away.

“Why?”

“it’ll hurt like hell, trust me,” Sans says, trying to calm his racing soul. That was close.

“You don’t have eyes or skin, Sans, how would you know?”

“only one a’these sockets glows for a reason, y’know. don’t touch it yet.”

Before you can ask, Papyrus runs back in with a mirror.

“Thanks…” you say, taking it. However, you hesitate when he cringes at your exposed eye. Or, uh, not-eye. “Uh. Is something wrong?”

“N-no!” he says, though he’s unable to pull his gaze away from it.

“Look, is it ugly? Because I’d rather someone tell me instead of just staring at it,” you say, a little hurt. Is it really that bad? You lift up the mirror to look- and. Um. Wow. No wonder.

It’s not even clean, normal stitches, like you expected- they’re messy and tight, sprawling all around your eyesocket to pull the skin together. You can see your crushed eyelashes in-between the string. If not for the earlier warning, you probably would have screamed or something. But, geez. You thought it was bad, sure, but you weren’t expecting something of this… caliber?

And the scars and the left side of your face… it’s like white lightning that spread all the way down to your chin. Terrifying and crazy.

You put the mirror down a little too fast, suddenly wanting to hide it before anyone comes back in and freaks out.

“Geez,” you mutter, looking around for something you can cover it with- “Geez, I’m jacked up…”

You put one hand over it, careful not to touch it, like they told you- though, god, is it tempting. This is what you’re going to look like for… forever. The thought makes you want to curl in on yourself- you were never one to care about what you looked like- but wouldn’t anyone be a little scared to look like THIS?

“hey,” Sans says, quietly. You realize he’s right in front of you now. His hand is trying to gently pull down the hand over your eye. You put it down, but wince a little, waiting for his reaction.

There isn’t one this time.

“hey… don’t freak out, ok? we were just a little… unprepared.”

“Wouldn’t anyone be… geez, I’m gonna freak people out,” you laugh nervously, trying to put your hand back over your eye.

“stop it, it’s ok,” he says, pulling it back down. “trust me, there’s been worse down here. it’s fine. we don’t wantcha to feel any less than you are, ok?”

It doesn’t make you feel any less jacked up, but you pull your arm down. Then, you mutter,

“I bet you anything that when the rest of ‘em come back in here and see it they’ll freak out.”

“you’re betting they’ll ALL freak?” he asks- you know he loves bets, he can hardly say no.

“Yep.”

“well, i betcha anything they won’t.”

When you don’t respond, he leans in a little closer and says, softly,

“you aren’t ugly, Kay. i’ll prove it, you better have your money out.”

You just hug him instead of saying anything. He doesn’t seem to mind, and rubs comforting circles on your back until you stop shaking.

You can see Papyrus waiting in a chair, looking guilty and apologetic all to once-

“What’s wrong?” you ask, pulling out of the hug. When you do, Sans hops up and flops over on the end of your bed, kind of like a cat.

“Well- I- I didn’t mean to do anything and make you think your face was messed up by saying anything and I think I made you upset but I didn’t mean to and I’m really sorry,” he says, in one breath. You laugh-

“It’s fine, I can’t blame you-”

“Yes, you can! Your face is awesome and I should’ve been the first to say so!”

“Thank you, but seriously, I would’ve done the exact same thing if I were you. It’s okay. I just don’t know how I’m gonna show this to Toriel.”

Suddenly, Mettaton runs in the room holding a box, then Undyne comes in with the second one held over her head.

After they come in, Toriel follows behind with your change of clothes. She’s giggling. You’re curious- what’s going on?

“My child, you’re probably going to want to open theirs first,” she says. She doesn’t look twice at your eye- you feel relieved, even though Sans looks at you with the smuggest look you’ve ever seen him wear. You give him a little kick in the ribs, though it makes your own ribs ache.

“oof- hey,” he chuckles, rubbing his side.

“You looked a little too proud of yourself to be safe, so I thought I’d help you out,” you grin.

You share a small laugh, then look over at the big boxes that Metta and Undyne are carrying.

“What’re those?” you ask- just saying it makes you smirk. Ah, human culture will never completely leave you.

Metta looks over at you- his eyes widen.

“Ah- darling? Are you quite alriii… um. Never mind! These!” you look at him, a little suspicious. That was definitely a reaction, but… it looks like it was quelled fairly fast. How?

He continues- “When I saw Undyne’s eye the first time, I designed a whole bunch of eyepatches- they “weren’t her style”, (he accents this by shooting a look at her) but I never threw them out! We thought we’d see if there were any you wanted.”

“YEAH!” Undyne shouts. “Look at ‘em all!”

With this, she turns her box over and dumps it on your lap. Mettaton follows suit.

You’re probably wondering just how many eyepatches can fit into two medium-sized boxes.

A lot.
A lot of eyepatches.

They’re a million different colors and textures, sizes and shapes. Some have fur or gems, others are simpler- you think one might be made out of wood. Most are based off of fish-scale-like things, probably for Undyne, but you still think they look amazing.

“Wow…” you murmur, running your fingers through the pile. “They’re… wow.”

“I know!” Metta says, flashing a winning smile. “They took forever to make! We can adjust them for your head size if you find any you like, darling- I made sure to try to make them comfortable, too, since you’ll need to wear it fairly often.”

“Thank-you-thank-you-thank-you!" you say, once you’ve gotten over the awe of the thing. Undyne pumps her fists in the air, and Metta smiles again.

You’re really happy that he didn’t freak out. And this is even better.
~~~~~
When Toriel came in, Sans knew that she wouldn’t say a thing about your eye. She’s too loving to hurt you that way. And Undyne’s seen way worse in battles, hell, the same thing happened to her own eye. But Mettaton?

Yeah, Sans doesn’t trust that bolt-box for a second, no matter how long it’s been. Especially with how obsessed he is over beauty and fashion, he was sure that the guy’d probably flip out. Or at least ask some stupid question and trigger your self-consciousness again.

So, when it does start to happen, Sans silently grips Metta’s soul in blue magic to get his attention. Mid-sentence, the killer robot looks at him. Hopefully, you never see Sans’ scary side- he doesn’t ever want you to, he’s never had much reason to show you- but. If looks could kill, the one he shot at Mettaton probably would have killed everyone in the vicinity. It got the point across.

Luckily, though, he brought gifts.

Gifts are good.

Chapter Text

Hours later, you’ve packed up both boxes of eyepatches, changed into clean clothes, and gotten out of bed for the first time in days.

See, the whole “getting out of bed” thing is hard for you normally- when you have a torso covered in purple bruises, it’s borderline impossible.

Which is why you’re crumpled up on the floor right now, fighting the urge to swear-

“Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-shit-ow,” is what you go with.

“O-oh geez, I f-forgot it m-m-might be a little hard f-for the first few d-days,” Alphys says, rushing forward. “I’m s-so sorry! H-here, um-” she turns to the skelebros, “blue magic?”

Papyrus looks at his brother, assuming he’d want to do it. Sans nods and comes forward, crouching beside you. You’re still bent over yourself in a ball, arms protectively around your middle.

“Kay, can i pick you up? with magic?”

“Just do it,” you say from behind clenched teeth.

You feel the little *ping* as your soul turns blue, and suddenly you’re lifted off the ground and to your feet. Sans’ left eye has a blue flame inside of it now. You watch it more than anything else as you float to ground level.
~~~~~ Oh god.

Sans hasn’t had a kid’s soul turned blue since…
The resets.

One bad part of it is the frantic way your soul beats behind his as he changes it’s color, like it’s reading his mind.

The worst part of it is the automatic instinct to slam you into the wall.
~~~~~
You lower to your feet faster than expected, hitting the floor with a slight force that makes you breathless with pain. Quickly, you stumble for something to hold onto. Sans, being the closest to you and the closest to your height, loops an arm under yours and supports you. You know he notices the heavy bruising under your shirt, but he doesn’t say anything. You pull an arm around his shoulders, too- you still can’t move, but you feel a little more supported.

It doesn’t help that you can’t see in one eye- your depth perception is completely thrown. Even if you could walk, you’d probably go bonking into things.

“can you stand by yourself?” he asks, clearly wanting to let go of the magic. You can see it in the sweet beading on his skull, the way he’s shaking.

“N-no- um, can I just sit?”

He nods, putting you into a chair and sitting down a few chairs away. He can’t seem to be near you, or meet your eyes. What’s going on?

“Well, we can’t get ready like this,” Toriel points out. “It is getting late, and Kate, if you can’t stand… are you sure you cannot stay a few more days here? Just because you are conscious does not mean you are prepared to go home.”

“No!” you say, then stutter- “No- um- I really want to go home.”

“I am not sure-”

“c’mon, Tor,” Sans says, looking up- he really looks shaken up- “no jokes, this place isn’t the warmest. emotion-wise OR temp-wise. ’s probably a good idea to let her get better somewhere else.”

There’s a tense few seconds, then Toriel says,

“Fine. I suppose you are right. I apologize, I am just very tired.”

“We all are,” you nod.

“Well! If you would like to take it easy for a few days, Miss Toriel, Kate can stay with us!” Papyrus says.

Nobody protests, but nobody agrees either. Wouldn’t Sans say something?

“Can I actually change first before we decide that?” you ask, trying to clear away the tense silence.

“Of course,” Tori nods. “Sans, can you-”

“n-no.” he says, still shaking a little, eyelights out. “no thanks.”

Now you KNOW something’s wrong. There’s a surprised silence before Papyrus comes to his brother’s aid-

“It’s alright, I can do it! It probably just tired him out, the lazybones. Okay, Kate-”

He comes over to you, then asks, same way Sans did-

“Kate, may I use blue magic on you?”

“Yeah, sure.”

With that, you get the familiar feeling like someone is holding your soul, and the gravity becomes heavier. Then you’re off your feet (a little too fast to be comfortable)-

“Oh, that was too fast- sorry, Kate, I’m not as good at this part as Sans is!”

“I-it’s okay- so, how is this going to work?” you ask.

Using the magic like strings on a puppet, Undyne and Toriel pull you behind an old screen and help you change- you’d be surprised how odd it feels to do normal things while being three inches off the floor. The other odd thing is that they don’t seem to find your body uncomfortable to look at at all- you thought, between the fact that they’re changing you like a three year old and your terrible scars, they’d be a little hesitant, but they don’t seem to mind. Maybe this isn’t as uncommon as you thought here.

Finally, you’re changed, and everything’s ready. The decision is made that you’ll stay at the skelebro’s house for a few nights to give Toriel a break, then everything can go back to normal.

Sans has shaken off whatever came over him earlier, to your relief- you grab one of the eyepatches out of the box to wear on the way home. Papyrus soon gets tired of using blue magic, so he picks you up instead. You look over at Sans, as if asking permission for this- he just grins easily and says yes with his eyelights. That’s enough for you.

“Bye, guys!” you call to the rest, as the brothers carry you out the door.

“Goodbye, my child!” “See ya later, punk!” “Goodbye, darling!” “B-bye, Kate!”
~~~~~
The heat of Hotland is surprising to you now, after so long in the cold. You feel yourself thaw a little bit, even though you never knew you had to. It makes you sleepy, especially so late.

“If you need to sleep, human, feel free to! I carry Sans while he’s asleep all the time!”

“Mmm-hmm…”

“Nyaww,” he says, as you drift off.

Through Hotland, then through Waterfall, where both brothers tense and quiet. They don’t want you to wake up here. When they finally make it to the woods around Snowdin, a breath is released that neither of them knew they were holding.

“Where is she going to sleep?” Papyrus says, in a low voice, as they approach the house.

“we oughta be able to get to her fast if she needs somethin’.”

“Yes… so we won’t put her on the couch. That thing always makes me sore in the morning, anyway.”

“same.”

“A-and maybe my room is a bad idea after what happened.”

“yeah.”

“So, I suppose your room is the only other option… but you need good sleep, too, brother! In a proper bed- well, mattress. You need a shower, too, or at least a change of clothes. And- oh, sorry, Kate.”

You’re awake now, between Papyrus’ voice and the snow falling on your nose.

“Mmnh- are we almost there?”

“Very close- we didn’t shortcut because we were worried about your state, I apologize it has taken so long.”

“’S okay. Thanks.”

“You may fall back asleep now.”

“Okay.”

You relax, but you really aren’t quite asleep. Sans knows, but he doesn’t say anything.

“Anyway, brother,” Paps goes on- “You need to take care of yourself, too, so if you aren’t comfortable with-”

“‘m fine. i can do all that stuff tomorrow and we can come up with a better plan, but ’s fine.”

“Well- alright. Do you have the keys, or have we locked ourselves out?”

“nope, i got ‘em.”

Once in the house, Papyrus heads upstairs to change into pajamas, after handing you off to his brother. You smirk at the odd position you’ve been dumped in, bridal style in his arms-

“So, can I sleep now, or are we just gonna stay here working out how the hell I’m gonna make it upstairs?”

“’s this how you carried me?” Sans asks, before he can stop himself. Your face heats up-

“What?”

“when i was passed out outside a week or so ago. Paps told me you carried me home, but, i was just wonderin’ how.”

“Uh- yeah, something like this,” you nod. “Though you were passed out and covered in snow. Oh, don’t look so embarrassed, you would have frozen out there if I hadn’t dragged you home SOMEHOW.” you add, at his blue face.

“yeah- sorry, stupid question.”

“No, it’s alright. I would’ve wondered, too. So, can we get upstairs this way?”

“yeah, easy.”

However, when he starts heading up, you realize it’s knocking the breath out of you-

“geez, you ok?”

“I- y-yeah, fine,” you pant, though your hands subconsciously go to cover your midsection so the bruises won’t be as aggravated.

“you’re such a bad liar,” he chuckles- “seriously, we can do something else if you’re in pain.”

“Just go up the rest really fast, like ripping off a bandaid- GO.”

He takes the rest as fast as he can go, which still isn’t very fast, between not wanting to trip and being pretty short. When he sees your eyes wide with pain, he hesitates, but keeps going.

After thirty seconds that felt like a year, you’re at the top, and he quickly sets you on the floor so you can breathe properly.

“Well, that was a nightmare,” you mutter.

“yeah, sorry. you ok?”

“Yeah, yeah, ’s not your fault- I can keep goinnn… w-wait…”

“what?”

You see Papyrus’ door, dented with whatever the soldiers broke it down with… this is where it all happened, isn’t it? The flashbacks of the thing pour back, and your eyes glaze over as you lose yourself in the memory. The soldiers had been right down there… and… your dad had been right there… your knees pull up to your chest and your eyes glaze over with flashbacks.

“Kate? oh- oh, no,” he realizes the same thing as you, and watches as you pull in on yourself- “no, Kay, ‘m right here, he can’t hurt you anymore- Kay- please…”

It happened so fast- out of nowhere… how is he supposed to help that?

He props your back up against the wall, then hugs you, for a lack of anything better to do. He can’t do anything- he’s had enough flashbacks of his own to know time is the only thing he can give you.

“shh… he’s not here, i’m here, you’re ok… Kay, i’m right here… i’m right here when you come back, ok?… ’s ok… you’re doin’ so good, just come back…”

He feels your breath hitch as you return to the here and now- it was maybe only thirty seconds of being gone. Not long at all, just enough to scare you. He rests his face on the top of your head, as if if he can only protect you from all sides you’ll be safe from your memories. You feel his arms around you, and his hands gripping your shirt tightly- he’s just as afraid as you are, though he’s scared FOR you. You take deep breaths, as if you just came out from underwater.

“you back?” he asks.

“Y-yeah… sorry…”

“’s ok. you just wanna stay here for a sec?”

“Mm-hmm…”
~~~~~
Papyrus finds you and Sans holding onto each other at the top of the stairs, Sans gently stroking your hair and murmuring to you, while you just breathe quietly.

“Brother, what’s wrong? Kate? Are you okay?” he asks, sitting down by you.

Sans just lets out a small sigh and looks at his brother-

“yeah. yeah, bro, ’s ok. just, uh-” he nods towards Papyrus’ room, looking sad.

“Wh- o-oh. Oh. Yes. Kate? Are you alright?”

You nod, just a tiny movement, giving a fraction of a smile.

“Okay. We’re both here, Kate! Nobody can hurt you here. WE definitely won’t hurt you! And, um, we’re all okay. Me and Sans and you, we’re okay.”

“yeah… see, Kay? nobody’s gettin’ hurt… and ’s never gonna happen again, ’s long as me and Paps have anything to say about it.”

He tenses slightly, still angry at your father for doing this to you. When he feels you tense, too, he relaxes, but not in time.

“Y-you’re still angry, aren’t you?” you ask him.

“not at you.”

“But, at him.”

“. . .yeah.”

“I thought you would be… but… he’s awful, I know, but… god, shouldn’t I be able to defend him?!” You sigh and lean your face into a hand.

Papyrus and Sans exchange a look over your head. Yeah, they’ve been through this before. And they know that just because he’s your dad doesn’t mean you should be able to defend his actions. They sure can’t defend Gaster’s- not that he was family or anything.

“Kate, listen to me,” Papyrus says, for once sounding dead serious. “You don’t have to defend him at all. That’s not your job, especially after the things he has done to you.”

“. . .but. . .”

“no, Kay. you don’t gotta,” Sans agrees.

“I…”

You lean your head against the back wall and take a shaky breath.

“If I don’t do it, nobody else will.”

Sans pulls an arm around your shoulders to give you a one-armed squeeze, then asks, quietly-

“why should anyone?”

“I don’t know! I feel like that should- or- he should- I don’t know…”

Papyrus sees you losing yourself again- he can tell from a mile away, after what he’s seen in Sans- and puts a hand on your shoulder.

“Do you want to go to sleep? We can work everything out once everyone is less tired! Toriel gave me her waffle recipe the other day, I could try making it. We’ll all feel better with some rest and food.”

You nod- then, he asks,

“May I use blue magic to get you to the room? You can close your eyes, if that will help.”

“Why do you guys always ask first? I mean, it’s not bad or anything, it just feels… not normal, y’know?”

“Oh! It’s just courtesy,” he says, relieved at the subject change. “You aren’t supposed to turn anyone’s soul a different color outside of battle, so you’re always supposed to ask first. It’s very rude otherwise.”

“Oh. Okay. Yeah, sure, just, go slow, please.”

“Of course!”

Sans slowly helps you up while Papyrus uses blue magic, and he walks on your left side past Papyrus’ door so you don’t look in.

See, they haven’t had time to fix the broken parts of the bed yet.
Or the bloody parts.

Chapter Text

Once you’re safely on Sans’ mattress, and there are a few blankets over you, you take a deep breath and start falling asleep. It’s nearly immediate- you’re insanely tired. Then you realize Sans won’t have anywhere to sleep. You turn around, wondering where he is, if this is his room.

He’s over talking to Papyrus and dropping a few blankets on an exercise machine- they hug, Paps leaves, and then Sans starts to lay down on it.

“Sans?” you ask, confused.

“‘sup?” he looks up, eyelights flickering in the dark of the room.

“You’re going to sleep on that thing?”

“uh, yeah.”

“But- you can’t- geez, get over here, bonehead.”

He crosses the room, looking amused, and drops down crosslegged beside the mattress.

“hm?”

“You aren’t sleeping on THAT after all the shit I put you through the past couple days. Get in here.”

You hold up a couple blankets so he can climb in, but he doesn’t. Instead, his face flushes bright blue and he scratches the back of his neck.

“Kay, i-”

“Not gonna hear it, I’m not letting you sleep on an exercise machine.”

He debates this mentally, before fatigue finally decides for him. He REALLY wants the mattress, and hey, if you want him to, then so be it. Let the guys at Grillby’s say what they want, he’s staying with you if you insist.

He shrugs and hops in, instantly feeling back at home. His bed, the smell, the familiarity of the place. And the gentle warmth you give as you pull the blankets up around yourself.

“thanks. wake me up if you need somethin’.”

“Mmm-hmm. Night.”
~~~~~
It’s strange to watch how people change when circumstances change. During disasters, you see some people taking as an excuse to steal or hurt others, while some work to give and help. When people are scared, some freeze, locking up, unable to move or think. Some take action, fighting and facing their fears. Most, unfortunately, flee as quickly as they can, unable or unwilling to fight.

However, you can see the deepest depths of a person in their nightmares. And what they do when they wake up.
~~~~~
Sans is walking around Snowdin with you, making jokes and laughing. It feels nice- light, even, easy. He can’t explain it, but it doesn’t feel natural.

“Everything’s been so crazy lately,” you laugh. What? What’s been crazy? “I was starting to think you were going to leave me.”

Your gaze goes cold, and the light airy tone of conversation is replaced with tense accusation. He wonders what he did wrong- something, clearly.

“left ya? where?”

“T o d i e.”

“what?”

Suddenly, your breath hitches- he gives you a questioning look, just about to ask what’s wrong-
-when you die.

“Kate?” he asks, horrified, as your soul shatters out of nowhere, and your body crumples. “Kate!”

He crouches by you- you’re messed up. Your face is collapsing in and covered in blood, your arms are scraped and scarred, a thousand “TRAITOR”s written in papercuts all over them.

But no amount of shouting wakes you up- he stumbles backwards.

‘gotta find Paps… Paps’ll know what to do… god, nononono…’

However, in the distance all he can see is a dusty red scarf, half buried in snow. Somehow, he knows his brother is gone.

When did Snowdin get so quiet? Why are all the shop lights off… he could’ve sworn they were on a minute ago. Everyone is gone. This isn’t right. This isn’t right, this isn’t right, why is he alone?

It’s all shock, no time for the grief to set into his bones just yet. Eyelights darting around, he wonders why it’s getting darker around him.

Darker… colder… harder to move. There’s a hard metal chair under him now, and the air is freezing. He can’t see anything but the soft glow of a screen in front of him, and darkness in his peripheral vision. He can’t shortcut out of the chair, into the darkness.

“No way to dodge now, 1-S.”

Nope. Nope, nope, nope, Gaster can’t be here. He isn’t 1-S anymore, his name is Sans, he’s not some stupid test subject, he’s a person. A monster.

‘what’s happening?’ he thinks, sweating and trying again to shortcut.

“It won’t work. Now-” he flicks on the screen, illuminating the holes in his hands, but not the rest of him. “W A T C H .”

Obeying silently, he looks at the bright monitor. Normal- horrible, but normal- nightmare scenes. Papyrus dying against humans, being strapped to tables and experimented on. A few things being done to Sans, too. But he can watch that without flinching, he’s seen it so many times.

But then, it changes. Everything that Sans saw on the monitor in Alphys’ lab is replayed. The knife in your arm, your getting punched in the face, the way you cried…

“stop.”

“No. Watch.”

“turn it off!”

“No.”

After this, the ghostly hand turns a dial on the monitor and the display goes on repeat. For what feels like hours, he watches you get destroyed, then slapped back together with static only to be crushed again.

He pulls hard on the chair, hoping he can break free and shortcut away. But his eyesockets are glued to the screen somehow, like he can’t move his head.

Watching it again, and again, and again, knowing Gaster is behind him and making him suffer.

“please-“

“No…”

“please, i… i don’t wanna watch it again.”

“Wake up, Sans.”

“don’t make me… stop hurtin’ her…”

“Sans, please…”

The dream fizzles out, and his eyesockets shoot open. You’re lying next to him, propped up on an elbow and looking scared.
~~~~~
He’s already coming up with an excuse when you hug him.

“Geez, I didn’t think you were ever going to wake up,” you say, quietly.

Slightly star-struck, he hugs you back, relishing the fact that you’re alive. And you’re safe. You’re with him, where nobody can hurt you again.

“You’re shaking… are you okay? It was just a nightmare, it isn’t real.”

“heh. wish it wasn’t real,” he murmurs, tightening his hold on you.

“What?”

“…nothing.”

You sigh, pulling out of the hug and dropping back onto the mattress. Sans sighs inwardly.

“Weren’t you the one who told me it sucks to go through nightmares and things like that alone? You’re there for me, and I should be able to be there for you, too.”

“. . . i don’t wanna put that kinda burden on you, y’know? you’ve been through enough.”

A little bit of shock registers in both of your minds- he’s never been open about his feelings before, he’s very rarely honest with anyone if it has to do with how he feels. It feels… odd.

“If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. But it isn’t a burden. Can you just tell me what it was about?”

“heh… just… what happened to ya… y’know, your eye.”

“Oh.”

“yeah.”

A moment of silence.

“I didn’t think it bothered you that much… I’m sorry.”

“waitwaitwait, what?”

“I mean, I know you were upset, I think something like that would upset anyone, but I didn’t think… it would last.”

“if Paps wasn’t here, i think you’d probably be ALL i cared about anymore.”

The moment the words come out of his mouth, he wants to take them back. No, he definitely should not have said that, that was a bad idea-

“Yeah. You, too.”
~~~~~
You only realize the impact of your words after your ears start burning red and your face flushes over. He starts talking before you can take it back-

“i- i wanted to ask ya, now that you’re awake and everything- and i dunno if i’ll have enough energy (more like courage) to ask tomorrow- but… at one point when you woke up from the pain meds, you said…”

“Said what?” you ask, curious now.

“that, you, uh,” he can’t seem to bite back the words in time- “thatcha have a thing for me, basically. i was just wondering if that’s, y’know, true.”

God DAMN high-you for being so loose. Tired, nervous you doesn’t seem to be much better, though-

“I mean…” you’re so red in the face, you want to shrink into yourself and hide- “Yeah, kinda… I mean, if that’s okay… damnit…”

“i… yeah, ’s ok… uh,” a nervous chuckle splits his sentence. “same.”

“Wait, really?” you ask, turning to look at him with your good eye.

“yeah. uh, i dunno, sorry.”

“No, it’s okay- more than okay, actually.”

A minute where the realization dawns on the both of you as you blush up at the ceiling- so… you’ve both had this going on the whole time?

“So… that means we’ve both wasted the first three weeks together, after seven years of life sucking, being awkward.” you deadpan, face-palming.

“sounds about right,” he responds, laughing.

“I guess I just- I thought I was going to die, and- I don’t think I could die without saying something, you know? Either of us could- well- and then- you know what I mean?”

“yeah.” Boy, does he ever.

“So… what do we do now?” you ask. “This is kind of a new thing for me.”

“sleep, i think.”

“I mean, you don’t mind me being here, right?”

“nope. can we work out the rest at not-three-in-the-morning?”

“Good plan.”

You adjust yourself in the blankets some- but you can’t fall asleep. Not with all that’s happening. IS this happening? It could be a dream. You could do with a good dream. His mind seems to be in similar places.

“hey, uh, tomorrow, tell me somethin’ to make sure i wasn’t dreaming, ok?”

“Same here. By the way- is there anything I can do to make sure you don’t have nightmares again?”

“nah,” he sighs, eyelights dimming. “think i’ll always have ‘em. ‘m used to it by now, but you being here helped.”

“Then I’ll be here, okay?”

“ok. thanks.”

“No problem.”

He settles in next to you, maybe an inch closer than before. You stay where you are, but when his hand brushes yours, you take it and give it a small squeeze. He doesn’t seem to mind- you fall asleep.
~~~~~
Well… this isn’t how he was expecting to tell you, if he planned to say anything at all. Which he really wasn’t. But this is okay, right? You’re safe, and you’re here- and you helped him in a way he hadn’t anticipated.

He hadn’t really anticipated that you’d care about him. Why would you? He’s the scrawny one, the one with little to no HP, he- well- he never thought of himself as particularly attractive, by any means. No determination. Lazy. But… you had to have seen something in him if you’ve felt this way for three weeks. Right?

The thought feels kind of warm and sweet. He’s got to have SOME redeemable qualities if you feel this way. He tries to pick through it- puns? Maybe it was his humor or something. Thats a thought. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s saved your life- what, three times now? Maybe you see him as some strong guy…

‘or maybe she doesn’t think you’re worthless,’ his mind suggests timidly.

But- no, that can’t be right- more like you don’t know what he’s done. You’re just innocent, that’s all.

What about all the kids from the resets? The ones who killed, and killed, reset once or twice, then lost their determination and were gone for good? HE typically finished off those kids when Asgore couldn’t, especially when they hurt his brother. KILLED him. The thought makes him stiffen with anger and guilt. He wouldn’t hurt you. He wouldn’t. But that blue magic in the Lab nearly drove him insane.

What if he’d…

…no. No, he isn’t going down that path.

But still… what if he HAD killed you? By mistake?

Just admitting the thought makes the waves of shame crash down harder. He doesn’t deserve to be here, with you… Gaster really should’ve just blown his skull up and left him, that would be better than having done the things he’s done.

Your thumb brushes over the back of his hand in your sleep, surprising him slightly. You’re so gentle. Always were, no matter who you met. Reminds him of that kid with the green soul. The Kindness kid.

She was so loving, no matter who she met; sometimes she would even try to heal other monsters during battles, in case they were getting tired. Sans remembers just meeting her and staying home until word spread Asgore had another soul. He’d just stayed on this mattress, staring at the wall. He could have saved her. And he didn’t.

His soul lurches again with guilt. It’s been throbbing so much lately, he’s starting to think something’s wrong. Knowing you’re asleep, he coaxes it out of his chest to look at it.

He looks at his soul some days when he feels like he can’t go on. It’s certainly not the healthiest- cracked where his panic attacks tore him apart, familiar scars where he was killed through resets. It’s not nearly as bright as a normal monster soul ought to be. That’s just his lack of determination, though. He sees the familiar tears and scars that he knows were caused by Papyrus’ death. They’re mostly healed, but, not quite. The fresher wounds when he thought you were going to die… and… wait… what’s that?

It’s a tiny red spot, right over one of the worse cracks. His soul isn’t red… did you soul-bond with him somehow? It makes his head spin- no, you CAN’T have- but that’s definitely a part of your soul, upon closer inspection.

He reaches out to touch it, wondering if he can brush it off-

‘it’s her SOUL. you have no right to… to touch her soul… ya creep…’

But, of course, his curiosity gets the best of him. On contact, a flood of memories fills his skull. All from your perspective.

You, curled up in Toriel’s house, with your leg in that cast, as you recovered. When you hugged him after admitting the ugly truth about your father, shaking a little. When you shot him that grateful look after he lied to Toriel for you. A few (albeit fuzzy and scattered) memories of him healing your face, whispering until you fell unconscious. And so many more.

When the film-reel of memories finally stops, and he can think straight, he feels better. He can’t explain why- but he does. He feels better about himself, he feels better about his past, he feels better about being next to you right now.

It takes him a minute… but he sees that it’s because you think of him as your friend. A friend who helps you when you’re stuck, and one that listens when nobody else will. You don’t have the perspective of worthlessness and cowardice that he has, but the opposite.

So when you lean over and press yourself against him in your sleep, he doesn’t feel guilty.

He feels lucky. Proud, even. Proud you think of him as someone you can trust.

Little does he know, your soul is busy healing his.

Chapter Text

The next morning, you can barely wake up. Wherever you are is warm and snug, and you’re wrapped up in blankets- opening your eye is an effort. When you do manage to sigh awake, you take stock of where you are.

Your arms are brought to your chest, and they’re wrapped protectively around your midriff and ribcage. Your torso is leaning on something warm and cushy- you lean in more. When something brushes against your knee, you realize your sweatpants are all bunched up around your thighs- they’re Toriel’s, not at all your size. The drawstring was pulled as far as it would go. You hurriedly shift them back down over your legs.

The warmth is coming from Sans, you realize. His arms are around you, like he’s half-hugging you and half-defending you from something- while his face is buried in your hair.

At this point, you know there’s some kind of line being crossed. Not that you mind, frankly. You would have been happy to cross this line two weeks ago. But it’s probably best that this took some time.

There’s a careful balance with being asleep or being awake with you. It doesn’t take much to shrug you over the edge in either direction. Sans’ balance, as you know, depends on the day. Today, he’s a heavy sleeper.

You wonder what might wake him up- you’re kind of hungry, but you don’t want to say anything. More… influence him into waking up on his own… yeah.

When you try to slip out of his arms, your ribs jolt painfully and his hands stiffen slightly on your sides. Bad plan.

You can’t move your arms much either, so nothing there.

Geez, your bruises hurt. The scars on your face do, too. Even your eye, which you thought wouldn’t bother you anymore, is twinging now that the heavy painkillers are gone.

You exhale as long as you can before your lungs start to hurt, then hold your breath. The pressure off of your ribs is heaven. You have to stop every few minutes and take little breaths of air, but you can hold your breath for surprisingly long amounts of time.

It was a useful skill when you were trying to slink around your house in silence.

What surprises you the most is that THAT is what makes Sans’ eye sockets open, surprised and slightly alarmed.
~~~~~
After last night, and feeling the way he did, he felt the strongest need to keep you as close to him as possible. He was worried it might creep the heck out of you… but you didn’t seem to mind. If anything, you seemed to want to be close to him. No matter what he did to move out of your way, you just nudged closer.

Which is why he’s holding you now, cuddled in your warmth. You smell like salty things… he’d probably compare it to the ocean if he’d smelled it before. And lavender- that much, he knows.

One thing he didn’t know as much as he thought he did; humans are soft. Yeah, he’d thought so before, sure, with the little physical contact you gave him. But this was… so much MORE. Squishy, too. Warm and soft and squishy, melting right against him like a puzzle piece.

He couldn’t be more content here, your hands tucked up over your ribs and folded in his arms, your knees stacked against his… nah, he’s not gonna wake up quite yet. Better savor this moment.

Until he realizes you’re awake, that is. This time he honestly isn’t embarrassed about it- more comfy. Too comfy to possibly consider moving. You slide your sweatpants back down over your shins… aww. He’d kinda liked it how it was… when you wriggle in his arms, though, he starts to think something is wrong. Probably just itchy or something, he decides, giving you what he thought was a reassuring squeeze and not moving.

You do, eventually. In fact, he thinks you might have fallen asleep again.

Until you stop breathing.

The gentle rise and fall of your chest, the warm breath, all stops. A little bubble of panic forms in his stomach, and he opens his eyesockets. You… seem fine? Maybe a little sleepy- and the whole ‘not-breathing’ thing- but other than that you’re fine. Content, even.

Right before he thinks to ask you if you’re alright, you take a few short breaths, reassuring him, before you stop again. It’s infuriating- he knows you’re alive, and if this is normal he wouldn’t want to bother you, but the one or two minute stretches in-between your breathing breaks start to freak him out.

Finally, on the seventh little cycle of this, he nudges your head with his and asks, quietly,

“y-you ok?”

“What?” you ask, a little surprised, catching your breath.

“you- stopped breathin’. that a human thing?”

“Oh-” you flush slightly, looking down. God, you’re cute when you’re flustered. Red is a good color on you. “No. I just- it feels good on my ribs. Breathing kinda hurts. Didn’t mean to freak you out.”

Oh. You’re hurting, right. Of course you are- he can be so dumb sometimes…

“oh. yeah.”

‘wow, how eloquent, dumbass,’ he thinks, face tinging blue.

“you need me to heal it again? i don’t know how much good it’ll do ya, but it oughta give you a break.”

“That would be GREAT,” you sigh. Geez, you must be hurting more than he thought. “Actually, can you do my eye? Or- you know- not-eye. It stings.”

“i’ll do whatever you want, if i can get a power nap in after.”

“Oh- I don’t want to tire you ou-”

“nah, kid, not like- i mean, Kate. Kate. sorry, i- crap.” he sighs, laying his head back and laughing a little at how dumb he sounds. He just doesn’t want to offend you.

“Hey, it’s okay. I don’t mind as much as I used to… well, three weeks ago… it feels different coming from you, you know?”

And THAT’S when last night’s memories click into place, and you both blush hard.

“last night-”

“I mean, were you-”

“was i dreaming, or-”

“I could have sworn I was dreaming, but-”

You collapse into a fit of giggles that you can’t even get a proper sentence out, but it makes your face sting to smile and your ribs ache to laugh. Wincing slightly, you stop just a few seconds too fast to be normal.

It hurts him- near PHYSICALLY- that it hurts you to laugh. He wants to hear you laugh… but he doesn’t want you to be in pain over it. Smiling a little softer, he sets his chin on the crown of your head and sighs. The green flame of healing magic curls up, and you let out the tiniest noise from the instant relief you feel.

He wishes he could bring you this much relief all the time. After what’s happened to you… your head tilts back and your nose meets his chin, surprising him out of his thoughts.

“Thanks… ’s so warm…”

“you wanna take that power nap with me?” he asks, without hesitation. (Maybe a little too eagerly.)

“Mmm-hmm… but I’m hungry, too…”

As if to prove your point, your stomach lets out a little growl- he laughs.

“yeah, that’s what happens after you’ve been in a coma for a week. alright, alright, i can move to the couch…”

“Sweet.”

With that, he pulls his arms tighter around you and shortcuts to the couch, making sure to cushion the little fall with his body. The healing magic doesn’t teleport with him, though, and the warm relief vanishes.

It clearly knocks the breath out of you, between the fall, the teleportation, and your ribs, and you have to lie there for a second and catch your breath before he helps you up.

“you still can’t stand that well… need me to make ya a sandwich or would you be down with me helpin’ you over to Grillby’s?”

“Uh… sandwich is fine…”

You don’t want anybody else to see the state you’re in until you can wear it with a bit more dignity.

“k.”

He lets you sit on the couch before hopping up and making peanut butter sandwiches. There’s nothing else on them. Just bread and peanut butter. Easy-peasy.

He makes one for himself, too (adding a healthy dose of ketchup), then hands you your plate. He notices the dubious look you give his and takes a hearty bite.

“what?” he asks, after swallowing. “’s just peanut butter.”

“And- KETCHUP?”

“everything is better with ketchup.”

“I’ll… take your word for it.”

He laughs, which makes you laugh a little, too. It hurts, but not as much. You’re starting to find you care less.

The sandwich isn’t half bad, though frankly, you think you could eat anything since you’re so hungry. It’s gone in seconds. Sans eats a little slower, but doesn’t mind watching you inhale yours, licking your fingers free of peanut butter. You’re still shaken up and all, after what happened, but you’re really starting to be happy again. And on top of all that, you have a thing for him the same way he does with you.

It makes his soul swell happily.

“so, you wanna try and pick out a real eyepatch today? we don’t have to go out and do anything if you aren’t up for it.”

“Sure- it should take a while to sort through all of ‘em, it’s something to do.”

Suddenly, your stitches throb underneath your eyepatch. You put a hand on your face and hurriedly pull it off, wondering why your eye suddenly hurts so much. Your plate clatters to the floor.

“Ow, ow, ow, ow,” you say, trying to cover your eye without touching it. “Stop it, stop it, stop it-”

Sans puts a hand on your knee, shaking it slightly-

“hey- hey, you ok?”

“It- ow… w-wait,” because suddenly, the pain is gone, just as fast as it came. “It… stopped…”

“what stopped?”

“My eye really hurt for a second there and then… it just… stopped.”

“uh… why?”

“I don’t know.”

You slide your eyepatch back on, kind of embarrassed. That was probably an over-reaction. But. It’s like you had your eye back for a second. And it was happening all over again, somehow. Then, it dawns on you.

“Phantom pain!” you say, like you’d solved some huge mystery.

“what?”

“Oh-” you turn to him- “sometimes when humans go through physical trauma, or lose limbs and stuff, they get phantom pain. You kind of, uh, relive the scenario that hurt you for a few seconds. Geez, I was thinking it was some big thing, but I should be fine.”

However, Sans looks horrified.

“RELIVE it?”

“O-oh. Uh, not the memories, just the pain,” you add, hurriedly.

“still.”

“Well- it- it’s okay, there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.”

“are you ok?” he asks, dumbstruck.

“I’m fine. Just surprised me a little.”

“don’t tell me you’re ok if you’re not.”

“Really. I’m fine.”

He gives you a doubtful look and turns back to the crust on his sandwich. You notice he doesn’t seem to like it very much, but tries to eat as close to it as he can without taking a bite. It reminds you of the little kids who threw out their crusts at school way back when. Kind of childish, but in a funny way.

“So, where’s Papyrus?”

“prob’ly in the shed,” Sans grumbles, tossing the thin ribbon of crust on his plate, looking annoyed.

“Didn’t you say-“ you start, eyes widening.

“your dad’s in there, yeah,” he sighs. “no weapons though, Paps is fine.”

“But-”

“my bro is stronger than most boss monsters, a good fighter, and a pacifist. seriously, both of ‘em’ll be fine. and besides, if your dad so much as thinks about hurting him, i’ll make sure he’s at the bottom of a river in minutes.”

(You’re still tense.)

“c’mon. these eyepatches ain’t gonna pick themselves.”

He helps you up and over to the table, being careful with his magic, when there’s a sharp rap on the door-

“hold on, i’ll get it. Paps probably locked himself out again,” Sans chuckles. “they’re just in that box, you can start dumping ‘em out.”

You nod and dump out the box of eyepatches, relieved. Sans waltzes over and opens the door. His smart-aleck pun dies in his throat, however. TWO people are at the door- Papyrus, and Callahan. He’s holding a small bag of fun-size Snickers. He looks relaxed, too, almost. In a forced way. Like he’s trying to prove he can be comfortable around monsters.

Everyone else, on the other hand, visibly tenses up a little. Including you.

“Hello,” you offer, when nobody else speaks. He looks relieved to see you here- something tells you he doesn’t want to be alone with two monsters, despite his forced calm.

“Hello, Kate,” he says. “Er- may I come in?”

“sure,” Sans mutters, stepping back and walking over to the table. (Maybe slightly protectively.)

Callahan shifts uncomfortably on his feet, even after Papyrus makes an offer that he sit down. He knows this isn’t his territory. And the aura Sans is giving off screams “GET. OUT. NOW.”

“No, thank you. I just dropped by to deliver these and to ask what Kate had to say to me the other day.”

Oh, right. Dang.

“Riiighht.” you say, reaching quickly for the bag and tearing open one of the Snickers. The SIGHT of one makes your mouth water, and you tear off a bite. Geez, you missed these. Better not eat them all in one go, if it might be the last bag you ever get. “Thanks- uh… well… I was just going to ask if there’s really no way we couldn’t get my friends out the way you guys came in. Maybe if we freed them BEFORE anybody thinks about bombing the place-”

“I get where you’re comin’ from, kid, I really do, but you have about as much say in the matter as I do. None.”

You look at the table and nod.

“Okay. Then, two more questions before I choose, okay?”

“Hurry it up, kiddo, I have a legion to supervise.”

“s h e ‘ l l t a k e a s l o n g a s s h e w a n t s .” Sans says. Callahan sighs and shrugs.

“I’m just saying I don’t want them to hurt anyone while I’m gone, but by all means.”

Sans wants to pin this guy to a wall. By his throat. With an attack. You probably wouldn’t take that very well, though, so he holds back on it.

“Do you think I’m insane?”

Now everybody looks at you, confused.

“Why would you be insane?” Callahan asks.

“Well, after- um- my dad told everybody I was, I kind of assumed you believed him?”

It comes out like a question, though you hardly meant it that way. You’re staring at the tabletop, unable to make eye contact.

“Oh. Well, for one, I know now that that was a cover story. And two, if you’re insane, then I’m insane, too. Simple as that.”

“Okay,” you nod. You didn’t want him to take your opinions and decisions lightly. “next, what day is it?”

“Sixteenth,” he responds deftly. “Why?”

“That means…” some quick mental math- “It’s nine days until Christmas. You and the rest of them should be heading home.”

“True,” he nods. “And you?”

You could cut the tension in the room, after those two words, with a knife.

“. . . .I’m staying here. With my family,” you say, looking up from the table to meet his eyes.

You can practically feel Sans and Papyrus smiling at you. Callahan’s demeanor darkens slightly, then he reaches out to shake your hand.

“I was worried you might say that. I’ll try to hold off any bombing until Christmas, alright? Hold it off entirely if possible, of course.”

“I’ll be fine. And even if I’m not, I’d rather be here.”

“Heh. I just hope you know Hallmark card quotes can’t save you from a nuke, Kate. Goodbye.”

And he turns and leaves.