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Gunpowder and Rose Petals

Chapter Text

Reaper couldn’t help fidgeting as he stared at himself in the mirror, his outfit was just so uncomfortable! Gone were his usual loose black metal band T-shirt, dark wash jeans with ragged hems, and oversized black hoodie. In their place were a too tight black three piece suit, stiff white shirt, cyan noose tie around his neck, and shoes. If Reaper thought he could get away with it he’d just go barefoot like usual, but that wouldn’t go with the expensive suit Geno had gotten him. Reaper gave one last swipe at imaginary dirt on the suit, took a deep breath, then walked over to the door. He opened it to find his datefriend waiting for him in the hall.

The way Geno’s eye sockets hooded and his pips glittered as he looked Reaper up and down was worth it.

Geno, himself wearing a suit very similar to Reaper’s but with a powder blue shirt and a black tie with little bones in a zigzag pattern over it, ambled closer with a soft grin on his round face as he reached up to straighten Reaper’s lapels. “You look good, it suits you.”

Reaper snorted, “You think it fits my style?”

“Like it’s tailor made.” Geno added on a wink, then pulled a familiar card stock box from his inventory. Reaper should recognize it, he’d helped pack them up and bring the whole lot here earlier that day. “Can’t forget the finishing touch.” He opened the box to reveal a single white rosebud with a couple little indigo delphinium under it and a spray of greenery to back the whole thing, an exact match for the one on Geno’s lapel. Geno pinned it to Reaper’s lapel, then gave the suit one more pat before looping his arm through Reaper’s and pulling him down the hall. “We should get going, I’m sure the others are ready by now. Pops will get cranky if we make him late.”

Reaper suppressed a shudder, the last thing he wanted to do was get on the bad side of Geno’s tall, imposing father. “Are we all riding in the same car?”

Geno chuckled, “No, there’s way too many of us for that. But Pops wants us all to arrive together regardless, so we’re all leaving together.”

“That makes sense.” Between Geno’s brothers, their dates, and their father that was a lot of people to try to jam into one car, and the Gaster family didn’t seem to be the type to use a big van like the bun family that lived next door to Reaper’s childhood home.

As they descended the stairs they got their first glimpse of the others. It was a dazzling array of sparkling jewels and shimmering black that would have left Reaper feeling under dressed if he hadn’t let Geno insist on buying him a suit. Every single last one of them had a boutonniere or corsage to match the ones Reaper and Geno were wearing.

“Ah, there you are,” Mr. Gaster, looking very elegant in his long, slim, black dress that seemed to have little crystals sprinkled over it and trailing a short train behind it, said as they got to the last step. “Fashionably late, I see.”

Reaper ducked his head and was about to start apologizing for being unfamiliar with the fiddly little intricacies of formal wear when Geno simply blew past him. “We aren’t even the last ones ready, where are Error and his air headed boyfriend?”

“Right behind you, asshole.”

Reaper turned to look behind them and immediately regretted it. Like always Error was dressed in eye searing shades of dark blue, yellow, and red. Surprisingly the cut of his dress was rather fashionable, a strapless top attached to a long, slim skirt with a second half skirt/butt cape thing that billowed around him, even if the shiny black most of it was made from made Reaper wince. Then he squinted at Error’s feet. “Are those high heeled flip flops?”

“Of course,” Error replied with his usual arrogance. “Unlike some people I know what looks good AND is comfortable.”

Then Reaper noticed Error’s date’s feet, nothing but socks with the toe and heel cut off. Reaper was scandalized! “No fair, how come he doesn’t have to wear shoes?”

“Ink’s not wearing a suit,” Geno replied placidly.

He wasn’t, he was wearing a huge tan scarf that trailed behind him like a cape, some sort of structured crop top, a pleated brown skirt that came down to his shins, and a pair of weird gloves that were fingerless except for the pinkie, which was teal. The outfit left his lower ribs and spine bare, showing off the matte black swoops and swirls that ran over his bones. Reaper himself may not really care about fashion, but working at The Secret Garden he’d seen enough sharply dressed people pulling together some formal event or another to know these two were dressed in aggressively fashionable clothes.

Reaper was getting more jealous, if he could look good and be comfortable he didn’t see why he or Geno were bothering with formal suits, the way Geno usually ran around in a track suit it seemed he liked being comfortable.

“If we’re quite done, the cars are waiting.” Mr. Gaster raised a brow ridge at them, then started herding the lot of them out the front door. Outside four gleaming black cars, each with a monster in a black uniform standing next to the open back door, were lined up and waiting for them. Now came the weird part, for some reason they went in the opposite order than Reaper would expect. He would think that Mr. Gaster as the oldest would take the first car, but instead it was Mercy at the head of the line.

Resplendent in his tuxedo jacket, complete with crisp white shirt and smart bowtie, and fluffy black skirt Mercy had to carefully gather and lift to get into his car, showing off black leather dress shoes. Followed by his date, a monster wearing some kind of strappy, drapey, flowy shirt and matching suit pants that stopped just short of their strappy high heeled shoes.

The next car was for Error and Ink. Error hefted his skirts up and climbed in, Ink hopped in right after. Then Ink seemed to be pushed out, arms and legs wheeling as he stumbled back and tried to keep upright. “Wait until I’m settled!” Error yelled out the door.

“Wait a minute,” Reaper said to Geno, “are those actually pants?!”

“Huh, guess they are.”

“Seriously, why am I in a suit? That looks way more comfortable.”

“Because you don’t have to design a suit, haute couture takes a lot of time and effort and going back and forth with the designer and agonizing over fabrics and whether it should be crimson or scarlet and just ugh. Though since Error just designs his own stuff I guess he kinda skips that step.”

“Wait, are all of Error’s clothes custom made?”

“Well yeah, you think you can find any of that on a rack? C’mon, we’re holding up the line.” Geno slipped into their car and Reaper followed.

The drive to the Fourside Convention Hall was relatively short and smooth, they pulled up to find the whole building lit up with spotlights. After enduring a gauntlet of flashing cameras, the group walked into the hall together, Reaper gasped. About half the room was filled with round tables and elegant chairs, each with elegant place settings and elegant floral arrangements Reaper was sure Life would adore. The rest of the room was open space with long tables that seemed to be topped with lots of random things lining the far wall. Most of the crowd seemed to be milling about the long tables, while the empty space already had a few people in it dancing to the music he couldn’t see the source of.

Reaper pointed at the tables, “Do you think anyone would mind if I took pictures?”

Geno looked towards where he was pointing, “I guess not? I mean, the paparazzi’s here so one more guy taking pictures wouldn’t mean much, but uh… some might not like it????”

“I mean the arrangements, Life would love to see them.”

“Oh. Oh! Yeah, let’s go take some pictures while they’re fresh and there won’t be a lot of people in the background.”

They headed for the tables, then around to take some pictures of some other arrangements around the room. As they headed towards the far wall with the long tables Reaper noticed Karma talking to a skeleton Reaper hadn’t met before. They were taller than Karma, had sharp teeth, horns, and a long, thick tail. They were also wearing a fancy suit, but with a deep red vest and tie over a black shirt. Their jacket was left open and was that a holster? Surely not, there was no way someone would bring something like that to an event like this. Karma picked up the other skeleton’s hand and put it to his teeth before tucking it into the crook of his arm and pulling them other away.

“Does Karma have a datefriend?”

Geno looked across the room, when his pips fell on Karma and the stranger his sockets narrowed. “Well now, that’s an interesting choice if he is.”

“Uh oh, is that someone he shouldn’t be dating?”

“Kinda, it’s complicated.” They watched the pair slip away through the crowd. “It’s more like he should have told us before getting caught canoodling in such a public place. I’ll have to talk to him about it. After tonight though, for now how about we go check out what’s up for auction? Gotta think of the children.” Geno pulled Reaper towards the row of long tables along the far wall.

“So how’s this auction going to work? Are we going to bid while we eat? I don’t think I saw any ping pong paddles.”

“Ping pong paddles? What?” Geno laughed as they continued their leisurely walk to the other end of the room. “It’s a silent auction, everyone already downloaded the app and set up an account, we just scan the QR codes of the items we want to keep track of and place bids that way. The bidding ends when dinner starts.”

“Oh, that makes sense.” They had arrived at the tables by that point so Reaper leaned forward a little to read the description of the first item, a large-ish white vase with blue details painted over the whole thing and a few green gems inset. Sure enough at the bottom of the description was a QR code. “Huh.”

“You like it?”

“What? The vase?” Reaper looked the vase over, it certainly looked pretty. He kind of wondered what kinds of bouquets Life would put in them. Then again the bidding was set to start at ₲8 million and that seemed like far too much to ask Geno to spend on something that Reaper wouldn’t even want for himself. “I think that’s more Life’s thing than mine, what else is up for auction?”

They moved down the line, passing over a bird statue, an ornate cup, and a set of six candy colored gemstones, until Reaper stopped. The item they were looking at was just a photograph of a small table with candles and two wine glasses and two place settings set on a pastel purple tablecloth. Geno leaned against Reaper to get a better look, causing something hard and cold to press against Reaper’s humerus. Weird, that wasn’t bone. “Dinner for two at Madame Muffet’s, huh?”

Reaper’s maxilla dusted faintly with blue magic, “It sounds romantic.”

“It does,” Geno agreed as he held out his phone and scanned the QR code. “See anything else you want? There’s more guests than prizes, it’s best to pick a couple if you want to actually take something home.”

“If something else catches my eye socket I’ll let you know.” They continued down the line, Reaper trying valiantly not to pay any attention to what was listed as the starting bid for the items. This was a charity for a children’s hospital, that money was all going to a good cause. While nothing else had jumped out at Reaper yet Geno was scanning codes pretty regularly, including a yacht. Well Fourside was right next to the ocean, Geno might like going on a cruise. Reaper stopped in front of a sports car, “Would it be terrible to ask for a gift for my brother?” It was a deep red, but he was sure Respite would love the thing no matter what color it was.

“I think it’s sweet,” Geno said as he scanned that one too.

Reaper blushed, then pulled Geno to the next item. By the end of the line Reaper had picked out a fancy camera and mic set up, and a week at a resort halfway up Mt. Ebott as things for Geno to bid on. Reaper’s pretty sure Geno scanned half the prizes, but if it made him happy then Reaper wasn’t going to complain.

“So, now what?” Reaper asked as they ambled away from the auction section.

“Now we just hang out until the bidding’s done.” Geno motioned to a large LED display that was counting down. “Mostly at things like this we just mingle for a while, do a little dancing…”

Reaper laughed nervously, “Dancing? No way, I can’t dance.”

“It’s not that hard, c’mon. Half a dance won’t kill us.” Geno pulled them a short ways onto the dance floor, practically off to the side and well out of the way of the rest of the guests smoothly waltzing across the dance floor. Then he turned so he and Reaper were facing each other, “Just put your hand here…” Geno moved Reaper’s hand to rest just under his scapulae, rested his own hand on Reaper’s shoulder, then took up his free hand. “There we go, now just follow my lead.”

“Uh, ok.” Reaper wasn’t sure how well he’d do, some of the other guests were spinning and strutting around the dance floor like it was Dancing with the Stars, there was no way Reaper could do that.

Geno started swaying in place, slowly shifting his weight from one foot to the other and back again. Reaper started swaying with him. “That’s it, see? And if we want to get really fancy…” Geno started lifting his feet a little with every sway, slowly moving them in a circle.

Reaper couldn’t help laughing, of course Geno wouldn’t want to go strutting about on the dance floor like the others. “This is nice.”

“Yeah, you’re probably the best dance partner I’ve ever had.”

“A shame we’re so far apart, though.”

“Well we can always get junior high prom if you want.” Geno slipped his hand out of Reaper’s and moved it to his other shoulder, pulling Reaper closer as he did so. Reaper’s own hands slid down to Geno’s lower back to help pull him closer.

“Karma!” A short skeleton in a powder blue suit with a shirt that seemed to be made entirely of ruffles came bouncing up to them. “Or is it Geno?”

“You got Geno, not sure where Karma got around to.”

“Well either way it’s good to see you. Care to dance? We can trade partners when my brother eventually finds his way here.” The strange skeleton looked behind them, but Reaper couldn’t see who they were talking about.

“Nah, I like this dance partner. And I have no idea where Error is right now.”

“Oh!” The bright cyan stars in the skeleton’s eye sockets spun briefly in place. “So he’s here, wonderful! I’ll just have to go find him then. Thank you, Geno.” Without any further ado the skeleton waved cheerfully, then went bounding off into the sparse crowd gathering around the outer edges of the dance floor.

“Well that was fun,” Geno said. Whatever else he was about to say was interrupted by a buzzing from his pocket. Geno moved to hook their arms and start leading Reaper off the dance floor as he pulled out his phone. “And the bidding has got going, let me just take care of this and then we can mingle for a little while.”

The rest of the evening flowed by surprisingly fast. They danced to a couple more songs, they walked around and chatted to the other attendees, Geno paused to check his phone every time he got outbid. When the bidding was about to end everyone counted down the last few seconds like it was new year’s, then everyone sat down to a fancy meal, Mayor Dreemurr gave a nice little speech, there was a raffle that none of their party won, the winners of the auction were announced (Geno had the winning bid on the dinner and of all things a spa package), and the evening was finished off with the waiters bringing out desserts and the band starting up again as an excuse to keep people around to trickle slowly out rather than rush the exit all at once.

It wasn’t until they were all getting up to head out that Reaper noticed a couple someones were missing. “Where are Error and Ink?”

“They dipped out a while ago,” Karma replied. “You didn’t notice?”

“I thought he and Ink were just dancing or something.”

“Error doesn’t do well in crowds,” Mr. Gaster said as he led them out to the front entrance, the rest of them leaving a wide space for the short train of his dress. “It’s why we take separate cars, the last time we all rode together he ended up locking himself in the human restroom.” The last word was said with so much disgust Reaper was surprised nothing nearby melted. “Honestly I’m surprised he didn’t leave before dinner was served, that was the longest he’s been at an event yet.”

“Yup,” Geno said, popping the P. “And we shouldn’t make a huge deal out of it or it’ll just embarrass him.”

Reaper took that to mean he wasn’t supposed to talk to Error about it, which was fine. Reaper understood social anxiety, even if he didn’t have it on the same level Error apparently did.

Once they were settled in their car and on their way back to Geno’s house, Geno snuggled up to Reaper. “Didja have fun?”

“Yeah,” Reaper replied as he happily pulled Geno closer. “I thought it was going to be stuffy and boring, but it was actually pretty fun.”

“That’s good, I’m glad you had a good time.” Geno snuggled into Reaper’s side. Reaper happily put his arm over his boyfriend’s shoulder and drew him close for the ride home.

Chapter Text

Reaper sighed as he stared down at his phone. It had been nearly a whole week since he’d last seen or heard from Geno, not since that charity event he’d been Geno’s date for. It was so weird, things had seemed fine and normal, but then after Reaper went home the next morning nothing but radio silence. It didn’t seem like Geno to ghost him.

“Still no word?” Life asked as she started filling one of the display fridges with freshly made arrangements.

“Even Mercy isn’t responding now,” Reaper replied bitterly as he switched over to Mercy’s texts. They’d been unusually short and uninformative since the charity event. “You don’t think this is his way of dumping me, do you?”

“If so that is an absolutely terrible way to go about it, you deserve to at least be told to your face. And even if not you deserve to know what is going on and why he is treating you this way. Go over there and demand answers.”

“What if they don’t even let me in?”

“Then no matter what is actually going on they do not deserve to have someone as kind and wonderful as you in their lives.”

Reaper felt his face flush with magic, “Life!”

“It is true, you are quite the catch and someday some lucky monster will snatch you up like the treasure you are.”

Reaper just sputtered, unsure how to even respond.

“I had just thought that monster was Geno,” Life continued sadly.

“Yeah, same.”

“Well, you will simply have to go there directly after your shift and find out.”

“Right after work?”

“Yes, absolutely! Do not overthink it, just go there and ask for some answers. You two have been dating for over a year now, you have met each other's families, you deserve to at least know if you are still in a relationship or not. And if something is wrong and Geno needs you at his side you deserve to know that too.”

Reaper sighed and dropped his head on the counter, “Yeah, I know. I’m just worried something is really wrong.”

Life gently patted him on the head, “I know, and I have watched it eat you up all week. So go get your answers, whatever they are, and stop the anxiety of the unknown.”

“Ok.” Reaper let his head stay plunked on the counter a little longer, then looked up at Life, “Maybe I should just go now, while I’m still fresh from that pep talk.”

“Absolutely not, we have that funeral arrangement that needs to be delivered at two o-clock sharp.”

Reaper chuckled, “Yes ma’am.”

The rest of the day seemed to crawl by despite Reaper’s new resolve, or maybe because of it. Still when five o-clock finally rolled around Reaper gave a sigh of relief as he turned the open sign to closed and locked the door. He turned around to find Life smiling at him mischievously, her hands hidden behind her back.

“What is it?” Reaper asked warily, unsure if she was about to pull some prank on him.

“Do not worry about the final clean up today, you should go now.”

“What, really?” It’s true there wasn’t really much clean up left, Reaper had spent the last hour before close sweeping the floor and wiping things down between their few customers.

“Of course, the sooner you go see Geno the sooner you can have your answers. And also,” Life brought out her hands and held them out to Reaper. Held delicately between her furry claws was a small nosegay of half bloomed red roses and baby’s breath wrapped in tissue paper, “A little something to give to your datefriend.”

Reaper hesitated, “What if this WAS him breaking up with me?”

A distant look of horror washed over Life’s face, “Then his brother can have it.”

“Which one? Error?”

Life shuddered, likely remembering the havoc Error wreaked the last time he was in the shop. “Just take it, think of it as my hopes for the best.”

Reaper smiled softly as he accepted the flowers, “Thank you, Life.” He tucked them safely into his inventory.

“Now go on, lest you overthink and lose your nerve.”

“Yes ma’am!” Reaper gave a sloppy salute before pulling Life into a quick hug. “Thanks.”

“You are welcome.”

Once done with the hug, Reaper quickly went to the back room, doffed his forest green apron, slipped off his sandals and stuffed them in his inventory, then hopped on his trusty old scooter and started the drive across town. At the door he was met by a maid that led him directly to Mr. Gaster’s office.

“Mr. Gaster, Mr. Reaper is here.”

There was a deep, tired sigh from within the office. “Let him in.”

Reaper went into the office to find Mr. Gaster slumped in his chair behind a wide desk, turned so Reaper could barely see his profile.

“What are you doing here, Reaper?”

“I… I came to see Geno.”

Mr. Gaster’s hand lifted to rub at his skull right over the crack that ran up over his brow, “We haven’t found him yet, I would have assumed the continued lack of contact from him would indicate as much.”

“Found him?” Reaper asked in alarm, “Is he missing?!”

Mr. Gaster paused in rubbing his brow and turned the chair to better look at Reaper. “Yes, did Mercy not tell you? He told me he’s been in contact with you.”

“He didn’t tell me Geno’s missing! He just said to stay put and not worry, that you guys are handling it and then he’s been quiet.” Reaper fumbled in his pocket and nearly dropped his phone once he managed to pull it out. With shaking hands he unlocked it and pulled up his texts with Mercy, then held it up for Mr. Gaster to look at. “See?”

Just visible at the top of the screen was the bottom half of the last text Mercy sent before the charity event, something about some fancy muscle car’s engine specs. After that was just the short bout of texts that were, aside from the first one with the apparently false assurances, short answers from Mercy telling him not to come over.

Mr. Gaster’s eye sockets narrowed, “I do see.” He stood up and without another word left the office. Reaper scrambled to pocket his phone again and ran to follow, having to half jog to keep up with Mr. Gaster’s ground eating stride. When Mr. Gaster burst into a room by throwing the doors open Reaper stayed hovering in the doorway rather than following him into the room.

“Papyrus Mercy Gaster!”

Mercy, who was bent over to be practically nose hole to glasses with Error, straightened up and looked over at his father. Then Mercy’s eye sockets fell on Reaper, a sheen of sweat started dripping down his skull. “Father! Whatever could be the matter?”

“You told me you were keeping Geno’s little liability informed, you told me he was being kept safe and out of the way, and yet he’s here today and has no idea what’s going on.” Mr. Gaster crossed his arms and started tapping his foot, “Care to explain?”

“Well… I… that is…” Mercy wrung his hands nervously, “You see I truly didn’t want him to worry and if he found out Geno had been kidnapped-”

“Kidnapped?!” Reaper yelped.

Mercy winced. “Oh dear, see? This is the exact reaction I was trying to avoid.”

“And you couldn’t come up with any kind of excuse? Just tell him nothing and expect him to accept it?”

“I told him not to worry and we had the situation under control!”

“The worst lie I’ve ever heard, learn to tell more believable lies.”

Well that wasn’t concerning at all.

“Should’ve just told him the truth.” Error said condescendingly.

“This whole mess is your fault, I don’t want to hear from you,” Mr. Gaster shot back.

“It’s not my fault!” Error yelled indignantly. “It’s his fault!” He pointed at a somewhat familiar skeleton Reaper remembered from the charity, the excitable one that had tried to dance with Geno. He was sitting on a sofa, leaning so far over the back he was looking at them upside down with a controller in his hands. Next to him was Ink, turned around to watch the scene, his pips cycling through shapes at an alarming rate.

“You brought him into our house, this is your fault. And the rest of us are the ones who have to clean up this mess you made. Well now Reaper is going to be part of that, there’s no way he can leave now without also being a target until we get this mess cleared up. He’s your responsibility, make sure he’s taken care of.” With that Mr. Gaster turned and left the room.

“Great,” Error said sarcastically, “now I’ve got three prisoners to keep track of.”

“Honored guests,” Mercy said firmly as he put an arm around Reaper’s shoulders and pulled him forcefully into the room. “Though I suppose I’m a little responsible for Reaper as well.” His hand slipped into Reaper’s pocket and pulled out his cell phone.

“Hey wait!”

“I’m sorry, but just until we get things sorted out it’s best if you don’t have this. I’ll be sure to let Miss Life know you won’t be able to go into work for a little while.” He was already tapping away at Reaper’s phone as he walked off.

“Tell a better lie this time,” Error yelled after Mercy’s retreating back. “And you! You may as well join us.”

“What’s going on?” Reaper asked with a tremor in his voice he tried to ignore as he followed Error around the sofa. “Geno’s been kidnapped? Who is this guy anyway? What’d he do?”

“Ugh, fine, I’ll explain. This dumbass here is Blue, and for some reason he decided to kidnap himself to our house when Ink and I came home after the stupid charity event.”

“Not for some reason, because we’re soulmates and we belong together!”

“But Error’s dating Ink???”

“Duh! We’re all soulmates, they just won’t give me a chance.”

“I’m cool with a throuple,” Ink added in.

“See! C’mon, Error, give us,” Blue motioned between the three of them, “a chance!”

“Anyway,” Error said loudly, “Geno went to get Blue’s brother to come pick him up and take him away, but neither of them ever did. So now Blue’s family is holding Geno hostage or something.”

“What? So why don’t you just send him back?!”

“He won’t leave.”

“Not until you give us a chance.”

“And also Dad refuses to give up his only bargaining chip until we can be sure Geno will get sent back. Problem is no one seems to be able to get in contact with Stretch-”

“That’s my brother,” Blue cut in.

“… so we can’t arrange a proper hostage trade.”

“And that means we’re all stuck here until my brother comes to his senses! Knowing him that’ll be a while, younger brothers, am I right?”

“Now that there’s four of us how about we do teams in Smash?” Ink suggested cheerfully. “Or if we can get Mercy to come back that’s a good number for a few rounds of Among Us with only one impostor.”

“I don’t want to play,” Reaper said immediately. He was still trying to take in everything they said and it all sounded so… so dumb! So awful. But surely Geno was fine, if Blue and Ink and Error were so unworried, it’s just a silly misunderstanding. Andhe’s a monster, monsters don’t go around murdering each other the way humans do. Geno’s probably sitting in someone’s house playing video games until this Stretch guy finally picks up a phone, right?

“Well sit down already, you’re blocking the TV.” Error grabbed Reaper’s T-shirt and tugged on it.

Reaper let himself fall over onto the sofa next to Blue and just curled up where he fell. This couldn’t be real. This really couldn’t be real.

After some unknown amount of time of Reaper just laying curled up in a ball on the couch, Mercy returned to the room. “Error,” Mercy said loudly and cheerfully, “did you go through Reaper’s inventory? We have to make sure he doesn’t have any way to track him.”

There was only silence from the other side of the couch.

“That’s what I thought. I’m sorry Reaper, this will only take a moment.” A pair of large hands braced themselves on Reaper’s shoulder, then there was a stab of foreign magic, sharp and cold and clinical.

Reaper gasped and sat up, or tried to, it was a struggle with the hands holding him down. A second, smaller pair of hands grabbed his ankles to keep him from squirming right off the couch, then another pair grabbed his hips. Reaper choked on a half formed scream that died in his metaphorical throat when he felt that foreign magic rifle through his own in the most disturbing way.

“There we are, all done.” All three sets of hands let him go and Reaper shot upright, gaping like a fish as he looked up at Mercy, who was standing behind the couch and looking down at a row of items laid out on the couch’s back. “The first time is always the worst, I’m sorry about that. But here we are, nothing dangerous here so you can have your things back.”

Reaper snatched at his things, stuffing them unceremoniously back into his inventory. He paused when he picked up the little rose nosegay, it was already a little crumpled from whatever Mercy had done to his inventory, and Geno wasn’t even here to receive them, there was no knowing when he’d get back or even if he’d get back…

Reaper tossed the flowers at Error, then went back to shoving things back into his inventory. His bag of chisps, his sandals…

“Error! Flowers aren’t for eating!” Blue yelled in a scandalized voice.

Error huffed, “What else am I supposed to do? Just sit here and stare at them?”

“Kinda, yeah,” Ink said with a shrug.

“You’re supposed to thank whoever gave them to you and then get some water to put them in.”

Reaper ignored the rest of their conversation, curling back into a ball and even going so far as to pull his hood down over his skull. After a while of just laying there while the others around him played video games, a knock came at the door. “Excuse me, sirs, dinner is served.”

Error and his (two?) datefriend(s) turned off their game and stood up. Reaper stayed right where he was.

“C’mon, you heard her.”

“I’m not hungry,” Reaper said miserably.

“Doesn’t matter, Dad wants us all at dinner.”

Reaper didn’t respond, just stayed curled up in his spot.

Error made a disgusted sound, “Don’t make us drag you to dinner.”

“Oh, do you want our help?” Ink asked excitedly.

“Huh,” Error said contemplatively, “I suppose it couldn’t hurt.”

Hands started pawing at Reaper again, tugging him this way and that until they could get under his armpits and lift him up. Reaper didn’t fight at all, choosing to stay (heh) dead weight for them to drag him down the hallway. Apparently Ink and Blue were fine with that because that’s just what they did. Like most of the hallways in the Gaster household, it was very long, it took quite a while to get to the dining room.

“Oh for the love of! What on earth are you lot doing?” Mr. Gaster’s voice asked angrily.

“He’s being a big baby and throwing a tantrum,” Error said.

“Perhaps it’s less a tantrum and more him being upset his close datefriend is currently missing with no way of knowing if he’s even still alive,” Mercy said rather morosely.

Reaper whimpered.

Blue scoffed, “Stretch wouldn’t be dumb enough for that, if he really thinks Geno’s a hostage for a hostage he wouldn’t dare hurt him, not if he thinks it puts me in danger.”

Large hands cradled Reaper’s ribs just under Blue’s and Ink’s hands and lifted. Reaper started and looked up in shock to find Mercy’s brightly smiling face right in front of his. “There we are, feel up to standing on your own two feet?”

“I uh… sure?” With Mercy holding him up Reaper was able to get his feet under him, then let Mercy guide him to a chair. Once he was seated everyone else sat down.

Mr. Gaster, who had been sitting in his chair slumped over so he could support his skull on one hand while he glowered at them, straightened up. “If we’re all quite ready.”

Reaper looked up and down the long table, someone was missing. Well, someone else was also missing, “Where’s Karma?”

“Out doing most of the leg work to track down Geno.”

“Don’t worry,” Mercy added, and honestly Reaper wasn’t sure he would trust Mercy when he said that ever again, “he’s been checking in with us regularly. He’s currently safe and unharmed.”

Reaper just nodded, that actually was a relief.

Dinner was served then, plates of steaming food placed in front of everyone while someone with a bottle circled the table to fill their glasses. This wasn’t Reaper’s first dinner with them, not by a long shot, so he knew what to expect. Reaper looked down at the food that already tasted like dust in his mouth when he hadn’t even picked up his fork yet, it was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

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.”

“No.”

“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.”

“Oh.”

“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.

“Ruru?”

“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.”

“Why?”

“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?”

“Pretty much.”

“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?”

“What? No!”

“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.

Chapter Text

Reaper stayed at the Gaster house the next couple days, most of his time spent cuddled up to Geno’s side and trying to help keep him entertained while he was on doctor mandated bed rest. No mention had been made yet about Reaper being allowed to go home, and while he did trust Mercy to have told Life and Respite something, Reaper would like to call them himself soon. He missed his brother and best friend slash boss. Currently Reaper was sitting next to Geno, the both of them propped up by a veritable mountain of pillows as Geno scrolled through his movie selection.

“Could go old school, watch something like Blade Runner or the original Star Wars.”

“Respite loves Blade Runner, it’s one of his favorite movies.”

“How’s he doing, by the way? I haven’t heard you mention him once.”

“Not sure, Mercy hasn’t given me my phone back yet.”

Geno sighed and sagged in place, he turned off the TV and dropped the remote. “Really?”

Reaper just shook his head, then remembered Geno couldn’t see him at that angle. “No.”

Geno rubbed the uninjured side of his face and sighed again. “And you didn’t ask me about that?”

“I guess I figured Mercy or your dad would do something eventually, they promised me he was fine and knew I was okay.”

“Wait, if they got your phone are they keeping you here against your will?”

“Technically they kinda are. I don’t mind staying though, you need me. But it would be nice to at least call Respite and talk to him myself.”

“You’re taking this whole situation a whole lot better than I would have expected.”

Reaper shrugged, “I had some time to think about it before you woke up.”

Geno sighed and rubbed his hand over the un-bandaged side of his skull again before letting it drop limply into his lap. “I just don’t get how you can be so calm!”

“I guess I just go with the flow.” Reaper had always been quiet and a bit of an introvert, it shouldn’t be so surprising he was being quiet about this. “I guess I’ve also been feeling kind of numb, or at the beginning when I suddenly got blindsided by that whole… mess. And uh… Error helped a bit.”

“Really? What’d he do?”

“He shoved me into Ink’s lap and told him to hold me while I cried. It was pretty damn surprising.”

“Heh, I bet. Expressing emotions is one of the things he has a hard time with.”

“No, I mean… well yeah that too. But what I meant was Ink didn’t flinch and push me away like everyone else. Actually everyone was pretty handsy while you were still missing, I didn’t notice it then but looking back it’s just so weird.”

Geno laughed, “Yeah? It’s ‘cause we’re all skeletons, dumbass.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“The magic holding us together is on the outside, it’s pretty uncomfortable to be inside that little uh… personal bubble field thingy? Except we’re built this way so we’re used to it. Not a lot of monsters are built like us, mostly just ghosts and some elementals. Also apparently monsters with bones inside them, like your boss lady, and humans find the feeling of bone to be pretty uncomfortable.”

That actually made a whole lot of sense. Reaper thought back to the closest thing they’d had to a parent, someone’s whose memory was worn thin and hazy by this point, and Reaper was pretty sure they were a ghost with a vessel of some kind, something with a lot of hands but no arms.

“Wait, am I really the first skeleton besides your brother you’ve ever met?”

“Yeah, didn’t I tell you that?”

“I don’t think so, but if you did I guess it didn’t register. Man, no wonder you went from complete stranger to a clingy koala bear in almost no time.”

“Your cute personality didn’t hurt either.”

Geno flushed, his face mottled red and cyan, “Shut up, I’m not cute!”

“Absolutely adorable.” Reaper put his arm over Geno’s shoulders and gently pulled him closer, careful not to press his injuries into himself.

“I’m not cute though, not like this.” He started to lift his right hand, then hissed with a wince and let it relax back into its sling.

“Nope, still cute.” Reaper gently cupped Geno’s face and turned him to face him, then leaned down for a chaste, brief kiss. “The only reason we aren’t going to town right now is I’m kinda afraid of your doctor.”

Geno laughed at that, face glowing brighter than ever. Once he calmed down he settled more fully into Reaper’s hold, twining the fingers of his left hand with Reaper’s right. “So… you planning on sticking around? Really? You’re not gonna dump me after everything my pops and bros put you through while I was gone?”

“None of that was your fault, but I wouldn’t mind an apology if you can talk them into one. Not Error or Karma though, Error really tried to help and Karma just wasn’t around.”

“I’ll see what the old kicked puppy look will get. But I’m serious, you finally figured out what my family does, right? For a living?”

“You mean the whole mafia thing?”

“Yeah, that.”

“I thought so. And I thought about that a lot too, I’m pretty upset you didn’t tell me sooner, that I had to find out when your family decided to keep me prisoner while you were getting tortured by some sicko. But I… just… it’s uh… you… I already knew your family was really rich and uh… I don’t… it’s…” Reaper huffed in frustration, unsure how to voice his thoughts. “I don’t want to give you up.”

“I’m in just as deep as any of them, I’ve done some pretty horrible things.”

“But not to other monsters, and not to me. So long as Respite doesn’t get sucked in as well I really don’t care.”

“He could be though, he could easily become a target because of your connection to me.”

“You have plans to protect him though, right?”

Geno scoffed, “Of course! Like I wouldn’t protect the people you love.”

Reaper nodded, “I thought so. But I’d like to tell him what’s really going on, I don’t want him left in the dark like I was.”

“Sure, but it’s best to do that in person. Can’t go leaving evidence around for any two bit hacker to steal off the cloud or whatever.”

“Really? You’re okay with me just telling him?”

“Yeah??? It’s not like it’s a big secret.”

“Then why didn’t you tell me?”

Geno winced, “It’s uh… it’s a bit complicated.” He paused for a moment, but when Reaper simply stayed silent he sighed and continued on, “At first I thought you knew, you were being really polite.”

“You’re obviously really rich, I’d heard so many stories of entitled rich people utterly destroying people’s lives over rude customer service.”

“Yeah, I figured it was something like that once you relaxed and got all chummy. It was nice to have someone who didn’t care about all the politics of rival families or trying to suck up to someone powerful for favors. I know it was selfish but I just wanted to enjoy it while it lasted, I thought for sure once you found out the truth you’d drop me like a hot potato.”

“If I had it would have been because you lied to me above anything else.”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

“Can you promise not to lie like that again? I need to know I can trust you.”

“I can’t promise not to keep some secrets, you not being in the know on some things is for your protection, plausible deniability and all that.”

“Then you can tell when something I can’t know about is happening and stay away for a few days, but I don’t like being lied to.”

“Ok, I won’t lie like that ever again, I promise. When there’s something going on that you can’t know about I’ll let you know to keep clear, and I’ll make sure the others know as well so we don’t ever have another shitshow like this again.”

Reaper nodded, “Good. Ok, I accept your apology.” Reaper leaned down and dropped a quick kiss on Geno’s skull.

Geno flushed all over again, then snuggled more comfortably into Reaper’s hold and sighed as he relaxed. “Angel above, I don’t deserve you.”

“Funny, I was thinking the same thing of you.”

“Shush, I’m injured, let me rest.”