The door gave a faint click as it gently closed behind Reaper, Geno’s neat and tidy room spread out before him. The morning had been absolutely awful, first finding his own clothes missing and in their place was one of Geno’s tracksuits, this one in a kind of dull sky blue, then the world’s most awkward and drawn out breakfast, then fighting with Error just to finally get the chance to be alone for a little while. Error had conceded with the warning that Reaper wasn’t to go outside, and yes that included the gardens. Reaper was fine with that, there was only one place he wanted to be at the moment anyway.
The room smelled fresh and clean, no doubt their maid service was doing their job in keeping the room tidy and aired out. It felt so impersonal, so cold and sterile. Still it was the best option, Reaper went right over to the bed and climbed onto it. At first he was just sprawled out on the bed, but he quickly curled into himself until he was a tight ball. Everything was just so messed up. No matter which way he looked at the situation from it was clear Geno’s family was into some pretty questionable stuff. Normal people didn’t get kidnapped like that, normal people didn’t think of other people as bargaining chips, normal people didn’t keep their kid’s datefriend prisoner and refuse them all outside contact for their own safety.
Worst of all: Geno likely was just as deep into this dark stuff as the rest of his family.
The smart thing to do would be to wait until Geno got back, pretend things are normal for a week or so, then try to break things off as gently and cleanly as possible, to get himself away from this family before he was in too deep or, worse yet, his brother was dragged down with him. But could he really give up Geno like that? Could he really give up the first and so far only person besides his brother able to touch him? The thoughts just kept circling, the coulds and shoulds and woulds just going around and around on loop.
Some time later, Reaper isn’t even sure how much, the door opened. “THERE you are!” Error loudly said.
“Go away,” Reaper replied, not even bothering to look up.
“No, you need to get up and come with me.”
“For fuck’s sake!” Error stomped closer, sounding like a child throwing a tantrum. “You need to come with me right now!”
Reaper felt something touch his pant leg. He kicked at it and scrambled to the other side of the bed, “Don’t touch me!”
Error was standing pressed back against the wall, holding his hand to his chest like it had just been burned. The look of
fear surprise on his face morphed into anger and he reached up to pull at what up until that moment Reaper had thought were tattoos on his face. “If you won’t come willingly I’ll just have to make you.” The lines on Error’s face came away, wrapped around his fingers and pulling loosely from his eye sockets.
Reaper summoned a cage of bone bullets, then thought better of it and also manifested his scythes, the sharp blades seemed like the best choice against what appeared to be strings.
The pair of them stood on either side of the bed, staring each other down with raw magic crackling between them.
There was a commotion in the hallway that was quickly growing louder. Reaper didn’t dare take his eye sockets off Error, but Error did. Reaper followed his gaze to find Karma, flanked by Mercy, Mr. Gaster, and a monster he didn’t recognize walking through the doorway. They all stopped to stare at Reaper and Error, but Reaper had eyes only for the crumpled form laying limply in Karma’s arms.
“Geno!” Reaper dropped his bullets, the attacks disintegrating into nothing more than motes of light, and lurched towards Karma.
“Outta the way,” Karma barked before barging past Reaper to lay Geno on his bed.
Reaper tried to follow, but Karma pushed him back. Geno was… oh god Geno’s skull! Half of it was gone, just a giant gaping hole that looked strangely melted around the edges. There was something red dripping from Geno’s mouth, it looked like human blood but that didn’t make sense. There was more of the red stuff leaking from a nasty looking slash across Geno’s chest, soaking into the pure white of his shirt and the blue zip up sweater that had strange blotches of of icy white on it, like someone had spilled bleach on it. If there was more red on his pants it was lost against the dark stains over most of them, but there was some red splattered on his dirty, bare socks.
“C’mon, bud, let’s get outta the doctor’s way.”
“But… but Geno’s hurt!”
“Which is why we’re gonna let the doc do her thing. C’mon, I know it sucks but it’s better to give the doc her space.”
Another stranger entered the room, this one carrying a big leather bag, followed by a couple of the maids carrying what looked like medical equipment. Mercy was trying to herd Mr. Gaster and Error to the door in much the same way Karma was trying to herd Reaper.
Reaper made his decision, he knocked Karma into the bookcase they were standing next to, pushed him aside, then jumped over him to run past the doctor and up onto the bed, perching next to Geno’s head. He was careful not to touch him as he leaned down to whisper, “It’s okay Geno, you’re safe, I’m here.”
“You motherfucker,” Karma wheezed.
“Karma,” Mr. Gaster barked, “do NOT start a fight. Reaper, be reasonable and come down from there.”
“He can stay,” the doctor said as she dug through the bag her presumed assistant had brought in. “Having a loved one nearby for moral support can make a big difference. But you need to do as I say or I’m throwing you out.” The doctor shook her furry paw at Reaper.
Reaper just nodded.
“Keep talking to him, it’ll help calm him down while I work.”
Reaper did keep talking, murmuring comforting little lies as the others shuffled out of the room.
There were pounding footsteps approaching, Reaper looked up just as Blue came into the doorway, swinging in and looking around. He smiled when he noticed Error.
“There you are, what’s going… on…” Blue trailed off as his pips landed on Geno, then his pips vanished altogether.
“If you aren’t my assistant or patient you need to leave,” the doctor said sternly.
Blue’s pips came back, plain white dots so tiny Reaper wouldn’t have seen them if not for how bright they were burning. He turned and marched out of the room, followed by Error and a grimacing Karma. It sounded like there was something going on in the hallway, a couple voices raised in protest that were quickly shushed, then, “Stretch, what the FUCK did you do?!”
The assistant closed the door, the rest of the voices became too muffled to hear.
The next couple hours were the most intense of Reaper’s life. He ended up becoming a kind of orderly for the doctor, holding Geno’s hand and constantly talking in a soft, soothing voice about whatever he could think of to help keep Geno calm. It was Soul breaking to watch as Geno’s clothes were cut away, revealing the broken and missing bones underneath, more melting like candle wax around the damage. Reaper couldn’t help thinking the Soul breaking was literal when the doctor inspected Geno’s Soul, or the few shattered shards that were left.
“If you’re going to be ill you’d better just leave.”
“I’m… I’m not. I don’t think.” Reaper wasn’t sure, he felt more like sobbing than anything else, but Geno didn’t need that right now.
“Well it’s not great, but this isn’t the worst case of DT poisoning I’ve seen. He’ll recover.” She let what was left of Geno’s Soul fade back into place.
Reaper breathed a sigh of relief, “So he’s going to be ok, that’s good.”
“Temper your expectations of okay, recover doesn’t mean back to the before times, it means getting to a new normal.”
“But that’s a while away, for now just let him rest. I’m going to talk to his father, then see myself out. I’ll be back later to check on him. Also his left side is the safe one, remember that.”
Reaper just nodded, looking down at where he was holding Geno’s left hand in his own. Once the doctor left he ended up climbing back onto the bed, pressed up against Geno’s side. He wanted to pull him close but couldn’t, even if the doctor got the weird melting to stop he still had that nasty wound in his ribs. Instead he just lay there, trying to swallow back sobs Geno didn’t need to hear and just let himself exist for a while.
There was a gentle knock at the door, then Mercy came in, followed hesitantly by Error. “Hello,” Mercy said quietly, “the doctor told us everything. She said it was alright for us to visit a few at a time.”
“Yeah, ok.” Reaper sat up and moved to stand up. “Where’s your dad? I thought he would be the first in here.”
“He’s currently escorting Blue home, I think he has some things to say to Blue’s parents about this.” Mercy picked up a chair and moved it to the side of the bed Reaper had just vacated and sat down, picking up Geno’s hand. “Hello, Brother! You’re looking quite well all things considered.”
“You look like garbage,” Error said as he came to stand near Reaper, arms crossed.
“Thanks, I can’t imagine why,” Reaper replied sarcastically.
“C’mon, let’s go get you cleaned up.” Error wrapped some of his blue string around Reaper’s wrist and started pulling.
“Aren’t you here to visit Geno?”
Error stopped and looked back, “He’s breathing, the doctor said he’s stable, he won’t be awake for a while. I’ve checked on him, so let’s go before he wakes up and sees you looking like a wreck.”
“I promise to stay and keep an eye socket on him,” Mercy added in.
“Ok, fine, whatever.” Reaper let Error lead him away. Reaper expected Error to take him back to the guest room they shoved him in last night, but instead they headed right to Error’s room. Inside Ink was laying back across the bed, he sat up when they entered and looked at them strangely.
“Here, hold this.” Error tugged his strings in such a way that Reaper ended up stumbling onto the bed. Ink caught Reaper and helped him sit up, then pulled him in close and left his arm over Reaper’s shoulders.
By the time Reaper had regained his balance and looked around, Error had already flopped down into the biggest bean bag he’d ever seen and picked up what appeared to be a knitting project. Error looked right at them, “There, there, everything’s going to be ok.”
“What? Oooooh!” Ink said as if that were some secret code. “Right, Blue’s friendship lessons.” He patted Reaper’s shoulder, then pulled him closer until Reaper’s face was about ready to smoosh into Ink’s neck. “There, there, everything’s going to be okay.”
It was the stupidest thing. Reaper couldn’t help letting out a short, watery laugh that quickly turned into full on body wracking sobs. It was weird, like the shield of numb he’d been hiding behind suddenly broke, or maybe it was more like a dam considering how much liquid was escaping now. He ended up half in Ink’s lap, face pressed to his clavicles, shirt bunched in his hands as he cried and cried and cried until finally he had no tears left.
Ink spent the whole time patting him on the back and telling him to, “Go on, let it all out. There, there, everything’s going to be okay,” over and over on repeat. It was still the stupidest thing ever but damn if it didn’t help.
“You done?” Error asked after Reaper had been quiet for a while.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Good.” He fiddled with his knitting a bit, set it aside, then stood up. He grimaced when he got a good look at Reaper’s face, “Ugh, what a mess. You should probably clean up before going back.”
Reaper just shrugged, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d just gone straight to bed after crying. Something about crying just sucked all the energy out of him.
Error huffed, “Whatever, let’s go.”
“Would you rather stay here?”
“No. But why are you coming?”
Error rolled his eye pips, “I’m still responsible for you, remember? Now let’s go, I’m sure you’re dying to get back to Geno.”
Reaper shrugged again, but peeled himself away from Ink anyway. Ink stood up with him and put an arm around his shoulder, which considering just how much shorter he was than Reaper was just awkward. Together the three of them walked the short distance to Geno’s room, where Error gently knocked on the door before slowly opening it.
Inside Karma sat at the chair next to Geno’s bed, he looked up at them, then sighed and motioned them in. “Pops talked to Swapson, Stretch was there too, and things are safe again. Ink can go home whenever.”
Reaper noticed he wasn’t allowed to leave yet.
“Don’t worry about dinner tonight, Pops doesn’t think any of us are gonna have the stomach for a family sit down. Speaking of, you guys eaten yet?”
“No,” Error responded, “we were having a moment.”
“The moment over?”
“Good, have some lunch sent up, Pops wants to talk to you after.”
“Of course he does.” Error grabbed Ink by the hand and started dragging him away, Ink excitedly bouncing along beside him.
“Pal, you look like shit.”
“Thanks,” Reaper replied with a sigh.
“Grab some clothes and go freshen up, I’ll have them send you up some lunch too.”
“Ugh, fine.” Reaper went to Geno’s closet and grabbed the first things he saw, then went straight for the bathroom. Inside the stark, bright lights perfectly illuminated just how much like shit Reaper looked. His sockets were sagging, deep shadows of dark blue burnt under them, the bone of his face were flushed faintly blue, and tacky magic residue in glittering streaks down his face from crying. Well he could at least take care of the tear stains. He peeled off his clothes, (was it only that morning he put them on? It felt like a year) and dropped them on the floor before stepping into the shower.
The thing about being a skeleton is that while Reaper can feel different temperatures they didn’t really affect him until they get into extremes well beyond what fleshier creatures would consider uncomfortable. That meant the shower could be any temperature and still do its job, but Reaper knew for a fact that the Gasters had an amazing water heater. The shower was blessedly hot, the bathroom already full of steam even before Reaper reaches for the soap. Long after the last of the suds had washed down the drain Reaper just stayed under the spray, letting the water beat down on his skull and wondering if the water heater will ever run out.
Eventually he decided he’d been in there for too long and got out.He changed into fresh clothes, then headed back into the bedroom.
True to his word, Karma had a second chair next to his own and a little table with a covered tray waiting for Reaper when he emerged. Reaper sat down and lifted the lid, he was pretty sure he wasn’t hungry enough for whatever was under there but was pleasantly surprised to find a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup, something far simpler than he ever expected to see in the Gaster home. Okay, so it looked like the sandwich was actually grilled, not pan fried like most homemade ones, was probably made with like five special cheeses, and he was sure the soup was some sort of Tuscan tomato bisque with fresh basil flown in directly from India or something. It was delicious though, and after the first bite Reaper realizes that he was, in fact, actually pretty close to starving.
Karma stayed silent while Reaper ate, just sat there holding Geno’s hand, watching his bandage wrapped chest slowly rise and fall. When Reaper finished his meal, Karma nodded towards the bed and said, “You should get some rest, ya look like you need a nap.”
“But uh… you’re holding his hand????” There was no way for Reaper to crawl into bed on Geno’s “safe” side without pushing Karma away.
“So? I can let go, or do you not want someone creeping while you sleep?”
Well now that he mentioned that! Reaper shook his head, “He’s your brother,” Geno’s twin, they’d known each other since before being born. “I don’t want to get between you, you should be here for him, right?”
“You dumping him?”
“Then as his boyfriend shouldn’t you be here for him too?”
Reaper sighed, he was just so tired and for the life of him he couldn’t figure out why he was still trying to argue. Rather than answer Reaper just crawled onto the bed and snuggled up to Geno’s side as closely as he could.
Karma shifted in his seat, turned so he was facing the door more than either of them. “Don’t worry, I gotcher backs, go ahead and get a nap in.”
Somehow the thought of Karma watching their backs was more comforting than creepy, Reaper quickly found himself drifting off.