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Soul Searching

Chapter Text

His smile is relaxed and easy, even lit from below by the soft white glow of his soul.

“Are you sure?” you ask him, and his grin widens.

“of course,” he replies without hesitation. “it’s you.”

Sans trusts you, wholeheartedly.

The thought makes you feel soft, and for lack of any kind of answer to it, you reach for his soul.

Your fingers brush against it and you’re immediately overwhelmed with…impressions, feelings, synesthetic thoughts as your mind attempts to translate this thing of pure magic into something you can understand.

A crisp breeze, blowing by your face.

Sliding into a freshly-made bed, rumpling a clean set of sheets for the first time.

The gently spiced sweetness of gingerbread, and the tart burst of blueberries.

A single, resonating chime of a bell, fading out into stillness.

“well?” Sans asks, drawing your attention back to his face. “what do you think?”

It’s said casually but it’s obvious your answer is important.

“I love it,” you tell him. “It’s you.”

Chapter Text

“I’M! NOT NERVOUS ABOUT THIS, BY THE WAY! IF YOU WERE WONDERING.” Papyrus tells you.

…Which is an obvious lie by the way his leg is bouncing a mile a minute.

But you’re not about to call him out on it.

“It’d be okay, if you were nervous,” you say with diplomacy. “This seems like a pretty personal thing…”

“OH, VERY MUCH SO. BUT,” Papyrus beams at you, just the barest edge of nerves in his smile, “IF THERE’S ANYONE I’D TRUST WITH MY ENTIRE SELF, IT WOULD BE YOU!”

So saying, he nudges his soul forward; closer to you, wordlessly inviting you to touch it.

You’re not nearly rude enough to decline that invitation.

Papyrus is…

Polished marble beneath your fingertips.

Warm, gentle sunbeams on your skin.

The snap of a pretzel and the zing of cold, fresh lemonade, ice cubes clinking against the glass.

Waves, crashing onto the beach, rhythmic and powerful.

“Papyrus,” you breathe. “You’re amazing…”

He blinks at you a moment.

And then he laughs, boisterously, proclaiming, “YES! O-OF COURSE I AM! NYEH-HEH-HEH!” like he knew it all along.

He might not have…but you certainly did!

Chapter Text

“…COURSE YOU DON’T HAVE TO, IF YOU FEEL IT’S TOO SOON—I UNDERSTAND COMPLETELY!—BUT I WANTED TO OFFER BECAUSE…WELL, IT’S ABOUT THE GESTURE, AND OBVIOUSLY I TRUST YOU, SO—”

“Sans,” you interrupt, laughing a little despite yourself. “You’re…you’re rambling a little…”

Sans’ mouth shuts, a faint tinge of blue coming across his face.

“I…YES, I WAS, WASN’T I? HEHEHEH… I’M SORRY,” he sighs, a touch rueful. “I’M JUST…A LITTLE EXCITED! I KNOW YOU LACK THE CULTURAL CONTEXT, BUT THIS IS…KIND OF A BIG DEAL?”

You look at the upside down heart, bobbing before you in mid-air—Sans’ soul.

“Yeah, I kinda figured.”

“IT’S JUST…I LOVE YOU,” Sans admits. “SO…I WANT YOU TO LIKE IT…DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?”

“It does. ” And the least you can give your skeleton beau is an honest answer, so… “I am ready. I’ll do it.”

Sans’ eye-lights brighten happily as you reach out and cup his soul in your hands.

Just like he warned you, in as much magi-scientific detail as monsterly possible, it’s…weird, an utterly bizarre sensory experience for your brain.

It’s the soft, cloying sweetness of marshmallow, cut with the sharp, icy tingle of mint.

It’s the tickling bubbles of carbonation from a freshly cracked soda can.

It’s the swoop in your stomach at the top of a rollercoaster, just as you start to fall.

It’s birdsong, ambient and melodious.

It’s Sans.

So, “It’s perfect.

Chapter Text

Such a bold invitation from your favorite shy skeleton is unexpected, to say the least.

But far from unwelcome.

The pale upside down heart is like a magnet for your fingers, your hands itching to touch the very core of the man you love so much.

But you have to be certain.

“This is…really okay?” you ask. “You’re okay…with this?”

Papyrus, with his ducked skull and fidgeting hands, looks utterly bashful, but the way he meets your eyes is nothing short of resolved.

“yeah,” he says. “i want to share this with you. i want you to know me…like this.”

He reaches for your hands and you let him take them, pulling them to closer to where his soul hovers.

“it’s okay,” he promises.

So you reach, and find…

The trickling sound of a quiet stream, flowing steadily forward.

Lacquered wood, smooth and sturdy.

A hot shower after a long day, filling the room with soothing steam.

Heavy cream, thick and sweet…with the faintest hint of hazelnut.

It’s probably rude, or at the very least extremely cheeky…but you can’t quite stop yourself from bringing Papyrus’ soul up to your lips for a chaste little peck.

He shivers, an enticing cerulean dusting his face.

Your intent must have quite clear, because he chuckles.

“i…i love you, too…”

Chapter Text

“figured it was about that time,” Sans is saying with a shrug. “one of those things ya’ gotta get to sooner or later, y’know?”

His tone is blasé, perfectly casual; verging on cocky, even.

You might’ve bought it if he hadn’t stuffed his hands into his pockets, trying to hide their trembling from you.

Real emotion—vulnerability—scared the hell out of Sans and you both knew it.

With his soul laid bare before you, utterly exposed in the truest sense possible, he really couldn’t get any more vulnerable than this.

…but he’s showing you anyway.

He chose to be vulnerable to you, for you, and there aren’t words for how special that makes you feel.

“Thank you,” you tell him, hoping he understands what you mean and reaching slowly, carefully for everything that makes him…him.

The magic that settles in your palms feels like dry heat, almost insistently warm.

It feels like static, like peeling apart a pair of socks stuck to each other, fresh out of the dryer.

A puff like cinnamon and the tang of a tart apple, sour and sweet and spice all at once.

A distant rumble, like from a far off storm…

Sans’ eye-sockets go wide when you pull his soul closer to you, holding it against your chest.

You know what it probably looks like, like you’re aiming for an even more intimate type of sharing, but really, you just…want him near to you.

Because…

“Sans…you feel like home…

Chapter Text

“I’M SURE YOU’RE INCREDIBLY FLATTERED. TO HAVE WON SO MUCH OF MY REGARD IS NO SMALL FEAT—EVEN FOR AN EXTRAORDINARY HUMAN SUCH AS YOURSELF!”

He’s probably been talking for a solid two minutes now, blustering about how intimidated you must be by such a bold, romantic gesture; how loved you must feel to have such an amazing partner, willing to trust you with his soul; how he understands if you need a moment to process all this overwhelming information.

If you didn’t know better, you might’ve thought Papyrus was projecting a bit, stalling for time…

But you do know better: surely, the fact that he can’t seem to meet your eyes right now is just to…keep you from feeling nervous.

Surely.

“…AN HONOR, REALLY—”

“I am,” you say, cutting into his long-winded tirade.

Papyrus’ jaw clicks shut.

“I…WHAT.”

“You’re right,” you clarify. “I’m honored. Really.”

Ah, Papyrus hadn’t prepared a script for that response: you can tell by the way his cheekbones go the palest shade of pink, and by how he all but thrusts his soul at you.

“I! JUST…JUST TAKE IT!” he demands.

And well…you’re not often one to tell Papyrus ‘no.’

You carefully grasp his soul.

Sharp spice like ginger, dripping in rich dark chocolate, riding the line between bitter and sweet.

A razor’s edge beneath a fingertip, safe only for a careful hand.

Fine silk that flows and ghosts against your limbs, the barest whisper of touch.

Crackling, like the tamed fire of a well-stoked hearth.

You let go.

Papyrus looks uncertain, too proud to ask for your thoughts outright but obviously dying to know.

You opt not to leave him in suspense, grabbing him by the shoulders and pulling him down to meet you in a kiss.

Your partner is a fascinating man…

Chapter Text

You startle when Sans grabs your hands in his own, intercepting you.

“Is…Did you change your mind?” you wonder, attempting to pull back. “It’s okay, you don’t have to—”

“NO. NO, IT’S FINE,” Sans assures you. “I TRUST YOU, DEAR. I DO.”

But still, he holds your hands, his grip firm.

“……I don’t—”

“JUST…YOU CAN…GO AHEAD. I JUST NEED…THIS……WHILE YOU DO.”

Your beloved Sans—ever emotionally-constipated—probably can’t do any better than that strained and halting explanation.

It’s a good thing that (you think) you understood it.

You can hold his soul.

He wants you to hold his soul.

…But the faint shred of control in such a vulnerable act, holding onto you while you hold onto him, is something he needs to have, too.

If it helps him feel comfortable, you don’t mind in the slightest.

You reach for his soul, with his gloved phalanges still curled around your hands.

Sans allows it.

A subtle yet persistent hum, background, like a nearly-forgotten device in a silent room.

A…strange sort of sweetness, bitter like licorice, or sour like raspberry—impossible to separate from one another, either way.

Pressure, intense and purposeful, bearing steadily downwards.

Crushed ice, stingingly, numbingly cold…

You’re not sure what to make of it…at first.

But then, you remember the last time you’d felt a wisp of this magic.

When you’d been hurt, not badly but enough to make Sans dart over to scold you, even as green light started to pour from his claws—easing your pain, putting you back to rights.

It was the same.

You release your grasp on Sans’ soul, taking no offense in the way it immediately retreats back into his chest.

You turn your hands in his, lacing your fingers together and squeezing tight.

“Thank you…for trusting me.”

And then, you lean in for a kiss.

Chapter Text

You can’t believe it sometimes.

How you ever managed to snag yourself such an adorable, goofy sweetheart of a skeleton.

“i-i mean, if you don’t…y’know, ‘cause, i-if it’s weird, for you, uh…i wouldn’t want you to feel…obligated??? that’s…mmmaybe not the right word…”

Poor Papyrus is absolutely babbling by now in a way that could only be more endearing if he didn’t look so nervous.

“i don’t…i dunno, whatever, uh, whatever you want, to do, i just…wanted it to be…out there, if—………”

He goes dead silent when you make your answer to his proposition clear, taking his soul into your hands.

It’s…not what you expected.

The sensation of a thick plume of faux fur against your cheek.

Lukewarm wax cooling, growing tacky on your fingertips.

What rain sounds like when it’s falling outside, while you’re safe and dry indoors.

Dripping, overwhelming sweetness, dense like marmalade and sticky like caramel.

No…not really what you expected…

But somehow, it suits him wonderfully, this odd, clingy duck of a skeleton you’ve chosen as your own.

Papyrus visibly jumps when you raise his soul up to your face and give it a tender little nuzzle.

“I love you,” is all you have to say to make his whole skull glow violet.

It’s true, though—you really do.

Chapter Text

He doesn’t look particularly…happy…about this.

In fact, Sans looks pretty much the opposite, a grimace on his face and his single red eye-light pointedly averted from the sight of his own soul, hovering there between you.

You manage to tear your eyes away from the sight of it, looking at him instead.

“Why?” you ask.

His frown deepens, confusion obvious.

“Why do you want me to do this?” you try again, hopefully clearer. “If it’s… If you don’t want to…”

“……no,” Sans says at length. “it’s not… you should get to……you…deserve to………to know it.”

“But…if you don’t want me to—”

“not… no, that’s not it.”

Sans looks at his soul, his expression visibly pained.

“i just…wish it weren’t…like this…”

Finally, it clicks.

He’s talking about the state of his soul, littered with cracks and fissures, marks of damage from all the horrible trauma he lived through.

He’s…

Sans is ashamed of it.

His own soul.

Something…comes over you.

Without hesitation, you reach out and take the manifestation of the skeleton you love into your hands.

It feels like…

Oil dripping over your fingers, dark and slick.

Plush velvet, soft and smooth.

A sharp burst like grapefruit and the warring bitter and sweet of burnt sugar.

Intermittent cricket chirps, on an otherwise still and silent night.

Just like you thought…

You pull Sans’ soul in, bringing it to your lips to pepper it with kisses—one for every little crack and imperfection on its surface—even as Sans shudders and goes that soft gray-blue color you adore so much.

He only manages to hold back the tears (relief? Joy? Disbelief?) until you speak.

“It’s beautiful. You’re beautiful.”

And then, well…you’ve got plenty more kisses to give.

Chapter Text

“So! If You’d Like… You Can Just Go Ahead And…”

Don’t mind if you do!

The soft white soul in front of you is utterly enchanting, lovely to look at—and that should be no surprise at all, knowing the man it belongs to.

You lean in closer, admiring it just a moment longer…

“Wait!”

You look up.

Papyrus, his smile gone tight all of a sudden, is reaching for his own soul too…calling it back?

No…

Just…turning it, slightly, a minor little adjustment.

Which is, quite frankly, deeply suspicious.

“Uh…what are you doing?”

“Nothing!” Papyrus assures you. “Don’t You Want To—”

He cuts off abruptly as you lean to the side, testing.

Sure enough, he re-angles his soul for you again, almost on instinct, and when he realizes how badly he’s given himself away, a nervous drop of sweat beads along the side of his skull.

“Papyrus… Why are you trying to ‘dark side of the moon’ your soul?”

“………”

You frown.

Papyrus.

“It’s! Not Very Nice, To Look At, Over There,” he confesses, admitting defeat. “Wouldn’t You Rather Just…Look At The Light Side? Like The Moon? The Moon Is Lovely, Nobody Needs To See—”

“I want to see,” you tell him, firmly.

His meddling hands…reluctantly retreat.

Leaving you free to take Papyrus’ soul in your grasp and see what all the fuss was about.

He was right, that the deep scar on the other side of his soul wasn’t particularly pretty—imperfectly healed, a gnarled silver streak across glowing white.

But when you touch him, his innermost self, it’s also…

Soft and impossibly delicate, like holding a single page of scritta paper between your fingers.

Cold steel, stainless and nigh unbreakable, fit to outlast anything.

Malleable marzipan and slippery olive oil, sweet and light and…weird, just a little offbeat.

A steady thrumming, beneath your fingers, like a heart; a strong, steady pulse.

“Thought so,” you say at length, gently trailing your fingers over Papyrus’ soul.

“Thought What?” he asks.

His hands are wringing in his lap, already anxious, so you decide not to make him wait for your answer.

“I love all of you,” you explain. “Not just the ‘pretty’ parts.”

And oh, Papyrus’ eye-sockets sparkle.

Chapter Text

The way Sans looks at his own soul, you’d think he’d never seen it before.

His eye-lights are blown wide in their sockets, that soft shade of gray you’ve come to love so much filled with nothing less than total surprise.

Like he’s not even sure of what he’s seeing.

It doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary to you.

It’s just…a normal monster soul, an upside down heart shape made of glowing white light.

Maybe…he sees something you don’t?

“Everything okay…?” you ask, and Sans finally blinks.

“huh? oh…yeah…yeah, nothing’s……”

He trails off a moment.

“i just……never seen it this bright before…”

Oh.

Oh.

If you had to make a guess, you’d say that that’s a very, very good thing.

…and it makes you want to hold his soul in your hands even more.

“So…can I…?”

“oh yeah, sure. heheh, go for it—just be gentle.”

As if you would do anything less.

You scoop Sans’ soul up, cradling it in your palms.

It feels like…

Standing in the rain without an umbrella, letting the droplets pelt your skin.

A window pane under your hand, cold, flat, and even.

Soft white noise, unidentifiable yet soothing.

A glass of milk and a fistful of semisweet chocolate chips, plain and simple—uncomplicated.

“This is…beyond cool,” you say, because frankly, it is.

Sans smiles.

You love it when he smiles, the way the expression seems to weaken the dark circles beneath his eye-sockets.

Apparently, it also makes his soul glow just a little bit brighter, and you like that even more.

You think you’ll just have to make Sans smile as much as you possibly can.

Chapter Text

“SO…YOU’RE CLEAR, YES? WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?”

You nod.

Papyrus’ concise explanation of the synesthetic experience that was holding a soul had been as well-crafted as one of his lectures, and just as informative.

Perceiving all of him, through all of your senses at once, is an exciting prospect to be sure.

“AND…YOU UNDERSTAND? WHAT IT MEANS?”

“I think so…” Which of course, makes you wonder… “Are you sure you want me to…?”

Papyrus smiles, the corners of his eye-sockets crinkling with gentle amusement…and a hint of self-deprecation.

“IT’S SWEET OF YOU TO ASK,” he says. “BUT…DO YOU REALLY THINK WE’D BE HERE IF I WASN’T ABSOLUTELY SURE?”

………

He has a point.

You remember how terribly flustered Papyrus would get, back at the beginning of your relationship—unable to hold your hand without starting to sweat and stammering over his words like you’d suggested something lewd instead.

He seems perfectly calm now, not even blushing (…you think—the pale, pearly color of his magic makes it nearly impossible to tell).

“Alright… You’re sure.”

Without further ado, your grasp Papyrus’ soul with careful hands.

He’s warm, steaming chai, sugar cubes dissolving within.

Picking an autumn leaf up off the ground, bright yet fragile.

Fingers trailing over smooth, worn leather.

A soft, slow sound, like breathing beside you in bed in the middle of the night.

You gently stroke your thumb over the surface of Papyrus’ soul.

He sighs when you do, eye-sockets falling shut.

Trusting himself wholly in your hands.

“Oh Dear-Heart,” he breathes, his voice going quiet. “I Love You…”

You know.

The feeling is very much mutual.

Chapter Text

“So…I just…touch it?”

Sans’ big phalanges curl, his wrist flicking twice—“yeah.”

Seems simple enough, you suppose?

Under Sans’ watchful red eye-light, you reach forward…

“wa—it…!”

You jump, your eyes going wide, and the soul darts away from your fingers but you don’t care about that.

Sans’ pained grimace is far more important to you right now, seeing his knuckles pressed against his throat as if to soothe the ache.

“Use your hands!” you exclaim fretfully with concern, grasping at his claws and pulling them out in front of him.

You’d learned sign for a reason, and it wasn’t so Sans could hurt himself trying to make words out loud with a voice that seared and stung him so painfully.

“i know,” he assures you, looking chagrined. “i know, i… sorry. i…panicked, a little.”

More than a little, you almost say, but don’t.

You’re sure it was hard enough already for him to admit, even peripherally, that he’d been…scared.

“Are you okay now? Because…we don’t have to—”

“no,” Sans signs, forcefully. “i want to. i just…i wasn’t ready. i am now. you can… you can go ahead.”

Well… so long as he’s sure.

You reach again, moving slowly this time so Sans can see exactly what you’re doing, where your hands are going…

Wrapping ever so gently around the faintly cracked white soul glowing before you.

It feels like…

Tightening your grip on a handful of hot sand, making it slip away though your fingers even as the heat starts to hurt.

The high, droning cry of cicadas in the dead of summer.

Wool, clean but unprocessed—a thick tangle of softness just shy of raw.

Earthy rye bread and sharp black coffee, warm and fragrant.

Just as slow and steady as you took it in your hands, you pass it back.

Sans takes it, absorbing it back into his chest.

His grin is crooked, almost sheepish.

“so…what’s the damage?”

You sigh, regretfully.

“I’m so sorry…I don’t know how to tell you this, Sans, but…I think you might be baby.”

“…what,” Sans signs, even as that cute hissing sound you’d come to realize was his laughter fills the air, his shoulders bouncing.

“I’m sure this is very upsetting news,” you continue. “It’s a terminal condition, to be just baby, but—mphmh!”

Sans’ hand settles over half of your face, muffling your words.

But he’s still laughing, so you think you’re alright.

Chapter Text

“YOU REALIZE, OF COURSE, THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS,” Papyrus says.

His needle-sharp phalanges locked tightly around your hands, the stern and imperious look upon his skull as he tells you so…

You’d be hard-pressed not to realize that this was important.

The scarred yet lovely white soul hovering almost hauntingly between you, awaiting your touch, only adds to the gravitas of the moment.

Papyrus releases your hands.

You don’t move.

He stares at you a moment, taking you in.

And then he reaches for you.

The backs of his claws light carefully on your cheek, stroking slow and purposeful.

“…I LOVE YOU, MY JEWEL,” he says, quietly; matter of fact. “THERE ISN’T ANOTHER SOUL ALIVE I’D ALLOW TO DO THIS. YOU KNOW THAT…YES?”

“Yes,” you answer, because you do know it.

As aloof and closed off and even mean as Papyrus once was…once he let you in, you were in, and he never made you doubt that.

You take his soul in your hands.

The sound of wind, gale-force, rushing past your ears.

Pressing down on a healing bruise, testing the fading soreness.

More heat than sweet, peppery cayenne overpowering a faint hint of juicy pomegranate.

Curling your fingers around the stem of a rose, just lightly enough that the thorns don’t prick you.

Papyrus is…a singular sort of skeleton, not the easiest to get close to by any means of the word.

But you’re here, holding all that he is in the palm of your hands, at his own invitation.

You raise his soul and press a kiss to its scuffed and wounded surface, feeding all your intent into the gesture.

I love you, too.